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comes, nothing but “the choicest wheat” remains in ripeness. What would be the consequences ? The interests of humanity would be injured, if not jeopardized. And the preaching of nothing but those exciting themes would soon be followed with more dire and dreadful consequences.
If there is nothing to be preached but such subjects, what become of the sermon on the mount and hundreds of other parts of scripture that bear directly on Christian duty ?
When I turn to the commencement of the sacred Scriptures I read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth; and the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
There is no “gospel" as you would say here; nothing of the cross, nothing of the Saviour's passion ; but there is history, there is divine truth :-truth which is fitted to bless and beautify the Christian's soul, and conform it to the image of God. That is part of the Old Scripture which is "given by inspiration.” There are many who seek in their religious exercises the same gratification they receive from the perusal of an interesting novel, or in listening to a pleasant song. What did the Saviour say to those who had nothing but tears of natural sympathy to shed over his sufferings ? “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves, and for your children.”
And do I address any who can do nothing but weep over a Saviour's love, who would not part with a sixpence, though it were to save a soul from death ? I would say, Weep not over the recital of a Saviour's passion ; but weep over your own ungodliness, and selfishness; and for your children, in whom your ungodliness is being reproduced. It is not such weeping that is needed, but working.
How beautiful to see the sincere Christian who has received the love of God into his heart, and who feels honored in serving and suffering in the cause of that Saviour, who “poured out his soul unto death, and was
whom your un es needed, but Christian
numbered with the transgressors, and bear the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors," whose heart is open to receive the whole variety of that seed, which God has sealed and set apart for the special purposes of implanting it in his soul, and which will yield for him a harvest of everlasting glory.
I believe it is the duty of every man as he has opportunity, to store his mind with all useful branches of know. ledge, &c. All science, philosophy, and history, throw light upon the word of God. Why should men seek after no more information, than what is barely necessary to carry them through the world ?
We observe :
III. THAT THE PROCESS OF SOWING IMPLIES A SUITABLE SEASON. Men do not sow at all times;—“there is a time to sow, and a time to reap.” As soon as the ground was ploughed and mollified by the autumnal rains, it was ready by the end of October to receive the seed, and continued to be sown in different situations through November unto December: barley is not usually sown until January and February.
So there is a season for sowing the good seed of the kingdom. Life is that season ; that period which as “a vapour,” the Scriptures describe as “a shadow," that passes away, like “the post,” the “swift ships,” like the eagle hastening to her prey. A long time is not necessary to sow for eternity. If a man in the short period of fifty years can reject the gospel, and be lost, he could in the same period accept it, and be saved, &c.
With some the season for sowing may be no more than one year. It is morally certain that before the seed that is now being cast into the prepared soil, shall wave in ripeness, some of you shall have ceased to sow in this world and have gone to reap in the next.
As has been strikingly remarked, “Some minds like sowing seed on the margin of an ocean, all along whose borders a thick mist lies, which no eye can penetrate, and where, for ought you know, the next wave may break over you and sweep the whole away.” We observe:
IV. THAT THE SOWING PROCESS IMPLIES SKILL AND FAITH.
First: It implies skill. To sow well is one of the agriculturist's highest attainments. The farmer, who has a hundred or more acres to sow, entrusts this business to his most accomplished hand. An indifferent sower would take a much larger quantity of seed, than one who is skilled in that art; and after all there would be a much worse crop.
To a mere looker-on, sowing appears to be a very simple process; but it is far otherwise. Pliny shows how necessary it was that the hand of the sower should keep time with his stride, so as to scatter the seed with perfect uniformity. I was lately told by a proficient sower, that it cost him many years of great attention, and practice, before he could scatter the seed evenly over the soil. And when the wind is contrary, the “broad cast" mode must be adopted ; the accustomed sower passing over the field with a measured step, and bringing round his grainladen hand with a regular sweep.
It is only some who are sowers in the agricultural sense ; but all are sowers in the moral sense. Some, however, are not skilful sowers; and what an abundance of seed they destroy! They have great privileges, high immunities, overtopping, and transcendently overtowering, those of their fellow men; and yet it is to be feared they will reap but a
But it is delightful to know, that others, with few privileges, and comparatively with few opportunities, are sowing in their own minds, and the minds of others, the seeds of truth; and by their skilful sowing will reap a great harvest of future glory. May the spirit of God teach us all to be wise and skilled sowers !
Secondly : It implies faith. The farmer goes forth; scatters the seed upon the soil, and covers it over. No
immediate advantage arises therefrom. But the husbandman has faith, he believes that God will give him a harvest.
So if man would sow to the spirit, that he may of the spirit reap life everlasting, he must have faith. “ Without faith it is impossible to please God.” “Whatsoever is not of faith is of sin.” “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
ALEX, GRAY, M.A.
SUBJECT :—Paul's Conversion, an Example of Divine
“ How beit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” I Tim. i. 16.
Jualysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Twenty-third.
In this verse we are referred to the preceding announcement, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. The apostle rejoiced to repeat it. It was life to him. In view of it the acknowledgment of his long and fearful life of rebellion was made with unfeigned humility.
More than once, he places the picture of his past life before those he addressed. In large letters he wrote his character—" the chief of sinners.” This was to exalt Christ by his own abasement, setting forth Jesus as the great and willing Saviour.
Thus we are to connect the 16th with the 15th verse, to see the reason why the apostle obtained mercy.
“ For this cause,” that is, because “Christ came to save sinners : so that the verse reads, “ Because Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, I obtained mercy,” &c. The meaning of the whole passage evidently is, that Paul's conversion affords a perfect representation of that mercy upon which all future believers might rely for salvation. This we propose to illustrate and enforce.
Paul's conversion is a great fact, standing out distinctly on the pages of scriptural history.
There are two particulars we must notice in regard to it :
First: It was the triumph of grace over the most rebellious heart. His previous life shows the state of his heart. It was filled with religious pride—with a phariseeism—which prevented the simple beauty of the Gospel arresting his attention. He had intense hatred to Jesus. He was transported with rage at the mention of His name. So that there were hatred and bigotry under the cover of religious zeal. Such a heart is the most difficult to reach, yet it was reached. Not, however, by learning, or the refinements of life, nor by any earthly means,—but by the grace of God. This conquered when nothing else could. So it ever is. A Divine Power is needed to subdue
rebellious man. Such was the signal triumph
Secondly : It was an event involving a thorough change. His life proves this. He was always what he professed to be. He could not be a hypocrite. He must be either a thorough sinner or saint. All knew that he was once against Christ, now all were to know that he was for Him. He was a
new creature.” His burning love, intense desires for the salvation of men, his unwearied activity, his life-long labors, and his calm, holy death, all proclaim the change to be complete :-mind, heart, soul, and body were all influenced by God's grace. It bears the mark of genuineness. In the whole Bible we have not a conversion recorded more genuine, or so striking. But his conversion was not necessarily an example in its suddenness. We know that souls are converted suddenly. There is nothing to prevent us believing this. The Holy spirit can certainly bring conviction to the heart in a moment. The history of revivals in the Church declares this. It is a fact in which we rejoice, that souls can be converted thus suddenly, and effectually; but these