ONCE upon a time, a gardener went out into his garden to sow seed. Some of the seed dropped by accident on the hard, gravel walks, where it could not sink into the earth, so the sparrows hopped down and picked it up.

Some of the seed fell near the gravel walk, where there was a little mold, but not much; and it sprang up in a single night. But it had not earth enough to take root in, so it was soon scorched up by the sun.

Some fell among weeds; and when the weeds and seeds grew up together, the seeds were covered up by the weeds and became weak and thin, so that they never flowered.

Some fell on the garden mold, where there were no weeds; and these seeds sprang up, and each seed grew up to be a plant by itself, strong and tall, and put forth first leaves, then flowers, and then pods full of seeds.

When the seeds were gathered in the autumn, there were many more than had been sown in the spring. 

One plant had as many as ten pods, each with ten seeds in it; so, you see, that seed gave the gardener a hundred seeds. Another had six pods, with sixty seeds, and another gave fifty seeds; and every seed that had fallen on the mold where there were no weeds, gave the gardener more than one seed back again.  Jesus want us to give him all our hearts. He speaks to us by our parents, by our books, and in other ways. He says to us quietly in our hearts: "Be kind to your brothers and sisters," "Obey your father and mother," "Do your lessons well," 

"Do not be greedy," "Never tell a lie."

These little messages are his seeds that he sows in our hearts. But some children will not listen to him; they make their hearts hard like pavement, or like a hard road, so that the seed cannot sink in. So there lies the message idle, till some game or some work drives it out of their minds; and so the message is gone before they have thought about it. These children are like the gravel walk.

Some children think a little, but not enough. They hear Jesus saying, 

"Do not be selfish, do not be ill-tempered," and they say at once, " I will do as Jesus tells me." But then presently they find it very hard to give up their toys and pleasures for others, and sometimes they're laughed at by their schoolfellows for not doing like the rest. 

Then, just as the sun scorches up the seeds, in the same way the laughter makes all their good resolutions wither. These children are like the earth where there was not much mold.

Other children are not so forgetful. 

They remember what Jesus says to them, and think of it, but they think more of other things. Their games and pleasures interest them much more than the messages of Jesus. 

They hear a good voice saying: "Obey your father and mother;" but they hear a bad voice saying: "It is pleasant to do as we like," and the bad voice is louder than the good voice. 

So by degrees their good thoughts are conquered by their bad thoughts, and become weaker and weaker; and when the time comes that the good thoughts should bring forth the fruit of good deeds, the good thoughts are dead. 

These children are like the earth filled with weeds.

But some children hear what Jesus says, and remember it and think often of it, and try to obey his messages; and they do what is right and good, and Jesus is pleased with them. These children are like the good earth. 

Parables for Children.