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we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses; as for this fellow, we know not whence he is.” And when the man retorted, “ If this man were not of God, he could do nothing;” they answered and said unto him, “Thou wast altogether born in sins; and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.” This drew from the Lord a remark like that before
“ For judgment am I come into this world ; that they which see not might see ; and they which see might be made blind.”
Hardness of heart, and contempt of God's word, may commonly be traced to some secret root. In the Pharisees it arose from pride and self interest If Jesus were honoured, they must lose their honour. If He increased, they must decrease. They sought the glory which comes from men, and would not raise their thoughts towards God: they were lovers of this world, and could not look beyond it. God, indeed, might have changed their hearts, and given them eyes to see, and ears to hear. But He who doeth all things well, saw in them no case for mercy: and has made them an example, wherever His gospel is known amongst men, that light may come into the world, by which they, whose deeds are evil, may never be enlightened. And as in the natural world, when the sun is shining brightly, there appears a greater depth of darkness in those spots which it does not reach, than when the whole sky is cloudy; so is there a greater depth of wickedness when the light of
truth is held up, and men close their eyes against it, than where the will of God hasn ever been made known. The Lord pronounced it so, saying, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now have they no cloak for their sin.” The gospel, which
a savour of life unto life” to the humble and meek, was a “savour of death unto death”? to the proud, and hypocritical, and worldly Pharisee.
PARABLE OF THE SOWER.
MATT. xiii. 18-23.
(Mark xiv. 20.)
18. “ Hear
therefore the parable of the sower. 19. “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom). 23. “ But he that received seed into the good ground is he
and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.
This is he which received seed by the way side. 20. “But he that received the seed into stony places, the
same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy
receiveth it. 21. “Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a
while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth be
cause of the word, by and by he is offended. 22. “He also that received seed among the thorns, is he
that heareth the word; and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
& John xv, 22,
7 2 Cor. ii. 15.
that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
So different is the effect of the same seed, according to the soil it falls upon.
The word is the same; the whole difference is in the heart : as in natural husbandry, the crop depends upon the soil, and the preparation which it has undergone.
There are some soils in such a state, or so barren in themselves, that no experienced person would expect a return from them. They are so stiff, or so sandy, or so rocky, or so overspread with weeds and briers, that no corn can be produced there: so are there some hearts, of which, remaining as they are, we can entertain no hope. They are so stiff and prejudiced, that they will not receive the seed at all: or they are so light and stony, or so covered with unprofitable plants, that the seed sown finds no room, or substance to root in.
But if there are these barren soils, upon which the seed is lost or wasted, there is also the right state of heart, here called the good ground. The description here given of the good ground is that, having heard the word, it understandeth it, and beareth fruit. As seed will be thrown away unless the land is suitable for its reception, so the heart must be in a certain state of preparation, or the word will not profit it. It must be in a teachable, unprejudiced frame, like that intended by our Lord, when He said “Whoso
ever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein." Unless there be some tenderness, and humility, and sincerity, the truths of the Gospel will not penetrate or take root, so as to bring fruit to perfection.
Some of the Jews, for example, when they heard our Lord's words, satisfied themselves with the easy answer, “Shall Christ come out of Galilee ?” Others said, “ He hath a devil, and is mad, why hear ye Him ?" So among the
3 Athenians, --some mocked ” when Paul preached to them the resurrection, and the life of the world to come.
These hearts were like the
Others, again, of the Athenians said to Paul, “ We will hear thee again on this matter :"-did not altogether reject the word, but put it off to
convenient season. There was also among the Jews, a class which “believed on Jesus, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the
Here the seed fell upon stony places, where it could not “ take root downward, and bear fruit upwards,” being watered by the dews of heaven.
Even where the word is better received, and makes a show of promise to the husbandman: where there is a profession of faith, and an appearance of religion ; the heart may be so 1 Mark x. 15. 2 John vii. 41. Ib. x. 20. * Acts xvi. 32.
John xii. 42.
loaded with many worldly things, that the word is choked and becomes unfruitful.
Our Lord thought it needful to warn even his faithful disciples, that they “take heed to themselves, lest at any time their hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon them unawares." And St. Paul spoke from experience of what he had seen, and therefore instructed Timothy to guard the Church against, when he wrote, “I'hey that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.'
The sower, however, does not always sow in vain. Even at Athens, where some mocked and others neglected, “ certain men clave unto Paul, and believed." 8 And the disciples, to whom the Lord was now expounding the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, had “left all and followed Him.” Their hearts were the good ground, that heareth the word, and understandeth it, which also beareth fruit and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty, as God may grant the increase.
The sower, too, when he sows the word, has a reason for hope which does not always belong
6 Luke xxi. 34. 11 Tim. vi. 10. 8 Acts xvii. 32.