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ever sounding in our ears! It is a matter of great thankfulness that this earth, which might have been abandoned by God as a barren wilderness, is cultivated as his field, and that any good seed is to be found in it; but grievous to think how many tares are intermingled, so as almost to over-run the ground, and hide the wheat from being seen. Let not a forward zeal prompt us, like these over-officious servants, to think of rooting them out by violence; but let us wait our master's time and be patient till the day of the Lord.
The separation will at length be made; nor shall one precious grain perish. Awful important time! when the angels shall perform their great office with a sagacity too sharp to be eluded, and a power too strong to be resisted! Gather not our souls, O Lord, with sinners! but may they be bound up in the bundle of life! that when the day cometh, which shall burn as an oven, and when the wicked like chaff shall be thrown in to be consumed, we may survey the execution of the Divine judgment with awful triumph; being owned by God as his, while he is making up his jewels, and spared by him as his obedient children. (Mal. iii. 17, and iv. 1.) Then shall we not only be spared, but honoured and adorned, and shine forth like the sun in our father's kingdom; for these vile bodies shall be fashioned like to the glorious body of our Redeemer (Phil. iii. 21), and our purified and perfected spirits shall be clothed with proportionable lustre, and reflect the complete image of his holiness. Amen.
MATT. XIII. 31-35. MARK IV. 26-34.
AND he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.
And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
And 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 that be in the earth. But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree; and shooteth out great branches, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof, and under the shadow of it.
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. And all these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables, and with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples: 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.
Let us be concerned to gather up these fragments, that nothing may be lost; and to lay them up in our memories and our hearts, that, according to our respective stations in life, we may have them ready for use.
Let us remember that sometimes the growth of piety in the heart is like that of vegetables in the earth. The seed of the word may for a while seem lost; or when the fruit appears, it may advance and ripen but slowly. Let not ministers therefore too confidently conclude they have laboured in vain, and spent their strength for nought, because the fields are not immediately white to the harvest, but with believing hope and humble patience let them recommend the seed that they have sown to Him, who by the secret energy of his continued influences, can give at length a sure and plentiful increase.
When Jesus took to himself his great power, and reigned, the gospel, which had gained so little ground under his personal ministration, ran, and was greatly glorified in the hands of the apostles. The grain of mustard seed shot up and branched forth into a spreading tree, and birds of every wing took shelter there. (Oh that there had been none of the ravenous and the obscene kind!) Thus when the Lord shall please to hasten it in his time, a little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. (Isa. lx. 22.)
Let us pray that the triumphant progress of his kingdom may come. In the mean time let it be our desire that the principles of the gospel may, like a sacred kind of leaven, diffuse themselves through our whole souls; that all our powers and faculties, that all our thoughts and passions, may be, as it were, impregnated and elevated by them.
MATT. XIII. 36, 18-23. MARK IV. 10-25. LUKE VIII. 9-18.
THEN Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house, and when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said unto. them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but unto them that are without all these things are done in parables. That seeing they might not see; and hearing they might hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables? Hear ye then the parable of the sower. Now the parable is this. The seed is the word of God. The sower soweth the word, and those by the way-side where the word is sown are they that hear the word of the kingdom and understand it not; but when they have heard Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. And these are they likewise which have received the seed into stony places, who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with joy; and these have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: which for a while believe; and in time of temptation, when tribulation, affliction, or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended, and fall away. And these are they which are sown among thorns: which, when they have heard the word, go
forth, and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and pleasures of this life, and the lust of other things entering in, choke the word, and it bringeth no fruit to perfection. And these are they that received seed into the good ground; such as hear the word, and understand it, and receive it in an honest and good heart; and having heard the word, keep it, which also bear fruit with patience, and bring forth, some an hundred-fold, some sixty, and some thirty.
And he said unto them, No man when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bushel, or under a bed: but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For there is nothing hid which shall not be manifested: neither was any thing kept secret, that shall not be known, and come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And he said unto them, Take heed therefore what and how ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you and unto you that hear shall more be given. For whosoever hath to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he seemeth to have.
Let us apply to ourselves this charge of our blessed Redeemer, and take heed how we hear. Especially let us be very careful that we despise not him that now speaks to us from heaven; and remember the authority, which his exaltation there gives to the words which he spake in the days of his flesh.
Let us attentively hear the parable of the sower and its interpretation. Still is Christ by his word and ministers, sowing among us the good seed. Still is the great enemy of souls labouring to snatch it away. Let us endeavour to understand, that we may retain it; and to retain, that we may practise it. Still do the cares of this world press us; still do its pleasures solicit us; still do our lusts war in our members; and all unite their efforts to prevent our fruitfulness in good works: but let us remember, that with having our fruit unto holiness, everlasting life is connected as the end; and that in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Rom. vi. 22, and Gal. vi. 9
Let us therefore be concerned that the seed may take deep root in our minds, that we may not rest in any superficial impression on the passions; but, feeling the energy of that living principle, may flourish under the circumstances which wither others, and may in due time be gathered as God's wheat into his garner. Nor let us repine if we now go forth weeping, bearing this precious seed, while we have such a hope of coming again rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us. (Psalm cxxvi. 6.)
MATT. XIII. 44-52.
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. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every Scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
LUKE VIII. 19-21.
Then cometh to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. And it was told him by certain which said, thy mother and