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at least, private conversation. I confess I was alarmed at the word private, having suffered so greatly from private interviews with religious professors; yet, on recurrence to his conduct toward me, I accused myself of injustice, and the conscious hue of self-reproach tinged my cheek.
I shall leave town on the ensuing day, Sir, but my morning shall be devoted to you.
"Thank you, Sir; I shall expect you with
The morning came, and I repaired to the mansion of this reverend gentleman. I found him seated in his hall, with his Bible in his hand.
Mr. H. I rejoice to see you, Sir; I hope you have good health and spirits this morning.
Murray. Thank you, Sir, tolerable; you look well, and I am happy to see you thus employed.
Mr. H. I have earnestly desired this interview, Sir, and my object is truth. I believe there is no person in the world, more earnestly desires the welfare of his species than myself: nor do I think there is an individual in existence, who would be more happy to find your doctrine scripturally true. But, at present there are a number of scriptures, which appear to me point blank against it.
M. But, Sir, should we not receive one part of scripture as the word of God, as much as another? and if those testimonies which we denominate sacred, are indeed the word of God, must they not be consistent ?
Mr. H. Undoubtedly they must, and undoubtedly they are; and yet, do they not appear contradictory?
M. Not to me, Sir; if they did, I would reject the Bible altogether.
Mr. H. If you will permit me, I will just turn your attention to a few passages.
M. Certainly, Sir, they shall have my most serious attention.
Mr. H. Well, Sir, what are we to understand by the tares and the wheat? and the chaff and the wheat?
M. Pray, Sir, let us attend to one scripture at a time, that we may the better understand them; for I, my dear Sir, am as much interested in these scriptures as you are, and were I to find a single passage directly opposed to me, it would render me extremely unhappy. Yet, it would not be consistent with the character of
those who profess to search the scriptures, to pass over any of the words of our God, without diligent investigation. The parables no doubt contain much matter, and matter of infinite importance. The disciples, when they found their Master speaking to the multitude in an unknown tongue, anxiously enquired the reason: Why speakest thou to the people in parables? and I have thought their astonishment must have been very great, when he replied: "That they should not understand, lest they should be converted and healed." This answer, I say, must have appeared exceeding strange to those, who supposed the sole purpose of his preaching was to give information. To you, said the blessed Saviour, it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to others I speak in parables that they may not know.
Had the Jews known what those parables contained, where would have been found a hand so wicked as to crucify the Son of God? how would the scriptures have been fulfilled, and how could he have made an end of sin? how could he have atoned or expiated? but this, perhaps, is unnecessarily wandering from our purpose. Of the propriety of those arrangements, which are under the direction of infinite wisdom, there can be no doubt.
I will tell you, my dear Sir, how I used to conceive of the parable of the wheat and the tares. The tares I supposed emblematic of the sinners among mankind, and the wheat I regarded as figures of the righteous. Yet, there were times when I could not avoid thinking, although fearful to indulge my reflections. At length I was favoured with an explanation of this parable, by the greatest and best preacher I ever heard. This preacher, my dear Sir, assured me, that the tares and the wheat, although they grew together, had not the same origin, did not proceed from the same Father, and were not sown by the same seedsman; but, when the blade sprung up the tares also became visible, and the angels of God who sang together on the morning of creation, when their Creator pronounced the work of his hands very good, on observing these tares, and the grain producing such fruit as envy, hatred, malice, and finally murder, these angels, or servants of the household, said, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed? whence then hath it these tares? Observe, and weigh well the reply of the Master, An enemy hath done this. Can we forbear taking this with us to the garden of Eden, and reflecting upon what was done there, and upon subsequent events?
The angels knew that there was no enemy but the fallen spirits, and fearful that they would injure and overcome the human nature, asked leave to undo what the enemy had done. "Wilt thou then, that we go and gather them up?" I have often thought that this was one of the occasions, upon which Jehovah might justly charge his angels with folly; for if our God would have permitted them to gather up what this enemy had sowed, could he not as easily have prevented the adversary from sowing the tares? but, said he, "Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 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."
When, I say, turning aside from the inventions of my own mind and the traditions of men, I accompany the disciples to him, who is the august fountain of all wisdom, and say, Declare unto me, O my God, the parable of the tares of the field, I listen to this divine preacher, and I hear him speak as never man spake. 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; but the tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels.
As, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world. 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. "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Thus, blessed be God, we are presented by our omnipotent Redeemer, with an explanation as infallible as our text; and our explanation is like its great origin, truly divine.
We can be at no loss to designate the Son of man; he is the only wise God our Saviour. I am God the Saviour, said he, Isaiah xliv. 21, "And there is no God else beside me; a just God, and a Saviour, there is none beside me." "By him, and for him all things were made," Hebrew i. 2. And the spirit of God informs us, John, i. 3, "All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." And a cloud of witnesses
might be cited to prove that all the seed which the immaculate Being soweth is good, very good. There is no one who acknowledgeth the existence of a God, and believes him the Creator of man, who will deny, that when God made man, he made him upright. The Heathens by the light of Nature, affirmed, that evil could not proceed from God. Evil, say they, is only suffered, not decreed. The field is the world, the good seed are the children of the kingdom. If we are solicitous to obtain an accurate idea of this kingdom, we have only to look into the prophecy of Daniel, iv. 14: "And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him : his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.".
But the tares are the children of the wicked one. What is this? Did the adversary ever produce either the soul or body of a single individual among the family of man? Assuredly not. Could angels propagate, they would produce angels. Every tree produceth fruit after its kind. This wicked one produceth wickedness. Hence he is said to be a liar from the beginning, and the father of lies. He could sow none but his own seed, that is wickedness. This is the enemy who sowed the seed, the bad seed. Thus, it is the good and the bad, like light and shade in a well wrought picture, are contrasted through the whole of divine revelation. But the seed sown by the adversary will continue only until the harvest; that is the end of the world, and at that period when the visible heavens shall be thrown back as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, will be displayed that other, that better world, into which all the seed sown by the Son of man, the Son of God, shall be gathered; and all the seed sown by the son of Perdition, shall be shut out.
Thus, those angels of God, who at the birth of time united hymn the praises of the Most High, when they beheld his finished work, and who saw with astonishment the fruit produced by what they deemed so perfect, will not only be permitted, but will be sent forth to gather out of their Creator's kingdom, every thing which originates from the wicked one; with the enemy who sowed these tares, with the fiends who still propagate iniquity, and to send them into that fire, which, from before the foundation of the world, was prepared for the devil and his angels.
Then will loud acclamations through all heaven resound, and every creature in heaven, and who dwell on earth, shall unite to celebrate the harvest home. When the husbandman hath returned, when he hath brought his sheaves with him, when his angels have gathered out of his kingdom whatsoever can injure or deform, then will the felicity of the subjects of this kingdom be complete.
David in the twenty-second Psalm, and Daniel in the seventh chapter of his prophecy, inform us, that this kingdom consists of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues: and although there are many things which at present offend in this kingdom, for offences will come, but woe unto him by whom they come ; yet, when every thing which gives offence to God or his kingdom, shall be gathered out of it, and them which do iniquity, when the tares sowed and the doer of the deed is consigned to outer darkness, where is wailing and gnashing of teeth, every offence with its consequence shall cease. Is there, who, while investigating this passage, can forbear a recurrence to the garden of Eden? who doth not seem to hear their God and Father addressing the author of every evil-Because thou hast done this thou art cursed! We do not, my dear Sir, learn that any curse was pronounced upon Adam, or his companion; the labour with which he was thread was not a curse; the bread of the labourer is sweet: but again, and again, we say, that we anticipate a day, when the separation completely made, the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and, give me leave to say, that until that period there will be found no righteous man, except the man Christ Jesus; there are none righteous, no, not one. The sower continues to sow his seed, and the tares are multiplied, they will grow together until the harvest, when the prophecy of Isaiah, in the 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st verses of his 60th chapter, will be completely fulfilled :
"Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.
"The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.
"Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.