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THE PARABLES OF OUR SAVIOUR.
EDWARD N. KIRK, D.D.
(CORNER OF WHITE STREET.)
ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by
EDWARD N. KIRK, In the Clerk's Ofice of the District Court of the United States for the
District of Massachusetts
THE parables spoken by our Lord have always, and deservedly, attracted a peculiar share of attention. All the utterances of him, who spake as never man spake, are wonderful. But the pious readers of the Scriptures have ever felt a peculiar charmi in these simple unfoldings of the sublimest truths.
Scientific men have labored to define the parables ; but have generally failed, by aiming too high. The popular notion of a parable is, that it is a fictitious narrative, illustrating a religious principle, like that of the Prodigal Son. And yet all persons have admitted among the parables many statements or comparisons, which in no degree partake of the narrative form.
The word Parable is employed in nearly fifty places in the New Testament, and in various specific senses. Its generic notion is simply that of comparison, or similitude. The English translators have rendered it by “comparison ” (as in Mark iv., 30); “figure” (Heb. ix., 9); “proverb” (Luke iv., 23); and “parable.”
Regarding the parables then as strictly mere figures, more or less expanded, and more or less explained ; about one hundred of them occur in the discourses of our Lord; to only twenty-two of which is the name of parable applied by the sacred writers.
Viewed in this light, it is very interesting to contemplate them, first, as groups of natural objects; then, as emblems of
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spiritual truths. Thus brought together, they suggest many impressive and valuable reflections; preëminently exhibiting the simplicity and grandeur of the Saviour's teaching. Viewed on their natural side, they are like that toy of our childhood, the kite, which the philosopher employed for the grave purposes of science. Viewed on their spiritual side, they resemble the electric light and power of the heavens, which Franklin brought gently to the earth by that kite.
These figures are chosen partly from agricultural or pastoral life : as the sower, the tares, the mustard-seed, wolves in sheepskins, sheep among wolves, the harvest, the yoke, the laborers hired, the ploughman, &c.; partly from domestic objects, scenes, interests and employments: the leaven, the salt, the wedding, &c.; from the ordinary feelings of men concerning property; from their feelings toward the unfaithful; from the common estimate of kindness; and from the feelings of men concerning responsibility, prudence, ostentation, and erring children; from fishing; from nature's familiar objects; from history; from ordinary occupations; from Jewish society and its customs; from popular belief, and popular maxims.
It is then obvious that the range of subjects embraced in these parables makes them at once supremely important and directly practical; and, if the course of Lectures here presented had aimed to be scientific rather than popular, it should have embraced a discussion, more or less extended, of every subject figuratively presented by our Saviour. It might then, however, be difficult to render a sufficient reason for presenting in one work that class of subjects, rather than those which he uttered in a literal form; and this course of illustrations being necessarily limited, the author was guided in his selection from the whole group solely by the peculiar interest which, from the time they fell from those sacred lips, has invested this portion of these beautiful and impressive exhibitions of religious truth.
The classification of them here made is not the only one for which substantial reasons might be given; but it claims to be just, so far as it goes.
As it may assist some student of the sacred oracles to have a list of the subjects which the great Teacher has chosen to represent in figurative forms, they are here presented under an arrangement more or less complete; but which, it is believed, will be found by many to be very interesting and impressive.
The Gospel sent from God The Sower, . . . Matt. xiii. 3.
to save man, Vindication of God's mercy Lost Silver and Sheep, . Luke xv. 1. Christ, a sufferer, . . | Jonah ; Broken bread, . | Matt. xii, 39 ;
Luke xxii. 19. • life and support of Woman in travail, . . John xvi. 21. the Church,
John xii. 24. Grain in ground, . . Matt. xvi. 18; Rock; Vine, .
John xv. 1. “ Saviour, . Temple ; Water; Bread, John ii. 19, iv. 14,
vi. 35. Door ; Shepherd; Light, John x. 7, xiii. Physician ; Serpent of Matt. ix.; John iü.
The Resurrection and Life, John xi. 25. " in heaven,, . New wine; Providing man- Matt. xxvi.; John sions,
xiv. The Church, a blessing, . | Light of world ; Salt, . Matt. v. “ “ imperfect, Tares,, .
Matt. xiii. " transferred, Unfaithful steward, . Matt. xxi. 16 " will become Mustard seed, . .
Matt, xiii. universal. Satan dispossessed, . . Strong man armed,
Matt. xii. Man a sinner, . . The Sick,
impenitence, unbelief, Two Masters, . Matt. vi.
The Unclean Spirit, Matt. xii.
Censoriousness, Moto and Beam; Gnat Matt. vii., xxiii.