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On the Mixture of Bad Men with the
Matth. xiii. 30.
Let both grow together until the harvejt,
M.r I ^HE parable, of which these words JL are a part, contains a prophetical description of the state of the church. Our Lord predicts that the societies of Christians were to be infected with persons of loose principles and bad dispositions, whom he likens to tares springing up among wheat. He intimates that there should arise some whose officious
zeal would prompt the desire of exter-SERM. minating immediately all such evil men; i^.y^y but that this were contrary to the designs of providence, and to the spirit of Christianity j that a complete separation was indeed to be made at last between the good and the bad; but that this separation was to be delayed till the end of the world, when, in the stile of the parable, the tares should be entirely gathered out from among the wheat. Lit both grow together until the harvest.
When we look around us, nothing is more conspicuous in the state of the world, than that broad mixture of the . religious and the impious, the virtuous and the wicked, which we find taking place in every society. Strong objections seem hence to arise against either the wisdom or goodness of divine Providence; especially when we behold bad men not only tolerated in the world, but occasionally exalted in their circumstances, to the depression of the just. Why, it will be said, isa Supreme Being exist, E 2 and
M.and if his justice rule the universe, doe? j he allow such irrfamous persons as the records of history often present, to have a place, and even to make a figure in his world ? Why steeps she riiunder idle in his hand, 'when it could so easily Hast them? What shall we think of one who,having the power of ex terminating them always at his command, permits them to proceed without disturbance j nay, sometimes appears to look on rfeem with Complacency ?—It becomes highly worthy of our attention to consider what answer can be made to these objections j to inquire whether any reasons can be> given that serve to justify this dispensation of Providence, in allowing, a mixture of bad men to continue on the face of the earth until the end of time. Thisinquiry mail make the subject of the present discourse, together with such reflections as naturally arise from survey-* ing the state os human affairs.
But, before entering directly on such
inquiry, it may be proper to take no-SERM.
mp$$$ to be denies thai a ra^fitude
S E R M. of gross and notorious sinners are now i.-,.-^ mixed with the followers of God and virtue. Let us proceed then to consider how far this is consistent with the justice and wisdom of the Governpr of the world.
It is a principle in which all serious and reflecting persons haye agreed, and which by many arguments is confirmed, that our present state on earth is designed to be a state of discipline and improvement, in order to fit human nature for a higher and better state which it is to attain hereafter. Now, this principle being once admitted, we fay, that the mixture of virtue and vice which here prevails, is calculated to answer this purpose better than a more unmixed and perfect state of society would have done,"
For, in the first place, the crimes or* the wicked give occasion to the exercise pf many excellent dispositions of heart among the righteous. They bring forth