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to go forth and root up the tares, lest with them they should also root up the wheat.
Men, impelled by the desires and constrained by the necessities of their nature to live according to the intention of Providence in society, sind themselves in various respects closely united notwithstanding radical differences of views and of character. Neighbourhood, relationship, lawful occupations, common interest, mutual advantage, and the requisite offices and intercourse of life, bind together by numerous and inseparable ties the servant of God and the servant of Satan. The righteous and the wicked are so firmly connected, that affliction cannot overtake the latter without also reaching the former. The tares do not grow up singly and separately among the wheat: but are so twisted round it, so entangled among it, so interwoven with it, that to pull them up without pulling up the wheat is impossible. Less injury will result to the crop of good grain from their continuance, than from an attempt to extirpate them.
Suppose a nation, outwardly of the Christian church, to become memorable, for impiety; polluted in itself; a torment and a source of corruption to its neighbours.
You wonder that the earth does not cleave asunder beneath it: that fire does 'not fall from heaven and consume it: that by sword, or by famine, or by pestilence, divine vengeance does not sweep it to destruction. But does it contain no righteous remnant? When the prophet Elijah imagined that every Israelite except himself was become an idolater, God saw seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal. May not the eye of God discern thousands of righteous men, where you apprehend that there is not one? And what shall befall them? Shall they perish with the wicked? That be far from the Judge of the whole earth. Shall not perhaps the whole nation be spared for their sake? Had there been ten righteous in Sodom, God would not have destroyed it. On the prayer of Lot alone, he refrained from consuming the city of Zoar. Do you murmur, if he again vouchsafes to display similar mercy?
Suppose a more common example. Suppose an individual to be distinguished in wickedness; proud, sensual, dissolute, profane, a despiser of religion, a teacher and encourager of sin. "Why," you ask, "is "this man permitted to live, and to spread ** mischief around him year after year?
"No general calamity is requisite for his *' removal. Why does not Death single "him out at once?" How know you but that the man may live to repent? But, not to dwell on that possibility; are there no other persons for whose sake he may be spared? Is there no plant of wheat which might be fatally injured, if this weed were now plucked up ? Has he not parents, whose present interests are closely involved in his? Has he not a wife, or a child, who may be left destitute, if he should be cut off? Has he neither brother nor relative, nor friend, nor acquaintance, to whom his existence is at present useful: or to whom Omniscience may foresee that at a future period it will be advantageous? May not even his vices be overruled by the providence of God into beneficial warnings toothers? May not his pride teach some to cherish meekness? May not his intemperance evince the excellence of sobriety? May not his irreligion impress on others the beauty of holiness? In seasons of cold or of drought, or of immoderate rain, the proximity of a weed may for a time afford useful shelter to a stem of wheat. May not this weed be as yet suffered to grow, that it may answer a similar purpose?
III. But shall it always be thus? Shall the genuine corn never be disencumbered from the tares? Shall the wicked for ever be intermingled with the just? Not so. The harvest shall come; and then shall be the day of perpetual separation. Surrounded by angelic hosts, the Lord of the harvest of the whole earth, when the field of his church is fully ripe, shall return to examine the produce. The times of long-suffering will then have passed away. The motives for forbearance will no longer exist. Judgement will claim her office, and proceed to her appointed work. Gather ye together the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. Such, in the emblematical language of the parable, is the commission which the Lord Jesus Christ, seated on his throne of glory, shall deliver to his angels. With instantaneous obedience they shall execute the command. They Jhall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity. They shall sever from among the righteous all the children of the wicked one: all who have borne no fruit, or corrupt fruit: all who have not been purified by the blood of Christ, and sanctified by the operation of his grace. \Vhy shall
these these sinners be thus collected? Mark the words of your Judge; To be cast into a furnace off re: there fall be wailing and gnashing os teeth. They shall be collected, that they may receive the lot which they have preferred: that having refused the opportunities of mercy, they may be made the victims of justice: that they may be foe ever separated from God, whose service they have scorned, and may share the portion of the devil, the master whom they have chosen: that they may be cast into the lake of torment, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is never quenched. But what shall be the blessing of the children of the kingdom? They fall'fine forth as the fun in the kingdom of their Father. The empire of Satan is at end. He is cast into everlasting chains. He is groaning under everlasting punishment. His ministers and his subjects, apostate angels and revolted men, are for evermore sealed up with him in the bottomless pit. The Lord and his Christ have taken unto them their great power, and reign for ever and ever. The Son of God has enabled his servants, who through him have overcome the temptations of Satan, to sit down with Him upon his throne. He has caused the blefled of