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Verses 18-19

Matthew 13:18-19. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower A parable which our Lord judged to be so important that he introduced it with a double demand of attention, Hearken, behold; Mark 4:3; and concluded it with a third, and still more solemn demand thereof, who hath ears to hear, let him hear; and here, proceeding to the explanation of it, he calls for attention the fourth time. And the reason of this is evident: the parable sets before us, in a summary point of view, all the grand hinderances of our bearing fruit, and that in the same order in which they occur. The first danger is, lest the birds should devour the seed, or it should be trodden down. If it escape this, there is then another danger, namely, lest it be scorched, and wither away. It is long after this that the thorns spring up and choke the good seed. A vast number of those who hear the word of God, receive the seed as by the way-side. Of those who do not lose it by the birds, yet many receive it as on stony places. Many of them who receive it on a better soil, yet suffer the thorns to grow up and choke it: so that few even of these endure to the end, and bear fruit unto perfection: yet in all these cases, it is not the will of God that hinders, but their own voluntary perverseness. When any one heareth, &c. The parable, it must be observed, only concerns the hearers of the gospel. As to those who decline, or neglect to hear it, their portion is frequently given them elsewhere, and their danger and misery declared with sufficient clearness; the word of the kingdom Namely, of the kingdom of Christ, generally termed in the gospels, the kingdom of God, or of heaven: the word which describes the nature, and shows the excellency and necessity of the kingdom of grace, preparatory to that of glory, and points out the way leading thereto. See notes on Romans 14:17; and Mark 1:15. This is the good seed, which every sower sent by Jesus Christ will be careful to sow. Not the chaff of metaphysical speculations, of human traditions, and empty notions, nor the light corn of mere moral doctrines, much less the tares of superstitious injunctions, or of enthusiastical, or Pharisaic, or antinomian delusions; but the solid and well-bodied grain of the essential truths of the gospel of Christ. And understandeth it not For the truths that are not understood, how often soever they are heard, are in this parable fitly compared to the seed which lies uncovered on the surface of the ground, exposed to be instantly picked up by the fowls of heaven. But why is not the word of the kingdom understood? Either, 1st, because, while delivered, it is not attended to; or, 2d, because it is not heard in a spirit of prayer for divine illumination, without which divine things are not understood, Luke 24:45; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 2:14. But the Greek expression, μη συνιεντος , may with equal propriety be rendered considereth it not. Considering or meditating upon the word heard, is like harrowing in and covering up the seed sown on the ploughed ground; in consequence whereof, and not otherwise, imbibing moisture from the earth, it vegetates and springs up. When the word is not thus understood and considered, then cometh the wicked one; Satan cometh immediately; (so Mark;) either inwardly filling the mind with thoughts of other things, and exciting earthly and carnal desires and dispositions in the heart; or by his agents, such as all they are that introduce other subjects when people should be considering what they have heard. And catcheth away that which was sown in his heart Which was intended deeply to impress and sink into it; and to remain, not only in the understanding and memory, but also in the affections, as a seed of true piety and virtue. And now the seed, the truths heard, being taken away, with the good impressions produced thereby, no fruit is to be looked for. It is justly observed here by Dr. Whitby, that this industry of Satan to snatch the word out of our hearts, as it discovers his enmity against the gospel, so doth it highly commend the excellency and efficacy of it: for were it not of great importance to preserve it there, he would not be so industrious to snatch it thence. And were it not, when there, a powerful instrument to work within us that faith which purifies the heart, why doth he do this lest we should believe? See Luke 8:12. This is he that receiveth seed by the way-side And a great proportion of most congregations are of this description.

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