Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 13

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Verse 1

The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

The same day — Wherein Christ had had a sharp bout and bickering with the scribes and Pharisees in the forenoon, he sat and taught the people (as it may seem) in the afternoon. A precedent of preaching twice a day. Chrysostom’s practice was to preach in the afternoon, and by candle light; as appears by his note on 1 Thessalonians 5:17 , where he fetcheth a similitude from the lamp he was preaching by. Quench not the Spirit, σβεννυσι δε αυτοβιος ακαθαρτος . Chrysostom. Luther likewise preached twice a day; which because one Nicolas White commended him in, he was accused of heresy in the reign of Henry VIII. And this commendable course began to be disgraced and cried down in our days as puritanical and superfluous. A learned bishop (Andrews) was highly extolled in print, for saying that when he was a lecturer in London, he preached in the morning, but prated only in the afternoon. A fair commendation for him.

He sat by the sea side — As waiting an opportunity of doing good to men’s souls; which was no sooner offered, but he readily laid hold on. So St Paul took a text of one of the altars in Athens, and discoursed on it to the superstitious people. A minister must stand ever upon his watch tower, prompt and present, ready and speedy to every good work (as the bee, as soon as ever the sun breaks forth, flies abroad to gather honey and wax), accounting employment a preferment, as our Saviour did,John 17:4; John 17:4 .

Verse 2

And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

He went into a ship and sat — Thinking, perhaps, there to repose himself, after his hard conflict with the Pharisees. But the sight of a new audience incites him to a new pains of preaching to them. And as he held no time unseasonable, so no place unfit for such a purpose. We find him again teaching not in the temple only and synagogues on the Sabbath day (as he did constantly), but in the mountains, in cities, in private houses, by the sea side, by the wayside, by the well’s side, anywhere, everywhere, no pace came amiss to him, no pulpit displeased him.

Verse 3

And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

And he spake many things to them in parables — A parable, saith Suidas, is διηγημα και ομοιωσις πραγματων , a setting forth of the matter by way of similitude from something else that differs in kind, and yet in some sort resembleth and illustrateth it. Christ, the prince of preachers, varieth his kind of teaching according to the nature and necessity of his audience, speaking as they could hear, as they could bear, saith St Mark. Ministers, in like sort, must turn themselves, as it were, into all shapes and fashions both of spirit and speech, to win people to God.

Behold, a sower went forth — Our Saviour stirs them up to attention by a "Behold." Which, though it might seem not so needful to be said to such as came far, and now looked through him, as it were, for a sermon: yet he, well knowing how dull men are to conceive heavenly mysteries, how weak to remember, hard to believe, and slow to practise, calls for their uttermost attention to his divine doctrine, and gives them a just reason thereof in his ensuing discourse. It fares with the best, while they hear, as with little ones, when they are saying their lesson; if but a bird fly by, they must needs look after it: besides the devil’s malice striving to distract, stupify, or steal away the good seed, that it may come to nothing.

Verse 4

And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

And when he sowed, some seed, … — The word is a seed of immortality. For, 1. As seeds are small things, yet produce great substances, as an acorn an oak, …, so by the foolishness of preaching souls are saved, like as by blowing of rams’ horns the walls of Jericho were subverted. 2. As the seed must be harrowed into the earth, so must the word be hid in the heart, ere it fructify. 3. As the seedsman cannot make a harvest without the influence of heaven; so, let us, to the wearing of our tongues to the stump (as that martyr expressed it), preach and pray never so much, men will on in their sins, unless God give the blessing: Paul may plant, … Mr Bradford, Serm. of Rep. Meum est docere, vestrum auscultare, Dei perficere. It is for me to teach, you to hear, and God to perform. Cyril. 4. As good seed if not cast into good ground yields no harvest; so the word preached, if not received into good and honest hearts, proves ineffectual. The Pharisees were not a button the better for all those heart piercing sermons of our Saviour, nay, much the worse. 5. As the harvest is potentially in the seed, so is eternal life in the word preached,Romans 1:16; Romans 1:16 . As the rain from heaven hath a fatness with it, and a special influence more than other standing waters, so there is not the like life in other ordinances as in preaching. None to that, as David said of Goliath’s sword.

Verse 5

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

Some fell upon stony places, … — Our Saviour, his own best interpreter, explains all this to his disciples, Matthew 13:18-19 . The intent of these various parables seems to have been to confirm that which was said in the former chapter, Matthew 13:50 , that they that do the will of his heavenly Father shall be owned and crowned by him as his dearest relations and alliances. As also to teach the people not to rest in hearing, since three parts of four hear and perish. Which loss is yet sweetly repaired by the fruitfulness of the good hearers, some whereof bring forth a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty, the fertility of one grain making amends for the barrenness of many; so that the sower repents not of his pains. It is well worth while, if but one soul be gained to God by a whole life’s labour.

Verse 6

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

See Trapp on " Matthew 13:5 "

Verse 7

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

See Trapp on " Matthew 13:5 "

Verse 8

But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

See Trapp on " Matthew 13:5 "

Verse 9

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Who hath ears to hear, …q.d. Some have ears to hear, some not. So he divideth his hearers into auritos et surdos. All men have not faith, saith St Paul. Men’s ears must be bored, as David’s, their hearts opened, as Lydia’s, ere the word can enter. Pray we that Christ would say Ephphatha unto us, and that when he opens our ears, and by them our hearts, that he would make the bore big enough: since with what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us, and unto us that hear shall more be given, Matthew 4:24 . The greater diligence we use in hearing, the more apparent shall be our profiting.

Verse 10

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

And his disciples came and said unto him — They came to him for satisfaction. Note this against those captious and capricious hearers, that maliciously relate to others that which to them seems not so well or wisely said by the preacher, and come not to the preacher himself, who can best unfold his own mind (all cannot be said in an hour) and make his own apology. Some sit behind the pillar, as Eli dealt by Hannah, to watch and catch what they may carp and cavil at. They contend themselves to have exercised their critiques upon the preacher, and that is all they make of a sermon, though never so savoury and seasonable. These are Herodian hearers.

Verse 11

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

Because it is given to you — Plutarch thinks that life is given to men merely for the getting of knowledge. And the Greeks call man Φωτα , for the inbred desire of light and knowledge that is naturally in all. τον βιον εις γνωσιν απο θεου δοθηναι . But desire we never so much, none can attain to sound and saving knowledge, but those only to whom it is given from above, into whose hearts Christ lets in a ray of heavenly light. Hence Proverbs 30:3-4 , to know heavenly things is to ascend into heaven. And Luke 12:48 , to know the Master’s will, is the great talent of all other: there is a "much" set upon it.

But to them it is not given — By a secret but most just judgment of God, who hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth. The reason of many things now hidden from us we shall see at the last day. Have patience, and be content in the mean while with a learned ignorance.

Verse 12

For 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.

For whosoever hath, to him shall be givensc. If he have it for practice, not else, Zechariah 11:17 . Men, to the hearing of the word, must bring with them the loan and advantage of former doctrine communicated to them, if they mean to do any good of it. And then, as Manoah believed (before the angel vanished in the sacrifice) and sought no such sign to confirm him, yet had it; so God will heap favours upon them, and every former shall be a pledge of a future. God gives grace for grace, that is, say some, where he finds one grace he gives another.

From him shall be taken away even that he hath — That he seems to have, saith St Luke, for indeed all that he hath is but a seeming, a semblance, he walketh in a vain show, he hath only the varnish of virtue, which God shall wash off with rivers of brimstone. Albeit hypocrites are commonly detected even in this life: how else should their names rot, as every wicked man’s must?

Verse 13

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

Therefore speak I to them in parables — Because their wilful blindness and stubbornness deserve I should do it. They are sinners against their own souls, let them rue it therefore.

And hearing they hear notAudientes corporis sensu, non audiunt cordis assensu, saith Augustine.

Verse 14

And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

In them is fulfilled — Ανατληρουται , is again fulfilled, q.d. It is even with these now, as it was with those then. The same fable is acted, the scene only changed. Men’s hearts are as hard as ever they were, the grace of the gospel hath not mended them a whit, nor ever will do, till God strike the stroke.

And shall not understandDeus iis in lingua sua Barbarus, qui in Christo, suis Attiticus, their wit serves them not in spirituals.

Seeing, ye shall see, and not perceive — As Hagar saw not the fountain that was before her, till her eyes were opened. a

a ου μη, απαγορευτικως . Beza.

Verse 15

For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

For this people’s heart, … — A fat heart is a fearful plague. "Their heart is as fat as grease, but I delight in thy law," Psalms 119:70 . None can delight in God’s law that are fat-hearted. Feeding cattle, we know, are most brutish and blockish. And physiognomers observe, that a full and fat heart betokens a dull and doltish disposition. Eglon’s fat paunch would not part with the poniard: and Pliny tells of bears so fat that they felt not the sharpest prickles.

Their ears are dull of hearing — So were the disbelieving Hebrews, for the which they are much taxed and tutored by the apostle. Νωθροι ταις ακοαις , Hebrews 5:11 . Surdaster erat M. Crassus; sed illud peius, quod male audiebat, saith Cicero. These here hear very ill, for their no better hearing.

Their eyes they have closed — Or they wink hard with their eyes: they shut the windows, lest the light should come in: ut liberius peccent libenter ignorant, they do not what they might, toward the work. (Bern.)

Lest at any time they should see — See we may here (in that which they should have seen and done) the right order of repentance to salvation never to be repented of. The blind eye is opened, the deaf ear unstopped, the dull heart affected, … God first puts his laws into men’s minds, that they may know them, and then writes the same in their hearts, that they may have the comfort, feeling, and fruition of them. And then it is, "I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people,"Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 8:10 .

Verse 16

But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

But blessed are your eyes, … — Demaratus of Corinth was wont to say, that those Grecians lost a great part of the comfort of their lives, that had not seen great Alexander sitting on Darius’s throne. St Austin wished but to have seen three sights, Romam in flore, Paulum in ore, Christum in corpore, Rome in the flourish, Paul in the pulpit, Christ in the flesh.

And your ears, for they hear — The turtle’s voice, the joyful sound, the lively oracles, the precious promises of the word, therefore called "the word" by a specialty, because our ears should listen after no other word but that. Origen chides his hearers for nothing so much as for this, that they came so seldom to hear God’s word; and that when they came, they heard it so carelessly, recte iudicans, saith Erasmus, hinc esse praecipuum pietatis profectum ant defectum, as one that well knew that men’s growth in grace is according to their heed in hearing.

Verse 17

For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them ; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them .

Desired to see those things that ye see, … — They saw them, and saluted them only afar off, and in the dark glass of the ceremonies. "But we all with open face," …,2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 3:18 . The sea about the altar was brazen, and what eyes could pierce through it? Now our sea about the throne is glass, like to crystal, clearly conveying the light and sight of God to our eyes. 1 Kings 7:23 ; Revelation 4:6 . All God’s ordinances are now so clear, that you may see Christ’s face in them. Yea, as the glass set full against the sun receives not only the beams, as other dark bodies do, but the image of the sun; so the understanding with open face beholding Christ, is transformed into the image and similitude of Christ.

Verse 18

Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

Hear ye therefore the parable, … — The disciples had asked him concerning the multitude, Matthew 13:10 ; "Why speakest thou to them in parables?" They pretended that the multitude understood him not, and therefore he should do well to show them the meaning. They were ashamed, belike, to bewray their own ignorance, but our Saviour calls to them also to hear the parable explained. We are all willing to make the best of our own case, to hide our crooked legs with long garments, … Nature need not be taught to tell her own tale.

Verse 19

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one , and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

The word of the kingdom — So called, because it points to and paints out the way to the kingdom, and is therefore also called "The word of life, the power of God to salvation:" heaven is potentially in it, as the harvest is in the seed, as above I noted.

And understandeth it not — Considereth it not, as the Syriac here hath it, using the same word that David doth, Psalms 41:1 ; "Blessed is the man that wisely considereth the poor and needy." Consideration sets on the word when it hath been heard (which else lies loose, and is driven away as chaff before the wind), maketh it to become an ingrafted word ( λογος εμφυτος , James 1:21 ), as the scions grafted into the stock, or as a tree rooted by the river’s side, that removes not.

Then cometh the wicked one — The troubler of Israel, the master of misrule ( ο πονηρος ); he is one at church, whosoever is the other. A Doeg, a devil may set his foot as far within the sanctuary as a David. The sons of God cannot present themselves before the Lord but Satan comes also among them to do ill offices,Job 1:6; Job 1:6 .

And catcheth away that which was sown in his heart — That is, upon his heart ( εν τη καρδια , pro επι τη καρδια ); for into his heart the seed never came, because the devil had made a pathway over it. People are now so sermon trodden many of them, that their hearts, like footpaths, grow hard by the word, which takes no more impression than rain doth upon a rock: they have brawny breasts, horny heart-strings, dead and dedolent dispositions. Hence they become a prey to the devil, as Abraham’s sacrifice would have been to the fowls of the air, had he not huffed them away, Genesis 15:11 .

Verse 20

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

And anon with joy receiveth it — Anon, or immediately. Temporaries are too sudden and, or e’er they be soundly humbled, will be catching at the comforts, as children do at deserts, stuffing themselves pillows with the promises, that they may sin more securely: Praesumendo sperant, et sperando pereunt, as one saith. These are your leap Christians, so hot at first that they can never hold out.

"Swift at hand gives in ere night,

When soft and fair goes far."

With joy receiveth it — Or with grief, if the nature of the doctrine require it. For by one affection we are to understand the rest also. There is no grace but hath a counterfeit: faciunt et vespae fuvos, et simiae imitantur homines. The sorcerers seemed to do as much as Moses. Many apostates have had many meltings, and much sudden strong joy, so, as they have professed, the joy they have found at the hearing of the word hath been so great, that if it had continued but awhile, they could not have lived, but their spirits would have expired. Many examples there are of such. Howbeit in these flashings the truths of God (saith Sir Burroughs) pass by them, as water through a conduit, and leave a dew; but soak not, as water into the earth.

Verse 21

Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Yet hath he not root in himself — These flashy affections have not principles to maintain them, and therefore come to nothing. They are enlightened only as by a flash of lightning, and not by the sunbeam; they do no more than taste of the good word of God, as cooks do of their sauces, they let nothing down, they digest it not, Hebrews 6:4-5 "A good man is satisfied from himself," saith Solomon, Proverbs 13:14 ; hath a spring within his own breast. Hic sat lucis, This is of light, said Oecolampadius, clapping his hand upon his heart. This the temporary cannot say; he is moved by some external principle, as are clocks, windmills, and the like: "the root of the matter is not in him," Job 19:28 . He lacks depth of earth. ουκ εβαθυνε , saith another evangelist, the plough hath not gone deep enough; and therefore, though the earth be good, and the seed good, yet being uncovered, unburied, it miscarries. Exoriuntur, sed exuruntur, " His roots are dried up beneath, and above is his bud cut off," Job 18:16 .

For when tribulation or persecution ariseth — As it will, for ecclesia haeres crucis, saith one. And opposition is evangelii genius, saith Calvin. It is but a delicacy to go about to divide Christ and his cross.

By and by he is offendedVadat Christus cum suo evangelio, saith he. Let Christ keep his heaven to himself, if it can be had upon no other terms: he is resolved to suffer nothing. When it comes to that once, he kicks up profession, and may possibly prove a spiteful adversary of the same ministry which he once admired, as Herod; and a proud condemner of the same remorse with which himself was some time smitten, as Saul. Crystal seems a precious stone, till it come to the hammering.

Verse 22

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

He that received the seed among thorns — So the love of money is called, because it chokes the word, pricks the conscience, harbours vermin lusts. Magna cognatio, ut rei sic nominis divitiis et vitiis. Let rich men look to it, saith Gregory, that they handle their thorns without pricking their fingers; that while they load themselves with earth, they lose not heaven, as Shimei, seeking his servants, lost himself. Dum peritura paras per male parta peris. Viderint divites quomodo spinas sine panctione contrecteat. "Set not thy heart upon the asses" (said Samuel to Saul), since "to thee is the desire of all Israel." Set not your hearts, say I, on this world’s trash, since better things abide you. Martha was troubled about many things, but neglected that one thing necessary, to sit, as her sister did, at Christ’s feet, and hear his word. This Christ checks her for.

And the deceitfulness of riches — The world is a subtle, sly enemy, that doth easily insinuate and dangerously deceive. We may safely say of it, as he sometimes did of a historian, Both its words and shows are full of fraud. Δολερα μεν τα σχηματα, δολερα δε τα ρηματα . Plut. de Herodot. As the panther hides his deformed head, till the sweet scent have drawn other beasts into his danger; so deals the world, alluring men by the deceitfulness of riches, and masking the monstrous and deformed head, the end thereof, under the gilded show of good husbandry, or disguised shape of sin. In a word, these outward things, howsoever as hosts they welcome us into our inn with smiling countenance, yet, unless we look better to them, they will cut our throats in our beds.

And he becometh unfruitful — Because the thorns over shadow the grain; whereas the good ground, though it hath many thorns, yet the grain ascends above them: grace is superior to corruption, the fruit springs up and increaseth, as St Mark Mark 4:8 hath it. These thorny ground hearers, though they stood out persecution, and shrank not in the wetting, as the stony ground did, yet, because the plough had not gone so low as to break up the roots, whereby their hearts were fastened to earthly contents, they proved also unfruitful. See how far a man may go, and yet be never the nearer after all. The stony and thorny ground were nearer to the nature of the good ground, than that of the highway, and yet fell short of heaven.

Verse 23

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it ; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

But he that received seed, … — Which is but a fourth part, if so much, of those that have the word purely and powerfully preached unto them. As at Ephesus, Acts 19:31 , so in our church assemblies, the more part know not wherefore they are come together. They will say, to serve God, and hear his word, but who this God is, or how his word is to be heard, they neither know nor care. If the belly may be filled, the back fitted, …, Si ventri bene, si lateri, … Hor. Epist. I 12. 5. they have as much as they look after. And of such dust heaps as these all corners are full; our Church is as much pestered and even dark with these epicures and atheists, who yet will not miss a sermon, as Egypt was with the grasshoppers. These are those last and loosest times, wherein, by reason of the overflow of iniquity, "the love of many is waxen cold, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved," Matthew 24:12-13 . Where note, that for many that lose their love to God’s word, it is but a he in the singular number that holds out therein to the end.

Some an hundred fold — As Isaac’s seed did, that he sowed in the land of Canaan. This is not every man’s happiness: yet we must propound to ourselves the highest pitch. "And let as many as are perfect be thus minded." That man for heaven, and heaven for him, that sets up for his mark, "the resurrection of the dead," Philippians 3:11 , that is, that perfection of holiness that accompanieth the estate of the resurrection.

Some sixty, some thirty — It befalls not every man to excel, but it behoves every man to exact of himself such a growth in grace, that his profiting may appear to all, and that he is "neither barren, nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ," 2 Peter 1:8 . The vine is the weakest of plants, yet bears abundantly. Philadelphia had but a little strength, yet a great door opened, Revelation 3:8 . The Colossians were but quickened, and not born, yet preciously esteemed of God, Colossians 2:13 . He accepteth according to that a man hath, be it more or less, he blesseth our buds, Isaiah 44:3 . Courage, therefore, though not so fruitful as thou wouldst be. Thine earnest pantings, inquietatious, and desires of better cannot but commend thee much to God. Prima sequentem honestum est in secundis tertiisque consistere, saith one. And Summum culmen affectantes, satis honeste vel in secundo fastigio conspiciemur, saith another. Cicer. de Orat. Columella, lib. 1, in praefat. Aspire to the highest pitch, but be not discouraged, though ye fall somewhat short of it. Every man cannot excel.

Verse 24

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

The kingdom of heaven — viz. here on earth. For we have eternal life already, 1. In pretio, 2. Promisso, 3. Primitiis, in the price, promise, firstfruits. As God prepared Paradise for Adam, so he hath heaven for his. Howbeit, he reserves not all for hereafter; but gives a grape of Canaan in this wilderness, where by righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, God’s people do even eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life, as it was once said of a reverend divine of Scotland.

Which sowed good seed in his field — Among the Romans it was, probrum censorium agrum male colere, a fault punishable by the censors, to be an ill seedsman, Plin. lib. 18. And when they would highly commend any, they would say, "He is an honest man, and a good ploughman." a

a Maiores nostri siquem laudabant, ita laudabant, virum bonum, bonumque colonum. Varro.

Verse 25

But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

But while men slept — Christ, the Lord of the husbandry, neither slumbereth nor sleepeth; but the labourers and landholders, to whom he lets out his vineyard, are frequently found to be safe and secure, Zechariah 4:1 . It fared with the good prophet, as with a drowsy person; who, though awake and set to work, is ready to sleep at it. And albeit we watch against greater, yet lesser evils are ready to steal upon us at unawares, as Austin hath it. a

His enemy came — This is the minister’s misery. Other men find their work as they left it; but when ministers have done their best on one sabbath day, the enemy comes ere the next, and mars all. They sleep and are fearless; he wakes for a mischief, and is restless. Learn for shame of the devil (said father Latimer to careless ministers) to watch over your flocks. God will shortly send out summons for sleepers; and the devil waketh and walketh, seeking whom to devour. His instruments also are wondrous active in evil. O pray (said a dying man in the beginning of the German Reformation) that God would preserve the gospel; for the pope of Rome and the Council of Trent to bestir themselves wonderfully! May not we say as much and more today? b

And sowed tares among the wheat — Better it were rendered blasted grain, that yields nothing better at harvest than dust and chaff; Frumentum adustum, ζιζανιον , quasi σιτοσινιον , quod frugibus noceat. Aug. though it be in all things like the good grain, and the contrary appeareth not till towards harvest, when the dust is driven away by the wind, the chaff cast into the fire. Hereby are meant hypocrites and heretics, qui nobiscum in horreo esse possunt, in area non possunt, who shall be sifted out one day.

And went his way — As if he had done no such thing. Satan hides his cloven feet as much as he can, and would seem no other than an angel of light. Or abiit, id est, latuit, saith one: he went away, that is, he lurked, as his imps use to do, under the fair penthouse of zeal and seeming devotion, under the broad leaves of formal profession.

Verse 26

But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

Then appeared the tares also — Hypocrites are sure sooner or later to be detected. All will out at length. Sacco solute apparuit argentum. When God turns the bottom of the bag upwards, their secret sins will appear; "They shall find themselves in all evil, in the midst of the congregation and assembly," Proverbs 5:14 . They that turn aside unto their crooked ways, shall be led forth with the workers of iniquity, Psalms 125:5 .

Verse 27

So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

So the servants of the householder, … — Godly ministers are much vexed at hypocrites and fruitless hearers. So was our Saviour at the Pharisees, Mark 3:5 ; he looked on them with anger, being grieved at the hardness of their hearts. So was Paul at Elymas the sorcerer; he set his eyes upon him, as if he would have looked through him; after which lightning followeth that terrible thunder clap, "O full of all subtilty," … So was Peter at Simon Magus, Acts 13:9-10 ; and St John at Diotrephes. "I would they were even cut off that trouble you," Galatians 5:12 . Mihi certe Auxentius nunquam aliud quam diabolus erit, quia Arianus, saith Hilarius, who also called Constantius Antichrist.

Verse 28

He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

Wilt thou then that we go, … — This was zeal indeed, but rash and unseasonable, and is therefore to be moderated by prudence and patience. Those two sons of thunder had overly quick and hot spirits, Luke 9:55 . Luther confessed before the emperor at Worms, that in his books against private and particular persons he had been more vehement than his religion and profession required. And he that writes the history of the Trent Council tells us, if we may believe him, that in Colloquio Possiaceno, Beza, speaker for the Protestants, entering into the matter of the Eucharist, spake with such heat, that he gave but ill satisfaction to those of his own party; so that he was commanded to conclude. Zeal should eat us up, but not eat up our discretion, our moderation.

Verse 29

But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

Lest while ye gather up the tares — Those that are now tares, hypocrites, may become good corn, good Christians. Jethro, an Ishmaelite by nation, may prove an Israelite by religion. Simon Magus may perhaps have the thoughts of his heart forgiven him, Acts 8:22 . In the year 1553, a priest at Canterbury said mass on one day: and the next day after he came into the pulpit, and desired all the people to forgive him; for he said he had betrayed Christ, yet not as Judas did, but as Peter; and so made a long sermon against the mass. Bucer, of a Dominican, became a famous Protestant, being converted by Luther’s sermon before the emperor at Worms.

Verse 30

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Bind them in bundles, … — This shall be the angels’ office at the last day, to bundle up swearers with swearers, drunkards with drunkards, …, that they may suffer together, as they have sinned together, and pledge one another in that cup of fire and brimstone that shall then be poured down their throats, Psalms 11:6 . As in the meantime, brimstone is here scattered upon their habitation,Job 18:15; Job 18:15 , every moment ready to take fire, if God but lighten upon it with the arrows of his indignation, Psalms 18:14 .

Verse 31

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

Is like to a grain of mustard seed — "Which soon pierceth the nostrils and brain," as Pliny noteth, Sublimis fertur, quando non aliud magis in nares et cerebrum penetrat. Pliny, xx. 22. and "hurteth the eyes," as the very name in Greek importeth. Σινηπι παρα το σινεσθαι τους ωπας , Heb. iv. But that which our Saviour here observeth, and applieth in it, is the smallness of the seed, the greatness of the stalk or tree that comes of it, and the use of the branches, for birds to build in. This grain of mustard seed sowed, in the word preached: which though it seem small and contemptible, proves quick and powerful. Hitherto fly the birds of the air, God’s elect, for shade in prosperity, for shelter in adversity. Yea, as the trees of America, but especially of Brazil, are so huge, that several families are reported to have lived in several arms of one tree, to such a number as are in some petty village or parish here: so is the growth of the gospel, it runs and is glorified,2 Thessalonians 3:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:1 , as the Jerusalem artichoke overruns the ground, wheresoever it is planted. It was a just wonder how it was carried, as on angels’ wings, Evangelium tam celeri volatu ferebatur, et quidem spatio menstruo per universam Germaniam, et aliquot regiones exteras, ut ipsi Angeli cursores, et huius doctrinae praecones ess viderentur. Melch. Adam. over all the world by the preaching of the apostles at first, and now again, in the late Reformation, by Luther and some few other men of mean rank, but of rare success. These were those angels that came flying with the everlasting gospel (no new doctrine, as the adversaries slander it) in the midst of heaven, or between heaven and earth, Revelation 14:6-7 ; because their doctrine at first was not so clearly confirmed to others, not so fully understood by themselves Melancthon confesseth, Quod fugiamus habe mus, sc. Pontificios: quos sequamur, non intelligimus. And Cardinal Wolsey (saith the same Melancthon), reading the Augsburg Confession, saith, "that our cause concerning the righteousness of faith was stronger in the confirmation than in the confutation of the contrary opinion." Quod verum est, as he there yieldeth quia facilius construere in sophisticis quam de struere: In physicis contra. But our John Wycliffe, long before Luther, wrote more than 200 volumes against the Pope. Scripsit plus quam 200 volum. contra Papam. Pareus in rev 146. The Lady Ann, wife to King Richard II, sister to Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia, by living here was made acquainted with the gospel. Whence also many Bohemians coming here, conveyed Wycliffe’s books into Bohemia; whereby a good foundation was laid for a future reformation. After this, were stirred up there by God, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague; who so propagated the truth in that kingdom, that in the year of Christ 1451 the Church of God at Constantinople congratulated to the University of Prague their happy beginnings, and exhorted them to perseverance. For before, the Hussites, by the mediation of Queen Sophia, who favoured them, had obtained of the king the free exercise of their religion throughout Bohemia. Howbeit, soon after this, they suffered great persecution by the Popish party, who yet could say no worse of them than this: In their lives they are modest, in their speeches true, in their love one towards another fervent; but their religion is incorrigible, and stark naught, saith Jacobus Leilenstenius the Dominican. And why stark naught? Reinerius, another of their persecutors, shall tell you. Their doctrine, saith he, "is most pestilent, 1. Because of so long standing. 2. Because so far spread. 3. For their show of purity, …" In moribus et vita sunt boni, veraces in sermone, in caritate fraterna unanimes: sed fides eorum est incorrigibilis et pessima. Eorum doctrina maxime est noxia. 1. Quia diuturnior. 2. Generalior. 3. Ob speciem puritatis. This paved a way for the great work which Luther began in Germany, the last of October, 1517. And it was strangely carried on: 1. By diligent preaching. 2. Printing good books. 3. Translating the Holy Scriptures into common languages. 4. Catechising of youth. 5. Offering public disputation. 6. Martyrologies. Here in England was a great door opened at the same time, but many adversaries. The establishing of that Reformation, how imperfect soever; to be done by so weak and simple means, yea, by casual and cross means (saith one), Sir Edw. Sands’ Relat. of West. Relig. against the force of so puissant and political an enemy, is that miracle, which we are in these times to look for. It is such a thing (saith another) as the former age had even despaired of, the present age admireth, and the future shall stand amazed at. Eccles. Angl. reformationem desperasset aetas praeterita, admiratur praesens, obstupescet futura. Scultet. Annul. dec. 2. ep. dedicat. King Henry VIII, whom God used as an instrument in the work, had first written against Luther, and afterwards established those six sacrilegious articles. And sitting in parliament, he thus complained of the stirs that were made about religion. "There are many," saith he, "that are too busy with their new sumpsimus, A correct expression taking the place of an incorrect but popular one (mumpsimus). ŒD and others that dote too much upon their old mumpsimus." One who obstinately adheres to old ways, in spite of the clearest evidence that they are wrong; an ignorant and bigoted opponent of reform. ŒD The new religion, though true, he and they all, for the most part, envied: the old, though their own, they despised. John Frith withstood the violence of three of the most obstinate among them, Rochester, More, and Rastal: whereof the one by the help of the doctors, the other by wresting the Scriptures, and the third by the help of natural philosophy, had conspired against him. "But he, as another Hercules," saith Mr Fox, "fighting with all three at once, did so overthrow and confound them, that he converted Rastal to his part: Rochester and More were afterwards both beheaded for denying the king’s supremacy." Reformation hath ever met with opposition, and never more than now, men fighting for their lusts, which they love as their lives, and are loth to part with. But Christ shall reign when all is done: and those golden times are now at hand, that the new Jerusalem, which signifies the state of the Church in this world, when it hath passed the furnace of affliction, presently upon it shall be all of fine gold. Let us contribute thereunto our earnest prayers and utmost pains, not abiding among the sheepfolds with Reuben, nor remaining in ships with Dan, …, Judges 5:16-17 ; not standing off, and casting perils, as the priests and Levites in Hezekiah’s days,2 Chronicles 29:11; 2 Chronicles 29:11 ; but beginning the reformation, as Gideon did, at our own hearts and houses, lest, with Uzziah, instead of making up the breach, we prove makers of breaches. Were our dangers greater, thy single reformation may do much to prevent them, Jeremiah 5:1 . As, were our hopes greater, thy sin and security may unravel them, and undo all, Ecclesiastes 9:18 . One sin destroyeth much good: be moving therefore in thine own orb, and bestir thee as Nehemiah did, trading every talent wherewith Divine Providence hath intrusted thee for Jerusalem’s welfare; giving no rest either to thyself or to God, as his remembrancer, until he have established, and made her a praise in the whole earth, Isaiah 62:6-7 .

Verse 32

Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Which indeed is the least of all seeds — That is, one of the least ( μικροτερον ), for there is as little or less than it, as poppy seed, … Cypress seeds are said to be so small, that they can hardly be seen asunder; and yet of them grows so great and tall a tree, Nusquam magis tota natura quam in minimis, saith Pliny. Cupressi semina adeo sunt minuta, ut quaedam oculis cerni non possint, et tamen in iis tanta est arbor, tamque procera. Plin. xi. 2. Tremellius testifieth, that things almost incredible are related of the wonderful growth of the Jewish mustard seed. Maldonate also telleth us, "that in Spain he had seen little woods of mustard seed trees; and that the bakers therehence fetch fuel to heat their ovens, and do other offices." The word of God (a thing worth observation, saith a modern divine) is in the gospel compared to mustard seed; which (as one gathereth out of Pythagoras) of all seeds is most in ascent, taketh deepest root, and being mixed with vinegar is sovereign against serpents. Right so the word of God worketh effectually in us, begets an ascent in our affections, lays in us a sure foundation, and though it touch us sharply as vinegar, yet is a most powerful preservative against that old serpent.

Verse 33

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven — Which soon diffuseth itself into the whole lump. The word of God is not bound, though the preacher, haply, be in bonds, 2 Timothy 2:9 , but runs, and is glorified, 2 Thessalonians 2:14 . In the beginning of Queen Mary’s reign, almost all the prisons in England, saith Mr Fox, "were become right Christian schools and churches." During the time of Mr Bradford’s imprisonment in the King’s Bench and Counter in the Poultry, he preached twice a day continually, unless sickness hindered him: where also the sacrament was administered. And through his means (the keeper so well did bear with him) such resort of good people was daily at his lecture and ministration of the sacrament, that commonly his chamber was well nigh filled therewith. Concerning the Christian congregation, saith the same author, "in Queen Mary’s time, there were sometimes 40, sometimes 100, sometimes 200 met together. I have heard of one, who being sent to them to take their names, and to spy out their doing, yet in being among them was converted, and cried them all mercy."

Verse 34

All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

And without a parable spake he not, … — A singular judgment of God upon them for their contumacy and contempt of the gospel: so it is now upon many people, that God taketh sometimes from their most illuminate teachers, clearness and perspicuity of expression, for a punishment of their unthankfulness and rebellion against the light. Thieves and malefactors that affect darkness (because the light discovers their evil deeds) are worthily cast into a dark dungeon: so here, Ezekiel, by the just judgment of God upon them, was no more understood by his hearers than if he had spoken to them in a strange language. Heraclitus, for his obscurities, was called the Dark Doctor, and it seems he affected it; for he often commanded his scholars to deliver themselves darkly. Ab obscuritate dictus est οκοτεινος . Ad hoc etiam discipulos erudiebat, cum illud saepius ingereret, Σκοτισον , obscurus esto. Joh. Bodin. A minister is studiously to shun obscurity in his doctrine. But if nevertheless he prove obscure and hard to be understood, let the people see a hand of God in it, and rather accuse their own impiety than the preacher’s inability.

Verse 35

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

I will utter things, … — I will freely and plentifully discuss with them, Eructabo, vel palam proloquar. as a fountain casteth out her waters constantly and without spare. Charity is no churl: true goodness is communicative, and accounts that it hath not that good thing that it doth not impart: Paulum sepultae distat inertiae Celata virtus. Horat. as that Bishop of Lincoln never thought he had that thing which he did not give. It is not pouring out, but want of pouring out, that dries up the streams of grace, as of that oil, 2 Kings 4:6 ; "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself," Proverbs 11:25 .

Verse 36

Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

Declare unto us the parable — Private conference hath incredible profit. The minister cannot possibly say all in an hour: seek settlement from his lips, who both must preserve, and present knowledge to the people. Junius was converted by conference with a countryman of his not far from Florence, Galeacius Caraeciolus, by a similitude of Peter Martyr’s in his public lectures on 1 Corinth., seconded and set on by private discourse. David was more affected by Nathan’s "Thou art the man," than by all the lectures of the law, for twelve months before.

Verse 37

He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

Is the Son of mani.e. Signifies the Son of man: as circumcision is the covenant; that is, the sign of the covenant. And as Christ saith of the sacramental bread, "This is my body," which Luther interprets synecdochically, for in, or under, this is my body. Calvin, after Tertullian and Augustine, interpret it metaphorically, for this is the sign or the figure of my body. Hence the Jesuits presently cry out, the Spirit of God disagreeth not with itself. But these interpretations do utterly disagree, therefore they are not of the Spirit. But let them first agree among themselves, before they quarrel our disagreements; for their own doctors are exceedingly divided even about this very point of the Eucharist, and know not what their holy mother holdeth. Bellarmine teacheth, that the substance of the bread is not turned into the substance of Christ’s body productive, as one thing is made of another, but that the bread goes away, and Christ’s body comes into the room of it adductive, as one thing succeeds into the place of another, the first being voided. And this, saith he, is the opinion of the Church of Rome, himself being reader of Controversies at Rome. But Suarez, reader at Salamanca, in Spain, confutes Bellarmine’s opinion, terming it translocation, not transubstantiation, and saith it is not the Church’s opinion.

Verse 38

The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one ;

The field is the world — The Christian world, the Church, not the Roman Catholic Church only, the Pope’s territories, as he would have it. The Rogatian heretics would needs have made the world believe that they were the only Catholics. The Anabaptists have the same conceit of themselves. Munzer their chieftain, in his book written against Luther, and dedicated to Christ the most illustrious Prince (as he styleth him), inveigheth bitterly at him, as one that was merely carnal, and utterly void of the spirit of revelation. And Pareus upon this text tells us, that in a conference at Frankendale, the Anabaptists thus argued, The field is the world, therefore not the Church; that by the same reason they might deny, that tares breed in the Church. But tares are and will be in the visible Church, as our Saviour purposely teacheth by this parable.

The tares are the children of that wicked one — So called partly in respect of their serpentine nature, those corrupt qualities whereby they resemble the devil; and partly because they creep into the Church by Satan’s subtlety, being his agents and emissaries. Agnosco te primogenitum diaboli, saith St John of that heretic Cerinthus. And hypocrites are his sons and heirs, the very freeholders of hell, and other sinners but their tenants, which have their part or lot with hypocrites, Matthew 24:29 .

Verse 39

The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

The enemy that sowed them, … — As Esther said, "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman," so Satan. Why then have men so much to do with him? The Jews, as often as they hear mention of Haman in their synagogues, they do with their fists and hammers beat upon the benches and boards, as if they did knock upon Haman’s head. We have those also that can bid defiance to the devil, spit at his name, curse him, haply; Martinus Papae exactor ex Anglia pulsus, cum a Rege salvum conductum peteret, respondit, Rex, Diabolus te ad inferos ducat et perducat, ad mare tamen ei conmeatum dedit. Revius. but in the meantime listen to his illusions, entertain him into their hearts by obeying his lusts. These are singularly foolish. For it is as if one should be afraid of the name of fire, and yet not fear to be burnt with the flame thereof.

Verse 40

As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

So shall it be in the end of this world — As till then there can be no perfect purging of the Church. Nevertheless, magistrates and all good people must do their utmost within their bounds to further a reformation a little otherwise than the cardinals and prelates of Rome; whom Luther fitly compared to foxes, that came to sweep a dusty house with their tails, and instead of sweeping the dust out, sweep it all about the house, so making a great smoke for the time, but when they were gone the dust falls all down again.

Verse 41

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

All things that offend — Gr. All scandals ( σκανδαλα ), pests, botches, blocks to others in the way to heaven. Scandalum est rei non bonae sed malae exemplum, aedificans ad delietum, saith Tertullian. Such were those proud, contentious, covetous prelates in the primitive Church, that Ammianus Marcellinus stumbled and stormed at. Marcell. Episcoporum furores, luxum regio maiorem, astum in captandis matronarum oblatiouibus, …, taxavit. Such were those loose and ungirt Christians of whom Lactantius Nunc male audiunt castiganturque Christiani, quod aliter quam sapientibus convenit vivant, el vitia sub obtentu nominis celent. Lactant. de Opific. Dei praeem. Jac. Revius, Hist. Pontiff Rom. complaineth in his time, that they dishonoured their profession, to the scandal of the weak and the scorn of the wicked. Such was Pope Clement V, who so ill governed the Church, that Frederick, King of Sicily, began to call the truth of Christian religion into question, and had fallen utterly off from it, had he not been settled aud satisfied by Arnoldus de Villa Nova, a learned man of those times. Forasmuch as Christians (the Papists he meant) do eat the God whom they adore, sit anima mea cum philosophis, said Averroes the Mahometan, let my soul be with the philosophers rather. Nothing more stumbleth that poor people the Jews, and hindereth their conversion, than the idolatry of Papists, and blasphemies of Protestants. Oh that God would once cut off the names of those idols, and cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land, according to his promise, Zechariah 13:2 . Fiat. Fiat. Do it, Do it.

Verse 42

And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

And shall cast them into a furnace of fire — Lo, the good angels are executioners of God’s judgments. There cannot be a better and more noble act, than to do justice upon obstinate malefactors. Howbeit, at Rome they would not suffer the common executioner to dwell within the city, nay, not so much as once to be seen in it, Censoriae leges et foro el coelo, et spiritu urbi carnificem interdicunt, et urbis domicilio carere volant. Cic. pro Rabirio. or draw breath in the air of it. This was very strict in them, and that was very just in God, that Twiford, which was executioner of Frith, Bayfield, Bainham, Tewkesbury, Lambert, and other good men, died rotting aboveground, so that none could abide to come near him.

Verse 43

Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Then shall the righteous shine — Those that have here lain among the pots, smucht and sullied, shall then outshine the sun in his strength. Shine they shall in their bodies, which shall be clarified and conformed to Christ’s most glorious body, the standard, Philippians 3:21 ; In their souls, those spirits of men made perfectly holy and happy. And in their whole person, as the spouse of Christ. Uxor fulget radiis mariti, she shall shine with the beams of his beauty. Three glimpses of which glory were seen in Moses’ face, in Christ’s transfiguration, in Stephen’s countenance.

Who hath ears to hear, let him hearq.d. This is worth hearing. Lend both your ears to such a bargain as this is. "What shall we say to these things?" saith the apostle, after he had spoke of glorification, Romans 8:31 . q.d. We can never satisfy ourselves in speaking, you should never show yourselves sated in hearing.

Verse 44

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

Like unto treasure hid, … — A treasure is a heap of precious things laid up for future uses. Θησαυρος, παρα του τιθεναι εις αυριον . By the treasure in this text, we are to understand either Christ, or life eternal gotten for us by Christ, or the gospel that offereth unto us Christ, and with him eternal life. The field wherein this true treasure lies hidden, is the Church. The spades and mattocks wherewith it is to be dug up and attained unto, are hands and eyes, not poring in the earth, but praying toward heaven.

He hideth itNe quis cum antevertat, that none remove it, ere he hath made himself master of it. Holding fast to that which he hath, that no man take his crown from him. This he insures to himself, and cannot rest till he hath done it. He likes not to have with the merchant an estate hanging upon ropes, Fortunam rudentibus aptam. and depending upon uncertain winds, but makes sure work for his soul.

Selleth all that he hath — Ever when justifying faith is infused, there is a through sale of all sin; the pearl of price will never else be had. And for outward comforts and contentments, every true son of Israel will be glad to purchase the birthright with pottage, spiritual favours with earthly, as did Galeaeius the Marquess of Vice, Martinengus Earl of Bareha, …

And buyeth that field — Accounting it an excellent penny’s worth, whatever it stand him in. Other faint hearted chapmen cheapen heaven only, being loth to go to the price of it. A price they have in their hands, but they, like fools, look upon their money, and have no mind to lay it out upon any such commodity. Oh what madmen are they that bereave themselves of a room in that city of pearl for a few paltry shillings of dirty delights!

Verse 45

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

The kingdom of heaven, … — The wise merchant, besides the pearl of price, seeks out other goodly pearls, common gifts, whicb also have their use and excellence; but he rests not in them, as philosophers, politicians, and temporaries. These, as alchemists, who though they miss their end yet find many excellent things by the way, so though they failed of the glory of God, yet they have many commendable good parts and properties. The wise merchant so seeks after these, that he minds chiefly the main, the "one thing necessary," in comparison whereof he counts all things else, though never so specious, dung, and dogs’ meat.

Verse 46

Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Who when he had found one pearl, … — Of far greater price than that precious adamant that was found about Charles Duke of Burgundy, slain in battle by the Switzers at Nantes, A.D. 1476. This adamant was first sold by a soldier that found it to a priest for a crown; the priest sold it for two crowns; afterwards it was sold for 7000 florins, then for 12,000 ducats, and last of all for 20,000 ducats, and set into the pope’s triple crown, where also it is to be seen to this day. Christ is a commodity far more precious; surely he "is better than rubies," saith Solomon, "and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared unto him," Proverbs 8:11 ; "No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls; for the price of wisdom" (this essential wisdom of God) "is above rubies," Job 28:18 . Pearls are bred in shell fishes of a celestial humour or dew: so was Christ by heavenly influence in the Virgin’s womb. Tanti igitur vitreum? Quanti verum margaritum? (Tertullian.) Christ is to be sought and bought with any pains, at any price. We cannot buy this gold too dear. Joseph, the jewel of the world, was far more precious, had the Ishmaelitish merchants known so much, than all the balms and myrrhs they transported. So is Christ, as all will yield that know him. The pearls usually cast out with the flood, and gathered at the ebb, drew Caesar’s affections for the conquest of Britain, as Suetonius tells us. Shall not that unconceivable worth that is in Christ attract our hearts? …

Verse 47

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

Again the kingdom, … — Christ is an incessant teacher: learn then, for shame, lest he turn us off for non-proficients. Let one sermon peg in another; and every second potion set the first to work.

Is like unto a net, … — An elegant comparison, wherein the fishers are the ministers, the sea the world, the net the word, the ship the church the fishes the hearers. Basil, comparing the gospel to a net, makes fear to be the lead that sinketh it, and keeps it steady; and hope to be the cork, which keepeth it always above water. Without the lead of fear, saith he, it would be carried hither and thither; as without the cork of hope, it would utterly sink down.

Verse 48

Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

And cast the bad awayAlgam, silices, arenulas, sordes ( σαπρα ). Beza. Here was of both sorts, till the separation was made. The visible Church resembles the ark, which was full of creatures of various kinds, but most unclean. Fair she is, but as the moon, which is not without her blemishes. Separatists that leave her, therefore, yea, deny her, and remain obstinate for trifles, are not unfitly by one compared to the hedge hog; which, saith Pliny, being laden with nuts and fruit, if the least filbert fall off, will sling down all the rest in a pettish humour, and beat the ground for anger with his bristles, Mulae ablactatae matrem calcibus petunt.

Verse 49

So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

The angels shall come forth and sever — But how shall the angels know them asunder, may some say? By that signum salutare that God hath set upon them, that mark in their foreheads, Ezekiel 9:4-7 . Besides, by the lightsomeness of their looks shall the elect be known lifting up their heads, because their redemption then draweth nigh; when reprobates shall look ghastly and ugly, being almost "mad with the sight of their eyes that they shall see, and the fear of their hearts wherewith they shall fear,Deuteronomy 28:34; Deuteronomy 28:34 ; Deuteronomy 28:67 .

From among the just — Amidst whom they might haply hope to hide themselves, laying hold upon the skirt of a Jew inwardly. But it will not be; for then, even their best friends will disavow them for ever. "Moses in whom ye trust shall judge you,"John 5:45; John 5:45 .

Verse 50

And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

And shall cast them into the furnace — An exquisite torment is hereby deciphered. This our Saviour had said in the same words but a little afore, Matthew 13:42 . he here repeats it that men may the better observe it. And would to God, saith Chrysostom, that men would every day and everywhere discourse on hell torments, that they would take a turn in hell ever and anon by their meditations. Certainly did men believe the torments of hell, that weeping for extremity of heat, and that gnashing of teeth that’s there for extremity of cold they durst not but be more innocent; they would never offer to fetch profits or pleasure out of those flames. It was a speech of Gregory Nyssen, He that doth but hear of hell is without any further labour or study taken off from sinful pleasures: thus he then. But, alas, men’s hearts are grown harder today; they can hear of hell, and be no more moved than they are to handle a painted toad.

Verse 51

Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

Have ye understood all these things? — See here the ancient use of catechising in the Christian Church. So afterwards, Credis Credo. Abrenuncias? Abrenuneio, were the primitive questions and answer. Origen and Cyril were catechists. In the Reformation, catechising of youth was one main means of propagating the gospel. And the Jesuits, observing as much, have taken the same course for the propagating of their superstition, and have set forth various catechisms. I remember, saith Melancthon, that Eberhard, the good Duke of Wittemburg, would constantly hear the young gentlemen about the Court once a week rehearsing their catechisms; which if any did not well, he was well whipped in the presence of the Duke and his courtiers. Bishop Ridley, in a letter of his to the brethren; "I hear," saith he, "that the catechism in English is now (after Queen Mary came in) condemned in every pulpit. O devilish malice, and most spitefully injurious to the salvation of mankind! Indeed Satan could not long suffer that so great light should be spread abroad in the world. He saw well enough that nothing was able to overthrow his kingdom so much, as if children being godly instructed in religion should learn to know Christ, while they are yet young. Whereby, not only children, but the elder sort also and aged, that before were not taught in their childhood to know Christ, should now even with children and babes be forced to know him."

Verse 52

Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Therefore every scribei.e. Every teacher of the Church must be both learned and apt to teach. He must give attendance to reading first, and then to exhortation and doctrine, 1 Timothy 4:13 . Bishop Latimer, notwithstanding both his years and other pains in preaching, was every morning ordinarily both winter and summer about two o’clock at his book most diligently. And as the Rabbis have a proverb, Lilmod lelaramed, men must therefore learn that they may teach, so did he. The Hebrew word Shachal signifieth, 1. To understand; 2. To teach; 3. To prosper. They that therefore learn that they may teach others, shall find that the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in their hands, Isaiah 53:10 .

That bringeth forth out of his treasuryExtrudit copiose et alacriter ( εκβαλλει ). That throweth out his store without spare, and dealeth forth his soul to the hungry hearer, desirous to spend and be spent for him. That hath a treasury of his own, and steals not all out of others. Non libro sacerdotis, sed labro conservatur scientia. He lays up good things into his heart, that therewith after they have been well fried for a while, he may feed many; according to that, Psalms 45:1 ; "My heart is inditing (or frying) a good matter, my tongue shall be the pen of a ready writer." They are empty vines that bear fruit to themselves, Hosea 10:1 . A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, Proverbs 15:4 . God hath purposely put honey and milk under their tongues, Song of Solomon 4:11 ; Proverbs 24:13 , that they may bring forth, as occasion requires, their new and old, that they may look to lip feeding, that they may be in company like full clouds or paps, that pain themselves with fulness till eased of their milk, or like aromatic trees that sweat out their sovereign oils.

Verse 53

And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.

He departed thence — As wanting, and yet waiting, the next opportunity to glorify God, and edify others. Ministers may hence learn, after their hardest labour, not to be weary of well doing, but to be instant (or to stand close to their work) in season and out of season, even then when that good word of God, that seasons all things, to some seems unseasonable. ( επιστηθι ) 2 Timothy 4:2 . Dic importunus, Tu vis errare, Tu vi, perire, ego nolo. Aug. Si decimus quisque, si unus persuasus fuerit, ad consolationem abunde sufficit, as Chrysostom hath it. Say but the tithe of our hearers be persuaded, say but some one of them, it is sufficient encouragement. But what if not one? yet our labour is not in vain in the Lord. The physician is both thanked and paid, though the patient recover not. And "though Israel be not gathered (as here Christ’s countrymen would not be reclaimed), yet I shall be glorious (saith he by his servant Isaiah) in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength," Isaiah 49:5 .

Verse 54

And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

And when he was come into his own country — Which naturally draws our hearts to it by a kind of magnetic power and property. Nescio qua natale solum dulcedine cunctos Egypt was but a miserable home to Moses, and yet his heart hangs after it, while he lived in Midian; and therefore, in reference to it, he calls his eldest son Gershom, or a stranger there, to wit, where he now was, Exodus 2:22 . Patriam quisque amat, non quia pulchram, sed quia suam, saith Seneca. Bishep Jewel, when he first began to preach, chose there first to break the bread of life where he first had breathed the breath of life.

Insomuch that they were astonished — It’s a lamentable thing that men should hear, rejoice, and wonder at the word, and for matter of practice leave it where they found it. And yet what more ordinary? Men look round about a minister; and though they cannot but admire his doctrine, yet, if they can find ever a hole in his coat through which to slip out, as here, be it but the meanness of his birth, or the unsightliness of his person, or the letsomness of his delivery, …, it is enough.

Verse 55

Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

Is not this the carpenter’s son? — Why, but was he not architect of the world? St Mark hath it, "Is not this the carpenter?" Why, yes; it may be so. Justin Martyr, an ancient writer, testifieth, that our Saviour, ere he entered upon the ministry, made ploughs, yokes, … Pater Christi politicus, putativus. Fabrum fuisse lignarium, et aratra ac iuga, caeteraque eiusmodi fabricasse. Justin. But was not that an honest occupation? And did not this carpenter make a coffin for Julian, that persecuting apostate, as a Christian schoolmaster fitly answered Libanins, sarcastically demanding what the carpenter’s son was now doing? Thus those three miscreants, Saul, Shimei and Sheba, took occasion to despise David, as the son of Jesse, who was vir bonus et honestus, minus tamen clarus, as one saith of him, a good honest man, but there’s little said of him.

Verse 56

And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?

Whence then hath this man, … — Hath he not got his skill by ill arts? yea, by the black art doth he work these wonders? sure he never came by all these things honestly, and in God’s name. Think it not much to be miscensured.

Verse 57

And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

A prophet is not without honour, … — This was an ordinary saying of our Saviour’s, recorded by all four evangelists, and is therefore much to be marked. How common is it for familiarity to breed contempt! for men to scorn their own things, because at hand, though never so excellent and useful, to admire foreign things, though nothing comparable. Our corrupt nature heeds nothing we enjoy, as the eye seeth nothing that lies on it. Copy of the best things breeds satiety. God therefore usually teacheth us the worth of them by the want. Bona a tergo fere formosissima, Good things are most beautiful on the backside.

Verse 58

And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

He did not many mighty works — Mark saith he could not do much for them. Christ, that could do all things by his absolute power, could hardly do anything by his actual power (could not, because he would not) for unbelievers. Note here that this journey of his to Nazareth must be distinguished from that set down Luke 4:16 , though the same things are said of both: his countrymen, we see, were no changelings, but continued as bad as before, not a jot the better for that former visit.

Because of their unbelief — A sin of that venomous nature, that it transfuseth, as it were, a dead palsy into the hands of omnipotence. This infectious sorceress can make things exceeding good to prove exceeding evil.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 13". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/matthew-13.html. 1865-1868.
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