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spreads it secretly for unwary souls. Nay, at the very time when the Gospel net is being cast, he is not idle. His net is being cast too. Bad thoughts, worldly thoughts, trifling thoughts, are being suggested. Whilst Christ's ministers preach, he is not a mere looker-on. He is preaching too. He is calling you another way. He is trying to persuade you not to come to the Saviour, but to enjoy sin a little longer. Take care that you fall not into his snare.
Thus, I have shown you, in what respects the Gospel resembles a net, and in what respects it differs from it.
The Parable further teaches us much that we learnt in the Parable of the Tares.
There the Tares and Wheat grew together. Here the good and bad fish are collected in the same net. In both Parables a separation time is mentioned. The Tares are gathered out, when Harvest comes : the worthless Fish are cast away, when the net is drawn to shore.
Both point to that great day of meeting and of parting--of assembling and dividing—when
God shall send forth His angels to gather together His elect, and to banish for ever the ungodly from His presence.
That day is not yet come; but it will come. Now is the time of mercy. Now is the day of salvation. The Gospel net, in these days, is thrown further and wider than it was ever thrown before. Souls are being gathered in. Oh, that many may be brought safe to shore, and may be found among Christ's true people in the great day of His appearing!
MATT. XVIII. 23–35. “ Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a
certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very
sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me; shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee ? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
What was it that led our Lord to speak this Parable? A question of St. Peter's led to it. And this question again was asked, in consequence of some words which Jesus had been speaking. If you look into the chapter, you will see, in ver. 13, that our Lord tells us what we should do, if one of our brethren should trespass against us—that we should first take him aside, and tell him of his fault privately; and that, if this fails, we must deal more openly with him, and bring the matter before the Church. This leads St. Peter to ask, in ver. 21, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times ?” This, even, was more than the Jewish teachers required. They advised the forgiveness of three offences. Peter, however, names "seven," feeling perhaps that under the Gospel law of love a larger, freer, and fuller forgiveness was called for.
Now, observe what our Lord recommends. He goes farther still —"I say not unto thee, Until seven times : but, Until seventy times seven.” And then He puts the matter powerfully before him in the shape of a Parable.
He describes a certain King, who had under him a great many servants—some probably holding high offices in his kingdom, and some waiting upon him in his palace. One of these, evidently a person of some importance, owes him a very large sum-ten thousand talentsthat is, about three million pounds of our money. Being utterly unable to pay this enormous debt, he throws himself upon his Master's compassion. He “falls down, and worships him," that is, he humbles himself before him, and intreats him not to imprison him for life, or sell him as a bondman, which was the punishment due to him. His Master