THE Lord is an example to us, scattering the good seed abroad widely, as is shown in the first verse of the text, 'And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable.' At the same time he was fully aware that no saving effect would ensue except through the special favor of grace, as is declared most strongly, verse 10, 'And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.' Now if we believe this word of our Lord we shall be the more anxious, and set ourselves in humble simplicity to beg him of his clemency to grant us this distinguishing blessing. Also we shall not vaunt of our own understanding or ability, but beg the Holy Spirit so in mercy to convince us of our sin, that our mouth may be in the dust. In this spirit may we now hear.
Let us not account much of our pains in hearing: do we hear aright? In many ways may the good seed be received in vain. 1st. By the wayside. Hear lightly, and the word is caught away. Such little suspect the vigilance of the enemy. Perhaps relying on fashionable divinity, they scarcely believe in his bad influence, for he never alarms them. He is far too subtle. Yet he lies in wait. After hearing he sends a word by a worldly friend, a look, a vain thought, and all the effect of the preaching of God's word is gone. This shows us the necessity of constant watching unto prayer. 2nd. On stony ground. Here a wonderful effect is produced. We have heard of whole congregations melting, and what not. Yet the effect purely natural. Such cannot stand the tribulation: it comes, it always comes, both outward and inward, sifting, trying, purging, refining; only the gold will stand it. Long temptation, affliction, reproach, contempt, humiliation; or fear, conviction, doubt, terror; all because of the word. 3rd. Among thorns. The former are high professors; these avowedly hold the world in one hand, and seek to find salvation with the other. They say, The world does not injure us, our hearts are sound. Oh, the desperate deceitfulness of their hearts, and ours!
Now we are all of us represented in these particulars, but it is a serious matter for enquiry whether we are or are not represented in the following, 'Other fell of good ground.' A heart 'honest and good,' says Christ, therefore no natural heart, for he never called that honest. There the seed always abides, always brings forth fruit; but 'with patience,' not all at once.