Mark 4

3-9. Parable of the sower. Mt 13:1-9. Natural objects were designed, and should be used, to illustrate and enforce spiritual truths; and the providences of God are a striking commentary on his word. It is not enough to be excited under preaching, or in reading the Scriptures or the works of pious men, or to be much engaged in religion on the Sabbath. The influence of the Sabbath must be carried through the week. Men must be governed by the will of God in their business, as well as in their religious duties; and if need be, sacrifice property, ease, reputation, and even life itself, to honor him. 10-13. Speaking in parables. Mt 13:10-17. In the communication and reception of saving knowledge, human agency is needful; and would men be wise unto salvation, they must improve their opportunities to hear and understand divine truth. Mystery of the kingdom; the deeper truths of the gospel, which had not before been revealed.

Them that are without, Mt 3.2; without the circle of his disciples. These remained in ignorance through the hardness of their hearts, and their rejection of the light. This made it proper that the Saviour should instruct the multitude by parables, into the meaning of which the candid and teachable would inquire, and thus be made wise to salvation, while the careless and indifferent would neglect them.
Not perceive; because they do not desire to know the truth.

Not understand; because they do not, in the right way, use proper means. Thus they are not converted or turned from their evil ways, and their sins are not forgiven.
Know ye not this parable? which is so plain and obvious. The words contain a gentle reproof for their dulness. 14-20. Parable of the sower explained. Mt 13:18-23. Is a candle brought; spoken here of the candle of Christ's teachings, lighted in the souls of his disciples that they may let the light of their knowledge shine on others. Jesus Christ does not impart knowledge to men that they may keep it to themselves, but that they may impart it for the benefit of their fellow-men. Nothing hid; a candle is not lighted to be hid, or to shine only on itself, but to give light to men. So Christ's instructions were explained to his disciples, not for their benefit merely, but to be by them communicated for the good of others. Let him hear; let him who has opportunities improve them, not only for his own sake, but for the sake of his fellow-men. With what measure--measured to you; the measure of sincere and earnest attention which you give to my instructions, will be the measure of knowledge which will be given back to you. If men do not improve their opportunities to obtain divine knowledge and prepare for the purity and bliss of heaven, these opportunities will soon cease, and they will be left in endless darkness and woe. He that hath; hath such a desire for divine knowledge as rightly to improve his opportunities, shall increase it.

Hath not--shall be taken; if he has no desire to improve his opportunities, they will be taken away, and their benefits be lost.
Kingdom of God; the reign of Christ in the hearts of men.

Should cast seed, Mt 3.12; the seed is the good word of God sown in the heart, and made fruitful by God's grace. No one should be discouraged in efforts to do good, because he does not at once see the fruit of them. Let him go seasonably to rest at night, rise betimes in the morning, and spend each day in learning and doing the will of God, and God will make him useful.
Should sleep, and rise night and day; should sleep by night and rise by day. The seed does not come suddenly to maturity, but by a gradual process, while he who sowed it pursues his ordinary course of labor and rest. Of herself ; by the power which God gives, not man. First the blade ; small shoot. Then the ear ; the stalk and head. Full corn ; the kernels full grown. Putteth in the sickle; he gathereth the fruits of his labor. Men in this matter are workers together with God. One plants, another waters or cultivates, and God gives the increase. So with the rise and progress of religion in the soul. Men must hear, understand, believe, and obey it. The power which leads them to do this, is of God. To illustrate still further the progressive nature of his religion, its great increase from a small beginning, he spoke the parable of the mustard-seed. 30-32. Parable of the mustard-seed. Mt 13:31,32. As they were able to hear it; as they were able to understand and profit by his instructions. Much evil may be done and much good be prevented by an untimely communication of truths which men will only misunderstand, pervert, and abuse. Time and manner demand attention, and call for wisdom as well as goodness, discretion as well as courage. Without a parable spake he not; in his public instruction of the multitude.

Expounded all things to his disciples; that they might in due time explain them to others.
The other side; of the sea of Galilee. 37-41. Christ stills the tempest. Mt 14:23-33. No faith; why is it, after all you have seen and heard, that you have not such confidence in me as to prevent your fear? That course of Christ in his providence which sometimes leads his people to think that he cares less for them than they do for themselves is designed to show them their unbelief, and that what they want is confidence in him, to walk by faith, and not by sight; remembering that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than their ways, and his thoughts than their thoughts.
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