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works." And when this word is sown in good ground, it brings forth fruit: all who receive it bring forth fruit, though not all in equal proportion or abundance.

This agrees with our experience in life. As there is a great difference in the natural powers of different men, so is there also in their spiritual attainments. Unto one five talents are given, to another two, to another one; "to every man according to his several ability.”

The apostles themselves varied in the degree of their fruitfulness. St. Paul says concerning himself, what is proved by his history, he “laboured more abundantly than they all:"3 his trials were severer, his efforts in the cause of the gospel more widely extended. So amongst the early Christians, when they “who had lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the Apostles' feet:” those who had such possessions, and made this sacrifice, gave clearer proofs of zeal and earnestness, than they who received the produce of the same, when “distribution was made to every man according as he had need.” 4 Again some who received the word, and kept it, and were “added to the church," retained their comforts, their families, and homes. But others gave themselves up to aid the progress of the gospel: like Aquila and Priscilla, of whom St. Paul says, that “ for his life they laid down 1 Tit. ii. 14.

Matt. xxv. 15. 31 Cor. xiii. 10.

4 Acts iv. 34-37.




their own necks;" 5 to whom not only he “gave

' thanks, but all the churches of Christ." Onesiphorus was another, who stood by the apostle at a time of special danger, for he“ oft refreshed him, and was not ashamed of his chain," when he was imprisoned at Rome. So he speaks of Tychicus, that he was “a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord.” 7 And so it is written of Dorcas, that she was “ full of good works and almsdeeds which she did,” so that her death was the cause of general lamentation.

It is the same in every age. As in the heavens above us there appear stars innumerable, and no two stars have the same precise size or the same brightness : so amongst Christians, there are different natural capacities, and different degrees of grace: there is in some much, in others little zeal : in some much, in others little self-denial : in some a perfect command over the evil passions, in others, a daily conflict, and sometimes an ineffectual conflict, against the remainder of sin. Some are hardly able to rise above the temporal things which draw them downwards. Others soar upward as on eagles' wings, and though still encompassed with the flesh, and dwelling here below, have “ their conversation in heaven.” But as the stars, though differing from one another in glory, have all some brightness : and as they all agree in this 3 Rom. xvi. 11.

6 2 Tim. i. 16. 7 Col. iv. 7.

Acts ix. 36-39.


that they are governed by the same laws, and obey the will of the Creator: so it is, and must be, with all those who receive the word : they set before them as the rule of life the precepts of their heavenly Father: they endeavour to bear “fruit unto holiness :” they all have " the testimony of their conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity,” according to the will of God, and not according to the course of this world, they have desired to walk before God in righteousness. For this they know ;—there can be no other proof that they have understood, and received and kept the word, except that they bring forth fruit, whether it be thirty, or sixty, or an hundred fold.




MARK iv. 21-25.

21. “ And He said unto them, Is a candle brought to be

put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not to be set on

a candlestick? 22. “For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. 23. “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear." These words were designed to excite the attention of the Apostles to the parables which

our Lord was now uttering, more of which are preserved in the corresponding chapter of St. Matthew, than Mark has here repeated. He warns them to use all their faculties; for they would be called into exercise hereafter. They were not to suppose, that because He spoke these things to them in private, they were always to be spoken privately. On the contrary, there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested, neither any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. It would be unreasonable first to light a lamp, and then conceal it where it could benefit no one.

Yet such would be the case, unless provision were made that what is now “ secret” should hereafter “ be known and come abroad.” 2

Much was now spoken in parables. Much relating to the kingdom of heaven could not now be understood, and was hid from the world. Those who now surrounded our Lord, were appointed to the duty of making manifest what prophets and righteous men had desired to see, and had not seen, and to hear, and had not heard.

Thus He demands their ATTENTION : He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

But He further demands their FAITHFULNESS. The proverb should apply to them, which deals with men according as they deal with others; measures out to them, as they have measured : so that they who have dealt sparingly, receive also See Matt. xiii. 24–33.

2 Luke viii. 17.

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sparingly; and they receive plenteously who have dealt out plenteously. This should be the rule, in regard to their knowledge and spiritual gifts. To those that hear, should more be given. To those who should take heed what they hear, in order that, having received it into their own hearts, they may communicate the same to others, and so fulfil the work appointed them ; to those should more be given. The Lord had

many things to say to them” which at present they could not hear." 3 "

“ He spake the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.” 4 By

Ву degrees they should “ know all parables.” But they must be zealous and faithful to the charge entrusted to them. As there was a reward to the diligent and attentive,-he should have more abundance ;-so there was a penalty to the careless and slothful ;-that which “ he seemeth to have” should be taken away.” 24. “And He saith unto them, Take heed what ye hear :

with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you:

and unto you that hear shall more be given. 25. “ For he that hath, to him shall be given : and he

that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath."

It is a common saying in ordinary life, He that is rich, shall be richer, and he that is poor, shall be poorer. And we can understand how this often happens in the course of human affairs.

See ver. 33.

3 John xvi. 12.

5 Luke viii. 19.

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