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grace, who call Jesus Lord, but depend on works of their own for acceptance with God, are in a worse situation than those who make no profession at all; and we may say to such, as Christ said to the Pharisees and scribes, 'publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you.'
Being cast away, in one parable, and being cast into utter darkness, in the other, represents the despairing situation into which the hypocrite is reduced by the perishing of his hope. But that the reader may have a scriptural knowledge of consequence arising from a destruction of this false righteousness, let him turn to 1 Cor. iii, 11, &c., where we find that those who suffered the loss of their own works, (which are represented by hay, wood and stubble) by fire, are saved by that same fire.
As it is conceived that the notes make the main particulars of the foregoing parables evident and plain to the understanding of the reader, the following illustration will be directed to show the meaning of the application made by Christ, of the parable: See Matthew xiii, 49, 50: So shall it be at the end of the world: The angels shall come forth, and shall sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. This furnace of fire is generally understood to signifiy a state of never ending torment in the future world. This wailing and gnashing of teeth is supposed to indicate the sorrows and pains of this state of torment.
On the contrary, the foregoing notes suggest that
this furnace of fire is a state of purification, as represented by St. Paul, 1 Cor. iii, 11, &c., where he speaks of a trial of every man's works by fire. This wailing and gnashing of teeth will be found to indicate the situation of the mind in consequence of enduring the loss sustained by this purifying fire.
With a view to cast scriptural light on this subject, it may be well to obtain knowledge of the scripture use of these words.
1. Of a furnace; see Proverbs xvii, 3: The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.' Deuteronomy iv, 20: But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.' Ezekiel xxii, 18-22: Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross; all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, because ye are all become dross, behold therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you.' It may be well to notice that in the above representation of the house of Israel, there appears to be much dross, some brass, some tin, some lead, some iron and some silver. The occasion of melting them in the furnace is evidently to separate the
pure metal from the dross. Gen. xv, 17: 'And it came to pass when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp, that passed between those pieces.' This smoking furnace showed to the father of many nations, the trials and afflictions through which his children would pass ; and the burning lamp represented the light of the covenant of grace given to Abraham by promise. Isaiah xlxiii, 10: Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.'
The proper use of a furnace is to refine and puri fy; and this agrees perfectly with the representation given by St Paul in Cor., as before noticed. It is true that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had a furnace which he designed for a different use, which was only to compel the people to worship the image which he had set up on the plains of Dura, or to destroy them in case of disobedience; and that the king of spiritual Babylon should have a similar invention to compel people to worship the image which he has set up is reasonable enough to suppose; but that the true God should be so exactly like the king of the bottomless pit, is not only unreasonable but unscriptural.
2. Of wailing. See Esth. iv, 3: 'And in every province whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes!' This weeping and wailing was not for never ending misery. Jerem. ix, 19: For a voice of wailing is heard out of Zion, how are we spoiled!' Nothing here about endless misery. Amos v, 16, has been noticed before, and corresponds with Rev. xviii, 15, 16, &c. The merchants
of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying alas, alas! that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, for in one hour is so great riches come to nought.'
These riches of mystery-Babylon, by which her merchants were made rich, are the religious mysteries and dogmas of the antichristian church. This city is to be burned with the fire of purifying truth; and while those merchants, who have lived deliciously by the sales of those mysteries of iniquity, see, to their utter confusion and mortification, all those riches coming to nought, bewail their fate in bitter lamentations, and cry out religion is coming to an end!
This wailing seems a very natural incident to a circumstance like that described by St Paul to the Corinthians, where he says, 'if any man's work be burnt, he shall suffer loss.' When a man suffers the loss of what he esteems great riches, by the all-devouring element of fire; when he sees the flames rising from all his treasures, which he by no means conceived were combustible, wailing and bitter lamentations are very natural consequences. But who can describe the transition of the despairing mind on discovering that this devouring element is working his greatest possible benefit! 'But he himself shall be saved; yet, so as by fire.'
3. Of gnashing the teeth. See Psal. cxii, 10: 'The wicked shall see it and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away; the desire of the wicked shall perish.' This grieving and gnashing of the wicked is because of the exaltation of the horn or power of the righteous. See the context, 'He hath disper
sed; he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth forever; his horn shall be exalted with honor.'
Who are the wicked who are grieved because the Saviour, who is the righteous, has given to the poor? Who were the wicked, who gnashed their teeth on Christ because he was a friend to publicans and sinners? Answer, it was those who viewed themselves righteous, and condemned others.
The Saviour speaks again in Psalm xxxv, 16, 'With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.' When Stephen touched the fire of divine truth to the combustible righteousness of the high priests, it produced this gnashing of teeth. See Acts vii, 51-54: 'Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the just one; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.' Why did they gnash on Stephen with their teeth? Because he told them the truth, and they could not withstand his words. The high priest had Stephen stoned to gratify their religious rage, and so it has been in all ages of Jewish and Christian churches: where the priests had power, they have not only gnashed on those who told them the truth, but they have persecuted and put them to death. Having now lost the civil power, they who are zealous in the antichristian and Babylonish mysteries, can only gnash with their teeth, on those who set fire