Saturday, November 10, 2012

Benjamin Keach (1640-1704): Nine Reasons the Saints are like Wheat

Note:  The following is taken from the "Paradosis" column in the most recent RBT.
Benjamin Keach was a Puritan Particular Baptist pastor who lived from 1640-1704.  He is the namesake for the annual Keach Conference.  The slightly edited extract below is taken from A Trumpet Blown in Zion or An Alarm in God’s Holy Mountain (1694) which included “An Exposition of that Metaphorical Scripture Matthew III.12.”

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12).


Why are the saints compared to wheat?

I answer for many reasons:

1.       Wheat is a choice grain, the best grain, so true believers are a choice people in God’s sight.

The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor (Prov 12:26); they are called the excellent in all the earth (Psalm 16:3).  God call his people his jewels, or choice treasure.  They are men of a high and heavenly birth, of a high sublime and excellent spirit.  They are espoused to an excellent person, act and are influenced by  excellent principles and have glorious ends and aims in all they do; and from hence may be compared to wheat.

2.       Wheat has much pains used with it.

The ground must be made good.  It must be well plowed and manured before the wheat is sown.  So, the hearts of poor sinners must be first made good, and by spiritual convictions be plowed up, before the seed of grace is sown.  For like as believers are compared to wheat, so is also the grace of God.

Wheat must be weeded as well as gathered into the barn, and also threshed, fanned, and well purged.

Believers may be compared to wheat upon this respect, Christ takes much pains (to speak after the manner of men) with his own elect, not only by plowing, manuring, but by sowing, watering, weeding, fanning, and purging them like wheat.

3.       Wheat will endure cold frosts and snow, and all manner of bitter and sharp weather, better than any other grain.

Sow barley before winter, and you will find but little of it lives, but wheat will live in the sharpest winter that can come.  What a good harvest we had here in England after the last great frost; alas, the wheat was not destroyed thereby, but was made better, the weeds and worms being killed, which is found to hurt and annoy it oft-times.

Even so sincere Christians, who are Christ’s spiritual wheat, abide faithful under the greatest trials, persecutions and afflictions they can meet withal.  The endure the frosts and bitter North-winds of tribulation, and furious storms of the wrath of wicked men, which kills the false-hearted professor.  They die and wither away.  They can’t live and maintain their seeming hope and confidence, when true believers can.  A hypocrite is but summer corn, or rather weeds or tares that spring up with the wheat.  Though they look like it, they are yet only the product of natural conscience, or, the common influences of the sun, or gospel of Jesus Christ.

4.       An ear of wheat when it is near ripe doth hang down its head, the corn being full and weighty, when light and empty ears hold up theirs; commonly a light and chaffy ear stands straight upright in a lofty manner.

So a true gracious Christian is of a humble spirit.  He hangs down his head (as it were) and is ashamed of his best duties and service, seeing so great weaknesses and infirmities to attend him.  He abhors himself, yes, loathes himself.  He knows he hath nothing to glory in but in the cross of Jesus Christ.  He sees himself nothing.  Unto me who am less than all the saints, is this grace given, saith Paul (Eph 3:8).  What a humble person was he!  What a full and weighty ear of choice wheat was this apostle.  If you see a man or woman proud, or of a haughty and conceited spirit, being lifted up, you may conclude they are but empty ears, no true grace being in their hearts.

5.       Wheat hath its chaff cleaving oft-times close to it.  Yes, it will stick and cleave so to it that it is not easily separated.

So it is with Christ’s spiritual wheat, the filth of chaff of internal corruption is very subject to cleave to them, and hard it is for them to get rid of it.  When I would do good, sin is present with me, for the good I would, I do not, but the evil which I would not do, that do I (see Rom 7:19).

O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from this body of death (Rom 7: 24).  I am (as if he should say) even wearied with continual combating.  I cannot get rid of this dead body, this inward filth and corruption, the remainders of sin in my flesh.  This chaff cleaves to all Christ’s wheat.

6.       Wheat is of prime and chiefest use.  Of it excellent things are made, as meat for princes.

So the Lord’s faithful people are of chief use in God’s hand of all others.  The lips of the righteous feed many (Prov 10:21).

7.       That nation which abounds with the finest wheat is esteemed a choice land, a happy nation.

So, likewise, that kingdom and nation in which are abundance of godly Christians, it is a happy kingdom, a blessed nation, because such are the common interest of the land or place where they dwell. They are called the pillars of the earth (1 Sam 2:8).

8.       Wheat is threshed with the flail, to sever it from the straw and chaff, by the husbandman.

So God to sever the wheat (i.e., the godly) from the chaffy professor, and free them of the filth and corruption of their own hearts, brings his flail of affliction and persecution upon them.

9.       Wheat is also fanned, to cleanse it, and it is to be noted that the fan in the hand of the husbandman tosses up the wheat and chaff together, and then he shakes it to and fro, this way and that way, on his knees.

So the Lord Jesus with his spiritual fan tosses the godly and hypocritical professor, by the same afflictions, trials, persecutions, and temptations.  And o what hurrying, tossings and tumblings to and fro in their spirits, have some Christians met with in the late times, and still daily meet withal?  They have their ups and downs, this affliction and the other temptation, this loss and the other cross.  But yet, nevertheless, they are not tossed out, or blown away by the fan, but evident it is that the chaff is hereby purged out.  While Christ’s wheat is refined, they abide fanning (as I hinted before) but so doth not the carnal and light professor.  They are offended, through this means, as our Savior shows, and are ready to say with that wicked man of old, this evil is of the Lord, why should I wait upon him any longer? (2 Kings 16:33).  Believers know, God doth it not for his own pleasure, but for their profit, that they might be partakers of his holiness (see Hebrews 12:10).  Hence it is said, that they endure chastening, and faint not when they are rebuked of the Lord (Heb 12:7). 

No comments: