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'I do, George, and I am very willing to fulfil my engagement.'
GEORGE. I think I know very little about the Parables, Mamma, I should like to talk with you about them?'
MRS. M. Very well, but you must not expect any thing like learning in my exposition of the Parables or any part of Scripture.'
Oh! I get learning enough at school, Mother, and I used to like your way of explaining things to me, because it was plain and simple; and I am sure I shall like it still.'
MRS. M. 'Let me ask you then, my son, what do you conceive to be the meaning of a parable?'
GEORGE. 'I believe it means an instructive story containing what is called a moral lesson.'
MRS. M. In the Gospels, it is usually a comparison or similitude, in which heavenly things are figured or represented by the things of this life. It was a common mode of teach
ing not only among the Jewish Rabbies, but also among the Arabians. It was also a method used by God through the lips of his prophet for the instruction of his people, as is said in Hosea xii. 10. " I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions and used similitudes by the ministry of the prophets;" and you may remember instances of this, as in the account of Nathan and David.'
'Oh! I remember that so well: I was ready to cry when I heard of the poor little lamb being taken; and I thought how frightened David must have been when Nathan said, "Thou art the man."
MRS. M. Just in the same way did our blessed Saviour often use such means of conveying instruction to the ignorant; of awakening the consciences of those, who being desirous of improvement in knowledge were enabled to comprehend, while at the same time it veiled that knowledge, so that it was not understood by such as set no value on it; like the pillar of cloud and fire, which while
it illuminated the path of the Israelites, was darkness to the Egyptian army. He usually chose for the subject of his Parables things familiar to those whom he addressed, as in the Parable of the sower; this he has himself so clearly explained in his answer to his disciples, that little remains to be said on it.' GEORGE, • Shall I read it, Mother?'
'Do, George, for I am sure I do
not remember it well.'
GEORGE reads, " Behold a sower went forth to sow, and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way-side, and the fowls came and devoured them up; some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them; but other fell on good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold." Matt. xiii. 3-9.'
MRS. M. Now, Emily, read our Saviour's own explanation of this Parable.'
EMILY reads-" When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way-side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word and anon with joy receiveth it. Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into 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."
Let us begin by remarking under what circumstances this Parable was
delivered. The Divine speaker was rounded by a mixed multitude, apparently come with the intention of hearkening to him; nothing then could be more appropriate than a description of the different manner' in which his words, or as he expresses it, the word of the kingdom-the good news of the kingdom of heaven, would be heard. by different individuals to whom it should be preached; we may call it a prophetic Parable.'
EMILY. 'Mamma, I do not quite comprehend why it is that the seed which fell by the way-side is compared to people who hear the word and understand it not, and the devil taketh it away from them.'
MRS. M. ،
They do not understand it, because it is only heard by their outward ears, just as the seed only lay on the surface of the ground, did not sink into it. What sort of ground do you suppose the way-side to be, Emily?'