Let both grow together - Though every minister of God should separate from the Church of Christ every incorrigible sinner, yet he should proceed no farther: the man is not to be persecuted in his body or goods, because he is not sound in the faith - God tolerates him; so should men. False doctrines are against God - he alone is the judge and punisher of them - man has no right to interfere in this matter. They who burnt Vanini for atheism usurped the seat of judgment, and thus proved themselves to be not less a diabolical seed than the person they thus, without God's leave, hurried into eternity. Mary, Queen of England, of execrable memory, and the inquisitorial tormentors she employed, were all of this diabolical sowing. See more on this parable at Matthew 13:37, etc.
The kingdom of heaven is likened - That is, the “gospel resembles.” The kingdom of heaven (see the notes at Matthew 3:2) means here the effect of the gospel by its being preached. The meaning of this parable is plain. The field represents the “world,” in which the gospel is preached. The “good seed,” the truths preached by Christ and his apostles.
While men slept, his enemy came - That is, “in the night,” when it could be done without being seen, an enemy came and scattered bad seed on the new-plowed field, perhaps before the good seed had been harrowed in.
Satan thus sows false doctrine in darkness. In the very place where the truth is preached, and while the hearts of people are open to receive it, by false but plausible teachers he takes care to inculcate false sentiments. Often it is one of his arts, in a revival of religion, to spread secretly dangerous notions of piety. Multitudes are persuaded that they are Christians who are deceived. They are awakened, convicted, and alarmed. They take this for conversion. Or they find their burden gone; they fancy that they hear a voice; or a text of Scripture is “brought” to them, saying that their sins are forgiven; or they see Christ hanging on the cross in a vision; or they dream that their sins are pardoned, and they suppose they are Christians. But they are deceived. None of these things are any conclusive evidence of piety. All these may exist, and still there be no true love to God or Christ, and no real hatred of sin and change of heart. An enemy may do it to deceive them, and to bring dishonor on religion.
Sowed tares - By “tares” is probably meant a degenerate kind of wheat, or the darnel-grass growing in Palestine. In its growth and form it has a strong resemblance to genuine wheat; but it either produces no grain, or that of a very inferior and hurtful kind. Probably it comes near to what we mean by “chess.” It was extremely difficult to separate it from the genuine wheat, on account of its similarity while growing.
“The tare abounds all over the East, and is a great nuisance to the farmer. It resembles the American “cheat (chess),” but the “head” does not droop like cheat, nor does it branch out like oats. The grain, also, is smaller, and is arranged along the upper part of the stalk, which stands perfectly erect. The “taste” is bitter, and when eaten separately, or even when diffused in ordinary bread, it causes dizziness, and often acts as a violent emetic. Barn-door fowls also become dizzy from eating it. In short, it is a strong soporific poison, and must be carefully winnowed, and picked out of the wheat grain by grain, before grinding, or the flour is not healthy. Even the farmers, who in this country generally “weed” their fields, do not attempt to separate the one from the other. They would not only mistake good grain for them, but very commonly the roots of the two are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate them without plucking up both. Both, therefore, must be left to “grow together” until the time of harvest.” - (Thomson) “The Land and the Book,” vol. ii. pp. 111,112. Thus, “tares” aptly represented hypocrites in the church. Strongly resembling Christians in their experience, and, in some respects, their lives it is impossible to distinguish them from genuine Christians, nor can they be separated until it is done by the Great Searcher of hearts at the day of judgment. An enemy the devil hath done it. And nowhere has he shown profounder cunning, or done more to adulterate the purity of the gospel.
And went his way - There is something very expressive in this. He knew the soil; he knew how the seed would take root and grow. He had only to sow the seed and let it alone. So Satan knows the soil in which he sows his doctrine. He knows that in the human heart it will take deep and rapid root. It needs but little culture. Grace needs constant attendance and care. Error, and sin, and hypocrisy are the native products of the human heart, and, when left alone, start up with deadly luxuriancy.
Then appeared the tares also - That is, then the tares were “first discovered.” They had grown with the wheat, but were so much like it as not to be noticed until the wheat began to ripen.
So true piety and false hopes are not known by professions, by “blades,” and leaves, and flowers, but by the fruit.
Ye root up also the wheat - They so much resembled the true wheat that even then it would be difficult to separate them.
By gathering them, they would tread down the wheat, loosen and disturb the earth, and greatly injure the crop. In the harvest it could be done without injury.
Let both grow together - They would not spoil the true wheat, and in time of harvest it would be easy to separate them.
Our Saviour teaches us here:
1.That hypocrites and deceived persons must be expected in the church.
2.That this is the work of the enemy of man. They are not the work of Christianity any more than traitors are of patriotism, or counterfeiters are of the proper effect of legislating about money. They belong to the world, and hypocrisy is only one form of sin. The Christian religion never “made” a hypocrite, nor is there a hypocrite on the earth whose principles and practice it does not condemn.
3.That all hope of removing them entirely would be vain.
4.That an “attempt” to remove them altogether would injure real Christianity, by causing excitements, discord, and hard feelings even among Christians.
5.That Christ will himself separate them at the proper time. There is no doubt that it is the duty of the church to keep itself pure, and to cut off gross and manifest offenders, 1 Corinthians 5:4-5; but the Saviour refers here to those who may be “suspected” of hypocrisy, but against whom it cannot be proved; to those who so successfully imitate Christians as to make it difficult or impossible for man to distinguish them.
Our compassionate Redeemer, foreseeing the perils that would surround His followers at this time, has given them special warning: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” If the church pursue a course similar to that of the world, they will share the same fate. Nay, rather, as they have received greater light, their punishment will be greater than that of the impenitent. 5T 100.1
We as a people profess to have truth in advance of every other people upon the earth. Then our life and character should be in harmony with such a faith. The day is just upon us when the righteous shall be bound like precious grain in bundles for the heavenly garner, while the wicked are, like the tares, gathered for the fires of the last great day. But the wheat and tares “grow together until the harvest.” In the discharge of life's duties the righteous will to the last be brought in contact with the ungodly. The children of light are scattered among the children of darkness, that the contrast may be seen by all. Thus are the children of God to “show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The divine love glowing in the heart, the Christ like harmony manifested in the life, will be as a glimpse of heaven granted to men of the world that they may see and appreciate its excellence. 5T 100.2
Like will attract like. Those who are drinking from the same fountain of blessing will draw nearer together. Truth dwelling in the hearts of believers will lead to blessed and happy assimilation. Thus will be answered the prayer of Christ that His disciples might be one even as He is one with the Father. For this oneness every truly converted heart will be striving. 5T 100.3Read in context »
I raise my voice of warning against the mingling in our institutions of the worldly element with those who believe; we have the danger signal to sound. If in our institutions persons are placed in positions of trust, they are educators. Others are taught to look to these persons for instruction, and in this is a snare to the unwary; their ideas become confused in regard to righteousness and truth. They hear those persons who have no respect for the truth sneer and speak disparagingly of the truth, which should be held firmly and sacredly as truth. TM 272.1
When the day's work on Friday should be planned with reference to the Sabbath of the Lord, there is Satan working with those children of disobedience to prolong the service into the sacred hours, and give their orders that those under their direction shall do work on the Sabbath, and then they exult and Satan triumphs. TM 272.2
And when men in the highest responsible positions make no difference between those who serve God and those who serve Him not, they evidence that their eyes are not single to the glory of God; therefore their whole body is full of darkness. When these men in authority have so mingled with the spirit of worldlings that the words of complaint from the lips of these unbelievers are gathered as verity and truth, they know not what spirit they are of. When they encourage this spirit, and complaints against the people of God, they evidence that they are working on the enemy's side to belittle and humiliate those whom the Lord loves, and that they strengthen the hands of the wicked, who are doing an evil work. When they feel free to suffer the accusers of God's children to plan for them against His chosen ones, they do not have Christ to plan with them. TM 273.1Read in context »
We must examine well the foundation of our hope, for we shall have to give a reason for it from the Scriptures. This delusion will spread, and we shall have to contend with it face to face; and unless we are prepared for it, we shall be ensnared and overcome. But if we do what we can on our part to be ready for the conflict that is just before us, God will do His part, and His all-powerful arm will protect us. He would sooner send every angel out of glory to the relief of faithful souls, to make a hedge about them, than have them deceived and led away by the lying wonders of Satan. EW 88.1
I saw the rapidity with which this delusion was spreading. A train of cars was shown me, going with the speed of lightning. The angel bade me look carefully. I fixed my eyes upon the train. It seemed that the whole world was on board, that there could not be one left. Said the angel, “They are binding in bundles ready to burn.” Then he showed me the conductor, who appeared like a stately, fair person, whom all the passengers looked up to and reverenced. I was perplexed and asked my attending angel who it was. He said, “It is Satan. He is the conductor in the form of an angel of light. He has taken the world captive. They are given over to strong delusions, to believe a lie, that they may be damned. This agent, the next highest in order to him, is the engineer, and other of his agents are employed in different offices as he may need them, and they are all going with lightning speed to perdition.” EW 88.2
I asked the angel if there were none left. He bade me look in an opposite direction, and I saw a little company traveling a narrow pathway. All seemed to be firmly united, bound together by the truth, in bundles, or companies. Said the angel, “The third angel is binding, or sealing, them in bundles for the heavenly garner.” This little company looked careworn, as if they had passed through severe trials and conflicts. And it appeared as if the sun had just risen from behind a cloud and shone upon their countenances, causing them to look triumphant, as if their victories were nearly won. EW 88.3Read in context »
I am instructed to say that in the future great watchfulness will be needed. There is to be among God's people no spiritual stupidity. Evil spirits are actively engaged in seeking to control the minds of human beings. Men are binding up in bundles, ready to be consumed by the fires of the last days. Those who discard Christ and His righteousness will accept the sophistry that is flooding the world. Christians are to be sober and vigilant, steadfastly resisting their adversary the devil, who is going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Men under the influence of evil spirits will work miracles.... Mar 148.3Read in context »