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the teaching of intervening events produces this effect, when they must acknowledge that in this chapter, the Lord Jesus has not only spoken of intervening events, but commanded us to expect them, and made such expectation essential to a right condition of watchfulness. To say, then, that the prophetic and prospective instructions addressed to the Twelve Apostles were not addressed to them as our representatives, is, virtually, to reject the Scripture as our guide. We are as much bound to expect every event that Matt. xxiv., Mark xiii., and Luke xxi. predict, as we are to observe the commandment of the Lord respecting Baptism and the Supper. The promises too-"Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the age;" and, "I will come again and receive you unto myself," are addressed to the very same persons as those who are commanded to watch for the signs predicted in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. If the reasons were valid for rejecting the latter, they would equally prove that we were not concerned with the former.

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And what words can be more plain than the words I have just quoted -"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age." (atovos). How could the Lord promise to be with His suffering disciples "until the end of the age," if they were to be taken away from the earth before "the end of the age ?" Nor is "the end of the age an uncertain or ambiguous expression. In the parable of “the wheat and tares" in Matthew, it is expressly defined to be "the harvest "the harvest is the end of the age;" and the harvest is marked as being the period when the holy angels shall be sent forth finally to separate those who have truly, and those who have nominally, professed the name of Jesus: the former being gathered to the heavenly garner, the latter "cast into the furnace of fire." "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age (atovos) and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this age. The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." In explaining the parable of the net, the Lord again uses the same expression. "So shall it be at the end

of the age: THE ANGELS shall come forth and shall separate the wicked from among the righteous-αφοριούσι τους πονηρους εκ μέσου Sikator. Whenever, by this mission of the holy angels, the final separation between false and true professors of the name of Jesus takes place, the Day of the Lord will have come. Until then the wheat and the tares "grow together."

The wheat and tare field represents Christendom (Christ's kingdom) that is, those who have been baptized into the profession of the name. of Christ. At the time of the Lord's return, there will be multitudes in the earth who will not form a part of Christendom, and therefore will not fall within the scope of this parable. For example, the whole Roman World (ʼn oikovμεvn) which will then have become divided into ten kingdoms, will have apostatized into infidelity and avowedly rejected the name of Christ, and worshipped Antichrist. No part of it, therefore, will at that time belong to Christendom. It will have a history of its own. The Jews, too, and Mahomedans, and the Heathen, are to be excluded from this parable; for they form no part of Christendom. They are neither tares nor wheat.

Long before the Apostles died, the fair field of wheat which at Pentecost seemed to promise so much, became marred by the interminglement of tares; and since then, tares and wheat have grown on in the world together. Are we then told anything respecting the period when this growing together is to cease? Is the wheat to be removed before the tares? Is it to be reaped secretly and gathered secretly into the heavenly garner? and are the tares to remain and flourish in the earth after the wheat has been thus removed? No: they are "to grow TOGETHER until the harvest." And what is the harvest? The "end of the age"-the end of man's day of evil. And by what is it marked? By sending forth the holy angels to gather first the tares, then the wheat. And what does "gathering" as used in this parable, imply? It implies in the case both of the wheat and of the tares, removal from the earth-in other words, the cessation of natural existence here. The saints, as represented by the wheat, are to be removed from the earthly into the heavenly branch of the Kingdom of God, whilst the tares will be taken altogether out of the Kingdom to which they only nominally belong, and will be cast into the furnace of fire. This is the harvest, or end of the age for observe, the harvest is not said to be in the end of the age, but "the harvest is the end of the age." Until then, the wheat and the tares grow together. If then the wheat and the tares

grow together till the end of the age, the wheat cannot be removed Nothing can be more demonstratively yet not more conclusive than the words,

before the end of the age.

conclusive than this parable;

"Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the age."

Some who have wished to avoid the force of this parable, have suggested that the gathering of the tares may possibly mean a slow, progressive gathering (such as has long ago commenced) of false professors around various centres of evil such as Popery, neology, and the like; and that the angels may represent, not holy angels, but evil principles, or perhaps evil spirits by whom men are attracted to the aforesaid centres of falsehood. But to say that "angels" do not mean "angels," but principles, would be in itself neology. Nor is it possible that "His angels," that is, Christ's angels (" the Son of man shall send forth His angels") can mean any thing else than holy angels: nor would it be possible for evil angels to gather Christ's saints into the heavenly garner, and the saints are to be gathered by the same agency-the same "reapers" that gather the tares. Moreover, the gathering, as we have seen, involves removal from the earth, and therefore implies that the period of their earthly existence is brought to a close for ever. The gathering of the tares is immediately followed by their being cast into the furnace of fire. Other arguments might be added; but I should despair of convincing any who are not convinced by what has been already said.

Others have suggested that the parable of the wheat and tares has no reference to the present period: that the wheat represents not the saints of the present, but the saints of the next dispensation. But the next dispensation is the millennial. The period of the Church's sorrowful militancy ends as soon as this present dispensation ends. How could the parable of the wheat and tares apply to the next dispensation ? The very point in which the coming dispensation is contrasted with the present is, that Satan will be bound, and therefore will no longer be able to sow tares among the wheat. Of converted Israel (and to them the testimonies of Truth in the next dispensation are to be committed) it is said, "they shall be all righteous." The wheat field will be spoiled by no intermingled tares, nor will the banner of Truth when committed to their hands, be again dragged dishonoured in the dust as it has been by the professing Church of the present dispensation.

Nor would the history of Christianity in the next dispensation be a subject that would properly fall within the scope of the Gospel of

Matthew. The specific subject of the prophetic parables of Matthew is the history of the period during which Jerusalem and Israel are left in unbelief and desolation, and a body of professed believers, including some Jews and many Gentiles, becomes the witness for Christ during His personal absence. The rejection therefore of the Son of Abraham and of David by Israel corporately, and His nominal, (and in some cases) true, reception by others, principally gathered from among the Gentiles, is the especial subject of Matthew throughout: so that Matthew may, in a peculiar sense, be considered the Gentile Gospel, inasmuch as it treats of Christianity throughout the period during which, scorned by the house of Israel, it sojourns in Gentile and Galilean places. All the prophetic parables of Matthew have this character strongly marked on them, as may be easily seen by an examination of those recorded in the thirteenth chapter.*

I must repeat then, that the one declaration that the wheat and the tares are to grow together until the holy angels at the end of the age are sent forth to separate them, is of itself sufficient to prove that the saints of the present dispensation are not to be removed from the earth until the day of man terminates for ever. What presumption could be greater than to affirm that the wheat are taken away from the earth before the tares, when this parable so distinctly declares that they are "to grow together until the harvest." Again, the prophecy of Matthew xxiv. (unless indeed we reject it) throws on us the responsibility of watching for the predicted signs. If we refuse to observe those signs, we virtually refuse to watch in the only way in which we can watch rightly according to God's word. And although such watching will not enable us to know the day or the hour of the revelation of the Lord, yet it will enable us to know when it is nigh, even at the doors. "Now learn a parable of the fig tree: when his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye when ye shall see all these things (the predicted signs) come to pass, know that it is near, even at the doors."

* See tract entitled, "The seven parables of Matthew xiii. considered "; as advertised at end of this volume.

On Isaiah XVIII.


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ALL who understand what is written in the Scripture respecting the dark and awful future that yet awaits Israel and the nations of the Roman World before the present night of evil ends, must be deeply grieved at the efforts so frequently made to explain this chapter as if it were about to receive, in the present dispensation, its accomplishment. Are the Scriptures indeed written so ambiguously that it is impossible to distinguish between passages that describe Christ's reign of righteousness and peace, and other passages which describe this present hour of unsubjected and increasing evil? Can a period when Satan is "the god of this world," and "the deceiver" of the nations, be the same as a period when he is bound, and "shall deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years shall be fulfilled"? Can a period which is to end by a summons to the nations "to prepare war” -to "beat their plowshares into swords, and their pruning hooks into spears" and "to come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat to be judged, (See Joel iii. 9, &c.) be the same as a period when "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more"? (Isaiah ii. 4). Can a period during which the Lord Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father, waiting till His enemies shall have been set as a footstool for his feet, (See Ps. cx.) be the same as a period when, after having been brought before the Ancient of days (Dan. vii. 7), he shall come forth as "King of kings and Lord of lords" that "all peoples, nations, and languages might serve Him"? (Dan. vii. 14). If we cannot recognise contrasts like these, what is there that we can recognise? The chapter before us describes Israel as forgiven. How then can it belong to a dispensation, throughout the whole course of which, Israel is not forgiven? It describes a Gentile nation as summoned to the honoured office of aiding in the regathering of Israel. But from the days of Nimrod until now, there never has been a Gentile nation (and in the

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