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EXPOSITION OF THE PARABLES.

THE SOWER AND THE SEED.

Matt. xiii. 3-9. MARK iv. 3-8. LUKE viii. 5–8.

THIS

HIS parable is thus given by the three Evan-
gelists :-
MATT.
MARK.

LUKE. Behold, a sower went Behold, there went A sower went out forth to sow; and when out a sower to sow : to sow his seed : and he sowed, some seeds and it came to pass, as as he sowed, some fell fell by the way side, he sowed, some fell by by the way side; and and the fowls came and the way side, and the it was trodden down, devoured them up: fowls of the air came and the fowls of the Some fell upon stony and devoured it up. air devoured it. And places, where they had And some fell on stony some fell upon a rock; not much earth: and ground, where it had and as soon as it was forthwith they sprung not much earth; and sprung up, it withered up, because they had immediately it sprang away, because it lacked no deepness of earth: up, because it had no moisture. And some and when the sun was depth of earth: but fell among thorns; and up, they were scorched; when the sun was up, the thorns sprang up and because they had it was scorched; and with it, and choked it. no root, they withered because it had no root, And other fell on good away. And some fell it withered away. And ground, and sprang among thorns; and the some fell among thorns, up, and bare fruit an thorns sprung up, and and the thorns grew hundredfold. And choked them : but up, and choked it, and when he had said these other fell into good it yielded no fruit. things, he cried, He ground, and brought And other fell on good that hath ears to hear, forth fruit, some an ground, and did yield let him hear, hundredfold, some six- fruit that sprang up tyf some thirtyfold. and increased; and Who hath ears to hear, brought forth, some let him hear.

thirty, and some sixty,
and some an hundred.
And he said unto them,
He that hath ears to
hear, let him hear.

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This parable, according to St. Matthew and St. Mark, was delivered by our Lord while sitting in a ship on the sea of Tiberias, in the hearing of the multitude who were gathered together on the shore. St. Luke merely states that it was spoken 'when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city;' but he does not record the particular occasion or locality.

The words of the narrative are so clear, that they require no comment; more especially as this is one of the three parables of which our Lord was pleased himself to give the explanation to his disciples in private. This interpretation as given by the three Evangelists, varies in some minute particulars; but in the main, as will be seen, they all agree.

Matt. xiii. 18—23. MARK iv. 14–20.

LUKE viii. 11-15. Hear ye therefore The sower soweth Now the parable is the parable of the the word. And these this: The seed is the sower. When any one are they by the way word of God. Those heareth the word of side, where the word by the way side are the kingdom, and un- is sown; but when they that hear; then derstandeth it not, they have heard, Satan cometh the devil, and then cometh the wicked cometh immediately, taketh away the word one, and catcheth away and taketh away the out of their hearts, lest that which was sown word that was sown in they should believe and in his heart. This is their hearts. And these be saved. They on the he which received seed are they likewise which rock are they, which, by the way side. But are on stony when they hear, receive he that received the ground; who, when the word with joy ; seed into stony places, they have heard the and these have no root, the same is he that word, immediately re- which for a while beheareth the word, and ceive it with gladness; lieve, and in time of anon with joy receiveth and have no root in temptation fall away. it; yet hath he not themselves, and so en- And that which 'fell root in himself, but dure but for a time: among thorns are they, dureth for a while: afterward, when afflic- which, when they have for when tribulation tion or persecution heard, go forth, and

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or persecution ariseth ariseth for the word's are choked with cares because of the word, sake, immediately they and riches and pleaby and by he is of- are offended. And these sures of this life, and fended. He also that are they which are bring no fruit to perreceived seed among sown among thorns ; fection. But that on the thorns is he that such as hear the word, the good ground are heareth the word; and and the cares of this they, which in an the care of this world, world, and the deceit- honest and good heart, and the deceitfulness fulness of riches, and having heard the word, of riches, choke the thelustsof other things keep it, and bring forth word, and he becometh entering in, choke the fruit with patience. unfruitful. But he word, and it becometh that received seed into unfruitful. And these the good ground is he are they which are that beareth the word, sown on good ground; and understandeth it; such as hear the word, which also beareth and receive it, and fruit, and bringeth bring forth fruit, some forth, some an hun- thirtyfold, some sixty, dredfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. some thirty.

by it.

The parable of the Sower and the Seed, is the first, and also the simplest of all our Lord's parables. It is designed to represent the different dispositions with which men receive the word of God, and the different results which, in each case, are produced

The interpretation, as given by our Lord himself, does not enter into the question why the world is so ordered that, in the case of one man the word falls on a hard and impenetrable heart; why with another it fails of effect in the hour of temptation; why with a third it is rendered unfruitful through the cares and pleasures of this life ; why with a fourth it falls into an honest and good heart, and yields a crop unto perfection. The parable and the explanation of it merely state the fact; a fact to which daily experience bears witness, that these various results are seen, while in each case the same seed is sown, the same word of God preached. It will however be remarked, that in the three characters first represented, differing as they do in the causes which operate in each several case, the result is in the end the same. They bring forth no fruit; or, what is the same thing in effect, no fruit to perfection. For what does it matter, whether the seed never takes root, or whether it withers and dies before its shoots come into the full ear? is not the servant equally unprofitable, who never takes in hand his master's work, or who having begun it leaves it in an unfinished, and therefore useless, condition? In the last instance alone is the good soil found which brings forth such a crop as the sower of the seed has a right to expect. There alone is the honest and good heart, which not only welcomes the word, and warmly entertains it, but also with patience keeps it, until in due season it brings forth its natural result, a rich harvest of holy and Christian works. And is not this painful truth thus brought home that 'many are called, but few chosen ? Are not those who receive with gladness and carefully cultivate the opportunities of improvement afforded to them, few and rarely to be found in comparison with those who fail to profit by these same privileges, though liberally offered to them? Are there not many who all their lives long remain utterly callous and insensible to the powerful motives set forth in the word of God; in whose heart no sympathy is aroused, no warmth is kindled-from

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