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vineyard and the natural one. Upon the appearance of summer in the trees before him, he points out evident signs of his approaching kingdom. When the harvest comes on, he reminds his disciples of the spiritual harvest, the harvest of true believers; and exhorts them to labour diligently in that work, and add their prayers• to heaven for its success. From servants being made free in the sabbatical year, he takes occasion to proclaim a nobler emancipation and more important redemption from the slavery of sin, and the bondage of corruption, by the death of Christ. From the eminence of a city standing on a hill, he turns his discourse to the conspicuous situation of his own disciples. From the temple before him, he points to that of'his own body; and from Herod's unadvisedly leading out his army to meet the king of Arabia, who came against him with a superior force and defeated him, a lesson is held out to all who entered on the Christian warfare, that they should first well weigh and carefully compute the difficulties attending it, and by the grace of God resolve to surmount them.
In the same manner, when he delivered the parable of the sower, which we find in this chapter, and which will be the next subject of our consideration, it was probably seed-time, and from the ship in which he taught he might observe the husbandmen scattering their seed upon the earth. From thence he took occasion to illustrate, by that rural and familiar image, the different effects which the doctrines of Christianity had on different men, according to the different tempers and dispositions that they happened to meet with.
"Behold, (says he,) a sower went forth to sow. And when he sowed, some fell by the way-side, and the fowls came and devoured them up. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth; and when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold." As our blessed Lord, soon after he had uttered this parable, ex
u 4 plained plained it to his disciples, it is highly proper that you shouldhavethisexplanationin his own words. "Hear ye, therefore, (says he,) the parable of the sower. 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 wayside. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 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. He also that received seed among the thorns, is he that heareth the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 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,"
Such is the parable of the sower, and the explanation of it by our Saviour; which will furnish us with abundant matter for a great
variety variety of very important reflections. But as these cannot be distinctly stated and sufficiently enlarged upon at present, without going to a considerable length of time, and trespassing too far on that patience and indulgence which I have already but too often put to the test, I must reserve for my next Lecture the observations I have to offer on this very interesting and instructive parable.
Matthew xiii. continued.
THE last Lecture concluded with a recital of the parable of the sower, and our Lord's explanation of it; and I now proceed to lay before you those reflections which it has suggested to my mind.
In the first place then it must be observed, that this parable, like many others, is prophetic as well as instructive; it predicts the fate of the Christian religion in the world, and the different sorts of reception it will meet with from different men. And as this prediction is completely verified by the present state of religion, as we see it at this hour existing among ourselves, it affords one very decisive proof of Christ's power of foreseeing future events, and of course tends strongly to establish