Mark 4

The sea-side; on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.—Sat in the sea; in a boat upon the water.

Some thirty; thirty-fold, in proportion to the seed.

When he was alone; after the public discourse was ended, and he was alone with his friends.

Them that are without; those who had assembled, from various motives, to listen to what the Savior said, but who did not join themselves cordially to him, so as to be admitted to his confidence.

Such has been the dispensation of divine truth in all ages of the world, that the higher spiritualities of religion, though accessible to all who really seek them, are covered by a veil from the open gaze of the profane. It is so down to the present hour. Many listen to the preaching of the gospel all their lives, to whose minds any actual conception of the nature of redemption from sin, by the Son of God, never penetrates. Divine Providence seems designedly so to arrange the dispensation of truth, that, seeing, sinners may, if they choose, not see, and hearing, not hear.

That is, the sower represents the preacher of divine truth.

Taketh away the word. The truth passes away from their minds, by the agency of Satan, and is forgotten.

Bed; the couch upon which it was customary to recline at meals.

The meaning is, that the disciples and their successors were to disseminate throughout the world the instruction which Jesus communicated to them privately, in the solitudes of Galilee.

In other words, the farther you advance in knowledge and piety, the more easy and rapid will be your progress.

Sleep, and rise night and day; that is, as usual,—pursuing his usual avocations, without having upon his mind any care in regard to the vegetation of his seed.

So with the disciples as preachers of the gospel. Their duty would be to sow the seed, and to gather into the churches those in whose hearts the Spirit of God causes it to vegetate. As they cannot by their own power make the word which they preach effectual, they have no responsibility in regard to its reception.

And he said; that is, afterwards and perhaps on some different occasion. There was often a wide interval, in fact, between conversations which appear in juxtaposition in the narrative.

Is less, &c.; that is, it is very small.

As they were able to hear it; according to the capacity of his hearers to understand and profit by his instructions.

Other boats, which the rest of the company took, in order to follow him.

A great storm. Lakes situated in mountainous regions are very much exposed to sudden storms.

Pillow; probably some sort of cushion belonging to the boat.

They feared exceedingly; that is, they were impressed with wonder and awe.

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