« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
and snow of winter, soften and meliorate the heart; but the highest of our attainments in grace and comfort are no better than the shoots and blossoms of spring. Heaven is the Christian's summer; for there shall be no night there. The Sun of righteousness shall shine forth with dazzling brightness, and make an everlasting day. No rising clouds, no falling storms, no nipping frosts, no scorching droughts; nothing, of any kind, shall be there to alarm the fears or damp the opening joy of the happy reaper, Then, Christians, shall “ an angel come from the altar, and cry with a loud voice to him that hath the sharp sickle, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.” Then shall they gather first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them. Your corruptions and temptations, your doubts and fears, sins and sorrows, and all the disturbers of your purity and peace, shall be put under your feet; or, rather, shall be removed at an infinite distance; and your graces and comforts, which are here so weak and languishing, so crowded, and as it were choaked up with weeds, shall expand, and flourish with immortal vigour; and you
. ful as a “ dove whose wings are covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.” Then shall
your righteousness go forth as brightness, and your salvation as a lamp that burneth.” And when you come to reap the fruits of your present trials; when you see what peaceable fruits of righteousness they have wrought in you, and what an eternal weight of glory they have wrought out for you; when
you find the dreadful storms so happily blown over, and nothing before you but suh-shine, peace,
plenty, and joy everlasting ; you will bless God, who made you sow in tears; and, in a transport of grateful admiration, cry out, “ It is good for me that I have been afflicted."
Improvement. 1. How greatly are they to blame, who in this busy time stand all the day idle !
“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well; I looked upon it, and received instruction... Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep; so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth ;'and thy want as an armed man.” (Prov. xxiv. 30.) How can it be otherwise, if a man fools away the proper season for tilling, and begins to sow his seed when his neighbours' fields are white already to harvest ? Equally foolish and fatal is the conduct of those, who do not attend to the things which belong to their peace till they are ready to be hid from their eyes ; who trifle away the day of grace, and neglect to work the work of God, till they are summoned to the grave, where" there is no more work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom.” “ The sluggard will not plough, by reason of cold : therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing." (Prov. xx. 4.) And so it will fare with all those who let the many years of plenty pass, without making provision for the succeeding famine; who take no care to lay up for themselves a good foundation against the time to come. The
sluggard thinks it too cold to plough, and the carnal mind objects to the hard lessons of Christianity. To cut off a right hand and pluck out a right eye, and crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts, are duties which corrupt nature cares not to submit unto :-but as he that will not plough in cold shall beg in harvest; so he that will not deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Christ, shall never be where Jesus is, to behold his glory. - What a lamentable sight is this ! To see so great á part of the world in the way to certain and eternal beggary! to see them wasting away the precious hours of life in sauntering up and down, doing nothing, when duties of infinite and everlasting consequence lie before them !--to see eternity, with all its awful consequences, advancing towards them, and no pro- . vision made, or making, for it!—to see oțe grave after another opening, and the giddy multitude as unconcerned about dying, as if they were all immortal! Whose
Whose eye does not affect his heart? who can forbear the charitable admonition? Suffer then, my brethren, the word of exhortation.---- Why stand ye here all the day idle?"
Will you say, "Because no man hath hired us?” Hath no kind friend ever told you, that you had a God to serve, and souls to save ; and that, “ without holiness no
' man shall see the Lord ?” Then, as an ambassador for God, I take upon me to say,-- Go work to-day in God's vineyard. Break 'up the fallow ground. Pray that God would take this stony heart out of your flesh, and give you an heart of flesh: and let - this evening witness to your sincere and godly sorrow.' And God Almighty grant, that, before you sleep this night, there may be some good seed 'sown
in your heart! Be it no bigger than a grain of mustard-seed, if it be genuine it will become a great tree, whose top will reach unto heaven. May. your present good thoughts produce good desires.; and good desires ripen into good resolutions; and good resolutions be reduced to a holy and gracious conversation. May you, from this very moment, set your faces towards Zion, and go on, step by step, adding one degree of grace to another, till you come to the fulness of the measure of the perfect man in Christ.
2. How greatly have Christians the advantage of the rest of the world !
They that “ sow, to the flesh” have generally a merry seed-time; but they reap corruption,” and fire and brimstone ; an horrible tempest is the portion of their cup! They that “ sow to the Spirit,” perhaps sow in tears, and labour under great and grievous discouragements; but they reap love, joy, peace, and “ life everlasting.”—“ The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment.” “ The pleasures of sin are but for a season;" and the best of them, either for continuance or use, are nothing more nor better than the “ crackling of thorns under a pot.” They have their good things here; and there remaineth nothing to them, but“ a certain fearful looking-for of wrath and fiery indignation.”-“But mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace.” Not always his dying momentsfor that is not the end of the perfect man : he is then but just beginning to live. The pains of death are but, as it were, the pangs of his heavenly birth ; and therefore we are not to wonder if the passage
dark and gloomy: but all after that is “joy unspeakable and full of glory." If, therefore, we at any time see them in heaviness, through manifold temptations ; if they are often in affliction's fiery furnace; if they water their couch with their tears, and go mourning all the day; and for years together follow hard after God, with no sensible token of his presence and favour; yea, if we should hear them in their last agonies cry out, My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me!”-we are not to conclude that they have laboured in vain, and that all the precious seed, which they carried forth weeping, is lost; but, only, that the appointed weeks for harvest are not yet come. The Christian's comforts (if I may so express myself) lie longer in the ground before they begin to shoot; but, when once they begin to blossom, they will flourish with increasing beauty and vigour through the endless ages of eternity. A Christian's hope will never make him ashamed. “ He that shall come will come, and will not tarry:” and his reward is with him; and to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, have sought for glory, honour, and immortality, he will give eternal life: and then, when the foolish, merry world, shall run to and fro in wild despair, crying, “ Who will show us any good ?” they that have gone forth weeping, bearing their . precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them.
3. Let the hope and prospect of this joyful harvest support us under all the glooms and distresses of this vale of tears.
He that ploughs, ploughs in hope ; and he that sows, sows in hope : and the husbandman cheerfully