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good things: and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things.
Observe here, A double treasure discovered in the heart of man. 1. An evil treasure of sin and corruption, both natural and acquired, from whence proceed evil things. Now this is called a treasure, not for the preciousness of it, but for the abundance of it; a little doth not make a treasure: and also for the continuance of it; though it be perpetually overflowing in the life, yet doth the heart continue full; this treasure of original corruption in man's nature may be drawn low in this life, by sanctifying grace, but it never can be drawn dry. 2. Here is a good treasure of grace discovered in a sanctified and renewed man; which is the source and spring from whence all gracious actions do proceed and flow. For as the heart of man by nature is the fountain from whence all sin springs, so the heart renewed by grace is the source and spring from whence all gracious actions do proceed and flow.
36 But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
/ say unto you; I, that have always been in my Father's bosom, and fully know his mind; I, that am constituted Judge of quick and dead, and understand the rule of judgment; I, even I, do assure you that every word that has no tendency to promote the glory of God, or some way the good of others, will fall under censure at the great day, without an intervening repentance. Note here, That there are two sorts of words for which we must be judged; sinful words, and idle words. Sinful words are blasphemous words, censorious words, lying and slandering words. Idle words are such as savour nothing of wisdom and piety; that have no tendency to make men either wiser or better: how light soever men make of their words now, yet in God's balance another day they will be found to weigh very heavy. What a bridle should this text be to extravagant tongues! see Col ix. 6. Let your speech be always seasoned with salt, that is, with wisdom, tsc. for our words may mischief others a long time after they are spoken. How many years may a frothy or a filthy word, a profane scoff, an atheistical jest, stick in the minds of them that hear it, after the
tongue that spake it is dead! A word spoken is physically transient, but morally permanent.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
Observe here, The argument which our Saviour uses to move us to watchfulness over our words: by our words we shall be justified; not meritoriously, but declaratively: good words declare goodness in ourselves, and we shall be declared good to others by our words, if our words and actions do correspond and agree with one another. Death and life are in the power of the tongue; that is, according to the right or wrong using of the tongue, we may judge and gather whether men are dead or alive as to God; and bound for heaven or hell. Doubtless justification or condemnation will pass upon men at the day of judgment, according to the state ot the person, and frame of the heart; now our words will justify or condemn us in that day, as evidences of the state and frame of the soul. We use to say, such witnesses hanged a man; that is, the evidence they gave cast and condemned him. O think of this seriously: if words evidence the state of thy soul, what a hellish state must thy soul be in, who hast inured thyself to the language of hell, to oaths and curses; sins whereby the devil cheats men more than by any sins whatsoever! They are damned for them, yet get nothing by them, neither profit nor pleasure.
38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. 4'2 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon: and, behold, a greater than Solomon if here.
Observe heie, 1. The request which the Pharisees make to Christ; Master, we would see a sign from thee. But had not Christ showed them signs enough already? What were all the miracles wrought in their sight, but convincing signs that he was the true Messias? But infidelity mixed with obstinacy is never satisfied. Observe, 2. Our Saviour's answer to the Pharisees' request: he tells them that they should have one sign more, to wit, that of his resurrection from the dead: For as Jonas lay buried three days in the whale's belly, and was then wonderfully restored, so should (and did) our Saviour continue in the grave part of three natural days, and then rise again. Observe, 3. How Christ declares the inexcusableness of their state, who would not be convinced by the former miracles he had wrought that he was the true Messiah; nor yet be brought to believe in him by this last sign or miracle of his resurrection. The Ninevites shall condemn the Pharisees, they repented at the preaching of Jonas; but these would not be convinced by the preaching and miracles of Jesus. The queen of Sheba, who also came from the south to hear and admire the wisdom of Solomon, shall rise up in judgment against those that reject Christ, who is the Wisdom of the Father; and the doctrine delivered by him, which was the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Learn, that the sins of infidelity and impenitency are exceedingly heightened, and their guilt aggravated, from the means afforded by God to bring a people to faith and obedience. The sin of the Pharisees in rejecting Christ's miracles and ministry, was by far greater than that of the Ninevites, had they rejected Jonah's message and ministry sent by God amongst them.
43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a roan, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 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. 45 Then
goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
The design and scope of this parable is to show that the Pharisees, by rejecting the gospel and refusing to believe in Christ, were in a seven-fold worse condition than if the gospel had never been preached to them, and a Saviour had never come among them; because by our Saviour's ministry Satan was in some sort cast out: but for rejecting Christ and his grace, Satan had got a seven-fold stronger possession of them now than before. From this parable learn, 1. That Satan is an unclean spirit; he has lost his original purity, his holy nature, in which he was created, and is become universally filthy in himself; no means being allowed him by God for purging of his filthy and unclean nature. Nay, he is a perfect enemy to purity and holiness, maligning all that love it, and would promote it. 2. That Satan is a restless and unquiet spirit; being cast out of heaven, he can rest nowhere; when he is either gone out of a man through policy, or cast out of a man by power, he has no content or satisfaction, till he returns into a filthy heart, where he delights to be as the swine in miry places. 3. That wicked and profane sinners have this unclean spirit dwelling in them: their hearts are Satan's house and hahitation; and the lusts of pride and unbelief, malice and revenge, envy and hypocrisy, these are the garnishings of Satan's house. Man's heart was God's house by creation, it is now Satan's by usurpation and judiciary tradition. 4. That Satan by the preaching of the gospel may seem to go out of persons, and they become sober and civilized; yet may he return to his old hahitation, and the last end of that man may be worse than the beginning.
40 While he yet talked to tbc people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Observe here, 1. The verity of Christ's human nature; he had affinity and consanguinity with men, persons near in blood to him, called his brethren, that is, his cousin-germans. 2. Tliat the holy virgin herself was not wholly free from failings and infirmities; for here she does untimely and unseasonably interrupt our Saviour when preaching to the people, and employed about his Father's business. 3. That Christ did not neglect his holy mother, nor disregard his near relations; only showed that he preferred his Father's service before them. Learn, 4. How dear believers are to Jesus Christ; he prefers his spiritual kindred before bis natural. Alliance in faith, and spiritual relation to Christ, is much nearer and dearer than alliance by blood: to bear Christ in the heart is much better trian to bear him in the womb. Blessed be God, this greatest privilege is not denied to us even now: though see Christ we cannot, yet love him we may; his bodily presence cannot be enjoyed by us, but his spiritual presence is not denied us. Though Christ be not ours, in house, in arms, in affinity, in consanguinity, yet in heart, in faith, in love, in service, he is or may beours. Verily, spiritual regeneration brings men into a more honourable relation to Christ than natural generation ever did. Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.
CHAP. XHI. HPHE same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the seaside. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying,—
The foregoing chapter gave us an account of an awakening sermon preached by our Saviour to the Pharisees. In this chapter we are acquainted with the con
tinuance of his preaching to the multitude, where three things are ohservable. 1. Our Lord's assiduity and unwearied diligence in preaching of the gospel; for this sermon was made the same day with that in the former chapter, ver. 1. The same day went Jesus out, and sat by the sea-side. A good pattern for the preachers of the gospel to follow. How ashamed may we be to preach once a week, when our Lord preached twice a day! Observe, 2. The place our Lord preached in, a ship; not that he declined the temple or the synagogue, when he had the opportunity; but in the want of them, Christ thought an house, a mountain, a ship, no unmeet place to preach in. It is not the place that sanctifies the ordinance, but the ordinance that sanctifies the place. Observe, 3. The manner of our Lord's preaching; It was by parables and similitudes; which was an ancient way of instruction among the Jews, and a very convincing way; at once working upon men's minds, memories, and affections; making the mind attentive, the memory retentive, and the auditors inquisitive after the interpretation of the parable. Some are of opinion that our Saviour's parables were suited to his hearers' employments, some of whom being husbandmen, he resembles his doctrine to seed sown in the field; for thus lie speaks:
—Behold, a sower went forth to sow: 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way-side, and the fowls come and devoured them up. 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth; and forthwith they sprungup,because they had no deepness of earth: 0 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them. 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred-fold, some sixty-fold, some thirty-fold. 8 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
The scope of this parable is to show that there are four several sorts of hearers of the word, and but one sort only that hear to a saving advantage: also to show us the cause of the different success of the word preached. Here observe, 1. The sowers, Christ and his apostles; he the prime and principal Sower, they the secondary and subordinate seedsmen. Christ sows his own field, his ministers sow his field; he sows his own seed, they sow his seed. Woe unto us, if we sow our own seed, and not Christ's. Observe, 2. The seed sown, the word of God. Fabulous legends, and unwritten traditions, which the seedsmen of the church of Rome sow, these are not seed, but chaff; or their own seed, not Christ's. Our Lord's field must be sown with his own seed, not with mixed grain. Learn, 1. That the word of God preached is like seed sown in the furrows of the field. As seed has a fructifying virtue in it, by which it increases and brings forth more of its own kind; so has the word of God a quickening power, to regenerate and make alive dead souls. Learn, 2. That the seed of the word, where it is most plentifully sown, it is not alike fruitful. As seed doth not thrive in all ground alike, so neither doth the word fructify alike in the hearts of men. There is a difference both from the nature of the soil and from the influence of the Spirit. Learn, 3. That the cause of the word's unfruitfulness is very different, and not the same in all: in some, it is the policy of Satan, that hird of prey which follows God's plough, and steak away the precious seed. In others, it is a hard heart of unbelief: .in others, the cares of the world, like thorns, choke the word, overgrow the good seed, draw away the moisture of the earth, and the heart of the soil, and hinder the influences of the sun. The far greater part of hearers are fruitless and unprofitable hearers. Learn, 4. That the best ground doth not bring forth fruit alike; some good ground brings forth more, and some less: some thirty, some sixty, and some an hundred-fold. In like manner a person may be a profitable hearer of the word, although he doth not bring forth so great a proportion as others, provided he brings forth as much as he can.
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Here we have the disciples' question, and our Saviour's answer. Their question is, Why speakest thou to the people in parables,
which they do not understand? They cannot see the soul of thy meaning, through the body of thy parables. Christ answers, "To you, my disciples, and such as you are, who love the truth, and desire to obey it, the Spirit gives you an effective, operative, and experimental knowledge, not barely to kriow these things, but to believe them, and feel the power of them in and upon your own hearts; but the generality of hearers do satisfy and content themselves with a bare notional knowledge of what they hear; a parable therefore is well enough for them." Loam, 1. That the doctrines of the gospel are mysterious. 2. That it is a matchless and invaluable privilege, practically and savingly to understand and know gospel-mysteries. 3. That this privilege all are not sharers in, nor partakers of, but only those to whom it is given: Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundauce: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
That is, whosoever improves the measures of grace received, shall obtain farther measures and degrees of it: but from him that doth not improve what he has already received, shall be taken away that which to himself or others he seemed to have, his common gifts and moral endowments. Learn, That where there are beginnings of true grace, and a right and wise improvement of it, God will make rich additions of more grace to the present stock which we have received.
13 Therefore speak I to them iu parables: because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross; and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with rAei'r eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, ant! should be converted, and I should heal them.
These words of our blessed Saviour, as I conceive, have a peculiar reference and relation to the Pharisees, who attended upon Christ's ministry, not with an honest simplicity of mind, to be instructed by it, but to carp and cavil at it. Our Saviour tells them he had formerly spoken things very plainly and clearly to them, and also wrought miracles before them, to convince them of the divinity of his person and the verity of his doctrine: but they would not believe either lis person or his doctrine to be from God; and therefore ho would now speak to them in dark parables, that they may be judicially blinded: they sinfully shut their eyes against the clearest light, and said they would not see; and now Christ closes their eyes judicially, and says, they shall not fee. Learn hence, To acknowledge the divine justice, which speaks darkly to them that de?pise the light: such as see and yet ee not, they shall see the shell, but not the kernel: they shall hear the parable, but not understand the spiritual sense and meaning of it. When wilful blindness of mind is added to natural blindness, it is a just and righteous thing with God to superadd judicial blindness, and give them obstinacy of heart, his curse unto them.
16 But blessed ore your eyes, for they see; 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.
Here our Saviour pronounces such of his disciples and followers blessed, as received the truths of the gospel so far as they were already taught them; he assures them that they shall receive farther light, and fuller measures of spiritual illumination: Blessed are your eyes, for they see. Learn, That such as have received the least measure of spiritual knowledge and saving illumination, and do improve it, are in a happy and blessed condition; for as they are capable of farther measures of divine knowledge, so shall they be partakers of them.
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one
heareth the word of the kingdom, and undetstandeth 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. 20 But lie 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. 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. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also heareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundred-fold, some sixty, some thirty.
As if our Lord had said, " You, my disciples, who are not satisfied with a sound of words, I will explain to you the sense and signification of this parable: the scope of which is, to show the different effects which the word of God has upon men's hearts, and the reason of that difference. The seed is the woid, the sower is the preacher, the soil is the heart and soul of man." Now our Saviour assures us, that the hearts of some hearers are like highway ground, in which the seed is not covered with the harro w of meditation; others are like stony ground, in which the word has no root; no root in their understandings, memories, conscience, will, or affections: but they are offended, either at the depth and profoundness of the word, or at the sanctity or strictness of it, or at the plainness and simplicity of it. Again, some hearers our Lord compares to thorny ground. Thorns are covetous desires, which choke the good seed, shadow the blade when sprung up, keep off the influences of the sun, and draw away the fatness of the soil from the seed. All these effects have thorns in and among the seed; and the like effects have worldly affections and covetous desires in the heart of man, rendering the word unfruitful