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and life. Separated from hypocrites, the church would be purer—she would attract, by the whiteness of her.robes, the gaze of heathen spectators, and constrain them to cry, “behold, how these Christians love one another.' She would shine as the sun, the more brilliantly, because the clouds of oppression and affliction had just been dispelled. "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,"
Parable of the Mustard Seed.
MATT. XIII. 31, 32.-MARK IV, 31, 32.—LUKE XIII. 18, 19.
“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 the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”—Matt. xiii 31, 32.
“The Jews,” saith Whitby, “give a wonderful account of the growth and increase of the mustard seed, viz. there was a stalk of mustard seed in Sichin, from which sprang out three boughs, of which one was broke off, and covered the tent of a potter, and produced three cabs of mustard ; R. Simeon B. Calipha said, a stalk of mustard seed was in my field, into which I was wont to climb, as men do into a fig tree. Buxtorf in voce Chardal." Commentary on Matt. xiii. 31. This great growth is attributed to the luxuriant soil of Judea, and to the warmth of the climate. 1
The following passage is worthy of being introduced here ; order that we may enter fully into the meaning of this parable of our Lord, it may not be irrelevant to observe, that in eastern coun
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By the kingdom of heaven in this parable, Jesus intended his spiritual dispensation, or moral reign, which he came to establish among men. like a grain of mustard seed, because at its commencement it may be said to have been exceedingly small. It contained, however, the principle of growth in itself, and was destined to flourish wonderfully, without the aid of human power. Like the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, which became a great mountain and filled the whole earth, so this would spread abroad its branches far and wide. The prophet Ezekiel uses a similar figure. “Thus saith the Lord God, I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon a high mountain and eminent: In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing ; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they tries, the mustard plant (or at least a species of the sinapi, which the orientals comprehended under that name) attains a greater size than with us. It appears that the orientals were accustomed to give the denomination of trees, to plants growing to the height of ten or twelve feet, and having branches in proportion. To such a height the mustard plant grows in Judea ; and its branches are so strong, and well covered with leaves, as to afford shelter to the feathered tribe. Such is the image by which Jesus Christ represents the progress of his gospel. The kingdom of heaven, said he, is like to a grain of mustard seed-small and contemptible in its beginning; which is indeed the least of all seeds, that is, of all those seeds with which the Jews were then acquainted : (for our Lord's words are to be interpreted by popular use ; and we learn from Matt. xvii. 20, that, like a grain of mustard seed, was a proverbial expression to denote a small quantity,) but when it is grown, it becometh a tree, 90 that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Under this simple and beautiful figure does Jesus Christ describe the admirable developement of his gospel from its origin to its final consummation.” Horne's Introduction ii. 616.
dwell. And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish : I the Lord have spoken and have done it.” xvii. 22—24. It was common among the Jews to represent any thing which flourished greatly, under the figure of a tree. Nebuchadnezzar's vast kingdom was shown to him, in a vision, under the like figure; and the Psalmist said of the righteous man, that “he should be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” i. 3. Jer. xvii. 8. The rest and peace which men would enjoy under the influence of the gospel, is shewn by the “birds of the air lodging in the branches ;” or, to use the more comprehensive expression of Ezekiel, “under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing, in the shadow of the branches thereof shali they dwell.”
Parable of the Leaven.
MATTHEW XIII. 33.
-LUKE XIII. 21.
“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.”—Matt. xiii. 33.
The object of this parable is precisely that of the one last noticed-to shew, as Kenrick observes, that although the religion of Christ was small and insignificant in the beginning, it would be diffused throughout the world. “The gospel hath such a secret invisible influence, on the hearts of men, to change and affect them, and all the actions that flow from them, that it is fitly resembled to leaven,
so mixt thoroughly with the whole, that although it appeareth not in any part of it visibly, yet every part, hath a tincture from it.'1
We are enabled, by the help of this parable, to illustrate a truth, to which we have already refered, viz. that it is the nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ to conform every thing to itself. As leaven operates on meal, and assimilates it to its own nature, so the gospel operates on the hearts of men, and transforms them into a moral likeness to itself. It is for this reason, that it is important, above all things, to preach the truth, in its purity, to mankind. The doctrine of divine love will make men lovely—the doctrine of divine mercy will make them merciful—the doctrine of divine grace will make them gracious—the doctrine of divine benevolence will make them beneficent-the doctrine of divine kindness to sinners will make them kind to sinners—the doctrine of divine impartiality will make them impartial. Contrary doctrines must and will have contrary effects. The doctrine of vengeance will make them revengeful—the doctrine of cruelty will make them cruel—the doctrine of hatred will fill thein with its spirit, and the doctrine of partiality will make them partial. Wherever these doctrines have any effect, they have such an effect, as every one must know who has examined their influences npon the world. What doctrine have all the persecutors believed that ever lived in the world ?' What doctrine has the holy catholic church believed-she who has been drunk with the blood of saints, and to whom the groans of burning martyrs have been the most delightful music? The history of that church is a history of usurped power, of blood, and fire and oppression.
1 Hammond, in Paraphrase and Annotations.
Had her priests believed in the doctrine of divine love for all mankind, is it not reasonable to suppose that the influence of that doctrine on their hearts, like the operation of leaven on meal, would have softened and subdued their angry passions, and awakened the spirit of compassion and love? The persecutions of Protestants, one against another, have been generated by the influence of the same unwholesome doctrines. When Servetus was burned at Geneva, it was not the doctrine of " peace on earth, and good will to men,” that actuated Calvin, and the rest of his murderers. When Christianity pervades the whole earth, men will learn, like their master, to “have compassion on the ignorant, and those who are out of the way”-thuy will “ not hurt nor destroy in all God's holy moun. tain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Another fact confirmed by the parable under consideration, is this, that all mankind shall at last know God, and feel the power of his truth. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” “The reason why three measures of meal are mentioned, is that this was the quantity of meal used at a time for making bread." The apostle says, "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” 1 Cor. v. 6. Gal. v. 9. Did not Jesus, in the parable, mean to intimate, that the triumphs of his gospel shall be universal ? The same great and glorious truth is taught in several passages of scripture. “ All the ends of the world shall remember, and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee." Psalms xxii. 27. ; 6 All nations whom thou 1 Kenrick's Exposition.