« PreviousContinue »
m Jer. iv. 3.
away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which o received seed by the way side. 20 But he that P received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon k with joy receiveth it; 21 yet hath he not k liat hvis .
k Ina, Iviii. 2. Ezek. xxxiii.
31, 32. John root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribula- *.38.2 tion or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by, 1 he is offended. 22 He also that I received seed mamong the 1ch. xi. 6.
2 Tim. i. 15. thorns is he that heareth the word ; " and the care of r this means
2 Tim. iv. 10. world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that sreceived seed into
o render, was sown. P render, was sown upon the stony places. a render, was sown.
r read, the world. s render, was sown upon. Matthew, and very important; as in Mark plant, springing up under the false heat and Luke this first class of hearers are of excitement, having no root struck down without any certain index to denote them. into the depths of the being, is, when the The reason of this not understanding is real heat from without arises, which is clearly set forth by the parable : the intended to strengthen and forward the heart is hardened, trodden down; the seed healthy-rooted plant, withered and decannot penetrate
the wicked one stroyed. The Greek word signifies not = “ Satan” (Mark, who also inserts only dureth for a while,' but also is “ immediately'), = “the devil” (Luke). the creature of circumstances,' changing The parable itself is here most satisfactory as they change. Both ideas are included. as to the manner in which the Evil One St. Luke has, “ in time of temptation fall proceeds. By fowls of the air-passing away," thus accommodating themselves to thoughts and desires, which seem insignis that time. 22.] In this third sort, ficant and even innocent-does Satan do all as regards the soil is well; the seed his work, and rob the heart of the precious goes deep, the plant springs up; all is seed. St. Luke adds the purpose of Satan in as in the next case, with but one excep. taking away the word : " lest they should tion, and that, the bearing of fruitbelieve and be saved.” he that was becometh unfruitful = bring no fruit to sown by the way side (not, as A. V. “he perfection (Luke). And this because the that received seed by the way side'). seeds or roots of thorns are in, and are This is not a confusion of similitudes,-no suffered to spring up in the heart, and to * primary and secondary interpretation of overwhelm the plant. There is a divided the seed,--but the deep truth, both of na- will, a half-service (see on ch. vi. 25) which ture and of grace. The seed sown spring- ever ends in the prevalence of evil over ing up in the earth, becomes the plant, good. This class is not confined to the and bears the fruit, or fails of bearing it; rich : riches in Scripture is not riches abit is therefore the representative, when solutely, as possessed, but riches relatively, sown, of the individuals of whom the dis as estimated by the desire and value for course is. And though in this first case it them. St. Mark adds, and the lusts of (the) does not spring up, yet the same form of other things, viz. the other things which speech is kept up: throughout they are shall be added to us if we seek first the they that were sown, as, when the question Kingdom of God and His righteousness. of bearing fruit comes, they must be. We The identity of the seeds sown with the are said to be “born again by the word individuals of these classes, as maintained of God," 1 Pet. i. 23. It takes us up into above, is strikingly shewn in Luke here : itself, as the seed the earth, and we be that which fell among thorns, (these) are come a new plant, a new creation : cf. also they &c. (viii. 14.) We may notice : (I) below, ver. 38, “ the good seed, are the That there is in these three classes a PROchildren of the Kingdom.” 20, 21.) GRESS, and that a threefold one :-(1) in In this second case, the surface of the TIME:- the first receives a hindrance at mind and disposition is easily stirred, soon the very outset : the seed never springs excited : but beneath lies a heart even up :- the second after it has sprung up, harder than the trodden way. So the but soon after :-the third when it has
the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which t sowed good seed in his field : 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder 'came and said unto him, Sir, didst not
t some of the best MSS. read, had sowed. entered, sprung up, and come to maturity: we said above, the mystery of the Kingor while it is so coming.-(2) in APPARENT dom here declared, -see Jer. iv. 3 : Hosea DEGREE. The climax is apparently from x. 12: Gal. vi. 7. See note on Luke viii. bad to better ;- the first understand not: 15. an hundred, sixty, thirty, the the second understand and feel : the third different degrees of faithfulness and devotedunderstand, feel, and practise. But also ness of life with which fruit is brought (3) in REAL DEGREE, from bad to worse. forth by different classes of persons. There Less awful is the state of those who under is no point of comparison with the different stand not the word and lose it immediately, classes in the parable of the talents : for than that of those who feel it, receive it he who had five talents yielded the same with joy, and in time of trial fall away: increase as he who had two. less awful again this last, than that of 24–30.] SECOND PARABLE. THE those who understand, feel, and practise, TARES OF THE FIELD. Peculiar to Matbut are fruitless and impure. It has thew. For the explanation of this parable been noticed also that the first is more the see below, vv. 36-43. 24.] is likened fault of careless inattentive CHILDHOOD; unto a man, i.e. 'is like the whole circumthe second of ardent shallow YOUTH; the stances about to be detailed; like the case third of worldly self-seeking AGE. (II) of a man,' &c. A similar form of conThat these classes do not EXCLUDE one struction is found in ch. xviii. 23, and in another. They are great general divi- other parables in Matthew. 25.) sions, the outer circles of which fall into men; i. e. not, the men' belonging to the one another, as they very likely might in owner of the field, but men generally: and the field itself, in their different combina- the expression is used only to designate tions. 23.] Here also the fourth in the night time, not to charge the serclass must not be understood as a decided vants with any want of watchfulness. well-marked company, excluding all the sowed] more than this: the verb means, rest. For the soil is not good by nature : sowed over the first seed. tares) the natural man receiveth not the things The Greek word is zizania : apparently of the Spirit of God; but every predispo- the darnel, or bastard wheat (lolium al. sition to receive them is of God :-even bum), so often seen in our fields and by the shallow soil covering the rock, even our hedgerows; if so, what follows will be the thorny soil, received its power to take explained, that the tares appeared when in and vivify the seed, from God. So that the wheat came into ear, having been divine grace is the enabling, vivifying, previously not noticeable. It appears to cleansing power throughout; and these be an Eastern word. Our Lord was sown on the good land are no naturally speaking of an act of malice practised in good, amiable, or pure class, but those the East :-persons of revengeful disposi. prepared by divine grace-receptive, by tion watch the ground of a neighbour being granted receptive power. The sowing is ploughed, and in the night following sow not necessarily the first that has ever destructive weeds. (The practice is not taken place : the field has been and is unknown even in England at present. continually resown, so that the care of Since the publication of the first edition the husbandman is presupposed. Again, of my Greek Test., a field belonging to no irresistible grace or absolute decree of myself, at Gaddesby in Leicestershire, God must be dreamt of here. God work was maliciously sown with charlock (sina. ing not barely upon, but with man, is, as pis arvensis] over the wheat. An action
o ch. iii. 12.
thou sow good seed in thy field ? from whence then hath it tares ? 28 He said unto them, a An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up ? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 w 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: buto gather the wheat into my barn.
31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field : 32 which indeed is the least of all seeds : but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. 33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom u literally, a man (which is) an enemy. V read, They.
W render, Leave both to grow.
at law was brought by the tenant, and the kingdom of God, has a double refer. heavy damages obtained against the of- ence-general and individual. (1) In the fender.) 29.] Jerome in loc. says : general sense, the insignificant beginnings “ Between wheat and tares, which we call of the kingdom are set forth: the little lolium, as long as both are in the blade, babe cast in the manger at Bethlehem ; and the stalk is not yet in ear, there is a the Man of sorrows with no place to lay great similitude, and discrimination is dif. His Head; the crucified One; or again ficult, if not impossible.” Jerome, it must the hundred and twenty names who were be remembered, resided in Palestine.
the seed of the Church after the Lord 31, 32.] THIRD PARABLE. THE GRAIN had ascended; then we have the Kingdom OF MUSTARD SEED. Mark iv. 30—34: of God waxing onward and spreading its Luke xij. 18, 19. On the connexion of branches here and there, and different this parable with the two last, Chrysostom nations coming into it. “ He must in. observes: “Having told them that of the crease,” said the great Forerunner. We seed three parts perish, and only one is must beware however of imagining that preserved, and that in the preserved por- the outward Church-form is this King. tion itself there is such deleterious mix. dom. It has rather reversed the parable, ture,- for fear they might say, ' And who and is the worldly power waxed to a great then and how many will be the faithful ? tree and the Churches taking refuge under He goes on to remove this fear by the the shadow of it. It may be, where not parable of the mustard seed, helping their corrupted by error and superstition, subfaith, and shewing them that, all this not. servient to the growth of the heavenly withstanding, the kingdom shall spread plant : but is not itself that plant. It is and flourish.” The comparison of king at best no more than (to change the figure) doms to trees was familiar to the Jews; the scaffolding to aid the building, not the see Daniel iv. 10–12, 20–22: Ezek. xxxi. building itself. (2) The individual appli3-9; xvii. 22-24: Ps. lxxx. 8–11. cation of the parable points to the small 32. least of all] literally, less than all. beginnings of divine grace; a word, a The words are not to be pressed to their thought, a passing sentence, may prove to literal sense, as the mustard seed was a be the little seed which eventually fills well-known Jewish type for any thing and shadows the whole heart and being, exceedingly small. The mustard tree at- and calls all thoughts, all passions, all detains to a large size in Judæa. See cita- lights' to come and shelter under it. tions from Lightfoot in my Greek Test. 33.] FOURTH PARABLE. THE LEAVEN. This parable, like most others respecting Luke xiü. 20, 21. Difficulties have been
of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parap Psa. lxxviii. bles; and without a parable spake he X not unto them : a liom. xvi. 25, 35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the pro1.2. phet, saying, PI will open my mouth in parables; 9 I will
I read, nothing
26. 1 Cor. ii.
raised as to the interpretation of this nessed in the earlier ages by the dropping parable which do not seem to belong to it. of heathen customs and worship;- in mo. It has been questioned whether leaven dern times more gradually and secretly must not be taken in the sense in which it advancing, but still to be plainly seen in so often occurs in Scripture, as symbolic of the various abandonments of criminal and pollution and corruption. See Exod. xii. unholy practices (as e. g. in our own time 15, and other enactments of the kind of slavery and duelling, and the increasing passim in the law; and ch. xvi. 6: 1 Cor. abhorrence of war among Christian men), v. 6, 7. And some few have taken it thus, and without doubt in the end to be sig. and explained the parable of the progress nally and universally manifested. But of corruption and deterioration in the this effect again is not to be traced in outward visible Church. But then, how the establishment or history of so-called is it said that the Kingdom of Heaven is Churches, but in the hidden advancement, like this leaven? For the construction is without observation, of that deep leaven. not the same as in ver. 24, where the ing power which works irrespective of similitude is to the whole course of things human forms and systems. (2) In the related, but answers to “a grain of mus transforming power of the new leaven' tard seed which a man took,” &c. : so on the whole being of individuals. “In “ leaven, which a woman took," &c. Again, fact the Parable does nothing less than if the progress of the Kingdom of Heaven set forth to us the mystery of regenerabe towards corruption, till the whole is tion, both in its first act, which can be corrupted, surely there is an end of all the but once, as the leaven is but once hidden; blessings and healing influence of the and also in the consequent (subsequent ?) Gospel on the world. It will be seen that renewal by the Holy Spirit, which, as the such an interpretation cannot for a mo ulterior working of the leaven, is continual ment stand, on its own ground; but much and progressive.” (Trench, p. 97.) Some less when we connect it with the parable have contended for this as the sole appli. preceding. The two are intimately re- cation of the parable ; but not, I think, lated. That was of the inherent self. rightly. As to whether the woman has developing power of the Kingdom of any especial meaning, (though I am more Heaven, as a seed, containing in itself the and more convinced that such considera-. principle of expansion; this, of the power tions are not always to be passed by as which it possesses of penetrating and assi- nugatory,) it will hardly be of much conmilating a foreign mass, till all be taken sequence here to enquire, seeing that women up into it. And the comparison is not bakers would be every where a matter of only to the power, but to the effect of course. Three of these measures, which leaven also, which has its good as well as composed an ephah, appear to have been .its bad side, and for that good is used: the usual quantity prepared for a baking: viz. to make wholesome and fit for use see Gen. xviii. 6: Judg. vi. 19: 1 Sam. i. that which would otherwise be heavy and 24. This being the case, we need not per. insalubrious. Another striking point of haps seek for any symbolical interpretation: comparison is in the fact that leaven, as though Olshausen’s hint that the body, used ordinarily, is a piece of the leavened soul, and spirit may perhaps be here inloaf put amongst the new dough, just as tended can hardly but occur to us, and the Kingdom of Heaven is the renewal of Stier's, that “of the three sons of Noah humanity by the righteous Man Christ was the whole carth overspread,” is worth Jesus. The Parable, like the last, has recording. its general and its individual application: 34, 35.] CONCLUSION OF THE PARABLES (1) in the penetrating of the whole mass SPOKEN TO THE MULTITUDES. Mark iv. of humanity, by degrees, by the influence 33, 34. 35. that it might be fulof the Spirit of God, so strikingly wit filled] See note on ch. i. 22. The pro
xxiv. 47. Rom. x. 18. Col. i. 6.
utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
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
rch. xxviii. 19. ans answered and said [y unto them], He that soweth the good Mark
Mark xvi. 15,
20. Luke seed is the Son of man ; 38 r the field is the world; the kom. 7: 18.
y omit. phet, according to the superscription of Elymas by the very name,"son of the devil.” Psalm lxxviii., is Asaph, so called 2 Chron. And ever since, the same has been the xxix. 30, LXX.
case ; throughout the whole world, where 36-43.] INTERPRETATION OF THE the Son of Man sows good seed, the Enemy PARABLE OF THE TARES OF THE FIELD. sows tares. And it is not the office, howPeculiar to Matthew. 38.] This verse ever much it may be the desire, of the serhas been variously interpreted, notwith. vants of the householder, the labourers in standing that its statements are so plain. His field, to collect or root up these tares, The consideration of it will lead us into to put them out of the world literally, or that of the general nature and place of of the Church spiritually (save in some few the parable itself. The field is the world; exceptional cases, such as that in Acts v.); if understood of the Church, then the this is reserved for another time and for Church only as commensurate with the other hands,- for the harvest, the end ; world, Goye into all the world, and for the reapers, the angels. (3) It is also preach the gospel to every creature (Mark most important to notice that, as the xvi. 15); THE CHURCI standing for The Lord here gathers up ages into one season WORLD, not, the world for the Church of seed time and harvest, so He also And the parable has, like the former ones, gathers up the various changes of human its various references to various counter- character and shiftings of human will into workings of the Evil One against the two distinct classes. We are not to supgrace of God. Its two principal references pose that the wheat can never become are, (1) to the whole history of the world tares, or the tares wheat: this would be from beginning to end ; the coming of sin to contradict the purpose of Him who into the world by the malice of the devil, willeth not the death of a sinner, but the mixed state of mankind, not withstand rather that he should be converted and ing the development of God's purposes by live; and this gracious purpose shines the dispensations of grace,- and the final through the command “let both grow toseparation of the good and evil at the end. gether"- let time be given (as above) The very declaration the harvest is the for the leaven to work. As in the parable end of the world’ suggests the original of the sower, the various classes were the sowing as the beginning of it. Yet this concentrations of various dispositions, all sowing is not in the fact, as in the parable, of which are frequently found in one and one only, but repeated again and again. the same individual, so here the line of
In the parable the Lord gathers as it demarcation between wheat and tares, so were the whole human race into one life. fixed and impassable at last, is during the time, as they will be gathered in one harvest, probation time, the time of growing to. and sets that forth as simultaneous, which gether, not yet determined by Him who has been scattered over the ages of time. will have all to be saved, and to come to But (2) as applying principally to the King. the knowledge of the truth. In the very dom of heaven, which lay in the future and first example, that of our first parents, the began with the Lord's incarnation, the para- good seed degenerated, but their restorable sets forth to us the universal sowing of tion and renewal was implied in the proGOOD SEED by the Gospel : it sows no bad mises made to them, and indeed in their seed; all this is done by the enemy, and very punishment itself; and we their profurther we may not enquire. Soon, even geny are by nature the children of wrath, as soon as Acts v. in the History of the till renewed by the same grace. The Church, did the tares begin to appear; and parable is delivered by the Lord as knowin remarkable coincidence with the wheat ing all things, and describing by the final bringing forth fruit (see Acts iv. 32-37). result; and gives no countenance what. Again, see Acts xiii. 10, where Paul calls ever to predestinarian error. (4) The pa