9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
How can mortal man conceive what is right and fitting from God to man? It is God's view that is all-governing.
The judgment of God would never be congenial to human views. The population in Noah's day would, no doubt, have voted unanimously against the flood. But the views of God prevailed, and the population was drowned with a strong and decided hand that faltered not in the doing of what was right, as God saw things. So in this matter: God is a dreadful majesty, and will be held in reverence, and when men are blind and deaf to Him through their habitual and presumptuous negligences for a long season, it is not unreasonable at all that God should hide his wisdom from them.
God requires to be approached with the humility and docility of little children. When men do this, they will experience the truth of what is written,
"I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 26
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
The parables then were illustrative of "the secrets of the kingdom of heaven," which the multitude could not understand, because the key of knowledge was lost. They had "the knowledge," for it was in "the Law and the Prophets;" but neither the learned nor the unlearned could interpret it aright. Thus were fulfilled the words of Isaiah,
"they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon them the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed their eyes: the prophets, and their rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all hath become to them as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned."
"The Key" to the understanding of the knowledge of this book they had lost. They had lost sight of the true doctrine of the Kingdom; and had embraced the vain philosophy of their Greek and Roman masters, which taught immediate reward and punishment in Elysium and Tartarus at the instant of death.
They expected Elijah to come and restore all things, and the kingdom to be re established with observation, when the Messiah should appear and sit upon the throne of his father David; but they understood not that
"he must first suffer many things. and be rejected of their generation;"
and by a resurrection from the dead be raised up to sit upon David's throne. Neither did they understand that they who were to possess the kingdom with him must first be righteous men, and then immortal by a resurrection from among the dead.
They supposed when Messias came he would promote them to the honour and glory of his kingdom, little dreaming that "the first should be last" then; and that certain poor peasants of Galilee, and dogs of Gentiles from afar, should be first in the kingdom and empire of Shiloh.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, June 1851
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
spiritually- enlightened moral and intellectual attainments which commend a man to God.
If a man lack these, there is nothing to work on to lift him higher. But if he have them, the tendency is for him to increase in attainment and in acceptability with God and man.
...A man or a nation's poverty in the matter in question is largely the result of neglect and misuse of opportunities given.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 26.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
Why speakest thou to them in parables
Why should the teaching of Jesus have been couched in a form calculated to obstruct the light?
The answer may be learnt from the prophets. For a long season Israel had turned a deaf ear to God's expostulations. There is a limit to the Divine patience. Therefore we read,
"Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouths and with their lips do honour me but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men, therefore behold I will proceed to do a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." "The Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep and hath closed your eyes" (Is. xxix. 13, 14, 10).
When Jesus appeared in Israel, their spiritual reprobateness had reached a climax. His mission was in harmony with the time. "His fan is in his hand," said John the Baptist,
"and he shall thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matt. iii. 12).
The prophet Malachi had said (iii. 2, 3, 5)
"He is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap. He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.... I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 13
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias [29: 13, 14; 9, 10], which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
The age that witnessed the birth of Christ was the most unpromising of all ages, in a moral sense, of any high moral development on natural principles. The Gentile world under Roman ascendancy was sunk in the grossest immoralities of Paganism, which the revelations of Pompeii may illustrate; and as for the condition of the Jews, it was one of self-conceited barrenness and formalism, which has not been exceeded by any recorded experience of that people.
The condition of the Jews is more important to be considered than the condition of the Gentile nations, as it was in the midst of the Jews that Jesus was born, and of their common race and stock in the line of David.
Christ's own portraiture of Israel's state is vigorous, brief and decisive. Speaking generally, he said "This is an evil generation" (Luke xi. 29).
This is the divine definition of Israel's condition at the time of Christ's appearing. The truth of the definition is reflected in the Rabbinical writings of that and subsequent times. The grave discussion of trifles, conducted illogically, and distorted with childish legend, impresses the mind with a sense of mental paralysis and nightmare. There is much boast of Hillel and Philo: it is astonishing how little ground for boast appears in the reading.
"Dry," indeed, was "the ground" in which the root of Jesse quickened and sprang in the beginning of the first century -- as Isaiah had foretold -- "A root out of a dry ground" (Isa. liii. 2). If there had not been a divine planting in the dry ground, no such "tender plant" could have shot forth in the cracked and arid soil. It had been dry and barren for generations.
Since the last words of inspiration by Malachi, Israel had slowly settled into that shallow half-clever state of self-conceit and disobedience in which Jesus found them -- punctilious as to trifles, but reprobate to the "weightier matters of the law:" on the best of terms with themselves, yet by their insubordination towards the highest requirements of the law, piling up the divine anger in a slow- gathering, terrible storm that descended shortly afterwards and swept them all away. Even Malachi's words show them well advanced in spiritual decomposition in his days.
"Who is there among you that would shut the doors (of the temple) for nought? neither do ye kindle a fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord, neither will I accept an offering at your hand" (Mal. i. 10; see also 12, 13; ii. 8,9, 17; iii. 7, 9).
Such an "age" could have nothing to do with the production of Christ. It was much more likely to produce monsters like the John and Simon who figured so flaringly at the siege of Jerusalem.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 2
15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
God is a dreadful majesty, and will be held in reverence, and when men are blind and deaf to Him through their habitual and presumptuous negligences for a long season, it is not unreasonable at all that God should hide his wisdom from them. God requires to be approached with the humility and docility of little children. When men do this, they will experience the truth of what is written,
"I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me."
None of us can have any difficulty in understanding this blessedness. It was a privilege and an honour confined to that generation, and to the few lowly men in it whom God saw fit to admit to it -- the privilege of witnessing the glory of God manifested in Christ. It is a privilege to be renewed in a more impressive form when God's work on earth has reached a riper stage: "for God shall send Jesus Christ ... (in) the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." But how few in our generation do themselves the advantage, and God the honour, of looking forward with any interest, or even faith, to this prospect.
Jesus speaks of "the prophets and righteous men" of ancient times. He says they "desired to see those things" which the apostles were admitted to witness. Herein we may discern a divinely-approved characteristic which is of very little value in the eyes of the common run of people: this characteristic of "desiring" the day and the things that God has promised to bring.
The "prophets and righteous men" spoken of by Christ had this "desire," and we read that they will hold a prominent place in the day when the things promised become realities (Luke xiii. 28: Rev. xi. 18).
Nazareth Revisited CH 26
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
In this parable, there are no less than six varieties of product from the same sowing -- the way side, the stony, the thorny and the good; and three varieties even of the good. These all received the word sown into their hearts, even with joy; but it was only those who, with honest and good hearts, understood it, brought forth fruit unto endless life.
The good soil believers are the Spirit's witnessing prophets; while the other soil believers, not sufficiently evangelized for their own personal salvation, are too much enlightened to accept the dogmas of the Great Harlot, of her Harlot-Daughters, and of the Denominations, alias, the Abominations, of the earth; or to conform to their ordinances and institutions.
Hence, the Court of the Gentiles, besides containing the Harlots and Abominations, has a numerous class of nondescripts, who are not professors of any of the superstitions of the Court. These are variously styled by the spirituals of the world, "infidels," "liberals," "revolutionists," "disorganizers," "democrats," and so forth; but apocalyptically they are termed, "THE EARTH" (xii. 16).
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
I came across a copy of the Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, which was being published monthly by Dr. Thomas. I had not the least idea of its character. I had never heard of it before that I know of. The one thing I perceived was that it was a religious magazine; and in my state of mind I withdrew it from its place with a feeling of satisfaction, and sat down to read.
The experience was extraordinary. I expected the usual sort of religious reading - dealing with the "experiences of the soul," in the light and shade of depressed and joyful feeling. But lo! Here was a religious book that denied straight away in the first article that there was such a thing as an immortal soul in man at all, and then denounced the whole religious system built upon such an idea as a superstition, and an imposture for which the Bible was not responsible.
I was startled. I was awakened. I was filled with a new joy. The power of the article lay in its argument. Mere assertion would, of course, have filled me with aversion: but the Scriptures were quoted in disproof of the immortality of the soul in a way that literally carried me away.
Bro Roberts - My Days and My Ways Ch 2.
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
The Parable of the wheat and tares.
The sower, Christ: the field, the (Jewish) world: the good seed, the truth, as embodied in its true believers.
In the Field - Norfolk VA.
They believe they can do more for the spread of the truth in their vicinity by their own individual exertions, aided by the Herald and Elpis Israel, which have been instrumental in enlightening their own minds, than by sending money to a conference fund to make up five hundred dollars, or any other sum, more or less, for which some one, not now engaged in teaching the people without recompense, might be induced, tempted, or "enabled to enter the field."
They believe, and we believe we state correctly their conviction, that five hundred dollars spent in the circulation of the Herald or Elpis Israel, or both, would be more effective to the spread of the gospel and the maintenance of the truth than the same amount paid to any twelve professors of the gospel of the Kingdom they have yet heard of in "Christendom," hired to itinerate among the people.
God teaches mankind by books in the hands of men who understand them—by the books of Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, &c., and those of the New Testament.
There are very, very few, who can give an harmonious interpretation of these books, and all who can are impelled by their convictions and intelligence to speak to their contemporaries at home and abroad, without the hope of five hundred dollars before them for so doing.
There are as many now "in the field" as are competent to do this. They believe and therefore speak. This was the incentive with Paul. And all who are competent, but not now "in the field" for lack of the rupees, ought not to be brought into "the field" by the hope of compensation.
By "the field" we mean a man's individual sphere of action. All the brethren in Norfolk are "in the field," wielding "the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God," in all the stores and workshops they can find access to, in the ordinary course of life.
They are all in the field, companions in arms and soldiers of the faith, doing battle doctrinally for the King. To be in the field, it is not necessary to take such an extensive range as we do, or to leave a man's own town, village, or city, to declaim upon the beauty of truth and the excellencies of the gospel to people in foreign parts.
Show what the truth is and expound the Scriptures to your neighbors and inmates of your own family, and you are in the field. "Charity begins at home." It is true, there is no scope for display in this, but it evinces a man's sincerity and devotion.
The brethren in Norfolk, we believe, are opposed to the hiring system however it may be glossed, and so are we. Yet they are neither mean nor niggardly, though "poor," or hard-working men. If they invite one to visit them, and help them to a more enlarged comprehension of the Word, so that their efficiency may be increased in their conflicts with the adversary; and they may obtain more power for the
"bringing into captivity all their own thoughts to the obedience of Christ"
—they express their appreciation of his service by contributing to his necessity; for they are just men, and need not to be told that the poor who serve the poor cannot live upon air alone, and pay the expenses of locomotion from an empty purse. No rich brother has yet paid these poor men of Norfolk a visit to speak to them for their
"edification, exhortation, and comfort,"
and to inquire after their temporal condition, that they may minister to their necessities if need be. We have been requested to stir up the rich among us to richness in good works, and readiness of distribution and communication. If we were rich, and had no talent for the enlightening of our contemporaries, we would ascertain where congregations of true believers were to be found, and we would visit them with a full purse, and unostentatiously ascertain who among them needed "material aid," and minister it through the official brethren, or otherwise, so that it might come to the necessitous in the most acceptable way; and we would return home with our purse empty, but with much
"laid up in store toward a good foundation for the future."
Having thus "remembered the poor," we should not forget to remember the prince of poor men, the poorest of the poor, who,
"though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be rich,"
in memorializing his death weekly among his friends. Nor should we forget the liberal support and dissemination of the truth which had made us free, knowing that
"the liberal deviseth liberal things. and by liberal things he stands."
We would not allow the poor to travel hundreds of miles at the hazard of life and limb for our enlightenment, and the promotion of our eternal blessedness, and permit him to depart with honeyed words and nothing more. We would not thus say to him,
"Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,"
yet contribute nothing of our abundance for his profit. Rich men did this in the first century, and they have not forgotten the practice in the nineteenth.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Dec 1859
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
The enemy, the devil, consisting of the authorities of the nation, who everywhere stealthily neutralised the teaching of Christ, disseminating evil doctrines, and scattering wide their sypathisers and disciples, who drew away the people, and multiplied their own number greatly by the energy of their operations and the popularity of their influence.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
When Christ's teaching began to take effect in the development of earnest disciples, the result was not so general as might have been expected, for the Scribes and Pharisees had meanwhile been very busy on the quiet, and out of the sight of Christ, and the people sided with them in larger numbers than would have been the case if they had been let alone to consider the works and words of Christ for themselves.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
The surprise of the Apostles that the people did not submit to the word of Christ, and their proposal (as on one occasion) that they should command that fire should come down from heaven and destroy them.
Nazareth Revisited Ch27
29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
The destruction of the wicked would have interfered with the development of the righteous, which requires that the wicked prosper for a while in their disobedience.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Both the wheat-class and the tare- class in Israel to be left unmolested till the arrival of their respective times, to be dealt with "according to their deeds." The tare-class to be harvested "first": the wheat-class afterwards -- the one a long time after the other, as the event has proved.
The harvesting to be performed by the angels in both cases, under Christ's command, but the harvesting of the tares to be done in the way of Providence, in which the angels work by influencing natural circumstances, while the harvest of the wheat would be done by them in an open and visible manner. The parable has been nearly all fulfilled, except the glorious part which is still future.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27.
31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
When first planted in the promises, it was confined to one old man who must have seemed demented as he sallied forth from the midst of his friends to an unknown land, or as he afterwards sojourned among the inhabitants of Canaan with the quiet confidence that he would one day be the possessor of "all these countries."
...When first introduced to a man's notice, in the testimony of the gospel, the kingdom seems to him the most insignificant of his personal affairs. Slowly his view enlarges until he begins to discern its importance, and submits to the requirements associated with it.
At last he dies in the confidence of the hope thereof; and at the resurrection, he awakes to find all his personal affairs perished and gone, except this one momentous element of them -- that he is an heir of the Kingdom of God which he enters in the unspeakable joy of a glorified nature and a position of everlasting power and honour, friendship and joy.
Finally, when Christ steals into the world as a thief, the Kingdom of God arrived in his person is the smallest political fact on earth for the time being; but soon, the mustard seed sprouts.
... till the whole fabric of human power is prostrated in the dust, and the Kingdom of God the only ruling authority on the earth. A knowledge of the Kingdom of God is the easy key to the parable of the mustard seed.
Nazareth revisited Ch 27
33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
(The "whole" world will be leavened with the gospel when the kingdom of heaven is established)
The Parable of the Leaven
In the Apocalypse, apostate Christendom is spoken of as "the court which is without (outside) the (mystical) temple," and which was not to be measured because "given to the Gentiles." It would be incongruous if a system sustaining such a relation to the divine regards should have been the subject of a parable speaking of it as "the kingdom of heaven." We must look for an interpretation that will steer clear of such an anomaly. It is not difficult to find one.
Leaven has characteristics apart from evil. One of these is its tendency to quietly work in secret with a power that will conquer a mass out of all proportion to its own bulk. A small quantity divided among three "batches" will leaven the whole. It is evident this is the aspect in which Christ finds a likeness to the kingdom of God. His work is "hid" "till the whole is leavened."
This is the feature -- a change extending to a certain "whole" brought about by a something "hid" and working quietly. As in the Case of the mustard seed, so in this; it is not difficult to see a perfect parallel in the relation of the kingdom of God to the earth in which we dwell. It was a long time ago put into the mass or bulk of human affairs, as leaven is put into dough.
The form in which it was so introduced was the word and work of God "at sundry times and divers manners." It has been quietly affecting them ever since. In the laws established in Israel; in the word written by the Spirit, and studied by the faithful; in the gospel preached by the apostles, and received, more or less intelligently by thousands, there has been a gradual modification of the state of things on earth, apart from which, the whole world would have been in the condition of the uncivilized races at this day.
A principal part of the work done in this leavening process has been the development in all the ages of a people in harmony with God, from Abel downwards; who, in the further unfolding of the process, will re-appear in the land of the living, and be made use of in the position of governors of mankind, to powerfully affect the populations of the globe with the word-leaven till all are brought into sympathy with God, and the glory of the Lord fills the earth as the water covers the sea.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world [kosmos].
—A regulated constitution, or orderly arrangement of things, such as the world and its institutions—properly rendered world, as in the instances following:—
"Foundation of the world" (Matt. 13:35).
"Kingdoms of the world" (Matt. 4:18).
"Old world" (2 Pet. 2:5).
"Elements of the world" (Gal. 4:3).
"Nations of the world" (Luke 12:30).
"Beginning of the world" (Matt. 24:21).
"Course of the world" (Eph. 2:2).
"Rudiments of the world" (Col. 2:8).
"Kingdoms of this world" (Rev. 11:15).
"Kingdom not of this world" (Matt. 18:36).
"A worldly (or cosmical sanctuary)" (Heb. 9:1).
"Judgment of this world" (John 12:31).
"Creation of the world" (Rom. 1:20).
The Christadelphian, Jan 1889
36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
In the parable of the sower the phrase "the world" is used in different senses, which are not distinguished in the English version. Jesus says there, "the field is the world." Did He mean it was the "whole habitable," "the age," or the Israelites; for world is applied to them all?
If it had been the first, He would have said "the field is the HOLE OIKOUMENE; if the second "the field is the AION;" and if the third, "the field is the K0SMOS." The last is the record in the case.
He represents Himself as the sower and says that the seed which He sowed was "the word of the kingdom," that it was "good seed," and that He sowed it into the hearts of the Israelites, or "children of the kingdom," of whom there were two classes, good and bad (Matt. 8:12).
These, then, were the field, and therefore the KOSMOS, or nation-world. But the enemy sowed tares into this field, which were to be gathered out and burnt. This conflagration was to be at harvest-time, concerning which Jesus said,
"the harvest is the end of the world."
Did He mean the end of the nation-world? No ; therefore He used another word, namely, AION instead of KOSMOS. The harvest was to be at the end of the aion SUNTELEIA TOU AIONOS, and not at the end of the KOSMOS, or extermination of the nation of Israel from among nations.
The extinction of Israel from the earth will never take place, though a full end will be made of all other nations. But at the end of what aion was the harvest to be? Jesus replies,
"as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire at harvest-time, so shall it be En TE SUNTELEIA TOU AIONOS TOUTOU, in the end of this age,"
that is, in the end of the AION in which He flourished. Then He would send His reapers, namely, the Romans, His angels, or messengers of destruction, to "gather out of His kingdom" of Judea all the tarelike children of Israel, and cast them into the place of the Lord,
"whose fire is in Zion, and His furnace in Jerusalem" (Isa. 31:9),
where there should be wailing and gnashing of teeth. When this should be accomplished the aion would be finished, and the commonwealth of Israel should
"be no more until He should come whose right it is" to reign (Ezek. 21:25-27).
"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
Elpis Israel 2.1.
37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
The good seed is the word of the kingdom
...we are not callous theorists or unsanctified dealers in "doctrines" that touch not our feelings and move not our sentiments; but on the contrary, the love of Christ constraineth us,
"because we thus judge that if one died for all, then were all dead, that they that live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him that died for them, and rose again."-(2 Cor. 5:15.)
This love is one of the fruits of the spirit, which will only grow in well-tended soil. The "good and honest heart" is the good ground that will yield a harvest to this culture; but without the culture, the harvest will not come.
Natural goodness and honesty of heart will not of themselves bring forth the fruits of the spirit, any more than rich garden ground will grow roses and gooseberries without planting.
Good ground will grow nettles as easily as bad ground, and a little more luxuriantly if it is turned to that use.
An excellent constitution of mind requires the Spirit-seed before the Spirit-fruits can come.
"The good seed is the word of the kingdom;"
the descending rain is to be found in the Spirit shed upon us through the prophets and apostles, to the refreshment of our dry and thirsty souls. From thence issues the water of life, which the Spirit invites us to drink, that in the end we may thirst no more.
In plain speaking, the root of the matter is to be found in the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. The despised Bible, which the perverted people call a dead letter, is this golden cistern.
Daily companionship therein, in diligent, methodical and attentive reading thereof, and continual meditation on its many and wonderful unfoldings, will gender and nourish the fruits of the Spirit, and cause a gradual but certain growing up into Christ our living head.
It will bring about in us a like-mindedness to him, renewing the spirit of our mind, and strengthening the image of the new man, which has been formed within us by the truth.
The Christadelphian, Aug 1871
37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
But the analogy of nature in resurrection is not confined to the sprouting or germinating, and the ripening into " the fruit of righteousness," which is incorruptibility and life (Rom. viii. 10). It is seen in a field of newly-sown grain. When the seed scattered therein has lain certain days in the earth, if germinable, it sprouts, or springs, into view, and the whole field looks fresh and green.
But what observer, from mere appearance of the field of vision, can tell whether the green herb be grass, wheat, rye, or cheat? If he desired a pure field of wheat, and he were to undertake to separate the wheat from the cheat and rye, he would be as likely to root up the wheat as the others, being so much alike before they have received the bodies the Deity has been pleased to give them. So, also, in the resurrection fields of bodies sprouted, germinated, or generated, from the dust.
Viewed by a spectator unacquainted with their antecedents, all who have come forth, both just and unjust, appear alike to him. He could not from mere appearance, separate the one class from the other. The crowd before him in this stage of resurrection, which is simply anastasis, or standing up, are in corruption, dishonour, weakness, and naturality ; or those physical qualities are constituents of all bodies begotten or conceived in dust-" dust of the earth,
earthy " ; yet " very good " bodies, in the sense that the first Adam's was " very good " before he sinned (Gen. i. 31 : ii. 7).
But, to return to the similitude of the fields fresh and green. On the supposition that the seed sown were all wheat, and that it had all sprung forth, and made a very fair show to the eye ; nevertheless, agriculturalists know well that much of what has sprung forth will, from various causes, perish ; to use the phraseology of Paul, that, to very many of the plants, the Deity will not give bodies bearing seed. So also will it be in the resurrection of the saints. Many sinners
become saints by " the obedience of faith," and run well for a time.
The obedience of faith constitutes them " wheat." After a time, however, they are often bewitched, and tire of obeying the truth (Gal. iii. 1). Hence, their vitality or vigour is impaired, and they become wheat of a shrivelled and feeble constitution. Their
characters become sicklied over with the pale cast of scepticism, indifference, apathy, and conformity to the world and its practices.
Thus " they walk after the flesh," and are " in the flesh," which is regarded by the Deity as " sowing to the flesh," the penalty of which is death. Now, according to the constitution of the wheat sown, is its ability, when sprouted, to resist the influences which cause to perish.
So with the saints of the Sardian type, who have a name that they live, but are dead. The pallor of death is upon their characters; so that when bodies come forth from sheol, those of them upon which are enstamped, or flashed, these sickly, death-stricken characters,
are conscious of being identical with the " bewitched " of a former state. "
Boldness in the day of judgment " does not pertain to such. The influences which cause to perish will be too strong for them; for the account they will give of themselves will be truthful then, if they eschewed the truth before ; and this will overwhelm them in shame and condemnation. They will be " Wheat turned to cheat," to which is never given the wheat-body bearing seed. The divine sentence will be against them ; so that an incorruptible and living
house from heaven will be withheld ; and they will perish in the corruption of the sprout-body in returning to the dust from whence it came.
38 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 habitable, the inhabited earth, the world's house, abode, or dwelling-place—the proper rendering of which is habitable, as in the following cases:—
"Preached in all the habitable" (Matt. 24:14).
"All the habitable should be taxed" (Luke 2:1).
"The habitable to come" (Heb. 2:5).
"The kingdoms of the habitable" (Luke 4:5).
"He will judge the habitable" (Acts 17:31).
"The earth and the whole habitable' (Rev. 16:14).
"The ends of the habitable" (Rom. 10:18).
"The whole habitable" (Rev. 12:9).
The Christadelphian, Jan 1889
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
I believe in human devils, political devils, disease devils, but I do not believe in supematural devils. I believe the great devil of all -- the source of all other evil -- is the principle of disobedience embodied in the present evil world.
I find no other devil in the Bible, and I believe in none else. This devil Jesus came to destroy. He did it, andthe human race will reap the fruits by-and-by, even as Jesus himself now reaps them.
The Good Confession
The devil or tares among the early ecclesias - Rev 12: 2.
In the seven Apocalyptic Epistles, the constituents of this embryo apostasy are termed "liars," "Nikolaitanes," blasphemers, spurious Jews, "the synagogue of the Satan," "Balaam", "that woman Jezebel", "her children", "the Satan", "the dead," "the wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. "
In the pentecostal beginning, these constituents were not found in the Christian Eve. Then "the multitude of them that believed were of one heart, and of one soul" (Acts 4:32). They had not yet been distracted and thrown into confusion by "grievous wolves," and "men speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them," for their own glory and advantage, reckless of the truth.
41 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;
Though the kingdom of God, in the form predicted by Daniel, will not exist till the second appearing of Christ, it has in a comprehensive sense, existed since the day it was founded by the hand of Moses, and exists now in the down-trodden state.
This was the kingdom which Jesus said was in the hands of the Pharisees when he was on earth, and which he added would be taken from them and given to others.-(Matt. 20:43.) This was his kingdom (Luke 1:32); He came to his own, and his own received him not.
This kingdom has already been the subject of one purgation, viz., when the nation was gathered into Jerusalem as into a refining pot (Ezek. 22:22), and blown upon and melted in the hot stream of the divine anger. It will again be subject to the process of "gathering out all things that offend," when Israel is gathered into the wilderness to be purged (Ezek. 20:33, 38; Malachi 52:3, 5); and when the royal house of the kingdom itself-the saints of all ages-is gathered into the presence of the King, to be purified by judgment.
In the first purgation, the Romans acted the part of his agents, messengers, or angels; in the second the angels of his power will be the instruments employed. When complete, the result will be consummation declared in the parable-the shining forth of the righteous in the kingdom of their Father. Before this climax is attained, the kingdom, like the saints themselves, will have passed through much vicissitude of evil.
The Christadelphian, Sept 1870
43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
['Then'. When the wicked have been judged and cast out of the kingdom, 'then' the saints 'the splendid'* no longer withhold or draw in* their glory.
See also "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever" (12:1, 3).
*Brother Thomas translation of Zech 14: 5-7:
'Yahweh my Elohim shall come in, all the saints with thee. And in that day there shall be no brightness, the splendid ones drawing in. And it shall be one day that shall be made known by Yahweh: not day nor night, but it shall be in the time of evening, there shall be brightness.]
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
The Parable of the Hid Treasure. --
The discovery of hid treasure is not so frequent an occurrence in our time as to enable us so readily to see the aptness of this comparison as those would see it who lived in the days of Jesus in the countries of the east.
It is, however, even for us, easy to understand the pleasureable excitement with which a man would discover that a certain piece of land contained a mine of wealth, and the promptness and energy with which he would contrive to find the means of purchase. This is the point of the comparison.
The kingdom of God is the hid treasure. The title to it is contained within the promises, and offered to men. But in the days of Jesus, these promises and this offer were not widely known. There was nothing for the bulk of mankind but the present life, with its imperfection and its shortness.
When a man got to know that God had offered life eternal and a kingdom to all who should conform with the requirements associated with the offer, he was in the position of a man making a sudden and unexpected discovery of treasure trove; and this parable gives us to understand that Jesus expects that a man becoming acquainted with this supreme fact will be as enthusiastic and prompt and enterprising in his measures for securing its advantages as men always are to secure temporal wealth when suddenly brought within their reach.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
One Pearl of Great Price.
The finder of the treasure in the field appears only as an accidental finder. In this case, the man is on the outlook for something good to buy, and, finding a particular gem, recognises its value so decisively as to sell his whole stock that he might obtain it. The parallel intended by Christ is that of a thoughtful man pondering life with a view to find good, and discovering the gospel of the kingdom, and God's invitation associated with it, perceives that it is of a value with which nothing else in human reach can be compared, and therefore bends his whole energy that he may attain it.
The faithfulness of this to human experience will be most appreciated by those who have the most clearly seen and grasped the truth as it is in Jesus. Investigation, study, and labour are all found fruitless at the last when not directed towards God and His purpose in Christ. The part offered by God in him is the only
"good thing that shall not be taken away."
This was Christ's description of it in the house of Martha and Mary, when he commended Mary's unmistakeable preference for the things of God.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
...much time and labour has been spent in a worthy and commendable effort to convince many who do not want to be convinced that the Bible is the authentic Word of a Supreme Creator. It is a question whether some of such effort is worthwhile. The Scriptures themselves, with a plainness that is warranted by the seriousness of the subject, speak of casting pearls before swine.
Such a course is doomed from the beginning. God does not want cold intellect, convinced against its own will and desire. He makes ample provision for preventing such a monstrosity by drawing a veil over the eyes when one already exists over the heart-an established rule of divine conduct well worthy of the truthseeker's solemn consideration.
There is one way, and only one, to acquire a living conviction of the truth of the Scriptures. That is to study them with a heart that is open to receive what the mind discovers; to give time and attention to them in full proportion to their importance; to take them home and try them out; to put their suggestions into practice; to actually apply them to one's daily life.
Such a course, honestly pursued, guarantees conviction. It is well worth trying. There is no substitute. Let us in all humility and sincerity commend this course to your attention, and then pursue our subject further.
We are brought to the threshold of the Scriptures. The foregoing remarks have been directed towards creating a desire and demonstrating the necessity of going further. No worthwhile effort is ever set in motion until a necessity is recognised. No one really learns until a need is felt for knowledge. No one advances until a need is felt for progress. It is our hope and effort to create the desire, to bring a realisation of the need.
The angle from which we desire to view the Word of God this evening is, as the title indicates, Faith.
Now the Bible speaks of a huge Temple to be erected in the future. Surrounding it is a high wall, pierced throughout its entire circumference by a continuous and majestic colonnade of arched gateways.
The Scriptures themselves may be considered in the same light. Their contents may be viewed from countless different openings, but each reveal the same scene, magnificent in its simple grandeur, but varied and made perpetually fascinating by the change of perspective as it is successively viewed from different points.
The gateway we have chosen is Faith, and we can be assured, as we pass, that this is not an obscure byway, but indeed a main entrance.
The Apostle Paul, discussing the rudiments of conduct and analysing the important elements of life, says, after speaking of many things that perish-
"Now abideth Faith, Hope, Love: these three."
Which three, inseparably entwined, ...form the main entrance to the glories of God.
Bro Growcott - The One True Faith
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
The Parable of the Net
This is another phase of matters. It refers to what may be called the collective results of the offer of the kingdom in the preaching of the gospel, as distinguished from the individual applications suggested by the parables of the treasure and goodly pearl.
Jesus called the apostles "fishers of men" (Matt. iv. 19). Their business was to take out of the sea of human life, for God's after use, a proportion of the rational creatures swimming in its waters. In the parable, we are shown the implement by which the fishing was to be performed -- the kingdom preached was the net let down into the sea.
The parable is of great value in one way. It shows us that the collective results of gospel word are not all genuine: that is, that the mere acceptance of the truth and enclosure in its net by the preliminary submission to baptism is not a certain guarantee of fitness for divine selection.
If we were not plainly taught this, we should be perplexed at the result of the truth's operations. Imagining that everyone who received the truth must necessarily show the spirit of the truth, we should be distressed at the fact that comparatively few show themselves true disciples of Christ.
But here is this parable: "every kind" in the net, including "bad" that are "cast away." The meaning is placed beyond doubt by Christ's interpretation:
"The angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
This puts everyone on his guard, and prevents him from leaning on man. Even a "brother" is but contingently a son of God. Our trust must be in what is written -- not in mortal man's thought or utterance. If we lean on a brother because he is a brother, without reference to whether he reflects the mind of the Spirit or no, it might turn out that we are following one of the useless fish, that is, permitted to swim in the net for the time being.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
In the parable, we are shown the implement by which the fishing was to be performed -- the kingdom preached was the net let down into the sea. The parable is of great value in one way. It shows us that the collective results of gospel word are not all genuine: that is, that the mere acceptance of the truth and enclosure in its net by the preliminary submission to baptism is not a certain guarantee of fitness for divine selection.
If we were not plainly taught this, we should be perplexed at the result of the truth's operations. Imagining that everyone who received the truth must necessarily show the spirit of the truth, we should be distressed at the fact that comparatively few show themselves true disciples of Christ. But here is this parable: "every kind" in the net, including "bad" that are "cast away."
The meaning is placed beyond doubt by Christ's interpretation...
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
This puts everyone on his guard, and prevents him from leaning on man. Even a "brother" is but contingently a son of God. Our trust must be in what is written -- not in mortal man's thought or utterance. If we lean on a brother because he is a brother, without reference to whether he reflects the mind of the Spirit or no, it might turn out that we are following one of the useless fish, that is, permitted to swim in the net for the time being. It has been a question with some why useless fish should be allowed to be enclosed in the net of gospel operations. There need be no question. Man's part is to accept facts -- not question them. But the question is not without an answer, if we could know it.
It is not difficult to conceive that if everyone admitted to the fellowship of the gospel were truly begotten of God, that fellowship would be too sweet to allow of the development of spiritual hardihood, which is the object of probation.
"Coddling" never tends to strong or proper growth. We require to be thrown upon ourselves and upon God. There is nothing like a little rough usage for this: and no rough usage comes home like that experienced from fellow-fish, who snap and bite like dog-fish among herrings. The odiums and the oppositions of "those who are without" have scarcely a sting. But the enmity of those who are members of the household by recognized status is keen and nigh to killing.
For this reason, it is used as part of the apparatus of probation, by which the man of God is trained to the robustness which, without losing the tenderness and the sweetness of the new man in his normal relations, can "endure hardness," and "contend earnestly" with the valour of "a good soldier of Christ Jesus."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
The object of this remark was evidently to signify that wealth of mental resource, in the statement and illustration of the truth, would be the characteristic of those who had the understanding he was referring to, as contrasted with the meagreness and nakedness of those who, not having made wisdom an object of search, had no stock of the article.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
'Nothing But Peace and Prosperity'
I plead guilty to the indictment.
I have theorized new things from God's Word. That is, I have brought out God's theory, which is new to my contemporaries.
It is the divine plan or system yet subsisting only in the mind of Yahweh, revealed in the Bible-a purpose, not yet an accomplished fact, but a matter of promise, and propounded to the heirs of promise, for their faith...
...Be not angry at me, my friends, for this thing; for it is commendable before God. "Every Scribe," saith Jesus, "instructed for the kingdom of the heavens-εις την βασιλειαν των ουζανων-is like to a man who is master of a house, that bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old."
Herald of the Kingdom and age to Come, Jan 1854
55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
The Carpenter's son.
The dishonouring view of the rabble v 57. They failed to understand he was the Son of Yahweh by paternity. The gospel writers did not enter into contentions over the errors of the people but rather stated facts. Possessed of the holy spirit they stood in power and dignity. Enlightened believers testified to the truth
'Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel' (John 1:49).
57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
No good is to be done with some people; and this was the case with the inhabitants of Nazareth, who had been too familiar with Jesus from his infancy to admit of their estimating him truly. It was an illustration of a rule that is almost universal. As Jesus told them,
"No prophet is accepted in his own country."
The current mediocre mind is incapable of distinguishing between appearances and realities. The first, local and limited impressions take shape as the permanent truth of a thing or person, and from this they never can emancipate themselves, or open their minds to discern the true and actual worth of a man whom they have known from the beginning.
On the other hand, this same class of mind, from a similar incompetence acting in another way, is easily impressed and even captivated by the pretensions of a stranger, who may be an empty wind-bag of pomposities, or plausibilities. Loud-sounding humbug is liable to succeed in this shallow world, especially if bedecked with the meretricious attractions of title and fame.
On this principle, false Christs have succeeded where the true was crucified. The true Christ was modest, and glorified his Father; the false were arrogant and self-assertive. Hence the popularity of Barchochebas, where Jesus was hated. As Jesus said beforehand,
"I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not. If another come in his own name, him ye will receive."
The words of Christ had the reverse of a soothing effect on the audience in the Nazareth synagogue. To soothe and please, you must put people on good terms with themselves; and to do this, you must flatter -- that is, say undeserved good things to or of them. This was what Jesus did not -- could not do. His words had an exasperating effect. The people,
"when they heard these things were filled with wrath," [Lk 4: 16-30]
and their wrath was not noisy harmless wrath -- noisy enough very likely, but not harmless. With the excitability and impetuosity of the Jews, "they rose up" en masse and laid hold of Jesus and turned him out of the building, and tumultously led him to the edge of the steep hill on which Nazareth was built, and which is to be seen, as travellers tell us, to this day.
There their purpose was to throw him down headlong, and so destroy him; but they strangely failed in their purpose. When they reached the spot, their resolution or their skill forsook them. Jesus, releasing himself from their hands, simply made his way through them, and no man felt able or disposed to stop him.
They opened the way for him, and he went his way down the upper slope of the hill in the direction of Capernaum, 20 miles off, to which he repaired. The fact is, he was under a protection which, though invisible, was invincible; and through that protection no man could break till permission was given. As it is written on another occasion,
"His hour was not yet come;"
and until that hour had come, he was under the shadow of Yahweh's hand, hid in which he was as safe in the midst of the threatening, surging multitude as in the solitude of the mountain top to which he of times resorted for prayer.*
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
...not that their unbelief disabled him for the performance of anything he might choose to do, but that their negative state put it out of the question that he should do works which he never performed except good was to be done by it. *
*Nazareth Revisited Ch 15
cp Lk 4: 16-30...attempted murder of Yahoshua omitted in Matthew and Mark testimonies. Whereas merely human authorship is preoccupied with the sensational.
The doctrine of partial inspiration still simmers in many quarters. Let faithful brethren be vigilant, and stand by their guns. The work is trying, but the situation is of God. God wants-especially in these unbelieving times-men of earnest conviction, robust in the truth.
The alertness, which the oppositions of unbelievers occasion, tends to produce such men. God's methods are of the kill or cure kind-they drive men farther away from Him, or draw them nearer.
Let us heed not the criticisms of those who see no danger, or who are unable to rightly gauge the insidious influences of these sceptical times. In this connection, an extract from a letter from our late brother Roberts is worth producing:
"Never mind the black looks. You cannot wish more ardently than I do to be out of the contention. We are fighting for the right, and of Christ's approbation we may be sure. The upholders of that which is after God's own heart, have ever been in the minority in the congregation of the Lord. Often has he spared others for their sakes."
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Sept 1899