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MATT. xiii. 30.
Let both grow together until the harvest.
IN looking into the constitution of this world, we find a strange mixture of good and evil, of vice and virtue, of happiness and of misery
In looking also into the constitution of the church of Christ, we find the same intermixture of good and evil. The tares as well as the wheat take possession of the spiritual soil. We behold light and darkness blended together; and the sensualist and the hypocrite linked by worldly ties, and interests, and occupations, and exterior worship, with the follower of Jesus. From
the perplexed state of things which the general appearance of the world carried with it, many of the philosophers of former times were induced to draw consequences hostile to the justice and government of God. They could not perceive, upon their limited view of things, how disorder could be tolerated by him that loved order, how good could be educed from evil, or for what purpose virtue was to be tried and harassed by the conflicting passions and wild misrule of bad men. The supposition, therefore, that there were two independent principles, the original sources of good and evil, naturally enough presented itself; and that doctrine which in succeeding times was defended in the case of Manes and his disciples with so much obstinacy, was but the doctrine that had been previously embraced by men of no less account in the heathen world than Zoroaster, and Aristotle, and Plutarch. It was left to the gospel of Christ alone to give satisfactory reasons for the permission on the part of the same beneficent Being, both of physical and moral good and evil.
In gospel days, then, this intermixture of bad with good men cannot rationally occasion perplexity and doubt. The
apprehension is, that we should so far regard with impatience the condition of life, as to attempt by methods unwarranted by Scripture to alter it. The fear is, that in hatred of vice, we should hate the persons of the vicious; and for the cause of the just, should persecute the unjust. The tares and the wheat are to grow together till the harvest ; and we must not, in order to save the one, destroy the other.
In the following discourse I shall endeavour briefly to shew, that this mixture of good and bad men may be attended with salutary consequences; and from the view of the parable from which the text is taken, I shall offer some obvious remarks and rules of conduct.
But here I would premise, that some difference of opinion has been expressed as to the character of those who are described under the word tares. Taken by some in its more restricted meaning, the term does not include every sort, but only some species of sinners. It describes not every weed that grows among corn, but a particular species of seed, said to be known in Canaan, which is not unlike wheat; but being put into the ground, degenerates, and assumes another form and nature. Hence it is inferred, that the indignation of the servants of the housholder was chiefly directed against false and hypocritical professors. Others, again, have contended that the word tares, as to its strict and etymological sense, is of a somewhat doubtful meaning ; that the terms of a parable ought not to be pressed too closely; and that in its more extensive signification, the word comprehends every description of sinners. In either view, how