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saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and by seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive :
15. 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.
When you hear these words, and think what a dreadful condition this is for any one to be in, can you help saying, Lord is it I ? Am I dull of hearing when Christ speaks? Do I close my eyes against his light, and harden my heart against his gospel ?
“ Lest they should be converted, and I should heal them.” Let this put you upon examining your own state, what endeavours you use, what prayers you ever put up for conversion and healing from the Lord, and what experience you have of it.
16. But blessed are your eyes, for they see : and your ears, for they hear.
Effectually and savingly. No seeing or hearing short of this, is blessed.
17. 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.
Not so much Christ in his own person, as in the full manifestation and rich mercies of his gospel. What reason have we to thank God for the light of it! And what shall we say for our ignorance or unfruitfulness, under the advantages we enjoy! 18. Hear
therefore the parable of the sower. He does not speak this in vain. We may hear, and consider, and apply it to ourselves, if we please. Let us not harden our hearts both against parables and explanations.
19. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and un
derstandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. • He who doth not understand it spiritually, that is, does not consider and lay it to heart, as the word or law of Christ, to be received by all who belong to his kingdom.
Observe the ground where Christ sows his seed, and where only it can grow; and also what a busy enemy we have about us to hinder the growth of it. The devil has his
eye upon our hearts, as well as God. If our own is there too, he cannot hurt us.
20. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21. Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
We see there may be some sensible delight in the word, and joy in hearing it, where there is no true work of grace ; and many, no doubt, speak peace to themselves on this account, who have no abiding root, and can stand no trial. Indeed, it is hard to know what our root is till we are tried.
22. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
If the word is choked, the mischief is great, whatever does it. I observe this, because it is so common with you to make your worldly business, or the care of providing for your families, a pretence for neglecting your souls.
23. But he that received seed into the good ground is be that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundred-fold, some sixty, some thirty.
He understands not only its outward meaning, for that we may do without effect; but he who has the grace given him to know how great a good it is to him, and how suitable to his wants, relishes the inward sweetness of it, takes it into his heart, and resolves to be guided by it.
All must be in a fruit-bearing state of obedience from a root of faith ; and all who are, will be so accounted of. But why some bring forth less than others, whether because they have less ability given them, or improve less what they have, must be left to the great Judge.
Chap. xiii. ver. 24–43.
PARABLE OF THE TARES.
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:
The state of the gospel, or God's kingdom of grace in this world under Christ; for there are no tares, or weeds, in his kingdom of glory. And it is so called, for this among other reasons, because his kingdom of grace and of glory are one and the same kingdom, in its beginning and perfection; and if we are not in, and of it, when we die, we cannot be admitted into it afterwards.
“ Is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field;" Christ has no other; the tares are of the devil's sowing
25. But while men slept, bis enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
Satan is our enemy, because he is Christ's. Let us take notice, that he does not sleep, though we do. Let us know our danger, and beware of giving him this advantage against us.
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 himn, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field ? from whence then hath it tales ?
28. He said unto them, An enemy hath done this The ser, vants 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.
This is not man's work; he has not discernment for it, and, we know by experience, oftener roots up the good than the bad. Let us look well to our own work under Christ, which is to root the tares out of ourselves.
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.
We lie down in our graves either tares or wheat. How dreadful is it to think of that time when the separation will be made once for all !
31. 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 :
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.
Have we no room in our souls for one grain of this little seed? Oh! let us take it in without delay, and commit the growth of it to Christ, that it may spread and flourish, as it certainly will, under his care.
33. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of beaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Let Christ set his leaven to work in our hearts, and it will convert them wholly into its own nature.
These two parables may be considered either with respect to the gospel in general, its beginning, progress, and perfection, or to the state of particular persons. The former will have its accomplishment in God's time; the latter is every man's great concern; and happy are they, who find these similitudes verified in themselves, and the kingdom of heaven growing up, and working in their souls.
34. All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them.
35. 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.
36. Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house : and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
Let us say as they did, and pray continually that he would declare, and speak it to our hearts.
37. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man.
Know, O man thou dost not sow it thyself. Only do not hinder him; and he will both sow, and water, and watch over its growth. Ask thyself, Is it sown ? Is it increasing? Is it thy desire and earnest will that it should ?
38. The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
All who are in the world, are either the good seed, or useless weeds. Now is the time for us to choose whether of the two we will be.
39. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
Satan cannot sow the tares without our own consent.
40. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
41. 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;
42. And shall cast them into a furnace, of fire : there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
43. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
All is here told us ; heaven and hell are now opened to