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SERMON IX.

On the Parable of the Tares.

Matth. xiii. 36.

His disciples catne unto him,saying; Declare , unto us the parable of the tares of the Jield.

(JLOUDS and darkness are round about the Almighty: yet righteousness and judgement are the habitation of his throne [a\ Of the counsels of Infinite Wisdom some remain inscrutable to man. Hence faith is awakened, exercised, strengthened. From others of the divine dispensations the veil is partially withdrawn. Hence arise augmented admiration, livelier gratitude, warmer love. If the ancient prophets fully understood not the import of their own predictions; if there were mysteries in the plan of re

(a) Psalm xcvii. 2.

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dem^non l&tfi which the angels_earnestly desired to obtain a" more penetrating inlight (b): shall man complain, if, for his own especial benefit, knowledge is in some instances withheld? If, in others, existing obscurities are dissipated; shall he not eagerly welcome the illuminating beam, and gratefully govern his steps by its light?

It was not seldom through the medium of parabolic representation that our Lord communicated the most, important truths. Whether doctrines were to be developed, or moral precepts to be enforced, the parable, sententious in its construction and interesting by its narrative, seized the memory, the judgement, and the heart, The parable before us has for its object to unfold some mysterious parts of the proceedings of Gpd with respect to men, especially imder the dispensation of the Gospel. The instruction which it conveys is in every point momentous, and worthy of the doc,r, trine of the Son of God.

The kingdom ofheaven, said our Saviour, is likened unto a man, which sowed good feed in bis Jield. But while menfeptt his enemy

, , (i) 1 Pet 1. 10—it.

Vol. II. N came eame and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up and brought forth fruit; then appeared the tares, also. So the servants of the householder carney and said unto him; Sir, did/I not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares $ He said unto them) An enemy hath done this. "The servants said, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay: lest, wbik ye gather up the tar'es, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together unto the harvest: and in the time os harvest I will sky to the reapers, Gather ye together frsl the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them .-. but gather the.wheat into my bam.

; , 1£, in considering the meaning of this parable, you pay due attention to the guidance of Scripture, it will be impossible to fall into error. For our Lord himselsyin compliance with the request of his disciples, has delivered a distinct and complete interpretation.

Jesus answered: He tbatfoweth the good feed is the Son of man. The field is the world. The good seed are the children of the kingdom. The tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the . world. The reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fre; foshall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man Jihall fend forth his angels; and they Jhall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity: and Jhall cajl them into a furnace of fre: there Jhall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then Jhall the righteous Jlnne forth, as the fun in the kindgom of their Father.

In the parable, connected with this sure explanation, we meet with various lessons, which it highly behoves us to lay to heart.

I. The Son of God descended from heaven and took upon himself the nature of man, that he might sow> by himself and his Apostles, the good feed of the Gospel throughout the world. ;But scarcely had the crop sprung up, when? it was found to be mixed with such a profusion of tares, of useless and noxious weeds, as threatened to overwhelm it. The prevalence of evil in the Church of Christ has proved a stumbling-block to many. They fee multitudes «f Christians, even whole nations, N z swallowed swallowed up in the grossest corruption of doctrine; rendering worship to angels, to departed men, to images of wood and stone, to pictures, to reliques; and satisfied that the pardon of sin may be bestowed upon them by ,#ien like themselves, or may be purchased by senseless ceremonies and ftiperstitious observances. Even in those countries where Christianity is preached in its original purity, they behold various heresies and errors; much secret unbelief; a very general lukewarmness as to religion; and a numerous host, even thousands and tens of thousands, among professed Christians resembling heathens in pride, worldly-mindedness, and sensuality When they see these things, they are ready to exclaim; " If the Son of God has cul"tivated arid planted this field; how is it "thus overspread with tares?" In some, astonishment advances to infidelity. Not distinguishing between Christianity and the corruption blended with it, they turn with disgust from both: and conclude that, a religion which produces such fruit must be false. Now so far is the predominance of evil in the Christian church from rendering the truth of Christianity doubtful, that it bears testimony to its confirmation: for it i is

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