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idleness and supineness to lead them into error, which is productive of sin, and they by this means become the children of the evil one: thus it happens that there is in the world a mixture of good and bad people; so that we find God is not the author of evil, but the devil. God, indeed, permits evil, in order to shew forth his power, justness, and goodness; for he makes even bad men instrumental to the purposes of his providence. Sometimes they become, though they know it not, like the proud Assyrian king, the staff of God's indignation, for the chastisement of other sinners; and God frequently renders their darling vices punishments to themselves. Wickedness also furnishes many occasions for the trial of virtue and the exercise of goodness, and so contributes to the ultimate happiness of the children of the kingdom. It would be impossible to entirely extirpate all the wicked, without involving the good in a variety of misfortunes; we must therefore perceive, that it is better that they should be reserved for a future judgment; and we find that, at the end of the world, our Lord will come with great majesty and solemnity, attended by his holy Angels, to render unto every one according to his deserts.
The comparison of the good seed and the tares, is not only applicable to the world in general, but may be extended to every Christian in particular. Christ sows the seed by affording us the light of the Gospel, and he will supply us with divine grace for the cultivation of it; but Satan will endeavour to counteract tiiese gracious purposes, by his delusions and temptations. Eaclkef us, then, instead of censuring the actions of others, should endeavour to reform our own hearts, that, at the great day of final retribution, we may be received into the
t. kingdom kingdom of heaven, and escape those dreadful punish, ments, which will be greater fhan imagination can paint.
Our Lord has not left a particular explanation of the other parables related in this section; but we may un, derstand by that of the grain of mustard.seed, that the Gospel should prevail against all opposition, and at length spread far and near. This parable was prophetic, and we now behold the completion of it. The mustardtree alluded to was of a different kind from what grows amongst us: travellers relate, that in the Eastern countries this plant increases to a very large size.
By the similitude of leaven our Lord signified, that inconsiderable as the Gospel then appeared, it would work its way in the world, as leaven, by insensible fer, mentation, soon spread itself through the whole mass of bread. .
The parable of a merchant seeking goodly pearls seems to describe those persons who, in search of .wisdom and happiness, find by the word of God, that . these are included in the knowledge and practice of Christianity.
The net which was cast into the sea signified? that persons of all nations would be invited to Christianity; and that many of each would be received and rejected by our Saviour. In this ke again alludes to the day of judgment.
Thus did our Lord, in a manner somewhat obscure, but sufficiently clear to an attentive mind, teach irr.'portant truths that were unknown before. He required his'rtpostles to consider themselves as Scribes or expound, erstf the" Gospel; intimating, by the comparison of a prudent householder, that it was necessary for ministers ta lay in a store of Scripture knowledge, that they might be properly furnished for the edification of all who
should should come to them for instruction, and be able to prove divine truths, by arguments drawn either from the old or new dispensation, as occasion might require.
SECTION XLVI. Fart Of Isaiah's Hophect Relating To Tki
..' MESSIAH. .'
From Itaish, Chap. lxi.
The spirit of Jehovah is upon me, because JehoVah hath anointed me. To publish glad tidings to the meek hath he sent me; to bind up the broken-hearted; to proclaim to the captives freedom ; and to the bounden perfect liberty:
To proclaim the year of acceptance with Jehovah, and the day of vengeance of our God. To comfort all those that mourn; to impart gladness to the mourners ef Sion; to give them a beautiful crown, instead of ashes; the oil of gladness, instead of sorrow ; the clothing of praise, instead of the spirit of heaviness. That they may be called vtrees approved; the plantation of Jehovah for his glory *.
Ye shall be called the priests of Jehovah : the minis, ters of our God shall be your title. Instead of your shame, ye shall receive a double inheritance; and of your ignominy, ye shall rejoice in their portion: for in their lat*d a double share shall ye inherit; and everlasting gladness shall ye possess.
For I am Jehovah who love judgment, who hate rapine and iniquity: and i will give them the reward of their work with faithfulness; and an everlasting covenant I will make with them.
• A part of this prophecy is omitted, as it seems to relate entirely (0 * future restoration of the Jews.
And their seed shall be illustrious amongst the nations, and their offsprings in the midst of the people. All that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are a seed which Jehovah hath blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah; my soul shall exult in my God, For he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered me with the mintle of righteousness: as the bridegroom decketh himself with a priestly crown ; and as the bride adorneth herself with her costly jewels;
Surely as the earth putteth forth her tender shoots; and as a garden maketh her seed to "generate; so shall the Lord Jehovah cause righteousness to spring forth, and praise in the presence of all the nations.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
In the foregoing passage we may conceive the Divine Word, as speaking by the m©uth of the Prophet, anticipating the times of the Gospel; describing the office of the Messiah, and the happy effects of which his preaching would be productive to the meek, or those whose minds were disposed to receive it.
In the Jewish state there was every fiftieth year a Jubilee, or year of general release of debts and obligations, of bondmen and women, of lands and possessions which had been sold from the families and tribes to which they belonged. This institution was a type of the release from spiritual bondage to be given by the Messiah/ The year of acceptance with Jehovah wai (as we may judge) the Gospel Dispensation, including the first promulgation of it, and the day of final retribution. During this period all who mourned, according to the sense .in which our Saviour used the word in his Sermon on the Mount, were to be not only comforted, but -' filled filled with joy; to be particularly distinguished as aholy people, and to receive a double portion of spiritual blessings.
That they might, when they possessed these inestimable advantages, know from whence they were derived, the Prophet was inspired to speak expressly in the name of Jehovah, and promise, that he would Himself bestow on the faithful those rewards which his Anointed One should publish; and that they would be of eternal duration, and descend from them to their posterity.
The latter part of the prophecy describes the joy and exultation that would arise in the hearts of the faithful, from being, through the mercy of God, clothed with Sulfation, and covered ixiith righteousness.
. SECTION XLVII.
JISUS GOETH TO NAZARETH.'
From Luke, Chap. iv.—Matt. xiii.—Mark, vi.
And Jesus returned in the power of the spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, and stood up for to read.
And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias; and when he had opened the book, he iound the place where it was written,
The spirit of the Lord is upon mc, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath • sent