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MATTH. xiii. 30.
Let both grow together until the Harvest.
THE subjects on which men are, perhaps, most prone to form a judgment, and most liable to judge erroneously, are those which relate to God's moral government of the world. The
of Divine Providence oftentimes baffle human expectations. Unable to attain to that comprehensive knowledge, which embraces at one view an universal series of Causes and Effects, we vainly endeavour to fathom the depths of those Counsels, or to discover the expediency of those measures, which proceed from infinite Wisdom, working without any hinderance either to his Power or his Will. Yet are we so deeply interested in the result of those Counsels and those measures, that it is scarcely possible not to feel a desire, at least, to find out the reasons on which they are grounded, and the purposes for which they are intended. And if this desire transgress not its proper bounds; if it be carried no farther than is consistent with the Reverence due to Divine Perfection, and the Submission due to the Divine Will; it may help to strengthen our Faith, to fortify us in our Obedience, and to put to silence the cavils of the sceptical and profane.
But it is seldom that such inquiries are submitted to these necessary restraints, except by those who are content to take the Word of God as the rule and measure by which to judge of the Divine proceedings. And even the measure which that Word
supplies, exacts from us such Faith in the Moral and Natural Perfections of the Supreme Being, as will lead us to acquiesce in a persuasion of the Wisdom and Justice of all his Dispensations, however past our finding out; so that where neither our own Sagacity can unravel the perplexities that beset us, nor the revealed Will of God hath enabled us to remove them, we shall hold it meet to restrain our curiosity, and to adore in silence.
Among the difficulties of this kind which most perplex us, and which sometimes occasion painful disquietude even to the most pious and humble minds, are those which relate to the great extent of Moral Evil in this our present state of existence. When we read the history of mankind, and see through
how lengthened a period of time, the grossest superstition in religious belief, and the most detestable enormities in moral conduct, overspread the greater part of the habitable globe;—when we observe how large a portion of it still labours under similar infatuation; when we find the annals of almost every age and country blazoning the crimes and follies which have inflicted misery upon mankind; —when we are compelled to acknowledge, that the greatest blessing which was ever bestowed upon mankind, Christianity itself, has encountered obloquy and persecution, has been opposed and ridiculed by some, perverted and corrupted by others, and oftentimes made the occasion, not of bringing peace upon the earth, but a sword ;-when, moreover, not only public evils of such magnitude, but private instances innumerable occur, of goodness depressed and suffering, or of wickedness flourishing and prosperous ;no ordinary degree of faith seems to be necessary, to sustain the mind in a confident persuasion that these things come to pass with the permission and under the sanction of an all-wise and all-powerful Governor of the Universe. That God is “of purer eyes “ than to behold iniquity” with complacency or indifference, neither Revelation nor Rea
son will permit us to doubt. Whence comes it, then, that not only in times and countries barbarous and uncivilized, but even in those where the light of the Gospel hath long since shed its lustre, Infidelity, Immorality, and Error abound? Why are these suffered to exist, and sometimes even to prevail over Truth and Virtue? Why are the wicked permitted, in any case, to prosper, to obstruct the labours of the good, to bring scandal upon Religion itself? Whence is it, that the enemy and the blasphemer are thus encouraged to cast upon the measures of that Providence, which they wantonly arraign, the imputation of supineness or injustice ?
The Parable from which the words of the text are taken, may be successfully applied to the removal of any such dangerous and ill-founded imaginations. The kingdom of heaven,” says our Lord,
, “ is likened unto a man which sowed good “ seed in his field: but while men slept, “ his enemy care 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 har“ vest I will say to the
together first the tares, and bind them in “ bundles to burn them : but gather the “ wheat into my barn."
This Parable our Lord afterwards explained to his Disciples in the following
“ 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;
that sowed them is the “ Devil; the harvest is the end of the world; " and the reapers are the angels. As there“ fore the tares are gathered and burned in “ the fire, so shall it be in the end of the 66 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 right