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reality of the faith, on which it was founded, in that Son of God, who was made flesh for the salvation of man. But what merely human teacher could have delivered a system of duties, which were at once so original in themselves; and which were to derive their most powerful illustration, and the great motives to their performance, from doctrines so entirely opposed to the ordinary conceptions of men, as are involved in the belief of the incarnation, the death, the resurrection, and the ascension of the Son of God?
THE PARABLES OF OUR SAVIOUR.
THE Parables of our Saviour constitute a very prominent feature amongst the different modes of instruction which were adopted by Him: and in the adoption of a system of teaching, which was so intimately associated with the habits and tastes of the Jewish people; which was recommended to them by the practice of the inspired writings of the Old Testament; and which, above all, was peculiarly adapted to the circumstances under which our Saviour appeared amongst his own people, to teach them a religion, which was so much opposed to their feelings and prejudices, and to their ardent expectations with regard to the eternal duration of the Jewish polity; we have an additional proof of that divine wisdom, which marked the whole course of the instructions and the teaching of Him, who "knew what was in man."
But there are some observations, which it is important to make, previously to our entering on the consideration of our Saviour's Parables.
1. In the first place, it may be observed, that the circumstance of our Lord adopting this peculiar method of instruction was itself made
a subject of prophecy. For so it is observed by St Matthew'; who, after relating some of the most important of our Saviour's Parables, adds the following remark: "All these things spake Jesus in Parables: and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the Prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables: I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. This is the first, and a very important characteristic of this mode of teaching, as it was adopted by our Saviour, that it was itself made the subject of prophecy: strong argument in support of the
and it is a character of
our Saviour, as a divine teacher, that, in adopting this peculiar mode of instruction, he should fulfil a prophecy, and that not a very obvious one, concerning him.
2. But, secondly, there are other distinguishing characteristics, connected with the Parables of the New Testament; which, though this was a mode of instruction, to which the Jewish people were accustomed, and which was recommended to them by the sanction of the inspired writers of the Old Testament, especially distinguish the Parables of our Saviour, as a part of that dispensation to which they belong: and these are the intimate connection which they exhibit with the whole scheme of the doctrines and duties of his religion; the wonderful manner in which they unfold the history of the fortunes
1 Matth. xiii. 34, 35.
2 Psalm LXXviii. 2.
and destinies of his religion to the end of all things; the more than human skill with which they insinuate into the mind truths the most simple and the most sublime, and detect the most secret and hidden devices of the heart; and at the same time that they lay before us, in the most attractive and instructive manner, the duties and disposition of mind which God requires of us, enforce the practice of these duties by the most solemn sanctions; by the uncertainty of life; by the certainty of death and judgment; and by the awful nature of that account, which we must give to our Redeemer and our Judge. It is impossible to peruse the Parables of our Saviour, without feeling, that what the Apostle has said of Scripture in general, is in an especial manner applicable to the Parables in particular: The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart: neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do1.
These remarks may be illustrated by a reference to some of the most important of our Saviour's Parables:
1. For instance, with respect to the Parable of The Sower, how accurately is the fate of the Gospel, not only in the reception which it met
1 Hebr. iv. 12, 13.
with from the hearers of our Saviour, but in all ages of the world, represented in the different descriptions of ground, into which the seed fell. In every age we behold those, in whose hearts the seed falls as it were by the way-side; we see others again, who receive it as it were into the stony ground; others again, in whom it is choked by the cares and riches of this world, the thorns which beset the Christian's path; and in others, again, it falls into an honest and good heart, and brings forth fruit, some thirty-fold, some sixty, and some an hundred2. Again, in
the Parables, of The net which was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, and of The tares in the field, how faithfully are described the actual condition of the Christian religion in the world, the causes which led to its corruption, and the final judgment at the end of all things, when all the present seeming inequalities of the divine government will be removed; and the Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and them that do iniquity; and shall sever the wicked from among the just; them into the furnace of fire:
and shall cast
there shall be In how strik
weeping and gnashing of teeth. ing a manner, in the Parables of The treasure hid in the field and of The merchantman seeking goodly pearls, is represented the duty of seeking earnestly for that heavenly treasure, that pearl
2 Matth. xiii. 3, &c.
Mark iv. 3, &c.
Luke viii. 4, &c.
4 Ib. 24-30. 36.
5 Ib. 41, 42. 49, 50,