See also Mark 4:13-20; Luke 8:11-15. “Hear ye, therefore, the parable of the sower.” That is, hear the “explanation” or the “spiritual meaning” of the narrative given before. Mark adds Mark 4:13, “Know ye not this parable? And how, then, shall ye know all parables?” By which it seems that the Saviour regarded this as one of the simplest and plainest of the parables, and gave an explanation of it that they might understand the general principles of interpreting others.
When any one heareth - The seed represents the word of God communicated in any manner to the minds of people - by the Scriptures, by preaching, by acts of Providence, or by the direct influences of the Holy Spirit.
He is represented by the fowls that came and picked up the seed by the way-side. The gospel is preached to people hardened in sin. It makes no impression. It lies like seed on the “hard path;” it is easily taken away, and never suffered to take root.
Matthew 13:20, Matthew 13:21
But he that received the seed into stony places - Jesus explains this as denoting those who hear the gospel; who are caught with it as something new or pleasing; who profess to be greatly delighted with it, and who are full of zeal for it.
Yet they have no root in themselves. They are not true Christians. Their hearts are not changed. They have not seen their guilt and danger, and the true excellency of Christ. They are not “really” attached to the gospel; and when they are tried and persecution comes, they fall - as the rootless grain withers before the scorching rays of the noonday sun.
Anon - “Quickly,” or “readily.”
With joy receiveth it - They are under deep distress for sin; they are apprehensive of danger; they hear the offer of mercy, and they seem to themselves to embrace the gospel. It offers them peace, pardon, salvation, and religion assumes for a time a lovely aspect. They imagine that they are pardoned, and they have a temporary peace and joy. Their anxieties subside. Their fears are gone. They are for a time happy. “The mere subsiding of anxious feeling from any cause will make the mind for a time happy.” They have only to imagine, therefore, that their sins are forgiven, to produce a certain kind of peace and joy. But there is no ground of permanent joy, as there is in true pardon, and soon their joy subsides, and all evidence of piety disappears. There is no strength of principle to resist temptation; there is no real love of the Saviour; and in times of trial and persecution they show that they have no true religion, and fall away.
By and by - Mark, “Immediately.” That is, it soon occurs, or this is an effect which may be expected soon to follow.
Is offended - Stumbles or falls, for this is the meaning of the word “offend” in the New Testament. See the notes at Matthew 5:29. Persecution and trial are placed in his path, and he falls as he would over a “stumbling-block.” He has no strength of principle - no real confidence in God - no true religion. Mere excited animal feeling is all that he ever had, and that is not sufficient to sustain him when the trial comes.
He also that received seed among the thorns - These represent the cares, the anxieties, and the deceitful lure of riches, or the way in which a desire to be rich deceives people.
They take the time and attention. They do not leave opportunity to examine the state of the soul. Besides, riches allure, and promise what they do not yield. They promise to make us happy; but, when gained, they do not do it. The soul is not satisfied. There is the same desire to possess more wealth. And to this there is no end “but death.” In doing it there is every temptation to be dishonest, to cheat, to take advantage of others, to oppress others, and to wring their hard earnings from the poor. Every evil passion is therefore cherished by the love of gain; and it is no wonder that the word is choked, and every good feeling destroyed, by this “execrable love of gold.” See the notes at 1 Timothy 6:7-11. How many, O how many, thus foolishly drown themselves in destruction and perdition! How many more might reach heaven, if it were not for this deep-seated love of that which fills the mind with care, deceives the soul, and finally leaves it naked, and guilty, and lost!
Into good ground - Those whose hearts are prepared by grace to receive it honestly, and to give it full opportunity to grow.
In a rich and mellow soil - in a heart that submits itself to the full influence of truth, unchecked by cares and anxieties; under the showers and summer suns of divine grace; with the heart spread open, like a broad, luxuriant field, to the rays of the morning and to evening dews, the gospel takes deep root and grows; it has full room, and then and there only shows “what it is.”
Good ground - That which had depth of mould, was well ploughed, and well weeded.
Is he that heareth - Who diligently attends the ministry of the word.
And understandeth it - Lays the subject to heart, deeply weighing its nature, design, and importance.
Which also beareth fruit - His fruitfulness being an almost necessary consequence of his thus laying the Divine message to heart. Let it be observed, that to hear, to understand, and to bring forth fruit, are the three grand evidences of a genuine believer. He who does not hear the word of wisdom cannot understand what makes for his peace; and he who does not understand what the Gospel requires him to be and to perform, cannot bring forth fruit; and he who is not fruitful, very fruitful, cannot be a disciple of Christ - see John 15:8; and he who is not Christ's disciple cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
From the different portions of fruit produced by the good ground, a hundred, sixty, and thirty, we may learn that all sound believers are not equally fruitful; all hear, understand, and bring forth fruit, but not in the same degrees-occasioned, partly, by their situation and circumstances not allowing them such extensive opportunities of receiving and doing good; and, partly, by lack of mental capacity - for every mind is not equally improvable.
Let it be farther observed that the unfruitfulness of the different lands was not owing to bad seed or an unskilful sower - the same sower sows the same seed in all, and with the same gracious design - but it is unfruitful in many because they are careless, inattentive, and worldly-minded.
But is not the ground naturally bad in every heart? Undoubtedly. And can any but God make it good? None. But it is your business, when you hear of the justice and mercy of God, to implore him to work in you that which is pleasing in his sight. No man shall be condemned because he did not change his own heart, but because he did not cry to God to change it, who gave him his Holy Spirit for this very purpose, and which he, by his worldly-mindedness and impiety, quenched. Whoso hath ears to hear let him hear: and may the Lord save the reader from an impenitent and unfruitful heart!
Good Blood, Healthy Lungs—In order to have good blood, we must breathe well. Full, deep inspirations of pure air, which fill the lungs with oxygen, purify the blood. They impart to it a bright color and send it, a life-giving current, to every part of the body. A good respiration soothes the nerves; it stimulates the appetite and renders digestion more perfect; and it induces sound, refreshing sleep. VSS 191.1
The lungs should be allowed the greatest freedom possible. Their capacity is developed by free action; it diminishes if they are cramped and compressed. Hence the ill effects of the practice so common, especially in sedentary pursuits, of stooping at one's work. In this position it is impossible to breathe deeply. Superficial breathing soon becomes a habit, and the lungs lose their power to expand. A similar effect is produced by tight lacing. Sufficient room is not given to the lower part of the chest; the abdominal muscles, which were designed to aid in breathing, do not have full play, and the lungs are restricted in their action. VSS 191.2Read in context »
Such meetings for children and youth, if rightly conducted, will be attended by many who are not of our faith, and the lessons learned at the meetings will be repeated at home. Through the children the parents may be reached. At our camp meetings in Australia these meetings have been the means of great good. 6T 106.1
Following is a brief account of work done in this line at an Australian camp meeting, as written out by one who had a part in the work: 6T 106.2
“On the first Sabbath the children were organized into departments and classes, and the teachers began their work. At the beginning there were six children in the primary department and about fifteen in the kindergarten. As soon as the children living in the neighborhood learned of the meetings being held for them, they began to attend, and each day found many new ones added to the classes. The average daily attendance from the outside was between eighty and one hundred, and on Sundays there was a larger number present. Most of the children were very regular in their attendance. The same spirit of earnestness, attention, and order that characterized the services among the older ones marked the children's meetings. Both in the classwork and in the general review exercises the work was so arranged that the children had a part in doing as well as listening, and in this way they soon felt at home, and their eagerness to bear some part in the work testified to their interest. 6T 106.3Read in context »
As the health of invalids improves under judicious treatment, and they begin to enjoy life, they have confidence in those who have been instrumental in their restoration to health. Their hearts are filled with gratitude, and the good seed of truth will the more readily find a lodgment there and in some cases will be nourished, spring up, and bear fruit to the glory of God. One such precious soul saved will be worth more than all the means needed to establish such an institution. Some will not have enough moral courage to yield to their convictions. They may be convinced that Sabbathkeepers have the truth, but the world and unbelieving relatives stand in the way of their receiving it. They cannot bring their minds to the point to sacrifice all for Christ. Yet some of this last-mentioned class will go away with their prejudice removed and will stand as defenders of the faith of Seventh-day Adventists. Some who go away restored or greatly benefited will be the means of introducing our faith in new places and raising the standard of truth where it would have been impossible to gain access had not prejudice been first removed from minds by a tarry among our people for the object of gaining health. 1T 493.1
Others will prove a source of trial as they go to their homes. Yet this should not discourage any or hinder them in their efforts in this good work. Satan and his agents will do all they can to hinder, to perplex, and to bring burdens upon those who heartily engage in the work of advancing this reform. 1T 493.2
There is a liberal supply of means among our people, and if all felt the importance of the work, this great enterprise could be carried forward without embarrassment. All should feel a special interest in sustaining it. Especially should those who have means invest in this enterprise. A suitable home should be fitted up for the reception of invalids that they may, by the use of proper means and the blessing of God, be relieved of their infirmities and learn how to take care of themselves and thus prevent sickness. 1T 494.1Read in context »
There are those who, after becoming established, rooted and grounded in the truth, should enter these institutions of learning as students. They can keep the living principles of the truth, and observe the Sabbath, and yet they will have opportunity to work for the Master by dropping seeds of truth in minds and hearts. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, these seeds will spring up to bear fruit for the glory of God, and will result in the saving of souls. The students need not go to these institutions of learning in order to become enlightened upon theological subjects; for the teachers of the school need themselves to become Bible students. No open controversies should be started, yet opportunity will be given to ask questions upon Bible doctrines, and light will be flashed into many minds. A spirit of investigation will be aroused. 3SM 234.1Read in context »