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sentations he conveyed religious verities: each passing event was made subservient to the edification of his hearers. The rich garment worn by courtiers, and pompously displayed in public processions, the birds flitting through the air, the lilies of the field flourishing in their beautiful simplicity, or the fading flower falling before the mower's scythe, were ordinary occurrences which were brought to bear on their indifference to future realities, and severally descanted upon to awaken their regards to their eternal welfare. Yet, from those scenes of rural life, in which man's business and benefit were most concerned, did he select the more frequent recommendatory illustrations of religious truths.
"With many such parables." These words lead us to the context, where, in three distinct allegories, he likens the kingdom of heaven to the process of sowing the seed, the gradual growth of corn, or the cultivation of useful herbs. Natural objects are the first to strike our attention when young: the pretty bird or the fine flowret please the child, but man finds in the labors of husbandry, somewhat which combines natural interest with personal advantage. In the fruits of the field all are concerned the king, who is thence served, discerns the propriety and force of such obvious metaphors. The poor, whose wants are chiefly
supplied by the plainer productions of the earth, and who themselves labor that it may bring forth and give abundant increase, have an experimental acquaintance with the varied occupations of agriculture. As such similitudes, therefore, are generally interesting-most easily comprehended, especi ally by the larger class of society, the poor, to whom the gospel is preached-and addressing the two master springs of human nature, pleasure and profit, illustrations from natural objects, in their combination with human effort, are most commonly selected by our Lord. To this idea, then, as introductory to the following series of sermons, I call your attention; and passing by the general arguments in favor of this method, at which I have already cursorily glanced, I shall
III. Enumerate some of the peculiar advantages to be noticed in this mode of instruction. "With many such parables spake He the word unto "them." Our Lord's example, it might be considered, renders all further recommendatory remark unnecessary; but we are encouraged, not indeed to demand an explanation, but to trace the wise and operative reasons of the Divine conduct either in nature, providence, or grace.
1. Such similitudes best illustrate religious truth,
as they explain the nature of Divine operations on the human mind.
There is an harmony in all the works and arrangements of Deity; the same rule or principle of action may be invariably perceived, nor has God excited hope or given promises of good, but to human exertion.
In the moral world, as in the natural, the ground of expectation is not what God can do, but what he will do, and what he has engaged to perform. Without despoiling him of his sovereignty, which indeed, pervades and irradiates all his perfections, and is seen in the very appointment of this economy, it is clear that there is a certain order of dispensation, which irrespective of human merit, regulates his conduct to man. The cultivated field is that in which he gives the increase; he could feed us by miracle, and again shower down manna each successive morning at our doors-but he has ordained that " working we should eat
our own bread:" and this arrangement he so adheres to, that not simply does he give to those who work, but in some evident proportion to the degree of exertion:-" He which soweth sparingly, "shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth
bountifully, shall reap also bountifully." As
likewise, with a marked reference to the character of human conduct:-" Be not deceived-God is "not mocked-for whatsoever a man soweth, that "also shall he reap."
Now, as in the natural productions of the earth, there is no necessity for the laborer to assertain, nor is he ever so uselessly occupied, the exact point where Divine agency commences, and human ability terminates; so is it needless, nay worse, it is criminal to exhaust our time and talents, barely sufficient for the grand ends of this passing life, in the fruitless investigation to which an idle curiosity on this subject would lead. Our Lord's parables, coinciding with the dictates of common sense and the plainest observation, confirm the important truth, that thus, and after this manner, God acts toward a fallen world. And notwithstanding the few occasional and apparent exceptions (and perhaps if all circumstances could be fully ascertained, the exceptions would be found rather in semblance than reality) the general statement so admirably illustrated by our Divine Master, remains unchanged; and spiritual life in its origin or in all its variations, may be best explained by the correspondent operations of Deity in the natural world.
2. These parables are selected from subjects
necessarily noticed and understood by all classes of human society.
Not only are such similitudes the most correct elucidation of the essential truths of salvation, but are taken from those events in which we are all necessarily concerned.
Every art or science has its separate and techpical terms, and that not improperly, as the duties and advantages of each are confined to some few individuals; hence metaphors derived from these varieties of human effort, would be less necessarily attractive. By far the greater proportion of our fellow creatures live in the country: of those who are crowded in populous towns, how large a number have been drawn from rural situations or services by the decoys of interest, or the delusions of pleasure; of the few natives of these swarming hives of human existence, most are, from some imperious demand, called to pay an attentive regard to the present or future supplies of their hungry households; and while every species of human sustenance is an object of interest, the progressive state of the crops, and their effect on the price of provisions, is forcing the important substance of these similitudes on their notice. Let it then be enquired, from whence could illustrations so necessarily and universally comprehensible, have been