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SERMON IV.

THE SOWER.

MATTHEW XIII. 3.

And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying; Behold a Sower went

forth to sow. IT is recorded of Jesus in the opening Serm. I of his mission, that he went about all TV Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and w e preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people . The fame of his doctrines and miracles combined drew continually a throng around him. And the people pressed upon him, not only in the more public resorts of the streets or the synagogues, but they also followed him into the re

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SERM. tirements of a mountain or a wilder-
IV. ness. One day, in which he had found

a more than ordinary call for the exer-
cise of his prophetic character, he went
out of the house and sate by the Sea or
Lake of Gennesaret. But here he had
no long respite from his labours : great
multitudes were gathered unto him:
and that he might avoid the press, as
also might address them with greater
advantage of being heard, he entered
into a ship, and sate, while the whole
multitude stood on the shore.

Though the people shewed no want
of reverence to his person and ministry,
though they held him as a Prophet,
and listened to his word as an embassy
from heaven, they retained notwith-
standing many carnal and worldly pre-
judices, which betrayed them into mis-
taken notions both of his character and
mission, and impaired the good effect
of all his conversation.

This sentiment our Saviour seems to have entertained, when he opened his discourse with the parable of the,.. Sower.

Behold a Sower went forth to sow. The seeds which he sowed were good, but the success of their growth depended on

the

the qualities of the ground on which s'erm. they were received. Some fell by the iv.. way side: this ground could supply o neither nutriment nor security: they were trodden down by the feet of men, und . the fowls of the air came and devoured them up. And some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth; sufficient, indeed to make them spring up speedily, but not to afford more beneficial nurture: they forthwith sprang up, because they had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, they were scorched, and because they wanied root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns: here indeed the soil was 'suitable for nutriment; but it was cumbered with other. produce: for when the thorns sprang up, they were choked. All these kinds of ground were inefficient. Though they varied in their qualities of nurture, yet they all equally failed of bringing fruit to maturity. But others fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit in several degrees of increase, some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold.

Such is the parable of the Sower going forth to sow. As it stands the first in order, so it seems to be rated the first in importance. For this together HS

with

SERM. thc Interpretation is recorded by three

iv. Evangelistsb. And our Lord has atw tached some weight to the doctrine it

conveys by calling thus upon the attention of his audience, Ivho hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The parable was adapted to the observation and experience of the multitude. And if they had duly considered its design, they might have discovered, that it was an image of their own dispositions and characters in the reception of the gospel. Yet by reason of prejudice or want of thought it seems to have made but little impression on their hearts. As our Lord applies the words of Isaiah, they saw, but did not perceive ; they heard, but did not understand. The Disciples attended with better dispositions to receive and entertain the word: and therefore when they were apart he gave them his own interpretation of the parable, which is left on record in the gospel for the general instruction of all future Disciples. From this we learn, that the Sower is the Preacher of the word, the Seed is the Word itself, the different grounds on which it fell are

Mat. xiii. 3. Marhi

3. Luke viii. 4.

the

the different dispositions of his hearers seeM. to receive it.

Now the Sower, in the primary design of this similitude, is our Lord Kimself. Though never man spake like him, his hearers had all the frailties of human nature: and though the people heard him gladly, yet they did not pay só , serious an attention to his word, as to fix it in their hearts, and to make it the invariable guide of their lives.

Among those who heard the word there were some who are said to understand it not ; because they did not understand it to any good effect. It amused them for the moment as a new thing; and perhaps at the time they might fancy themselves to be edified with the doctrine. But so slight. was the impression, that they soon left occasion for the Tempter to steal away what was sown in their hearts, and to render them unfruitful. These were the seed that fell by the way-side.

There were others, who attended with better dispositions. They received the word with joy: yet they had no root in themselves, and dured only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution rose because of the word, by and by H4

they

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