« ПретходнаНастави »
goods laid up for eternal ages." All is well with him, and all is well for ever. After the most abundant harvest, the husbandman knows that his stores will be soon exhausted, that the labours of the spring must be again submitted to, and the supply of his wants again become dependent on the uncertainties of the weather. But the Christian's harvest is that of an endless year. His supplies can never be exhausted. His happiness admits neither of diminution nor termination. Well, then, may the Christian rejoice, when the seeds of faith and holiness reach their maturity in the fruits of heaven. "God has increased his joy. He joys before him according to the joy of harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil."
4th, The figurative representation of the saint's future state in the text teaches us, that it results from, and corresponds to the employment of the present state. Seed-time and harvest are mutually connected. The labours of seed-time look forward to harvest,—the events of harvest result from, and correspond to, the employments of seed-time. That the present conduct and the future happiness of the saint are closely connected, is too plain to require a laboured proof; but it may be necessary to make a few observations to explain the nature of that connection. It is obvious that the good conduct of the saint in the present state is not the meritorious cause of his future happiness. "Eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." "By grace are we saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God." Yet the connection is as close and indissoluble as if it were that of cause and effect. The heavenly blessedness is "the recompense of reward. Without holiness no man can see the Lord." He only who "sows to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
The figure employed in the text may be of some use
in illustrating this important and much misunderstood subject. No person will be so absurd as to affirm, either that the labours of seed-time are, properly speaking, the cause of an abundant harvest, or that there is no connection at all between the one and the other. The true cause of an abundant harvest, is the unseen operation of that God who worketh all in all. By means of human labour, and the influence of the ele ments, he covers our fields with abundance for man and for beast. Just such is the connection between the Christian's labours and his reward. It were gross presumption to expect the latter without the former. Yet it is connected with it, not as the effect is with the cause, but as the end is with the means. It is equally absurd to consider the Christian's labour as the meritorious cause of his reward, and to suppose that the reward is attainable without the labour.
The figure also throws light on the nature of the celestial blessedness considered as a reward. It is a reward just in the same sense in which an abundant harvest is a reward to the industrious husbandman. In ordinary cases, the productiveness of the harvest is proportioned to the diligence with which the seedtime has been improved. This holds universally with the spiritual husbandman. His future happiness not only results from, but corresponds to his present labours. One man shall receive "a prophet's reward,” another " a righteous man's reward." One shall be made ruler over ten cities, and another over five. "Every man shall receive according to his own labour." "He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."
Having thus shortly illustrated the figurative account which the text contains, of the saint's present and
future state, it only remains that the discourse be concluded by a few practical reflections.
How enviable is the situation even of the most afflicted saint, when compared with that of the happiest worldling! Even amid his sorrows he has a peace which passeth all understanding, and a joy which the world can neither give nor take away. And his "light afflictions are working out for him a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory." What abundant reason, then, has he for patience under the pressure of present affliction! "Cast not away your confidence, Christian, which has great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." How grateful ought the saint to be for that revelation which assures him of a harvest of joy!
"That field of promise! how it throws abroad
Let careless sinners reflect, that they too are sowing, and perhaps sowing in joy; but ere long, if mercy prevent not, they must reap in sorrow. "While ye forget the God of your salvation, and are unmindful of the rock of your strength, you may plant pleasant plants, you may set strange slips; in the day ye may cause your plant to grow, and in the morning make your seed to flourish, but the harvest shall be a heap in
the day of grief, and of desperate sorrow." deceived; God is not mocked : "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Ye are sowing to the flesh, and "of the flesh ye shall reap destruction." Happiness is not more certainly connected with holiness than misery is with sin. The servants of sin shall assuredly receive their wages; which are death, -eternal death. 66 Repent, and be converted. Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die? Believe in the Lord Jesus, and ye shall be saved." Rely on his atoning sacrifice, and ye shall be righteous; trust in his sanctifying Spirit, and ye shall be holy. Thus shall your "fruit be to righteousness, and the end everlasting life." Amen.
THE CHRISTIAN A CITIZEN OF HEAVEN.
PHILIPPIANS III. 20.
Our conversation is in heaven.
THE moral code of Christ is distinguished from all other systems of human duty, by the extent and purity of its precepts, and by the variety and power of the motives by which these precepts are enforced. Its requisitions are not confined to a few ritual observances, or external actions. Like its Author, it is spiritual, and the internal principles, as well as the outward behaviour, are the objects of its cognizance. It requires the sources of action to be pure, as well as the streams which flow from them, and aims at the regulation of the conduct, by enjoining the integrity of the heart. And, while thus spiritual in its nature, its injunctions are varied and extensive as the thoughts, the feelings, the actions, and the relations of men.
In the Christian system of duty, a beautiful harmony pervades the whole; and the power of the mo tives proposed, is proportioned to the importance and difficulty of the duties enjoined. The imperfect mo rality of heathen philosophy was but feebly enforced