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When the servants of the householder, in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. xiii..) unexpectedly found tares among the wheat, they said to their master, “Wilt thou that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them; let both grow together until the harvest.” Which shows the mind of Christ, that we ought not to make a distinction between true saints and others in this world, or aim at admitting true saints only into the visible church, but ought to let both be together in the church till the day of judgment.

Answ. 1. These things have no reference to introduction into the field, or admission into the visible church, as 468 though no care nor measures should be taken to prevent tares being sown; or as though the servants who had the charge of the field, would have done well to have taken tares, appearing to be such, and planted them in the field amongst the wheat: no, instead of this, the parable plainly implies the contrary. But the words cited have wholly respect to a casting out and purging the field, after the tares had been introduced unawares, and contrary to design, through men’s infirmity and Satan’s procurement. Concerning purging the tares out of the field, or casting men out of the church, there is no difference between me and those whom I oppose in the present controversy: and therefore it is impossible there should be any objection from that which Christ says here concerning this matter against me, but what is as much of an objection against them; for we both hold the same thing. It is agreed on all hands, that adult persons, actually admitted to communion in the visible church, however they may behave themselves so as to bring their spiritual state into suspicion, yet ought not to be cast out, unless they are obstinate in heresy or scandal; lest, while we go about to root out the tares, we should root out the wheat also. And it is also agreed on all hands, that when those represented under the name of tares bring forth such evil fruit, such scandalous and obstinate wickedness, as is plainly and visibly inconsistent with the being of true grace, they ought to be cast out. And therefore it is impossible that this objection should be any thing to the purpose.

Answ. 2. I think this parable, instead of being a just objection against the doctrine I maintain, is on the contrary a clear evidence for it.

For (1.) the parable shows plainly, that if any are introduced into the field of the householder, or church of Christ, who prove to be not wheat, (i. e. not true saints,) they are brought in unawares, or contrary to design. If tares are as properly to be sown in the field, as is the wheat, which must be the case if the Lord’s supper be a converting ordinance; then surely no care ought to be taken to introduce wheat only, and no respect ought to be had more to the qualities of wheat in sowing the field, than the qualities of tares; nor is there any more impropriety in the tares having a place there, than the wheat. But this surely is altogether inconsistent with the scope of the parable.

(2.) This parable plainly shows, that those who are in the visible church, have at first a visibility, or appearance to human sight of true grace, or of the nature of true saints. For it is observed, tares have this property, that when they first appear, and till the products of the field arrive to some maturity, they have such a resemblance of wheat, that it is next to impossible to distinguish them.

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