Of teaching by parables

Of teaching by parables

Of teaching by parables. The Sower explained.

(The Gospel History, Section 50)

And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but unto the rest that are without, it is not given, but all things are done in parables. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath. Therefore speak I unto them in parables; because seeing they see not and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith,

By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand;
And seeing ye shall see and shall in no wise perceive:
For this people’s heart is waxed gross,
And their ears are dull of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed;
Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And should turn again,
And I should heal them.

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not. And he saith unto them, Know ye not this parable? And how shall ye know all the parables?

Of teaching by parables

(The Saviour of the World, Vol III Book II Poem XI)

Christ was alone, and to Him came the Twelve
With those most eager for His words: they ask,
“Why speak in parables to all this crowd?
Thy words so precious, Lord, dispersed are they,
Thy meaning wrapped in tale none understands;—
And, lo, thy sayings lost, as string of pearls
Dropped in the unstable, unconsistent sea!”
And spake the Lord: “Think not a man may learn
The mysteries of the Kingdom in short speech
To dullest, plain; nor think, to go and do,—
Sole obligation laid; no mysteries
To casual eye disclose them; those deep things
Pertaining to the Kingdom, how shall be
Unveiled the least of them to vision marred
And blurred by incessant glitter of the world!
But ye shall know, for ye the glamour left
Of things without, and came within that cool
And sheltered place the Kingdom is; to you,
Stone of a thousand facets shall disclose
Now these, and others now, as ye can bear:
But not in all eternity the whole
Splendour of Vision that God’s Kingdom is
Shall be unveiled to one—for all have share!

The rest that are without, how make them know?
Things daily manifest before their eyes
Leave them unseeing still: the natural world
Is full of parables for who can read:
Flying and running, birth and life and death,
Blood in the veins, sap rising in the tree,
Sun, moon, the night and day, the clouds and winds,
The rain and tender dew, the bow of hope,
Bridegroom and bride, intimate nuptial bond,
Children and father, friendship, city life,—
What each of these but symbol, shows one face
Of the incommunicable mystery,
Not to be comprehended by a man,
So infinite is it in blessedness,—
The Kingdom of Heaven.

See ye, as little child with spelling book
Finds nought but silly scratches on the page
Till teacher comes holding the magic key
Shall open knowledge—even so are ye
Till I by parable shall ope the world,
Disclose significance of common things,
Till, when by symbols few interpreted,
Men learn to read those books before their eyes,
Writ page by page, the mysteries of the Kingdom!
Who cannot will himself to will with power,
How can he hold without the will to hold
E’en that he hath already, how get more?
From out slack fingers drops his little wealth,
And he who will picks up what’s in his way:
By this one law, the rich man richer grows,
Poorer the poor becomes; the good wise man
In wisdom yet increaseth; the sorry fool
Loses last grain of wit; who knowledge hath,
More knowledge wins, an ever swelling store;
And ignorance increaseth with the years:
This, too, the Law of the Kingdom; he who hath
Is more and more endued with that He hath—
Graces, gifts, powers and joys inherited
On entering the Kingdom; while slack soul,
Who willeth not to enter, loseth that
Of natural towardness he had before;
With every day more alien be his tastes,
Dull, his desires; he loseth that he hath!
Therefore teach I in parables; for see,
Isaiah’s words, how well have come to pass,—
“Hearing, ye hear, and no wise understand,
Seeing, ye see, and shall no wise perceive:”
For greedy, gross, is waxed this people’s heart,
Desiring that alone shall feed their lusts
Of flesh or spirit,—lusts of meat and pride.
Lo, therefore, deaf their ears to word of God
And closed their eyes to aught but prideful shows!
A blindness is upon them, their own deed,
And God’s most righteous judgment; (for man’s deeds
His judges be, and in correction smite):
Who would not see are blinded, nor can see;
Who would not hear, unabled they and deaf;
Heart cannot understand what neither eye
Nor ear conveys of the eternal truth.
How can these turn again as duteous sons
And cry on God to heal them when no word
Reacheth their understanding to convince?
Indurate to all parable, these judge
Themselves: and, if they can, let them excuse,
And cry, “Dark sayings, who can understand?”

So spake the Lord, mercy remembering
E’en in the act of judgment: who forgets
Truth that is wrapped in tale? This shall return,
Though trodden hard, or out of maw of bird;
Still living is the seed, and shall bear fruit;
And after thousand years shall still bear fruit
A thousand and a thousand fold, those tales
Let fall by Christ on seeming-careless ears!
How wonderful Thy judgments, Lord, Thy ways,
Past finding out! We, hard ones, how can we
Thy Mercy’s tender wiles discriminate!
But “Oh,” saith Christ, “blessed are your eyes which see,
Your ears, for indeed, they hear! No blessedness
Pertains to man so great as things to know
Which belong to his life. That mystery, the wise,
Sages and prophets, through all time have sought,—
That mystery’s given to you to see and hear,
To handle with your hands of the Word of Life!
But those men, great in faith, saw not nor heard;
Or saw foreshadowings dim of the Event:
For you, fulfilment’s kept.

This parable,—

See ye not what it means? then how can ye
Discern all parables, or how disclose
To men the inherent truth in all the shows
Environing them, that truth by which man lives?”

St. Matthew xiii. 10-17.
St. Mark iv. 10-12.
St. Luke viii. 9, 10.