And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:…
I. The parable first invites to some remarks upon WORLDLY PROSPERITY, AND SOME OF THE ANXIETIES BY WHICH IT IS NOT UNFREQUENTLY ATTENDED. "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully," the parable begins. "The ground"; the man did not owe his wealth to any success in commercial adventures, to a judicious plying of his business in the great waters, or to any of those forms of rising in the world which too often lead men to give their own skill all the praise. Not that in regard of our obligation to the Giver of all good it makes any difference whether our wealth come to us in one way or in another — by the blessing of God upon our industry, or in the gift of God in the sunshine and in the shower — for every way it is true that "the Lord thy God, He it is that giveth thee power to get wealth." Still, I think, it does lay an added weight upon our gratitude, and should make the sense of debt and dependence to be felt more keenly, when God prospers almost without making use of our own exertions at all. As when we come into possession of a fruitful land, or succeed to a business already made to our hands; in such cases we feel the blessing comes to us so straight and direct from heaven, that the temptation to say, "my power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth," is utterly taken away. Even the world allows us nothing to be proud of in such instances; we thrive upon the labours of those who have gone before, or perhaps upon a mere accident of the soil. "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully." But "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses": the ground that brings forth plentifully is seldom free from some roots of bitterness. In the parable of the sower and the seed, our Lord makes cares and riches go together. And they do very often; for with more wealth, we take more servants, and that is a care. The more treasure we have, the more fear of losing it; and that is a care. The larger the produce of our fields, the more room we want to put it away; and that is a care.
II. Let us proceed to the second view of this parable, or that which sets before us SELFISHNESS AND ITS PROJECTS. The man's debatings were soon over, for he called to his counsels neither God nor man, seeing that for the glory of the one he had no concern, and with the wants of the other had no sympathy. He was a law unto himself, he had none to think of, and none to obey; his goods were his own, his length of days was his own, his very soul was his own; so at least he reasons, for this is the plan of life to which he tells us his mind is made up — "And he said, 'This will I do,'" &c. Many things press for notice here. First, his language, "my barns, my fruit, my goods," although agreeable to the common usage of men, yet taken in connection with what follows, is a plain ignoring of God's hand in his prosperity, or God's right in regard to its proper use. One would think he had been beholden to God for nothing; neither for seed nor soil, nor clouds, nor genial suns; so completely is the idea of stewardship lost sight of, and the Creator's loan viewed as the creature's right. Then, there is a strange and presumptuous covenant with the future — future harvests, that they shall not fail; future years, that he shall live to enjoy their fruits. They are the most obvious truths which men are most slow to learn — how feeble is our hold on prosperity — a blight, a shipwreck, a credulous trust in some new and fraudulent speculation, a dishonest servant, or a perfidious friend, let any of these befal us, and what becomes of our many goods? And many years — he has made sure of this also; he has entered into a covenant with sickness, and accident, and the marching pestilence, with the waters that they shall not overflow him, and with the flames that they shall not kindle upon him; he had only not made a covenant with God. But, besides all this sinful bargaining for a long series of morrows, we should not fail to observe with what resolute intenseness and determination of purpose his heart is set upon the enjoyment of the world. "Soul, take thine ease. While my wealth was accumulating, and my diligence was needed, and there was a possibility that the tide of success might turn against me, I had my unavoidable anxieties; but I am past all this now, I am beyond the reach of reverses, henceforth I will fling myself upon the soft lap of prosperity, and without an apprehension or a care sleep the rest of life's hours away." "Soul, take thine ease"; eat, drink, and be merry too, steep the senses in a blithe forgetfulness, forbid the entrance of every intruding monitor who comes to tell you that you have an eternity to live for, or an offended God to meet. And then, observe that awful stroke of irony with which the Saviour makes the man address language like this to his soul — "Soul, thou hast much goods" — thou, the eternal, the changeless, thou who art sprung from a nobler ancestry than the angels, and fashioned in the mould of God, see here the portion I have provided for thee, meats that debase, drinks that stupefy, luxuries that sensualize — "eat, drink, and be merry." The world abounds with these epicurean Christians; who, instead of nourishing their souls with proper sustenance, with holy thoughts, with sacred joys, with hopes that centre in God and ambitions which point to heaven, turn God's image into dust again, and try to satisfy the cravings of an immortal mind with ashes, with wind, with meats, and drinks, and mirth. "Soul, thou hast much goods, take thine ease."
III. But the parable we have been considering takes its most solemnizing and striking form when we view it as setting forth GOD'S ARREST ON WORLDLY PRESUMPTION AND THE RECOMPENSE THAT SHALL FOLLOW. The man's plans are formed; he is at agreement with death; he has pledged the seed-time and the harvest, and the couch is laid smooth on which his soul is to have many years of ease, when in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, he finds all this baseless fabric crumbled to the dust. Let me conclude with two applications of our subject. The first, bearing on the duty of securing the true riches; and the other, on the turning of perishable riches to a wise and sanctified account. The first of these duties is set forth in one weighty and emphatic sentence by the Great Teacher Himself; may we all remember it, if we remember nothing else. "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, but is not rich toward God." "So is he"; that is, as this man, with the fiat of heaven against him made out, the messengers of wrath half on their way, with just one short night between his soul and a wretched immortality. "So is he"; that is, so is every one who layeth up treasure for himself, comforts for himself, ease, mirth, worldly happiness for himself, while as to the true riches he is a mere beggar, for he is not rich towards God; has not provided himself with bags that wax not old, has no treasure laid up there, where no rust nor moth can corrupt, and where theives do not break through and steal. But the parable also suggests a caution as to the right use of perishable riches; the duty of making them subservient to the highest ends, and the certainty that sooner or later they will be taken from us, if we spend upon self or upon sews fancied wants that which God designed either for advancing His own glory or for mitigating the sufferings of mankind.
(D. Moore, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: