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judgment of the world at all, upon which subject no revelation had been given them, but on His judgment of the Church,--of those whom He had chosen to be members of Himself, and children of God. What His judgment would be on those who had not been called into His Church, or who, having been called into it, had left it, was as much a mystery to them as it is to us. They had been chosen themselves; they saw a thing which does not always strike us when we read the Bible) that though their LORD frequently spoke to the people whom He had not chosen, yet that these particular lessons were given exclusively to those whom He had. They saw, much more vividly than we can do, the force of those expressions to which we have already alluded; that the steward, the porter, the watching virgins, the trading servants, and the sheep and the goats, were the actual property of Him Who represented Himself by the type of the Master, and the Bridegroom, and the Shepherd; and that what He was saying then did not and could not relate to servants who were not engaged by Him, virgins whom He had not appointed, or sheep and goats who knew Him not.
But in the present parable, in which, from its construction, there is a much greater probability of its being misunderstood, this distinction is repeated emphatically, and in a manner which no Jew could possibly misunderstand. Not only are the sheep and goats both the property of the Shepherd, but they are both “clean” according to the Mosaic law; that is to say, they both
T; typify the chosen.. Those“ without,” that is to say, without the Church, are called “ dogs,"l not goats,-and
See Phil. iii. 2 ; Rev. xxii. 15. Pyle in commenting on these passages says :—“So the Jews by way of contempt used to style all heathens." The fact is true, though it was not by way of contempt,
this not by any means as a term of reproach, but as recording a fact and a doctrine, that there are certain nations typified by that class of animals, and that those nations are not chosen.
Gregory, in his commentary on this passage, had no authority to say anything about the judgment upon those who do not belong to the Church. In so doing, he might be right in his conjecture, but he was wise above that which is written. But he says most truly, that “these which are spoken of here are wicked BELIEVERS, who are judged, and perish ;” and “that a prince who governs earthly kingdoms punishes after a different manner the rebellion of a subject and the hostile attempt of an enemy,—so also he rewards after a different manner the service of a subject and the service of an alien."
This is the first solution of the difficulty. Whatever be God's rule of dealing with us after we are chosen and adopted as His children, that choice and that adoption is of free grace. We Englishmen did not make ourselves members of His Church ; but He caused His Church to be preached in England, not from any merits of England, but of His free grace; and we, having been placed in that Church by Baptism, not from any merits of our own, but of His free grace, are offered its benefits, its privileges, and its hopes and means of salvation. We may avail ourselves of them, and by them gain the reward; or we may refuse to avail ourselves of them, and thus lose the reward. But whether we do or whether we do not, the offer is of free grace.
but in allusion to the judicial uncleanness. Williams says with much more discrimination :-"Dogs are commonly put for unbelievers, and are distinctly and mysteriously said to be without the heavenly city which is to come, wbereas the clean and the unclean alike are admitted into the Ark of Christ's Visible Church.”
The explanation of this part of the subject is to be found in S. Paul's epistle to the Colossians; the parable of the sheep and goats is addressed to the elect of GOD, and to none other. Now S. Paul says, put on therefore, as the elect of GOD, bowels of mercies, kindness, &c.; that is to say, because they are the elect of GOD, therefore they are to "put on," or "add to their faith," these very acts to which our LORD in the parable assigns the reward of eternal life.
This expression "put on" or "add" is the very thing which is worked out so carefully in this sequence of parables,—the very thing which we should lose if we were to take them out of their order. After the general necessity of watchfulness pointed out by the servants guarding, not their own, but their master's house, we have the grace from heaven, which we are to preserve and keep alive, in the parable of the virgins: after we have understood this, and not before, we are shown, by the parable of the talents, that this grace which we are keeping alive is intended to fit us for active work in the service of the LORD; and when we, the elect disciples, fully realize this aspect, theh, and not before, we are shown by the present parable the sort of works which may be done by the assistance of the grace, which we have already been exhorted, first to preserve, and secondly to use; and which, if done, will be acceptable to Him Who of His free grace has given us, whom He has chosen the means of doing them.
It is perfectly evident, therefore, that, by taking any one of these parables singly, we must lose some portion of that which, in its completeness, can alone preserve to us our "right to the Tree of Life, and of entering in through the gates into the city."
The gift of the grace, then, is absolutely free; but the
whole course of grace working in us will, as we here see, be judged by its fruits only. This is quite just, because it will be judged by Him Who has traced each action up to the source from which it has sprung; and if the grace has not gone through the whole course shadowed out by this sequence, but has stopped short at the point shown by any one of the preceding parables, then it must have been checked and resisted by us,—for these were the fruits it was intended by CHRIST to bring forth.
This parable shows us the conclusion of the whole, and this we see by the change which takes place in the expression. In the former parables the LORD says, “The kingdom of heaven is like,"—that is to say, while the Church is yet militant here on earth, while the elect are yet on their trial, this is the way of God's dispensation ; but when He represents the final scene,—the scene of judgment,--He does not say the kingdom of God is like a shepherd dividing, but “ When the Son of Man shall come in His Majesty, He will be like:” that is to say, when the Church is about to enter on its triumphant state, in which nothing unholy can take part, He, the Son of Man,--that is, CHRIst in the body such as He was clothed with on earth,—will come, but He will come in His Majesty ; that is, as Origen explains it, “such as He appeared when transfigured on the mount,” “ showing," as Remigius remarks upon this passage, “His divinity, in which He is equal to the FATHER and to the HOLY SPIRIT.” The throne upon which He shall sit in judgment is the foundation of His Church, and that is the Apostles and Prophets upon whom it is built, and who now shall be admitted as His assessors. His angels
This is probably in allusion to the promise given to the Apostles, that when the Son of Man should come in His glory “they should sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
will be with Him; and as this word signifies messengers, Augustine thinks that these are His faithful ministers, who will be called upon to show, first, that they have rightly explained to those are about to be judged the conditions of their salvation ; for we have seen that it is His Church, and His Church only, that the King is judging now.
He will then make the final separation among the elect. He will say to those who have watched, -who have preserved the grace they have received, who have worked with that grace, and whose works have co-operated with Him in promoting the welfare of that portion of His Creation which He has chosen to call His brethren, “ Come, ye blessed of My FATHER, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Watch the peculiarity of this expression,-remembering that not one single word in the Bible is without its meaning,-and you will see at once that which has not escaped the diligent study of the ancient Fathers,—that God has never had two principles of dealing with His chosen: that these, and such as these, were blessed by the FATHER,-blessed of ancient times; blessed in the Old Testament as well as the New ; by God Who made us and all the world, as well as by God Who redeemed us and all mankind. (Origen.) And again, “inherit” the kingdom : not receive as a new gift, but inherit, “possess that which was due to you of old.” (Chrysostom.) “From the foundation of the world.” That is to say, intended and planned for you, and such as you, who
, have fulfilled your mission, during the times of man's innocence, restored to you by the revelation made at the very time of the Fall, and now not given to you, as if it were a new thing, but confirmed, -God's original intention carried out.