And some fell on a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
The wayside had suggested incapacity for fruitage, resulting from a misapplication of the moral and intellectual faculties, the consequence of which was indifference to sacred things. The stony ground illustrates another and equally disastrous condition of irreligion, produced by an entirely different cause. Here the soil is good. In fact, in such places it is often of superior quality, produced by the rotting of leaves and other refuse matter in the moisture which cannot soak into the ground, But it has no depth. The seed which falls on this rich warm mould is rapidly quickened and soon germinates, shooting up with a green luxuriance that gives promise of speedy and abundant returns. The roots are thrown out all along the surface, but they can take no firm hold on the soft and yielding material, and the tap-root, which ought to penetrate deep into the subsoil to give support to the plant and find a never-drying source of moisture, is bruised and turned aside by the underlying stones against which it strikes, while the very rapidity and luxuriance of growth soon exhausts the scanty materials which nourish it. The warm sunshine which ought to give life and vigour becomes a source of injury instead, and the wilted plant droops, dies, and is forgotten long before the harvest season comes. Now we know perfectly well that such ground is far from useless; that if the proper treatment be applied it is often the most profitable, for these are just the conditions which we select or produce artificially for forcing. We want rich and rapid growth, and we know how to obtain it. Every gardener knows what special care must be bestowed upon the hot-bed to prevent the loss of all his labour. The hot, damp, shallow soil receives greedily the proffered seed, and with a marvellous quickness develops the germ. But the most assiduous attention is demanded, for these hotbed plants are far more delicate than those beside them from the same seed. They must he mulched and watered, the sunshine must be courted, but shaded off as it grows too warm, the cold air must be carefully excluded, but often discreetly admitted, and the least relaxation of all this diligence means destruction. A. sash left open, a mat removed, a single watering forgotten, and the plants wither and droop. The very same soil, if deeply dug, thoroughly drained, and well fertilized, will become permanently strong and productive. Surely we are only too familiar with the application in all its various degrees. We see all about us people in every stage and character of irreligion who were once, to some extent at least, professedly pious. It is fearful to contemplate how many such there are, and how very difficult it is to reawaken them to any interest in religion. The facility with which great numbers of persons may be made to acknowledge the influence of religious emotion is familiar to us all, and a little observation will also make us familiar with the startling disproportion of those numbers to the comparatively few who persevere. Nothing could be further from the truth than to accuse such persons of hypocrisy, for emotional characters are almost always sincere. It is precisely because their minds are so receptive, their feelings so readily impressed by eloquent and earnest appeals, that we find them yielding so readily and accepting the assurance of God's love with a gladness as real as it is demonstrative. But they have no depth of character, and their very shallowness causes a rapid and laxuriant development of practical religion. The drunkard is suddenly reformed; the profane swearer becomes frequent in prayer; the brawler grows peaceable and patient under insult. But one after another the old evil habits of life get the better of them, and their last state is worse than the first, because religion has become to them an experimental failure; the glowing faith which believed conversion an accomplished fact has given way to disappointment, and the man has lost all confidence in the reformatory influence and efficacy of religious belief and effort. Now if we bear in mind this warning lesson of the Master, we shall always become watchful and careful when we see any unexpectedly prompt and promising yielding to religious influence or exhortation. Beware of the quick fertility of the stony ground.
(Robert Wilson, M. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.