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and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, “A sower went out to sow his seed; and, as he sowed, some fell along the high way, and it was trampled upon, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and, as soon as it sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit a hundred fold.” And when he had said these things, he cried, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Then his disciples asked him, saying, “ What is the meaning of this parable?” And he said, “To you it is permitted to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but to others only in parables, that, though they see, they may not perceive, and though they hear, they may not understand. Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those by the way-side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; yet, having no root, they believe only for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among the thorns are they who, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they who, having heard the word, retain it in a good and honest heart, and bring forth fruit with perseverance. Take heed, therefore, how ye hear; for whosoever hath, to him shall be given ; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.”

Our Lord here means to say, that such

as are readily disposed to attend to his doctrine shall be fully informed respecting it, whereas careless and inattentive hearers will derive no good from his instructions. He tells us, therefore, to “ take heed how we hear.” He gives us his heavenly doctrine, and excellent rules of life, but it depends on ourselves whether they are of any use to us or not. If we pay little attention to them, and suffer ourselves to be led away by temptation, then we shall become wicked, and be very miserable. If, on the other hand, we lay up the commands of Christ in our hearts, and strive to live according to them, then they will be our guide and our support; they will make us like to Christ, our pattern, and they will procure for us the approbation and the blessing of Almighty God, our Heavenly Father.

THE GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED AND

THE LEAVEN.

(Matt. xii. 31–33.) 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; which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is greater than any herb, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."

By “the kingdom of heaven” our Lord here means the prevalence of his religion in the earth; and he compares it to a grain of mustard seed; by which we are not to understand the mustard which grows in our gardens, and which is only a small herb, but another kind, which, in foreign countries, grows up into a tree. Christ says that this, which is the smallest of seeds, becomes in time a large and

spreading tree- large enough for the birds of the air to rest in its branches ; and that, in the same way, although there were but few persons at first who believed in his gospel, yet many more would afterwards believe, and at last all mankind. All are not Christians yet ; but the words of Christ lead us to believe, that all will be at last.

So also did our Lord compare the progress of his religion to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. At first only a small part of the meal would be moistened by the leaven; but the moisture would gradually spread, and at length extend itself through the whole, and unite it in one mass. So also, though at first few persons were blest with the knowledge of the gospel, yet now it is received by great multitudes of different nations, and at length it will prevail over the whole world.

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