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find in the latter clause of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th verse, " Yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant ;” and did he not make one ? “ Yet had he the residue of the Spirit, and wherefore one ? That might seek a goodly seed." Here the prophet gives the same argument as our blessed Saviour, who appealed as Malachi did to the Garden of Eden, to Adam and to Eve, to teach us that man, in his social capacity, is the same being now, naturally, that he was when unfallen in Eden's Garden; and that we may apply the laws that belonged to him in Eden to the condition of man now, as to what he is, in the reality of his nature. So, if we were not naturally in the image of God now, there would be no force in the analogy there drawn. The same view is taken by the apostle James, in the 3rd chap. of his Epistle, and the 9th verse, Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.”

These passages, therefore, harmonize with that part of the teaching of this parable, that man has the natural capacity for receiving divine truth ; but the parable also teaches us, that that natural capacity is rendered unfit to receive divine truth, and this brings us to the third subject.

III. The hindrance to profitable learning. The very leading idea of the parable is, that the heart naturally fitted by God, has become unnaturally corrupted by sin, and that, in that state, it cannot profitably hear divine truth. Let us consider, then, in the third place, the hindrances to profitable hearing, as brought before our thoughts by our blessed Saviour.

1. The first he gives, is the ground that is made a pathway by this world's travelling, the ground that is left open for every passer-by that chooses to tread it down,


and make it a path for his own purposes — not hedged in--not weeded — not broken - not prepared—no care of the husbandman bestowed upon it, but left there exposed and open, to be trodden down by the feet of

every passer-by. Here we have the general character of the world, “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart: this is he that received the seed by the wayside.” Men can no more receive divine truth into them, who are not giving heed to divine truth, than can the trodden-down path of this world's highway open itself to receive the seed of the natural corn that may be scattered upon its surface. And is not this what we find in the larger proportion of men ? Every worldly care may tread them down--every worldly thought may pass over their minds -every hardening influence may go by unremoved, until their minds get into that state, that the light of truth cannot penetrate the power of truth cannot enter ; they have ears, but they do not hear—they have eyes, but they do not see. The seed of divine truth is cast upon the surface of their minds; the enemy of souls is watching, and he comes and takes away that word that was thrown upon their minds; they are like the senseless ground, they have never received it, and they never can receive it; they are a highway for the world and its travellers ; and thus they bring forth no fruit. Here, then, is the first hindrance, which our blessed Saviour brings before us, the dulness - the carelessness the hardness of the state of mind, which is trampled down by every neglected circumstance, and every casual person that may exercise his worldly, deadening, hardening, influence on the wayside of their hearts.

2. The second class of persons presents a very different reason for not producing fruit. There, it is not the world's footpath, but it is a superficial attention, the upper surface soft enough, all that is apparent prepared enough ; but there was no depth, underneath was hard rock. The seed was cast upon the ground, --it entered in sufficiently; the depth of soil was sufficient not only to receive the seed, but to receive the warmth of the sun and the moisture of the rain that falls, upon the evil and upon the good. There was, therefore, in the beginning, the same effect as in the good ground. But presently the moisture began to exercise its influence upon the seed ; that warmth began to develop its powers; and the seed began, in the course of nature, to strike its roots downwards, and it finds a hardened soil underneath, which it cannot penetrate; and then the power of the sun makes the rootless seed to wither away; no fruit can be brought forth in that superficial soil; the greenness that was for a season seen there is dried up and withered; the early promise of fruit, all the earlier because of its shallowness, vanishes away into disappointment, and it brings forth no fruit. Oh! what an example to us of another state of the hearts of men. Man has his deep principles, that enter into the very depth of his being; and he has those sympathies that are but as it were upon the surface of his heart and mind. There is that state of mind in which we give deep, earnest heed ---- thoughts that follow us

, wherever we go

that enter with us into our lonely chamber--that go with us into the abodes of the world's business that come with us to the house of God -that are our abiding thoughts. There are feelings that in the same way have a sort of omnipresence with us ;

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whether we have feelings of joy or sorrow from the passing events around us, there is a deep joy within, or a deep sorrow within — an abiding feeling that goes down to the depth of our nature, and that never leaves us, which becomes part and parcel of ourselves. And are there not other thoughts — thoughts that are but on the surface ? The man who hears--the man who listens to them — who, for a short season, gives heed — who, perhaps, is solemnized in the house of God — whose attention is arrested by some providence of God -- who is called to an interest in divine things by the sympathy of human influence - the surface of whose heart and feelings is touched, is warmed, is moistened, --and yet when it comes to have to stand the blowing of the world's trials--the scorching of the world's persecutions—when the depth of it has to be tested, and something has to be sacrificed for it--when it shall be something for which we must count loss or gain,-all other things, then, we shall find, that these men cannot stand that test, they had not counted that cost; the truth does not penetrate into their being ; there may be a softening feeling for a while there may be a warm reflection for a while, but there is no depth within; all vanishes away when persecution or tribulation arises ; because of the word “ by-and-by” they are offended; all their green. ness is withered --all their promise of fruit is gone, and they are unprofitable hearers. They may, our blessed Saviour teaches, they may have received the word with joy- they may, for a while, believe, but when the time of temptation cometh, it will be found that they have no root, they wither away. These are they who are the rocky ground hearers; who have the sympathies of religion, but not the feelings of religion ; it has not entered within ; a hardened heart beneath a softened surface makes them unprofitable hearers.

3. There is a third hindrance, a more awful hind. rance---a heart that is not represented as being a hardened heart, but a heart that is a neglected heart; capacities for fruitfulness and depth of soul, but it is a neglected heart. Every power, whether in physical things or in moral things, is powerful for evil as well as good ; that mighty agent that can roll onwards hundreds of tons weight in safety and with speed, can also drive the same thing off its line, and hurl to destruction those who had trusted to its power. It is just the same with all our moral and all our spiritual being; the power that we have of ascending in thought and mind to the very throne of God is an awful power that can descend in thought and mind to the very depths of hell. Those affections that are fitted to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and to admit him into the inner court of the heart's sanctuary, are fitted to receive the great enemy of truth, the adversary of souls, the bitter hater of the Lord Jesus— they

upon evil as upon good. This is the state of mind our Saviour describes here : a heart so neglected as that, instead of bearing the good seed that it was fitted to receive, has admitted thorns, has admitted briers, has admitted, by its neglect, the things that choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Now, our Saviour tells us what these are, there is the care of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the desire of other things : these are the three classes of thorns and briers which our blessed Saviour tells us may choke the word.

The poor man that is burdened with cares, saying · what shall I eat and what shall I drink, and where

may be fixed

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