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the true shepherd of Souls. Among vines he discourses of the spiritual husbandman and vine-dresser, and draws a parallel between bit vineyard and the natural one. Upon the appearance of summer in the trees before him, he points out evident signs of his approaching kingdom.— When the harvest comes on, he reminds his disciples of the spiritual harvest, the harvest of true believers; and exhorts them to labor diligently in that work, and add their prayers to Heaven for its success. From servants being made free in the sabbatical year, he takes occasion to proclaim a nobler emancipation and more important redemption from the slavery of sin, and the bondage of corruption, by the death of Christ. From the eminence ot" a city standing on a hill, he turns his discourse to the conspicuous situation of his own disciples. From the temple before him, he points to that of his own body; and from Herod's unadvisedly leading out his army to meet the king of Arabia, who came against him with a superior force* and deseated him, a lesson is held out to all who entered on the Christian warfare, that they Ihould sirst well weigh and caresully compute the dissiculties attending ft, and by the grace of God resolve to surmount them."
In the same manner, when he delivered the parable ot the sower, which w e sind in this chapter, and which will be the next subject of our consideration, it was probablf seed-time, and from the ship in which he taught he might observe the husbandmen scattering their seed upon the earth. From thence he took occasion to illustrate, by that rural and familiar image, the different effects which the doctrines of Christianity had on different men, according to the different tempers and dispositions that they happened to meet with.
"Behold," says he, " a sower went forth to sow.. And when he sowed, some sell by the way-side, and the fowls came and devoured them up. Some sell upon stony places, where they had not much earth, and fortwith 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 sell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But other Tell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold." As our blessed Lord, soon after he had uttered this parable, explained it to his disciples, it is highly proper that you Ihould have this explanation in his own words. "Hear
ye, therefore," says he, "the parable of the sower
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 which received seed by the way-side. But he received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while ; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns, is he that heareth the word, and and the cares of this world and the deceitsulness of riches choke the word, and he becometh unsruitsul. But he that Teceived seed into the good ground, is he that heareth the word and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty."
Such is the parable of the sower, and the explanation of it by our Saviour, which will surnish us with abundant matter for a great variety of very important reflections. But as these cannot be distinctly stated and sussiciently enlarged upon at present, without going to a considerable length of time, and trespassing too sar on that patience and indulgence which I have already but too often put to the test, I must reserve for my next Lecture the observations I have to offer on this very interesting and instructive parable.
MATTHEW xiii. continued.
1 HE last Lecture concluded with a recital of the parable of the sower, and our Lord's explanation of it; and I now proceed to lay before you thofe reflections which it has suggested to my mind.
In the sirst place then it must be observed, that this parable, like many others, is prophetic as well as instructive; it predicts the sate of the Christian religion in the world, and the different forts of reception it will meet with from different men. And as this prediction is completely verisied by the present state of religion, as we see it at this hour existing among ourselves, it affords one very decisive proof of Christ's power of foreseeing sutureevents, and of course tends strongly to establish the truth of his pretensions, and the divine authority of his religion.
In the next place it is evident that there are four different classes of men here described, which comprehend all the different religious or irreligious characters that are to be met with in the world. The sirst consists of thofe "that hear the word of the kingdom (as our Lord expresses it) and understand it not ; then cometh the wicked one and catcheth away that which was sown in their hearts. These are they, says he, which received seed by the wayside." By these are meant thofe persons whofe minds, like the beaten high road, are hard and impenetrable, and inaccessible to conviction. Of these we all know there are too many in the world; some who have imbibed early and deep-rooted prejudices against Christianity ; who either conceiving themselves superior to the rest of mankind in genius, knowledge, and penetration, reject with scorn whatever the bulk of mankind receives with veneration,
and erect savourite systems of their own, which they conceive to be the very persection of human wisdom; or, on the other hand, having been unsortunately very early initiated in the writings of modern philofophists, implicitly adopt the opinions of thofe whom they consider as the great luminaries and oracles of the age, receive ridicule as argument, and assertion as proof and preser the silly witticisms, the specious sophistry, the metaphysical subtlety, the course buffoonery, which distinguish many of the jnost popular opponents of our saith, to the simplicity, dignity, and sublimity of the divine truths of the GofpeL These are the prpsessed insidels, or, as they choofe to style themselves, the disciples of philofophy and reason, and the enemies of priestcrast, sanaticism, and superstition.
But besides these there is another description of men, on whom the good seek makes little or no impression ; these are the thoughtless, the inattentive, the inconsiderate, the trissing, the gay, who think of nothing beyond the present scene, and who do not consider themselves as in the smallest degree interested in any thing else. These mea, without prosessing themselves unbelievers, without formally and explicitly rejecting the Gofpel, yet do in sact never concern themselves about it. It forms no part of their system, it does not at all enter into their plans of lise. The former fort above described are insidels on principle; these are practical insidels, without any principle at all. Being born of Christian parents, and instructed perhaps in the sirst rudiments of Christianity, they call themselves Christian; they attend divine service, they repeat their prayers, they listen to the discourses of the preacher, they make no objections to what they hear, they question not the propriety of what they are taught? but here their religion ends; it never goes beyond the sursace, it never penetrates into their hearts, it lies on the hard beaten highway. The instant they leave the church, every idea of religion vanishes out of their thoughts; they never reflect for one moment on what they have heard; they never consider the insinite importance of what is to happen after death? the awsul proipects of eternity never present themselves to their minds, neither excite their hopes nor alarm their sears.—