We shall always find him at church!
(J.C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)
"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the Word of God. Those along the wayside are the ones who hear — and then the devil comes and takes away the Word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved." Luke 8:11-12
The first caution that we learn from the parable of the sower — is to beware of the devil when we hear the Word. Our Lord tells us that the hearts of some hearers are like "the wayside." The seed of the Gospel is plucked away from them by the devil almost as soon as it is sown. It does not sink down into their consciences. It does not make the least impression on their minds.
That malicious devil is unwearied in his efforts to do us harm. He is ever watching for our halting — and seeking occasion to destroy our souls. But nowhere perhaps is the devil so active, as in a congregation of Gospel-hearers! Nowhere does he labor so hard to stop the progress of that which is good — and to prevent men and women being saved. From him, come . . .
wandering thoughts — and roving imaginations;
listless minds — and dull memories;
sleepy eyes — and fidgety nerves;
weary ears — and distracted attention.
In all these things, Satan has a great hand.
People wonder where they come from, and marvel how it is that they find sermons so dull — and remember them so badly! They forget the parable of the sower. They forget the devil.
Let us take heed that we are not wayside hearers. Let us beware of the devil. We shall always find him at church! He never stays away from public ordinances. Let us remember this — and be upon our guard. Heat and cold, and rain and snow — are often dreaded by church-goers, and alleged as reasons for not going to church. But there is one enemy whom they ought to fear more than all these things together — that enemy is the devil!