Ver. 37-39. The design that Christ had in this parable was to show them, that though he laid a good foundation of a church in the world, calling some home to himself; and making them partakers of his effectual grace, laying the foundation of his gospel church in such as took his yoke upon them; yet in process of time, while those that should succeed him in his ministry slept, (not being so diligent and watchful as they ought to be), the devil (who is full of envy and malice to men’s souls, and is continually going about seeking whom he may devour) would sow erroneous opinions, and find a party, even in the bosom of his church, who would hearken to him, and through their lusts comply with his temptations, both to errors in doctrine and errors in practice: and it was his will, that there should be in the visible church a mixture of good and bad, such bad ones especially as men could not purge out without a danger of putting out such as were true and sincere; but there would be a time, in the end of the world, when he would come with his fan, and thoroughly purge his floor, and take to heaven all true and sincere souls, but turn all hypocrites into hell. This appears, by our Saviour’s exposition, to have been our Saviour’s plain meaning in this parable. Hence he tells us, that by the sower here he meant himself,
the Son of man. By
the field he meant
the world. By
the good seed he meant
the children of the kingdom; such as had a true change wrought in their hearts, were truly regenerated and converted. By
the tares he meant the children of the wicked one, that is, of the devil; such as did the works of the devil, Joh_8:44. That
the enemy that sowed these tares was the devil, who by his suggestions, presenting objects, &c., makes himself the father of all wicked men. Our Saviour here saith nothing to that part of the parable, where the tares are said to be sown
while men slept; that was plain and intelligible enough. The devil hath a power to seduce, persuade, and allure, none to force. If particular persons kept their watch, as they might, the devil could not by his temptation force them. If magistrates and ministers kept their watches according to God’s prescription, there could not be so much open wickedness in the world as there is. Neither doth our Saviour give us any particular explication of that part of the parable, which is Mat_13:28,29, where the servants say to their master,
Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up. And
he said unto them, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Our Saviour by this teacheth us, that every passage in a parable is not to be fitted by something in the explication. It was not the point that he designed in this parable to instruct them in, how far church officers might or ought to act in purging the church; but only,
1. That in the visible church they must expect it mixture, till the day of judgment.
2. That in that day he would make a perfect separation.
So as those that would from this passage in the parable conclude, that all erroneous and loose persons ought to be tolerated in the church till the day of judgment, forget the common rule in divinity, that parabolical divinity is not argumentative. We can argue from nothing in a parable but from the main scope and tendency of it. However, it is bold arguing from a passage in a parable, expounded by our Saviour himself, when he hath omitted the explication of that passage; nor can any thing be concluded, but that such must not be rooted out as have such a resemblance of wheat from the outward appearance, that they cannot be rooted out without a hazard of a mistake, and a rooting up of the wheat with them. But our Saviour reserves the point of the ministerial duty in purging the church to another more proper time; he here saith, nothing of that, but of his own design to purge it at
the harvest, which he interprets,
the end of the world, that is, the day of judgment. By