The Wheat and the Chaff!
James Smith, 1860
There are but two classes in the world, and there are two classes in the church. But the time is coming when there will be but only one class in the church. A separation must take place. The wheat and the tares may grow together in the field, the wheat and the chaff may for a time he together on the threshing floor — but there is a cleansing time coming. At the first coming of Jesus something was done in this way — but at his second coming he will make thorough work of it. Alluding to his appearing in his public ministry, John said of him, "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn — but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire!" Matthew 3:12
THE INSTRUCTIVE FIGURES EMPLOYED.
1. A threshing floor. Here the grain is brought from the field where it grew. Here an attempt at separation is made. Here for a time the wheat and the chaff are together in one heap. The wind is brought into contact with them to separate them. Laborers are employed about them.
In the same manner, into the church souls are gathered from the field of the world. We attempt to separate between the truly converted and unconverted — but still, however careful and prudent we may be, there are both converted and unconverted in the church. The Lord brings the dispensations of his providence, or the power of his word, or the influences of his Holy Spirit like the wind to bear upon them — and he employs his ministering servants about them.
2. The contents of the floor. Wheat or choice grain, inclosed in a husk, threshed in order to separate, and fanned to cleanse it. In the church there are true believers — but they have much husk about them, and unbelievers cleave to them. These true believers have to pass through many painful dispensations to separate, and cleanse them.
Chaff, or mere professors, who like chaff, grow up with the wheat . . .
are difficult to separate from the wheat,
are light and of little worth,
are easily blown away when detected,
and often fly in the face of the thresher!
How many there are in the church, who have grown up with God's people, whom we find it very difficult to distinguish or separate from the saints; but they are light, trifling, and of little worth; once detached from the church, they are easily carried away by any novelty, and very frequently they fly in the face of, and annoy the honest ministers of Christ.
3. God's winnowing fan. The gardener's instrument for separating the wheat from the chaff. God's fan is . . .
sometimes his word,
sometimes his providence,
sometimes church discipline,
and sometimes the Holy Spirit.
THE SOLEMN FACT STATED. "He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor!" The time is coming when he will divide between . . .
the precious and the vile,
the wheat and the chaff,
true believers and mere professors.
He will purify his church, gathering out of it all things that offend, and those who do iniquity. He will remove the one from the other, severing their connection forever.
"He will gather the wheat into his barn." A place prepared for its reception, where it will be housed in safety, and be forever separated from the chaff.
Such will be Christ's glorious kingdom, and such is Heaven. The place is prepared for the people to . . .
meet their needs,
gratify their wishes, and
satisfy their desires.
All they can need, and all they can enjoy — they will find there.
For that glorious barn, they are being now prepared on the threshing floor, and every stroke of the flail, every action of the fan, is to make them fit to partake of the inheritance of the saints in light. There they will be in safety — no floods, nor storms, nor devouring foes can come near them there. Forever with the Lord, they will be forever safe! They will be in a state of eternal separation from mere professors and wicked men — the great, the terrible gulf, which no man can pass, will be fixed between them, and they will rest in glory forever.
"He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire!"
The fire is his just, holy, and eternal wrath, kindled by sin, and preying upon sinners.
The place where this fire will burn is Hell, some place in God's universe, unknown to us at present — but which was originally prepared for the punishment of the devil and his angels.
Those who are condemned to suffer this terrible doom, are . . .
all who die in their natural state,
all who live in sin,
all who refuse to believe in Christ, and
all who are satisfied with the mere externals of religion.
The doom is dreadful, it is eternal punishment.
The fire is unquenchable,
the sufferer is immortal, and
sin, the cause of the suffering remains and augments!
The wrath of God, is the wrath of an unchangeable being.
Oh, the dreadful doom of a lost soul!
Each one of us is either wheat or chaff!
We are either believers or unbelievers.
We are either saved saints or lost sinners.
Let us not rest without scriptural proof that we are God's wheat. Are you a light-hearted, talking, trifling professor? Take heed, you are very much like the chaff, and perhaps are chaff!
A separation will be effected. The angels shall gather the wicked from among the just. Every grain of wheat will be collected, and gathered into the barn; and every husk, every morsel of chaff, will be cast into the furnace of fire!
The separation will be eternal. Once separated, they can never be united again. And what a separation that will be! The parent separated from the child — and the child from the parent; the husband separated from the wife — and the wife from the husband. Those who have sat together in the same pew, read out of the same bible, and sang together out of the same hymn book for years — will be separated, and separated forever.
Of the one it will be said, "These shall go away into everlasting punishment!" and of the other, "but the righteous shall go away into life eternal!"
The consequences will be momentous. What pen can describe, what heart can conceive, the momentous consequences of this separation?
To the one, how unspeakably dreadful!
To the other, how unutterably glorious!
The heights of Heaven — or the depths of Hell!
The perfection of happiness — or the extreme of torment!
The shouts of triumph — or the groans of despair!
Lord, give us grace that we may be found among your wheat, and so be gathered into your barn at the last day! Holy Spirit, bear your witness in our hearts, that we are indeed the wheat, and that soon, very soon, we shall be forever with the Lord!