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THE SOWER OF TARES
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man that sowed good seed in his field : but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went away.”—Matthew xiii. 24–25.
“ 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.”—Matthew xiii. 38–39.
THE parable of the Sower is one of commonsense appeal; the sensible farmer sows only good seed. The growing of tares among the wheat is not in the original plan, Good seed were sown,
but behold the tares! Whence came they? While the servants slept an Enemy came and sowed them. The Master gives us His own interpretation : He is the sower—the good seed are the children of the kingdom, men and women into whose hearts the Truth has entered—the converted part of the Church. The sleeping of the servants is the unwatchfulness of the Church: coldness, indifference, backslidden. The Enemy seizes the opportunity—the carelessness of Christ's servants—and sows bad seed. The enemy is the Devil—the Wicked One; the bad seed are the children of the Devil. Growing side by side in this world-field are the children of God and the children of the Devil.
The tare, or cheat, in appearance resembles the wheat; it grows exactly the same height, and viewed casually, or at a distance, cannot be detected from the genuine. Only the threshing and sifting bring out the difference. These tares are the propaganda of the Devil, but a perfect imitation of the children of the kingdom. They make a profession, adhere to the same rules and regulations, profess and maintain, outwardly, a standard of morality, wear all the regalia—even particular about details. We observe another striking resemblance : strange as it may seem, these tares—children of the Devil-seek as their guide no books of heathen philosophy, or twentieth century atheism; they make great capital of the Bible; the ceremonies and ordinances are carried out to the letter. On a day of dress parade and review they meekly grade A 1.
Such an inconsistency is so glaring as to be almost unthinkable; but the parable teaches it beyond a doubt. The Devil sows into the Church his children: a corrupt profession of Jesus Christ. In a former chapter we studied the Devil as a destroyer; and it will be remembered that in a preceding parable he came as a vulture devouring the seed; now he seeks to further weaken and hinder by adulteration. While continuing the battering-ram process from without, a reversed method is used; he scales the ramparts and places his cohorts on the inside, and, wherever possible, assumes leadership in a campaign of self-destruction. We are amazed at such audacity, but the Master, who is a rival in the field, has illuminated the parable for us.
There is a note of optimism ringing out in the land to the effect that the day of triumph is at hand; doors are opening, walls are crumbling, conservative nations are studying our religion, municipalities are being renovated, higher standards in public life are demanded, the Church is lifting the race out of superstition and prejudice—we are about to see a “nation born in a day." What does it mean? It means that Satan is being chained-defeated, etc. This sounds good and plausible; but a closer inspection will reveal, not a retreat, not an armistice, not a victory, but a change of base.
Twenty years ago a leading teacher said: “Unless the signs of the times fail, the true Church of Christ is about to enter upon the most serious struggle of her history. She is no longer called merely to fight an open foe without, but as Dr. Green, of Princeton, says,' the battle rages around the citadel,' and she is forced to fight the traitors within. The real enemy is to be found on the inside.” If such a condition were true then, what is it to-day, since the last two decades have been the most revolutionary in the history of the Church on the line of skepticism and advanced thought ?
The Free Thinkers' Magazine recently had this to say:
“ Tom Paine's work is now carried on by the descendants of his persecutors; all he said about the Bible is being said in substance by orthodox divines, and from chairs of theology.” Another writer observes : “ No need of Bridlaughs and Ingersols wasting time preaching against the early chapters of Genesis, sneering at the story of temptation, cavilling at the record of long lives, denying the confusion of tongues, doubting if not denying the deluge, when Christian ministers, on account of their official position, are doing the same work more effectually.'
“ Freedom of thought in religion," said an orthodox preacher at Tom Paine's one hundredth anniversary, “just what he stood for, is what most of us have come to. In his own day vilified as an atheist-to-day he is looked upon as a defender of just principles of faith." There is a wide range of opinions found in the growing crop of tares : some are literalists, touching Biblical interpretation, getting the minutia of husks, but rejecting the kernel--the envelope, but missing the message; others remain in the Church, preach a gospel shelter under her roof-eat her bread, but deny the supernatural in toto. Few, if any, are honest enough to step out.
The Devil prefers his cheat to grow in the same soil prepared for the wheat. No place is so wholesome and convenient for the children of the Devil as inside the Church of God. Why is not the wrath of God poured out on the children of the Devil who have assumed place and power in His Church? The same processes used for the removal of the tares would injure and uproot some of the wheat. There is now no remedy; at an unguarded moment the harm was done. The Enemy continues to enter every available door, sowing, sowing, sowing—beside all waters. Not until the angelic reapers thrust in their sickles for the harvest will the children of the Devil cease to occupy, influence, and control.
THE ARCH SLANDERER
“ For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”Genesis iii. 5.
“ But put forth thine hand now and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.”—Job i. 11.
It is the first scene of the human drama ; the staging is in an earthly Paradise ; perfection is written on everything animate and inanimate. With but one restriction man roams through Edenic beauties, a being “good and very good,” happy and holy. His communion with God is unbroken; fountains of love are opened in his heart as he beholds the beautiful mate at his side. Our wildest imaginations cannot estimate the glories of that life-morning ; but behold the Serpent. He utters his first words in the scheme of ruin, and it is a slander against God. “Aha, He knows if you eat you will be like He is—knowing all things, be as gods; He is not treating you fairly; the case is misrepresented. You will not die, but you will be wise. Why does He keep back such privileges from you?" As a result of this slander, the Paradise is lost. Flowers, fruits, peace and plenty are exchanged for weeds, briers, toil, sweat, suffering, death.
Again we find his impudent presence on the day Job is offering sacrifices. Reading between the lines, we can imagine a conversation like this: “ You here? You are looking for some pretense to dis