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SERM. and broke out into the keenest 'and se
verest invectives against every thing, which was reprehensible either in their sentiments or their practice.
Now when we consider parable as employed with a view of shading truth from too direct and obvious an explication, we make some approach to the reason, which our Lord himself assigns for speaking to the multitude in parables. But this is a topic of too great importance for a transient observation, It will furnish a sufficient argument for a separate discourse.
THE PROFESSED DESIGN OF PARABLE.
MATTHEW XIII. 10. And the Disciples came and said unto. him, Why speakest thou unto them, in
parables ? HAVING treated in my last discourse serm. 11 on the several properties of para- II. ble, as they may be inferred both from m reason and experience, it is incumbent on me now to enquire into the motive, which our Lord himself assigns for. speaking in parables to the Jews. This motive is apparently difficult to reconcile with those beneficial purposes, which distinguish the Gospel of Christ, as it seems to express an intention of shading, rather than illustrating, those truths, which he came professedly to disclose. :
To solve the difficulties that here oce cur, it may be useful to premise, that when our Saviour first began to teach, his language was easy to the understandings of all his hearers; as may be instanced in the Sermon on the Mount, which abounds in maxims and precepts delivered in a clear and open' stile. It was not indeed altogether free from parable; for this was the general character of all his discourse. But the parable, which he then employed, was of the sententious or proverbial kind; always very brief, not extending to a greater length than a single comparison or a slight 'allusion, and therefore not obscure or difficult of apprehension either to the Disciples or the common people,
This clear and open stile he continued to employ till the time, when he entered into a ship on the coast of Galilee, and taught the multitude who were ranged along the shore, On which occasion he addressed them, not as he had hitherto been accustomed in a language plain and easy to the understanding, but in a series of parables, expanded into the fuller form of continued narrative, and sparingly accompanied with any kind of exposition or application.
Observing this difference in the man- SERM. ner of his discourse, and probably surprised that à Teacher come from God, who professed himself a light unto the world, should cover his doctrines with any degree of shade, his Disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables ? His immediate answer was, Because unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but unto them it is not given. . This sentence on the first consideration may be thought a hard saying ; and some 'who read it may be disposed to say, Who can hear or comprehend ita? For beside its counteracting those advantages of parable, already noticed, to illustrate and embody moral truth, does it not express a partial purpose in the decrees of Heaven, to extend the benefits of the Gospel to one class of men, and to withhold them from another?
However hard this saying may appear to be, I trust the difficulties of it will yield to a patient and temperate investigation.
When we contemplate the attributes of that great First Cause, who is the - John vi. 60.
SERM. Creator and Governor of the world, we II. must acknowledge, that he doeth ac
cording to his will in the armies of heayen and among the inhabitants of earth; and none can stay his hand, and say unto him, What doest thou ? b As the potter hạth power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honour and another to dishonour; so the sovereign Artist of the universe has an unquestionable right over his creatures: so as of the same people to exalt one man, and to abase another man, of the same species to extend the benefits of his knowledge and the blessings of his grace to one class of men, and to with hold them from another..
1 As in the natural world he has placed some in prosperous, and others in ad verse fortune, under the benignant inthuence of temperate suns and showers, and others under the rigours of a burning or a freezing zone; so also in the spiritual world he has given to some the advantages of a religious education, and others he suffers to continue in a state of ignorance and error; on some he has diffused the noon-day light of the Sun of Righteousness, and others he has left
Dan. iv. 356 : ... Rom. ix. 21.