by Elihu Vedder
27 October 2022 Anno Domini
the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to bum them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:30 (KJV)
Elihu Vedder’s Picture on display in New York (1894) –
In the autumn of 1894 a painting by Elihu Vedder was exhibited in New York City, which showed, as few modern works of art do, the innermost fact in the problem of the world’s moral life, in want of solution. The painter called his parable of life, as it was put on the large canvas, ‘The Devil Sowing Tares.’
The whole atmosphere was dark, mysterious, and lowering, set in a light that struck the observer with awe, as in the presence of some dread problem going on beneath those portentous clouds. Before him was a bare and rock-paved slope, curving upward, like another Golgotha, to an upright post, at the base of which the letters INRI plainly intimated that it was the foot of the cross, the center of redeeming influences streaming forth down the eastern slope of Golgotha into the cold, dark, worldly mystery around, and off to a horizon with faint streaks of light breaking on it.
In the foreground was Satan, with malignant leer, holding beneath one brawny arm a pot of gold, and with the other he was sowing the coins, as a sower flings the seed, up toward the cross. He was poisoning the very fountain of redemption. He was setting gold to work against the gospel, the seduction of luxury, the charm of opulence, the fierce temptation to be rich, the looming up of worldly grandeur, coins of different size and shape, but all the devil’s gold, and all now thrown into the garden soil of Christian life and character, to seed it with tares, or into the fountain of faith to poison it at the source. This is the painter’s parable of the church’s trial in the present age. This is the parable of the devil poisoning the fountains; not for the slums, but for the Christian churches and homes.
It is obvious today that those tares have taken deep root in the Church and will likely result in the Lord’s cleansing of the Temple once more to drive out the money changers and turn the tables of the ungodly merchants.