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Chap. xii. vér. 38–50.
HE SHEWETH WHO ARE HIS BRETHREN.
38. Then certain of the Scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
What they had already seen and heard was abundantly sufficient, if it had met with a right disposition; but what can convince those who will not be convinced; especially those who are wise and righteous in their own eyes? If we truly desire to see the miracle of our own healing and conversion by Christ, we should soon see the force of all the rest.
39. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
They were evil, and thoroughly evil, whatever else they did, because adulterous, by taking their hearts from God. Observe the sharpness of the reproof, and dread to hear it from his mouth. They required some extraordinary sign, greater and more convincing than any he had wrought. One such he tells them they should have, namely, his resurrection from the dead.
40. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly: so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heatt of the earth.
41. The men of Nineveli sball rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas ; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Now preaching repentance to you, calling you to it, at this time and place, in these very words, and pronouncing this very sentence upon you, if you do not repent.
42. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
O what a shame it is for those who call themselves Christians to be so little athirst for Christ's wisdom, so backward to hear it, and so little acquainted with that holy book in which it is taught! How criminal is their neglect ! What blindness is in their hearts ! How just, how great will be their condemnation !
43. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a inan, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
He walketh through desert, uninhabited places, “ seeking rest." From this and what follows, we learn that it is some kind of rest, or ease, to evil spirits to be in men. How this comes to pass we need not inquire, as we cannot know. How to keep them from us, we must know at our peril.
44. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
Empty of God, and prepared for the evil spirits reception.
45. Then goeth be, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
Their condition will be more desperate, and the devil have more full possession of them than ever, upon their refusing the means of grace and salvation offered them by Christ. All are exposed to this danger, who will not repent at his preaching, and learn his wisdom.
46. While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.
47. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
48. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother ? and who are my brethren ?
49. And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother, and my brethren! He stretches forth his hand towards us, he
says of us, if we are his disciples.
50. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
We cannot be mistaken in saying after Christ, that the nearest and dearest kindred is that of holy souls. What an honour is put upon all such! And what spirit has possession of us, if we do not choose this relation to him, and steadfastly persevere in what he has told us is the only way to it.
Chap. xiii. ver. 1—23.
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER.
1. The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
2. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
These will be gathered to him once more, together with every one of us, that all may hear their final sentence from him.
3. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.
4. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth : and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth :
6. And when the sun was up, they were scorched ; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up and choked them.
8. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred-fold, some sixty-fold, soine thirty-fold.
9. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Behold! the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven! And he is always carrying on his work, and is now ready to sow the seed of eternal life in our hearts. Are we ready? Are we now all here with the same intent? The contents of this chapter are easy to be understood, and withal very important. We have in it, an account of a seed-time and harvest, of the several hindrances of a work of grace, of true and false professors, and of the different judgment which will be passed on each, according to the neglect, or improvement, of their advantages under the gospel. O! how earnestly should we pray that we may be found engaged in a true work, seeing it must, of all necessity, be done, and we can do nothing of ourselves. Do thou, Lord, open our hearts, that what we are going to hear, may sink down into them, and in the power of thy grace be a saving word
10. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables ?
11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
A parable is a similitude, contrived for the sake of some further use than the words at first hearing seem to import. As this method of instruction is more awakening, and sinks deeper than any other when the drift of it is understood, the great Master of divine wisdom frequently makes use of it. The disciples thought he should have spoken plainer. He tells them in effect, that nothing is plain to them who will not understand, and that if we are ignorant of divine things, we must look for the cause of it nowhere, but in our own dark hearts.
The disciples were desirous to know divine mysteries, and fitted to receive them. But others were not, for the reason hereafter mentioned, namely, because they refused what was offered them ; just as anything else is not given, when it is not taken. Shall we let Christ take back his precious gift of saving knowledge, with the grace which would accompany it? Are any of us the man or woman, of whom he says, to you it is not given ?
12. For whosoever bath, to him shall be given, and he shall have inore abundance :
“ Whosoever hath,” that is, values, and holds fast what he hears " to him shall be given;" here is no exception, as if this was the privilege of some, and not of others. Saving knowledge is knowledge in abundance ; and if a poor man has it not, it is his own fault. This chapter, this reading, has a blessing for all who will receive it.
12. But whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
From him who valueth not, and consequently possesseth not; he who heareth, but doth not receive and improve that he hath, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Should we think it an unspeakable loss, if the Bible were to be taken from us, and we were never to hear a word more of it ? Ah! we have it not, if we have it only in our hands, and ask not for the grace which must open it to our hearts.
13. Therefore speak I to them in parables : because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
To hide from them what they would not see, if it had been delivered ever so plainly. And we learn from hence, that it is just with God to leave men who are wilfully blind to themselves. 14. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which