« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
3. An overwhelming sense of God's goodness
[Nothing is more characteristic of true piety than this. Every day and hour we have reason to adore the divine goodness. What patience does God exercise towards us under all our backslidings! What readiness does he manifest to return to our souls the very instant we return to him, yea, often revealing himself to us, and shedding abroad his love in our hearts, when we had no reason to expect any thing but some heavy token of his displeasure! The psalmist, impressed with such views of God, exclaims, "O how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men b!" But the most striking example of this frame of mind is afforded us by the poor woman, who, to express her love and gratitude, kissed the feet of her Saviour, and washed them with floods of tears'. Would to God that such were the state of our minds, and that we might ever be found, as to our souls at least, in that posture !]
Omitting many other grounds of weeping, we proceed to inquire, II. What encouragement we have to weep?
To those who sow their corn, there is but one harvest: but to those who sow in tears there are two: 1. We shall reap in this world
[God will not despise the broken and contrite heart : on the contrary," he will hear the voice of our weeping :” tears, when flowing from a contrite soul, have an eloquence which he cannot resist. He will speak peace to the soul : he will blot out its transgressions as a morning cloud! He will cause the light of his countenance to shine upon it; and will give unto it a spirit of adoption, whereby it shall cry with confidence, Abba, Father m! And will not such a harvest recompense a hundred years of weeping? Look but at the state of the Prodigal, and see him, after his short seed-time of weeping, welcomed to his father's house, and feasting with him on the fatted calf; was he not well repaid ? had he any reason to regret his tears of penitence? Thus then shall it be with us in this world, provided we be content to sow in tears: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy shall come in the morning ". 2. We shall reap also in the world to come
[All that the penitent soul enjoys in this world is but an earnest of what it shall hereafter
possess. There is “ h Ps, xxxi. 19. i Luke vii. 38. k Ps. li. 17.
Luke vii, 47, 48, 50. 1 John i. 9. m Jer. xxxi. 9, 20. n Ps. xxx. 5.
reward"," "an everlasting life P," which shall be reaped as the fruit of what we now sow. The tears we shed are all treasured up with care in the vial of our heavenly Father: every sigh, and every groan, shall be remembered before him; and shall add to that abundant and eternal weight of glory which we shall then receive. And who can estimate those “ sheaves which we shall then bring with us?” How will all our sorrows vanish in an instant, and be turned into unutterable joy 9! Let us then look forward to that time, and “not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."] ADDRESS
1. To those who have never known any seed-time like this
[Is there not occasion enough for you to weep? Think how you have neglected your God and father ; how you have trampled on the blood of Christ your Saviour: and how you have resisted the motions of the Holy Spirit in your hearts ! Think too, how you have made the very consideration of God's mercy
and forbearance an occasion of more boldness in transgressing against him! This, independent of any gross acts of sin, is sufficient to make your head a fountain of tears to run down day and night for your iniquities.
“ Be afflicted, then, and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into heaviness; humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up"."] 2. To those who are daily sowing in tears
[Possibly, some may be discouraged, because they do not reap so soon as they expected. But, if this be the case, let them examine whether they do indeed " sorrow after a godly sort:” and, if they have the testimony of a good conscience in this respect, let them wait patiently, as the husbandman”, for “doubtless they shall come again with rejoicing:" joy and gladness are sown for them, and shall spring up in due season. Let them be contented to " go on their way” weeping, even though the way be ever so long; for tears are a seed precious” unto God, and they shall bring a glorious harvest at the last.] • 2 John, ver. 8. p Gal. vi. 8.
q Isai. xxx. 10. r Jam. iv. 9, 10.
s Jam. v. 7.
i Ps. xcvii. 11.
THE SPIRITUAL HARVEST. Ps. cxxvi. 5, 6. 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.
SO much of sorrow is entailed on fallen man, that his path through life is not improperly called, a vale. of tears. But it is not to the ungodly only that this portion is allotted: the man who is regenerate still finds much occasion to weep; and if he have reasons for joy peculiar to himself, so also has he for grief. The Israelites, when restored from their captivity in Babylon, felt, as well they might, that the mercies vouchsafed to them were exceeding great. The very heathen that surrounded them were constrained to acknowledge this. But, when they came to their own land, and saw the desolations that were spread on every side, and reflected on the time and labour that must be employed in rebuilding their city and temple, on the opposition they were likely to meet with in their work, and on their utter incapacity to restore either the city or temple to their former grandeur, they might well weep. They were, however, encouraged with the divine assurance, that God would be with them in their labours, and prosper their endeavours; and that, if they were content to “ sow in tears, they should reap in joy;” yea, that every one of them who should " go forth, weeping, and bearing precious seed, should doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
But we must not confine ourselves to the immediate occasion on which these words were written. They refer to every one that is engaged in raising a spiritual temple to the Lord : and they assure to him a happy issue to his exertions.
To elucidate the subject, we shall consider, I. The events here connected
Between seed-time and harvest there is in the minds of all a necessary connexion; and as in the natural world the action of sowing has always a reference to that of reaping, so it has also in the spiritual world. The seed which the Christian sows is tears"
[What other can he sow, when he looks back upon the transgressions of his former life? How he, from the first moment that he began to act, lived in rebellion against his God!
In no respect has he been subject to the law of God, or regulated himself according to the divine commands. From open and flagrant sins he may be free: but he has lived as without God in the world, making his own will the one rule of his conduct, and his own pleasure the only end of his existence
Does not such a life as this call for deep humiliation, and require to be mourned over with floods of tears?
Nor is this contrition less called for by his sins of daily incursion. Let any man compare the frame of his mind with that which his circumstances, and God's dealings with him, demand: how faint his gratitude for mercies received ! how superficial his sorrow for sins committed! how cold his devotions at the throne of grace! how feeble his efforts to glorify his God! Verily, in the retrospect of every succeeding day, he may well sit down and weep bitterly, yea, and mourn before God in dust and ashes.
In truth, this is, in a measure, the habit of the Christian's mind; he is bowed down under a sense of his own manifold infirmities; and he walks softly before God, under a consciousness of his own extreme unworthiness. If David could say, in reference to the sins of others, “ Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy law,” how much more may every man say it, in reference to his own sins! In the days to which we are looking forward, when the remnant of Israel shall return to the Lord their God, it is precisely in this way that they will come up to Zion: They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-borna."]
From this seed, however, shall spring a harvest of joy”
(In the natural world we expect to reap the very seed which we have sown: but it is not so in the spiritual world. If we sow tears, shall we reap tears ? No, never, never, never. Far different shall be the fruit arising from that seed! even joy, yea, “joy unspeakable and glorified." Look at the very remnant of whom we have just spoken; and see the issue of their humiliation: “ They shall come," says the prophet, "and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their souls shall be as a watered garden ; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow b." It must be observed, that the first-fruits of this harvest are enjoyed even now: for the very scope of the Gospel is not only to "proclaim liberty to the captives; but to give unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them," I say, “ beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord; and that He may be glorified." But, after all, this is only a foretaste of that which they shall hereafter enjoy, a cluster from Eshcol, an earnest of their future inheritance. The time is coming when they shall reap the full harvest in the fruition of their God, in whose " presence there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermored?")
a Jer. xxxi. 9.
The connexion between these two periods being marked, I proceed to shew, II. The certainty and blessedness of this connexion
[In the natural world the connexion is not sure: every care may have been exercised in preparing the ground, and the best seed may have been sown in it; and yet, through blasting or mildew, or some other unforeseen calamity, the hopes of the husbandman may be disappointed. But in the spiritual world this can never occur. There
many events which seem unpropitious, and threaten the total destruction of the life of God in the soul: but God will overrule them all for the final accomplishment of his own gracious purposes, agreeably to his own express engagement, that “ All things shall work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purposee.” The untoward circumstances may continue for a considerable length of time; but God engages, that “though their weeping may endure for a night, joy shall assuredly come to them in the morning." Extremely beautiful is that promise in the Prophet Hosea: “ Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord. His goings forth are prepared as the morning.” The benighted traveller may be ready to imagine that the morning, as it were, will never arrive. But the sun, though as remote as possible from us, will return, and is actually making a progress towards us; and has its radiance ready prepared to pour it forth, for the benefit of the earth, at the appointed hour. So, in the darkest seasons of desertion is God prepared to lift up the light of his reconciled countenance upon us, and to refresh our souls with his enlightening and invigorating beams.]
b Jer. xxxi, 12, 13. c Isai. lxi. 1-3. d Ps. xvi. 11. e Rom. viii. 28. f Ps. xxx. 5.
& Hos. vi. 3.