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showing himself as if he were God. The apostle forewarns us, that the mystery of iniquity should work in the kingdom of heaven until it seats the man of sin in the temple of God, and he shall be there whose coming is after the working of satan, with all power and signs, and lying wonders, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. There then we have that awful truth revealed to us, that the temple of God, the Christian Church, shall be taken possession of by the man of sin, that the power of Satan should prevail where only ought to be found the power of God. And as the blessed Saviour comes with power
and sig and wonders of truth, so the minister of Satan shall be seated there with power and signs and wonders of a lie, to deceive all them that receive not the love of the truth that they might be saved. One other prediction will be sufficient upon this awful subject, and that is the state of the kingdom of heaven, immediately preceding our Saviour's coming, as it is described in the 14th chapter of the Book of Revelation, where we have again a two-fold state of that kingdom. There are the wheat, who are to be gathered into the garner, and they form one class : and there are the corrupt grapes unfit for any use, and they form another class. We have the Son of man, in the 14th verse, with his golden crown, and having a sharp sickle. He reaps the harvest of the earth, gathering wheat into his garner, and then what remains in the kingdom of heaven, when the Lord's true people are gathered out? Nothing but those who have the form of godliness, a name to live while they are really dead, and from the altar comes an angel that had power over fire, and cries to that
other 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
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 dedi. cated 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, as ye 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.”
Here, then, we have another channel of corruption
in the Church of Christ, that speaks with the voice of thunder to the Church of Christ this morning. Brethren, where are our congregational assemblies, in which we are to put away from us the old leaven? Where is the minister that assembles his people, and where are the people that are willing to assemble with their minister, that they may find a church of Christ able to fulfil the work of purging out the old leaven, not putting away false doctrines merely, not deciding whether your preachers are to be high church or low church, but whether the members of the Church of Christ be such as they ought to be, whether they be fornicators, whether they be adulterers, whether they be revilers, drunkards, or extortioners, persons with whom they ought not so much as to eat? If such a cause of corruption be set before us by the Spirit of God, it becomes us to consider why we permit that neglect of discipline which is so fearfully powerful to leaven the whole Church with corruption. But this is not the only danger : satan knows how to take advantage even of a love of truth, and to manage it so as to make it the destruction of truth.
Many of the people aroused thus to consider the sinfulness of that individual were in danger of becoming too severe to him, and therefore the apostle says in the second chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians and the 7th verse, Contrariwise, ye ought rather to forgive him and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow," and adds in the 11th verse, “lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices." The neglect therefore of ecclesiastical discipline is brought before our thoughts by the Holy Spirit as one reason why the kingdom of heaven will assuredly yet
become a corrupt mass at least in the corrupt part of it.
But we have another more subtle, more dangerous source of corruption, the pretence of a higher degree of spiritual-mindedness and purity. The philosophic error of the apostles' day was to make sin reside in the flesh, and holiness to be in the spirit. Now that is a truth in our renewed nature, but it is not a truth in our fallen condition: the mind has fallen as well as the body. The tendency of that philosophic error was to make people continue to look upon the flesh as being in itself an evil thing, instead of being so by the fall : and therefore to look upon the work of Christ, to be for ever to free the soul from the body, instead of believing the work of Christ to be the renewal of the body, to become a fit thing to be the habitation of a glorified soul. The apostle looked at this error as being so great, that he foretells that it would corrupt like a gangrene the church of Christ. He says in the second chapter of the Se. cond Epistle to Timothy, and the 16th to the 18th verses, “But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness, and their word will eat as doth a canker, of whom is Hymenæus and Philetus, who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrown the faith of some." If this apparently pure spiritual doctrine, rising so high above the body, as the soul was to part from it and leave it for ever, if this apparently pure and spiritual doctrine were true, then the Christian religion would be untrue, for the apostle follows up that argument in the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle to Corinthians, where he reminds us that we believe the human body, the flesh and the