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the times of the Messiah. They looked to it as a time when the nopes of the world should be fulfilled, and the just should be happy. See John viii. 56. See aiso 1 Pet. i. 10–12. Heb. xi. 13. Rev. xix. 10. The object always dearest to the hearts of all righteous men is, to witness the coming and advancement of the kingdom of Christ.
18 | Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. See also Mark iv. 13-20. Luke viii. 11-15. "Hear
therefore the parable of the sower.' That is, hear the explanation, or spiritual meaning, of the narrative given before. Mark adds, iv. 13, “ Know ye not this parable ? And how then shall you know all parables By which it seems that Jesus regarded this as one of the simplest and plainest of them, and gave an explanation of it that they might understand the general principles of interpreting them.
19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth 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.
"When any one heareth,' &c. The seed represents the word of God, communicated in any manner to the minds of men, by the scriptures, or by preaching, or by acts of Providence, or by the direct influences of the Holy Spirit. "Then cometh the wicked one.' That is, Satan. Mark iv. 15, or the devil, Luke viji. 12; the one eminently wicked, the accuser, the tempter. The gospel is preached to men hardened in sin. It makes no impression. “It lies like seed in the hard path; it is easily taken away, and never suffered to take root.
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.
' In stony places.' Jesus explains this as denoting those who hear the gospel, are caught with it as something new or pleasing, profess themselves greatly delighted with it, and are full of zeal for it. Yet they have no root in themselves. They are not true christians. Their hearts are not changed. Anon. Quickly, or readily. They do not look at it seriously, and as matter of principle. 'Is offended. That is, stumbles and fails. He has not strength of principle enough, not confidence enough in God to carry him through.
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.
“The thorns. These represent cares, anxieties, and the deceitful lure of riches, or the way in which a desire to be rich deceives us. They take the time and attention. They do not leave opportunity to think and examine the state of the soul. They promise what they do not yield. The soul is not satisfied. There is the same desire to possess more wealth. And to this there is no end but death. Every evil passion is cherished by the love of gain; and it is no wonder that the word is choked, and every goud feeling destroyed, by this execrable love of gold. See 1 T'im. vi. 7-11.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it ; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty.
'Into good ground. Those whose hearts are prepared by grace to receive the word honestly, and to give it full opportunity to grow. In a rich and mellow soil, in a heart that submits itself to the full influence of truth, the gospel takes deep root, and grows; it has full room, and then and there only shows what it is.
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 kingdom of heaven is likened,' &c. That is, the gospel resembles. The meaning of this parable is plain. The field represents the world in which the gospel is preached. The good seed, the truth preached by Christ and his apostles.
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
While men slept, his enemy came, &c. That is, in the night, when it could be done, without being seen, an enemy came and scattered bad seed on the new ploughed field, perhaps before the good seed had been harrowed in. Satan thus sows false doctrine in darkness. 'Sowed tares. By 'tares' is probably meant a weed, growing in Palestine. In its growth and form it has a strong resemblance to genuine wheat. But it either produces no grain, or that of a very interior and hurtful kind. “It was extremely difficult to separate it from the genuine wheat, on account of its similarity while growing. Thus it aptly represented hypo. crites in the church. Strongly resembling christians in their professions, and, in some respects, in their lives, and impossible to be known, by men, until the Searcher of hearts shall separate them at the day of judgment. An enemy--the devil-hath done it. And no where has he shown profounder cunning, or done
more to adulterate the purity of the gospel. And went his way.' There is something very expressive in this. He knew the soil : he knew how the seed would take root, and grow. He had only to sow the seed, and let it alone. So Satan knows the soil in which he sows his doctrine. He knows that in the human heart it will take deep and rapid root. It needs but little culture.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
‘Then appeared the tares also.' That is, then were the tares first discovered. They had grown with the wheat, but so much like it as not to be noticed, till the wheat began to ripen. So true piety and false hopes are not known by professions, by 'blades,' and leaves, and flowers, but by the fruit.
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. The 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.
'Ye root up also the wheat. They so much resembled the true wheat, that it would be difficult to separate them. In the harvest it could be done without injury.
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.
Our Saviour teaches us here, that hypocrites must be expected in the church; that all hope of removing them entirely would be vain ; that he will himself separate them at the proper time. There is no doubt that it is the duty of the church to cut off gross and manifest offenders. He refers to those who may be suspected of hypocrisy, but against whom it cannot be proved; to those who so successfully imitate christians as to make it difficult or inipossible for man to distinguish them.
31 T Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven iş 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.
See also Mark iv. 30-32. The plant here described was very different from that which is known among us. It was a tall shrub, or properly a tree. The Hebrew writers speak of the mustard tree as one on which they could climb, as on a fig-tree. The seeds of this tree were remarkably small; so that they, with the great size of the plant, were an apt illustration of the progress of the church, and of the nature of faith, Matt. xvii. 20.
Young converts often suppose they have much religion, when it is not so. They are, indeed, in a new world. Their hearts glow with new affections. They have an elevation, an emotion, which they may not have afterwards—like a blind man suddenly restored to sight. In a little time, the young convert will see more distinctly, will judge more intelligently, will love more strongly, though not with so much new emotion, and will be prepared to make more sacrifices for the cause of Christ.
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.
The other parable declared the fact that the gospel would greatly spread, and that piety in the heart would greatly increase. This declares the way in which it should be done. It is secret, silent, steady; passing certainly through all the faculties of the soul, and all the kingdoms of the world, as leaven, or yeast, through hidden in the flour, and though deposited in only one place, yet works silently till all the mass is brought under its influence. Three measures.' The measure mentioned here probably contained about a peck and a half.
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.
This is taken from Psa. lxxviii. 2, 3. The sense, and not the very words of the Psalm are given. Christ taught, as dių Asaph, in parables. The words of Asaph described the manner in wbich Christ taught, and in this sense it could be said that they were fulfilled.
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. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed the Son of man; 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 ; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil ; the harvest is the end of the world ; and the reapers are the angels. 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 thom 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.
Declare unto us. That is, explain the meaning of the parable. This was done in so plain a manner as to render comment unnecessary. The Son of man, the Lord Jesus, sows the good seed, that is, preaches the gospel. This he did personally, and does now by his ministers, his providence, and his Spirit, by all the means of conveying truth to the mind. This seed was by various means to be carried over all the world. It was to be confined to no particular nation or people. The good seed are the children of the kingdom;' that is, of the kingdom of God, or christians. For these the Saviour toiled and died. They are the fruit of his labours. Yet amidst them were wicked men ; and all hypocrites and unbelievers in the church are the work of Satan. Yet they must remain together, till the end; when they shall be separated, and the righteous saved, and the wicked lost. The one shall shine clear as the sun; the other be cast into a furnace of fire. We have no idea of more acute suffering, than to be thrown into the fire, and to have our bodies made capable of bearing the burning heat, living in the midst of the flame, and living on in this burning heat for ever and for ever. Jesus meant to teach that this would be a proper representation of the sufferings of hell. He would not talk of hell fire which had no existence; nor would the God of truth hold out such frightful images merely to terrify mankind. If he has spoken of hell, then there is a hell. If he meant to say that the wicked shall suffer, then they will suffer.
44 | Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
• The kingdom of heaven.' He compares it to treasure hid in a field, That is, to money concealed; or, to a mine of silver