Matthew 13:24-30. Another parable put he forth unto them In which he further explains the case of unfruitful hearers, and shows that persons of various characters would profess to receive the gospel, and be accounted members of the Christian Church; but that there should be a final separation between them in the other world, however they might be blended together in this. The kingdom of heaven This expression, as has been observed before, sometimes signifies the gospel dispensation, sometimes true religion under the gospel; sometimes the Church of Christ, and that as well in its militant as in its triumphant state. The phrase is also often used for a person or thing relating to any of those. Here the meaning seems to be, that Christ, preaching the gospel, may be likened to a man sowing good seed, &c. Or, that the state of things in the gospel Church may be illustrated in the following manner. Which sowed good seed in his field God formed our first parents upright, and sowed nothing but good in his whole creation. And Christ sowed only the good seed of truth in his Church, and planted it with such as were truly righteous. But while men slept Who were set to watch, namely, magistrates and ministers, the servants of the husbandman. Observe, reader, Satan hath a power to persuade, allure, seduce; but not to force. If the servants of Christ watched, and did their duty, there would be much less open wickedness in the world, and less secret sin in the Church than there is. His enemy came and sowed tares Rather darnel, as it seems ζιζανια ought to be rendered. “It appears,” says Dr. Campbell, “from the parable itself, 1st, That this weed was not only hurtful to the corn, but otherwise of no value, and therefore to be severed and burnt. 2dly, That it resembled corn, especially wheat, since it was only when the wheat was putting forth the ear that these weeds were discovered. Now neither of these characters will suit the tare, which is excellent food for cattle, and sometimes cultivated for their use; and which, being a species of vetch, is distinguished from corn, from the moment it appears above ground. Therefore, as it cannot be the tare that is meant, it is highly probable that it is the darnel, in Latin lolium, namely, that species called by botanists temulentum, which grows among corn, not the lolium perenne, commonly called ray, and corruptly rye grass, which grows in meadows. For, 1st, This appears to have been the Latin word by which the Greek was wont to be interpreted. 2dly, It agrees to the characters above mentioned. It is a noxious weed; for when the seed of it happens to be mingled and ground with the corn, the bread made of this mixture always occasions sickness and giddiness in those who eat it; and the straw has the same effect upon the cattle. It is from this quality, and the appearance of drunkenness which it produces, that it has the specific name given it by botanists. And probably for the same reason it is called by Virgil, infelix lolium. It has also a resemblance to wheat sufficient to justify all that relates to this in the parable.” “The only English translation,” adds the doctor, “in which I have found the word darnel, is Mr. Wesley’s.”
When the blade was sprung up, &c., then appeared the tares, rather, the darnel, also It was not discerned before, but now could easily be distinguished. So the servants of the householder Or, of the proprietor of the estate, as οικοδεσποτης seems to signify here: came and said, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? That is, good seed only; the seed of pure wheat, without any corrupt mixture? whence then hath it darnel? He said, An enemy hath done this A plain answer to the great question concerning the origin of evil. God made men (as he did angels) intelligent creatures, and consequently free either to choose good or evil; but he implanted no evil in the human soul. An enemy (with man’s concurrence) hath done this. Darnel in the Church is properly hypocrites, or mere outside Christians, such as have only the form of godliness without the power. Open sinners, such as have neither the form nor the power, are not so properly darnel as thistles and brambles, which ought to be rooted up without delay, and not suffered in the Christian community. Whereas, should fallible men attempt to gather up the darnel, they would often root up the wheat with it.
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