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See also Mark iv. 30-32. The plant here described was very different from that which is known among us. It was a tall shrub, or properly a tree. The Hebrew writers speak of the mustard tree as one on which they could climb, as on a fig-tree. The seeds of this tree were remarkably small; so that they, with the great size of the plant, were an apt illustration of the progress of the church, and of the nature of faith, Matt. xvii. 20.
Young converts often suppose they have much religion, when it is not so. They are, indeed, in a new world. Their hearts glow with new affections. They have an elevation, an emotion, which they may not have afterwards-like a blind man suddenly restored to sight. In a little time, the young convert will see more distinctly, will judge more intelligently, will love more strongly, though not with so much new emotion, and will be prepared to make more sacrifices for the cause of Christ.
Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
The other parable declared the fact that the gospel would greatly spread, and that piety in the heart would greatly increase. This declares the way in which it should be done. It is secret, silent, steady; passing certainly through all the faculties of the soul, and all the kingdoms of the world, as leaven, or yeast, though hidden in the flour, and though deposited in only one place, yet works silently till all the mass is brought under its influence. 'Three measures.' The measure mentioned here probably contained about a peck and a half.
34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35 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 taken from Psa. lxxviii. 2, 3. The sense, and not the very words of the Psalm are given. Christ taught, as did Asaph, in parables. The words of Asaph described the manner in which Christ taught, and in this sense it could be said that they were fulfilled.
36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man ; 38 The field
is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
'Declare unto us.' That is, explain the meaning of the parable. This was done in so plain a manner as to render comment unnecessary. The Son of man, the Lord Jesus, sows the good seed, that is, preaches the gospel. This he did personally, and does now by his ministers, his providence, and his Spirit, by all the means of conveying truth to the mind. This seed was by various means to be carried over all the world. It was to be confined to no particular nation or people. 'The good seed are the children of the kingdom; that is, of the kingdom of God, or christians. For these the Saviour toiled and died. They are the fruit of his labours. Yet amidst them were wicked men; and all hypocrites and unbelievers in the church are the work of Satan. Yet they must remain together, till the end; when they shall be separated, and the righteous saved, and the wicked lost. The one shall shine clear as the sun; the other be cast into a furnace of fire. We have no idea of more acute suffering, than to be thrown into the fire, and to have our bodies made capable of bearing the burning heat, living in the midst of the flame, and living on in this burning heat for ever and for ever. Jesus meant to teach that this would be a proper representation of the sufferings of hell. He would not talk of hell fire which had no existence; nor would the God of truth hold out such frightful images merely to terrify mankind. If he has spoken of hell, then there is a hell. If he meant to say that the wicked shall suffer, then they will suffer.
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
"The kingdom of heaven.' He compares it to treasure hid in a field. That is, to money concealed; or, to a mine of silver
or gold, that was undiscovered by others, and unknown to the owner of the field. He hideth." That is, he conceals the fact that he has found it; he does not tell of it. With a view of obtaining this, Christ says, that a man would go and sell his property, and buy the field. Christ does not intend to vindicate his conduct. He merely states the way in which men do actually obtain wealth. He states a case, where a man would sacrifice his property, practise diligence and watchfulness, to obtain it. The point of the parable lies in his earnestness, his anxiety, his care, and his obtaining it. The gospel is valuable as such a treasure, Psa. xix. 10. Prov. iii. 13-15. From most men it is hid. When a man sees it, and hears it, it is his duty to sacrifice all in the way to his obtaining it; and to seek it with as much earnestness as other men seek for gold. The truth often lies buried, like rich veins of ore, in the sacred scriptures; it must be searched out with diligence; it is what a sinner needs; and it will repay him for all his sacrifices, Luke xiv. 33. Phil. iii. 8.
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
The meaning is, that the proper seeking for salvation, or the proper conduct in reference to religion, is like the conduct of a merchant. In his searches he found 'one pearl' of great value, and sold all his possessions to obtain it. Pearls are precious stones found in the shells of oysters, chiefly in the East Indies. Matt. vii. 6. They are valuable on account of their beauty and because they are rare: the value of them is greater or less according to their size. The meaning of this parable is nearly the same as the other. It is designed to represent the gospel as of more value than all other things, and to impress on us the duty of sacrificing all that we possess in order to obtain it.
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
This parable does not differ in meaning from that of the tares. The gospel is compared to a net, dragging along on the bottom of the lake, and collecting all, good and bad. But in the end of the world, when the net is drawn in, the bad will be separated from
the good: the one lost, and the other saved. Our Saviour never fails to keep before the minds of men, the great truth that there is to be a day of judgment, and that there will be a separation of the good and evil.
51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. 52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
'Every scribe-instructed unto the kingdom of heaven.' That is, every man who is acquainted with the gospel, or with the truth. A scribe here denotes a man acquainted with the truth. As the disciples had said that they had understood the truth, he says that it should not be unemployed. They should bring it forth in due time, like a householder bringing out of his treasury, or place of deposit, what had been laid up there at any time, as it was needed. Treasure,' here, means a place of deposit, not for money merely, but for any thing necessary for the comfort of a family. New and old.' Things lately acquired, or things that had been laid up a long time. 'Brought forth." As occasion demands; as sickness, or calamity, or the wants of his family, or the poor require. So, said Christ, be you. This truth, new or old, which you have gained, keep it not laid up and hid, but bring it forth, in due season, and on proper occasions to benefit others. A minister should be like the father of a family: distributing to the church as it needs; and out of his treasures bringing forth truth, to confirm the feeble, enlighten the ignorant, and guide those in danger of straying away.
53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
'Into his own country.' That is, into Nazareth. Mark, who has also recorded this, (ch. vi. 1-6,) says that it took place on the sabbath. It was common for our Saviour to speak in the synagogues. Any Jew had a right to address the people, if called on by the minister; and our Saviour often availed himself of the right to instruct the people, and declare his doctrines. See Matt. iv. 23.
55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and
Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
Is not this the carpenter's son? Mark says, Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary? Both these expressions would probably be used in the course of the conversation; and Matthew has recorded one, and Mark the other. The expression recorded by Mark is a strong, perhaps decisive, proof that he had worked at the business till he was thirty years of age. The people in the neighbourhood would understand well the nature of his first employments. It is, therefore, almost certain that this had been his manner of life. A useful employment is always honourable. Idleness is the parent of mischief. Our Saviour, therefore, spent the greatest part of his life in honest, useful industry. Life is not wasted in such employments. They are appointed as tne lot of man; and, in fidelity, in honest industry however humble, in patient labour, if connected with a life of religion, we may be sure that God will approve our conduct. It was, moreover, the custom for the Jews to train all their children-even those of wealth and learning-to some trade, or manual occupation. Thus Paul was a tent-maker. Compare Acts xviii. 3.
57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
'They were offended in him.' That is, they took offence at his humble birth; at the poverty of his family; they were too proud to be taught by one whom, in family connexions, they took to be their equal or inferior. Men always look with envy on those of their own rank who advance pretensions to uncommon wisdom or superior power. "A prophet is not without honour,' &c. This seems to be a proverbial expression. Christ advances it as a general truth. There might be some exceptions to it, but he was not an exception. Every where else he had been more honoured than at home. There they knew his family. They had seen his humble life. They had been his companions. They were envious of his wisdom; and too proud to be taught by him.
58 And he did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
'Did not many mighty works." Miracles. This implies that he performed some miracles. Mark tells us what they were. He laid his hands on a few sick folk, and healed them. cause of their unbelief." We are not to suppose that his power was limited by the belief, or unbelief, of men. But they were so prejudiced, that they were not in a condition to judge of evidence, and to be convinced. Compare John x. 20. It would