The Parable of the Sower


A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – January 5, 2014

Behold! A Sower went forth to sow. (MAT 13:1)

  1. The Word is like a man clothed
    1. Prophets, Old Testament are like heavy clothing
    2. New Testament parables are like the face and hands
    3. Rules developed from the Science of Correspondences are the same, but interpretation varies.
      1. From minister to minister
      2. From time to time – as you progress through life you have different questions, you view the world through a different set of lenses, you have acquired wisdom and experience.
      3. Your understanding will be influenced by the affections which are with you at the time, or the circumstances that inspired you to ask the question and look to a particular text.
      4. In Genesis, it tells how the Lord put an angel to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden. He was armed with a two-edged sword.
        1. The two-edged sword stands for the freedom to interpret according to spiritual laws.
        2. Provided that the approach is from the affirmative principle. That is, the student humbly approaches the Word to discover what it has to say, willing to be lead by the Lord’s truth.
        3. The internal sense is not served by those who seek to confirm what they already believe by seeking out passages that can be constructed into an argument.
  2. The parable of the sower is very well known. Partly because it is simple and clear, and partly because the Lord Himself interprets it for the disciples – so we really know what He meant by the parable, and that helps us to confidently seek meaning from the other parables.
    1. Behold, a sower went out to sow.
      1. The Sower = the Lord
      2. The Seed = the Word
        1. seed = Word of the Lord, thus truth. (AC 3310)
        2. The Word = the Lord’s Doctrine. (AC 1288)
        3. the Word = truth Divine (evident without explanation) (AC 9987)
        4. Field into which the seed was to be cast = The life of an individual.
        5. Field = Good of life in which faith is implanted, that is, spiritual truths which are of the church. (AC 3310)
    2. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.
      1. The “wayside” refers to the path beside the ploughed and prepared field. It would be earth, packed hard from the passage of many feet, so the seeds would like exposed and be eaten by birds and other animals.
      2. Hard way = falsity (AC 3310)
      3. Hard way = those who have confirmed falsities in themselves. (AC 5096)
      4. seed in the way = with those who do not care for truth. (Life 90)
      5. Devoured by the fowls of the air
        1. fowls = falsities; fantasies and false persuasions (AC 778).
      6. By the way side is represented those that hear the Word, but succumb to the devil (or Satan), and turn away.
      7. Why ‘devil’ is used in Luke, ‘Satan’ in Mark: because seed that fell upon the way = truth from the Word that is received in the memory only and not in the life, and as this is taken away by both evil and falsity, therefore both ‘devil’ and ‘Satan’ are mentioned. (AE 740)
    3. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.
      1. These are they who receive the Word with joy, but fall away in time of temptation because they have no root.
      2. Hard rock = persuasion, when a person is persuaded to do something because through a presentation of facts that may leave some important fact out, or exaggerate certain aspects. It makes it hard to get to the truth of the matter and do the right thing. (AC 5096)
      3. Stony place = truth that has no root in good. (AC 3310), or those who care for truth, but not interiorly. (Life 90)
      4. To have no root in themselves = to have no charity, for charity is faith rooted, and they who have not the support of this root will yield in temptation. (AC 1846)
    4. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.
      1. These are they who hear the Word, but are choked by the cares and riches of the world, which turn them aside, and they bring no fruit to perfection.
        1. Cares – people who are so worried and anxious about the things going on in their life that they believe they don’t have time for one more thing, for worship, for prayer, for reading the Word. It’s an aspect of the love of self.
        2. It also shows up in our concern for the riches of the world, for acquiring and playing with our various things. Again, when we regard our own things – be they cares or possessions – as more important than spiritual things, it’s the love of self. And that blocks out the Lord and the Word, chokes them to death.
      2. Thorns = evils. (AC 3310)
        1. falsities which confirm the things of the world and pleasures (AC 9144)
    5. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty
      1. These are they who hear the Word, and having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
      2. Good ground = those who love truths that are in the Word from the Lord, and do them from Him…. in these the “seed” takes root in the spiritual mind. (Life 90)
      3. Good ground = men conjoined to the Lord by receiving truths that make him spiritual. (AE 239)
      4. Springs up, Bears fruit 100, 60, 30 fold
        1. 30 = full of remains, somewhat of combat.
        2. 30 = 5 X 6; five = somewhat, six = combat
        3. 30 = 3 X 10; three = full, ten = remains
        4. 6 = 2 X 3; therefore what is full and all, because 2 = marriage of good and truth, and 3 = what is full and all. (AR 610)
        5. 60 = full of remains, because a multiple of 10.
        6. Hundred fold = what is full. (AC 2636)
        7. 100 = full of remains, because a multiple of 10. (AC 5335)
        8. fruits = goods done out of charity (AC 934)
        9. In summary: to bring forth fruit in patience = to do truths and goods even when living amidst falsities and evils, that is, among those who are in falsities and evils. (AE 813)
  3. The whole parable is used as an example of the doctrine of genuine truth from the Lord in the Word that truth must be lived. (AE 250; 785)
    1. Faith is formed by man’s living according to truths. (TCR 347)
    2. Charity is merely a fleeting mental abstraction unless, whenever possible, it is expressed in works. (TCR 375, 376, 483)
    3. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

First Lesson: MAT 13:10-23

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘ Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Second Lesson: AC 6053

From all this it is evident that nothing is known about the soul, and this is the reason why all that has been asserted on the subject is conjectural. And as in this way men could have no idea about the soul, very many have not been able to avoid the belief that the soul is a mere vital thing that is dissipated when the body dies. And this is the reason why the learned have less belief in the life after death than the simple; and because they do not believe in it, neither can they believe in the things which belong to that life, which are the heavenly and spiritual things of faith and love. This also appears from the Lord’s words in Matthew:

Thou hast hid these things from the wise and intelligent, and hast revealed them unto babes (Matt 11:25).

And again:

Seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand (Matt. 13:13).

For the simple have no such thoughts about the soul; but believe that they will have after death; in which simple faith, unknown to them, there is hidden the belief that they will live there as men, will see angels, will speak with them, and will enjoy happiness.

Third Lesson: Life 90

It is truth that is meant by the seed in the field … The sower here is the Lord, and the seed is His Word, thus truth; the seed by the wayside is with those who do [not] care about truth; and the seed upon stony places is with those who care for truth, but not for its own sake, and thus not interiorly. The seed among thorns is with those who are in the lusts of evil; but the seed in the good ground is with those who from the Lord love the truths which are in the Word, and who from Him practices them, and thus bring forth fruit. That this is the meaning of these things is evident from the Lord’s explanation of them, Matthew xiii 19-23; Mark iv 14-20; and Luke viii 11-15.

From these considerations it is clear that the truth of the Word cannot take root with those who do not care about truth; nor with those who love truth outwardly but not inwardly; nor with those who are in the lusts of evil; but with those in whom the lusts of evil have been dispersed by the Lord. With these the seed, that is, truth, becomes rooted in their spiritual mind….


2 thoughts on “The Parable of the Sower

  1. Thanks for following my blog!! This is such a great parable….but a few years ago I started to identify with the sower. Not that it was my word going out….no way…but it was a reminder to me that God uses His people to continue to spread His word. And like the sower in the story….I should spread it liberally….that it wasn’t my job to worry if the ground was ready for the seed….but to spread it everywhere and leave it in God’s hands whether it took root or not.

    Liked by 1 person

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