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who hears with any saving effect. Some of the good seed falls by the wayside, some on stony ground, some again drops among thorns. This sadly reminds us that on a large portion of mankind God's Word is thrown away. Their hearts are not in a state to receive it, and be blest by it. Few only bring forth fruit unto life eternal.
Let me now put a few things before you, which this Parable clearly teaches. · 1st. It teaches that our hearts must be prepared by God to receive the good seed of His truth. . Do you not prepare the Field, before the Sower comes to scatter the grain over it ? What if you should only run the plough through it here and there, and leave patches of it hard and unbroken ? Could you expect an even crop ? Certainly not. Then, why act differently with your own heart? Ask God to make your hard heart soft, to remove your blindness, your impenitence, your unbelief. The next time you sit down to read your Bible at home, or go to Church, kneel down beforehand for a minute or two, and entreat Him to prepare your heart, and to
enable you to receive with meekness His engrafted Word. Do this, and you will soon find the blessed effects of it.
2dly. We may learn that in order to hear a sermon profitably, something more is needed than mere attention. A person may sit and listen very quietly; and yet carry nothing away with him. I will go even further, and say, a person may remember every word of a sermon, so as to be able to talk about it; and yet he may be but a "wayside” hearer after all. The ears may have been open, and yet the heart closed. The sinner may remain a sinner still. The understanding may be fed, but the heart empty. We may be able to talk about a sermon, and yet feel no desire to act upon it.
O God, speak to my heart—that is what I want. Speak Thou Thyself to my inner conscience. Shoot Thou the arrow; and may it pierce and wound my soul !
3dly. Beware of becoming hardened. Sometimes we see young men and women-aye and old people too—with very hard hearts. Nothing seems to move them. They have no feeling. Their consciences are numbed and
callous. What a fearful state to be in! Better any state than this ! Better to be alarmed, and anxious, and even miserable, than to be, as St. Paul says, "past feeling!”
Remember, Sin hardens the heart. Worldliness hardens it. And even the gospel itself hardens it, when it is often heard, but not heeded. This is the worst hardness of all — when any one is “ever hearing,” and yet “never comes to the knowledge of the truth.”
4thly. We are reminded in this Parable that there is an Evil Spirit ever hovering about us. “Then cometh the wicked one," says our Lord. And where does he come ? Everywhere he comes; and especially wherever the good seed is being sown, wherever the Word of God is preached. He enters the very house of God. He is one of the first who comes, and one of the last who goes. When any word, that suits the state of a sinner, falls from the mouth of the Preacher, then comes the wicked one, eager to catch it away. When we pray in our secret chamber, he is sure to be there, trying to dart into our minds the most trifling thoughts. When we read our Bibles, he tries to draw off our attention, and to darken
the light of God's truth, as it glimmers upon our souls. When we are upon our knees in God's house, he is by our side, and whispers to us about the world, and even about sin. And especially when the great message of salvation is proclaimed, he steels our hearts against it, and uses all the means he can to make it fall powerless on our ears.
Be on the watch then. There is in the Gospel a precious treasure. Seize hold of it while it is offered to you, and make it yours. Take care that no one snatches it from you.
May the Lord, who spoke this Parable of the Sower, make it a warning and a blessing to our souls !
THE TARES AND THE WHEAT.
MATT. XIII. 24–30. “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The
kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field ? from whence then hath it tares ? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay ; lest, while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them : but gather the wheat into my barn."
This Parable was spoken by our Lord immediately after the Parable of the Sower, and seems at first sight to be somewhat like it. But if we examine it, we shall find it to be