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whom not even a spark of feeling is elicited when the mercies and love of Christ are set before them? Are there not many, represented by the seed sown in stony places, who have no fixed or settled principle; who profess an adherence to the Gospel, because it seems to promise an easy and smooth path, but find themselves altogether unprepared to encounter the difficulties which actually stand in the way of a faithful fulfilment of its requirements ? Are not those too a numerous class, figured by the seed sown among thorns, who try to reconcile the interests of this present life with those of eternity; who vainly suppose they can serve both God and Mammon; and who fail to see, till too late, that, in fact, the attractions of the world wholly absorb their attention, and have unspiritualized their thoughts and affections ? And is it not a sad truth that, amidst these various kinds of unproductive soil, the good ground is comparatively scarce? Is it not the case, that few in proportion to the whole number of men to whom the word of God is offered, so discipline their thoughts and desires, as to see clearly and appreciate thoroughly, the value of the privilege set before them ? 'He that hath ears to hear let him hear' is the earnest and well-timed caution with which our Lord concluded this parable. If the many and various hindrances which stand in the way of a right and honest reception of the word of God be thus clearly pointed out by him who knew what was in man, who can hope to escape condemnation if he takes no heed to the warnings mercifully vouchsafed? Who can hope to bring forth fruit to perfection if he be content to live like the majority of the world? Who can look forward to produce evidences of the truth and sincerity of his Christian conversation, unless, in opposition to the mass of those around him, he let patience have her perfect work; and amidst the carelessness of a thoughtless worldamidst the trials of life, its cares and pleasures, in an honest and good heart, keep the word which he has heard ?

7

THE TARE S.

MATT. xiii. 24-30. Another parable pnt he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field : But while men slept, his enemy came 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 came and said unto him, Sir, didst 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 unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up ? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest : and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

THIS

THIS parable, which is found only in St. Matthew's

Gospel, was delivered on the same occasion as that of the Sower and the Seed, and was afterwards interpreted by our Lord in private to his disciples at their request.

25. While men slept. This expression only means that the enemy took the opportunity of doing this mischief in secret, and when he was not likely to be observed.

Tares. The word here rendered 'tares' is a weed called zizan, which, especially when it first appears above ground, bears a close resemblance to the wheat plant.

26. Then appeared the tares also. When the wheat

29. Lest

was on the point of shooting into ear, then the difference was made manifest between it and the tares or zizan, which contained no blade from which ears could spring

ye
root
up

also the wheat with them. The wheat and the tares grew so close together, that it would be next to impossible to pluck up the one without disturbing and injuring the other.

This parable was interpreted by our Lord to his disciples in the following words:

MATT. xiii. 37–43. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but 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; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The truth that in this world evil will be always mixed with good, needed no parable to make it plain. The experience of all men in every age puts this fact beyond a doubt. But that in the kingdom of heaven, —that kingdom which though set up on earth, was not of the earth, earthy, but of heaven,-in the kingdom of Christ itself, good and evil should be found side by side to the end of time, was a state of things very different from that which the first disciples expected. It is an objection often raised, even at the present day, against Christianity, that many profess its tenets who do not live up to its principles, and that multitudes lay claim to its privileges who are little better than hypocrites. Why, then, it is asked, are such inconsistencies allowed to exist ? Can this, it is urged, be really the church of that God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity,' in which evil is permitted to remain, and yet no brand or mark of disgrace placed upon it? Can this be the true body of the one holy God, which does not even profess to be perfect and without spot? The parable of the Tares was intended as a clear anticipation of these objections, and a direct contradiction to the expectations of those who venture to think that the Church of Christ, so long as the period of her probation on earth continues, will ever become perfectly holy or entirely without blemish. In that Church, almost immediately after our Lord's ascension, the mixture of evil with good appeared. Such has been its condition for more than eighteen hundred years, and such it will continue to be until the Church militant be merged in the Church triumphant. And while such is God's economy it is useless, or rather we may say presumptuous, to attempt to alter it. The holy and the unholy, the real and the untrue, the earnest and the irresolute, the sincere and the hypocrite, are mingled together on every side. All of these alike claim to be members of the Church of Christ; all who have been baptized into his name take to themselves the title and the privileges of

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