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plied to himself.
Hence we learn that the design of the Messiah's kingdom, and the extent of it, had been kept a secret, unknown to men of former ages, from the beginning of the world.
37. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the son of man.
38. The field is the world : the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the weeds are the children of the wicked one.
39. The enemy that sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
40. As, therefore, the weeds are gathered and burnt in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world.
41. The son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and them which do iniquity.
By things that offend are meant, all things which lead men to forsake the profession of Christianity, an effect which the wicked lives of Christians are likely to produce. The persons reserved for the fire are those that do iniquity, men of immoral lives, and not of harmless mistaken opinions, as some have imagined.
42. And shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
There shall be the inost excruciating agony, such as men express by the most violent symptoms.
43. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
That is, Then when they are purified from the soc. iety of wicked men. These words seem to be borrowed from Daniel, who, speaking of the resurrection of the dead, says, “Then shall they that be wise shine forth as the brightness of the firmament; and they that have turned many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.”
Who hath ears to hear let him hear,
1. How painful is it to reflect that the design of the first of these parables has been so little attended to þy Christians; and that such unspeakable mischiefs have hence arisen to the world! The followers of Jesus have acted upon principles directly opposite to those of patience and forbearance which God prescribes to himself in regard to the wicked, and which he wishes us to follow. Wherever they have discovered sentiinents on religious subjects different from their own, they have not hesitated to pronounce those who maintained them, vicious and abandoned, the children of the wicked one; and have proceeded to treat them with the same violence with which the servants of the householder proposed to treat the weeds--to root them out of the world. In performing this work, they have imagined that the more pain they could inflict upon the
unhappy sufferer, or his connections, the greater ab. horrence they expressed of his dangerous principles, and the more acceptable their services to the Divine Being. Foolish and infatuated men! to imagine that the Father of mankind could be pleased to see his children destroyed; and that acts of cruelty could be acceptable to that Being whose first prerogative is mercy,
2. The principle upon which the servants of the housholder are forbidden to pluck up the weeds, lest they should at the same time root up the wheat, shews us the injustice of wars as they have been most commonly conducted; when they have been undertaken by nations, not to defend their liberties and independence, but to revenge injuries committed by individuals: when thus waged, they destroy the innocent with the guilty, root up the wheat with the weeds, and become acts of injustice and inhumanity. Blessed be those nations who shall renounce, in their practice as well as in their principles, all wars of revenge and punishment: they will prevent the shedding of much innocent blood; they will greatly diminish the sum of human misery, and imitate the noble example of patience and forbearance which is given us by God, who suffers the guilty to go unpunished, rather than injure the innocent.
3. Let not wicked inen flatter themsclves that because they are treated with so much lenity in the present world, they shall escape punishment in the next. They now associate themselves with the good, and enjoy the same benefits and privileges with them: hence they may be led to imagine that they shall always receive the like favour; but let not men trust to these appearances. They are now suffered to go unpunished, and to partake of the bounties of Providence, in common with the servants of God, from motives of tenderness to them, and of compassion to those with whom they are connected: but the season of separation is approaching, and, when that event has taken place, they may be treated with the severity which their crimes deserve, without injury to the innocent. This is the
period which they ought to fear: for it is no light evil which they will then have to endure; but a dreadful furnace of fire, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
0 gather not my soul with the wicked, but let me be bound up in the bundle of life!*
4. Let not those who have a just cause to support, be discouraged by the smallness of their numbers. In the case of the Christian religion, you see what great effects have followed from small beginnings: how the grain of mustard seed has arisen to a large and spreading tree. Your cause, if it be protected and favoured by Providence, as every good cause must be, will do the same.
It may have but few advocates at present, and it may lie under great discouragements; but the number of its friends shall increase, till it at length triumphs over all opposition. Desert not then a cause which is favoured by heaven, and which will one day be successful.
Matthew xiii. 44. to the end.
44. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, or, rather, “to hidden treasure in a field;" the which when a man hath found, he hideth, rather, “ keepeth secret,” and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field,
By this and the following parable, our Lord represents the great value of the gospel, and the wisdom of parting with all that we have, in order to secure the blessings which it contains. No moral is given to them, because the design of them was sufficiently evident to the disciples, from those which he had explained before. It is not a treasure of money which seems to be here intended, but of rich earth, or profitable ore; which the man could not get at without turning up the soil. He therefore bought the field: for this purpose he is represented as selling all that he hath; to teach us that the love of glory, of riches and of pleasure, is to be renounced, and, if there be occasion, every thing else that is valuable in life abandoned, in order to preserve an interest in the promises of the gospel. The conduct of the man who makes such sacrifices is wise and just, and worthy of our imitation. The character of this man seems to be here mentioned by way of opposition to that described before, in verse 21; “who hath not root in himself; but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
* i Sam. xxv. 29.
45. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant-man, seeking goodly pearls;
46. Who, when he had found one pearl of great
of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
As he is said to have found a treasure who has ob. tained some great good, so a thing of great price, such as the gospel is, is justly compared to a pearl. In the use of this comparison, our Lord alludes to a well-known maxim among the Jews, that wisdom is to be preferred to silver and gold and rubies, which is frequently expressed in the proverbs of Solomon. The same thing was intended by both these parables; the inestimable value of the gospel; but there is some difference in the representation of the manner in which it is obtained. The hidden treasure in the field seems to have been found by one who did not look for it; but the merchant-man who found the pearl was searching for such precious substances: so the evangelical doctrine shone upon some who never thought any thing concerning it, or of the hope of another life, or of reforming their lives.