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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Matthew xiii.1-9.

The first thing which hinders God's seed from taking root is, as we have seen, hardness, -- the life which is trodden down like a road; an impenetrability of nature, which is not a trait of sinners only, but of many privileged souls. The second sort of unfruitful soil is just the opposite of this. It is not the unreceptive, but the impulsively receptive life. It is not too hard, or too soft, but it is too thin. It is a superficial soil which has no depth of earth, and so with joy it receives the word; but the seed has no depth of earth and quickly withers away. This sort of soil receives quickly and as quickly lets go. It is like that unstable man of whom St. James writes and who is like the wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. We see the wave come flashing up out of the general level, catching the sunshine as it leaps and crowned with its spray, and then we look again for it, and where is {119} it? It has sunk again into the undistinguishable level of the sea.

Thus the parable turns to this instability and says: |It is bad to be hard, but it is bad also to be thin.| When tribulation or persecution arises, something more than impulsiveness is needed to give a root to life. How strongly and serenely Newman writes of this: --

|Prune thou thy words, the thoughts control
That o'er thee swell and throng;
They will condense within thy soul
And turn to purpose strong.
But he who lets his feelings run
In soft luxurious flow,
Faints when hard service must be done,
And shrinks at every blow.|

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