ON THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER. LUKE viii.
FOR SEXAGESIMA SUNDAY
Consider first, in this parable, the infinite riches of the goodness and bounty of the Son of God, who without distinction or respect of persons, sows so plentifully the seed of his word, and of his graces, on all kind of soils. This seed is heavenly; it is capable of producing fruit a hundred fold – he himself is the sower, and he himself waters with rain from heaven the seed he has sown, and yet three parts in four of this divine seed are lost for want of a correspondence in the soil. Christians, see in what manner you receive the seed of God’s word; see how you correspond with the divine graces and calls; your eternal salvation is here at stake. If you bring forth good fruit, agreeable to this divine seed, you shall live on it for endless ages in the kingdom of heaven; but if you suffer the soil of your soul to be like a beaten highway, or like a rock covered but with a thin surface of earth, or like a ground overrun with thorns and briars, the seed of God will be lost upon you, and you will be answerable for the loss of it, and miserable for all eternity.
Consider 2ndly, what is here meant by the highway – where the seed is trodden under foot, or picked up by the birds – and see how justly all such souls are compared to a highway or a beaten path, as live in the forgetfulness of God, and in a continual dissipation of thought, so as to become a mere thoroughfare for every passenger that passes, that is for every idle amusement, that offers itself; for every impertinent or sinful imagination, without any sense at all of the fear of God, or any care to keep off those wicked spirits, signified by the birds, which are ever upon the watch to snatch away this divine seed of God’s word that lies thus unregarded on the surface of the soul. But what is the remedy for this evil? No other to be sure, than to plough up this ground that has hitherto been made a highway; to fence it in such a manner, as that the passengers may have no longer liberty to be continually trampling it under foot, and to harrow it so that the seed may be covered by the earth, and lie no longer exposed to be a prey to the birds. For a highway, or beaten path, as long as it remains such, can never bring forth fruit. Now, in the spiritual sense, we plough up the soil of the soul, by daily meditations upon eternal truths; we fence it in by a spirit of recollection; and we preserve the divine seed, which is to make it fruitful, from our spiritual enemies, by letting it sink deeper into our souls, and there guarding it by watching and prayer.
Consider 3rdly, who they are that are meant by the rock or stony ground, where there is no depth or earth, nor proper moisture to nourish the seed, so as to bring the fruit to maturity, viz., such souls as receive indeed the word of God, and are moved by it to make some good resolutions, and some slender efforts towards bringing forth the fruits of a new life; but the rock of their old bad habits (which they have never heartily renounced,) hinders the seed from taking root: their resolutions are but superficial; they do not sink in deep enough to reach or change the heart, but upon the first opposition or temptation they wither away and die. The remedy here must be, to procure that this rock may be softened by the means of a long continued application to mental prayer, and other spiritual exercises; till those old habits are brought to give way to the fear and love of God, which are capable even of breaking the rock in pieces, and changing it into springs of water.
Conclude to be for ever attentive to the gracious calls of the word of God and of his heavenly inspirations, and to let this divine seed sink deep into thy soul by daily meditation.