Spiritual development repeats as a cycle in the lives of persons. As God’s Word, which is the seed of the spirit, continues to be sown in the hearts and minds of persons, more and more spirits are conceived and born into this world. And some of these do mature and bear fruit which contains the seed for further sowing in the hearts of more and more persons. This is now the quantitative development of spirits or the multiplication in the population of spirits.
When we plant a single seed, like a vegetable seed, we can watch it grow, mature, bear fruit. There is not much of a problem because there is only one plant to take care of.
But the problem arises when we plant many seeds and thus cultivate many vegetable plants. The more plants there are, the more problems we have. We have to use with fertilizer because the nutrients in the ground may not be enough to support the needs of the numerous plants. We have to take care of the pests, since the more plants there are, pests are more attracted.
The problem becomes compounded when we have a whole plantation of the vegetable. We now have to take care that passers by do not trample on the plants and stray animals do not eat them. Irrigation may be needed. And so forth.
In a similar way the same happens in the reproduction of spirits. When by preaching we plant God’s word, which is the seed of the spirit, in one person, we can easily take care of that person, make sure he/she grows and matures in his/her spiritual life, and bears fruit later on.
But when we have more than one person to plant the seed of the Spirit, we will begin to have problems. We have to make sure that the persons have a good relationship with one another. We have to make sure that the food we give each spirit is commensurate with his/her capacity to take.
The problem is compounded when we have a crowd to take care of. There will always be persons who are slow to understand the Word of God, who will miss our instruction, who will be led astray by other teachings, etc.
Augustine of Hippo experienced this when he had a crowd whom he called “fruit of the true faith and holy seed of heaven.” He wrote many things and preached many sermons to take care of this crowd whom he called seed of heaven.
And so we have to take care of this stage of spiritual development, the increase of spirits born, growing, maturing and bearing fruit.