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tion of false doctrines: which could never have been the case, unless the devil's tares had been mixed up with the wheat, and had grown so rank as to have gained the ascendancy over them.
On these grounds, therefore, as well as on others that might have been adduced, I am forced to come to the conclusion, notwithstanding that the Lord has graciously visited His people from time to time by revivals of religion, more or less marked and extended, that the historical fulfilment of this Parable has not yet taken place. And since it is the last Parable which touches upon the subject of the Church of Christ as a whole, I am inclined to think that it will not have its fulfilment until very near the close of this Dispensation; when numbers of believers will be driven by persecution from leaning (as so many now do,) upon false props, and holding false views, to trust wholly and only in the Lord their God: when, “filled with the Spirit,” they will then unitedly set forth with great power the pure truths of the Gospel of God,“ to the praise of the glory of His
And then will these believers see, and more fully realize in their own blessed heart-felt experience, in the words of one of the godly Puritans themselves, that “ Christ is every way too magnificent a Person for poor nature to close withal, or to apprehend. Christ is so infinitely holy, nature never durst look at Him; so infinitely good, nature can never believe Him to be such, when it lies under a full sight of sin. Christ is too high and glorious for nature so much as to touch. There must be a divine nature first put into the soul to make it lay hold on Him, He lies so infinitely beyond the sight or reach of nature. That Christ which natural free-will can apprehend, is but a natural Christ of a man's own making, not the Father's Christ nor Jesus the Son of the living God, to Whom none can come, without the Father's drawing (John vi. 44)."?
And now I come to the seventh, and concluding Parable in the series, which runs as follows :-“Again, the kingdom
1 Eph. i. 6.
? From Wilcox's “ Christ is All."
of the heavens is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind : which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the age," acôvos : “the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
In this Parable, which reaches from the commencement to the close of this Dispensation, and which, therefore, synchronizes with the first Parable, we have the purpose of God more clearly unfolded; that the preaching of the Gospel was never intended in this age to convert the whole world to Christ.
This “sea," as I have before observed, represents the whole mass of fallen Adam humanity, lying "dead," before God, “in trespasses and sins.” For “the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace saith my God to the wicked." Hence the four great world powers, as we have seen in our history of that period, are represented as “coming up from this
“The great whore,” likewise, is depicted as “ sitting upon many waters; a figure which is explained as symbolizing “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”3 While Antichrist himself is represented as "a beast, rising up out of the sea."4
The“ net,” which was cast into” this “sea,” of course represented the preaching of “the Gospel of the grace of God;" and the “gathering” out of it, the effect of that preaching upon the world at large. Our Lord Himself used this very figure, after the miraculous draught of fishes, when He" said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” And when men have been deeply convinced of sin through the preaching of the Word, they may fairly be said to have been caught in this net. Nevertheless as
3 Rev. xvii. 1, 15.
1 Isaiah lvii. 20, 21.
2 Dan. vii. 3.
some have only been convicted in conscience under the Law, and not quickened in spirit by God the Holy Ghost, they are distinguished in the Parable from the “good” fish, who have. This figure of a net is used in other parts of the Scriptures, to symbolize such captures. Thus Job speaks, “Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with His net.”l And the Psalmist, “Thou broughtest us into the net; Thou laidest affliction upon our loins."'?
And yet once more, “For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.'
This net, we are told, when it was cast “into the sea,” did not of course enclose all the fishes that were in the sea, but “gathered” out of it “ some ” only “of every kind ;” that is to say, the Parable teaches, that the preaching of the Gospel would not have the effect even of bringing all men into the professing Church of Christ; but only of
gathering” together “some of them out “ of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation : "4 for “this Gospel of the kingdom,” said Jesus, “shall be preached for a witness, unto all nations; and then shall the end come. And this word “gather,” is applied in the Scriptures to both " “ good” and “bad.” Thus of the good, it is said, “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." And again, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee." And again, “he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.”8 And so at His second coming
1 Job xix. 6.
? Psalm lxvi. 11.
3 Eccl. ix. 12,
“ Gather My Saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice."1 Again, of the evil it is also said, “Gather not my soul with sin
men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.''3 And the time will come when God will “gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat” for judgment.
As the remainder of the Parable needs no further explanation on my part, I need say nothing farther about it, beyond noting, that it clearly teaches, what the second Parable, as also the rest of Scripture likewise does, that the “good as well as the “ bad” all remain here on earth until the second coming of the Lord : when a discrimination takes place between them; the one being accepted, while the other is rejected—the “sitting down” representing “the judgment seat of Christ;"5 and the “ vessels,” the resurrection bodies of the saints, now “raised again in glory." For then “the sovereignties of this world 'will' become the sovereignties of our Lord, and of His Christ ;” and “the time of the dead” will have come “ that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the
And then “the MYSTERY of God” will“ be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the pro
And having now reached the close of the Dispensation ; and having thus manifested the utter failure of the Church of Christ to live up to its “high calling of God in Christ Jesus," so as to glorify God in the world; and having
Psalm I. 5. See also 2 Thes. ii. 1 ; Mat. xxiv. 31. 2 Psalm xxvi. 9.
3 John xv. 6.
4 Joel üi. 1-16. 5 Acts xxv. 17 ; Rom. xiv. 10 ; 2 Cor. v. 10; Rom. ii. 16; 1 Cor. iv. 5. 6 2 Cor. iv. 7 ; 1 Thes. iv. 4 ; Rom. ix. 23. 71 Cor. xv. 43.
8 Rev. xi. 15, 18. 9 Rev. x. 7. The gathering of the wicked also into vessels, might denote also degrees among the lost—a doctrine which is also very clearly taught in the Word. See Mat. xxii, 14 ; Luke xii. 47, 48.