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verted, and their sins be forgiven them. From our Lord's using two or three of the prophet's phrases, we cannot conclude that he cited him, or even that he used those phrases in the prophet's sense of them. He had cited him in the beginning of his discourse, and therefore though he affixed a different sense to bis words, he might use them by way of allusion, to insinuate that it was the wickedness of the Jews, predicted' by Isaiah, which had rendered this kind of teaching the only probable method of converting them. Upon the whole, the expressions ascribed to Jesus in Mark's gospel, are by no means the same with those found in Matthew; but they contain an additional sentiment on the same subject, by way of farther illustration, It is true, Christ's teaching the people by parables placed in this light, appears to have been a favour rather than a judicial stroke, notwithstanding it appears from our Lord's own words, that it was of the latter kind. But the answer is, that this manner of teaching without doubt implied the highest blame in the Jews, whose wickedness had rendered it necessary, and conveyed an idea of punishment on the part of Christ, who for their wickedness deprived them of better means of instruction, so that it was really a punishment. At the same time it was a favour likewise, as it was a less punishment than they deserved, and a punishment to reclaim them. I acknowledge, that if our Lord had not spoken in answer to the
he said on this occasion might have been compared with other texts, in which, according to the genius of the Hebrew language, the words lead us to think of the intention of the agent, while in the mean time * nothing but the effect of his action is described. Nevertheless, the circumstances of the passage under consideration forbid this method of interpretation. To conclude, it must be no small recommendation of the sense offered above, that it is much more to the honour of Christ than the common interpretation. For though it cannot be pretended, that he always bestowed on every person the most efficacious means of instruction possible for the divine wisdom to contrive, because if that had been the case, none could have resisted his teaching, yet we may venture to affirm, that when he taught men, he never did it but with a view to instruct them, and to promote their salvation; so far was he from forming his discourses darkly, on purpose to keep them in ignorance, and hinder their conversion. For it is beyond the power of the most captious disputant to deny, that the great end of all Christ's labours was the illumination, conversion, and salvation of mankind.
Mntott has undoubtedly, Luke iii. 15. And as all the people were in expec. tation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, (enTOTI AUTG6n) wherber lifhe were the Christ or not. 2 Tim. ii. 23. In meekness instructing tbose that oppose themselves, (entori) if peradventure God will give them repentance.
* Nothing but the effect, &c.] Of this sort in the following passage, Matth. X. 34. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth, I am not come to send peace but a sword, 35 For I an come to set a man at variance agains: bis father, and the daughter against her mother, &. where without doubt the effect, not the design of Christ's coming, is expressed,
Thus Jesus assured his apostles, that the only reason why he taught the people by parables, was their wickedness, which had rendered them incapable of receiving his doctrine any other way. Whereas he could safely unfold it to his apostles in the plainest terms, the honesty and teachableness of their disposition fitting them for such a favour, in which respect he told them they were peculiarly happy. And to enhance this privilege the more, he told them that many patriarchs and prophets of old, had earnestly desired to see and hear the things which they saw and heard, but were denied that favour, God having till then shewed them to his most eminent saints in shadows only, and afar off in the womb of futurity. Mat. xiii. 16. But blessed are your eyes, for they sle, and your ears, for they hear. 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. The attention of the disciples being thus raised, Jesus proceeded to explain the parable. Mark iv. 13. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parubles? How will ye be able to understand all my other parables, many of which are more obscure than this ? Mat. xii. 18. Hear ye therefore the interpretation of the parable of the sower. Mark iv. 14. The sower soweth the word. (Luke 11. The seed is the word of God). The seed therefore signifies the doctrines of true religion, and the various kinds of ground, the various kinds of hearers. Hence Mark's words, ver. 20. O. & Thu ynv xocamy cragsytis, do not signify as in our translation, “ These are they which are sown on good ground," as if the seed denoted the hearers; but these are they which being sown (rep buvo. To otique) receive seed upon good ground; the Greek word oTagsytes, like the English word sown, being applied either to the ground or to the seed. The ground by the highway side, which is apt to be beaten by mens treading upon it, is an image of those who have their hearts so hardened with impiety, that though they hear the gospel prcached, it mikes no impression on them at all, because they either hear it ioattentively, or if they attend, they quickly forget it. This in-, sensibility and inattention, is strongly represented by the beaten ground along the highway, into which the seed never entering, it is bruised by the feet of men, or picked up of birds. Mat. xiii. 19. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, or considereth it not, for ouvoivee signifies both, then cometh the wicked one, (Mark, Satan cometh immediately
and catcheth away that (Mark, the word) which was sown in his heart: this is he which received seed by the way side. The devil is said to come and catch away the word from this sort of hearers, not because he has power to rob men of their knowledge or religious impressions by any immediate act, but because they expose themselves thtough carelessness to the whole force of the temptations which he lays in their way, and particularly to those which arise, whether from their commerce with men, a circum.
down; or from their own headstrong lusts, which like so many hungry fowls, fly to, and quickly eat up the word out of their mind. The perturbation occasioned by the passions of this kind of hearers, and by the temptations which they are exposed to, tenders them altogether inattentive in hearing ; or if they attend, it hardens them against the impressions of the word, and effaces the remembrance of it in an instant, in so much, that the pernicious influence of evil passions and bad company, cannot truly be represented by any lower figure, than that the word is taken away . by the devil, whose agents such persons and lusts most certainly
are. The rocky ground represents those hearers, who so far receive the word into their hearts, that it springs up in good resolutions, which perhaps are accompanied with a partial reformation of some sins, and the temporary practice of some virtues, Nevertheless, they are not thoroughly affected with the word, it does not sink deep enough to remain in their minds. And therefore, when persecution arises for the sake of the gospel, and such hearers are exposed to fines, imprisonments, corporal punishments, banishments, and death; or even to any great temptation of an ordinary kind, which requires firmness to repel it, those good resolutions, which the warmth of their passions had raised so quickly in hearing, do as quickly wither, because they are not rooted in just apprehensions of the reasons that should induce men to lead such lives; just as vegetables, which, because they have not depth of soil sufficient to nourish them, are soon burnt up by the scorching heat of the mid-day sun. Matt. 20. But he that received the seed into stony places, (Mark, stony ground. Luke, They on
receiveth it. 21. Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; (Luke, which for a while believe ;) for when tribulation cr persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended, (Luke, in time of temptation fall away.) The ground full of thorns, that sprang up with the seed and choked it, represents all those who receive the word into hearts full of worldly cares, which sooner or later destroy whatever convictions or good resolutions are raised by the word. Mark iv. 18. And these are they which are sown among thorns, such as hear the word, (Luke, which when they have heard go forth.) 19. And the cares of
this this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful, (Luke, And are choked with cares, and riches, and pleasures, and bring no fruit to perfection.) Worldly cares are compared to thorns, not only because of their pernicious efficacy in choking the word, but because it is with great pain and difficulty that they are eradicated. In the parable, the hearers of this denomination are distinguished from those who receive the seed on stony ground, not so much by the effect of the word upon their minds, as by the different natures of each; for in both the seed sprang up, but brought forth no fruit. The stony-ground hearers are incapable of retaining the impressions made by the word, they have no root in themselves, no strength of mind, no firmness of resolution to resist temptations from without. Whereas the thorny-ground hearers have the soil, but then it is filled with the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the love of pleasures, which sooner or later stifle the impressions of the word, by which means in the issue they are as unfruitful as the former. And both are distinguished from the way-side hearers by this, that they receive the word and yield to its influences in some degree. Whereas the others do not receive the word at all, hearing without attention; or if they do attend, forgetting it immediately. The way-side hearers hold the first place in the parable, because they are by far more numerous than the rest, and the good ground hearers the last, because they are but few in number. Luke viii. 15. But that on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart having heard the word (Mark, receive it) keep it, in opposition to the way-side, which never received the seed at all, but bearing it on its surface, offered it to the fowls that first came, which devoured it. Matthew expresses this sentiment as follows, xiii. 23. But he that received seed into the good ground, is he that heareth the word and understandeth it, to intimate to us, that the right understanding of the word is a great help to our receiving and keeping it which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth some an hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty: they bring forth the fruit of good actions, in proportion to the talents and opportunities God hath bestowed upon them. Luke takes notice of another excellent quality of this sort of hearers, viii. 15. and bring forth fruit with patience, in opposition both to the stony and thorny grounds, which nourished the seed that was cast into them only for a while, the former till the sun arose, the latter till the thorns sprang up. The goodness of heart for which this kind of hearers are applauded, consists in their capacity, which having been duly cultivated by them, they understand what they hear, as Matthew informs us. But the honesty of their heart consists in their disposition to believe the truth, though contrary to their prejudices, and to practise it,
though opposite to their inclinations. This is what Mark calls receiving the word. All who hear the word with these qualifications, and join thereunto patience, that is, firmness of resolution, and the government of their passions, never fail to bring forth some an hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty; they bring forth fruits of righteousness, in proportion to the different degrees of strength, in which they possess the graces necessary to the profitable hearing of the word.
When Jesus had ended his interpretation of the parable of the sower, he did not direct his discourse to the people, but continued speaking to the apostles, shewing them by the similitude of the lighted lamp, the use they were to make of this, and of all the instructions he should give them. As lamps are kindled to give light unto those who are in an house, so the understandings of the apostles were illuminated, that they might fill the world with the delightful light of truth. Mark iv. 21. And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not to be set on a candlestick? Luke viii. 16. That they which enter in may see the light. He told them farther, that though some of the doctrines of the gospel were then concealed from the people, on account of their prejudices, he had revealed them to his apostles, that they might all in due time be preached openly and plainly through the world, for which reason it became his apostles, to whom God had given both a capacity and an opportunity of hearing these doctrines, to hear them with attention. Mark iv. 22. For there is nothing hid which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. (Matt. be known and come abroad.) 23. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. See on Mark iv. 9. p. 292. also on Matt. xiii. 43. $ 54. But because it was a matter of great importance that the disciples, who were chosen to publish his doctrine through the world, should listen to his sermons with the closest attention, he repeated his admonition. 24. And he said unto them, Take heed what you hear ; (Luke, Take heed therefore how ye hear,) with what measure ye met, it shall be measured to you : as ye have the charge of preaching the gospel committed to you, in proportion to the fidelity wherewith you discharge that trust, so shall it fare with you, not only in point of future reward, but even in respect of present privileges. And unto you ihut hear (aright, see on Matth. ver. 13. pag. 293.) shall mure be given; agreeably to that law of the divine administration which I mentioned in the beginning of my discourse, Mat, xiii. 12. p. 293. 25. For he that huth, to him shall be given, and he that haih not, fron him shall be taken even that which he hath. (Luke viii. 18. seemeth to have.)
ven that have given, Mat, which me