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'The reapers are the angels.' What did Jesus intend by the angels? Familiar traditions have confined the application of this word almost exclusively to superhuman beings; but surely the attentive reader of the Bible need not be informed that the term angel is precisely synonimous with messenger, and that it is applied not only to mankind, but even to inanimate objects. Jesus always represented himself, when coming to destroy the Jewish state, as being attended with angels. "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; * * * verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." Matt. xvi. 27, 28. Mark viii. 38 and ix. 1. Luke ix. 26, 27. Here the coming of Christ, with his angels, is confined to that generation. On another occasion Jesus said, "they shall see th Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory and he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet," to which he immediately adds, "this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Matt. xxiv. 30, 31, 34. See also Matt. xxv. 31 and 2 Thess. i. 7. It is a circumstance which confirms our application of the parable, that the Son of man sends forth his angels to destroy his enemies, for this language is invariably applied, in the New Testament, to the destruction of Jerusalem, whenever that event is described. In the parable before us the angels, or messengers, were to be the agents of destruction to the enemies of Christ; and by comparing this
13. These are also called the elect in Matt. 22, 24. And Ecclesiastical history informs us, that by a divine admonition the faithful Christians, retired from Judea before the ruin of it by the Romans, and were preserved. See Matt. iii. 12. xxiv. 22. Luke xxi. 18, 36.
part with what is stated Matt. xxii. 7, we ascertain who the messengers of destruction were. "But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city." Here it is certainly meant that the Roman armies were the messengers which God sent to destroy his rebellious. people, the Jews.
We come now to consider another important question, viz. what did Jesus signify by the furnace of fire,' into which, the wicked were cast by the angels of destruction, to whom God had given them up? We know it has been the usual opinion, that this furnace of fire is a place of torment in the future world. But are there any who have yet to learn, that this figure was employed by the sacred writers to represent temporal destruction? The bondage Israel suffered under Pharaoh was described as a furnace. "But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt." Deut. iv. 20. See also 1 Kings viii. 51. Isaiah xlviii. 10. Jer. xi. 4. So the tremendous calamities, the 'great tribulation' suffered by the Jews at the destruction of their favorite city-compared with which the afflictions suffered in Egypt were less than nothing-are represented by a furnace of fire;' and the application of the figure to the city of Jerusalem is made so directly · and indisputably, that the most obtuse sense must perceive it. "The Lord's fire is in Zion, and his FURNACE in Jerusalem." Isaiah xxxi. 9. A passage still more full, and more pointed, remains to be quoted. "And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are
even the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem; as they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it, so will I gather you in mine anger, and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you." Ezk. xxii. 17-22. There cannot remain a lingering doubt that the furnace of fire' was the city of Jerusalem, into which God gathered the Jewish nation, and there he melted them in the fire of his wrath, and destroyed them by the messengers of his judgments. The plainness of this subject can hardly be said to have a parailel; and yet I dare not hope, that it will bring a blush on the faces of those who have for a long time obstinately persisted, that this furnace of fire is in the future world.
After the destruction of the wicked, the righteous were to shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father-who were these? The answer is obvioussuch as were in the kingdom-such as had set down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, while others were cast out; of whom it is said in the book of Daniel, that they "shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they shall turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever." xii. 3. Their persecutors the Jews being destroyed, and persecutions on every hand being abated and softened, they would experience comparative earthly felicity, and have an enlarged enjoyment of gospel peace
and life. Separated from hypocrites, the church would be purer-she would attract, by the whiteness of her robes, the gaze of heathen spectators, and constrain them to cry, 'behold, how these Christians love one another.' She would shine as the sun, the more brilliantly, because the clouds of oppression and affliction had just been dispelled. "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,"
Parable of the Mustard Seed.
MATT. XIII. 31, 32.-MARK IV. 31, 32.-LUKE XIII. 18, 19.
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard-seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."-Matt. xiii 31, 32.
"THE Jews," saith Whitby, "give a wonderful account of the growth and increase of the mustard seed, viz. there was a stalk of mustard seed in Sichin, from which sprang out three boughs, of which one was broke off, and covered the tent of a potter, and produced three cabs of mustard; R. Simeon B. Calipha said, a stalk of mustard seed was in my field, into which I was wont to climb, as men do into a fig tree. Buxtorf in voce Chardal." Commentary on Matt. xiii. 31. This great growth is attributed to the luxuriant soil of Judea, and to the warmth of the climate.1
1 The following passage is worthy of being introduced here : order that we may enter fully into the meaning of this parable of our Lord, it may not be irrelevant to observe, that in eastern coun
By the kingdom of heaven in this parable, Jesus intended his spiritual dispensation, or moral reign, which he came to establish among men. It was like a grain of mustard seed, because at its commencement it may be said to have been exceedingly small. It contained, however, the principle of growth in itself, and was destined to flourish wonderfully, without the aid of human power. Like the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, which became a great mountain and filled the whole earth, so this would spread abroad its branches far and wide. The prophet Ezekiel uses a similar figure. "Thus saith the Lord God, I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon a high mountain and eminent: In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they
tries, the mustard plant (or at least a species of the sinapi, which the orientals comprehended under that name) attains a greater size than with us. It appears that the orientals were accustomed to give the denomination of trees, to plants growing to the height of ten or twelve feet, and having branches in proportion. To such a height the mustard plant grows in Judea; and its branches are so strong, and well covered with leaves, as to afford shelter to the feathered tribe. Such is the image by which Jesus Christ represents the progress of his gospel. The kingdom of heaven, said he, is like to a grain of mustard seed-small and contemptible in its beginning; which is indeed the least of all seeds, that is, of all those seeds with which the Jews were then acquainted: (for our Lord's words are to be interpreted by popular use; and we learn from Matt. xvii. 20, that, like a grain of mustard seed, was a proverbial expression to denote a small quantity,) but when it is grown, it becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Under this simple and beautiful figure does Jesus Christ describe the admirable developement of his gospel from its origin to its final consummation." Horne's Introduction ii. 616.