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Let the whole subject teach us these two things: To follow the strait path of duty wherever it may lead us. Duty led Elijah into the desertmade him an outcast and a fugitive-homeless and houseless. Our duties are not likely to do this for Yet they are very likely to lead us into circumstances of difficulty and distress; very likely to cause much temporal discomfort and loss, and to take us over a very uneven and thorny path. Nevertheless, let us follow it. It is at all events the safe path; and we may be sure, that as Elijah found God present with him in the desert, so we shall find, that where duty leads us, grace will follow us. Let the subject teach us also,
To care for our souls, and trust God to take care of our bodies: I mean, to seek first the favour of the God of Grace, and to trust all other things in the hands of the God of Providence. Elijah tried this plan, and it did not disappoint him. It will never disappoint any one. 'They that seek the Lord," says the Psalmist, "shall not want any good thing." "All things," says the Apostle, shall work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose."
MARK iv. 26—29.
"And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come."
THIS is one of our Lord's parables, which neither of the other Evangelists has recorded; and we ought therefore to rejoice that St. Mark was directed to mention it, or we should have lost the benefit of the very important and useful lessons it is calculated to convey to our minds.
Herein we read, as we do in so many other passages of Scripture, about the kingdom of God. But do we ever think upon this kingdom, and pray that it may be established in our hearts, and that He, whose throne is heaven, and whose footstool is earth, would condescend to rule, govern, and direct us?
How many are there, who are wise about earthly kingdoms, and yet very ignorant about this heavenly kingdom! who love to read and to hear and to
talk about the princes and governments of this world, yet feel no interest in any thing connected with Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords!
Yet His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endureth throughout all ages. And is not this a nobler subject for man's mind to dwell upon, than the politics of this vain and transitory world?
When Satan tempted Christ, he offered Him all the kingdoms of the world. Christ offers us more; He offers us the kingdom of heaven. He sets before us and bids us accept, not crowns of gold, (these will perish and decay-their lustre will tarnish-the heads that wear them will moulder in the dust) but crowns of glory; and He makes those that love Him kings to God, even His Father.
Our Lord spoke much about this kingdom. Indeed, much is said about it throughout the Bible; and what is often mentioned in our Bibles, ought to be often dwelling on our minds. So much would not have been written on the subject, if it were not of the highest moment, and one in which we are all deeply interested. May our acquaintance with it be increased, while we consider what is said concerning it in the Text: in discoursing upon which I shall notice,
I. THE PARABLE.
II. THE INTERPRETATION.
III. THE IMPROVEMENT.
I. THE PARABLE. Wherein we find an account of a person engaged in agriculture, or a farmer, one whose business and occupation it is to cultivate the ground, and raise corn for the subsistence and support of himself and others.
We find this person at the proper time of the
year, going forth into his fields, and sowing them with such sorts of grain, and in such quantities, and in such a manner, as he sees fit. This done, he leaves the fields and the seed sown therein; there is nothing more for him to do there; so he goes about some other business, and employs himself in some other way.
Meanwhile, the seed sown in the ground, does not long remain there in the state in which it was sown. While the farmer is sleeping and rising night and day, unable to hasten the growth of his crop, yet anxiously watching the event of his labours, the seed buds and springs, and soon gets above ground; and so it continues to grow and increase, watered by the rain and ripened by the sunshine, till the ear is brought forth, the grain is ripe, and the time of harvest comes. All this is done, the farmer knows not how. He sees the result, but how or in what manner it is accomplished, it is far beyond him to understand or to explain. He has to wait indeed a long time for the fruit of his labours; but in the end he is amply repaid for all the toil and trouble and expence he has had in preparing the ground and sowing the seed.
Such is a somewhat enlarged account of the parable contained in the Text. We proceed to consider,
II. THE INTERPRETATION THEREOF. Now there are two ways in which it may be interpreted, the one general, and the other particular; the one referring to the world at large, the other to individual persons.
The seed is the gospel, the word of life and salvation, the message of mercy from Almighty God to lost sinners; the revelation of that way, by which
guilty man may be restored to the favour of God, and attain unto everlasting life. The act of sowing this seed is the preaching of the gospel, the declaring to men how they may save their souls and escape from the wrath to come.
The sower, or the person sowing the seed, represents Christ Himself; who was the first and great preacher, who spent His life in instructing men in the things belonging to their peace, and thus scattered the seed of the Gospel all over the land of Israel where He lived. The sower represents likewise every minister of Christ, every person who is employed in the great work of bringing sinners to a knowledge of the truth. Such were Paul and Silas, whom we find in the Acts, going about from place to place, from one country to another, preaching Christ crucified, and beseeching men to believe the Gospel and turn unto God. Such is every minister now; such is every one engaged in imparting scriptural knowledge and religious information, whether to grown-up persons or to children. These are all sowers of the good seed of the Gospel, employed as the farmer in the Text, in casting seed into the ground, in hopes that some of it will grow.
Now if we consider this parable in a general point of view,
The ground in which the seed is sown, means the world at large. Christ began sowing the seed in Judea and Galilee. His apostles went further, and planted the Gospel far and near; insomuch that within a few years after Christ's death, most of the principal places of the then known and civilized world had heard the doctrines of the grace of God. The Apostle Paul, referring merely to