And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
We are now introduced to another character, which we may denominate — the compromising. They strike hands with the gospel, but with the world at the same time. Some are willing to suffer for their soul's good, who are still unwilling to relinquish each rival to Christ. The case has these prominent features — there is, under the hearing of the gospel, a partial suppression of worldliness. But the worldly desires gain an ultimate victory over the gospel.
I. THE PARTIAL SUPPRESSION OF WORLDLINESS IN HEARING THE WORD.
1. The attention of the mind is, for the time, diverted from the world. Human consciousness follows the will and sensibilities. It takes no cognisance of deep, underlying principles in the heart. They may be master-principles, giving to the character its every distinctive feature, and shaping the whole current of action; and yet, under particular circumstances, they shall be to the soul's consciousness, annihilated. This law of the mind is of the first magnitude; and yet human history is filled with the delusions which men practise on themselves by overlooking it. Now, men may have no consciousness that they are governed by a love of the world, and may readily embrace the hopes of the gospel, under an impression of their entire sincerity and earnestness in doing it, while at the same time their hearts cling to the created sources of enjoyment, with a tenacity strong as the desire of happiness and dread of misery can make it. The first reason of this temporary ascendancy of the gospel, and of their delusion in regard to its completeness, is the strong impression which is, for the time, made on the sensibilities. It may come in various forms. One is — a temporary disgust with the world. This has deceived thousands; for this very disgust derives its acuteness from the strength of that affection which is disappointed. The man who has calmly looked behind every mask the world wears, long recognized the hollowness of its pretensions, and the falseness of its promises, is the very farthest from any paroxysm of disgust. He has been accustomed to consider a thorn a thorn, and if by any inattention he leaned his hand upon it, and it pierced him, he only reproaches himself for his heedlessness, and walks thereafter more guardedly. But here are your romancers, whose gravest occupation in youth was the day-dream. They studied the world through their fancies and their favourite writers. And on some dark day a storm arises, and lightnings strike the cherished tree on which grew their heart's fondest hopes. In an instant its blossoms wither; its leaves are scattered; its shattered trunk alone remains. And to the heart's moanings there is no response but sullen thunder, howling wind, and roaring floods. Such has the world become in one day to some that most fondly cherished, most devoutly worshipped it. Now the love of the world, as a principle, may remain entirely unshaken by all this violence.
2. The gospel is taken up without reference to its opposition to the world. Men do regard themselves as religious who never formed one definite idea as to the peculiar spirit of the gospel and its unworldly features. There are thorns in the ground which will yet effectually choke every religious sentiment and purpose.
II. THE ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OF THE WORLD OVER THE GOSPEL. "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word; and he becometh unfruitful.
1. The feebleness of the religious principle. It sprung from transient causes. If these causes had been made merely occasions it would have been well. But it remained a thing of impulse, and did not become a matter of principle. He should have struck the blow that would have emancipated him from the world.
2. The strength of the worldly principle. There is a care which becomes us, as endowed with forethought. The poor feel it, the rich feel from it. Itself a sin, it begets sin. It fills the mind with so many vain desires, perplexing thoughts, and wicked purposes, that God's Holy Word can find no permanent entertainment there. Then an innumerable host of interests, objects, and passions are included under the phrase — the lust of other things. But we have gone far enough to see this principle established — that the mastery of one worldly desire over the human heart will effectually neutralize all the power of the gospel. The evidence of it is in the fact that the prevalence of that desire proves the complete delusion of the soul on a vital point. And every indulgence of the desire strengthens the soul's aversion to God.
(E. N. Kirk, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.