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inconsiderately utter, to the dishonour of God and theis SAVIOUR.
Our Lord having asserted, that he acted by divine authority, the Pharisees demanded a sign from heaven in confirmation of it, like those which had been displayed in the days of Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah, and Isaiah ; but, knowing that they were so degenerate, that nothing could convince them, he refused to give them any; only prophesied of his resurrection, in a manner which they could not at that time comprehend, but which was occasioned afterwards by the appearance of an angel.
It was usual for the Jews to think contemptibly of every nation but their own. To humble the pride of the Pharisees, our Saviour drew a comparison between them and the Ninevites, and the Queen of Sheba. The former' humbled themselves to the very dust, at the preaching of Jonah. The latter took a long journey to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold the glory of the LORD. The Pharisees rejected the MESSIAH, who came to invite them to be partakers of the kingdom of Heaven, and blasphemed the Holy SPIRIT, whose operations they must have acknowledged, if they had not hated the light, because their deeds were evil. Well might our SAVIOUR tell them, that “ a greater than Jonah was there ;'' but he forbore to make a far. ther revelation of his MessiAHSHIP, on account of their unbelief.
By the relapsing demoniac, our Lord meant to represent that generation of Jews, who, keeping clear, from the idolatry praetised by their forefathers, and using a number of superstitious ceremonies, pretended to be cleansed and sanctified; but, instead of being righe teous, fell into the very worst sort of impiety, that of deb, nying the MESSIAH, and calumniating the Holy Spi-, RIT; which must infallibly provoke God to send heavier
judgments upon them, than had been inflicted upon their ancestors.
While our Saviour thus confuted the Scribes and Pharisees, a woman who had, with a humble and teach. able mind, attended to his powerful arguments, expressed her high esteem for bim and his doctrine, in an exclamation which implied, that she wished for the honour of being mother to such a son, Our LORD acknowledged that his mother was certainly blessed, by the distinction which God had conferred upon her ; but to encourage the woman to hope, that she might be as happy as his own mother, he assured her, that faith and obedience would unite his disciples to him more strongly than any ties of kindred; which assurance he had a fresh occasion for repeating, when his mother and brethren desired to speak with him. Nothing, then, can be more absurd than the practise of those mistaken Christians, who idolize the Virgin Mary, and even exalt her above the Son of God..
How comfortable and inviting, even to the meanest of mankind, is our blessed LORD's assurance, that he will regard, as his nearest relations, all who shall, in their respective stations, do the will of Gop!
-1 SECTION XLIV.
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER, From Luke, Chap. viji.-Mark, iv.--Matthew, xiii.
And it came to pass afterward, that he went through. out every city and village, preaching, and skewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God; and the twelye were with him ;
And certain women, who had been healed of evil spirits, and infirmities, Mary called lagdalene, cut of wliom went seven devils;
And Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who ministered unto him of their substance.
And he began again to teach by the sea-side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole ́multitude was by the sea, on the land.
And he taught them many things by parables; and said unto them in his doctrine,
Hearken, Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth, and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth.
But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choaked it, and it yielded no fruit.
And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up, and increased, and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
And when he was alone, they that were about him, with the twelve, asked of him the parable.
And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them it is not 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 he hath.
Therefore speak I to them in parables; because they seping, see not; and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand,
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing, ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing, ye shall see, and shall not per ceive..
For the people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their hearts, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.
For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and did not see them: and to hear those things which ye hear, and did not hear them.
Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of Gor. Those by the way-side are they that hear: then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe, and be saved.
They on the rock, are they which, when they hear, receive the word with joy and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
And that which fell among thorns, are they which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choaked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
But he that receiveth seed into the good ground, is he that heareth the word and understandeth it. Who in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keepeth it, and bringeth forth fruit to perfection.
And he said, So is the kingdom of GoD, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep and I 6
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.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
"The word parable, in the New Testament, generally denotes a short comparison and similitude, or a feigned story, consisting of facts which might possibly happen in real life, corresponding to the circumstances of others, for whose instruction it was designed, or to the state of things it was intended to illustrate." That of the sower might be suggested by the view of husbandmen then em ployed in sowing their seed for the ensuing harvest.
Our SAVIOUR has so fully explained the general import of this parable, that it cannot fail of being understood, even by the meanest reader: but there are some pants which require particular consideration:...
In the first place, we are to observe, that our LORD, in a most emphatical manner, calls for the attention of his audience, He that hath ears to hear, let him bear! In his reply to his disciples' enquiry, Why he spake to the people in parables? he informed them, that he used this method in order to exercise the industry of his hearers in the examination of it, that it might make the deeper impression; and that those who were wilfully resolved to oppose his doctrine, let him preach what he would, and had despised him when he spake plainly, might not discern his spiritual meaning, and consequently derive no advantage from his discourse. This was a just judgment upon them for their unbelief, and it agreed with Goo's dealings with the ancient Jews, who turned a deaf