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cult to sow his tares.' If church- evil. When the servants, seees and pastors were suitably ing what was done, and willing watchful; if they would attend to make some amends for their with sufficient care 10 the negligence, proposed to go and characters of those, who offer gather up the tares, the Master themselves for admission ; if said, nay ; lest, while ye gather up they would faithfully and de- the tares, ye root us also the voutly examine their exercises wheat with them. This is not inand sentiments, and observe their tended to forbid the proper exconduct, and seriously endeav. ercise of church discipline toour, according to the rules of the wards offenders ; which cannot gospel, to keep the church pure; be neglected without great guilt. we might hope, there would be The intimation in the parable is a much smaller proportion of evidently designed to guard aunbelievers joining in profession gainst rash and irregular prowith the followers of the Lamb. ceedings. The work, which the
But, alas ! Christian churches, servants proposed, was of a hurtwhat matter of lamentation it is, sul tendency. So, should the 10 see so much negligence in this servants of Christ proceed at great concern. How little do once to extreme measures with Christians watch against the dee every erring brother; especially, signs of the enemy? How does should they enter on the rash almost everyone care for his design of expelling all the un: own things, and not for the godly, of gathering out all the things of Christ? And have we tares, and purifying the church, not cause to fear, that some not they would not meet the approonly neglect to guard against the bation of their Lord. He would work of the enemy, but, with tell them, “ nay.
It is a diffic their own rash hand, sow tares cult, and, to you, an impossible among the wheat ?
Does not work. Timely care and faithfulthis charge lie with peculiar force ness would, indeed, have done against those who, without any much 10 prevent these evils. But discriminating regard to charac- now they must be left to the great ter, are earnest to gather as ma- day. There may be many per: ny as possible into the visible sons in the church, who give litchurch?
tle evidence of the Christian Another obseryation, which spirit, and are far from conducinaturally occurs, is, thal seasm- ing themselves according to their able watchfulness and resolution profession, who must, neverthemay prevent evils, which, having less, be suffered to continue in once taken place, cannot be remov- the church. There are many ed. Faithful attention to the ad. ways of manifesting the want of mission of members will do religion, for which a church much more to secure the church cannot publicly censure a meme from corruption, than equal ex- ber. His conduct may be such, ertion afterwards. By unrenit- as to give the church just reason ting vigilance the servants might to fear he is unrenewed, and yet have kept the eneny from sow- may not be such, as to authorise ing tares, But after they were any direct proceeding against SUWD, it was too late to avoid the him. That a church censure
may be unexceptionable, there their character. Many sins are must be a manifest violation of committed in secret, the discova gospel rules. There must be ery of which would leave no satisfactory evidence of palpable doubt in our minds respecting immorality. As, on the one those who commit them. But hand, a person out of the church while men's sins are undiscovermay have many seemingly good ed, we may be totally deceived qualities, and yet not give that concerning their character. And evidence of godly sincerity, most of all does our ignorance of which justly entitles him to a the heart disqualify us for decidplace in the church ; so, on the ing the question of character. other hand, the conduct of a vis. So ignorant are we of the heart,
a ible member may be such, as de- which essentially constitutes the notes the want of piety, at least character, that if we should take such, as leaves his piety very upon us the office of judge, we doubtful; and still may not be should be in great danger, in masuch, that the church can justly ny instances, of clearing the exclude him. Many must be guilty, and condemning the incontinued in the church, who, nocent. Many of those, whom with the selfsame character, we regard, as the disciples of could not properly be admitted, Christ, may be false professors. if they were out of the church. Many that we esteem as gold, We must let the tares continue and silver, and precious stones, in the field where they are sown, in the building of the church, though we ought not willingly may be hay, and wood, and stubto suffer them to be sown there. ble. While others, whom our To introduce them is the design wayward judgment condemns as of the enemy; to let them remain worthless and vile, may be numtill the harvest is the dictate of bered among Christ's jewels. Christian prudence.
When we look with the inost Here we may reflect on our discerning eye upon the churchinability to know the hearts of es, we are unable to determine, men, and our consequent inability who will be approved of God, to make a certain distinction be- and who will be rejected. tween the good and the bad. The
This introduces our last parfruit of tares, is, indeed, essen- ticular. tially different from that of There is a time at hand, when wheat, and when come to matu- the characters of men will be made rity and carefully examined, may known, and a complete cternal sepibe clearly distinguished from it. aration take place between the So when the whole practice of righteous and the wicked. This the impenitent is taken into view, is a most important sentiment in and sufficiently understood, there the parable.“ In the time of is no difficulty in distinguishing harvest, says the householder, I them from the penitent. But at will say to the reapers, gather ye present, we cannot survey the together first the tares, and bind whole conduct. Many parts of them in bundles to burn them ; men's lives are concealed from but gather the wheat into my our view, which, if known, might barn.” “ The harvest is the end. help. us at once to determine of the world, and the reapers are
the angels. As therefore the kingdom, and with them celetares are gathered and burnt in brated the dying love of Jesus, the fire ; so shall it be in the end will then be cast away, as chaff of this world. The Son of Man and stubble ! How many, who shall send forth his angels, and have concealed a proud, selfthey shall gather out of his king righteous, or worldly heart undom all things which offend, and der the mask of religion ; how them which do iniquity.” Eve- many nominal Christians, who ry man's character shall be tried; have been secretly alienated from the all revealing day shall declare the cause of truth and sanctity ; it. Though we can look only how many such will then be on the outward appearance, there gathered as in bundles, and cast is one who searcheth the heart, into a furnace of fire, where shall and is thus qualified to divide be wailing and gnashing of teeth! the good from the bad, and as- And their anguish and despair sign to all their proper places. will be exceedingly aggravated Men may be unknown till the by all the privileges they once judgment day; but then every enjoyed, and by all the hopes secret thing shall be disclosed. they once entertained. Awful, At present we cannot determine momentous day, which shall what proportion of the visible burn as an oven, and consume all church are the children of this the proud and wicked as stubble, world ; but the great day will leaving them neither root nor declare it. Hypocrites may now branch. Oh Lord, gather not pass for Christians; but then the our souls with sinners. How veil will fall off, and the fori different from them will the which it covered openly appear. saints appear! Delivered from Some upright persons may now all the corruptions of the world, labour under such disadvantages, and sanctified by the divine Spirthat we hardly imagine them the it, they will be a royal priesthood, heirs of God. But when that a holy nation, a pure and heavday arrives, they will be present- enly church; will sit on thrones, ed faultless before their Father's and forever shine forth as the throne. At present the peace sun, in the kingdom of their of the church is interrupted, and Father. its glory shaded by erroneous Churches of Christ, these are guides and unholy professors. the words of truth, and shall But then the church will be freed surely come to pass. What from the incumbrance of hypo- manner of persons, then, ought crites and unbelievers. Christ we to be! With what watchfulwill gather out of his kingdom ness, and prayer, and holy diliall things that offend. No unre- gence, should we wait for the day hewed sinner can then hold his of the Lord ! Behold, that day place among the people of God. cometh quickly! Blessed are How many, who have here come they, who are prepared for its before God, as his people, con- solemn transactions. versed with the children of the
From the Evangelical Intelligencer. INSTRUCTION may often be In modern times, it is to be communicated with greater ad- lamented, that less is done in vantage in private than in public this way than could be wished. discourses. In the former, the After making every allowance speaker can address his hear, which candour requires on this ers with a direct relation to the subject :- admitting that young particular, circumstances in preachers, for several years after which they are placed ; whereas, they appear in the pulpit, ought in public preaching, his obser- to spend a considerable portion vations must of necessity be for of time in their studies, that they the most part general : besides, may prepare themselves for in the small circle of a private more extensive usefulness in after family, there is a liberty and fa- life ; that some ministers of the miliarity allowable, which cannot gospel may be so circumstanced, be admitted into the pulpit. that much of their time must be The preacher can pause, and in- employed by an attention to the quire whether he is understood; general interests of the church ; and in many cases the questions that some must consume a large and observations of those whom part in making that provision for he is endeavouring to instruct, their families which their peowill suggest to him the most ple are either unwilling or unaimportant and appropriate ideas ble to make for them ; and that and sentiinents.
a few may actually be qualified The Lord Jesus Christ has (as I have heard the late pres. left to all his servants an instruc- ident Edwards judged that he tive example in this part of their was) to do more good by writduty. Several of his most beauti- ing for the public in his study, ful and edifying discourses were than by spending his time in delivered in private houses, and much conversation :-after makoccasioned by the peculiar cir- ing as much allowance for cumstances of those with whom these, and all other considerahe conversed.
tions of a similar kind, as truth The apostle Paul appears al. and justice require, it is feared so to have spent a part of his that much room will still remain time in communicating instruc- for well founded complaint on tion in this mode ; for in that this subject. most excellent and pathetic dis- Some preachers do not possess course which he delivered to the the talent of readily introducing elders of Ephesus, he speaks of religious conversation, and thereit as his practice amongst them, fore when they first make the not only 10 teach publicly, but attempt, it is with such a stiff from house lo house.
and awkward air, that every perVol. III, No. 121
son present is made uneasy, and any other trade.
They pursue none more so than the speaker it for the sake of a decent livelibimself. Hence, perhaps, he hood, and they will do no more too hastily forms the conclusion, than they are obliged to perform. that he is not, and never shall be, But if indeed they were to atqualified for this species of in- tempt instruction by religious struction ; and therefore, after a conversation, they would be few unsuccessful attempts, re- found utterly incapable of the linquishes the object as hopeless. task. If such a preacher should Oilers are so occupied in the meet with a person suffering the investigation of dark and un- smart of a wounded conscience, profitable speculations in theolo- never having had any expegy, or in correcting and polish- rience of such a case, he could ing their sermons, so that they neither sympathise with nor may be brought to the highest comfort the poor, awakened sinpitch of elegance, that they have Or if he should happen no time to spare for this tedious upon a child of God labouring mode of preaching : And others under perplexing doubts respectagain are so fastidious, that they ing his spiritual state, he would cannot condescend to hold free be entirely at a loss how to proand familiar conversation with ceed with such a person.
Havignorant people. They are im- ing had no experience of the mediately disgusted with the hidden life of a believer, no crude conceptions and blunder- knowledge of his trials and coning expressions of many with Alicts, he would judge all these whom they converse, and their things to be the fruits of a dise feelings, wound up to an exces- tempered mind. sive degree of refinement, cannot There is one thing, which, if bear the shock of a collision with duly considered, I think would vulgar minds. *
have no small influence upon We might yet mention anoth- those whose office it is to teach, er class of persons, who, al- and which would go far to rethough invested with the office move all impediments out of of preachers of the gospel, con- the way, which now hinder them sider it in no other light than from using every opportunity of
leading men into the way of sal. Do persons of this character, vation : What I allude to is this, ever think of the condescension of the
that the ministers of the gospel Saviouu? Possessing intelligence and purity as far exceeding that of
are accountable for the loss of any human being, as the sun exceeds every
soul which perishes a ray of his own light, how kindly, through their criminal neglipatiently and familiarly, did he con
gence, whether that negligence verse with the poor, the rude, the ignorant and the froward! Shall any
procced directly from sloth, one of his ministers fiel an intolera. from the pretence of study, ble disgust at what their Lord and from the affectation of refineMaster performed with pleasure! ment, or from indifference and Shall dust and ashes refuse to mingle with their kindred, when God's eter of the gospel ought to be able to
Every minister nal Son hath shown them such an ex. ample !
say with sincerity, as Paul did in