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been surrounded a little before by multitudes ; his mother and his brethren came desiring to see him; he stretched forth his hand to his disciples, and said, “ Whosoever shall do the will of my father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus knew what it was to have the heart of a son towards a mother, and Jesus knew what was the heart of a mother towards a son, and therefore he knew the deep meaning of those words, “ Whosoever shall do the will of my father,” is unto me as dear as my mother.
It would appear as if he had gone into the house with his mother and his brethren, for we read in the begin. ning of this chapter, that “the same day went Jesus out the house and sat by the sea side.” There were too many to allow him to stand amongst them to speak to them, and therefore he went into a ship, and sat, that he might the more conveniently, at a little distance, teach the multitudes the deep and awful truths that are contained in these parables— truths, awful in the dark side of them, because of the weight of woe that belongs to the rejection of divine truth — truths awful in the bright side of them, because of the unspeakable importance of that weight of glory that belongs to those who are fitted here by his truth — truths that were to be a mystery, and for ever a mystery to them that are without, and that were to be a revealed mystery to them that would enter in with Jesus into the chambers of true teaching.
The kingdom of heaven, we see plainly from this chapter, to be the church of Christ on earth, and each parable is intended to teach us something respecting the church of Christ upon earth. He begins with this important parable of the sower, and
Behold a sower went forth to sow, and when he sowed some seeds
fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up, some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth, and when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away; and some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up and choked them; but other fell into good ground and brought forth fruit, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold; who hath ears to hear let him hear.” When the disciples were privately with Jesus, they were deeply anxious to know what the meaning of that parable could be; it seemed as if the words of the parable— even though those words fell from the lips of the blessed Jesus himself—as if the words were insufficient to teach-it must be Jesus who should unfold the meaning of the words to them, and therefore he says, · Hear
therefore the parable of the sower,” Brethren, let us remember that words now are just as insufficient to teach as words then were, and let us pray for that state of mind and heart which will enable us to receive those words, under the power of that heavenly teacher, the same blessed Jesus who is with us now, to unfold to the believing, waiting heart the same mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Let us, therefore, learn from this parable
I. The need of a prepared mind to receive truth.
We have first, then, the need of a prepared mind to receive truth.
The teaching of this parable is not that there is any
difference in the teacher, or any difference in the truth taught. As far as this parable is concerned, the whole difference is made to result in the ground, and therefore the whole purpose of the teaching of this parable, is to warn men of the need of a prepared state of mind to receive divine truth.
Oh! how miserably is this forgotten by the great mass of men - how ready we are to come to hear God's word — how flippant we are in speaking of God's truth - how swift in passing judgment respecting what is right and what is wrong- how slow to remember that it is only the spiritual mind that can receive spiritual things— the intellectual mind that can receive intellectual things—the human affections that can receive the things that belong to divine love—and that it is only those who are in a prepared state that can receive the good seed of the kingdom to real, permanent, and enduring profit. What the parable therefore teaches on the very surface of it is this, that we must have our minds in a prepared state to receive divine truth. If some eminent preacher come into a neighbourhood, a man upon whose words God had bestowed his blessing, around whose person seems the very atmosphere of heaven, and who, wherever he goes, draws souls to Christ, and hearts to the fountain of everlasting life, how
will be ready to run to hear him, as if there were a certainty of blessing in the mere goodness of the man, or the power of his preaching. But this parable teaches us to ponder the path of our feet-it teaches us the need of sinking down to the thoughts of our own minds, into the state of our own feelings, into the purity of our own desires, into the consecratedness of our own purpose, or we may hear in vain, we may hear to our bitter and
everlasting damnation. Here, brethren, is that which this parable then especially sets before us, if we would profitably hear God's word ;-yes, even from the Son of God himself. We must have our minds and hearts prepared beforehand, or we cannot receive the word with profit.
II. Now, the second truth taught us here, is the natural capacities that are in all men to receive truth.
The four classes of hearers described in this parable had all ground that might have borne fruit. The "wayside” ground was not by nature unfit to receive divine truth. It was the ways of this world that had trodden down its surface, that had hardened it externally, and although there might have been a deep and fertile soil beneath, the trampling of the feet of this world's engagements, had so hardened the external surface as that it was unfit to receive-- it could not admit within itthe seed that was scattered upon it. The stony ground had a surface of earth over it, which was so far fitted to receive divine truth. The thorny ground might have been by nature more especially fertile than the other ground : for the more fertile the ground, the more rank the weeds. It was not, therefore, any natural incapacity in the ground to receive the seed, it was the state of the ground; not unfit by nature, but unfit by circumstances; it was this that made it unfruitful, “ nigh unto cursing.” The good ground did not in nature differ from the thorny ground, or from the wayside ground, but simply it was in a state of better preparation, for its natural capacity was only the same. Now here is a truth which we should ever have befor our minds : man's natural state
that he was made in the image of God; that being made in the image of God, he was the reflection of
the divine attributes; the qualities in man corresponded with the attributes of God; that the spiritual nature of man was fitted by nature to hold communion with the spiritual being of God ; that the intellectual nature of man was fitted by nature to consider and contemplateintelligently contemplate—the intelligent works of God; that the affectionate nature of man was naturally fitted to embrace the infinite love of God. That which man by nature had from God, when he came forth from his creative hand, man by nature has still, defiled, corrupted, trodden down, spoiled, but still these capacities are there,
a temple in ruins it may be, but it is the ruins of a temple fitted by nature for God to enter in and dwell there; affections perverted they may be, but still they are affections that never can be satisfied with all the creature objects upon which they are set — that never can be filled but by him for whom they were appointed the incarnate God. Do we not find the scriptures constantly appealing to man as being still in the image of God? Upon what other principle is that law respecting murder based, in the ix. chap. of Genesis, where the reason for that law is assigned, as you will find in the
“ Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man.” Man, therefore, has not lost the representative character of God, although he has become a sinner and a rebel, so that he who takes the life of man is taking the life of the representative of God, and therefore forfeits his own life, for in the image of God made he man. The law against polygamy, we find in the ii. chap. of the prophet Malachi, is in the same way based upon the fact, that man is still, in his moral and social nature, in the image of God, a corrupted image it may be, but still God's image.