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Then he saith, I will return into my house,' &c. The man is called his house, because he had been the place where the spirit had dwelt. 'He findeth it empty,' &c. By the absence of the evil spirit, the house is represented as unoccupied, or empty. Swept and garnished.' That is, while the evil spirit was away, the man was restored to his right mind, was freed from his wicked influence. 'Garnished.' Adorned, put in order, furnished. Applied to the man, it means that his mind was restored when the evil spirit was gone; or, he had a lucid interval.
45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this
wicked generation. 'Then he goeth,' &c. Seeing the state of the man, envious of the happiness of the individual, and supremely bent on evil, he resolved to increase his malignant influences, and return. Seven was a favourite number with the Jews, and was used to denote completeness or perfection, or any finished or complete number. See 1 Sam ii. 5. Here it means a sufficient number completely to occupy and harass the soul. 'Even so shall it be with this generation. This shows the scope and design of this illustration. The state of that man was a representation of that generation of men. Much might be done to cure their unbelief-much to reform them externally-but such was the firm hold which the principles of infidelity and wickedness had taken of their minds as their proper habitation, that they would return, after all the means used to reform them, and the people would be worse and worse. And this was literally accomplished. After all the instructions and miracles of the Saviour and his apostles; after all that had been done for them by holy men and prophets, and by the judgments and mercies of God; and after all their external temporary reformations, yet such was their love of wickedness, that the nation became worse and worse. They increased in crime, they rejected God's messengers, abused his mercies, crucified his Son, and God gave them, and their temple, and capital, and nation, into the hands of the Romans, and thousands of the people were destroyed.
46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
See also Mark iii. 31-35. Luke viii. 19-21. His brethren,' The children of Mary his mother. See also Mark vi. 3.
48 But he answered and said unto him that toid him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
'Who is my mother?' &c. There was no want of affection or respect in Jesus towards his mother, as is proved by his whole life. See especially Luke ii. 51, and John xix. 25-27. This question was asked merely to fix the attention of the hearers, and to prepare them for the answer-that is, to show them who sustained towards him the nearest and most tender relation. Dear and tender as were the ties which bound him to his mother and brethren, yet those which bound him to his disciples were more tender and sacred. How great was his love! And what a bright illustration of his own doctrine, that we ought to forsake father, and mother, and friends, and houses, and lands, to be his followers! He will always love them. His heart is full of affection for them. And though poor, and despised, and unknown to the rich and mighty, yet to Jesus they are still dearer than mother, and sisters, and brothers.
1 THE same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the seaside. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 'The seaside.' This was the sea of Tiberias.
3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow ;
'In parables. The word 'parable' is derived from a Greek word, signifying to compare together, and denotes a similitude taken from a natural object, to illustrate a spiritual or moral subject. It is a narrative of some fictitious or real event, in order to illustrate more clearly some truth that the speaker wished to communicate. Heathen writers often employed it. In the time of Christ it was in common use; the prophets had used it, and Christ employed it often in teaching his disciples. It is not necessary to suppose that the narratives were strictly true. The main thing the inculcation of spiritual truth-was gained equally, whether it was true, or only a supposed case. This was well understood. No person was deceived. The speaker was
not understood to affirm the thing literally narrated, but only to fix the attention more firmly on the moral truth that he presented.
Our Saviour's parables are distinguished above all others for clearness, purity, easiness to be understood, importance of instruction, and simplicity. They are taken mostly from the affairs of common life, and intelligible therefore to all men. They contain much of himself, his doctrine, life, design in coming, and claims, and are therefore of importance to all men ; and they are told with simplicity intelligible to the child, yet instruc tive to men of every rank and age. In his parables, as in all his instructions, our Lord excelled all men in the purity, importance, and sublimity of his doctrine. Never man spake like him. 'A sower went forth to sow.' The image here is taken from an employment known to all men, and therefore understood by all. Nor can there be a more striking illustration of preaching the gospel than placing the seed in the ground to spring up hereafter, and bear fruit. 'Sower.' One who sows or scatters seed. It is not improbable that one was near the Saviour when he spoke this parable.
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
'Some seeds fell by the way side.' That is, the hard path which the plough had not touched, and where there was no opportunity for it to sink into the earth.
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root they withered away.
'Stony places.' Where there was little earth, but hard and rocky underneath; so that the roots could not strike down into the earth for sufficient moisture to support the plant. Forthwith.' Immediately. Not that they sprouted and grew any quicker or faster than the others, but they were not so long in reaching the surface. Having little root they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
"Among thorns.' That is, in a part of the field where the thorns and shrubs had been imperfectly cleared away, and not destroyed. They grew with the grain, crowded it, shaded it, exhausted the earth, and thus choked it.
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold.
'Into good ground.' The fertile and rich soil. In sowing, by far the largest proportion of seed will fall into the good soil; but Christ did not intend to teach that these proportions would be exactly the same among those who heard the gospel. Parables are designed to teach some general truth; and the circumstances should not be pressed too much in explaining them. 'An hundred fold,' &c. That is, a hundred, sixty, or thirty grains, for each one that was sowed.
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
See Matt. xi. 15.
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
See also Mark iv. 10-12. Luke viii. 9, 10. "The mysteries of the kingdom. The word 'mystery,' in the bible, properly means a thing that is concealed, or that has been concealed. Thus the mysteries of the kingdom mean doctrines about the preaching of the gospel, and the establishment of the new kingdom of the Messiah which had not been understood, and which were as yet concealed from the great body of the Jews. See Rom. xvi. 25; xi. 25. Eph. iii. 3, 4,9. Of this nature was the truth that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles, that the Jewish polity was to cease, that the Messiah was to die, &c. To the disciples given to know these truths. To the others it was not then given. They were too gross, too earthly; they had conceptions of the Messiah's kingdom too grovelling to understand these truths, even if presented. Hence our Saviour purposely employed a kind of teaching that they did not understand.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
'Whosoever hath,' &c. This is a proverbial mode of speaking. It means that a man who improves what light, grace, and opportunities he has, shall have them increased. From him that improves them not, it proper that they should be taken away.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
'Because they seeing, see not.' Mark, iv. 12, and Luke, viii. 10, say, 'That seeing, they may not see,' &c. But there is no difference. Matthew simply states the fact, that though they saw the natural meaning of the story-though they literally understood
the parable-yet they did not understand its spiritual signi fication. Mark and Luke do not state the fact, but affirm that he spoke with this intention, implying that such was the result. He had truths to state which he wished his disciples particularly to understand. He stated the doctrines so that if their hearts had been right, and if they had not been malignant and blind, they might have understood them. By little and little, in this way, he prepared many even of the Jews to receive the truth.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
This place is quoted substantially from Isa. vi. 9, 10. The words of Isaiah were as well fitted to express the character of the people in the time of Christ, as in that of the prophet. In this sense they were fulfilled, or filled up, or a case occurred that corresponded to their meaning. The meaning in both places is, that the people were so gross, sensual, and prejudiced, that they would not see the truth, or understand any thing that was contrary to their grovelling opinions and sensual desires; a case by no means uncommon in the world. 'Waxed gross. Literally, has become fat. It is commonly applied to the body, but is also used to denote one who is stupid and foolish in mind. 'Lest they should see,' &c. Lest they should see their lost condition as sinners, and turn and live. The reason given here why they did not hear and understand the gospel is, that their heart was wrong. They would not attend to the things that make for their peace. 'I should heal them.' Should pardon, sanctify, and save them.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
Blessed are your eyes,' &c. That is, you are happy, endued with the Divine favour, that you are permitted to see truth which they will not see. You are permitted to understand the spiritual meaning of the parables.
17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
'Many prophets and righteous men,' &c. They wished to see