The officers who were sent to take or apprehend our blessed Lord, being demanded why they had not brought him, answered, “Never man spake like this man;” that is, as to the matter or depth of divine wisdom, and with that authority and evidence of truth. But when we consider that almost all which our Lord spake to the multitude, he spake in parables, (and in them being hid the rich treasure of his heavenly doctrine, or such things that had been kept secret from the foundation of the world, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets) it may seem strange that none of our learned modern divines, nor others, have been stirred up to write an exposition upon all the parables and similitudes spoken by our blessed Lord in the four evangelists. Though it is true, some of them have most excellently written upon, and opened a few of them; but no one author (as I can learn) hath in one or more volumes written upon them all, if the greatest part, nor any exposition as I can meet with of many of them: yet what large and learned expositions have they written upon divers books of the Old and New Testament! So that what is here presented to your view, hath not been done by any before; and it might have been wished, that some now better capable than I am, had been stirred up to have undertaken it. And (considering that the parables contain the substance of our Saviour’s ministry, and the profound mysteries couched therein,) the sense of my great weakness, or inabilities to manage so great a work, hath caused me not to undertake it without tremblings of heart, and many prayers and cries to God, that my heart, tongue, and pen, might be influenced and guided by the divine Spirit: though the want of those attainments that some have arrived at, beyond what I pretend to, hath been no small discouragement to me. Though I am persuaded I have not been left without the gracious assistance of the Spirit of Truth; nor have I omitted searching into what authors I could meet with, who have either written upon the parables, and on the customs of the Jews, to which in many things contained in them our Saviour doth refer. Moreover, I have had regard to those four rules mentioned by the learned in opening of the parables, viz., their Properties, Qualities, Effects, Operations. And that with special respect to their constitution, natural, civil, or moral, and have laboured to draw forth suitable propositions, which are raised and prosecuted from the scope or principal matter contained in one or another parable; though perhaps I may vary from the directions given by one or two authors (I have met with) about opening of and drawing propositions from parables, who insinuate as if no propositions nor answerable applications ought to be made, but from the general scope of the parable Now in this I am not of their opinion, for some things that may (perhaps) not so clearly appear to lie in the direct scope, may contain in them much instruction, and profitable truths may be raised therefrom, and improved. I remember one very learned author (Mr. H. Knollys), gave direction or allowance that in opening metaphorical or parabolical Scriptures, we may enlarge so far as there is a clear analogy of faith; yet all authors agree, that parables run not always upon all four; that is, there are in parables some great disparities, some things being brought in or mentioned for illustration sake, which cannot be spiritually applied parallelwise. Indeed, some I find who have written on some parables, have given such a general exposition of the sum and scope of some, as renders their exposition quite different from the exposition our blessed Lord gave himself of those he unfolded unto his disciples: see Matt. 13 about the Sower, and that of the Wheat and Tares, in which he opens every particular part, and applies it. Now can any directions given by learned men be so safe a rule to follow in expounding the parables, as that rule our Saviour hath left in the way taken by himself.