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DISCOURSE XL.

PART 1.

MATTHEW xiii. 29.

But he said, Nay; left while ye gather up the tares, ye root

up also the wheat with them.

To understand the text we must look back as far as the twenty-fourth verse of this chapter, where our Saviour puts forth a parable, comparing the kingdom of heaven to a man who fowed good feed in his field; but while men Nept, his enemy came and fowed tares among the wheat. When they both sprung up and appeared in the field, the servants, under a surprise at the disappointment, report it to their master; Sir, didst not thou fow good feed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants reply, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? In answer to which follow the words of the text, But he said, Nay ; left while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

Take away the dress of parable, and what our Sa-". viour here delivers amounts to this; there will al

VOL. II.

ways be a mixture in the world of good and bad men, which no care or diligence can prevent ;

and though men may and will judge, that the wicked ought immediately to be cut off by the hand of

God, yet God judges otherwise, and delays his ven· geance for wise and just reasons; sparing the wicked at present for the sake of the righteous; reserving all to that great day in which the divine justice shall be fully displayed, and every man shall receive according to his own works.

The view of this parable has, in some parts of it, I think, been misapprehended. It is intended to represent the necessary condition of mankind, some being good, some bad ; a mixture which, from the very nature of mankind, is always to be expected; and to justify God in delaying the punishment of those fins, which all the world think are ripe for vengeance. This being the view of the parable, it is going out of the way to consider the particular causes to which the sins of men may be ascribed; for the question is not, from whence the sins of men arise; but why, from whatever cause they {pring, they are not punished ? In the parable therefore our Lord assigns only a general reason of the wickedness of the world, An enemy hath done. this. But there are, who think they see another reason assigned in the parable, namely, the carelefrness of the public governors and rulers, intimated in those words, But while men sept, his enemy came and fowed tares among the wheat : and this text always finds a place in such complaints. And there is indeed no doubt, but that the negligence of governors and magiftrates, civil and ecclefiaftical,

may be often one cause of the ignorance and wickedness of the people: but that it is assigned as a cause in the parable cannot be proved ; for these words, while men Nept, instead of charging the fervants with negligence, plainly shew, that no care or diligence of theirs could prevent the enemy. Whilst they were awake, their care was awake also, and the enemy had no access : but sleep they must, nature requires it; and then it was the enemy did the mischief. Had it been said, while men played, or were careless, or riotous, that would have been a charge upon them ; but to say, while men Nept, is so far from proving that their negligence caused it, that it plainly proves their diligence could not prevent it. For, what will you say? Should husbandmen never sleep? It is a condition upon which they cannot live, and therefore their sleeping cannot be charged as their crime. This circumstance therefore in the parable is to shew, not the fault of the husbandmen, but the zeal and industry of the enemy to do mischief. Watch him as narrowly as you will, yet still he will break through all your Care and diligence. If you do but step aside, compelled by the call of nature, to eat, to drink, or to sleep, he is ready to take the opportunity to low his tares; and the ground, which will not answer the husbandman's hope without his toil, and labour, and cost, will produce the ill seed of its own accord, and yield but too plentiful a crop. Farther, the character of the husbandmen throughout the parable agrees to this exposition : when they saw the tares spring up, they betrayed no consciousness of guilt or negligence; they did not come with excuses to their master, but with a question, which plainly speaks how little they mistrusted themselves : Sir, didst not thou fow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? Would any fervant, who had suffered the field to grow wild by his own laziness, have expoftulated the case in such a manner? The master, far from charging any of his family with the fault, lays it at another door, An enemy hath done this. Upon which the servants, not sparing of their own pains, were desirous to go to work immediately, and to root out all the tares at once. What is there in all this that suits with the character of a lazy, idle, negligent servant ? What is there that does not speak a care and concern for their master's affairs ? As soon as they discover the tares, they go directly to their master, and inform him, and offer their service to root them out. In this particular he corrects their judgment, though he does not condemn their diligence. And, in truth, one main view of the parable is to correct the zeal of those, who cannot see the iniquity of the world without great indignation; and, not being able to stop or to correct it themselves, are apt to call upon God to vindicate his own caufe, by taking. the matter to himself, and punishing the evil doers. The men who have this zeal and warmth against iniquity, are not commonly the idle, negligent ru. lers ; nor can we suppose that our Saviour would paint the same men in such different colours in the compass of a short parable, representing them idle and careless at the twenty-fifth verse, active and zealous at the twenty-eighth. Besides, as was obferved before, to charge the wickedness of the

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