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" For I say unto you that none of those men who were bidden
shall taste of my supper." — Luke xiv. 24.

" For I say unto you that none of those men who were bidden
shall taste of my supper." — Luke xiv. 24.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE STERNER PARABLES.BY SAMUEL COX" For I say unto you that none of those men who were biddenshall taste of my supper." — Luke xiv. 24.In the parables of our Lord there is occasionally atouch of severity by which we are at once perplexedand pained. There are tones in his voice which we canhardly recognize as his. He seems unlike Himself — unlike our best conception of Him. He invents inci-dents, He utters sentences, which cross the current of the very convictions and sympathies which He Himself has quickened and confirmed within us. When, forexample, we read the parable of The Sower, if we at allreflect on what we read, we cannot but feel some com-passion for the men, or classes of men, represented bythe hard-trodden, the rocky, and the thorny soils ; can-not but ask. Is nothing to be done to redeem andimprove them ? Will they never have another and abetter chance } When we read the very " pearl " of parables, so long as the prodigal son is suffering, in thefar country, the due reward of his deeds, our sympathiescling to him ; but no sooner does he return than weTHE STERNER PARABLES. 391begin to feci how natural it was that his elder brothershould wonder what he had done that he should be pre-ferred to himself; and though this elder brother is byno means a lovely or attractive figure, we cannot butadmit that it was hard for him to stand by and see suchtreasures of love and bounty lavished on one who haddone nothing to deserve them. And so with other
parables. Do what we will, we cannot but pity the fivefoolish virgins, with their expiring lamps, left out inthe cold ; and cherish a hope that even the slothful andimpudent servant who hid his lord's money, even thedesperate man who was driven into the outer darknessbecause he lacked the wedding-garment, may be broughtto a better mind.And, at first, when we become aware of these under-currents of pity and compassion for the lurong persons,and find ourselves drawn to those whom Christ seemsto condemn and reject, we take ourselves to task : wesuspect ourselves of a wilful and perverse temper, atemper out of tune with his, and conclude that our judg-ment, wherein it differs from his, must be unenlightenedpartial, mistaken. Yet how can that be when the moreclosely we examine ourselves, the more sure we growthat we derive these feelings of sympathy with the un-happy, pity for the outcast, and this craving for the sal-vation of the lost, from Him alone ; that it is his spiritwhich moves and stirs within us when we compassionatetheir lot, and trust that somehow they may still be re-deemed and restored ?And this conviction waxes stroncr and bold within us392THE STERNER PARABLES.as our knowledge widens, and our experience of thespiritual life grows more deep and full. Very probablywe have ourselves passed through all the stages denotedby the four soils in the parable of The Sower : first, that
of youthful pre-occupation and indifference, when thegood seed of the kingdom, however lavishly scattered,could not penetrate the hard and polished surface of our character ; then, that in which we took a shallowinterest in religion, strong enough, and perhaps eventouched by fanaticism, while it lasted, but having noroot in the depths of our character, and therefore noendurance ; then, that in which the growth of our fer-vent early religiousness was choked by the quick-spring-ing and innumerable cares and toils of our outward life ;and, finally, that in which, through the grace and toil of the Divine Husbandman, his use of all the correctingconditions and experiences of our life, the hard surfacehas been softened, the shallow soil deepened, the thornyground cleared, and the good seed has at last taken rootin us and brought forth fruit. And if we have ourselvespassed through these successive stages, how can we be-lieve that each of them stands for a different class of man, whose fate is decided by his first momentary con-tact with the seed } How can we believe that the hardsoil cannot be softened, or the shallow soil deepened, orthe thorny soil cleared, and that no one of them can everbe converted into good, honest, and fertile ground .-* Wemust, rather, believe that the Good Husbandman notonly continues to sow suitable seed year after year onall soils, but that He also ploughs up that which is hardTHE STERNER PARABLES. 393carts away the stones and rocks which lie on or beneaththe shallow soil, burns up the briers which infest thethorny ground ; and that, with his goodwill, He willnever cease from the labours of his love until every fieldin his farm yields its appropriate harvest.And if our own experience sanctions the compassionand hope we feel for those whom some of the Parablesseem to leave without hope, Christ Himself sanctions

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