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freshness, and when it was put into the mass of dough by the woman, and hid in three measures of meal, it produced the same change in the whole mass into which it had been put. There is a difficulty in the interpretation of this parable, whether our blessed Saviour was speaking of the influence of good or of the influence of evil. The parable is suited to teach us, that it is impossible for any one to become changed in himself without producing an influence upon others. If the soul be indeed renewed in the Saviour's image, if it receive the Saviour's brightness on that renewed image, if it be filled with the Saviour's love in the warm affection of the na tural heart, there is no doubt but that the soul will reflect the Saviour's brightness as well as his image upon others around, and will diffuse the warmth of the Saviour's love into the souls that come within the atmosphere of its influence. But while this is indeed true, it is very questionable whether it is the truth, that our Saviour meant to teach us in this parable, for we do not find the term leaven used any where in the scriptures for the influence of good. In every part of the Bible it is used for the influence of evil, and the natural figure of leaven is not an imperfect state of the dough, in its freshness, but a corrupted state, so that it is naturally fitted to indicate to us the fall to evil, rather than a change for good. And when we remember, that the Lord himself in other places uses leaven as the image of the “hypocrisy" of the Pharisees, and that the Apostle declares that a “ little leaven leaveneth the whole lump," and that in the paschal service there was no leavened bread permitted to be used in all their coasts, during the whole of the paschal solemnity, we are safer in taking this parable as our Saviour's admonition to us respecting the leaven of evil principles and the work of unbelieving man in the kingdom of heaven, until the whole mass becomes one fermented corrupt mass, fit only to be thrown into the “great wine press of the wrath of God.” It is in this point of view, therefore, that I purpose to compare this parable with those other passages of Scripture which indicate to us the fall to evil, and the progress of evil in the Church of Christ until all that he was here speaking of should become one mass of evil only fit to be “ cast out and trodden under foot of men.”
Brethren, it is indeed an awful subject, a subject that enters into the state and condition of each one of us, one that calls upon us to examine the permitted evil that may be in our own hearts, to remember that “ a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." Let us pray that He alone who can help us to purge out the old leaven, that we may become an unleavened mass of sincerity and truth, may
be with us this morning with his own cleansing and renewing power, to make us indeed sanctified for the Master's use, and prepared for every good work.
I shall consider the work of the leaven here in a three fold aspect:
III. In the lessons by which we are taught to escape the evil here set before us.
Now if we look at the leaven in its predicted teaching, it intimates to us that there is a time when the kingdom of heaven shall be one unmingled mass of evil. In the preceding parable we have the kingdom of heaven exhibited to us under the powerful manifestation of divine grace, and we have other places of Scripture teachother destroying angel, “Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine press of the wrath of God.” Here then we have in these predictions taken from other portions of Scripture the illustrations of what we may draw from our Saviour's words, that the leaven put into the three measures of meal worked its fearful work of evil in it until the whole was leavened, and became only “fit for the wine press of the wrath of God.”
II. We have now in the second place to consider the moral teaching. Here we might view the teaching absolutely and relatively. That is how evil may work in each individual heart until it corrupts the whole; or how evil may work in the community of professing Christians until the whole be corrupted. But if we see it in the one on a large scale, we can apply it to the individual case on its smaller scale. It will be sufficient therefore to look at the scripture teaching respecting the manner in which the leaven of sin and corruption was foreseen by God, and foretold by the Spirit of God as about to work in the kingdom of heaven until those who are baptized in the name of Christ, and dedicated to their Saviour's service should become infused by the malice of Satan, and dedicated to the service of sin. In the 5th chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, we find the apostle bringing before us this thought of the work of evil leaven in the condition of a Christian community. He says in the 6th and 7th verses,
“ Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump,
e are unleavened.” He looked at a Christian Church as a brotherhood, as a community. The Corinthian Church had many graces from God. Jesus Christ, and him crucified was preached amongst them in purity, and people were gathered together who were babes in Christ; they were puffed up by the gifts of the Spirit amongst them, the word of utterance given to one, the word of prophecy given to another, the gift of healing bestowed upon some, and some gift bestowed upon all. They were puffed up when they should rather have mourned, and why? They were looking at God's gifts when they ought to have been looking at their own state. Like Israel of old, under Joshua, one Achan in the camp of Israel brought punishment and death upon the people of Israel. Here there was one found guilty of fornication, such as was not named among the Gentiles, and when they should have been mourning at the thought of such a thing, they were puffed up, and when they ought to have remembered that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, and so ought to have put away from them that evil wicked liver, as brother, they received him amongst them. They could boast of their preachers, they could rejoice in their doctrines, they could display their gifts, but they could not put out the evil, and they thus forgot that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. They were summoned therefore by the Holy Spirit of God to gather together for another purpose, not for the speaking with tongues, not for the delivery of prophecies, not for the power of preaching, but they were to meet together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to "deliver the corrupt brother to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." "Purge out, therefore, the old leaven."
ing us that at the close of this dispensation there shall indeed be a great power of divine grace, the brightness of truth, the purity of holiness, and the energy of love found in the kingdom of heaven. But if we examine other parts of Scripture we shall find the deceitfulness of error, the impurity of sin, the coldness and deadness of wickedness pervading the kingdom of heaven. Now we can only reconcile these, by remembering that the Scriptures are speaking of two parts of the same kingdom. We find our Saviour explaining this to us in the 25th chap. of St. Matthew, when he tells us that the last condition of the Kingdom of Heaven shall be what it never was before : there were ten virgins, five of them were wise, and five were foolish; one class in that kingdom, with the oil of God's Spirit, as well as the lamps of God's ministration amongst them: another class in that same kingdom, with the lamps of God's ministration, without the oil of God's Spirit, and with unsanctified, and unholy bodies, unfit for Christ's coming. There we have then a prediction of the state of the kingdom of heaven in which large classes of men shall be utterly without the oil of God's Spirit, although they may have the knowledge of the Saviour's coming, and hear the midnight cry “Behold he cometh,” and be so self deceived as to go out to meet him, and therefore hope to be received by him. They are without the unction of the Spirit, and they are therefore unfit for the presence of the Saviour. In the 2nd chapter of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, we have the same thought. The apostle tells us there of one state of the temple of God, which is to continue until the Saviour destroys that wicked power by the brightness of his coming. In that state the man of sin is to be seated in the temple of God,