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things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
10-17. Christ in these verses gives a reason why he used this manner of instruction. See also Mark iv. 10-12; Luke viii. 9, 10. The mysteries of the kingdom. These do not necessarily mean doctrines incomprehensible in themselves considered; but simply doctrines about the preaching of the Gospel, and the establishment of the new kingdom of the Messiah, which had not been understood, and which were as yet concealed from the great body of the Jews. See Rom. xvi. 25, xi. 25; Eph. iii. 3, 4, 9. Of this nature were the truths, that the Gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles-that the Jewish polity was to cease-that the Messiah was to die, &c. In these truths our Saviour instructed the disciples; for it was of great importance that they, who were to preach the Gospel after his death and resurrection, should be acquainted with "the mysteries of the kingdom." They were, however, in the meantime, concealed from the people in general, who were too gross and carnal in their perceptions to have apprehended them, even had they been presented to them. To the disciples themselves, so completely were their minds preoccupied with the notions prevalent amongst their countrymen, these truths long remained mysteries, notwith-> standing the pains taken by their Master to impress them upon their minds. It was not till after Christ's resurrection from the dead, and the descent of the promised Comforter, that they obtained a clear understanding of them. Whosoever hath, &c. If we use diligently the opportunities and means of grace which we possess, with a view to the glory of God and our own spiritual enlightenment, we have a good promise that we shall grow in wisdom and in the knowledge of divine things. If we neglect our opportunities, even the little we may now be possessed of shall be taken from us. As the natural consequence of our own negligence, we shall become more and more ignorant-spiritual darkness shall thicken around our souls-our hearts grow harder and harder. The Jews had many opportunities of learning the truth, and some light still lingered among them; but they were gross sensual, they did not improve their opportunities, and it was a just judgment that they should be deprived of them. Superior knowledge was given to the disciples of Christ; they improved it, however slowly, and the promise was, that it should be greatly increased. Because they seeing, see not. They saw the natural meaning of the story. They understood the parable literally-yet they did not understand its spiritual signification. And in them is fulfilled, &c. The words of the prophet ¶ were descriptive of the Jews in his days: they were also prophetic of the spiritual state of the Jews in the time of our Saviour. Waxed gross. Literally, has become fat. It is commonly applied ¶ to the body, but is also used to denote one who is stupid and foolish in mind. Here it means, that the people were so sensual and corrupt, that they did not see or understand the pure, spiritual principles of the Gospel. Lest they should see, &c. Lest they should see their lost condition as sinners, and turn and live. The reason given here why they did not hear and understand the Gospel is, that their heart was not right with God. They would not attend to the things that concerned their peace. ¶ I should heal them. Should pardon, sanctify, and save them. Sin is often represented as a disease, and the pardon and recovery of the soul from sin as healing. Blessed are your eyes, &c. That is, You are happy that you are permitted to see truth which they will not see. You are permitted to understand the spiritual meaning of the parables, and, in some degree, the plan of salvation. Many prophets and righteous men, &c. They wished to see the times of the Messiah. They looked to it as a time when the hopes of the world would be fulfilled, and the just be happy. See John viii. 56. See also 1 Pet. i. 10-12; Heb. xi. 13. "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad." So Isaiah and the prophets looked forward to the coming of the Messiah as the consummation of their wishes, and the end of the prophecies. Rev. xix. 10. The object always dearest to the hearts of all righteous men is, to witness the coming and advancement of the kingdom of Christ.
18¶"Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth 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 he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon P 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
n Mark iv. 14; Luke viii. 11. o Chap. iv. 23. p Isa. lviii. 2; Ezek. xxxiii. 31, 32; John v. 35. 9 Chap. xi. 64,2 Tim. i. 13. r Chap. xix. 23; Mark x. 23; Luke xviii. 24; 1 Tim. vi. 9; 2 Tim. iv. 16. # Jer. iv, ä
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 beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty.
18-23. See also Mark iv. 13-20; Luke viii. 11-15. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. That is, Hear the explanation, or spiritual meaning, of the narrative given before. Mark adds (iv. 13), "Know ye not this parable? And how, then, shall ye know all parables?" By which it seems that he regarded this as one of the simplest and plainest of them, and gave an explanation of it that they might understand the general principles of interpreting them. When any one heareth, &c. The seed represents the Word of God, communicated in any manner to the minds of men-by the Scriptures, by preaching, by acts of Providence, or by the direct influence of the Holy Spirit. Then cometh the wicked one. That is, Satan (Mark iv. 15), or the devil (Luke viii. 12), -the one eminently wicked, the accuser, the tempter. He is represented by the fowls that came and picked up the seed by the way-side. The Gospel is preached to men hardened in sin. It makes no impression-it lies like seed in the hard path; it is easily taken away, and never suffered to take root. ¶ In stony places. Jesus explains this as denoting those who hear the Gospel, who are caught with it, as something new or pleasing, who profess themselves greatly delighted with it, and who are full of zeal for it. Yet they have no root in themselves; they are not true Christians; their hearts are not changed; they have not seen their guilt and danger, and the true excellency of Christ; they are not really attached to the Gospel; and when they are tried, and persecution comes, they fall-as the rootless grain withers before the scorching rays of the noonday sun. Anon. Quickly, or readily. They do not look at it coolly, and as matter of principle. Is offended. That is, stumbles and falls. Persecution and trial are placed in his path, and he falls as he would over a stumbling-block. He has not strength of principle enough-not confidence in God to carry him through them. thorns. These represent cares, anxieties, and the deceitful lure of riches, or the way in which a desire to be rich deceives us. They take the time and attention. They do not leave opportunity to think and examine the state of the soul. Besides, riches allure, and promise what they do not yield. They promise to make us happy; but, when gained, they do not do it. The soul is not satisfied. There is the same desire to possess more wealth; and to this there is no end-but death. In doing it, there is every temptation to be dishonest, to cheat, to take advantage of others, to oppress others, and to wring their hard earnings from the poor. Every evil passion is therefore cherished by the love of gain; and it is no wonder that the Word is choked, and every good feeling destroyed, by this "execrable love of gold." See 1 Tim. vi. 7-11. How many, thus foolishly drown themselves in destruction and perdition! How many more might reach heaven, if it were not for this deep-seated love of that which fills with care, deceives the soul, and finally leaves it naked, and guilty, and lost! ¶Into good ground. Those whose hearts are prepared by grace to receive it honestly, and to give it full opportunity to grow. In a rich and mellow soil-in a heart that submits itself to the full influence of truth, unchecked by cares and anxieties-under the showers and summer suns of divine grace, with the heart spread open, like a broad luxuriant field, to the rays of the morning, and to evening dews-the Gospel takes deep root, and grows; it has full room, and then and there only shows what it is.
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field; 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the
reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but 'gather the wheat into my barn.
t Chap. iii. 12.
24-30. The kingdom of heaven is likened, &c. That is, the Gospel resembles. The kingdom of heaven means, here, the effect of the Gospel by its being preached. The meaning of this parable is plain. The field represents the world in which the Gospel is preached; the good seed, the truths preached by Christ and his apostles. While men slept, his enemy came, &c. That is, in the night, when it could be done without being seen, an enemy came and scattered bad seed on the new ploughed field,-perhaps before the good seed had been harrowed in. Satan thus sows false doctrine in darkness. In the very place where the truth is preached, and while the hearts of the people are open to receive it, by false but plausible teachers, he takes care to inculcate false sentiments. Often it is one of his arts, in a revival of religion, to spread secretly dangerous notions of piety. Multitudes are persuaded that they are Christians, who are deceived. They are awakened convicted, and alarmed. They take this for conversion. Or they find their burden gone; they fancy that they hear a voice; or a text of Scripture is brought to them, saying that their sins are forgiven ; or they dream that their sins are pardoned;—and they suppose they are Christians. But they are deceived. None of these things are any conclusive evidence of piety. All these things may exist, and still there be no true love of God or Christ; and no real hatred of sin, and change of heart. An enemy may do it to deceive them, and to bring dishonour on religion. Sowed tares. By tares is probably meant a degenerate kind of wheat, or the darnal grass growing in Palestine. its growth and form it has a strong resemblance to genuine wheat; but it either produces no grain, or that of a very inferior and hurtful kind. It was extremely difficult to separate it from the genuine wheat, on account of its similarity while growing. Thus it aptly represented hypocrites in the Church. Strongly resembling Christians in their experience, and, in some respects, their lives, it is impossible to distinguish them from genuine Christians; nor can they be separated until it is done by the great Searcher of hearts at the day of judgment. An enemy-the devilhath done it and no where has he shown profounder cunning, or done more to vitiate the purity of the Gospel. ¶ And went his way. There is something very expressive in this. He knew the soil; he knew how the seed would take root and grow. He had only to sow the seed, and let it alone. So Satan knows the soil in which he sows his doctrine. He knows that in the human heart it will take deep and rapid root. It needs but little culture. Grace needs constant attendance and care. Error, and sin, and hypocrisy, are the native products of the human heart; and, when left alone, start up with deadly luxuriance. Then appeared the tares also. That is, then was first discovered the tares. They had grown with the wheat, but so much like it as not to be noticed till the wheat began to ripen. So, true piety and false hopes are not known by professions,-by blades, and leaves, and flowers-but by the fruit. Ye root up also the wheat. They so much resembled the true wheat, that even then it would be difficult to separate them. By gathering them, they would tread down the wheat, loosen and disturb the earth, and greatly injure the crop. In the harvest it could be done without injury. Let both grow together. They would not spoil the true wheat; and in time of harvest it would be easy to separate them. Our Saviour teaches us here,— 1. That hypocrites and deceived persons must be expected in the Church. 2. That this is the work of the enemy of man. They are not the work of Christianity, any more than traitors are of patriotism, or counterfeiters are of the proper effect of legislating about money. They belong to the world; and hypocrisy is only one form of sin. The Christian religion never made a hypocrite; nor is there a hypocrite on the face of the earth whose principles and practice it does not condemn. 3. That all hopes of removing them entirely would be vain. 4. That an attempt to remove them altogether would injure real Christianity, by causing excitements, discord, and hard feelings even among Christians. 5. That he will himself separate them at the proper time. There is no doubt that it is the duty of the Church to attempt to keep itself pure, and to cut off gross and manifest offenders. 1 Cor. v. 4, 5. The parable points to those who may be suspected of hypocrisy, but against whom it cannot be proved-to those who so successfully imitate Christians as to make it difficult or impossible for man to distinguish them.
31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is
u Isa. ii. 2. 3; Mic. iv. 1; Mark iv. 30; Luke xiii. 18,19.
grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
31, 32. See also Mark iv. 30-32. The kingdom of heaven. In the renewed heart the element of the new life is at first feeble, easily injured, and much exposed; and is therefore compared, with great beauty, to a grain of mustard seed. Young converts often suppose that they are strong in the faith-that their love will always burn with an ardent flame. They are in a new world—their hearts glow with new affections. Like a blind man suddenly endowed with the gift of vision, their sensations are peculiarly vivid; yet they do not see distinctly. By and by, they, in the experience which awaits them, shall have a clearer sight of the objects of faith; they will judge more intelligently; their love, though not perhaps so full of warmth, though calmer, will increase in strength, and be prepared to make a sacrifice of all things in the cause of Christ. That which at first was a seed almost invisible, but incorruptible, has, in the course of years, under the care and husbandry of God, attained to the stature and strength of a goodly tree. What takes place in the experience of the renewed heart has a parallel in the history of Christianity. At first, the number of disciples was few. They were a class of men, obscure, ignorant, unknown, and unhonoured. In the course of a few years, through the preaching of the Gospel, the Church mightily increased, thousands, and tens of thousands, were converted and brought to the knowledge of the truth.
33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three † measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. 34 'All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
Luke xiii. 20. ↑ The word in the Greek is a measure containing about a peck and a half, wanting a little more than a pint. y Mark iv. 33, 34. z Psal. lxxviii. 2. a Rom. xvi. 25, 26; 1 Cor. ii. 7; Eph. iii. 9; Col. i. 26.
33. The kingdom of heaven. The foregoing parable set forth the fact, that, being introduced into the world, the Gospel would spread far and wide; and that in the renewed heart, faith, hope, charity, and all the Christian graces, would advance to maturity by a sure and unceasing growth. This parable sets forth the manner in which this shall come about. It is secret, silent, steady; pervading all the faculties of the soul, and all the kingdoms of the world, as leaven, or yeast, though hidden in the flour, and though deposited only in one place, works silently till all the mass is brought under its influence.
36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; "the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 'And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: "there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
b Chap. xxiv. 14, xxviii. 19; Mark xvi. 15, 20; Luke xxiv. 47; Rom. x. 18; Col. i. 6. c Gen. iii. 13; John viii. 44; Acts xiii. 10: 1 John iii. 8. d Joel iii. 13; Rev. xiv. 15. e Chap. xviii. 7; 2 Pet. ii. 1, 2. Or, scandals. f Chap. iii. 12; Rev. xix. 20, xx. 10. g Chap. viii. 12; ver. 50. h Dan. xii. 3; 1 Cor. xv. 42, 43, 58. i Ver. 9.
36-43. Declare unto us. That is, explain the meaning of the parable.
This was done in so plain
a manner as to render comment unnecessary. The Son of man, the Lord Jesus, sows the good seed; that is, preaches the Gospel. This he did personally, and does now by his ministers, his providence, and his Spirit-by all the means of conveying truth to the mind. This seed was, by various means, to be carried over all the world. It was to be confined to no particular nation or people. The good seed was the children of the kingdom; that is, of the kingdom of God, or Christians. For these the Saviour suffered and died. They are the fruit of his labours. Yet amidst them were wicked men; and all hypocrites and unbelievers in the Church are the work of Satan. Yet they must remain together till the end, when they shall be separated, and the righteous saved, and the wicked lost. Unconverted sinners should therefore take alarm, and flee to the city of refuge appointed in the Gospel while yet they have an opportunity. And the righteous, however much wickedness they may see, and however many hypocrites there may be in the Church, should be cheered with the prospect that soon the just shall be separated from the unjust, and that they shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and *selleth all that he hath, and 'buyeth that field.
k Phil. iii. 7, 8. 7 isa. Iv. 1; Rev. iii. 18.
44. The kingdom of heaven. The Gospel; the new dispensation; the offer of eternal life. He compares it to treasure hid in a field. That is, to money concealed; or more likely, to a mine of silver or gold, that was undiscovered by others, and unknown to the owner of the field. He hideth. That is, he conceals the fact that he has found it; he does not tell of it. With a view of obtaining this treasure, he sells all his property, to raise funds for the purchasing of the field. man acting such a part would be dishonest. He would be endeavouring to gain property belonging to another at far less than its real value; and the principle of real integrity would require him to inform the proprietor of the field of this discovery. But Christ does not vindicate the conduct of such a one; he merely states the way in which men do actually manage to obtain wealth. The point of the parable lies in the expression of the earnestness, anxiety, and care with which men labour for wealth. The Gospel is infinitely more valuable than earthly treasure. xix. 10; Prov. iii. 13-15. From most men it is hid. When a man sees it, and hears it, it is his duty to sacrifice all in order to obtain it; and to seek it with the earnestness with which other men seek for gold. The truth often lies buried; it is like rich veins of ore in the Sacred Scriptures; it must be searched out with diligence-and it will repay the seeker for all sacrifices. Luke xiv. 33; Phil. iii. 8.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found "one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
m Prov. ii. 4, iii. 14, 15, viii. 10, 19.
45, 46. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman. The meaning is, that the proper seeking for salvation, or the proper conduct in reference to religion, is like the conduct of a merchantman. In his searches he found one pearl of great value, and sold all his possessions to obtain it. So, men, seeking for happiness and finding the Gospel, the pearl of great price, should be willing to lose all other things for this. Pearls are precious stones, found in the shells of oysters, chiefly in the East Indies. They are valuable on account of their beauty, and because they are rare. The value of them is greatly increased by their size. The meaning of this parable is nearly the same as the other. It is designed to represent the Gospel as of more value than all other things, and to impress on us the duty of sacrificing all that we possess in order to obtain it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and "gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.