Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 8:18 - 8:18

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 8:18 - 8:18

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Luk_8:18. Take heed therefore how ye hear.

THE office of a Christian minister is arduous. He is to explain and enforce every part of man’s duty: he is to search out and censure every sin. After all his labours, he will see but little fruit. However faithfully he preach, there are but few who will hear aright: this our Lord had just declared in the parable of the sower. He then enforced his declaration with this most important caution. In discoursing upon which, we shall,

I.       Assign some reasons for the caution—

Our Lord elsewhere cautions his people to take heed what they hear: nor can any thing be more necessary than to be on our guard against error. But the caution how we hear was also necessary:

1.       Because many hear in an unbecoming manner—

The generality are careless hearers—

[They attend God’s house merely in conformity with the customs of the country: they suffer their thoughts to rove after earthly and carnal things: they discern very little difference in the doctrines which they hear: they, like Gallio, seem to “care for none of these things.”]

Many are critical hearers—

[They can attend to nothing which is not composed with elegance; or they affect only what accords with their own views of religion: they judge of all they hear by a standard of their own. Hence they form parties, and set up one minister against another [Note: 1Co_3:3-4.].]

Many also are captious hearers—

[They will not hear any thing which militates against their prejudices: they cannot bear to have their favourite habits condemned [Note: Luk_11:45.]: they are offended if their bosom lusts be faithfully reproved [Note: Mar_6:17-18.]: they too much resemble the Scribes and Pharisees of old [Note: Luk_11:54.]—While there continue such hearers, the caution will be necessary.]

2.       Because God himself speaks to us by the preacher—

[Ministers are ambassadors for God, and speak in Christ’s stead [Note: 2Co_5:20.]. If they preach what is founded on the Scriptures, their word, as far as it is agreeable to the mind of God, is to be considered as God’s [Note: Heb_13:7.]. This is asserted by our Lord and his Apostles [Note: Joh_13:20. 1Th_4:8.]. We ought therefore to receive the preacher’s word as the word of God himself [Note: 1Th_2:13.]. With what humility then ought we to attend to it! What judgments may we not expect, if we slight it [Note: Heb_2:1-3.]. Surely therefore on this account also we need the caution in the text.]

3.       Because every discourse increases either our salvation or condemnation—

[The word delivered is either a savour of life or of death [Note: 2Co_2:15-16.]. Our Lord himself intimates this reason for the caution [Note: Luk_8:18.]. Hence our Lord’s preaching eventually enhanced the guilt of the Jews [Note: Joh_15:22.]. The same awful effects will be felt by those who slight his ministers [Note: Heb_6:7-8.]. What stronger reasons for such a caution can possibly be imagined?]

The necessity of such an admonition being evinced, we,

II.      Give some directions for obeying it—

An humble mind will naturally receive instruction in a proper manner—

We should hear,

With candour

[We cannot too carefully divest ourselves of prejudice: we should not “call any man master upon earth.” We should rather weigh what we hear, in the balance of the sanctuary [Note: 1Th_5:21.]; but we ought to have our minds open to conviction. We should “receive the seed in an honest and good heart:” we should “receive with meekness the engrafted word:” nor can we hope to profit, if we do not cultivate this disposition.]

With a desire to profit

[The word of God is profitable for many blessed purposes [Note: 2Ti_3:16-17.]: yet it cannot be serviceable to us, if it be not received in faith [Note: Heb_4:2.]; but when applied to the soul, its operation is very powerful [Note: Heb_4:12.]. We should therefore at all times apply it to ourselves: we should go to the ordinances, as the sick to Bethesda’s pool. Nor do we ever hear aright, except when we attend in this spirit [Note: 1Pe_2:2.]: it is the practical hearer only that derives benefit to his soul [Note: Jam_1:22-25.].]

With an humble dependence on God’s Spirit

[It is God alone who “teacheth us to profit.” Human labours, without his blessing, will be vain [Note: 1Co_3:7.]. It is his work to open the understanding [Note: Luk_24:45.], and the heart [Note: Act_16:14.]. To him therefore should we look for the teaching of his spirit [Note: Eph_1:17-18.]. We should plead the promise which God has given us [Note: Isa_55:10-11.]—In this way we shall experience much benefit from the word [Note: Mic_2:7.]. No obstacles whatever shall be able to withstand its power [Note: 2Co_10:4.]: it shall be a rich source of grace and wisdom to us [Note: Col_3:16.]. Let us then offer in sincerity that petition in the Litany [Note: “That it may please thee to give to all thy people increase of grace, to hear meekly thy word, and to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit.”]—]