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variety of very important reflections. But as these cannot be distinctly stated and sufficiently enlarged upon at present, without going to a considerable length of time, and trespassing too far on that patience and indulgence which I have already but too often put to the test, I must reserve for my next Lecture the observations I have to offer on this very interesting and instructive parable.



MATTHEW xiii. continued.

HE last Lecture concluded with a recital

of the parable of the sower, and our Lord's explanation of it; and I now proceed to lay before you those, reflections which it has suggested to my mind.

In the first place then it must be observed, that this parable, like many others, is prophetic as well as instructive; it predicts the fate of the Christian religion in the world, and the different sorts of reception it will meet with from different men. And as this prediction is completely verified by the present state of religion, as we see it at this hour existing among ourselves, it affords one very decisive proof of Christ's power of foreseeing future events, and of course tends strongly to


establish the truth of his pretensions, and the divine authority of his religion.

In the next place, it is evident that there are four different classes of men here described, which comprehend all the different religious or irreligious characters that are to be met with in the world. The first consists of those "that hear the word of the kingdom (as our Lord expresses it) and understand it not; then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in their hearts. These are they, (says he,) which received seed by the way-side." By these are meant those persons whose minds, like the beaten high road, are hard and impenetrable, and inaccessible to conviction. Of these, we all know there are too many in the world; some who have imbibed early and deep-rooted prejudices against Christianity; who either conceiving themselves superior to the rest of mankind in genius, knowledge, and penetration, reject with scorn whatever the bulk of mankind receives with veneration, and erect favourite systems of their own, which they conceive to be the very perfection of human wisdom; or, on the other hand, having



been unfortunately very early initiated in the, writings of modern philosophists, implicitely adopt the opinions of those whom they consider as the great luminaries and oracles of the age, receive ridicule as argument, and assertion as proof, and prefer the silly witticisms, the specious sophistry, the metaphysical subtlety, the coarse buffoonery, which distinguish many of the most popular opponents of our faith, to the simplicity, dignity, and sublimity of the divine truths of the Gospel. These are the professed infidels, or, as they choose to style themselves, the disciples of philosophy and reason, and the enemies of priestcraft, fanaticism, and superstition.

But besides these, there is another description of men, on whom the good seed makes little or no impression; these are the thoughtless, the inattentive, the inconsiderate, the trifling, the gay, who think of nothing beyond the present scene, and who do not consider themselves as in the smallest degree interested in any thing else. These men, without professing themselves unbelievers, without formally and explicitly rejecting the Gospel, yet do in fact never concern themselves about it. It forms


forms no part of their system, it does not at all enter into their plans of life. The former sort above described are infidels on principle; these are practical infidels, without any principle at all. Being born of Christian parents, and instructed perhaps in the first rudiments of Christianity, they call themselves Christians; they attend divine service, they repeat their prayers, they listen to the discourses of the preacher, they make no objections to what they hear, they question not the propriety of what they are taught; but here their religion ends; it never goes beyond the surface, it never penetrates into their hearts, it lies on the hard beaten highway. The instant they leave the church, every idea of religion: vanishes out of their thoughts; they never reflect for one moment on what they have heard; they never consider the infinite importance of what is to happen after death; the awful prospects of eternity never present themselves to their minds, neither excite their hopes nor alarm their fears. "With their mouths indeed they confess the Lord Jesus, but they do not believe with their hearts unto salvation:" and although perhaps in the wide


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