Matthew 13:33
He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into three measures of flour, until all of it was leavened."
Sermons
A Symbol of ChristianityJ. Cliffbrd, M. A. , LL. B. , B. Sc.Matthew 13:33
Children to be EducatedW. B. Kirkpatrick., T. Smith.Matthew 13:33
ChristianityJ. Clifford, M. A.Matthew 13:33
Christianity an Impartation, not an EvolutionC. H. Parkhurst, D. D.Matthew 13:33
LeavenAlexander MaclarenMatthew 13:33
Leaven a Hidden ForceE. Mellor, D. D.Matthew 13:33
Leaven a Living ForceJ. Clifford, M. A.Matthew 13:33
Leaven an Assimilating ForceJ. Clifford, M. A.Matthew 13:33
Leaven Sour But SweeteningT. Adagios.Matthew 13:33
Leavened by Character Rather than by SpeechM. Dods, D. D.Matthew 13:33
Need of LeaveningT. Adagios.Matthew 13:33
Parable of the LeavenMarcus Dods Matthew 13:33
Signs of LeaveningT. Adagios.Matthew 13:33
The Force There May be in Quiet ThingsR. Tuck Matthew 13:33
The Law of Leaven has Signally Characterized the Entire History of the Kingdom of Heaven in the WorldJ. M. Sherwood.Matthew 13:33
The LeavenT. Adagios.Matthew 13:33
The LeavenM. Dods, D. D.Matthew 13:33
The Nature of LeavenHugh Macmillan.Matthew 13:33
The Parable of the LeavenE. Mellor, D. D.Matthew 13:33
The Parable of the LeavenA. Griffin.Matthew 13:33
The Parable of the Leaven Hid in Three Measures of MealW. Keach.Matthew 13:33
The Work of Christianity Will be CompleteC. H. Parkhurst, D. D., W. J. Irons, D. D.Matthew 13:33
This Parable RepresentsJ. T. Woodhouse.Matthew 13:33
What Leaven Can DoT. Adagios.Matthew 13:33
A Rash Zeal for Amendment InjuriousW. M. Taylor. D. D.Matthew 13:24-41
Believers are a Choice People -- Choice GrainMatthew 13:24-41
Blending of Wicked with GodlyA. Fuller.Matthew 13:24-41
Difficulty of Right Judgment in SocietyMarcus Dods.Matthew 13:24-41
Fifth Sunday After EpiphanyJ. A. Seiss, D.D.Matthew 13:24-41
I Shall Show You How Fitly the End of the World May be Compared to HarvestB. Keach.Matthew 13:24-41
I Shall Show You How the TaresMatthew 13:24-41
I Will Show You How the WheatMatthew 13:24-41
Likeness of Wheat and TaresHugh Macmillan.Matthew 13:24-41
Mixture of Tare and WheatBishop Thomas.Matthew 13:24-41
Points in the ParableAnon.Matthew 13:24-41
Separate Bundles of TaresMatthew Henry.Matthew 13:24-41
Separating Tares from WheatVan Lennep.Matthew 13:24-41
Sowing Tares in MaliceMatthew 13:24-41
Tares and WheatThe PulpitMatthew 13:24-41
The Conditions and Limitations of Moral GrowthE. D. Green.Matthew 13:24-41
The End of the WorldMarcus, Dods.Matthew 13:24-41
The Mixed State SocietyDr. M. DodsMatthew 13:24-41
The Parable of the TaresJ. C. JonesMatthew 13:24-41
The Parable of the Wheat and the TaresMatthew 13:24-41
The TaresW. M. Taylor. D. D.Matthew 13:24-41
The Tares and the WheatC. Bradley, M. A.Matthew 13:24-41
The Tares and the WheatB. W. Noel.Matthew 13:24-41
The Tares and WheatExpository OutlinesMatthew 13:24-41
The Two SowersH. Bonar, D. D.Matthew 13:24-41
The Wheat and the TaresE. Gray, M. A.Matthew 13:24-41
What Should a Believer Do to Ripen for the HarvestMatthew 13:24-41
While Men Slept the Devil Sowed His Evil SeedMatthew 13:24-41
Why are the Saints Compared to WheatMatthew 13:24-41
Why God Delays to Punish the Sins of Men in This WorldT. Sherlock, D. D.Matthew 13:24-41
The Great Administrator's ForesightP.C. Barker Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
The Mustard Seed and the LeavenW.F. Adeney Matthew 13:31-33
Parable and ProphecyJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 13:31-35
The Foretold Now Become the ToldP.C. Barker Matthew 13:33-36


This parable directs our attention to two points connected with the extension of Christianity. It illustrates

(1) first, the kind of change which Christianity works in the world;

(2) second, the method by which this change is wrought.

I. THE CHANGE OUR LORD MEANT TO EFFECT IN THE WORLD was to be a change not so much of outward forms as of the spirit and character of all things. The propagation of his influence is set forth and illustrated, not by a woman taking a mass of dough and making it into new shapes, but by a woman putting that into the dough which alters the character of the whole mass. There are two ways in which you may revolutionize a country or society. You may pull down the old forms of government, or you may fill them with men of a different spirit, revise the constitution, or, leaving it untouched, fill official positions with the right men. A machine refuses to work, and people tell you the construction is wrong; but the skilled mechanic pushes aside the ignorant crowd, and puts all to rights with a few drops of oil. Few distinctions are of wider application. What is pointed at is rather the regenerative than the creative power of Christ's Spirit; not so much the new facts and habits to which Christian feeling gives birth, as the new feelings and views it has about existing customs, institutions, relationships, occupations. His Spirit, he says, does not require new channels; a man does not require new arteries, but to have them filled with health-giving blood. In establishing the kingdom of heaven our Lord did not intend to erect a vast organization over against the world, but he meant to introduce into the world itself a leaven which should subdue all things to his own Spirit. It was to be without observation, hidden as leaven among meal.

II. THE METHOD BY WHICH THE KINGDOM IS TO GROW. Kingdoms have been extended in various ways, but chiefly by force, by the strong band. And the idea that men can be compelled to accept the truth seems never to be wholly eradicated from the human mind. But our Lord teaches that the extension of his Spirit throughout the world is to be by the secret unnoticed influence of man upon man. No doubt there is a direct agency of God in each case, but God works through natural means, and the natural means here pointed to is personal influence. Than this there is no mightier power. Take even the influence of those who least intend to influence you, and seem least capable of it. Think of the influence in many ways of the little child who cannot stand alone; or of those who seem wholly pushed aside from the busy world by ill health or misfortune. How we have been brought to a chastened, sober habit by their suffering; and to the recognition of what is essential and what accidental, what good and what evil in the world! For the operation of this influence there must be:

1. A mixing; that is to say, there must be contact of the closest kind between the regenerate and the unregenerate. The leaven is manifestly useless while it lies by itself. If our Lord had secluded himself in the household of Bethany, and never eaten with publicans and sinners, little of his Spirit could have passed into other men. The closeness of the intimacy, the depth of the love, is the measure of the effect produced. And in a country like ours, where what belonged yesterday to one person is today possessed by a thousand, good or evil propagates itself with the speed and certainty of contagion, the more effectually because insensibly. There is no banishment for the moral leper; no man can be evil for himself alone. This mixing is provided for in various ways - by nature, which sets us in families; by society, which compels contact of various kinds with others. Beyond these are the casual meetings we are unawares thrown into, and the voluntary friendships and associations we form. Of the first we may say, that if we cannot always choose our company we can always choose how we shall conduct ourselves in it; we can make our meeting a means of spreading the Spirit of Christ. The additions to his kingdom must be chiefly from among those who do not at present respond to Christian sentiments. For the regulation of connections which we form of our own choice the parable suffices. Can they be leavened, and by us? It is folly to argue that because some one else can go into certain company, or engage in certain pursuits and not be the worse for it, that therefore you can do so. But there is a culpable refusal to mix as well as a too great eagerness to do so. Two very opposite feelings lead to this.

(1) One is the Pharisaic contempt for, or hopelessness about, other people. A converted person often seems to forget the hole of the rock whence he was digged - what he was yesterday, and what the unbeliever on whom he scowls may be tomorrow. Or

(2) there is the opposite feeling, that our influence can only do harm. But this feeling should prompt us not to separate ourselves from the world, but to renew our connection with the leaven. If we fear to touch another lest we communicate disease, let us first touch him out of whom flows healing for all diseases.

2. But, the mixing being accomplished, how does the process succeed? The parable says - Be leaven, and you will leaven. Be a Christian, and you must make Christians or help to make them. No doubt direct address forms one great part of the means of leavening those around you, but the figure here points rather to the all-pervading and subtle extension of Christian principles than to their declared and aggressive advocacy. What is the influence of your example? If you are not leavening others, it is because you are yourself unleavened. There is no such thing as leaven that does not work. You cannot confine the perfume to the flower, or restrict the light of the sun to its own globe. It is a glorious consummation here spoken of - till "the whole is leavened. In Christ's kingdom is to be gathered all that has ever served or gladdened humanity. His Spirit is to take possession of all national characteristics and all individual gifts. And all is to be achieved through personal influence. Can you know the earnestness of Christ in this behalf, and lift no finger to help him? Is there nothing you ought to do in leavening some little bit of the great mass? - D.







The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven.
I. THE POWER WHICH IS TO RAISE MAN MUST COME FROM WITHOUT. — "Took leaven." It is assumed that man needs raising, and this is possible only through the introduction from without of an energy distinctly Divine. Humanity has no self-leavening power. I would ask those who imagine that we need no celestial leaven to raise us how long our moral elevation as a people would continue if the influences which come from the Bible could be shut off?

II. THAT THE LEAVEN MUST BE LODGED AND WORK WITHIN. The leaven was Hidden in the meal. This denotes that the mysterious element which possesses such penetrative powers is for a time concealed from sight. The chief mischief connected with man lies within. Many systems of reformation proceed on the supposition that the unhappy condition of man is external, not in himself, but in his circumstances. But vice is not confined to slums. The chief elements of man's degradation are ignorance, selfishness, and misery; these are within a man, and can be counteracted only by that which shall work within.

III. THE PENETRATIVE AND DIFFUSIVE POWER OF THIS LEAVEN. It spread till the whole was leavened. This it does because it is leaven, and works according to the law of its own essence. It was not leavened in an instant, but by gradual infection; an emblem of the spread of the gospel in the soul. Professors do not become perfect all at once. Religion operates from individual to individual. Where leaven is at work it will be felt. It works amidst seeming improbabilities.

(E. Mellor, D. D.)

It was hidden; so hidden that those who will believe in nothing but what they see might doubt whether it was there at all. ]t was hidden but not lost; hidden that it might not be lost; hidden that its searching and diffusive energy might be tested and revealed. From this feature of the parable we not only do not shrink, but we give to it the utmost possible prominence. It holds strict analogy with the great fact that the mightiest forces in the world are all lodged, if I may so speak, out of sight, and work outwards, and upwards, and downwards from their deep home of mystery. The chief Worker — He without whom no one and nothing could work at all — "hideth Himself," so that no eye hath seen Him, or can see Him. From His secret pavilion He sustains all the forces of the universe, whether they be mechanical or vital, and yet His Hand is never seen. The leaven of man himself — that leaven without which there would be no man — his soul, is hidden. How hidden, we know not; where hidden, we know not; but it is hidden, and, amid all the marvels of its working, is never seen. No eye hath seen man at any time, any more than it has seen God.

(E. Mellor, D. D.)

The yeast used in making bread is by no means the dead, inoperative thing it seems. It is a plant as much alive as the snowdrop that has just burst its way through the soil, and foretold by its graceful bell the coming of the spring. It is a vegetable growth, of enormous energy for its size, multiplying itself at a rate incredible to any but the scientific mind; feeding its active life, as it grows from spot to spot, upon the material into which it has been introduced, until there is nothing left for it to feed upon and assimilate to itself. The change it effects in its progress is described by the chemist as a decomposition of the sugar contained in the dough, and a liberation of carbonic acid; but the principal fact revealed by the microscope is that you have a congregation of living cells, gathered about a living central nucleus, all charged to the full with that subtle and supreme force, which we, in our ignorance, call LIFE. Like that, says Christ, is the kingdom of heaven — the rule of a living presence, of a living God. The gospel is the power of God at work for the salvation of souls. Christianity is itself a living, breathing presence, not a mere dull, dead thing; a life. It is characteristic of leaven to show an almost insatiable greed of activity. It is a type of stupendous increase. With a rapidity that is marvellous, it passes on from particle to particle of the meal in which it is placed, until the last stroke of work is done. Give it an appropriate temperature, and favourable materials, and an express engine will stop sooner than it. In no point is the teacher's simile better sustained by facts than in the unspeakable and irrepressible activity of the gospel. It is a living force: and action is essential to its life, as air is to the life of man. Only with tremendous difficulty can it be checked.

(J. Clifford, M. A.)

It is hid, according to Christ's parable, in MEAL, not amongst stones on which it could have no effect, not amongst iron-filings where a magnet would be better placed, not in the earth where seeds would get better nourishment; but in meal; in that material which has an affinity for it, and upon which it is specially fitted to act. The leaven is placed where it is wanted, where it can work, and where it can work with success. Leaven is not better suited to work in meal than Christ in men's hearts for their salvation.

(J. Clifford, M. A.)

The portion of dough taken as a ferment, and inserted within the three measures of meal, makes that meal like itself, subjugates it, and impresses its own character upon it, penetrating it totally, and assimilates its nature to its own. It is not simply that it touches particle after particle of the flour, as water might do — that would only make a paste; or comes into contact with the whole meal, as a hand might do — that would simply move it without altering it; but it really puts its own life into the meal and penetrates it with its living nature from centre to circumference. It is in the nature of leaven to make all the meal like itself; so it is in the nature of the gospel to Christianize those who receive it; i.e., Christ subjugates, penetrates, and assimilates the believer to Himself. He puts His life into each part of him;(1) the life of His thoughts into his thinking, so that every thought is brought into captivity to Christ;(2) the life of His love into his heart, so that he is unselfish and beneficent;(3) the life of His righteousness into his conscience, so that the law of right is his rule;(4) the life of His obedience into his will, so that it is his meat to do the will of the Father.

(J. Clifford, M. A.)

We learn —

I. GOD EMPLOYS HUMAN AGENCY FOR THE CONVERSION OF THE SOUL.

II. To OUTWARD APPEARANCE, THE MEANS ARE VERY UNLIKELY AND INSIGNIFICANT.

III. THE CHANGE PRODUCED IS RADICAL, GRADUAL, FINAL, AND MANIFEST.

IV. FAVOURABLE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE NECESSARY FOR THE LEAVEN TO WORK SUCCESSFULLY.

(A. Griffin.)

The leaven illustrates —

I. The history of God's REVELATION TO MAN.

II. The history of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH.

III. The history of OPINIONS OR DOCTRINES.

IV. The history of INDIVIDUAL CONVERSIONS.

1. Donor despise the day of small things.

2. Infer hope for the world.

(J. M. Sherwood.)

I. CHRISTIANITY IS REALLY ALIVE.

II. CHRISTIANITY IS AT WORK AS WELL AS ALIVE.

III. CHRISTIANITY, LIKE LEAVEN, WORKS IN A CONGENIAL AND MUCH ASSISTING SPHERE.

IV. THE MOST DISTINGUISHED FEATURE IS THAT IT LEAVENS THE MEAL IN THE MIDST OF WHICH IT IS PLACED. SO the most characteristic effect of Christianity is that it Christianizes men; it assimilates them to Christ by filling them with the life of Christ.

V. THE LEAVEN IS HIDDEN IN THE MEAL, AND ALL THE WORK IT DOES, IT DOES SECRETLY. Christ's best, most real, and most powerful work, is always unseen.

VI. BUT IT ADVANCES VICTORIOUSLY AND TOTALLY.

(J. Cliffbrd, M. A. , LL. B. , B. Sc.)

I. The PENETRATING power of Divine grace. The grace of God is a vital and holy force.

II. The MYSTERIOUS power of Divine grace. The grace of God is imparted to the soul. But is imperceptible in the soul.

III. The TRANSFORMING power of Divine grace. The grace of God works slowly, successfully.

(J. T. Woodhouse.)

This parable describes the progressive influence of the truth of God within the heart, and also without in the world. Leaven works strongly, so does the Word on the thoughts and feelings. It works silently; so does the gospel secretly diffuse its influence through the soul. Leaven works permanently, imparting qualities which remain fixed in the substance which it penetrates.

I. THE BIBLE STATES THAT THE WHOLE "WORLD IS TO BE "LEAVENED BY THE TRUTH OF GOD (Psalm 22:27, 28).

II. THE BIBLE WHICH CONTAINS THIS HEAVENLY TRUTH IS ADMIRABLY FITTED FOR UNIVERSAL DIFFUSION.

1. It is a Divine authority.

2. It speaks to the heart of man.

3. It prescribes to man his duty in every possible station and relation in which he can be placed.

4. It is a bond of union.

5. It inspires and fills the heart with hope.

III. LITTLE HAS YET BEEN DONE FOR LEAVENING THE WORLD WITH TRUTH.

IV. WHY HAS NOT MORE BEEN DONE FOR THE LEAVENING OF THE WORLD WITH TRUTH.

V. HOW SHALL WE PREPARE TO DO MORE THAN HAS YET BEEN DONE FOR LEAVENING THE WORLD WITH TRUTH.

VI. NEVER WILL THE CHURCH MAKE SUCCESSFUL EFFORT FOR THE LEAVENING OF THE WORLD WITH TRUTH UNTIL EVERY CHILD UNDER HER CARE BE EDUCATED WITH A VIEW TO THIS NOBLE OBJECT.

(W. B. Kirkpatrick.)

I. THE ELEMENTS WHICH ARE HERE BROUGHT TOGETHER.

1. The first of these may be considered as representing human nature. The parable represents the possibility of man's restoration.

2. The second element used in this parable may be regarded as an emblem of the gospel. The gospel, when compared to the world, exhibits an amazing disproportion(1) as to quantity. The leaven is small in proportion to the meal. The small origin of the gospel in contrast with the mighty change effected by it;(2) the contrast as to quality. There is a natural adaptation in the one element to the other, the one is moist, the other dry; this is favourable to the process. So in the gospel there is moral adaptation.(3) A contrast as to their influence. We might despise the hiding of the leaven as trivial; but the result is seen. The progress of the gospel irresistible.

II. THE MODE OF OPERATION BY WHICH THIS RESULT ENSUES.

1. These elements must be brought into actual contact.

2. The operation is gradual.

3. It is invisible.

4. It is irresistible.

III. THE FINAL PROGRESS AND TRIUMPH OF THE GOSPEL.

1. That all analogy leads us to expect its universal progress.

2. This is the purpose of God.

3. This is the burden of prophecy.

4. The musings of holy men on the future glory of the Church point in this direction.

5. The prayers of the pious refer to this event.

6. This result is highly desirable.

7. The Spirit of God is fettered by no analogy, His influence may be signally exerted.

(T. Smith.)

The kingdom, then, is not an off-shoot from the world, but some sort of an importation into it: not an outgo, but an income. It is a new ingredient put into society. The woman put the yeast into the dough; the dough did not develop the yeast. Scripture is everywhere consistent with this representation. History did not produce Christ: He came into the world from beyond and above. The Law, too, came into the world; it was not a Mosaic transplant from Egypt, but entered the world at the point where Sinai and the sky meet. The whole series of communications from Eden to Patmos is consistently exhibited as so much importation. Our own experience, Zoo, has something to say in the same line. We are succumbing every day to influences that are not set down in the books, k world of unseen facts and forces lies against us as the sea lies against the shore. What we call conscience is no barren discernment between what is bad and what is good; it is the organ through which the unseen comes near to us and becomes within us both as a consciousness and a power. We are not left alone, or let alone. O God, Thy Kingdom comes! It does come, keep coming. An eye peeps in at the skylight. Impalpable fingers tap at the window and knock at the door. The sky mixes itself with the ground, the sea shimmers under the light of the stars, and the meal stirs and is made quick at the touch of the entering leaven.

(C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

I do not know that anything exact is denoted by the three measures. It may refer to the totality of the race as represented by the three sons of Noah by whom the earth was peopled; or perhaps to the totality of the individual man as composed of body, mind, and spirit. At any rate, this threefoldness points, as usual, to entireness and completeness. The kingdom of heaven has come on earth to stay and to work a whole work. This irresistibleness is a ground of vast encouragement. To be sure this force is one that works stealthily. We do not see the processes. God constructs the machinery of event as we make clocks, with all the pinions and axles packed in behind the dial-plate. We see the pendulum swing, but we do not think of it as result, because we do not see the weight that, with cunning indirection, is all the time pulling at the pendulum .... We must be careful not to underrate the influences that work without show or noise. The unseen and the unheard really make out a good deal more than half the universe .... Christianity is not a matter of places and days, rites and observances; it is a matter of having the leaven of God to work in us that we shall be gentle and pure, unselfish and sympathetic as God is. And men have made at least a commencement towards becoming so. It is not natural for men to devote their time to others' interests. But more and more time is being devoted in this way, and money too, which means that the kingdom of heaven is gaining a closer and closer grip upon us: the kingdom of heaven is coming. Men are sorry for the distressed, and try to relieve them. Why, that is Christianity. We know that we love God, because we love the brethren Not as though we were already perfect. There is knavery, selfishness, uncleanness of all sorts and degrees. Yet the leaven is certainly working, and such a review of the centuries as has been suggested makes it clear, to the point of demonstration, that the will of God is being increasingly done, and especially that the ideals of gentleness, mutual interest, reciprocal sympathy, with which the gospel is so thickly strewn, are being growingly realized.

(C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)The religion which will save a man's soul is a religion that goes into his whole being, and changes him into something quite different from what he was before, when in the service of the world. A great deal less than this will enable a man to live respected by his neighbours; a great deal less will, after a time, satisfy even his own conscience, and enable him to live contentedly in his present measure of strictness. For conscience soon lowers its demands when they have been made and rejected; and an evil heart of unbelief rests content at last, on a conscience seared as with a hot iron.

(W. J. Irons, D. D.)

We may reduce the parable to three general heads.

I. WHAT IS COMPARED? The matter compared is the kingdom of heaven.

II. To WHAT IS IT COMPARED? Leaven.

III. IN WHAT IS IT COMPARED. NOW the concurrence of these lies in the sequel — "which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." Wherein are remarkable

(1)the agent — a woman;

(2)the action — which is double, taking and hiding, or putting in the leaven;

(3)the subject — is meal, or flour;

(4)the continuance — until the whole mass be leavened.

(T. Adagios.)

No flesh that is putrefied, except it be first purified, shall be glorified. No man goes to heaven as by a leap, but by climbing. Now this sanctity is called the kingdom of heaven,

(T. Adagios.)

Leaven hath a quality somewhat contrary to the meal, yet serves to make it fit for bread. The gospel is sour and harsh to the natural soul, yet works it to newness of life. It runs against the grain of our affections, and we think it troubles the peace of our Israel within us. It is leaven to Herod to part with his Herodias; to Naaman to be bound from bowing before Rimmon. Christ gives the young man a sour morsel when he bids him give his goods to the poor. You choke the usurer with leaven when you tell him that his sins shall not be forgiven till his unjust gains be restored. You may as well prescribe the epicure leaven instead of bread, as set him the voider of abstinence instead of his table of surfeits. This is leaven indeed, to tell the encloser that he enters commons with the devil, while he hinders the poor to enter common with him; or to tell the sacrilegious that Satan hath just possession of his soul, while he keeps unjust possession of the Church's goods. When his leaven is held to carnal lips it will not go down, no, the very smell of it offends. The combat of faith, the task of repentance, the mercifulness of charity, this same rule of three is very hard to learn. To deny a man's self, to cashier his family lusts, to lay down whole bags of crosses, and to take up one, the cross of Christ. Oh sour, sour leaven!

(T. Adagios.)

He hath an unleavened hand, that is not charitable; an unleavened knee, that is not humble; an unleavened tongue, that blasphemes; an unleavened eye, that maliceth; an unleavened heart, that securely offendeth. The outward working shows the inward leavening, and the diffusion is an argument of the being.

(T. Adagios.)

The world begins with great promises; but could it give as much as ever the prince of it proffered to Christ, it cannot keep thy bones from the ague, thy flesh from worms, nor thy soul from hell. Behold, a little leaven shall sanctify thee throughout, the folly of preaching shall save thy soul, and raise thy body to eternal glory.

(T. Adagios.)

It consists of myriads of the cells of the common green mould in an undeveloped state. If a fragment of the dough with the leaven in it be put aside in a shady place, the cells of the fungus in the leaven will vegetate, and cover the dough with a slight downy substance, which is just the plant in its complete form. The swelling of the dough, and the commotion which goes on in the leavened mass, are owing to the multiplication of the plant-cells, which takes place with astonishing rapidity. By this process of vegetation, the starch and sugar of the dough are converted into other chemical products. But it is only allowed to go a certain length, and then the principle of growth is checked by placing the dough in the oven, and baking it into bread. Leaven is thus a principle of destruction and construction — of decay and of growth — of death and of life.

(Hugh Macmillan.)

The Word of God may be compared to leaven.

1. Leaven is of a diffusive quality. So the Word of God, through the Spirit, is of a diffusive nature, but in respect to every soul that receiveth it, and also in respect of people to whom it comes; for though at first but a few at Jerusalem and thereabouts received the gospel, yet how did it spread.

2. Leaven diffuses itself gradually. So the gospel spread and operated by degrees; as it diffuseth itself into every faculty of the soul at first, so it never ceaseth until the life and whole man is leavened therewith.

3. Leaven is of assimilating nature; makes all the meal that is leavened to be of one and the same lump. So the Word of God and the grace of God makes the whole soul like itself, or a whole family or nation where it is once in truth received, the very same people, both in doctrine and conversation.

4. Leaven is of a quickening and powerful nature; so the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12).

5. Leaven is hid in the meal which leaveneth; so the Word of God must be hid in the heart, both in the understanding, will, and affection, if the person he spiritually leavened with it (Psalm 119:11). It is not enough to receive it lute our mouths, or to have it in our Bibles, but we must receive it (in the love thereof) into our hearts, or else Satan will steal it away, or it will not, it cannot, work either upon our hearts or lives.

6. Leaven, it is observed, is of a softening nature; though the meal be crushed down hard, yet if the leaven be hid in it, it will make it soft and mellow. So the Word of God makes the hard heart soft and tender.

7. Leaven secretly and invisibly worketh and altereth the meal, and maketh a change of it, turning it into dough. So the workings and operations of the Word of God are secret and invisible.

8. A little leaven will leaven the whole lump; so a small quantity, or but a dram of grace, or one word set home upon the heart of three thousand souls, it will leaven them all (Acts 2:4).

9. Leaven answers a great design. It is to prepare the meal to be moulded into a loaf and so become the bread for the family. So this spiritual leaven, the Word, is by Jesus Christ appointed for a great design, viz., even to mould and fashion poor sinners for Himself, and so fit them for His own use, and that they may be meet and fit matter for His Church on earth, and for the Church triumphant in Heaven (1 Corinthians 10:17).

(W. Keach.)

I. Our Lord teaches that the change He meant to effect in the world was a change, not so much of the outward form, as of the spirit and character of all things.

II. The method by which the kingdom of heaven is to grow, or by which the world is to he Christianized. Religion spreads by contagion. There must be a mixing; contact between those that are Christians and those who are not. This mixing is provided for in various ways.

(1)By nature, which sets us in families;

(2)By commerce;

(3)Casual acquaintance. There is a culpable refusal to mix, as well as an inconsiderate eagerness to do so.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

It is rather the all-pervading and subtle extension of Christian principles than their declared and aggressive advocacy that is brought before the mind by the figure of leaven. It reminds us that men are most susceptible to the influence that flows from character. This influence sheds itself off in a thousand ways too subtle to be resisted, and in forms so fine as to insinuate themselves where words would find no entrance. A man is in many circumstances more likely to do good by acting in a Christian manner, than by drawing attention to the faults of others and exposing their iniquity. The less ostentatious, the less conscious the influence exercised upon us is, the more likely are we to admit it.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

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