« הקודםהמשך »
“ The wages
hands are not weak in the prosecution of the deeds of darkness. Your work also shall be rewarded. If ye persist in your sinful course, “ God will render to you according to your works, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish." He has sworn by himself, that he will render vengeance to his enemies, and recompense them who hate him.
of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Receive the gift so freely offered. “ Work the work of God, in believ, ing on his Son whom he has sent into the world." « Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. To-day if ye will hear his voice. Now is the accepted time,- now is the day of salva, tion."
THE CHRISTIAN'S SEED-TIME AND HARVEST.
PSALM CXXVI. 5.
They who sow in tears shall reap in joý.
In forming an estimate of the worth or the happiness of mankind, no criterion is more deceitful than external appearanee. The most splendid actions sometimes originate in the most unworthy principles, and hypocrisy frequently receives the honours due to genuine sanctity. On the other hand, modest worth often passes through life in noiseless obscurity-its unobtrusive excellencies altogether overlooked, or rated at a price far below their value. In the day when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, and human characters exhibited in their true colours, strange discoveries will be made. It will then appear, how different men are from what they seem to be; and how inconsistent their opinions, who judge according to external appearance, are with the judgments of Him who looketh on the heart.
Nor is external appearance à surer test of the happiness than of the worth of mankind. That man is not necessarily happy, who has all the external marks of happiness ; nor is he who wears all the usual badges of wretchedness, necessarily miserable. The world calls him happy, who is raised above the fear of want and the necessity of labour-whose mansion is splendid, and whose domains are extensive-who in health and vigour enjoys in abundance the riches, and pleasures, and honours of life.
Yet such a man may be, and often is, very miserable. He may be an unpardoned sinner; and if he is, the curse of God poisons all his pleasures, and turns their sweetness into gall : “ Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of these things is often death.” On the other hand, extreme apparent wretchedness is not inconsistent with real happiness : Behold that afflicted Christian ! poverty and disappointment, disease and pain, have long been his portion. His dearest friends have gone down to the grave. "String after string has been severed from his heart,” till his attachments to the present state are well nigh dissolved. His countenance is wrinkled with care and furrowed with tears; and from his lips proceed these plaintive accents, “ I am the man who have seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.” Yet amid all this apparent wretchedness he is not wretched : a confidence in the wisdom and goodness of God, and the hope of eternal life, render him not only resigned and patient, but contented and happy : “ Blessed is the man whom the Lord chasteneth, and teacheth out of his law, that he may give him rest from the days of adversity. His light afflictions are but for a moment, and they are working out for him a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory." He is sowing in tears, but his tears are not those of despair, for he knows that he shall reap in joy.
The words of the text form part of a sacred ode, composed on the unexpected deliverance of the Jew. ish captives from Babylonian bondage. After cele
brating, in the highest strains of oriental poetry, the divine power and goodness, as manifested in this remarkable interposition in behalf of his people, the Psalmist, in the text, and in the verse which imme diately follows it, states under a beautiful figure the consolatory truth, that while the saint in the present state must lay his account with labour and sorrow, these exertions and afflictions are connected with, and will be amply compensated by, the pleasures and honours of futurity. In the succeeding part of the discourse, I shall consider the text AS A FIGURATIVE ACCOUNT OF THE SAINT'S SITUATION-FIRST, IN THE PRESENT STATE; AND, SECONDLY,
Here “ he sows in tears," there “ he reaps in joy."
I. The saint, in the present state, is represented as “ sowing in tears." The Holy Scriptures abound in figurative representations of spiritual objects. In gracious condescension to human weakness, the Divine Spirit uses a language with which we are familiar; and, to render the important truths of religion and morals at once interesting and intelligible, clothes them in descriptions borrowed from the works of nature and the ordinary functions of life. In explaining these figurative representations, much caution and delicacy is necessary. Some men, with the best intentions, have, by tracing analogies too far, and by using for evidence what was meant only for illustration, exposed both themselves and the doctrines they taught to the ridicule of the profane. We trust we do not lay ourselves open to any of these charges, when we consider the figurative view of the saint in the present state “sowe ing in tears," as teaching us, that the saint in the present state is actively engaged in useful exertions which have a reference to futurity; and that, while thus employed, he exhibits tokens of distress and sor
1st, The figurative description of the saint's present state in the text intimates, that it is a state of active exertion. Sowing, like the greater part of agricultural operations, is a laborious exercise. Burdened with the seed, the sower walks with measured step over the uneven glebe, and scatters the grain as extensive ly and regularly as possible over the field. This figure happily delineates the active and laborious nature of the Christian life. Religion does not consist, as too many seem to suppose, in barren speculation, enthu. siastic feeling, or specious declamation. It no doubt does interest both the understanding and the heart, but it proves the hold it has of both, by touching all the springs of action, and making the man discharge with alacrity and diligence all the duties of active life. It deserves notice, that the figurative representations of the Christian life, almost uniformly imply the idea of via gorous exertion. It is a race and a combat: exercises which require the active employment of all the energies of our nature. « The Christian is a merchanta scholar-a husbandman-a traveller-a soldier: The anxiety of the merchant, the application of the scholar, the hardy toil of the husbandman, the unwearying progress of the traveller, the painful exercise of the sole dier, are images which ill accord with indolence, ease, and inaction *.” He “ works the work of God; he works out his own salvation with fear and trembling." He " forgets the things which are behind, and reaches forth to those which are before, and presses towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” It is of the very essence of true reli