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us, lest they should be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin to their eternal undoing.
Although the people in the text besought Jesus to depart from them; this was not the desire of the men on whom He had mercy. They prayed Him that they might be with Him. They feared that if they were separated from Him, Satan might resume his possession of them. Such will ever be the child-like fear of those who have been delivered from the power of their spiritual enemies. They will dread being ever again brought under the dominion of the powers of darkness. They will desire to sit at the feet of Jesus, to receive His words, to be taught by Him, that they may live to His glory, and show forth His praise. May such be our disposition and conduct. May we learn of Him who was meek and lowly in heart. May we be taught by the Holy Spirit to know Him more, and to love and to serve Him better every day while we are here upon earth; and when we have done with all things here below, may we rejoice in His great salvation, throughout the countless ages of eternity. That this blessedness may be our portion to whom the word of God is made known, may He of His infinite mercy grant for Christ's sake: To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed glory, honour, and praise, now and for evermore. Amen.
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
THE TARES AMONG THE WHEAT.
Matthew xiii. 30.
LET BOTH GROW TOGETHER UNTIL THE HARVEST; AND IN THE TIME OF HARVEST I WILL SAY TO THE REAPERS, GATHER YE TOGETHER FIRST THE TARES, AND BIND THEM IN BUNDLES TO BURN THEM; BUT GATHER THE WHEAT INTO MY BARN.
Ir has in all ages been considered a great cause of offence in the church of God, that "the evil should be ever mingled with the good." This has been the occasion of many of the schisms which have distracted it. Sometimes persons have with a good intention, but with great ignorance of human nature, separated themselves from
the visible church of Christ, under the idea of forming a purer society than that to which they had before belonged. But when this new society has been swelled with numbers, and often long before, it has been found, that the change has not produced the expected benefit, that the unruly wills, and affections, and practices of sinful men were still apparent. Wherever true religion subsists with any degree of credit, there will be professors who join its ranks for the sake of promoting their own worldly advantage. We can judge of one another only by our words and actions. The workings of the mind and thoughts are too deep and subtil for human cognizance. It is the Lord Jehovah alone, who searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imagination of the thoughts.3
The design of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the parable with which the text is connected, is to show that we have no reason to be offended on account of the mixture of the evil among the good in His visible church on earth; and to lead us to act with caution in our judgment of the character of others; and to assure us that He will in the end make such a separation, as cannot be effected by any human means, between His believing people and those who only bear His name, but are not influenced and ac
3 | Chronicles xxviii. 9
tuated by His Spirit. If those who are loud in their complaints of the impure state of the outward and visible church of Christ on earth, would employ themselves in a faithful examination of their own hearts, they would find that they had enough to do to counteract the evil which is lodged there. Until a man has thoroughly reformed himself, he need not be surprised at seeing the evils which abound in the church in this imperfect state. But we are much more disposed to find fault with others than with ourselves. And the enemy of souls makes use of this natural disposition of the human heart to keep men from self-examination, and from that self-abasement which leads to the highest exaltation. For before honour is humility.* Evils will continue to abound in this world to the end of time; but then it will be manifest that the Great Head of the church does all things well; for then He will give a reward of grace to His believing people; and will repay them that hate Him to their face, and banish them for ever from His blissful presence.
As our blessed Lord was pleased to give an explanation of this parable in a subsequent part of the chapter, let us take it for our guide in considering the solemn truths which are here set before us; praying that the Holy Spirit may
4 Proverbs xv. 33.
be pleased to apply His word to our hearts, to the promotion of His glory and our spiritual benefit.
The parable contained in the Gospel for this day commences with stating that The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. The explanation afterwards given is this, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom. When the kingdom of heaven was set up on earth by our Lord Jesus Christ, it is said, As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. This is the way in which the church of Christ was formed. Through the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit, those who heard the word of God were enabled to receive the truth in the love of it. These
in the field of the In the holy Scrip
were the good seed sown world by the Son of man. tures we find regenerating grace uniformly ascribed to God as its author. From Him "all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed" in the first instance. He is the Author and Giver of spiritual life. This is stated in order to excite our gratitude to
5 John i. 12, 13.