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She seems to have succeeded in her design ; for not long after this he went away into his own country, as Matthew informs us, xiii. 53. which see. Accordingly we find, that on making the transposition in Mark mentioned
31. he falls in with Matthew at chap. vi. 1. agreeing with him here, as every where else, in the order of the history, which is no small confirma tion of this scheme of harmony.
LIV. The parable of the tares explained. See $ 50.
Matt. xiii. 36,--43. Mark iv. 34. The multitude having now been long together, it is probable that the evening drew on. Jesus therefore dismissed them, and returned home with his disciples, who when they were come into the house, begged him to explain the parable of the tares. Matt. xiii. 56. Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house. And his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares in the field: explain the parable of the tares which were sown in the field. Jesus, pleased to find his disciples attentive to his parables, cheerfully granted their request. By the husbandman, he told them was meant Messiah; by the field, the world, i. e. the church in the world, as may be collected from the parable itself; by the good seed, good Christians, made so through the influences of the Spirit of Christ; by the tares, bad Christians, seduced to sin through the temptations of the devil. 37. He answered and said unto them, He that sowe eth the good seed is the son of man. 38. The field is the world. The good seed are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked one. 39. The enemy that soweth them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. In this parable, therefore, he represented the mixt nature of the church on earth, and the dismal end of hypocrites, the most genuine offspring of the devil, who though they may deceive for a time, by assuming the fair appearance of goodness, yet, sooner or later, never fail to discover themselves. And though well meaning people, grieved to see the hurt that is done to religion by corrupt professors, wish to have the church wholly composed of sincere members, yet the bad must not be extirpated by persecution, because the servants of Christ cannot judge of mens hearts, so as to distinguish hypocrites with certainty, and consequently, in rooting them up, might be apt to destroy the wheat, or good Christians, with them. This parable likewise teaches us, that the distinction between good and bad Christians cannot be made till the end of the world, when there shall be an unerre ing, full, and final separation of the one from the other. Hypocrites, and false teachers, and all who either cause iniquity, or do it, shall then be gathered together and cast into hell, where they shall be tormented with the bitterest pain, while righteous men shall be made unspeakably happy in heaven. 40. As therefore the tores are gathered and burnt in the fire; so shall it be in the
end end of this world. 41. The Son of man shall send forth his an. gels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that of fend, and them which do iniquity. 42. And shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father. In this beautiful expression our Lord seems to have had his eye upon Dan. xii. 3. “ And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.” The righteous in travelling to heaven, are apt frequently to fall, by reason of the stumbling-blocks that lie in their way, of which stumbling-blocks, as our Lord here informs us, the persons with whom they converse oftentimes prove none of the least mischie. vous. By these falls they are sullied to such a degree, that their beauty is in a great measure obscured. Hence they are often held in no estimation, nay, it may be, are absolutely contemned. But when they enter the kingdom of their father, it shall fare quite otherwise with them. Being then freed from all the humbling circumstances which attend mortality, cleansed also from sin, and the pollutions of sin wherewith they are now disfigured, they shall shine like the sun in the firmament for brightness and beauty, and shall find no diminution of their splendour by age. A noble image this to represent the glory and happiness of righteous men with God their father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. This exclamation intimates, that truths of greater importance and solemnity cannot be uttered than those which respect the final misery of the wicked, and the inconceivable happiness of the righteous, and that all who have the faculty of reason, ought therefore to regard them with a becoming attention. See on Matt. xi. 15. $ 42.
Mark insinuates, that on this occasion Jesus explained to the disciples in private all his other parables likewise. iv 34. And when they were alone, he expounded all things to the disciples. ØLV. The parables of the treasure hid in a field, and of the merchant
seeking precious pearls. Matr. xiii. 44,-46. It was on this occasion also, that Jesus delivered the parables of the treasure hid in a field, and of the pearl of great price, shewing the different ways by which men come to the knowledge and belief of the gospel. Matth. xiii. 44. Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in a field: one way in which the gospel is found and embraced, may be illustrated by a treasure hid in a field, the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field, in order that with the field he may have a right to the treasure in it. This parable therefore was designed to teach us, that some meet with the gospel as it were by accident, and
without seeking after it, agreeably to what the prophet Isaiah says, chap. Ixv. 1. “ That God is found of them that seek him not.” On the other hand, the parable of the merchant who en. quired after goodly pearls, and found one of great value, informs us, that mens receiving the gospel is oftentimes the effect of a diligent search after truth. Matth. xiii. 45. Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchani 11:18 seeking awilly pearls: another way in which the gospel is found and embraced, may be illustrated by the behaviour of a merchant who goes in quest of beautiful pearls. 46. Who when he had found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it: judging it to be worth a great deal more than the price set upon it, he bought it, though, in order to purchase it, he was obliged to part with all that he had. He did this, however, with cheerfulness, because he knew it would bring him a great deal more than it had cost him. The gospel is fitiy compared to a treasure, as it enriches all who possess it; and to a pearl, because of its beauty and preciousness. Both parables represent the effect of divine truth upon those who find it, whether by accident, or upon enquiry. Bring found and known, it appears exceeding valuable, and raises in mens breasts such a vehemency of desire, that they willingly part with all they have for the sake of obeying its precepts, and when they have parted with all on its account, they think themselves incomparably richer than before. ØLVI. The parables of the net cast into the sea, which gathered fish
of every kind; and of the householder which brings out of his treasure things new and old. Mat. xiii. 47,-52.
'The parable of the net cast into the sea, which inclosed many fish of every kind, intimates, that by the preaching of the gospel a visible church should be gathered on earth, consisting both of good and bad men, mingled in such a manner, that it would be difficult to make a proper distinction between them, but that at the end of the world the bad shall be separated from the good, and cast into hell, which the parable represents under the image of casting them into a furnace of fire, because that was the most terrible punishinent known in the eastern countries. See Dan. ii. 6. Matth. xiii. 47. Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a nel that was cast into the sea, and gathered of 'every kind: the gathering of the visible church by the preaching of the gospel, and the final judgment of those who compose it, may be illustrated by the casting of a net into the sea which inclosed fishes of every kind. 48. Which when it was full they drew to shore, and sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sewer the wicked from among the just. 50. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnash
ing of teeth. This parable will appear peculiarly proper, if we consider that it was spoken to fishermen who had been called from their employments, with a promise that they should catch men, Mat. iv. 19. It differs from the parable of the tares in is extent, representing the gathering of wicked men in general into the visible church along with the good, by means of the preaching of the gospel, together with the final judgment and state of the wicked; whereas the parable of the tares represents the introduction and punishment of hypocrites in particular.
When Jesus had finished these parables, he asked his disciples if they understood them, and upon their answering in the affirmative, he told them that every teacher of the Jewish religion, who was converted to Christianity and made a preacher of the gospel, might, by reason of the variety of his knowledge, and his ability to teach, be compared to a prudent master of a family, who nourishes it with the fruits bo:h of the present and preceding years, as need requires. Matt. xiii. 51. Jesus snith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? they say unto him, Yia, Lord. 52. Then said he unto thein, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdoin of heaven, is like unlo u man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. By this similitude our Lord shewed his disciples the use they were to make of the knowledge they had acquired, whether from the old revelation that had been made to them by the prophets, or from the new revelation of which Jesus was the author and dispenser. As the wise master of a family who posseses plenty of all sorts of provisions, brings them forth as the occasions of his family require, just so every able minister of the gospel, out of the stores of his knowledge, must bring forth instructions suitable to the necessities of his hearers. LVII. Jesus goes to Nazareth. Matt. xiii. 53,--58.
Mark vi. 1,--6. Soon after this, Jesus went to Nazareth, accompanied by his mother and brethren, who had come to Capernaum to bring him home. Matt. xiji. 53. And it came to pass that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence, Mark vi. 1. And his disciples follow him. His mother and brethren first accosted him while he was reasoning against the calumny of the Pharisees, Matt. xii. 46. But not being able to prevail with him to leave Capernaum at that time, they renewed their suit while he preached the parabolical sermon at the sea of Galilee, (Luke viii. 19. see the note at the end of $ 53.) and obtained their request. For he went home to Peter's house in Capernaum, where he commonly abode. And after explaining the parable of the tares with the others, to his disciples in private, he set out on his journey to Nazareth. Matt, xiii. 54. And when he was come into his own
country: country: The evangelists call Nazareth our Lord's own country, because it was the town in which he had been brought up, and to distinguish it from Capernaum where he ordinarily resided. During his stay in Nazareth he preached in the synagogue, especially on the Sabbath-day, and performed some miracles. . But though his sermons contained, great treasures of spiritual knowledge, and were delivered with the most captivating eloquence, the Nazarenes were not disposed by them to believe on him. They were wonderfully struck indeed with what they heard and saw, knowing that he was meanly descended, and had not the advantage of a liberal education. But these circumstances which heightened their wonder so much, prevented the effect which his doctrines and minicles ought to have had upon them. Fancying that when Messiah came, no man should know from whence he was, they could not acknowledge as Messiah one of their own townsmen, whose father, and mother, and brethren, and sisa ters they were so well acquainted with. Besides, the meanness of th-se his relations, and of their occupations, scandalized them." Wherefore, when they talked among themselves after hearing him preach, at the same time that they gave his knowledge, elos quence and miracles their due praise, they could not forbear expressing their contempt of him on account of the meanness of his family. Matt. xii. 54. And when he was come into his own country, (Mark, when the sabbath day was come) he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works? (Mark, many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things, and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is not this the carpenter the son of Mary?) 55. Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary ? and his bre" thren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56. And his sisters, are they not all with us? whence then hath this man all these things ? 57. And they were offended in him. Being unable to overcome their old prejudices against him, on account of his family and relations, they were asi amed to acknowledge him for Messiah, and angry with hin for assuming that title. See John i. 41. $ 18. iv. 25. $ 22. Niy, so great was their wrath against him, that they expressed it in his hearing. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, (Mark, and among his own kin,) and in his own house. This expression is proverbial, signifying, that those who possess extraordi. nary endowments, are no where in less request than among their relations and acquaintance. The reason is, superior merit never fails to be envied, and envy commonly turns the knowledge ic has of persons some way or other to their disadvantage. Jesus therefore finding his townsmen the same stubborn, incorrigible,