« VorigeDoorgaan »
four kinds of ground, the effect of preaching and teaching on four different classes of hearers." Behold, a sower went forth to sow," &c. I once read to a little friend of mine, and said to him, do you understand this parable? "O yes," said he. He was a very small boy, and I thought he might be mistaken, and so I said, are you sure of it? He answered, Yes, I am sure, because I found it explained in the same chapter." I was glad that the dear child had read his Bible with so much attention. Have any of my readers observed the explanation which our Saviour gives of this parable? If you have, I am glad that you too read the Bible with attention; if not, I wish you would now take the Bible, and turning to the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, read from the eighteenth verse to the twenty-fourth.
When the farmer sows the seed which produces grain, he throws it around in different directions, and as he scatters it, some falls in good places, and some in bad. This seed which the sower casts around, our Saviour says, represents "the word of the kingdom," that is, the gospel which he taught, and his disciples taught in his name. The fowls which came and devoured the seed represent the Wicked One. That evil being who first brought sin into the world, and who now is seeking to make us all as wicked as himself; he catches away the truth from the hearts of all those who are not anxious to keep it in their minds, just as a hungry bird devours the grain he finds scattered on the ground. We are told that some seeds fell upon stony places, and they soon sprang up, but when the sun was up they were scorched; and because they had
no root they withered away. This represents such persons as are glad to hear the gospel when it is first preached to them; but they do not really love it. They receive it with joy, but are not truly converted, and when a time of trial comes, they fall away, they are offended, forsake the cause, and go back into the world. The seed that fell among thorns, represents such people as have their understandings and consciences convinced of the truth of the gospel, but suffer the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, to choke the word, so that it becomes unfruitful. They at first listen to the gospel, and it appears to take some root in their minds, but they love the riches, pleasures, and honors of this world so well that they cannot be willing to become disciples of the meek and lowly Saviour; and so they give up the hope of heaven for worldly good.
Jesus tells us that some seed fell on good ground and brought forth fruit, not all the same quantity, but all fruit of the same kind, and such as the sower approved. These represent true christians, such as really love and obey the Saviour. The fruit is those graces of the Spirit and good works which show that they endeavor to follow the example of Jesus, and make every body happy around them. "Some thirty, some sixty, and some an hundred fold." The christian, whose heart is full of love to God, will so strive to honor and serve him that he will bring forth much fruit; while others may truly love him, and yet not feel so much love as to lead them to be always active; besides, some have more health, some more talents, and some more influence, and some more money than
others, and these help them to do good. This fruit is much like children's obedience to their parents. A very affectionate child will be watching every opportunity to do that which will please his father, and cause him to look on him with a smile, and if he has an active mind, and enjoys good health, he can do more to serve and honor his father than another child can who does not enjoy these blessings.
Among those who were standing on the shore to listen to this parable, perhaps there were some of all these four kinds of hearers. Of those who read this parable now, no doubt there are some of each of these classes. Jesus did not speak of it for the instruction of that people only; but for you and me. He knew that we should live at this time, and he knew what kind of hearts we should have, and this was written to warn us against despising and neglecting the "Word of the kingdom." To which of these four classes of hearers would you choose to belong? It is of little consequence which it is, if it be not those represented by the good ground that brought forth fruit. You are among those that hear the word if you have never read any more of the Bible than you find in this little book. Will you soon forget what you read, or what you hear from the minister and your pious friends; and so be like the ground in which there was no deepness of earth for the seed to take root in? Or will you suffer the amusements of life to fill your mind, so that there will be no room in your heart for Jesus, and no time left to devote 'to his service? Will you not rather choose to be among those who love the words of Jesus; those
who believe in him, and trust in his righteousness, that you may in early life bring forth fruit to his honor and glory.
THE MIRACLES OF OUR SAVIOUR.
The Leper Cleansed.
MATT. viii. 1—3.
1. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
2. And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
3. And Jesus put forth his hand and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
IF you have read the New Testament through, or if you have read but a few chapters in the first part of it, you have found some account of the miracles which Jesus performed. Have you thought what a miracle is? I will try to tell you. It is an event contrary to the common course of nature, and one which the power of man cannot cause. Perhaps if you have read the Acts of the Apostles, you will remember that Paul and Peter and other Apostles wrought miracles; but did you observe that they did it in the name of Jesus of Nazareth? And never since the days of the Apostles have the followers of Christ been taught to perform miracles in his name. I told you a miracle was not like a common event. When our friends are sick, the physician gives them medicine, and we use every
means in our power to restore them to health. If God blesses these means they recover, but this is not a miracle, because it is the common method which God has taught us to use, and one which he often blesses. But if a person should cure our sick friend in a moment, without using any means, it would be a miracle; and we should know that the person who performed it must be very powerful; we should think that Jesus had come back to earth, or had sent one of his holy Apostles to work in his name.
We sometimes have violent winds, but they do not rise in a moment, nor die away in a moment; so when the sailors who are out on the ocean perceive the wind to be rising, they take in the sails of the vessel, and prepare every thing for the gale. If she ride safely over the mighty billows, and suffer no injury from the storm, she is not preserved by a miracle; but because God has caused the wind to go down as usual, and has blessed the means which he taught the sailors to use, to save themselves from sinking in the deep. Now if some person in the midst of this fearful gale had spoken to the wind, and by a word had hushed its fury, so that the waves were quiet, and the winds were still in a moment, it would have been a miracle, and we should have been convinced that the person who thus controlled the winds must be the God who made them, or one of his servants to whom he had given special power.
I was once walking out on a very windy day with a little boy who was about five years old. He had just begun to read the Bible, and his mind seemed much impressed with the miracles of which