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Here, however, it seems to be laid down as part of the providence of God; as his rule in dealing with man.

And at first sight, it might appear that the rule ought rather to be reversed; that the talent should be taken from him that hath abundance, and given to him that hath not.

All depends upon the cause of the poverty. If a man were poor through misfortune, to take from him his remaining substance would be cruel and unjust. It would be to act the part of the rich man in the prophet Nathan's parable, who “spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, for the traveller who had come unto him, but took the one ewe lamb of the poor man which he had bought and nourished up.” This is not the way of the Judge of all the earth :”

" of Him who must “ do right.'

But suppose the case of the prodigal, who when come to age, gathered all together, and left his father's house, and “went into a far country, and there wasted his substance in riotous living." At last “there came a mighty famine in the land ” to which he had betaken himself, and “he began to be in want.” Is he entitled to a fresh fortune, which he may again dissipate in sinful revelry ? Shall additional talents be supplied him, now that he has proved himself so unworthy of his advantages ?

The Jewish people had been such prodigals, and were now suffering the consequences. They 6 2 Sam. xii. 144.

7 Gen. xviii. 25. 13.

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8 Luke xv.

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were spiritually

poor, because they had wasted their wealth. They were in darkness, because they closed their eyes against the light. They were ignorant, because they were unwilling to know the truth. Therefore the proverb was fulfilled in them: He that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.

The Lord warns those who were about him with the twelve,” that such was the law of God's providence towards men, and would be the rule with them as with others. So that they must take heed what they hear, that more might be given them: as to a “faithful and wise steward,” whom experience has proved to be worthy of such confidence. Like Joseph, for example, who so zealously served his master that, instead of treating him as a slave, he made him “overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.”

Still further, proceeding in his fidelity, he was “set over all the land of Egypt,” second to the King alone. Whereas upon the unjust steward, who wastes his master's goods, the sentence is pronounced, “Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.” 2 From him that hath not, shall be taken even that which he hath. 9 Gen. xxxix. 4.

· Ib. xli. 40, 41. 2 Luke xvi. 1, 2.

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LECTURE XXXI.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD COMPARED TO THE GROWTH

OF GRAIN.

MARK iv, 26-29.

26. “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast

seed into the ground; 27. “ And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the

seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. 28. “For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself: first

the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. 29. “But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he

putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” This parable describes the manner in which the gospel should grow secretly and make its gradual way, both in the world at large, and in the hearts of individuals. So is the kingdom of God as if a man should cast seed into the ground. Our Lord Himself was now that man : He was eradicating the errors of the Jewish people, and sowing eternal truth in their stead: He was declaring the real nature of God's heavenly kingdom, and revealing the way which leads to it: He was opening to mankind the secrets of their own corrupt hearts, and the renewing change which they required; He was explaining what is, and what is not, “true and undefiled religion.” Thus He cast seed into the ground, which should long remain. It was to remain in the memories of those who received

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it, till called forth by the command of the Holy Spirit; and disclosed by a gradual development, “ to the Jew first, and afterward to the Gentile.” It was to be transmitted slowly, and by degrees, from city to town, and from town to village ; from province to province, from country to country.

And thus would spring up first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. First, the number of the names together would be about an hundred and twenty. Not long after would be added unto them about three thousand souls. By degrees the word of the Lord would increase, and the number of the disciples multiply in Jerusalem greatly, both of men and women, and a great company of the priests would be obedient to the faith.” Then the gift of the

. Holy Ghost would be poured out upon the Gentiles also : multitudes would so :

" learn Christ” as to turn from their idolatrous " vanities to serve the living God;" to “be renewed in the spirit of their minds:" and to “put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

All this, and much more, was foreseen by our Lord when He uttered this parable. He knew that the seed which He came to sow, should spring and grow up, man knoweth not how.

And what Christ, the chief husbandman, was then doing in person, has been carried on since, and is constantly carrying on, by those who

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believe His word. The sowers who cast the seed are of various orders. They are the ministers, to whom a field is entrusted that they should dress and keep it; they are the parents, whose duty is to imbue the infant mind with the Scriptures from its youth; they are the masters of families, who, like faithful Abraham, “command their houshold that they keep the way of the Lord;" they are the missionaries, who cause the heathen to hear,

every man in his own tongue, the wonderful works of God;" they are the zealous Christians, who, in whatever station or circumstances, use their means and opportunities to drop the fructifying word into the ground of the human heart.

And these act like the husbandman who casts his seed into the furrow. He knows that it will lie there through a long and dreary period, before it springs up and repays his labour. Still, in the appointment of Providence, he may expect first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

So is it with the Christian, who, in whatever circumstances, may cast the gospel seed. To the fears of the minister, it may often seem to be thrown away upon hopeless ignorance. The parent may discover no depth of earth to receive it. With the master, it may appear choked among the cares of the world, and the desire of other things. In other cases, it is trampled under foot, or devoured by thé fowls of the air.

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