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that in his Discourses to the People he made frequent Use of Parables. This Part of his Teaching is so remarkable, and the Instructions he gives this Way are so peculiarly excellent, that they welļ deserve a distinct Consideration.
I shall not spend Time in making a particular Inquiry into the various Significations of the Word. Parable. It is known to be derived from a Word that signifies to compare Things together. It is fome, times used for a wise Sentence or Instruc: tion delivered in a concise proverbial Way and in which a Comparison is generally included. Thus we are told, Luke vi. 39, That he spake a Parable unto them, Can the Blind lead the Blind? Shall they not both fall into the Ditch? And, Luke iv, 23, Ye will surely say unto me this Proverb, in the Original it is this Perable, Physician, heal thyself. When he advanced that Maxim, Not that which goeth into the Mouth defileth a Man, but that which cometh out of the Mouth, this defileth a Man: Peter said unto him, Declare unto us this Parable. Matt. xv. II, 15. In like Manner we read, Mark iii. 23;. $6. That our Lord called the People unto him, and said unto them in Parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And, if a Kingdom be divided against it self, that Kingdom cannot stand. And, if
an Housë be divided against itself, that House cannot stand. And, if Satan rise up against himself and be divided, he cannot stand, but bath an End.' No Man can enter into a strong Man's House and Spoil his Goods, except be will first bind the strong Man, and then he will spoil bis House. Here there is one Thort Comparison heaped upon another, all tending to the same Purpose, viz. the more clearly to thew the great Absurdity of fuppofing, as the Pharisees did, that. he cast out Devils by the Assistance of Beelzebub, the Prince of the Devils. -".
According to this Sense of the Word Paa rable, many of our Saviour's wise and. comprehensive Sentences, which I had Occasion to take Notice of before, may be called Parables : And we may observe every-where, in his Discourses, Comparisons which are short and lively, and which tend mightily to illustrate the Argument he is upon, and to fet it in an easy and familiar Light. .
But Parables, in the Senfe in which we are now to consider them, and as that Word is commonly taken in the Evangelists, are not to be understood merely of short Sayings or Aphorisms, though including 'a Comparison, and delivered in a figurative Way; but they signify continued Comparisons or extended Similitudes, in
which Things of a spiritual, of a religió ous or moral Nature, are represented by Images or Examples, drawn from Things sensible, and from the Occurrences of this Life... : * It is well known, and hath been often observed by the Learned, that this was a Way of Teaching much in Use among the Ancients, especially among the Eastern Nations, particularly the Yews, the Syrians, and Arabians; fo that our Saviour, in using Parables, accommodated himself to the Taste of the People among whom he immediately lived and conversed. But it feems not to have been only or principally for this Reason that he used this Way of Teaching, but because he regarded it as a pleasant and profitable Way of Instruction, which conveys important Truths and Admonitions in a very agreeable Manner, and by clothing Things with familiar Images leadeth Persons into a more intimate Knowledge and Acquaintance with them: To which it may be added, that it is the best Way of insinuating Things which perhaps would not have been so well received, if more directly proposed. : It is the Observation of an eminent Philofopher, that the Ancients, who did not affect the Praise of Eloquence, but wanted to make Things plain and clear, abounded
in Parables ; and he declares his Judgment, that they are very useful as Helps to our Weakness, the more easily to bring the Hearer or Learner to a clear Perception of the Subject. Seneca, Ep. 59. This Observation is certainly very just, if applied to the Parables of our Saviour. They are not drawn, like many of the Apologies or Fables of the Ancients, from Things which never happen, but from Things possible, and which frequently occur in Human Life. There is nothing in them wild and extravagant, no absurd and monstrous Fictions, such as are to be found in the yereijh Talmuds; but they are, for the most Part, easy and familiar, obvious to common Apprehenfions, and which yet contain the most lively Instructions, the most beautiful Illustrations.
Our Saviour feemeth, in some cases, to have chosen to make Use of Parables, as the properest Way of speaking to the People concerning Things they were not yet prepared for the full Discovery of, and which yet would exhibit an apt Illustration of them, when the proper Season came for such a Discovery of this kind are the Parables in Chap. xii. of St. Matthew's Gospel. We are told that when the Difciples came unto him, and asked him, Why be spoke to the People in Parables : He answered and said unto them, Because it is given to you to know the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given. Ver. 10, II. The Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, which our Saviour speaks of, are the Things relating to the admirable Nature, the Constitution and Design of the Gospel Dispensation, or that Kingdom of God, which our Lord
Jesus, the true Meffiab, was to erect among Men, and the Reception or · Success it would meet with in the World. Our Lord knew that the Jews were not yet in a Disposition for receiving and understandirg these Things. To them might be applied, as he observes, what was said of their. Ancestors in the Days of the Prophet Isaiah, That their Heart was waxed gross, and their Ears were dull of hearing, and their Eyes they had closed. He therefore spoke to them of these Things in Parables, or by Similitudes, as they were able to bear it, as St. Mark expresseth it, Chap. iv. 33, without at that Time explaining or applying those Parables, because they were not yet fitted for having these Things opened to them in a more direct and explicit Way.. And, if they had been really defirous to learn, the delivering these Things.in Parables would have served to quicken their Attention, and put them upon a more di