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and the will to seek thee the light of my soul, amidst darkness and error and ignorance, and let me bring with me to the light all that are within my reach, and give me faith to trust thee. The good seed of the word is thine, thou wilt care for its growth. Let me then have grace to work all I can, and faith, to leave to thee, in holy simple trust, my imperfect work, knowing that thou wilt bless it, not for any goodness that is in it, but because thou hast commanded us to use all means, and to leave the fruit to thee. To thee my God I turn; for thee I desire to labour. I must sleep and wake, night and day, but thy power knows no rest, thou art ever working, and thou wilt soon bring about the harvest-day. Oh, in that day, in pitying love remember me, and because thy Son has died for the sinful and the weak, have mercy on me, thy weak and sinful creature. Amen.
The Lord Jesus had not yet ended the lessons that might be learnt from the sower and the seed. Still speaking from the boat, to the crowds listening on the shore, He showed them in another parable, that not only there was bad as well as good ground in the world, but that there was another sower at work, Satan the evil one, who laboured secretly to sow bad seed among the good, and thus to destroy the harvest.
MATTHEW xiii. 24-30. “ Another parable put 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."
We cannot read this parable without seeing that it is full of meaning. The disciples of the Lord Jesus felt this, and when that night "they went into the house,”
Verse 36. “ His disciples came unto him, saying, Declare (or explain) unto us the parable of the tares of the field.” It will be best for us to read his answer now.
Verses 37–43. “He answered and said unto them, He tiat 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."
Again our Lord repeats the solemn call, “ who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Surely we shall do well not to pass at
once from the parable, but to ponder its meaning explained by himself.
From his own lips we learn “ He that sowed the good seed is the Son of man."
This is the name which the Lord Jesus gives to himself oftener than any other, though, as we have read in John v., “He said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God," and that at his voice “all that are in the graves shall come forth ; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of
and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." Yet He is the Son of man, and it is in this character that He is to win back the world which Adam lost, therefore He constantly takes to himself this name, which binds him the more closely to us. Others do not give it him ; for only once He is called the Son of man by any but himself. That once was by Stephen in the moment of his death, when he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man stanling on the right hand of God.” (Acts vii. 56.) The name bring given him at that moment, shows us, better than words can tell, how endearing is the bond that binds him to us. Surely it gave Stephen courage to die, when he saw Jesus, the Son of man, standing in the form of man ready to welcome him to the right hand of God! As the Son of man, Jesus has won the battle for us, and it is as the Son of man He carries on all the work that has still to be done in the world, which has been given him for His own, and where Satan is ever fighting against bim.
We must keep these things in remembrance while we go over this parable, and read that “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.” Christ brought the kingdom of heaven down upon the earth, and the good seed He has continually sown in the hearts of men has taken so deep a root in those who have gladly been taught by him, that in this parable He calls the good seed" the children of the kingdom,” for the plant is growing ; the word and the fruit
of the word, is spoken of as one and the same thing.* “The field” in which they are planted “is the world.” The Lord Jesus knew that the word of his “Gospel should go forth into all lands, and should be sown in every part of the great outfield of the nations.' + “But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.” Our Lord did not invent this way of doing mischief, and showing spite and revenge. Those who heard him knew well what He meant; for it was a crime as common among them as setting fire to stacks and ricks of corn is common among us.
Even now, in the land of the East, if a wicked man is angry with his neighbour, he will watch the time and place where he sows his seed, and then in the night he will cast in among it the seed of a most troublesome weed, which grows with the crop, and causes much damage and vexation.
The enemy in the parable, Christ tells us, is the Devil, and the tares he sowed are those who, taught by him, hide the growth of the good seed, and are called “the children of the wicked one.” It will be well for us to take notice how Satan is more and more clearly shown in the clearer light of the Gospel than he was in the Old Testament. In it he is always spoken of as a tempter to evil, and in the book of Job he describes himself as “ going to and fro in the earth, and walking
' up and down in it,” (Job i. 7.) but the instant that Christ begins his ministry for the setting up of the kingdom of God, at the same instant Satan starts forward as its hinderer and enemy. We should observe too that he is spoken of as his enemy,
of the Son of man. Here we see the truth of that sentence spoken by God in the very beginning, that He would put enmity, or strife, and hatred, between Satan and the seed of the woman. This promise has been working all the while since the fall of man, and now it comes out to the open light, and we shall see the strife waxing fiercer and fiercer till * Trench.
the end. It was necessary for Satan's overthrow, that man, who lost the battle, should also win it. And Christ, in the nature of man, as the second Adam, was the object of Satan's especial fear and hatred. (1 Cor. xv. 21, 22.) He was therefore always on the watch, as it were, to sow tares among his wheat-to spoil his work, whatever it was. It is written in the parable, that when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.” From this we learn, that what is bad does not always seem bad at first ; indeed it is a sad truth, that the greatest mischief is often done by those things which in their beginning have had the appearance of the greatest good ; and it is for this reason men must watch, namely, lest, when they least suspect it, tares shall be found in the place of wheat. It is by the fruits that the bad shall be known from the good.
In the whole history of the world, from the very beginning even to this our day, if we think it over, we must see that wherever and whenever God has sown the good seed, Satan has immediately followed to sow the bad. And still there has been the same pretence of a greater good. God had given to Adam, the first man, and to Eve, perfect happiness ; Satan immediately promised them a happiness greater still, that was to make them “as gods, knowing good and evil.” This promise of his was the first sowing of tares among the wheat in God's field, “which is the world;" the blade has sprung up, the fruit of both sorts has appeared, and they still grow together till the end of the world.
And still has Satan sowed, and still does he go on to sow. When the whole world was drowned, and none but Noah the servant of God and his family were left alive, surely we might think that the field was thoroughly cleansed, and none but good seed left in it. Satan was at hand. Fast he sowed the tares, and fast they grew. The pure religion of God was soon lost among the nations that were born from the children of Noah.