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    Chapter 11—The Parable of the Growing Seed

    The Lord Jesus Christ came to our world as its Saviour. He “was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” He assumed humanity, that humanity might touch humanity, while his divinity grasped the throne of God. In his life was manifested “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father;” but he veiled his divinity in humanity,—the invisible glory in the visible human form.SpTEd 67.1

    The same principle appeared in his teaching; the unknown was illustrated by the known. Jesus taught by illustrations and parables drawn from nature and from the familiar events of every-day life. The inspired record says, “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 13:34, 35. In this way he associated natural things with spiritual, linking the things of nature and the life-experience of his hearers with the sublime, spiritual truths of the written word. And his lessons were repeated whenever their eyes rested on the objects which had been associated with eternal truth.SpTEd 67.2

    Here is indicated the higher education that is to be given by parents and teachers. The truth simplified and illustrated is quickly discerned even by children. The figurative language arrests the attention and pleases the mind; and the lesson is firmly fixed in the memory.SpTEd 67.3

    One of Christ's beautiful and impressive parables is that of the sower and the seed. “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:26-28.SpTEd 68.1

    This parable describes the growth of the plant from the seed. When the seed falls into the good ground, it soon germinates, and in time brings forth fruit. But there is a gradual process of development. It is “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Jesus, who gave this parable, created the tiny seed, gave it its vital properties, and ordained the laws that govern its growth; and he has made it a living illustration of truth in both the natural and the spiritual world.SpTEd 68.2

    The truths which this parable teaches were made a living reality in his own life. In both his physical and his spiritual nature, he followed the divine order of growth, illustrated by the plant, as he wishes all youth to do. Although he was the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, he became a babe in Bethlehem, and for a time represented the helpless infant in its mother's care. In childhood he did the works of an obedient child. He spoke and acted with the wisdom of a child, and not of a man, honoring his parents, and carrying out their wishes in helpful ways, according to the ability of a child. But at each stage of his development he was perfect, with the simple, natural grace of a sinless life. The sacred record says of his childhood, “The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him.” And of his youth it is recorded, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:40, 52.SpTEd 68.3

    The work of parents and teachers is here suggested. They should seek most earnestly for that wisdom that Jesus is ever ready to give; for they are dealing with human minds at the most interesting and impressible period of their development. They should aim so to cultivate the tendencies of the youth, that at each stage of their life they may represent the natural beauty appropriate to that period, unfolding gradually, as do the plants and flowers in the garden.SpTEd 69.1

    Those children are most attractive who are natural, unaffected. It, is not wise to give them special notice, and repeat their clever sayings before them. Vanity should not be encouraged by praising their looks, their words, or their actions. Nor should they be dressed in an expensive or showy manner. This encourages pride in them, and awakens envy in the hearts of their companions. Teach the children that the true adorning is not outward. “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” 1 Peter 3:3, 4.SpTEd 69.2

    If children are permitted to have their own way, they will soon become selfish, loving pleasure, loving to be praised, and Satan has agents ready to flatter them. Children's hearts are very impressible; and there is danger if they are allowed to associate with either children or grown persons of evil tendencies. The eye needs to be educated, or the child will find pleasure in beholding evil. The tongue needs to be educated. Never let a word of disrespect to any one pass the lips of your children without plainly showing that you are grieved, and that other words of like character cannot be spoken in your household without correction. If children are not taught to love, respect, and obey their parents in the fear of the Lord, how can they be led to love God?SpTEd 69.3

    The little ones should be educated in childhood in childlike simplicity. They should be trained to be obedient, upright, and practical, doing their best in everything, and at the same time to be content with the small, helpful duties, and with the pleasures and experiences natural to their years. Childhood answers to the blade in the parable, and the blade has a beauty peculiarly its own. The children should not be forced into a precocious maturity, but should retain as long as possible the freshness and grace of their early years.SpTEd 70.1

    The parable of the sower and the seed conveys a deep spiritual lesson. The seed represents the principles sowed in the heart, and its growth the development of character. Make the teaching on this point practical. The children can prepare the soil, and sow the seed; and as they work, the parent or teacher can explain to them the garden of the heart with the good or bad seed sown there; and that as the garden must be prepared for the natural seed, so the heart must be prepared for the seed of truth. As the plant grows, the correspondence between the natural and the spiritual sowing can be continued.SpTEd 70.2

    The little children may be Christians, having an experience in accordance with their years. This is all that God requires of them. They need to be educated in spiritual things; and parents are to give them every advantage that they may form characters after the similitude of Christ's lovely character.SpTEd 71.1

    The mind will never cease to be active. It is open to influences, good or bad. As the human countenance is stamped by the sunbeam on the polished plate of the artist, so are thoughts and impressions stamped on the mind of the child; and whether these impressions are of the earth earthy, or moral and religious, they are well-nigh ineffaceable. When reason is awakening, the mind is most susceptible; and so the very first lessons are of great importance. These lessons have a powerful influence on the formation of character. If they are of the right stamp, and if, as the child advances in years, they are followed up with patient perseverance, the earthly and eternal destinies will be shaped for good. This is the word of the Lord, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.SpTEd 71.2

    Parents, give your children to the Lord, and ever keep it before their minds that they belong to him, that they are lambs of Christ's flock, watched over by the true Shepherd. Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord; and it is said of him, “Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words [the Lord's words through Samuel] fall to the ground.” 1 Samuel 3:19. In the case of this prophet and judge in Israel are presented the possibilities that are placed before a child whose parents co-operate with God, doing their appointed work.SpTEd 71.3

    Children are a heritage of the Lord, and are to be trained for his service. This is the work that rests upon parents and teachers with solemn, sacred force, which they cannot evade or ignore. To neglect this work marks them as unfaithful servants; but there is a reward when the seed of truth is early sown in the heart, and carefully tended. Christ concludes the parable, “But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” When the harvest of the earth is reaped, we shall see the result of our toil; for we shall see those for whom we have labored and prayed gathered into the heavenly garner. So shall we enter into the joy of our Lord, when he shall “see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.”SpTEd 72.1

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