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THE same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea-side, and began again to teach. And great multitudes were gathered together again, and were come to him out of every city, so that he went into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

And he spake unto them, and taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, Hearken; behold, a sower went out to sow his seed. And it came to pass, as he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and it was trodden down, and> the fowls of the air came, and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth. But as soon as it sprang up, when the sun was up, it was scorched, and because it had no root, and lacked moisture, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. But other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and increased; and brought forth fruit, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred-fold. And when

he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

And the disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but unto them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And

in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Let us hear with fear and trembling these awful declarations from the lips of the compassionate Jesus himself. Here were crowds about Christ, who indulged such prejudices, and attended with such perverse dispositions, that in righteous judgment he took an obscurer method of preaching to them, and finally left many of them under darkness and impenitency to die in their sins.

Let us take heed lest the bounties of Divine providence should be thus abused by us, as a means of casting us into a stupid insensibility of the hand and voice of the blessed God: or we may otherwise have ground to fear lest he should leave us to our own delusions, and give us up to the lusts of our own hearts. And then the privilege of ordinances, and of the most awakening providential dispensations will be vain; seeing we shall see, and not perceive: and hearing we shall hear, and not understand.

It is our peculiar happiness under the gospel that we see and hear what prophets and princes and saints of old, desired to see and hear, but were not favoured with it. Let us be thankful for our privilege, and improve it well; lest a neglected gospel by the righteous judgment of God be taken away, and our abused seasons of grace, by one method of Divine displeasure or other, be brought to a speedy period. But if by grace it is given to us to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, let us learn a thankfulness in some measure proportionable to the corrupt prejudices which have been overborne, and the important blessings which are secured to us.


MATT. XIII. 24-43.

ANOTHER parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the household came and said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them but gather the wheat into my barn.

And his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burnt in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Oh that these important instructions might, as it were, be

ever sounding in our ears! It is a matter of great thankfulness that this earth, which might have been abandoned by God as a barren wilderness, is cultivated as his field, and that any good seed is to be found in it; but grievous to think how many tares are intermingled, so as almost to over-run the ground, and hide the wheat from being seen. Let not a forward zeal prompt us, like these over-officious servants, to think of rooting them out by violence; but let us wait our master's time and be patient till the day of the Lord.

The separation will at length be made; nor shall one precious grain perish. Awful important time! when the angels shall perform their great office with a sagacity too sharp to be eluded, and a power too strong to be resisted! Gather not our souls, O Lord, with sinners! but may they be bound up in the bundle of life! that when the day cometh, which shall burn as an oven, and when the wicked like chaff shall be thrown in to be consumed, we may survey the execution of the Divine judgment with awful triumph; being owned by God as his, while he is making up his jewels, and spared by him as his obedient children. (Mal. iii. 17, and iv. 1.) Then shall we not only be spared, but honoured and adorned, and shine forth like the sun in our father's kingdom; for these vile bodies shall be fashioned like to the glorious body of our Redeemer (Phil. iii. 21), and our purified and perfected spirits shall be clothed with proportionable lustre, and reflect the complete image of his holiness. Amen.


MATT. XIII. 31-35. MARK IV. 26–34.

AND he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?

And another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his

field; which indeed is the least of all seeds that be in the earth. But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree; and shooteth out great branches, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof, and under the shadow of it.

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. And all these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables, and with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

Let us be concerned to gather up these fragments, that nothing may be lost; and to lay them up in our memories and our hearts, that, according to our respective stations in life, we may have them ready for use.

Let us remember that sometimes the growth of piety in the heart is like that of vegetables in the earth. The seed of the word may for a while seem lost; or when the fruit appears, it may advance and ripen but slowly. Let not ministers therefore too confidently conclude they have laboured in vain, and spent their strength for nought, because the fields are not immediately white to the harvest, but with believing hope and humble patience let them recommend the seed that they have sown to Him, who by the secret energy of his continued influences, can give at length a sure and plentiful increase.

When Jesus took to himself his great power, and reigned, the gospel, which had gained so little ground under his personal ministration, ran, and was greatly glorified in the hands of the apostles. The grain of mustard seed shot up and branched forth into a spreading tree, and birds of every wing took shelter there. (Oh that there had been none of the ravenous and the obscene kind!) Thus when the Lord shall please to hasten it in his time, a little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. (Isa. Ix. 22.)


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