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and given to the Gentiles: for when the Gentiles heard this saying, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord.
When the Saviour perceived that the scribe gave a discreet answer respecting the divine requiremient to love God, and said ; thou art not far from the kingdom of God, it is evident that he meant that he was possessed of an understanding which approached very near to the pure light of the gospel of his divine mercy.
In the chapter where our text is recorded, the Saviour compares the kingdom of heaven to a man that sowed good seed in his field ; but-while men slept an enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. Here it is plain that he represented his doctrine which he preached, by wheat sown in a field, and the false doctrines which would be introduced into his church by tares. In the same chapter the divine teacher represents the kingdom of heaven by “leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” The hearer will readily perceive that in this last parable the Saviour designed to set forth the efficacy of his doctrine, the sure progress it would make, and the final reconciliation of all men to its laws and requirements. The parable of the mustard seed is very similar, and so is that of a man's casting seed into the ground, its growing night and day, and producing first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.
By what we have noticed already, it appears that the Saviour by his comparisons of the king. dom of heaven, varied his representations accordingly as he would represent different particulars When he would represent both true doctrine and false, he made use of wheat and tares; but when he would represent the simple and pure operations and progress of the gospel of his grace, he used the similitude of leaven ; and so in the parable under consideration, when he would represent that many
the ble would come into the profession of the gospel, and the would appear to be converts from the vain tradi
tions of the elders, to the spiritual religion of Jesus, he seth who yet in fact were no others than such as said ivine Mi
to him, Lord, Lord, but did not the will of his
Father in heaven; or the man who came to the hat he wedding without a suitable garment; or those
who were represented in the parable of the sower, as those who received seed on stony places, and were not sufficiently rooted in the truth and love of it to endure persecutions ; or those who re
ceived seed among thorns, whose attention to why earthly things prevented the growth of the truth
in them, he compares the kingdom to a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind.
We are now brought to contemplate our subject as applicable to what was then taking place, when the Saviour was engaged in the ministery with his twelve, and with his seventy. When he called Simon Peter, and Andrew his brother, from their professional business, who were fishermen, he said to them ; "follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." To indulge in the use of the figure under consideration, we may say, that Jesus and those whom he ordained to preach the gospel of the kingdom, cast the net of their ministry, drew it through all the land of Judea, and encompassed a vast multitude, who professod to believe the gospel; some of them were genuine converts, some followed for the sake of the loaves, some joined themselves to the name because others did, not having the “root of the matter" in them.
In this view. of our subject, we discover what is perfectly similar to what we know of human nature in the present time. To say nothing concerning the differences which exist between the various denominations, it is obvious that many make a profession of Christianity, who neither know nor feel its vital principles. These are known by their fruits, men do not gather grapes
of thorns, nor figs of thistles. We see all that in desin worldy pride, and haughtiness, all that spirit of the publ judging and condemning, all that bigotry and zied
, m superstition among many of our professors, which characterized the enemies of Jesus in the days Up tin of his flesh. And though such people may profess as true Christianity either in consequence of deceiving ute ph themselves, or with a design to deceive others, they are no better than bad fish caught in a net designed and used to procure the good.
Let these remarks suffice on our first particular, which is to understand what the Saviour meant by the kingdom of heaven, and by its being like a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, both good and bad.
Our next object is to ascertain what is meant in our text by the end of the world, and the severing the wicked from among the just.
By the end of the world, according to the vain traditions of the church, is meant the end of the duration of this material system which we inhabit. And as we read in several passages of scripture, of the great sufferings of many at the end of the world, tradition finds it perfectly easy to carry these sufferings into a future state. But our preachers who endeavour to support this doctrine of future torment, as we have already hinted; depend entirely on tradition to apply the end of the world in this way. We never hear them take up the subject, by calling the attention of their hearers, or readers to a careful inquiry for the scrip ture use of these words, “ the end of the world." They never undertake to prove, by any sort of argument, that by the end of the world is necessarily meant the dissolution of the present order of the universe. As long as they think the people believe this notion, they have no occasion to prove it, and the probability is that when they find that the people are better informed on this subject, they will then say nothing about it.
Though we are as we ought to be, very far
see all from desiring to find fault with others, merely to that is set the public mind against them, we do feel conbiau strained, most solemnly to protest against the
common practice of terrifying the minds of the in the naturally timid, with the awful representations of DITE what is usually called, The end of the world. It is i ter true, the philosopher can carelessly pass the idle e Tee hour in hearing what he believes is an idle story,
without absolutely tormenting his own feelings; but women and children suffer incalculably in consequence of those representations, which they hear from the pulpit, and from the lips of those who never once called the subject in question, never thought of proving the horrible story with which they torment those, whom they ought to, instruct in the doctrine of peace on earth and good will toward men.”
But you will say, that, let what will be meant ing by the end of the world, our text informs us, that
at that time, the “angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire.” That we may understand what the Saviour meant by the end of the world, and the severing of the wicked from among the just; let us examine his own words on the same subject, recorded in other passages. But let us first remark, that whenever the Redeemer spake of a similar separation of the righteous and the wicked, or of rewarding the one and punishing the other, we should do well to understand him to be speaking of the same event, though his language may somewhat vary.
When he described the end of the world, as we read in the 24th chapter of Matthew, he spake of this same event of a separation which should be made by the angels. See verses 30, 31, then shall appear the sign of the son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the 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, and they shall gather together Serenat. his elect from the four winds, from one end of tertion heaven to the other.” He then immediately certified his disciples that all these things should take place in that generation. In our labours on this and the following chapter in endeavouring to illus trate the parable of the sheep and the goats, we 2 and have shown that what the Saviour meant by the end of the world was the destruction of Jerusalem and the breaking up and dispersion of the nation of the Jews by Titus. The hearer is requested tieniom to read the 24th of Matthew with attention, and observe, that when the Saviour speaks of the end, he then says; " Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains,” &c.
What the divine teacher stated in the 24th chapter as the end of the world, and carefully confined the time to that generation, he represented by three parables in the 25th. And it is directly to our purpose to observe, that in these several
"Nov parables the same thing is very plainly set forth which we find in the text now under consideration. In the first parable the wise and the foolish virgins, mean the same as is meant in our text by the justieto and the wicked ; in that of the talents, those who improved their Lord's money, and he that neglected so to do, represent the same thing ; and it is
. worthy of observation, that it is here said, “cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” which agrees with the conclusion of our text ; “ There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." So also, in the parable of the sheep and goats, the same distinction is made.
The argument on which we rest this subject is the following: As it is evident, and out of all dispute, that the Saviour confined the end of the world and the separation between the righteous and the wicked to the generation in which he lived, it seems. necessary to apply the end of the world, mentioned in our text, to the same period