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attention are fitly represented by the beaten ground, into which the seed never enters, but is either bruised by the foot of men, or picked up by birds.

5.

Some fell upon stony places, rocky places," where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth.

6. And when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had not root, they withered away.

The plant which finds no soil to cause its roots to strike downwards, exerts so much the greater force upwards. This rocky ground represents those hearers upon whom the word makes some impression, producing good resolutions, perhaps a partial reformation of conduct, and the temporary practice of some virtues: but when persecution arises on account of their Christian profession; when they are threatened with fines, imprisonment and death, or with the lighter evils of disgrace and infamy; or visited with any other severe trial, in the ordinary course of life; they are disgusted with their new profession, abandon the right way upon which they had entered, and return to their former course of life. Such persons are fitly compared to vegetables which quickly spring up, but, having no depth of soil, wither away, when they are exposed to the heat of the mid-day sun.

7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up and choked them.

The ground full of thorns, which sprung up with the seed and choked it, represents those who received the word, but whose minds are full of worldly cares, which destroy whatever good resolutions or good impressions may have been produced there.

8. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an-hundred-fold, some sixty-fold, some thirtyfold.

The good ground represents those who receive the word and understand it, and who bring forth fruit, in good actions, proportioned to the talents and opportunities with which God is pleased to favour them. As different soils to which the seed is committed produce different crops of grain, according to the degree of fertility possessed by each; some of them yielding, as was sometimes the case in those eastern climates, ahundred-fold; so it will be with the gospel: it will produce different effects upon the minds of men who receive it, according as they happen to be previously disposed; according as their dispositions are more or less virtuous, or their vicious habits more or less confirmed.

9. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

These words are often used by Christ, when he has delivered any thing of great importance, and deserving the serious attention of mankind. As if he had said, "You, whom God has furnished with understanding, in order that you may acquire useful knowledge, remember your obligation to employ it for this purpose, and seriously weigh what I have now said: for it contains truths of the most interesting and important

nature."

10. And the disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou to them in parables?

That is, Thou teachest us many things plainly, when we are by ourselves; but before the multitude thou speakest in parables, which, because the moral is not added, have something in them perplexed, and difficult

to be understood. This part of our Saviour's conduct has been made a serious objection to his religion: for it has been said that the Christian law is delivered in fables; whereas a rule of conduct ought to be expressed in the plainest language. This charge, however, is not well founded. The rules of a good life, and of our faith and hope, Christ had delivered before in the plainest words; as appears from chapters v. vi. and vii. of this evangelist, as well as from the other books of the New Testament. These are the parts of Scripture which have properly the force of laws: the things which Christ explains by fables are of another kind, which he calls the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, in which he partly unfolds the nature of the divine dispensations, but principally foretels the reception which the gospel would meet with from different persons, and the progress that it would make among Jews and Gentiles. For the purposes of prophecy, it is acknowledged on all hands that some obscurity of language is requisite.

11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them it is not given.

By mysteries mentioned in the New Testament, we are to understand not things apparently contradictory, or, in their own nature, incomprehensible; but things not before revealed, and which are now made manifest. The mysteries here intended seem to be the influence of the gospel upon different persons, and the success of it in the world. The knowledge of these facts, Christ says to his disciples, is given to you: "to you, children, who have received, with the most humble and teachable disposition of mind, the precepts I proposed to you in the plainest words, this favour is given of my Father; but to them who appear to themselves wise and intelligent, and who so fastidiously reject those precepts which lead to humility and meekness, which are the elements of true piety, to them it is not given." While

there were many such persons in the crowd, this was a sufficient reason why those things which were indeed useful, but not necessary to salvation, should be proposed more obscurely: if there were any who were de sirous of understanding them, they might privately have access to Christ in the absence of the crowd, and ask an explanation of those things which they could not otherwise learn.

12. For whosoever hath, hath much, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, hath but little, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

For the propriety of this kind of treatment, Christ appeals to a common proverbial expression, the meaning of which is that to those who make a proper use of what they have received from us, we are ready to grant additional favours; but from those who are ungrateful, or who do not use the things which are given them, we are accustomed to take away what is given. On the same principle, those Jews who were readily disposed to attend to his doctrine, should be more fully informed about it: whereas careless and inattentive hearers should have no benefit from his instruction.

"That the word hath signifies hath much, is evident from what follows, " to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance;" in which it is implied that he had an abundance before: so, hath not signifies hath but very little*."

13. Therefore speak I to them in parables, because they, seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand.

I speak to them in parables, because their stupidity is so gross and their prejudices so numerous that though they have capacities proper for understanding

* Bishop Pearce in loc.

and receiving my doctrine, yet they will neither understand nor receive it, if I speak in the plainest terms.

14. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, or, as it would be better rendered, "ye will hear with your ears, and not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and ye will see with your eyes," and shall not," and will not," perceive.

15. For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

These verses give a description of the people of the Jews, as they were in the days of the prophet; but it appears from Isaiah that they are rightly applied by our Lord to the Jews of his own time: for when the prophet asks how long they would maintain this character, it is answered by God, "until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate;" that is, till the destruction of Jerusalem and the ruin of the commonwealth, by the Romans.

16. But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.

I speak to the multitude in parables, because their wickedness renders them incapable of receiving my doctrine; but happy are ye, whose humble and teachable dispositions fit you for being made acquainted

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