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is the accomplishment of the prophetic declarations of our Lord in this parable and in other parts of Scripture, that his Church should thus become infected and overspread with wickedness. ' But how has this evil been introduced ? Did Christ hiinself introduce it? No. He fowed good feed only. Did he approve the introduction of tares among his wheat? No. When he beheld them, he said, an enemy bath done this. As it was his purpose that the members of his Church should be put to the proof, and receive the gift of salvation through his blood after a course of willing obedience ; he did not bar the entrance against temptation, he did not preclude the existence and ravages of evil. But the author of evil in his Church he stigmatised as an enemy. And who was this enemy? Our Lord has disclosed him. The enemy that fowed the tares is the devil. The author of the evil by which the world, antecedently to the promulgation of the Gospel, was overwhelmed had not remained unknown. Since the hour when judgement was pronounced in Paradise on the transgreffors, he had been declared. Since the hour when the third chapter of the book of Genesis was penned, he had stood

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recorded. From the same fountain all the waters of bitterness have flowed. He who has scattered evil throughout the Christian world is that adversary of God and man, who, in the beginning, brought evil upon carth. From the beginning he was a father of lies and a murderer. By inducing Adam and Eve first to doubt the revealed will of God, and then to disobey his positive commandment; Satan became their master, Their pofterity he viewed as his llaves ; the world as his empire. When the avenger of man, the divine Redeemer, came 'fo set the slaves of Satan free, to transform

the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God; the author of evil fought against him,- persecuted him, bruised his heel, effected his death. When the grave had given back its conqueror, when the good feed which Christ had sown began to flourish ; the devil renewed all his wiles to fmother the rising harvest. He came, while men slept, and sowed tares among the wheat. He exerted every effort of subtlety to draw back into bondage thofe who were rescued from his power. He darkened the understandings, and took poffeffion of the hearts of men who watched not against him, listened to his artifices,


and obeyed not the grace of God. He filled them with the love of false doctrines and of evil deeds. And those whom he had ensnared into captivity he employed as instruments for taking others captive. Hence heretical teachers are termed by St. Paul ministers and apostles of Satan, Hence also St. John affirms that every one who committeth fin is of the devil. The tares are the children of the wicked one. The seed which Satan sows and the crop which', it produces ; evil suggestions, and the per sons who are governed by them, equally belong to Satan, are equally tares of his planting. To this hour he continues his enmity against the followers of Christ. By inward temptation, by the allurements of finful example ; by blinding men to the true meaning of the Scriptures; by diffusing ignorance, and lukewarmness, and fanaticism, and pride, and every abominable work of the flesh, he brings multitudes of profeffed Christians into his fetters. It is through his persevering enmity that, when youlook abroad into the field of the Christian church, you behold the good feed reduced to ftruggle, as it were, for life against the tares which on every fide cling around it, and labour to overtop it. N4

· II.


* II. Though you charge not God as the author of fin; though you confess that he cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth be any man : yet perhaps your mind has been astonished and perplexed at his forbearance and long-suffering respecting wickedness. “ When imperfect beings are “ placed in a state of trial; the admission “ of evil,” you may have said to yourself, « is unavoidable. But why are sinners per“mitted so long to triumph in impunity, " in success? I know that God is merciful,

and solicitous that all should come to “ repentance. But why does he allow “ men to flourish or to live, when they “ become hardened beyond the prospect “ of repentance? I know also that he em. ploys the wicked for the chastisement of “ each other, and as instruments of probation « to the righteous. But might not the « wicked be chastised by other means ? « Might not the righteous be tried without “ the concession of fo great power, of such “ lengthened prosperity, to the guilty? The « delay of vengeance is encouragement to “ fin. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily; therefore the heart of the fons of men is fully fet in them to s do evil. They begin to imagine that miss ni : ......God

w God will never execute his, judgements ss in their threatened extent; or that he

will never execute them at all; or even that he is indifferent as to good or evil,

Why," you enquire, “ has the Almighty · " adopted such a plan in the government “ of his church?” He has adopted it because He foresees that it will contribute to the more glorious manifestation of his own perfections, and to the increase of happiness throughout the universe. He : permits the continuance of evil so far, and so far only, as he knows that it will finally promote the establishment of good. Prolonged opportunities of repentance, means of worldly chastisement and probation, are benefits which you acknowledge to arise from the exercise of divine forbearance towards the guilty. Can you compute the amount of these benefits? Can you affirm that it exceeds not the evils with which it is accompanied? Can you affirm that a different system of moral government would on the whole he productive of superior, of more abundant, good ? Turn however to the parable before you ;, and read another motive, equally forcible and full of mercy, for the long-suffering of God. He abftains from commissioning his ministering angels


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