THE PARABLES of JESUS CHRIST EXPLAINED
BY THE REV. J. CLOWES, M.A.
LATE RECTOR OF ST. JOHN’S COLLEGE, MANCHESTER, AND FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
Whoso readeth let him understand.—Matt. xxiv. 15.
A NEW EDITION.
PRINTED AT D. BATTEN’S OFFICE, CLAPHAM COMMON.
THE PARABLE OF THE WEEDS IN THE FIELD
Another Parable put he forth to them, saying. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man which sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the weeds also. So the servants of the householder came and said to him. Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field! From whence then has it weeds? He said to them. An enemy has done this. The servants said to him. Will you then that we go and gather them up? But he said. Nay; lest, while you gather up the weeds, you root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together, until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather you together, first the weeds, and bind them in: bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn. Matthew 13:24-31
The Kingdom of Heaven is the government of the divine love and wisdom of Jesus Christ, and therefore, wherever this divine love and wisdom is allowed to have rule, whether it be in heaven or on earth, there is the Kingdom of Heaven.
It is likened to a man sowing good seed in his field, because it begins from a seed, which, like other seeds, increases and multiplies after its kind, and brings forth fruit, which also contains new seeds, and thus is capable of indefinite increase.
The seed is the Word of God, which is the Divine Truth of the Divine Love; and the Man that sows it is Jesus Christ, or God in his Divine Humanity, because all Divine Truth, which is of the Divine Love, proceeds from that Incarnate God, and is implanted by Him in the hearts of true believers. The seed is, therefore, called good seed, to denote that the Divine Truth, represented by the seed, is always in connection with the Divine Good of the Lord’s mercy and love.
By the field is meant the Church here on earth, or the congregation of all good people who believe in Jesus Christ, and receive the seed of His Holy Word in sincere and devout hearts. This field is, therefore, called His field, because the Church is His, inasmuch as it is formed from those eternal principles of heavenly love and wisdom which proceed from Him, and which properly constitute Him.
By sleeping, according to a spiritual idea, is to be understood, the leading a natural life, separate from spiritual life, which life, in the Sacred Scriptures, is always called sleep, as spiritual life is always called a state of wakefulness.
By the enemy is meant the Devil, or the Spirits of Darkness, who are always present with man, watching and labouring to destroy the good seed of the kingdom.
The weeds denote all evil principles and false persuasions arising from selfish, worldly, and corporeal loves, which choke all the plants of heavenly growth, springing from the seed of the divine love and wisdom.
By the enemy going his way, is to be understood, his concealing himself, and appearing to be at a distance; for so it seems to the natural man, nor can he be persuaded to believe, until he becomes spiritual, that his spiritual foes, the Powers of Darkness, are always near at hand, and ready to do him the greatest mischief.
It is said, that when the blade sprung up and bare fruit, then appeared also the weeds.
By the blade is meant the first appearance of truth in man’s understanding, and by its springing up, is meant its growth in the understanding; for the seed of the Eternal Truth is first sown in man’s memory, where it remains as a mere seed, until man begins to feel a concern about it, on account of his eternal salvation, in which case he is led to meditate on the great truths of God, which were deposited in his memory, and in consequence of such concern and meditation, those truths are exalted to an interior place in the mind, where it appears as a blade.
This blade bearing fruit denotes a still further reception and exaltation of the Eternal Truth, which takes place when truth begins to affect the will, or love; for spiritual fruit is love and charity, love towards God, and charity towards our neighbour; and this fruit never appears until man, from a deeper concern about his salvation, is led to form his life according to the truths which he has admitted into his understanding, and thus to obtain a new will, capable of loving God above all things, and his neighbour as himself.
The reason why the weeds should then appear, that is, when the blade sprang up and bare fruit, and not before, is, because the weeds, as was said, denote all evil principles and false persuasions of selfish, worldly, and corporeal loves, and these weeds do not show themselves until there is some growth of the heavenly principles of love and wisdom in the human mind, for error can never be seen but from truth, neither can evil be seen but from good, and therefore, until some degree of good and of truth is formed in the mind, errors and evils do not appear.
By the servants of the Householder are signified those who are principled in true knowledge of truth, because all such knowledge is called a servant, in the Sacred Scriptures, as administering to the higher principles of the good of love and charity, this being the great use and design of all knowledge; and by their coming and saying to the Householder, Lord did you not sow good seed, is signified their perplexity and concern at finding evil mixed with good, and error with truth, and their anxious inquiry concerning the cause. For nothing is more perplexing to the human mind than the origin of evil; and therefore instruction from heaven is solicited on this occasion, and in consequence of such solicitation, is imparted. For God never excites any inquiry in the regenerate mind, but with a view to gratify it, and he excites it for this purpose, that it maybe gratified.
Mention is now first made of a Householder, who was before called a Man.
Both the Man and the Householder relate to Jesus Christ, – who is called a Man from the principle of Divine Truth, during its insemination in the human mind. But when this truth begins to spring up, and bear the heavenly fruit of love and charity, He is then called a Householder, because a house, whenever it is mentioned in the sacred Scriptures, has relation to love and charity, and since all love and charity are from Jesus Christ, and under his continual government and protection; therefore He is called a Householder.
The enemy is that principle in the human mind which opposes God, by Pot submitting its judgement and determination to the Divine Will and Wisdom; and on this account, the Devil is called the great enemy, because he is always opposing the will of the Most High. And here we may discover the true origin of all evil, and also of the evil one himself, called in the Sacred Scripture, the Devil, and Satan. This origin is not from God, because from God can come nothing but good, inasmuch as He is essential goodness; but it is from the determination of human minds, in the abuse of that freedom of will in which they are created, and without which they could not be men. From the moment, therefore, that the human will inclines to call anything a good, separate from God, from that moment it creates evil, which, in itself, is nothing else but a good so separated.
We read that the servants said to him, Will you then that we go and gather them together? But he said, Nay; lest, while you gather together the weeds, you root up the wheat together with them. Let both grow together to the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together the weeds, and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn. The reason of this delay on the part of the Householder, in separating the weeds from the wheat, or the evil from the good. He explains himself, when he says, Lest, whilst you gather together the weeds, you root up the wheat together with them.
The Householder teaches by these words, that it is dangerous to attempt the entire extirpation of things evil and false in the human mind, until the principles of goodness and truth from Heaven are fully formed. The Divine Law, therefore, on this occasion, is, that man should labour for the implantation and formation of those heavenly principles in himself, bearing patiently with the opposition arising from contrary principles; in which case those contrary principles will assist him, by their opposition, and the spiritual combats to which he will thus be exposed, in effecting a more perfect reception of heavenly principles, and their deeper entrenchment in his mind and life. When, therefore, the opposing principles have thus fulfilled their appointed purpose, they are separated, but not before.
The harvest denotes the full formation of goodness and truth in the regenerate mind, and in this case, the separation of those principles of life which are in opposition, and cause combat and disturbance.
By the reapers is to be understood the angelic heaven, inasmuch as the Lord, by and through the angelic heaven, effects such separation.
The weeds mean all evil and false principles of life; and to bind them in bundles, denotes that such principles are in arrangement one under another, and are thus connected one with another. The Divine wisdom, in effecting the separation of those principles, first discovers to us that such arrangement and connection exists, and that the general principle of what is evil and false in man consists of innumerable evil and false principles, which thus make a one, which one can never be separated until it is thus viewed minutely and distinctly as to the varieties of which it is composed.
The wheat, it has been already seen, signifies all heavenly principles of goodness and truth; and the being gathered into the barn, is signified being brought into heaven, because heaven is the grand receptacle of all those principles. The barn, therefore, is here called my barn, that is to say, the Lord’s barn, because heaven is from the Lord, and in continual connection with Him; as are also all the principles of goodness and truth, which constitute heaven.
We learn from this parable, that man is placed here below between two kingdoms, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, and that Jesus Christ, from his kingdom of light, is always endeavouring to inseminate in the human heart, the eternal principles of His own most pure love and wisdom, whilst the Spirits of Darkness, from their kingdom, are endeavouring to inseminate their own wicked principles of evil and of error. We learn, further, that the principles of evil and of error can never be discovered until the contrary principles of heavenly love and wisdom, or, what is the same thing, of heavenly goodness and truth, begin to grow and produce their proper fruit. We are instructed, yet further, not only concerning the origin, but also concerning the separation and removal of evil and of error from the regenerate mind, being taught to expect that these effects cannot be produced suddenly, but in the divine order are of gradual operation. We are, therefore, lastly instructed, that we ought to run our Christian course in patient submission to the Divine Will, during the contest between good and evil, being well aware, that in such contest the opposition of evil is made to administer to the fuller implantation and fructification of good, and that, finally, through the Divine Mercy, the entire separation will be accomplished, when all of evil and of error will be put down into its own kingdom, and all of heavenly love and wisdom will be exalted to conjunction with Jesus Christ and the eternal happiness of His kingdom.