Matthew 13* The parable of the sower. (1-23) The parable of the tares.(24-30; 36-43) The parables of the mustard-seed and the leaven.(31-35) The parables of the hidden treasure, the pearl of greatprice, the net cast into the sea, and the householder. (44-52)Jesus is again rejected at Nazareth. (53-58)1-23 Jesus entered into a boat that he might be the lesspressed, and be the better heard by the people. By this heteaches us in the outward circumstances of worship not to covetthat which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniencesGod in his providence allots to us. Christ taught in parables.Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to thosewilling to be taught, and at the same time more difficult andobscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of thesower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower isour Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers.Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not whereit will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so muchpains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the goodsoil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men,whose different characters are here described by four sorts ofground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan;who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the greatthief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if wetake not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground,often get the start of true Christians in the shows ofprofession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do notprofit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer'sprivileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any changeof heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity,their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, theysoon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trialthreatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they giveup or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system.Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came inwith sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in theirplace to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has muchto do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, andtheir end is to be burned, #Heb 6:8|. Worldly cares are greathinderances to our profiting by the word of God. Thedeceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be saidto deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they chokethe good seed. What distinguished the good ground wasfruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished fromhypocrites. Christ does not say that this good ground has nostones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder itsfruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest,to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be betteremployed than in hearing God's word; and let us look toourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are. 24-30, 36-43 This parable represents the present and futurestate of the gospel church; Christ's care of it, the devil'senmity against it, the mixture there is in it of good and bad inthis world, and the separation between them in the other world.So prone is fallen man to sin, that if the enemy sow the tares,he may go his way, they will spring up, and do hurt; whereas,when good seed is sown, it must be tended, watered, and fenced.The servants complained to their master; Sir, didst thou not sowgood seed in thy field? No doubt he did; whatever is amiss inthe church, we are sure it is not from Christ. Though grosstransgressors, and such as openly oppose the gospel, ought to beseparated from the society of the faithful, yet no human skillcan make an exact separation. Those who oppose must not be cutoff, but instructed, and that with meekness. And though good andbad are together in this world, yet at the great day they shallbe parted; then the righteous and the wicked shall be plainlyknown; here sometimes it is hard to distinguish between them.Let us, knowing the terrors of the Lord, not do iniquity. Atdeath, believers shall shine forth to themselves; at the greatday they shall shine forth before all the world. They shallshine by reflection, with light borrowed from the Fountain oflight. Their sanctification will be made perfect, and theirjustification published. May we be found of that happy number. 31-35 The scope of the parable of the seed sown, is to showthat the beginnings of the gospel would be small, but its latterend would greatly increase; in this way the work of grace in theheart, the kingdom of God within us, would be carried on. In thesoul where grace truly is, it will grow really; though perhapsat first not to be discerned, it will at last come to greatstrength and usefulness. The preaching of the gospel works likeleaven in the hearts of those who receive it. The leaven workscertainly, so does the word, yet gradually. It works silently,and without being seen, #Mr 4:26-29|, yet strongly; withoutnoise, for so is the way of the Spirit, but without fail. Thusit was in the world. The apostles, by preaching the gospel, hida handful of leaven in the great mass of mankind. It was madepowerful by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, who works, and nonecan hinder. Thus it is in the heart. When the gospel comes intothe soul, it works a thorough change; it spreads itself into allthe powers and faculties of the soul, and alters the propertyeven of the members of the body, #Ro 6:13|. From these parableswe are taught to expect a gradual progress; therefore let usinquire, Are we growing in grace? and in holy principles andhabits? 44-52 Here are four parables. 1. That of the treasure hid inthe field. Many slight the gospel, because they look only uponthe surface of the field. But all who search the Scriptures, soas in them to find Christ and eternal life, #Joh 5:39|, willdiscover such treasure in this field as makes it unspeakablyvaluable; they make it their own upon any terms. Though nothingcan be given as a price for this salvation, yet much must begiven up for the sake of it. 2. All the children of men arebusy; one would be rich, another would be honourable, anotherwould be learned; but most are deceived, and take up withcounterfeits for pearls. Jesus Christ is a Pearl of great price;in having him, we have enough to make us happy here and forever. A man may buy gold too dear, but not this Pearl of greatprice. When the convinced sinner sees Christ as the graciousSaviour, all things else become worthless to his thoughts. 3.The world is a vast sea, and men, in their natural state, arelike the fishes. Preaching the gospel is casting a net into thissea, to catch something out of it, for His glory who has thesovereignty of this sea. Hypocrites and true Christians shall beparted: miserable is the condition of those that shall then becast away. 4. A skilful, faithful minister of the gospel, is ascribe, well versed in the things of the gospel, and able toteach them. Christ compares him to a good householder, whobrings forth fruits of last year's growth and this year'sgathering, abundance and variety, to entertain his friends. Oldexperiences and new observations, all have their use. Our placeis at Christ's feet, and we must daily learn old lessons overagain, and new ones also. 53-58 Christ repeats his offer to those who have repulsed them.They upbraid him, Is not this the carpenter's son? Yes, it istrue he was reputed to be so; and no disgrace to be the son ofan honest tradesman; they should have respected him the morebecause he was one of themselves, but therefore they despisedhim. He did not many mighty works there, because of theirunbelief. Unbelief is the great hinderance to Christ's favours.Let us keep faithful to him as the Saviour who has made ourpeace with God.
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