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tion from the dead, after having been three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, being credibly attested to the Jews, should clearly demonstrate that he came from God. Farther, Jesus told his hearers, that the Ninevites being judged at the same time with the men of that generation, and cheir behaviour being compared with theirs, should make their guilt appear in its true colour, and condemn them. . For though they were idolaters, they repented at the preaching of Jonah, a stranger, a poor person, and one that continued among them only three days, and did no miracle to make them believe him. But the men of that generation, though worshippers of the true God by profession, could every day hear unmoved the much more powerful preaching of a prophet infinitely greater than Jonah, even the preaching of the eternal Son of God, who confirmed his doctrine by the most astonishing miracles. Likewise he told them, that the queen of the south being judged with them, would condemn them, she having undertaken a long journey to hear the wisdom of Solomon, whereas they would not hear one much wiser than Solomon, though he was come to their very doors. Or if they condescended to hear his wisdom, they would not embrace it. Mat. xii. 41. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, (ar&SatorTEL EY in xploat peste Tn5 yivsus Tautas, shall rise in the judgment, or at the day of judgment, along with this generation) and shall condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonas, and behold, a greater than Jonas is here. 42. * The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment (sys Incetus sy to regoret, shall be raised up in the judgment) with this generation, and shall condemn it; for she came from the utter most parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, a greater than Solomon is pere. To conclude, in allusion to the occasion of the dispute, our Lord finished his defence with the parable of the possessed person, who after having had the devil expelled out of him, received him back again, and thereby was brought into a worse condition than ever. 43. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through + dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none: When con
victions testimony, that the Ninevites believing his story, were so moved with his message, as sincerely to repent of the enormous sins, by which they had awakened the divine vengeance.
* Ver. 42. The queen of the south.] The country over which this queen reigned, is in the Old Testament called Sheba, and is supposed to have been that which in profane authors goes by the name of Sabea. Yet Joscphus does not allow her to have been queen of that country, because Arabia Felix, of which Sabea was a part, lay more to the east than to the south of Judea. He says she took her title from Saba, a city of Meroe, an island in the Nile, over which she reigned, and the queens of which were aiterwards called Candace.
+ Ver. 43. Dry places.] Avudgme, deserts ; see Psal. cvi. 14. LXX. This some understand of the devils going among the Gentiles, who did not give
victions are raised in the mind of a singer, whether by God's word, or by the chastisements of his providence, the devil is vowed out of him, and the man forms many strong resolutions against his sins. The evil spirit thus expeiled walks to and fro in desert places, seeking to seduce God's subjects from their allegiance. . But meeting with little opportunity of gratifying his malicious dispositions in these solitudes, he leaves them, in hopes of getting access into his former habitation. 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; that is, notwithstanding the man had so peremptorily resolved against his sins, the devil findeth hiin void of all his former convictions, good thoughts and resolutions, but at the same time completely furnished with his lusts and passions, and every thing that can make him a commodious habitation for an evil spirit. Matt. xii. 4.5. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits, i. 4. a great many, the number seven denoting perfection, whether of good or bad things—more wicked than himself, and they enter in and devell there;, and the last state of that man is worse than the first : they get easy access, and take a sevenfold stronger possession of him than they had before. Even sa shall it be also unto this wicked generation, who resist the convictions which my doctrine and miracles have raised in them. This parable, therefore, is designed to teach men in every age, the danger of resisting their convictions, and of breaking through their resolutions, the effect being Vol. II.
them such a welcome reception and quiet possession as the Jews did. Dr Doddridge thinks, that after the devil was driven out, he would be under a kind of restraint for a while, and that the circumstance of his going into desert places is beautifully imagined, to represent those malignant beings as impatient of the sight of mankind, when restrained from hurting them, and as chusing on such occasions to seek their rest in the prospect of a undy desart. But it is needless thus to stretch the minuie circunstances of a parable. If the moral intended is clearly expressert by the chief strokes of it, a variety of lesser circumstances may without any particular signification be added, to unite and enliven the principal meinbers of the composition, as in history-painting many things are put into the piece, which though not absolutely necessary to the general design, give beauty and pei. fection to the whole. In the interpretation of a paraule, thermore, we are not under the least necessity of assigning a moral meaning to every partia colar circumstance. 't the same ine, if all of them aluselly sugret such a meaning, the parable is so much the more perfect. In this of the cjected demon, the circumstance of his going away to deserts after he was dispossessed, seems to be one of the kind mentioned, and like the other parts of the allegory, was adapted to the rocions of the people for whom it was des gned. It seems the few's believed that evil spirits frcounter descris, when they were not directly employed in hurting mukmriSee the translation which the LXI have given of bsa. xii. 21. Nor is their cpinion inconsistent either with Scripture (see Rev. xviii 2.) or reason. For since evil spirits are permitted to wander up and down the world tempting men, they may be supposed, among other places, to be sometimes in deserts.
commonly to render them much more obdurate and abandoned than before. See 2 Pet. ii. 20.
In the heat of this debate, our Lord's mother who had come from Nazareth to visit him, perhaps with an intention to carry him home, having got notice where he was, and what he was doing, went to call him away. She was attended by her sister's children, who were the cousins, or according to the Hebrew dialect, the brethren of Christ. See the account given of James the son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, and Simon Zelotes, $ 37. If these were the persons called here our Lord's brethren, they were his disciples and apostles. Probably Mary on her arrival at Capernaum had sent for them; and being informed by them where her Son was, she and they came to him together. If by our Lord's brethren some other of his cousins or more distant relations are meant, they came with his mother from Nazareth. Being come to the house, they spake to the people about the door. Mat. xii. 46. While he yet talked to the people, behold his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him, (Mark, sent unto him, calling him). 47. Then one said unto him, Behold thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. It was on this occasion that Jesus uttered that excellent saying, which will never be forgotten while there are memories in the world to retain it, or tongues to repeat it. 48. But he answered and said unto him that told him, who is my mother? and who are my brethren? Mark iij. 34. And he loroked round about on them which sat about him. Matt. xii. 49. And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my moher and my brethren. 50. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, (Mark, the will of God) the sam? is my brother, and sister, and mother. This short speech, related by the evangelists with great simplicity, is, without their seeming 10 have designed it, one of the finest encomiums imaginable. Could the most elaborate panegyric have done Jesus Christ and his religion half the honour which this divine sentiment hath done them. Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother! I regard obedience to God so highly, that I prefer the relation it constitutes, and the union which it begets, to the strongest ties of blood. They who do the will of my Father, have a much greater share of my esteem than my kinsmen as such. I love them with an affection tender and steady, like that which subsists between the nearest relations; nay, I reckon them, and them only my brethren, my sisters, and my mother. An high commendation this, and not a reflection upon our Lord's mother, who without doubt was among the chief of those who did the will of God. What veneration should live in the hearts of men for Jesus and his religion, which exhibits an idea of such perfection in goodness!
İXLIX. Jesus preaches the parabolical sermon, beside the sea of Galilee. The parable of the sower. The reason why he taught the people by parables. The interpretation of the parable of the sower. The parable of the lighted lamp. Matt. xiii, 1, 23. Mark iv. 1,—25. Luke viii. 4,—18.
It seems the calumnies of the Pharisees had not the effect intended; for the crowd was now become so great, that neither the house nor the court before it could contain the people that came. Jesus therefore carried them out to the sea-side, and taught them. Matt. xiii. 1. The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea-side. And because there were many still coming and going, he judged it necessary to enter into a boat, for the conveniency of being heard and seen by all, which he might easily be, if the shore thereabouts was somewhat circular and declining, after the manner of an amphitheatre. 2. And great mula titudes were gathered together unto him, (Luke viii. 4. Much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city) so that he went into a ship and sat, (Mark, sat in the sea) and the whole multitude stood on the shore, (Mark, was by the sea on the land.) . Thus commodiously seated in the vessel, he delivered many doctrines of the highest importance, wisely making choice of such for the subject of his sermons, when he had the greatest number of hearers, because on those occasions there was a probability of doing the most good by them. Mark iv. 2. And he taught them many things by parables.
He began with the parable of the sower, who cast his seed on different soils, which according to their natures brought forth either plentifully, or sparingly, or none at all. By this simili. tude he represented the different kinds of hearers, with the diffe
cording to their different dispositions. In some these doctrines are suppressed altogether; in others they produce the fruits of righteousness, more or less, according to the goodness of their hearts. A parable of this kind was highly seasonable, now that the multitude shewed such an itching desire of hearing Christ's sermons, while perhaps they neglected the end for which they ought to have heard them. Mark iv. 2. And said unto them in
hold there went out a sower to sow. 4. And it came to pass as he sorved, some fell by the way-side, which being hard beaten, the seed could not enter, (Luke, and it was trodden down, i. e. bruised by the feet of travellers) and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. . 5. And some fell on stony ground, (Matt. stony places) ground that lay upon a rock, (Luke, and some fell upon a rock) where it had not much earth, either above it to retard its springing, or under it to nourish its roots, and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth. (Luke, And as soon as it was spring up) 6. But when the sun was up, or shone hot upon it, it, viz, the tender blade, was scorched, and because it had 19 root, (Luke, because it lacked moisture) it withered away. 7. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, (Luke, with it) so as to cover it from the sun and dews, and chokeil it, and it yielded no fruit. 8. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased, and brought forth some thirty, (Matt. thirty fold) and some sixty, * and some an hundred seeds for one that was sown. . 9. And he said unto them, (Luke, And when he had said these things, lie cried) He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. See on Mati. xi. 15. y 42.
It seems the apostles, and others who were in the boat with Jesus, did not understand the meaning of his parable. Wherefore, when they heard him cry at the conclusion of it, “ He that hath ears to hear, let him hea.," they were so displeased, that they went up and asked him why he spake in such obscure terms? and desired him to explain what he had delivered. Mark says they came to him when he was alone, iv. 10. And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve, asked of him the. parable. Most harmony-writers, thinking this inconsistent with the acknowledged circumstances of the history, have supposed that the interpretation of the parable was not given now, but on some other occasion, though for the sake of perspicuity it is related along with the parable. Yet the nature of the thing, as well as the testimony of Matthew, ver. 10. proves suffia ciently that the question which occasioned this interpretation was put immediately after the parable was delivered. For the question took its rise from the concluding words of the parable, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear; which were no sooner pronounced ihan the disciples came from their several stations in the vessel, and asked the reason why he spake in patables, since he desired his hearers to understand what he said. To remove this difficulty therefore we may suppose, that in addressing Jesus, the disciples spake with such a tone of voice as they used in conversation, and that Jesus arswered them on the same key; so that the people upon the shore not hearing distinctJy what passed, Jesus and his disciples were to all intents and pur.
poses * Per. 8. Aut some on brindreit.] The fruitfulness of the seed that was soun on good ground, is not to be understood of the field's producing a hundred times as much as was sown on it ; iyut it is to be understood of a single seed's producing a hundred grains, which it might easily do where it met with a good scil, and wa6 properly nourished. But there are many accidents by which the produce of a field, so rich as to be capable of nourishing a hundred grains by a single rout, is reduced within ordinary hounds. The parable mentions sonë rofibem. Part of the seed is trodden down by passengers, part is picked up ly birds, part is starved in bad soit among rocks, and part is choked l'y weerls ; so that the hundred told irocrease of a single seed, mcntioned in the parabk, is perfectly just.