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selves, 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." 6 And St. Paul spoke from experience of what he had seen, and therefore instructed Timothy to guard the church against, when he wrote,-" They 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." 7
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." 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 hundred fold, 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 to the tiller of the earth. In nature there are soils which cannot be amended: the clay, the sand, the rock, will never repay the husbandman. But there are no hearts which cannot be amended. Man has to do
with the soil, and his power is limited; but God has to do with the heart, and his power has no limit; and produces such a change in the lightest, the hardest, the most unreclaimed and uncultivated 8 Acts xvii. 32.
6 Luke xxi. 34.
7 1 Tim. vi. 10.
ground, "that it may bring forth fruit unto holiness, and the end, everlasting life." Who so light and unstable as the apostle Peter? now saying, "Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee:" and a very short time after affirming with an oath, "I know not the man."9 Who so slow to conviction as the apostle Thomas? declaring, when “the other disciples said unto him, We have seen the Lord; Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." Who more prejudiced than Saul," a blasphemer, and persecutor, and injurious, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord?" Yet what a change in these soils, under the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit! How bold did Peter become! Thomas, how faithful! Paul, how zealous! how eager to convince his countrymen that there was no salvation except through that name which he had so long blasphemed? Thus proving that what is impossible with man, is possible with God who, where he sees fit, can make what was useless profitable, and what was barren fruitful. So that he who now goeth on his way weeping, but bearing forth good seed, may haply "come again with joy, and bring his sheaves with him."
9 Ch. xxvii. 35, 72.
1 John xx. 25.
2 Acts xx. 1, 2.
PARABLE OF THE TARES, MUSTARD SEED, AND LEAVEN.
MATT. xiii. 24-35.
! 24. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28. He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29. But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30. 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.
31. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
32. Which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
This parable describes the gradual but sure progress of the gospel in the world. When the Lord was now sowing the word, it was indeed the least seed of all which, under the fostering care of God, has become a tree, stretching forth its branches into the most distant lands, and giving shelter to multitudes. But who that saw the spreading oak, where the birds of the air come and lodge, and knew not the provision of the Creator, concerning the herb "whose seed is in itself;" who would believe that its origin is to be traced to the small seed from which it sprung? And so is the kingdom of heaven. So is the religion of Christ. Conceive, as if placed before your eyes, the Saviour when he spoke this parable. So humble and obscure, that he had not even the provision which the fowls of the air enjoy: "The Son of man had not where to lay his head." So despised by the rulers and leaders of the nation, that they said, "He has a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?" So averse from seeking power, that when the multitudes flocked to him, he removed elsewhere, and when he conferred his blessings on them, charged them not to make him known. So unlike those who desire to become great, that he chose his followers from among the fishermen of Galilee. Certainly this company may be fitly compared to the least of all seeds which a man takes and sows in his field.
But as the Creator, when he made the world, ordained that from a diminutive seed a mighty tree should spring; so likewise did he ordain that the doctrine now taught by a humble company in an obscure region, should spread from man to man,
1 Gen. i. 11.
and from family to family, and from village to village, and from town to town, and from one country to another, till it filled the whole earth, and all the inhabitants of the earth were able to find shelter under its branches. And this the Lord foresaw, and predicted in his parable.
He added another like comparison, to be expounded also by the experience of future ages.
33. 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.
Leaven is poured into a measure of meal, and for a while is hid there. So the doctrines taught by Jesus were introduced into the country of Judea, and remained there for a while unknown to the rest of the world. After a time, where leaven is hid, it causes a fermentation, and the meal begins to change its nature. So in Judea a fermentation arose from the teaching of Jesus. He taught as one having authority, and not as the Scribes." The people began to ask, “When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than this man doeth?" "Do the rulers know that this is the very Christ ?" 2
After his death, the work proceeded still more manifestly. The words of the apostles were gladly received by many; and in one day "there were added to them three thousand souls." 3 The chief priests and elders were alarmed, and said, "What shall we do to these men ?" Still" believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women." "And the word of God increased;