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“Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? Whence then hath it tares?”—Matt. xiii. 27.

YES, where do the tares come from? Who are the carriers, and who are the sowers of the unwelcome seed? I spend no end of time weeding my garden. I choose favourable seasons when the soil is soft and loose, and I pull up the weeds, “root and all, and all in all.” I cleanse the soil, I burn it. I give it pure nourishment. I sow the best seed. But the weeds appear. “Where do they come from?” I ask the gardener. “Well,” he says, “for one thing there is a neglected patch less than a mile away, and we are not far from the open country.” And what I experience in my garden every farmer experiences in his fields. The ill seed is borne by every wind, and every bird is a minister in its distribution.


Who has not seen the tares? They even enter fortunate fields which have the most favoured exposure. There are tares in the Church of Christ. The good Lord sows good seed, for he has no other, and yet the tares appear. We can see them growing in the Church of the earliest days. Cast your eyes over the Church in Corinth; what an awful sight for the farmer! Could anybody have imagined that such noxious, poisonous things could so speedily have invaded the field and taken possession? We can see the tares growing in the Church of the Middle Ages. We can see rank growths appearing in the Church of the Puritans. And we should be stone-blind if we did not see them in the Church of our own day. The tares are fearfully mixed up with the wheat, and wheat is often strangled and smothered in the wild confusion. “Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field! Whence then hath it tares?”

And who has not seen the tares appear in the fair field of beneficence and philanthropy? Some man makes a clean bequest for clean and honourable issues. Perhaps it is a considerate provision for the poor. 34And the wheat is very sweet and lovely. But the weeds appear. Sectarian prejudices get wo into the hospitality and all sorts of bitter bigotries are mixed with its ministries. The good man sowed good seed, whence then hath it tares? Or it may be that some Andrew Carnegie thinks of the field of education, and determines to enrich it with his beneficence. He will open wide doors of opportunity for every student. He will make it easier for everyone to make his way. Bursaries and scholarships shall abound. The University shall be practically free. What a field of fine wheat! But tares appear—lethargy, enervation, indolence, ease. Yes, indeed, fat tares flourish in the field of beneficence.

And who has not seen the tares in other fields of the soul’s inheritance? Perhaps some finer freedom has been sown by noble hands, some splendid franchise, some quick and quickening emancipation. It was fine, clean wheat, and yet the blade has scarcely appeared before the tares appeared also. Every extension of noble liberty has been accompanied by some form of licence—darnels which look very much like honest wheat. Freedom of speech is attended by 35irresponsibility, by blasphemy, by gossip and scandal. Good seed was sown in the field; whence then hath it tares?

And who has not seen the tares in the fields of literature and art? Clean, sweet, strong seed is sown in the fields, but the tares are flung into the soil and grow up with the wheat. There are things which are sane and wholesome, and there are things which are neurotic. Some books are pure and healthy as the angels which “excel in strength,” and there are books with sensual setting and inclination. There are books which are vital and vitalising, and there are books which are decadent and deadly. It is a rare field, and good seed was sown in it, whence then hath it tares?

And what about the fields of recreation? What fine healthy, attractive things can be seen in the realm of sport! What clean vigour, what masculine emulation! But the tares appear with the wheat. Gambling is in every field, and in many a field there is jealousy, and foul play, and strife and ill-contention. Aye, tares get among the wheat. What then? Let us scatter God’s seed with prodigal hands. Let us sow it everywhere. 36Let us be keen and alert in our sowing. Let us be the first in every field. Let us sow it in private and in public. As far as lies in us, let us give the devil no advantage. Let us watch and pray, and let us be busy in our fields with an unfailing determination that in the day of the harvest home the Lord shall have a heavy reaping for His garner.

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