Chapter 22 | Table
of Contents | Chapter 24
The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
THE ASCENT: FROM THE RIVER JORDAN TO THE MOUNT OF
NEW TEACHING 'IN PARABLES'
THE PARABLES TO THE PEOPLE BY THE LAKE OF GALILEE, AND THOSE TO THE DISCIPLES IN CAPERNAUM
(St. Matt. 13:1-52; St. Mark 4:1-34; St.
We are once more with Jesus and His disciples by the Lake of
Galilee. We love to think that it was in the early morning, when the light laid
its golden shadows on the still waters, and the fresh air, untainted by man,
was fragrant of earth's morning sacrifice, when no voice of human discord
marred the restfulness of holy silence, nor broke the Psalm of Nature's praise.
It was a spring morning too, and of such spring-time as only the East, and
chiefly the Galilean Lake, knows - nor of mingled sunshine and showers, of
warmth and storm, clouds and brightness, when life seems to return slowly and
feebly to the palsied limbs of our northern climes, but when at the warm touch
it bounds and throbs with the vigour of youth. The imagery of the 'Sermon on
the Mount' indicates that winter's rain and storms were just past.1
Under that sky Nature seems to meet the coming of spring by arraying herself in
a garb more glorious than Solomon's royal pomp. Almost suddenly the blood-red
anemones, the gay tulips, the spotless narcissus, and the golden ranunculus2
deck with wondrous richness the grass of the fields - alas! so soon to wither3
- while all trees put forth their fragrant promise of fruit.4
As the imagery employed in the Sermon on the Mount confirmed the inference,
otherwise derived, that it was spoken during the brief period after the winter
rains, when the 'lilies' decked the fresh grass, so the scene depicted in the
Parables spoken by the Lake of Galilee indicates a more advanced season, when
the fields gave first promise of a harvest to be gathered in due time. And as
we know that the barley-harvest commenced with the Passover, we cannot be
mistaken in supposing that the scene is laid a few weeks before that Feast.
1. St. Matt. vii. 25.
2. It adds interest to these Solomon-like lilies that the Mishnah designates one class of them, growing in fields and vineyards, by the name 'royal lily' (Kil. v. 8, Bab. Talmud, p. 29 a). At the same time, the term used by our Lord
need not be confined to 'lilies' in the strictest sense. It may represent the whole wild flora of spring, chiefly the anemones (comp. Tristram, Nat.
Hist. of the Bible, pp. 462-465). A word with the same letters as krinoV (though of different meaning)
is the Rabbinic Narkes, the narcissus - of course that )rbdd (of
fields), not )tyn@wngd (of gardens).
3. u.s. vi. 28-30.
4. vii. 16-20.
Other evidence of this is not wanting. From the opening verses5
we infer, that Jesus had gone forth from 'the house' with His disciples only,
and that, as He sat by the seaside, the gathering multitude had obliged Him to
enter a ship, whence He spake unto them many things in Parables. That this
parabolic teaching did not follow, far less, was caused by, the fully developed
enmity of the Pharisees,67
will appear more clearly in the sequel. Meantime it should be noticed, that the
first series of Parables (those spoken by the Lake of Galilee) bear no distinct
reference to it. In this respect we mark an ascending scale in the three series
of Parables, spoken respectively at three different periods in the History of
Christ, and with reference to three different stages of Pharisaic opposition
and popular feeling. The first series is that,8
when Pharisaic opposition had just devised the explanation that His works were
of demoniac agency, and when misled affection would have converted the ties of
earthly relationship into bonds to hold the Christ. To this there was only one
reply, when the Christ stretched out His Hand over those who had learned, by
following Him, to do the Will of His Heavenly Father, and so become His nearest
of kin. This was the real answer to the attempt of His mother and
brethren; that to the Pharisaic charge of Satanic agency. And it was in
this connection that, first to the multitude, then to His disciples, the first
series of Parables was spoken, which exhibits the elementary truths concerning
the planting of the Kingdom of God, its development, reality, value, and final
5. St. Matt. xiii. 1, 2.
6. St. Matt. xii. 24 &c.
7. This seems to be the view of Goebel in his 'Parabeln Jesu,' a book to which I would here, in general, acknowledge my obligations. The latest work on the subject (F. L. Steinmeyer, d. Par. d. Herrn, Berlin 1884) is very disappointing.
8. St. Matt. xiii.
In the second series of Parables we mark a different stage. The
fifteen Parables of which it consists9
were spoken after the Transfiguration, on the descent into the Valley of
Humiliation. They also concern the Kingdom of God, but, although the prevailing
characteristic is still parenetic,10
or, rather, Evangelic, they have a controversial aspect also, as against some
vital, active opposition to the Kingdom, chiefly on the part of the Pharisees.
Accordingly, they appear among 'the Discourses' of Christ,11
and are connected with the climax of Pharisaic opposition as presented in the
charge, in its most fully developed form, that Jesus was, so to speak, the
Incarnation of Satan, the constant medium and vehicle of his activity.12
This was the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. All the Parables spoken
at that period bear more or less direct reference to it, though, as already
stated, as yet in positive rather than negative form, the Evangelic element in
them being primary, and the judicial only secondary.
9. St. Luke x.-xvi., xviii., passim.
10. Admonitory, hortatory - a term used in theology, of which it is not easy to give the exact equivalent.
11. St. Luke xi.-xiv.
12. St. Luke xi. 14-36; St. Matt. xii. 22-45; St. Mark iii. 22-30.
This order is reversed in the third series, consisting of eight
Parables.13 Here the controversial has not only the
ascendency over the Evangelic element, but the tone has become judicial, and
the Evangelic element appears chiefly in the form of certain predictions
connected with the coming end. The Kingdom of God is presented in its final
stage of ingathering, separation, reward and loss, as, indeed, we might expect
in the teaching of the Lord immediately before His final rejection by Israel
and betrayal into the hands of the Gentiles.
13. St. Matt. xviii., xx., xxi., xxii., xxiv., xxv.; St. Luke xix.
This internal connection between the Parables and the History
of Christ best explains their meaning. Their artificial grouping (as by mostly
all modern critics14)
is too ingenious to be true. One thing, however, is common to all the Parables,
and forms a point of connection between them. They are all occasioned by some
unreceptiveness on the part of the hearers, and that, even when the hearers are
professing disciples. This seems indicated in the reason assigned by Christ to
the disciples for His use of parabolic teaching: that unto them it was 'given
to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God, but unto them it was that are
without, all these things are done in parables.'15
And this may lead up to such general remarks on the Parables as are necessary
for their understanding.
14. Even Goebel, though rightly following the purely historical method, has, in the interest of so-called higher criticism, attempted such artificial grouping.
15. St. Mark iv. 11.
Little information is to be gained from discussing the
etymology of the word Parable.16
The verb from which it is derived means to project; and the term itself,
the placing of one thing by the side of another. Perhaps no other mode of
teaching was so common among the Jews17
as that by Parables. Only in their case, they were almost entirely
illustrations of what had been said or taught;18
while, in the case of Christ, they served as the foundation for His teaching.
In the one case, the light of earth was cast heavenwards, in the other, that of
heaven earthwards; in the one case, it was intended to make spiritual teaching
appear Jewish and national, in the other to convey spiritual teaching in a form
adapted to the standpoint of the hearers. This distinction will be found to
hold true, even in instances where there seems the closest parallelism between
a Rabbinic and an Evangelic Parable. On further examination, the difference
between them will appear not merely one of degree, but of kind, or rather of
standpoint. This may be illustrated by the Parable of the woman who made
anxious search for her lost coin,19
which there is an almost literal Jewish parallel.20
But, whereas in the Jewish Parable the moral is, that a man ought to take much
greater pains in the study of the Torah than in the search for coin, since the
former procures an eternal reward, while the coin would, if found, at most only
procure temporary enjoyment, the Parable of Christ is intended to set forth,
not the merit of study or of works, but the compassion of the Saviour in
seeking the lost, and the joy of Heaven in his recovery. It need scarcely be
said, that comparison between such Parables, as regards their spirit, is
scarcely possible, except by way of contrast.21
16. From paraballw, projicio, admoveo
rem rei comparationis causa (Grimm). Little can be learned from the classical definitions of the parabolh.
See Archbishop Trench on the Parables.
17. F. L. Steinmeyer has most strangely attempted to deny this. Yet every ancient Rabbinic work is literally full of parables. In Sanh. 39 b we read that R. Meir's discourses consisted in third of legal determinations, in third of Haggadah, and in third of parables.
18. I am here referring only to the form, not the substance, of these Jewish parables.
19. St. Luke xv. 8-10.
20. In the Midrash on Cant. i. i
21. It is, indeed, possible that the framework of some of Christ's Parables may have been adopted and adapted by later Rabbis. No one who knows the early intercourse between Jews and Jewish Christians would deny this � priori.
But, to return. In Jewish writings a Parable (Mimshal, Mashal,
Mathla) is introduced by some such formula as this: 'I will tell thee a
parable' (l#m Kl lw#m)) 'To what is the thing like? To one,' &c. Often it
begins more briefly, thus: 'A Parable. To what is the thing like?' or else,
simply: 'To what is the thing like?' Sometimes even this is omitted and the
Parable is indicated by the preposition 'to' at the beginning of the
illustrative story. Jewish writers extol Parables, as placing the meaning of
the Law within range of the comprehension of all men. The 'wise King' had
introduced this method, the usefulness of which is illustrated by the Parable
of a great palace which had many doors, so that people lost their way in it,
till one came who fastened a ball of thread at the chief entrance, when all
could readily find their way in and out.22
Even this will illustrate what has been said of the difference between Rabbinic
Parables and those employed by our Lord.
22. Midr. on Cant. i. 1.
The general distinction between a Parable and a Proverb, Fable
and Allegory, cannot here be discussed at length.23
It will sufficiently appear from the character and the characteristics of the
Parables of our Lord. That designation is, indeed, sometimes applied to what
are not Parables, in the strictest sense; while it is wanting where we might
have expected it. Thus, in the Synoptic Gospels illustrations,24
and even proverbial sayings, such as 'Physician, heal thyself,'25
or that about the blind leading the blind,26
are designated Parables. Again, the term 'Parable,' although used in our
Authorised Version, does not occur in the original of St. John's Gospel; and
this, although not a few illustrations used in that Gospel might, on
superficial examination, appear to be Parables. The term must, therefore, be
here restricted to special conditions. The first of these is, that all Parables
bear reference to well-known scenes, such as those of daily life; or to events,
either real, or such as every one would expect in given circumstances, or as
would be in accordance with prevailing notions.27
23. I must here refer to the various Biblical Dictionaries, to Professor Westcott's Introduction to the Study of the Gospels (pp. 28, 286), and to the works of Archbishop Trench and Dr. Goebel.
24. St. Matt. xxiv. 32; St. Mark iii. 23; St. Luke v. 36.
25. St. Luke iv. 23
26. St. Matt. xv. 15
27. Every reader of the Gospels will be able to distinguish these various classes.
Such pictures, familiar to the popular mind, are in the Parable
connected with corresponding spiritual realities. Yet, here also, there is that
which distinguishes the Parable from the mere illustration. The latter conveys
no more than - perhaps not so much as - that which was to be illustrated; while
the Parable conveys this and a great deal beyond it to those, who can follow up
its shadows to the light by which they have been cast. In truth, Parables are
the outlined shadows - large, perhaps, and dim - as the light of heavenly
things falls on well-known scenes, which correspond to, and have their higher
counterpart in spiritual realities. For, earth and heaven are twin-parts of His
works. And, as the same law, so the same order, prevails in them; and they form
a grand unity in their relation to the Living God Who reigneth. And, just as
there is ultimately but one Law, one Force, one Life, which, variously working,
effects and affects all the Phenomenal in the material universe, however
diverse it may seem, so is there but one Law and Life as regards the
intellectual, moral - nay, and the spiritual. One Law, Force, and Life, binding
the earthly and the heavenly into a Grand Unity - the outcome of the Divine
Unity, of which it is the manifestation. Thus things in earth and heaven are
kindred, and the one may become to us Parables of the other. And so, if the
place of our resting be Bethel, they become Jacob's ladder, by which those from
heaven come down to earth, and those from earth ascend to heaven.
Another characteristic of the Parables, in the stricter sense,
is that in them the whole picture or narrative is used in illustration of some
heavenly teaching, and not merely one feature or phase of it,28
as in some of the parabolic illustrations and proverbs of the Synoptists, or
the parabolic narratives of the Fourth Gospel. Thus, in the parabolic
illustrations about the new piece of cloth on the old garment,29
about the blind leading the blind,30
about the forth-putting of leaves on the fig-tree;31
or in the parabolic proverb, 'Physician, heal thyself;'32
or in such parabolic narratives of St. John, as about the Good Shepherd,33
or the Vine,34
in each case, only one part is selected as parabolic. On the other hand, even
in the shortest Parables, such as those of the seed growing secretly,35
the leaven in the meal,36
and the pearl of great price,37
the picture is complete, and has not only in one feature, but in its
whole bearing, a counterpart in spiritual realities. But, as shown in the
Parable of the seed growing secretly,38
it is not necessary that the Parable should always contain some narrative,
provided that not only one feature, but the whole thing related, have its
28. Cremer (Lex. of N.T. Greek, p. 124) lays stress on the idea of a comparison, which is manifestly incorrect; Goebel, with not much better reason, on that of a narrative form.
29. St. Luke v. 36.
30. St. Luke vi. 39.
31. St. Matt. xxiv. 32.
32. St. Luke iv. 23.
33. St. John x.
34. St. John xv.
35. St. Mark iv. 26-29.
36. St. Matt. xiii. 33.
37. vv. 45, 46.
38. St. Mark iv. 26-29.
In view of what has been explained, the arrangement of the
Parables into symbolical and typical39
can only apply to their form, not their substance. In the first of these
classes a scene from nature or from life serves as basis for exhibiting the
corresponding spiritual reality. In the latter, what is related serves as type
(tupoV), not in the ordinary
sense of that term, but in that not unfrequent in Scripture: as example -
whether for imitation,40
or in warning.41
In the typical Parables the illustration lies, so to speak, on the outside; in
the symbolical, within the narrative or scene. The former are to be applied;
the latter must be explained.
39. So by Goebel.
40. Phil. iii 17; 1 Tim. iv. 12.
41. 1 Cor. x. 6, 11.
It is here that the characteristic difference between the
various classes of hearers lay. All the Parables, indeed, implied some
background of opposition, or else of unreceptiveness. In the record of this
first series of them,42
the fact that Jesus spake to the people in Parables,43
and only in Parables,44
is strongly marked. It appears, therefore, to have been the first time that
this mode of popular teaching was adopted by him.45
Accordingly, the disciples not only expressed their astonishment, but inquired
the reason of this novel method.46
The answer of the Lord makes a distinction between those to whom it is given to
know the mysteries of the Kingdom, and those to whom all things were done in
Parables. But, evidently, this method of teaching could not have been adopted
for the people, in contradistinction to the disciples, and as a judicial
measure, since even in the first series of Parables three were addressed to the
disciples, after the people had been dismissed.47
On the other hand, in answer to the disciples, the Lord specially marks this as
the difference between the teaching vouchsafed to them and the Parables spoken
to the people, that the designed effect of the latter was judicial: to complete
that hardening which, in its commencement, had been caused by their voluntary
rejection of what they had heard.48
But, as not only the people, but the disciples also, were taught by Parables,
the hardening effect must not be ascribed to the parabolic mode of teaching,
now for the first time adopted by Christ. Nor is it a sufficient answer to the
question, by what this darkening effect, and hence hardening influence, of the
Parable on the people was caused, that the first series, addressed to the
of a cumulation of Parables, without any hint as to their meaning or
For, irrespective of other considerations, these Parables were at least as
easily understood as those spoken immediately afterwards to the disciples, on
which, similarly, no comment was given by Jesus. On the other hand, to us at
least, it seems clear, that the ground of the different effect of the Parables
on the unbelieving multitude and on the believing disciples was not objective,
or caused by the substance or form of these Parables, but subjective, being
caused by the different standpoint of the two classes of hearers toward the
Kingdom of God.
42. St. Matt. xiii.
43. St. Matt. xiii. 3, and parallels.
44. St. Matt. xiii. 34; St. Mark iv. 33, 34.
45. In the Old Testament there are parabolic descriptions and utterances - especially in Ezekiel (xv.; xvi.; xvii.; xix.), and a fable (Judg. ix. 7-15), but only two Parables: the one typical (2 Sam. xii. 1-6), the other symbolical (Is. v. 1-6).
46. St. Matt. xiii. 10, and parallels.
47. St. Matt. xiii. 36, 44-52.
48. St. Matt. xi. 13-17.
49. St. Matt. xiii. 1-9, 24-33.
50. So even Goebel (i. pp. 33-42, and especially p. 38.)
This explanation removes what otherwise would be a serious
difficulty. For, it seems impossible to believe, that Jesus had adopted a
special mode of teaching for the purpose of concealing the truth, which might
have saved those who heard Him. His words, indeed, indicate that such was the
effect of the Parables. But they also indicate, with at least equal clearness,
that the cause of this hardening lay, not in the parabolic method of teaching,
but in the state of spiritual insensibility at which, by their own guilt, they
had previously arrived. Through this, what might, and, in other circumstances,
would, have conveyed spiritual instruction, necessarily became that which still
further and fatally darkened and dulled their minds and hearts. Thus, their own
hardening merged into the judgment of hardening.51
51. St. Matt. xiii. 13-15.
We are now in some measure able to understand, why Christ now
for the first time adopted parabolic teaching. Its reason lay in the altered
circumstances of the case. All his former teaching had been plain, although
initial. In it He had set forth by Word, and exhibited by fact (in miracles),
that Kingdom of God which He had come to open to all believers. The hearers had
now ranged themselves into two parties. Those who, whether temporarily or
permanently (as the result would show), had admitted these premisses, so far as
they understood them, were His professing disciples. On the other hand, the
Pharisaic party had now devised a consistent theory, according to which the
acts, and hence also the teaching, of Jesus, were of Satanic origin. Christ
must still preach the Kingdom; for that purpose had he come into the world.
Only, the presentation of that Kingdom must now be for decision. It must
separate the two classes, leading the one to clearer understanding of the
mysteries of the Kingdom - of what not only seems, but to our limited thinking
really is, mysterious; while the other class of hearers would now regard
these mysteries as wholly unintelligible, incredible, and to be rejected. And
the ground of this lay in the respective positions of these two classes towards
the Kingdom. 'Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more
abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he
hath.' And the mysterious manner in which they were presented in Parables was
alike suited to, and corresponded with, the character of these 'mysteries of
the Kingdom,' now set forth, not for initial instruction, but for final
decision. As the light from heaven falls on earthly objects, the shadows are
cast. But our perception of them, and its mode, depend on the position which we
occupy relatively to that Light.
And so it was not only best, but most merciful, that these
mysteries of substance should now, also, be presented as mysteries of form in
Parables. Here each would see according to his standpoint towards the Kingdom.
And this was in turn determined by previous acceptance or rejection of that
truth, which had formerly been set forth in a plain form in the teaching and
acting of the Christ. Thus, while to the opened eyes and hearing ears of the
one class would be disclosed that, which prophets and righteous men of old had
desired but not attained, to them who had voluntarily cast aside what they had,
would only come, in their seeing and hearing, the final judgment of hardening.
So would it be to each according to his standpoint. To the one would come the
grace of final revelation, to the other the final judgment which, in the first
place, had been of their own choice, but which, as they voluntarily occupied
their position relatively to Christ, had grown into the fulfilment of the
terrible prediction of Esaias concerning the final hardening of Israel.52
52. Is. vi. 9, 10.
Thus much in general explanation. The record of the first
series of Parables53
contains three separate accounts: that of the Parables spoken to the people;
that of the reason for the use of parabolic teaching, and the explanation of
the first Parables (both addressed to the disciples); and, finally, another
series of Parables spoken to the disciples. To each of these we must briefly
53. St. Matt. xiii.
On that bright spring morning, when Jesus spoke from 'the ship'
to the multitude that crowded the shore, He addressed to them these four
Parables: concerning Him Who sowed,54
concerning the Wheat and the Tares, concerning the Mustard-Seed, and concerning
the Leaven. The first, or perhaps the two first of these, must be supplemented
by what may be designated as a fifth Parable, that of the Seed growing
unobservedly. This is the only Parable of which St. Mark alone has preserved
All these Parables refer, as is expressly stated, to the Kingdom of God; that
is, not to any special phase or characteristic of it, but to the Kingdom
itself, or, in other words, to its history. They are all such as befit an
open-air address at that season of the year, in that locality, and to those
hearers. And yet there is such gradation and development in them as might well
point upwards and onwards.
54. The correct reading in St. Matt. xiii. 18 is tou
speirantoV, not speirontoV
as in the T. R.
55. St. Mark iv. 26-29.
The first Parable is that of Him Who sowed. We can almost
picture to ourselves the Saviour seated in the prow of the boat, as He points
His hearers to the rich plain over against Him, where the young corn, still in
the first green of its growing, is giving promise of harvest. Like this is the
Kingdom of Heaven which He has come to proclaim. Like what? Not yet like that
harvest, which is still in the future, but like that field over there. The
Sower56 has gone
forth to sow the Good Seed. If we bear in mind a mode of sowing peculiar (if we
are not mistaken) to those times, the Parable gains in vividness. According to
Jewish authorities there was twofold sowing, as the seed was either cast by the
hand (dy tlwpm) or by means of cattle (Myrww#@$ tlwpm).57
In the latter case, a sack with holes was filled with corn and laid on the back
of the animal, so that, as it moved onwards, the seed was thickly scattered.
Thus it might well be, that it would fall indiscriminately on beaten roadway,58
on stony places but thinly covered with soil, or where the thorns had not been
cleared away, or undergrowth from the thorn-hedge crept into the field,59
as well as on good ground. The result in each case need not here be repeated.
But what meaning would all this convey to the Jewish hearers of Jesus? How
could this sowing and growing be like the Kingdom of God? Certainly not in the
sense in which they expected it. To them it was only a rich harvest, when all
Israel would bear plenteous fruit. Again, what was the Seed, and who the Sower?
or what could be meant by the various kinds of soil and their unproductiveness?
56. With the definite article - not 'a Sower,' as in our A.V., but the Sower.
57. Arach. 25 a, line 18 from bottom.
58. para thn odon, not para ton agron. I cannot understand
how this road could be within the ploughed and sowed field. Our view is further confirmed by St. Luke viii. 5, where the seed is described as 'trodden down' - evidently on the highway.
59. Comp. the slight variations in the three Gospels.
To us, as explained by the Lord, all this seems plain. But to
them there could be no possibility of understanding, but much occasion for
misunderstanding it, unless, indeed, they stood in right relationship to the
'Kingdom of God.' The initial condition requisite was to believe that Jesus was
the Divine Sower, and His Word the Seed of the Kingdom: no other Sower than He,
no other Seed of the Kingdom than His Word. If this were admitted, they had at
least the right premisses for understanding 'this mystery of the Kingdom.'
According to Jewish view the Messiah was to appear in outward pomp, and by
display of power to establish the Kingdom. But this was the very idea of the
Kingdom, with which Satan had tempted Jesus at the outset of His Ministry.60
In opposition to it was this 'mystery of the Kingdom,' according to which it
consisted in reception of the Seed of the Word. That reception would depend on
the nature of the soil, that is, on the mind and heart of the hearers. The
Kingdom of God was within: it came neither by a display of power, nor
even by this, that Israel, or else the Gospel-hearers, were the field on which
the Seed of the Kingdom was sown. He had brought the Kingdom: the Sower
had gone forth to sow. This was of free grace - the Gospel. But the seed might
fall on the roadside, and so perish without even springing up. Or it might fall
on rocky soil, and so spring up rapidly, but wither before it showed promise of
fruit. Or it might fall where thorns grew along with, and more rapidly than,
it. And so it would, indeed, show promise of fruit; the corn might appear in
the ear; but that fruit would not come to ripeness ('bring no fruit to
because the thorns growing more rapidly would choke the corn. Lastly, to this
threefold faultiness of soil, through which the seed did not spring up at all,
or merely sprung up, or just reached the promise, but not the perfection of
fruit, corresponded a threefold degree of fruit-bearing in the soil, according
to which it brought forth thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or an hundredfold, in the
varying measure of its capacity.
60. Comp. the chapter on the Temptation.
61. St. Luke viii. 14.
If even the disciples failed to comprehend
the whole bearing of this 'Mystery of the Kingdom,' we can believe how utterly
strange and un-Jewish such a Parable of the Messianic Kingdom must have sounded
to them, who had been influenced by the Pharisaic representations of the Person
and Teaching of Christ. And yet the while these very hearers were,
unconsciously to themselves, fulfilling what Jesus was speaking to them in the
Whether or not the Parable recorded by St. Mark alone,62
concerning the Seed growing unobservedly, was spoken afterwards in private to
the disciples, or, as seems more likely, at the first, and to the people by the
sea-shore, this appears the fittest place for inserting it. If the first
Parable, concerning the Sower and the Field of Sowing, would prove to all who
were outside the pale of discipleship a 'mystery,' while to those within it
would unfold knowledge of the very mysteries of the Kingdom, this would even
more fully be the case in regard to this second or supplementary Parable. In it
we are only viewing that portion of the field, which the former Parable had
described as good soil. 'So is the Kingdom of God, as if a man had cast the
seed on the earth, and slept and rose, night and day, and the seed sprang up
and grew: how, he knows not himself. Automatous63
[self-acting] the earth beareth fruit: first blade, then ear, then full wheat
in the ear! But when the fruit presents itself, immediately he sendeth forth64
the sickle, because the harvest is come.' The meaning of all this seems plain.
As the Sower, after the seed has been cast into the ground, can do no more; he
goes to sleep at night, and rises by day, the seed the meanwhile growing, the
Sower knows not how, and as his activity ceases till the time that the fruit is
ripe, when immediately he thrusts in the sickle - so is the Kingdom of God. The
seed is sown; but its growth goes on, dependent on the law inherent in seed and
soil, dependent also on Heaven's blessing of sunshine and showers, till the
moment of ripeness, when the harvest-time is come. We can only go about our
daily work, or lie down to rest, as day and night alternate; we see, but know
not the how of the growth of the seed. Yet, assuredly it will ripen, and
when that moment has arrived, immediately the sickle is thrust in, for the
harvest is come. And so also with the Sower. His outward activity on
earth was in the sowing, and it will be in the harvesting. What lies between
them is of that other Dispensation of the Spirit, till He again send forth His
reapers into His field. But all this must have been to those 'without' a great
mystery, in no wise compatible with Jewish notions; while to them 'within' it
proved a yet greater, and very needful unfolding of the mysteries of the
Kingdom, with very wide application of them.
62. St. Mark iv. 26-29.
63. I would here remark in general, that I have always adopted what seemed to me the best attested readings, and endeavoured to translate literally, preserving, where it seemed desirable, even the succession of the words.
64. This is a Hebraism - explaining the Hebrew use of the verb xl# in analogous circumstances.
The 'mystery' is made still further mysterious, or else it is
still further unfolded, in the next Parable concerning the Tares sown among the
Wheat. According to the common view, these Tares represent what is botanically
known as the 'bearded Darnel' (Lolium temulentum), a poisonous rye-grass,
very common in the East, 'entirely like wheat until the ear appears,' or else
(according to some), the 'creeping wheat' or 'couch-grass' (Triticum repens),
of which the roots creep underground and become intertwined with those of the
wheat. But the Parable gains in meaning if we bear in mind that, according to
ancient Jewish (and, indeed, modern Eastern) ideas, the Tares were not
of different seed,65
but only a degenerate kind of wheat.66
Whether in legend or symbol, Rabbinism has it that even the ground had been
guilty of fornication before the judgment of the Flood, so that when wheat was
sown tares sprang up.67
The Jewish hearers of Jesus would, therefore, think of these tares as
degenerate kind of wheat, originally sprung at the time of the Flood, through
the corruptness of the earth, but now, alas! so common in their fields; wholly
undistinguishable from the wheat, till the fruit appeared: noxious, poisonous,
and requiring to be separated from the wheat, if the latter was not to become
65. Kil. i. 1.
66. Jer. Kil. 26 d.
67. Ber. R. 28 ed. Warsh. p. 53 a, about the middle.
With these thoughts in mind, let us now try to realise the
scene pictured. Once more we see the field on which the corn is growing - we
know not how. The sowing time is past. 'The Kingdom of Heaven is become68
like to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But in the time that men
sleep came his enemy and over-sowed tares69
in (upon) the midst70
of the wheat, and went away.' Thus far the picture is true to nature, since
such deeds of enmity were, and still are, common in the East. And so matters
would go on unobserved, since, whatever kind of 'tares' may be meant, it would,
from their likeness, be for some time impossible to distinguish them from the
wheat. 'But when the herbage grew and made fruit, then appeared (became
manifest) also the tares.' What follows is equally true to fact, since,
according to the testimony of travellers, most strenuous efforts are always
made in the East to weed out the tares. Similarly, in the parable, the servants
of the householder are introduced as inquiring whence these tares had come; and
on the reply: 'A hostile person has done this,' they further ask: 'Wilt thou
then that we go (straightway) and gather them together?' The absence of any
reference to the rooting up or burning the tares, is intended to indicate, that
the only object which the servants had in view was to keep the wheat pure and
unmixed for the harvest. But this their final object would have been frustrated
by the procedure, which their inconsiderate zeal suggested. It would, indeed,
have been quite possible to distinguish the tares from the wheat - and the
Parable proceeds on this very assumption - for, by their fruit they would be
known. But in the present instance separation would have been impossible,
without, at the same time, uprooting some of the wheat. For, the tares had been
sown right into the midst, and not merely by the side, of the wheat; and their
roots and blades must have become intertwined. And so they must grow together
to the harvest. Then such danger would no longer exist, for the period of
growing was past, and the wheat had to be gathered into the barn. Then would be
the right time to bid the reapers first gather the tares into bundles for
burning, that afterwards the wheat, pure and unmixed, might be stored in the
68. The tense should here be marked.
69. The Greek zizanion is represented by
the Hebrew yw@z or )naw@z.
70. The expression is of great importance. The right reading is epispeiren (insuper sero - to sow above), not espeire (sowed).
True to life as the picture is, yet the Parable was, of all
others, perhaps the most un-Jewish, and therefore mysterious and
unintelligible. Hence the disciples specially asked explanation of this only,
which from its main subject they rightly designated as the Parable 'of the Tares.'71
Yet this was also perhaps the most important for them to understand. For
already 'the Kingdom of Heaven is become like' this, although the appearance of
fruit has not yet made it manifest, that tares have been sown right into the
midst of the wheat. But they would soon have to learn it in bitter experience
and as a grievous temptation,72
and not only as regarded the impressionable, fickle multitude, nor even the
narrower circle of professing followers of Jesus, but that, alas! in their very
midst there was a traitor And they would have to learn it more and more in the
time to come, as we have to learn it to all ages, till the 'Age-' or
Most needful, yet most mysterious also, is this other lesson, as the experience
of the Church has shown, since almost every period of her history has
witnessed, not only the recurrence of the proposal to make the wheat unmixed,
while growing, by gathering out the tares, but actual attempts towards it. All
such have proved failures, because the field is the wide 'world,' not a narrow
sect; because the tares have been sown into the midst of the wheat, and by the
enemy; and because, if such gathering were to take place, the roots and blades
of tares and wheat would be found so intertwined, that harm would come to the
wheat. But why try to gather the tares together, unless from undiscerning zeal?
Or what have we, who are only the owner's servants, to do with it, since we are
not bidden of Him? The '�on-completion' will witness the harvest, when the
separation of tares and wheat may not only be accomplished with safety, but
shall become necessary. For the wheat must be garnered in the heavenly
storehouse, and the tares bound in bundles to be burned. Then the harvesters
shall be the Angels of Christ, the gathered tares 'all the stumbling-blocks and
those who do the lawlessness,' and their burning the casting of them 'into the
oven of the fire.'74
71. St. Matt. xiii. 36.
72. St. John vi. 66-70.
73. �on, or 'age,' without the article in ver. 40, and so it should also be in ver. 39.
74. With the two articles: the well-known oven of the well-known fire - Gehenna.
More mysterious still, and, if possible, even more needful, was
the instruction that the Enemy who sowed the tares was the Devil. To the Jews,
nay, to us all, it may seem a mystery, that in 'the Messianic Kingdom of
Heaven' there should be a mixture of tares with the wheat, the more mysterious,
that the Baptist had predicted that the coming Messiah would thoroughly purge His
floor. But to those who were capable of receiving it, it would be explained by
the fact that the Devil was 'the Enemy' of Christ, and of His Kingdom, and that
he had sowed those tares. This would, at the same time, be the most effective
answer to the Pharisaic charge, that Jesus was the Incarnation of Satan, and
the vehicle of his influence. And once instructed in this, they would have
further to learn the lessons of faith and patience, connected with the fact
that the good seed of the Kingdom grew in the field of the world, and hence
that, by the very conditions of its existence, separation by the hand of man
was impossible so long as the wheat was still growing. Yet that separation
would surely be made in the great harvest, to certain, terrible loss of the
children of the wicked one,75
and to the 'sun-like forthshining' in glory of the righteous in the Kingdom
prepared by their Father.
75. Without here anticipating what may have to be said as to Christ's teaching of the final fate of the wicked, it cannot be questioned that at that period the doctrine of endless punishment was the common belief of the Jews. I am aware, that dogmas should not be based upon parabolic teaching, but in the present instance the
Parable would have been differently worded, if such dogmatic teaching had not been in the mind of Speaker and hearers.
The first Parables were intended to present the mysteries of
the Kingdom as illustrated by the sowing, growing, and intermixture of the
Seed. The concluding two Parables set forth another equally mysterious
characteristic of the Kingdom: that of its development and power, as contrasted
with its small and weak beginnings. In the Parable of the Mustard-seed this is
shown as regards the relation of the Kingdom to the outer world; in that of the
Leaven, in reference to the world within us. The one exhibits the extensiveness,
the other the intensiveness, of its power; in both cases at first hidden,
almost imperceptible, and seemingly wholly inadequate to the final result. Once
more we say it, that such Parables must have been utterly unintelligible to all
who did not see in the humble, despised, Nazarene, and in His teaching, the
Kingdom. But to those whose eyes, ears and hearts had been opened, they would
carry most needed instruction and most precious comfort and assurance.
Accordingly, we do not find that the disciples either asked or received an
interpretation of these Parables.
A few remarks will set the special meaning of these Parables
more clearly before us. Here also the illustrations used may have been at hand.
Close by the fields, covered with the fresh green or growing corn, to which
Jesus had pointed, may have been the garden with its growing herbs, bushes and
plants, and the home of the householder, whose wife may at that moment have
been in sight, busy preparing the weekly provision of bread. At any rate, it is
necessary to keep in mind the homeliness of these illustrations. The
very idea of Parables implies, not strict scientific accuracy, but popular
pictorialness. It is characteristic of them to present vivid sketches that
appeal to the popular mind, and exhibit such analogies of higher truths as can
be readily perceived by all. Those addressed were not to weigh every detail,
either logically or scientifically, but at once to recognise the aptness of the
illustration as presented to the popular mind. Thus, as regards the first of
these two Parables, the seed of the mustard-plant passed in popular parlance as
the smallest of seeds.76
In fact, the expression, 'small as a mustard-seed,' had become proverbial, and
was used, not only by our Lord,77
but frequently by the Rabbis, to indicate the smallest amount, such as the
least drop of blood,78
the least defilement,79
or the smallest remnant of sun-glow in the sky.80
'But when it is grown, it is greater than the garden-herbs.' Indeed, it looks
no longer like a large garden-herb or shrub, but 'becomes,' or rather, appears
like, 'a tree' - as St. Luke puts it, 'a great tree,'81
of course, not in comparison with other trees, but with garden-shrubs. Such
growth of the mustard seed was also a fact well known at the time, and, indeed,
still observed in the East.82
76. Certainly the Sinapis nigra, and not the Salvadora persica.
77. St. Matt. xvii. 20.
78. Ber. 31 a.
79. Nidd. v. 2.
80. Vayyik. R. 31, ed. Warsh., vol. iii. p. 48 a.
81. St. Luke xiii. 18, 19.
82. Comp. Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 472. The quotations in Buxtorf's
Lex. Rabb. pp. 822, 823, on which the supposed Rabbinic illustrations of the growth of the plant are based (Lightfoot, Sch�ttgen, Wetstein,
even Vorstius and Winer), are wholly inapt, being taken from
legendary descriptions of the future glory of Palestine - the exaggerations
being of the grossest character.
This is the first and main point in the Parable. The other,
concerning the birds which are attracted to its branches and 'lodge' -
literally, 'make tents'83
- there, or else under the shadow of it,84
is subsidiary. Pictorial, of course, this trait would be, and we can the more
readily understand that birds would be attracted to the branches or the shadow
of the mustard-plant, when we know that mustard was in Palestine mixed with, or
used as food for pigeons,85
and presumably would be sought by other birds. And the general meaning would
the more easily be apprehended, that a tree, whose wide-spreading branches
afforded lodgment to the birds of heaven, was a familiar Old Testament figure
for a mighty kingdom that gave shelter to the nations.86
Indeed, it is specifically used as an illustration of the Messianic Kingdom.87
Thus the Parable would point to this, so full of mystery to the Jews, so
explanatory of the mystery to the disciples: that the Kingdom of Heaven,
planted in the field of the world as the smallest seed, in the most humble and
unpromising manner, would grow till it far outstripped all other similar
plants, and gave shelter to all nations under heaven.
83. Canon Tristram's rendering of the verb (u. s. p. 473) as merely perching or resting does not give the real meaning of it. He has very aptly noticed how fond birds are of the mustard-seed.
84. St. Mark iv. 32.
85. Jer. Shabb. 16 c.
86. Ezek. xxxi. 6, 12; Dan. iv. 12, 14, 21, 22.
87. Ezek. xvii. 23.
To this extensive power of the Kingdom corresponded its intensive
character, whether in the world at large or in the individual. This formed the
subject of the last of the Parables addressed at this time to the people - that
of the Leaven. We need not here resort to ingenious methods of explaining 'the
three measures,' or Seahs, of meal in which the leaven was hid. Three
Seahs were an Ephah,88
of which the exact capacity differed in various districts. According to the
so-called 'wilderness,' or original Biblical, measurement, it was supposed to
be a space holding 432 eggs,89
while the Jerusalem ephah was one-fifth, and the Sepphoris (or Galilean) ephah
two-fifths, or, according to another authority, one-half larger.90
To mix 'three measures' of meal was common in Biblical, as well as in later
further was therefore conveyed than the common process of ordinary, everyday
life. And in this, indeed, lies the very point of the Parable, that the Kingdom
of God, when received within, would seem like leaven hid, but would gradually
pervade, assimilate, and transform the whole of our common life.
88. Men. vii.
89. Erub. viii. 2; 83 a.
90. Comp. Herzfeld, Handelsgesch. d. Juden, pp. 183-185.
91. Comp. Gen. xviii. 6; Judg. vi. 19; 1 Sam. i. 24; Jos. Ant. ix. 4, 5; Babha B. 9 a, &c.
With this most un-Jewish, and, to the unbelieving multitude,
most mysterious characterisation of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Saviour
dismissed the people. Enough had been said to them and for them, if they had
but ears to hear. And now He was again alone with the disciples 'in the house'
at Capernaum, to which they had returned.92
Many new and deeper thoughts of the Kingdom had come to them. But why had He so
spoken to the multitude, in a manner so different, as regarded not only the
form, but even the substance of His teaching? And did they quite understand its
solemn meaning themselves? More especially, who was the enemy whose activity
would threaten the safety of the harvest? Of that harvest they had already
heard on the way through Samaria.93
And what were those 'tares,' which were to continue in their very midst till
the judicial separation of the end? To these questions Jesus now made answer.
His statement of the reason for adopting in the present instance the parabolic
mode of teaching would, at the same time, give them farther insight into those
very mysteries of the Kingdom which it had been the object of these Parables to
set forth.94 His
unsolicited explanation of the details of the first Parable would call
attention to points that might readily have escaped their notice, but which,
for warning and instruction, it most behooved them to keep in view.
92. St. Matt. xiii. 36; comp. ver. 10, and St. Mark iv. 10.
93. St. John iv. 35.
94. On Is. lxi. 10, we read the following beautiful illustration, alike of the words of our Lord in St. Matt. xiii. 16, and of the exclamation of the woman in St. Luke xi. 27: 'Seven garments there are with which the Holy One, blessed be His
Name, clothed Himself, from the time the world was created to the hour when He will execute punishment on Edom the wicked (Rome). When He created the world, He clothed himself with glory and splendour (Ps. civ. 1); when He manifested Himself by the Red Sea, He clothed Himself with majesty (Ps. xciii. 1); when He gave the Law, He clothed Himself with strength (ib.); when He forgives
the iniquity of Israel, He clothes Himself in white (Dan. vii. 9); when He
executeth punishment on the nations of the world, He clothes himself with
vengeance (Is. lix. 17). The sixth garment He will put on in the hour when the Messiah shall be revealed. Then shall He clothe Himself with righteousness (ib.).
The seventh garment is when He taketh vengeance on Edom, then shall He be
clothed in red (Is. lxiii. 2). And the garment with which in the future He will clothe Messiah shall shine forth from one end of the world to the other, according to Is. lxi. 10. And Israel shall enjoy His light, and say, Blessed
the hour in which Messiah was born; blessed the womb which bare Him; blessed the generation which seeth, blessed the eye which is deemed worthy to behold Him, because that the opening of His lips is blessing and peace, His speech rest to the soul, and security and rest are in His Word. And on His tongue pardon and forgiveness; His prayer the incense of accepted sacrifice; His entreaty holiness and purity. Blessed are ye Israel - what is reserved for you!
Even as it is written' (Ps. xxxi. 20; 19 in our A. V.). (Pesiqta, ed. Bub. p. 149 a and b.)
The understanding of the first Parable seems to have shown
them, how much hidden meaning this teaching conveyed, and to have stimulated
their desire for comprehending what the presence and machinations of the
hostile Pharisees might, in some measure, lead them to perceive in dim outline.
Yet it was not to the Pharisees that the Lord referred. The Enemy was the
Devil; the field, the world; the good seed, the children of the Kingdom; the
tares, the children of the Wicked One. And most markedly did the Lord, in this
instance, not explain the Parable, as the first one, in its details, but only
indicate, so to speak, the stepping-stones for its understanding. This, not
only to train the disciples, but because - unlike the first Parable - that of the
Tares would only in the future and increasingly unfold its meaning.
But even this was not all. The disciples had now knowledge
concerning the mysteries of the Kingdom. But that Kingdom was not matter of the
understanding only, but of personal apprehension. This implied discovery of its
value, personal acquisition of it, and surrender of all to its possession. And
this mystery of the Kingdom was next conveyed to the disciples in those
Parables specially addressed to, and suited only for, them.
Kindred, or rather closely connected, as are the two Parables
of the Treasure hid in the Field and of the Pearl of Great Price - now spoken
to the disciples - their differences are sufficiently marked. In the first, one
who must probably be regarded as intending to buy a, if not this, field,
discovers a treasure hidden there, and in his joy parts with all else to become
owner95 of the
field and of the hidden treasure which he had so unexpectedly found. Some
difficulty has been expressed in regard to the morality of such a transaction.
In reply it may be observed, that it was, at least, in entire accordance with
If a man had found a treasure in loose coins among the corn, it would certainly
be his, if he bought the corn. If he had found it on the ground, or in the
soil, it would equally certainly belong to him, if he could claim ownership of
the soil, and even if the field were not his own, unless others could prove
their right to it. The law went so far as to adjudge to the purchaser of fruits
anything found among these fruits. This will suffice to vindicate a question of
detail, which, in any case, should not be too closely pressed in a parabolic
95. The emporoV - in opposition to the kaphloV, or huckster, small trader -
is the en gros merchant who travels from place to place and across
waters (from poroV) to purchase.
96. B. Mets. 25 a, b.
97. But the instance quoted by Wetstein (N. Test. i. p. 407) from Babha Mez. 28 b
is inapt, and depends on entire misunderstanding of the passage. The Rabbi who found the treasure, so far from claiming, urged its owner to take it back.
But to resume our analysis. In the second Parable we have a
wise merchantman who travels in search of pearls, and when he finds one which
in value exceeds all else, he returns and sells all that he has, in order to
buy this unique gem. The supreme value of the Kingdom, the consequent desire to
appropriate it, and the necessity of parting with all else for this purpose,
are the points common to this and the previous Parable. But in the one case, it
is marked that this treasure is hid from common view in the field, and the
finder makes unexpected discovery of it, which fills him with joy. In the other
case, the merchantman is, indeed, in search of pearls, but he has the wisdom to
discover the transcendent value of this one gem, and the yet greater wisdom to
give up all further search and to acquire it at the surrender of everything
else. Thus, two different aspects of the Kingdom, and two different conditions
on the part of those who, for its sake, equally part with all, are here set
before the disciples.
Nor was the closing Parable of the Draw-net less needful
Assuredly it became, and would more and more become, them to know, that mere
discipleship - mere inclusion in the Gospel-net - was not sufficient. That net
let down into the sea of this world would include much which, when the net was
at last drawn to shore, would prove worthless or even hurtful. To be a
disciple, then, was not enough. Even here there would be separation. Not only
the tares, which the Enemy had designedly sown into the midst of the wheat, but
even much that the Gospel-net, cast into the sea, had inclosed, would, when
brought to land, prove fit only to be cast away, into 'the oven of the fire
where there is the wailing and the gnashing of teeth.'
So ended that spring-day of first teaching in Parables, to the
people by the Lake, and in the house at Capernaum to the disciples. Dim,
shadowy outlines, growing larger and more faint in their tracings to the
people; shadowy outlines, growing brighter and clearer to all who were
disciples. Most wondrous instruction to all, and in all aspects of it; which
even negative critics admit to have really formed part of Christ's own original
teaching. But if this be the case, we have two questions of decisive character
to ask. Undoubtedly, these Parables were un-Jewish. This appears, not only from
a comparison with the Jewish views of the Kingdom, but from the fact that their
meaning was unintelligible to the hearers of Jesus, and from this, that, rich
as Jewish teaching is in Parables, none in the least parallel to them can be
adduced.98 Our first question, therefore, is:
Whence this un-Jewish and anti-Jewish teaching concerning the Kingdom on the
part of Jesus of Nazareth?
98. The so-called Rabbinic illustrations are inapt, except as per contra. Thus,
on St. Matt. xiii. 17 it is to be remarked, that in Rabbinic opinion revelation of God's mysteries would only be granted to those who were righteous or learned. The Midr. on Eccl. i. 7 contains the following Parable in illustration
(comp. Dan. ii. 21): A matron is asked, to which of two that would borrow she would lend money - to a rich or a poor man. And when she answers: To a rich man, since even if he lost it, he would be able to repay, she is told that similarly God gives not wisdom to fools, who would employ it for theatres and
baths, &c., but to the sages, who make use of it in the Academies. A
similar and even more strange explanation of Exod. xv. 26 occurs Ber. 40 a, where it is shown that God supports the full, and not, as man, an empty vessel.
Hence, if we begin to learn, or repeat what we have learned, we shall learn more, and conversely also. Further, on ver. 12 we note, that 'to have taken away what one hath' is a Jewish proverbial expression: 'that which is in their
hand shall be taken from them' (Ber. R. 20, ed. Warsh. p. 38 b, last two lines). Expressions similar to ver. 16 are used by the Rabbis, for ex. Chag. 14
b. In regard to ver. 17, R. Eliezer inferred from Exod. xv. 2 that
servantmaids saw at the Red Sea what neither Ezekiel nor the prophets had seen, which he corroborates from Ezek. i. 1 and Hos. xii. 10 (Mechilta, ed. Weiss p. 44 a). Another and much more beautiful parallelism has been given
before. On ver. 19 it ought to be remarked that the Wicked One was not so much represented by the Rabbis as the Enemy of the Kingdom of God, but as that of individuals - indeed, was often described as identical with the evil impulse
(Yetser haRa, comp. Chag. 16 a; B. Bathr. 16 a; Succ. 52 a). On ver. 22 we remark, that not riches, but poverty, was regarded by the Rabbis
as that which choked the good seed. On ver. 39, we may remark a somewhat
similar expression in B. Mez. 83 b: 'Let the Lord of the Vineyard come and remove the thorns.' On ver. 42, the expression 'oven of fire,' for Gehenna,
is the popular Jewish one (rw@n@t@). Similarly, the expression, 'gnashing of
teeth,' chiefly characteristic of the anger and jealousy of those in Gehinnom,
occurs in the Midrash on Eccl. i. 15. On ver. 44 we refer to the remarks and
note on that Parable (p. 595). In connection with ver. 46, we remember that, in
Shabb. 119 a, a story is told concerning a pearl for which a man had
given his whole fortune, hoping thereby to prevent the latter being alienated
from him (comp. Ber. R. 11). Lastly, in connection with ver. 47 we notice, that
the comparison of men with fishes is a common Jewish one (Abod. Zar. 3 b; 4 a).
Our second question goes still farther. For, if Jesus was not a
Prophet - and, if a Prophet, then also the Son of God - yet no more strangely
unexpected prophecy, minutely true in all its details, could be conceived, than
that concerning His Kingdom which His parabolic description of it conveyed. Has
not History, in the strange, unexpected fulfilling of that which no human
ingenuity at the time could have forecast, and no pen have described with more
minute accuracy of detail, proved Him to be more than a mere man - One sent
from God, the Divine King of the Divine Kingdom, in all the vicissitudes which
such a Divine Kingdom must experience when set up upon earth?
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