In his book Matthew 13: The Parable of the Sower, Samuel Stennett (1728-1795) notes that the wicked one in Matthew 13:19 is "Satan, that is, the adversary; and the devil, that is, the accuser. It was he that seduced our first parents from their allegiance to Heaven and so introduced sin and death into our world; where having thus set up his standard, he still exercises his usurped authority," (p. 65). The author further notes that "he [Satan] not only carries on his designs by instruments employed to that end, but has himself access to the hearts of men; and though he cannot force them to act against their will, yet he knows how by a thousand arts to catch their attention, play upon their imagination, inflame their desires, and rouse their passions," (p. 65).
I was struck by the unexpected reminder that the devil is real. Satan is a created being under God, and therefore, the devil is not omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient. Notwithstanding, Mr. Stennett argues from biblical accounts that Satan does have access to the heart:
"He [Satan], the god of this world, blinds the minds of them who believe not (2 Cor. 4:4); works in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2); puts into the heart of Judas to betray his Master (John 13:2); fills the heart of Ananias to lie to the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:3); lays snares for some, in order to lead them captive (2 Tim. 2:26); and walks about like a roaring lion, to devour others (1 Peter 5:8); beguiles the former through his subtilty, using a variety of wiles and devices in order to get advantage against them (2 Cor. 11:13-14; Eph. 6:11; 2 Cor. 2:11); and violently assaults the latter, now by his messengers buffeting them, and then discharging his fiery darts at them (2 Cor. 12:7, Eph. 6:16). In fine, he, the old serpent called the devil and satan, deceiveth the whole world (Rev. 12:9); and having so done, accuseth them before God day and night (Rev. 12:10)," (pp. 65-66).
Continuing from verse 19, Mr. Stennett looks at how Satan catches away the seed [the Word of God]:
- "Satan uses his utmost endeavors to divert men's attention from the Word while they are hearing it," (p. 68).
- "Satan uses every art to excite and infame men's prejudices against the Word they hear," (p. 70).
- Satan prevents men's recollection of the Word after they have heard it (p. 72).
The object of a real Christian is to be saved from the dominion of sin as well as the from the guilt of it (p. 78). "To be tempted is not your sin, but it is your sin to comply with the temptation," (p. 90). Remember to "admire and adore the grace of God which defeats the designs of Satan, and make the Word effectual upon the hearts of the multitudes," (p. 91).
"When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side," (Matt. 13:19).