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i John i. 42.

| Or, home.

1 Or, kinsmen.

1 John vii. 5, X. 20.

leave his own works to praise him, and let the report of them diffuse itself, and make its own way. Let not those that are cured, be forward to divulge it, lest it should feed their pride who are so highly favoured; but let the standers-by carry away the intelligence of it. When we do that which is praiseworthy, and yet covet not to be praised of men for it, then the same mind is in us, which was in Christ Jesus. 13 "And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would :

and they came unto him. 14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils : 16 And Simon he surnamed Peter ; 17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: 18 And Andrew, and Philip and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Canaanite. 19 And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went || into an house.

20 And the multitude cometh together again, kso that they could not so much as eat bread. 21 And when his || friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him : 'for they said, He is beside himself. h Matt. x. 1; Luke vi. 12, ix, 1.

k Chap. vi. 31. Christ makes choice of the twelve apostles to be his constant followers and attendants, and to be sent abroad as there was occasion, to preach the gospel, ver. 14.

He went up into a mountain, and his errand thither was to pray. Ministers must be set apart with solemn prayer for the pouring out of the Spirit upon them; though Christ had authority to confer the gifts of the Holy Ghost, yet, to set us an example, he prayed for them.

His own good pleasure was the rule he went by in his choice. He called unto him whom he would. Christ calls whom he will; for he is a free agent, and his grace

is his own.

The call was efficacious. He called them to separate themselves from the crowd, and stand by him, and they came unto him. Christ calls those who were given him (John xvii. 6); and all that the Father gave him, shall come to him, John vi. 37. Those whom it was his will to call, he made willing to come; “his people shall be willing in the day of his power." Perhaps they came to him readily enough, because they were in expectation of reigning with him in temporal pomp and power ; but when afterward they were undeceived in that matter, yet they had such a prospect given them of better things, that they would not say they were deceived in their Master, nor repented their leaving all to be with him.

He ordained them that they should be with him constantly, to be witnesses of his doctrine, manner of life, and patience, that they might fully know it, and be able to give an account of it; and especially that they might attest the truth of his miracles; they must be with him, to receive instructions from him, that they might be qualified to give instructions to others. It would require time to fit them for that which he designed them for; for they must be sent forth to preach ; not to preach till they were sent, and not to be sent till by a long and intimate acquaintance with Christ they were fitted. He gave them power

to work miracles; and hereby he put a very great honour upon them, beyond that of the great men of the earth. He ordained them to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils. This showed that the power which Christ had to work these miracles was an original power ; that he had it not as a servant, but as a Son in his own house, in that he could confer it upon others, and invest them with it. He that is only deputed himself, cannot depute another ; but our Lord Jesus had life in himself, and the Spirit without measure; for he could give this power even to the weak and foolish things of the world.

He ordained twelve, according to the number of the twelve tribes of Israel. They are here named not just in the same order as they were in Matthew, but as there, so here, Peter is put first and Judas last. Here Matthew is put before Thomas, probably being called in that order ; but in that catalogue which Matthew himself drew up, he puts himself after Thomas; so far was he from

the precedency of his consecration. But that which Mark only takes notice of in this list of the apostles, is, that Christ called James and John Boanerges, The sons of thunder; which appellation denotes the zeal and fervency of their spirits, which would make them active for God above their brethren. These two were to be special eminent ministers of the gospel, which is

insisting upon

called a voice shaking the earth, Ileb. xii. 26. Yet John, one of those sons of thunder, was full of love and tenderness, as appears by his epistles, and was the beloved disciple.

Continual crowds attended Christ's motions (ver. 20); The multitude cometh together again, unsent for, and unseasonably pressing upon him, some with one errand and some with another; so that he and his disciples could not get time so much as to eat bread. Yet he did not shut his doors against the petitioners, but bade them welcome, and gave to each of them an answer of peace. They whose hearts are enlarged in the work of God, can easily bear with great inconveniences to themselves, in the prosecution of it, and will rather lose a meal's meat at any time than slip an opportunity of doing good. It is happy when zealous hearers and zealous preachers thus meet, and encourage one another. Now the kingdom of God was preached, and men pressed into it, Luke xvi. 16. This was a gale of opportunity worth improving; and the disciples might wd afford to adjourn their meals, to lay hold on it.

When his friends in Capernaum heard how he was followed, and what pains he took, they rent out to lay hold on him, and fetch him home, for they said, He is beside himself (ver. 21 Some understand it of an absurd preposterous care which had more in it of reproach to hizo than of respect; and so we must take it as we read it, He is beside himself. Either they suspected it themselves, or it was suggested to them, and they gave credit to the suggestion, that he was gone distracted, and therefore his friends ought to bind him and keep him in confinement. His kindred, many of them, had mean thoughts of him (John vii. 5), and were willing to hearken to this ill construction which some put upon his great zeal. Others understand it of a well-meaning care; He fainteth, he has no time to eat bread, and therefore his strength will fail him ; he will be stifled with the crowd of people, and will have his spirits quite exhausted with constant speaking; and, therefore, let us use a friendly violence with him, and get him a little breathing-time. In his preaching-work, as well as his suffering-work, he was attacked with, Master, spare thyself. They who go on with vigour and zeal in the work of God, must expect to meet with hindrances, both from the groundless disaffection of their enemies, and the mistaken affections of their friends, and they have need to stand upon their guard against both. 22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, "He hath

Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. 23 "And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, Ilow can Satan cast out Satan? 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but bath an end. 27 No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. 28 PVerily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation : 30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

m Matt. ix. 34, X. 25; Luke xi. 15; John vii. 20, viii, 48, 52, x. 22. n Matt. xii. 25. o Isa. xlix. 24; Matt. xii. 29. p Matt. xü. DI ; How impious was the insinuation of the scribes in regard to Christ's casting out devils, that they might evade and invalidate the conviction of it, and have a poor excuse for not yielding to it. They could not deny but that he cast out devils, which plainly bespoke him sent of God; but they insinuated that he had Beelzebub on his side, was in league with him, and by the prince of the deriis cast out devils, ver. 22.

Christ answers to this objection, demonstrating the absurdity of it. Satan is so subtle, that he will never voluntarily quit his possession ; If Satan cast out Satan, his kingdom is diridd against itself, and it cannot stand, ver. 23-26. He called them to him, as one desirous that they should be convinced; he treated them with all the freedom, friendliness, and familiarity that could be; he vouchsafed to reason the case with them, that every mouth might be stopped. It was plain that the doctrine of Christ made war upon the devil's kingdom, and had a direct tendency to break his power, and crush his interest in the souls of men; and it was as plain that the casting of him out of the bodies of people confirmed that doctrine ; and, therefore, it cannot be imagined that he

Luke xii, 10; 1 John v. 16.

should come into such a design ; every one knows that Satan is no fool, nor will he act so directly against his own interest.

Christ is so wise, that, being engaged in war with him, he will attack his forces wherever he meets them, whether in the bodies or souls of people, ver. 27. It is plain, Christ's design is to enter into the strong man's house, to take possession of the interest he has in the world, and to spoil his goods, and convert them to his own service; and therefore it is natural to suppose that he will thus bind the strong man, will forbid him to speak when he would, and show that he has gained a victory over him.

Christ gives them a solemn warning to take heed how they spoke such dangerous words as these, however they might make light of them, as being only conjectures; if they persisted in such conduct, it would be of fatal consequence to them ; it would be found a sin against the last remedy, and consequently unpardonable, for what could be imagined possible to bring them to repentance for their sin in blaspheming Christ, who would set aside such a strong conviction with such a weak evasion? It is true, the gospel promises, because Christ has purchased, forgiveness for the greatest sins and sinners, ver. 28. Many of those who reviled Christ on the cross (which was a blaspheming of the Son of man, aggravated to the highest degree), found mercy, and Christ himself prayed, “Father, forgive them ;” but this was blaspheming the Holy Ghost, for it was by the Holy Spirit that he cast out devils, and they said, it was by the unclean spirit. By this method they would outface the conviction of all the gifts of the Holy Ghost after Christ's ascension, and defeat them all, after which there remained no more proof, and therefore they should never have forgiveness, but were liable to eternal damnation. They were in eminent danger of that everlasting punishment, from which there is no redemption. 31 T 'There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without,

sent unto him, calling him. 32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, tlıy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. 33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my bretliren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

q Matt. xii. 46; Luke viii. 19. Now, as at other times, Christ put a comparative neglect upon his mother, which seemed purposely designed to obviate and prevent the extravagant respect which men in aftertimes would be apt to pay to her. Our respect ought to be guided and governed by Christ's ; now the Virgin Mary, or Christ's mother, is not equalled with, but postponed to, ordinary believers, on whom Christ here puts a superlative honour. He looked upon those that sat about him, and pronounced those of them that not only heard, but did, the will of God, to be to him as his brother, and sister, and mother ; as much esteemed, loved, and cared for, as his neareast relations, vers. 33–35. This is a good reason why we should honour those that fear the Lord, and choose them for our people; why we should be not hearers of the word only, but doers of the work, that we may share with the saints in this honour. Surely it is good to be akin to those who are thus nearly allied to Christ, and to have fellowship with those that have fellowship with Christ; and woe to those that hate and persecute Christ's kindred, that are his bone and his flesh; for he will with jealousy plead their cause, and avenge their blood.

CHAPTER IV.

1 The parable of the sower, 14 and the meaning thereof, 21 We must communicate the light

of our knowledge to others. 26 The parable of the seed growing secretly, 30 and of

the mustard seed. 35 Christ stilleth the tempest on the sea. AN

unto him a great multitude, so that be entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. 2 And he taught them many things by parables, " and said unto them in his

a Matt, xiii. l; Luke viii, 4,

Chap, xii, 38,

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doctrine, 3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. 5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth : 6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. my And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked 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, and some sixty, and some an hundred. 9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 10 dAnd when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. 11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables : 12 "That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing, they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. 13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable ? and how then will ye know all parables? 14 9 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

el Cor. v. 12; Col. iv. 5; 1 Thess. iv. 12; 1 Tim. ii. 7. The way of teaching that Christ used with the multitude (ver. 2),He taught them many things

, but it was by parables

, or similitudes, which would tempt them to hear ; for people love to be spoken to in their own language, and careless hearers will catch at a plain comparison borrowed from common things, and will retain and repeat that, when they have lost, or perhaps the truth which it was designed to explain and illustrate. But unless they would take pains to search into it, it would but amuse them, seeing they would see, and not perceive (ver. 12); and so, while it gratified their curiosity, it was the punishment of their stupidity. They wilfuly shut their eyes against the light, and therefore justly did Christ put it into the dark lantern of a parable, which had a bright side toward those who applied it to themselves, and were willing to be guide by it; but to those who were only willing for a season to play with it, it only gave a flash of light now and then, but sent them away in the dark. It is just with God to say of those that will not sce, that they shall not see, and to hide from their eyes, who only look about them with of carelessness, and never look before them with any

concern upon the things that belong to their peace.

When he was alone by himself, not only the twelve, but others who were about him with the twelve, took the opportunity to ask him the meaning of the parables, ver. 10. They found it grond to be about Christ; the nearer him the better; good to be with the twelve, to be conversant with those that are intimate with him. And he told them what a distinguished favour it was to them, that they were made acquainted with the mystery of the kingdom of God, ver. 11. The secret of

c John xv. 5; Col. i. 6. d Matt. xiii. 10; Luke viii. 9.
Isa. vi. 9; Matt. xiii. 14; Luke viii. 10; Jobn xii. 40; Acts xxvii, 26; Rom. xi. 8.

& Matt. xiii. 19.

ki Tim. vi. 17.

never took,

a
great

us.

the Lord was with them. That instructed them, which others were only aínused with ; and they were made to increase in knowledge by every parable, and understood more of the way and method in which Christ designed to set up his kingdom in the world, while others were dismissed, never the wiser. Those who know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, must acknowledge that it is given to them ; they receive both the light and the sight from Jesus Christ, who, after his resurrection, both opened the Scriptures and opened the understanding. Luke xxiv. 27, 45.

We have in these verses one of the parables which our Saviour put forth—it is that of the sower and the seed; both the parable itself, and the explanation of it.. Christ's parables are borrowed from common, ordinary things; not from any philosophical notions or speculations, or the unusual phenomena of nature, though applicable enough to the matter in hand, but from the most obvious things, that are of every day's observation, and come within the reach of the meanest capacity. Many of them are borrowed from the husbandman's calling—as this of the sower, and that of the tares. Christ chose to do thus, that spiritual things might hereby be made more plain, and, by familiar similitudes, might be made the more easily to slide into our understandings; that common actions might hereby be spiritualized, and we might take occasion, from those things which fall so often under our view, to meditate with delight on the things of God; and thus, when our hands are busiest about the world, we may not only notwithstanding that, but even with the help of that, be led to have our hearts in heaven. Thus the Word of God shall talk with us, talk familiarly with

Prov. vi. 22. The parable of the sower is plain enough, vers. 3-9. The exposition of it we have from Christ himself, who knew best what was his own meaning.

Let us therefore compare the parable and the exposition.

1. The seed sown is the Word of God, ver. 15, which seems a dead, dry thing, but all the product is virtually in it. It is incorruptible seed (1 Pet. i. 23); it is the gospel that brings forth fruit in souls, Col. i. 5, 6.

2. The sower that scatters the seed is our Lord Jesus Christ, either by himself, or by his ministers. The people are God's husbandry, and ministers are labourers together with God, 1 Cor. iii. 9. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it must light; only see that it be good. The sowing of the word is the sowing of a people for God's field, the corn of his floor, Isa. xxi. 10.

3. The ground in which this seed is sown, is the hearts of the children of men, which are differently qualified and disposed, and, accordingly, the success of the word is different. Man's heart is like soil, capable of improvement, of bearing good fruit; it is pity it should lie fallow, or be like the field of the slothful, Prov. xxiv. 30. The soul is the proper place for the Word of God to dwell, and work, and rule in; its operation is upon the conscience, it is to light that candle of the Lord. Now, according as we are, so the word is to us,—the reception depends upon the receiver. As it is with the earth; some sort of ground, take ever so much pains with it, and throw ever so good seed into it, yet it brings forth no fruit to any purpose ; while the good soil brings forth plentifully; so it is with the hearts of men whose different characters are here represented by four sorts of ground, of which three are bad, and but one good. The number of fruitless hearers is very great, even of those who heard Christ himself

. Who has believed our report? It is a melancholy prospect which this parable gives us of the congregations of those who hear the gospel preached, that scarcely one in four brings forth fruit to perfection. Many are called with the common call, but in few is the eternal choice evidenced by the efficacy of that call. Chap. xx. 16.

The next thing to be considered is the characters of these four sorts of ground.

1. The highway ground, ver. 4–14. They had pathways through their corn fields, and the seed that fell on them never entered, and so the birds picked it up. The place where Christ's hearers now stood, represented the characters of most of them, the sand on the sea-shore, which was to the seed like the highway ground.

Those hearers are compared to the highway ground; who hear the word and understand it not, Matt. xiii. 19; and it is their own fault that they do not. They take no heed to it, take no hold of it; they do not come with any design to get good. They come before God as his people come, and sit before him as his people sit; but it is merely for fashion-sake, to see and be seen; they mind not what is said, and so it makes no impression.

They are unprofitable hearers, for the wicked one, that is, the devil, cometh and catcheth away that which is sown. Such mindless, careless, trifling hearers are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it; as the birds pick up the seed that falls on the ground that is neither ploughed before nor harrowed after. If we break not up the fallow-ground, by preparing our hearts for the word, and humbling them to it, and engaging our own attention; and if we

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