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Great Christian Works:   The Parables Of Jesus Christ Explained

The Prodigal Son

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The Parables Of Jesus Christ Explained
By J. Clowes (1851)

Late Rector Of St. John's College, Manchester, And Fellow Of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Parables Index


The Summary

The Parable Of The Wise And The Foolish Builder.

The Parable Of A Piece Of New Cloth On An Old Garment

The Parable Of Children Sitting In The Markets

The Parable Of The Sower

The Parable Of The Tares In The Field

The Parable Of The Grain Of Mustard Seed

The Parable Of The Leaven

The Parable Of The Treasure Hid In A Field

The Parable Of The Merchant-Man Seeking Goodly Pearls

The Parable Of The Net Cast Into The Sea

The Parable Of The Instructed Scribe

The Parable Of Not That Which Goeth Into The Mouth Defileth

The Parable Of The King That Would Take Account Of His Servants

The Parable Of The Householder Who Hired Labourers Into His Vineyard

The Parable Of A Certain Man Who Had Two Sons

The Parable Of The Householder Who Planted A Vineyard

The Parable Of The Marriage Of The King's Son

The Parable Of The Fig Tree

The Parable Of The Ten Virgins

The Parable Of The Man Travelling Into A Far Country

The Parable Of The Man Who Cast Seed Into The Ground

The Parable Of The Blind Leading The Blind

The Parable Of A Certain Creditor Which Had Two Debtors

The Parable Of The Good Samaritan

The Parable Of The Friend Visited At Midnight

The Parable Of The Rich Man Whose Ground Brought Forth Plentifully

The Parable Let Your Loins Be Girded About, And Your Lights Burning

The Parable Of The Fig Tree In The Vineyard

The Parable Of The Man Bidden To A Wedding

The Parable Of The Man Intending To Build A Tower

The Parable Of The Lost Sheep

The Parable Of The Lost Piece Of Silver

The Parable Of The Prodigal Son

The Parable Of The Unjust Steward

The Parable Of The Rich Man And Lazarus

The Parable Of The Servant Ploughing Or Feeding Cattle

The Parable Of The Unjust Judge

The Parable Of The Pharisee And The Publican

The Parable Of The Good Shepherd

The Parable Of The Vine And The Branches

Daily Prayer Use Of A Family, A Paraphrase On The Lord's Prayer.


The word parable is derived from a Greek verb, signifying to compare, and therefore it means a comparison made between things in their own nature different, but which yet in some points have a resemblance to each other.

The parables of Jesus Christ differ from other parables or comparisons in this respect, that they are not mere comparisons, but real agreements or correspondences between the things compared; thus they are the agreements or correspondence between things natural and things spiritual.

These agreements or correspondences are founded in the eternal laws of creation, by which it is appointed that all natural things and objects shall be the representative images and figures of those spiritual and eternal realities in which they originate, and that thus the universal world of creation, with all its parts, may be a representative theatre of that eternal world from which it is derived, and with which it is in perpetual connexion. When Jesus Christ, therefore, spoke in parables, He expressed eternal spiritual truths relating to His kingdom, under images of natural things relating to the kingdom of this world, and in this figurative language impressed those truths more beautifully and affectingly on the minds of His hearers than He could have done in any other way.

This mode of speaking answered a double purpose; first, in communicating to His humble and sincere disciples the lessons of Eternal Truth in the most significative and impressive language; and, secondly, by concealing Truth from others who were not in a disposition to receive and profit by it, and who, consequently, might have suffered injury by its reception.

It may seem a strange assertion, that man can suffer injury from admitting the truth into his understanding, but it is nevertheless true, for he has no greater enemy than the Eternal Truth, if he be not in a disposition to form his life accordingly, by rejecting those evils which the truth makes manifest, and by cherishing those graces and virtues which the truth recommends, and, at the same time, communicates; Jesus Christ therefore says, "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." (John iii. 19.) In receiving, therefore, into our understandings the knowledge of the Eternal Truth, we receive either life or death; life, if we suffer it to influence our wills, and conduct us to the possession of the Supreme Good, which is the love of God and our neighbour; and death, if we suffer it to remain fruitless, by burying it under the mire and clay of our natural evils, unforsaken and unrepented of.

It is said, (Matt. xiii. 34, Mark iv. 34.) that Jesus Christ spake nothing without a parable, from which we are plainly taught, how important it is to understand the parabolic language of Scripture, if we would be "wise unto salvation;" and the object of the following explanation is, that the devout reader of the Holy Word may have an enlightened and spiritual discernment of the divine things contained in the parables of our Saviour God, in order that his mind may be more opened to receive and to love the things of heaven and eternal life.

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The Summary Of The Internal Sense Of The Foregoing Parables, In Their Connexion With Each Other.

When viewed in a connected series, these parables express and describe the whole process of regeneration, commencing with the first reception of Heavenly Truth from the Word, and advancing through all gradations of its growth to the full maturity of heavenly love and life.

The first parable of the Sower, describes the first insemination of Truth, which is the first step towards the regenerate life: the second parable of the Tares of the Field, describes the manifestation of Evils and Falses in consequence of such insemination, which is a second step, and an effect of the first: the third parable of the Grain of Mustard Seed, describes the small increase of heavenly life, whilst man supposes that he doeth good from himself alone, and not from the Lord, which is a third state in the regeneration: the fourth parable of the Leaven, , describes the temptations consequent on the reception of heavenly truth and good, which is a fourth state: the fifth parable of Treasure Hid in a Field, describes the further effect of the reception of heavenly truth and good, in leading man to renounce his proprium, or his own proper life, that he may appropriate the life of heaven, signified by selling all that he hath, and buying that field, which is a fifth state: the sixth parable, speaking of the Merchant-man seeking Goodly Pearls, describes the effect of heavenly truth in leading man to the acknowledgment of the Lord, as the alone source of all good and truth, and to the consequent renunciation of self-love and its guidance, which is a sixth state: the seventh parable of a Net cast into the Sea, describes the last effect of the reception of heavenly truth and good, in accomplishing a full and final separation between Goods and Evils, and between Truths and Falses, so that Goods and Truths are brought into conjunction with Heaven, whilst Evils and Falses are cast down into Hell, and this is the seventh and last state of the regenerate life.

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Daily Prayer Use Of A Family, A Paraphrase On The Lord's Prayer.

O all-merciful and all-wise father, who hast made heaven and earth, and all things therein, for the manifestation of thy glory, and who are the essential life and all-powerful preserver of everything that thou hast made, we, thy sinful children, desire to bow down ourselves in unfeigned humility, penitence, and obedience, before thee, meekly supplicating thy divine grace to enable us to perform a true and acceptable worship in thy sight. With grateful and affectionate hearts we acknowledge that divine mercy, which inclined thee of old to descend here on earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and thus to work redemption for thy people, by subduing the Powers of Darkness, by glorifying the Human Nature which thou wast pleased to assume, and by rendering thyself therein visible, known, and approachable to thine otherwise lost creatures. And whilst we return to thee our most grateful thanks for this thine adorable and most astonishing condescension to our infirmities, we entreat thee, with all possible earnestness, to enable us to profit by it.

For this purpose may we ever cherish, through thy most holy influence, a just and devout sense of that Divine Humanity in which thou now and for ever dwellest, and by which alone we can have access to thee, or thou to us. Grant us thus the grace evermore to draw nigh unto the Glorified Person of Jesus Christ, that so we may no longer worship an invisible, an unknown, and a distant God, but be convinced, to our everlasting comfort, that in the divine body of that Great Redeemer, thou art at once visible, known, and continually present with thy suppliant children. We further adore thine infinite loving-kindness, in vouchsafing to us the revelation of thy most Holy Word, and thus bringing near to us all the fulness of thy divine will and wisdom, by which alone we can hope to recover thy lost image and likeness, and to attain a living conjunction with thee, and thou with us. But whilst we confess herein thy marvellous and undeserved bounty to us, grant us the grace, we beseech thee, to use it aright unto thy glory and our own salvation.

With this view, may our understandings be opened to see through the letter of thy sacred councils, into their interior sense of life, in which thou residest with all the blessings of thy kingdom. May our minds thus be formed according to thine eternal truth, and our wills and affections governed and guarded by its all-purifying, all-illuminating, and all-protecting influence. And since we can never hope for the accomplishment of this blessed end, unless our outward man be also obedient to thy most Holy Commandments, grant unto us, O Heavenly Father, the additional grace to cease from the practice of all known evil, and at the same time to be diligent, faithful, and upright in the discharge of all those duties and engagements to which thou hast been pleased to call us in our several stations. May we thus, in all humility and gratitude, receive and incorporate into our lives thy tender love, and all-enlightening wisdom, that as our bodies are daily nourished by the bodily food, which thou in thy mercy suppliest, so our souls may be continually refreshed and recruited by the more substantial food of thy most Holy and Eternal Word.

Yet since, through the frailty of our corrupt natures, we have been, and frequently are, insensible of these thine inestimable blessings, and thus grievously sin against thee; forgive, we entreat thee, these our manifold offences, and so dispose our hearts, to a continually grateful acknowledgement of thy divine mercies, and to a continually contrite sense of our own natural un-thankfulness, that we may henceforth make a due return for all thy bounty, by seeing, confessing, and rejoicing to confess, that it is thine, and that we ourselves, at our best estate, are nothing but unworthy receivers of thy precious gifts. And may the remembrance of all thine unmerited favours ever dispose us to be kind and gentle, tender and compassionate, patient and forgiving, just and upright, one towards another, that so thy divine mercy may circulate freely in us, and we may never obstruct in ourselves its heavenly operation.

But whereas our own corrupt wills, in this respect, are naturally opposite to thy will, and much spiritual struggle and conflict must therefore be endured before we can be merciful to our fellow-creatures, as thou art merciful unto us, be pleased, O Almighty Saviour, to strengthen and support us in these combats against our corruptions, so that, finally, all the deadly evils of our rebellious nature may be softened and subdued, and all the graces and virtues of thy Holy Spirit and kingdom may be implanted in their place. May we thus be enabled to take part with thee against ourselves, by fighting manfully against the devil, the world, and the flesh. And may we finally, through this combat, enter into the joys of spiritual conquest and victory, by experiencing a happy deliverance from those powers of darkness to which our sins have subjected us, and, at the same time, a triumphant entrance into a blessed communion with thee, and thy holy angels, in that everlasting kingdom, where we shall ever rejoice in ascribing our salvation unto thee alone, joining in the angelic song, and saying, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Amen.

We desire to conclude these our imperfect prayers in that most perfect form which thou thyself hast taught us.

Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name ; thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven : give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors: and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


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© 1999 The Old Time Gospel Ministry
"When to seek God has become life and to glorify God has become self, then you have truly found God."