Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

constantly lodged among men. The mental creates the material. The whole world is full of facts such as the text illustrates. The intellectual and the moral are producers of material forms; of more food and increased earthly benefactions. What the wise man utters, and the good man performs, go towards increasing the comforts of the whole race, and improving all the social aspects of the globe.

2. Intelligence and knowledge, the power of learning and the treasures of learning, are multiplied by distribution. The human mind is not less ready than the soil to render back with interest what is sown in it. Its resources, like those of a more corruptible sort, grow bountiful by being diffused. Jesus gave to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. That is the way in which instruction is imparted. It passes from one to the many. And it does not remain alone as it moves. It does not become anywise reduced by what it bestows. It finds companions. It makes itself fruitful. The understandings of those among whom it goes are excited. The stock of information, scanty at first, meets everywhere with contributors to swell its substance and its fame; till "the five loaves, and those barley, the two fishes, and those small," are a refreshment and a sustenance for the world. Truth begets truth; and you must have a company to show the supply. What would have seemed inconsiderable if left by itself, grows into great account as it is sent forward among those who apprehend it, and transmit it in new and manifold forms. It is manifested, it is accumulated, by travelling down among the sympathies and wants of those whose hearts love it, whose natures crave it, and whose ability and experience reproduce and recommend it to all men. It is one of the happiest signs of the present time, that the importance of this doctrine is getting to be more deeply felt. It receives a fuller practical application than at any former period. The education of the whole people, the feeding of all with useful instruction, is an object of leading public interest. We cannot be too anxious that so sacred a cause should be advanced.

66

66

3. Good examples offer themselves in illustration of the doctrine of the miracle before us. And they do illustrate it as clearly as the instances that have been already adduced. Displays of moral excellence, truths set forth in living actions, are multiplied as they are shown. Men are won by what they approve. They are led to imitate what they admire. Laudable actions never stand alone. They are among the last things to be struck with the curse of barrenness. Surrounding crowds but signalize their divine effectiveness. However obstructed they may be, however to all appearance offered in vain, they can never fail. They go from eye to eye, from heart to heart, creating fresh copies of their immortal worth. Others, as they see the good works" of faithful persons, glorify" in like manner the "Father who is in heaven." The light will kindle more flames of service and love, as well as shine further into the darkness; and you can set no limits to the extent to which mankind may catch the blessed illumination. Some will be emulous, many will be affected, all will be the better, as the bright manifestation proceeds. Bring out your supplies of Christian counsel, and it will draw forth the like to make fellowship with them. Show a Christian resolution, and it will communicate something of its courage to timid natures and infirm purposes. Exercise a Christian industry, and the hitherto unready will come to partake with you in the ennobling toil. Shed around you the warmth of generous affections, and they whom you little expected to touch by them will be inspired with the glow. Display meekness, and long-suffering, and the ornaments of a kind spirit, and the most unreasonable may feel

the duty of being furnished with the same. The ungracious will be softened, and the violent-if ever-brought to a gentler mind.

4. And, finally, joy, and hope, and all cheering influences are miraculously increased, by being sent round from a single animating mind among the ranks of the world's poor sojourners. So frequent are the occurrences of necessity, fear, and affliction,--so many are the desert places of life and thought, that it seems, sometimes, as if we were all set out, like the multitude in the wilderness;-far from home, faint with hunger, and the night coming on;-the heart without a home of rest, empty and craving, and our meditations growing dark. We need to be quickened and strengthened. Now, nothing is more heightened by communication than just such impulses as those we here require. Joy and hope—they are social; they ask for companionship; they spread by contact and mutual encouragements. He who has awakened them in his own breast, finds them greatly enhanced by expressing them; and their expression is caught up and repeated by numberless voices that had till then slept. To give utterance to what is good and hopeful, promotes it both in ourselves and others. You have often been the witnesses of the mysterious power there is in consolatory and brave sentiments held forward in the time of need. They soothe the mournful; they invigorate the shrinking; among the wilds and wastes of the utmost destitution, they show themselves plenteous. Let us accept a motive here to exert whatever ability is in us to overcome the inertness, to lift up the depressions, that will be heavy at times within and about us. Forward all innocent gladness. Fortify all cheerful reliances in drooping souls. Gladness will fade upon the human face; the reliances of the earth will be struck away; but He who gave to His disciples that His disciples might give to the multitude, bequeathed to the world an unchanging satisfaction and expectation that was never to be cut off. The fruits that He dispenses are not of the ground's yielding, and, therefore, return not to the ground. They are of the Spirit. They are "love, joy, and peace." To sum them up in His own word, they are "the bread of God, which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world"; "that a man may eat thereof, and not die. They who heard Him replied, and I beseech you to repeat that answer and prayer within yourselves, Lord, evermore give us this bread." N. L. FROTHINGHAM.

""

Harvest Home.

REV. xiv. 15.

"And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice, Thrust in thy sickle and reap, for the time is come for men to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ready.'

""

IN all ages there has been great honour paid to agriculture. Seveneighths of the people in every country are disciples of the plough. A government is strong in proportion as it is supported by an athletic and industrious yeomanry. Cato was prouder of his work on husbandry than of all his military

[ocr errors]

conquests. Standing amid the harvests and vineyards of the Bible, and standing amid the harvests, and orchards, and vineyards of our own country, I want to run out the analogy between the production of crops and the growth of grace in the spirit.

1. In grace, as in the fields, there must be a plough. That which theologians call conviction, is only the ploughshare turning up the sins that have been rooted and matted in the soul. Deep ploughing for a crop. Deep ploughing for a spirit. He who makes light of sin will never yield a harvest of usefulness.

2. In grace, as in the field, there must be a sowing. In the autumnal weather you find the farmer going across the field at a stride of about twenty-three inches, and at every stride he puts his hand into the sack of grain, and he sprinkles the seed-corn over the field. It looks silly to a man who does not know what he is doing. He is doing a very important work. He is scattering the winter grain, and, though the snow may come, the next year there will be a great crop. Now, that is what we are doing when we are preaching the Gospel-we are scattering the seed. It is the foolishness of preaching, but it is the winter grain; and, though the snows of worldliness may come down upon it, it will yield after a while glorious harvests. Let us be sure we sow the right kind of seed.

3. In grace, as in the farm, there must be a harrowing. I refer now, not to a harrow that goes over the field in order to prepare the ground for the seed, but a harrow which goes over after the seed is sown, lest the birds pick up the seed, sinking it down into the earth so that it can take root. A harrow is made of bars of wood nailed across each other, and the underside of each bar is furnished with sharp teeth; and it goes tearing and leaping across the field, driving the seed down into the earth that it may bear in the harvest. -Bereavement, sorrow, persecution, are the Lord's harrows to sink the Gospel truth into your heart. There were truths that you heard thirty years ago. They have not affected you until recently. Some great trouble came over you, and the truth was harrowed in, and it has come up. No harrow, no crop.

4. In grace, as in the farm, there must be a reaping, Many Christians speak of religion as though it were a matter of economics or insurance. They expect to reap in the next world. Oh, no! Now is the time to reap. Gather up the joy of the

Christian religion now. If you have not as much grace as you would like to have, thank God for what you have, and pray for more.

5. In grace, as in farming, there is a time for threshing. That is death. Just as the farmer with a flail beats the wheat out of the straw, so death beats the soul out of the body. Every sickness is a stroke of the flail, and the sick bed is the threshing floor. What, say you, is death to a good man? Only taking the wheat out of the straw.

6. The garnering. Where is the garner? Need I tell you? So many have gone out from your home circles, that you have had your eyes on that garner for many a year. What a hard time some of them had! In Gethsemanes of suffering, they sweat great drops of blood. They took the " cup of trembling," and they put it to their hot lips, and they cried: “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." With tongues of burning agony, they cried: "O Lord, deliver my soul!" But they got over it. They all got over it. Garnered! Their tears wiped away; their battles all ended; their burdens all lifted. Garnered! The Lord of the harvest will not allow those sheaves to perish. Garnered! These sheaves must go in. The Lord of the harvest has promised it. I see the load at last coming to the door of the heavenly garner. The sheaves of the Christian soul sway to and fro in the wind of death, and the whole body creaks under the load, and as the load strikes the floor of the celestial garner, it seems as if it can go no farther. It is the last struggle. Then the voices of angels, and the voices of departed kindred, and the welcoming voice of God, will hail the harvest rolling into the eternal triumph, and there shall be heard the song of Harvest home!" "Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season."

66

""

[blocks in formation]

THE loaves are the finished product of the harvest put into form for the best and most profitable human use. The question of the Lord may very properly be put, therefore, in reference to the harvest of the fields-How far will it go ? What will it do in providing food for human necessity? When we think of the myriads of the human race, we are astounded by the thought of their necessities. Not one can live without food. But every one of them sits down at a table in the wilderness provided by the heavenly Father, and He both gives and blesses the meal. Now, what does this mean? How does God thus provide for human necessity? We sometimes think, but ignorantly and foolishly, that all God needs to do is to exercise power, and to bid the desert burst into a fruit garden and a wheat field, or to speak, and lo! the feast would be set out before the hungry multitudes. But there is no such thing. God does not work thus. Jesus asked for what men had, and out of what they had He furnished the meal. And then, having done this, He bade them gather up the fragments, that there should be no waste; that they might use them another day. This is a revelation of God's way all through the history of the world and of human life and affairs. God brings the present out of the past, and the future out of the present. He lets nothing go to waste. He evolves; and He practises a rigid economy.

The text sets forth the two principles of

EVOLUTION AND ECONOMY.

We look upon these marvellous things which have been brought into God's house, to increase our pleasure and joy in His works and

ways, and intensify our thankfulness, and which loving hands have disposed in this tasteful order and beauty-apple, pear,' peach, orange, grape, wheat, corn, hop, potato, and other vegetables-and we think of all the profusion of this great gift of food and fruit throughout the world; of the untold laden fields and gardens which have gladdened the eyes of the farmer and horticulturist, and which are now in process of use in sustaining human and animal life. What a bountiful giver God is! But then we ask, Where have all come from? And the answer is a marvellous one. They have all come out of the past. God's miracles and acts of creation are few. He created species-single pairs of specimens,. perhaps and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply." And the soil, seeing them growing, said, Come back to us, and you shall have harvests which will bewilder with their immensity. And the corn and wheat, shaken by the wind, nodded themselves back into the soil; and man came and sowed where he would, and mother-earth paid him back sixty-fold, one hundred-fold, two hundred-fold. Last summer's roots are in the ground, and the stems and branches, all bare, stand like ghosts in the winter. But spring finds them, and warms their heart, and the sap flows and rises, and leaves and blossoms come, and, behold, the old. tree bears a new crop of fruit. It is the past projecting itself into the present. Nature asks for a seed with a germ in it, a root with life in it; and, behold, she impels or draws out of them-evolves from them--new harvests, which ripen in new sunshines for new generations of toiling men.

So there is nothing like caprice in God or in His way of working. In the Book of Genesis we read that God gave men every herbbearing seed, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree-bearing

seed, and said, It shall be for meat. So come the successions of harvests. Out of the one grow the

many.

But the lesson is also one of ECONOMY.

God wastes nothing. But this idea is more than that of saving what remains. He uses nothing more than is necessary. He puts the least to the best use. You see the leaves fading, and the dead leaves brought down from the trees by the high winds. For what? Why, for new fresh soil, containing the chemical ingredients needed for next year's use, But, look again! Take the apple, the melon, the pear, the grape, the marrow-God has given them to man for food; they are part of the great harvest feast. But man does not need all they contain. He can only eat the pulp, the flesh. What are left? Seeds. You have two things provided in one. You have two uses of one product-food, and future crop, and new harvests. So, amid profusion, God works the great future out of as little as will do.

and real heart and meaning were in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Christ appealed to what men knew, that He might lead them into higher truths they did not know. So, the child's application, and perseverance, and knowledge are the foundations of a mature life of self-control, aptitude, and wisdom. A boy sees the lid of a kettle lifted up by the steam, and he says, Why, steam might be made to turn wheels, to move machinery, to draw burdens; and out of that have come all the great mechanical triumphs of the age. In like manner, the deep things of God are known through the reception of surface truths. Old men and women have knowledge which cannot be understood by the immature. New ideas are born of the old in endless succession. You can find in one thing mastered the germ of another you need to know. "To him that hath shall be given."

So we read such lessons as these out of these harvest truths:

1. Not to despise the old, or the day of small things. Some men think differently to-day from what they once did. They are not to despise the older truths which led up to those they now hold. It is a shame for a man to kick away the ladder by which he has risen; to throw over old friends who helped him when he was struggling. So it is a shame to abuse the little truth and the old creed by which he rose up to see the broad land of productive wealth which is now his possession, and to despise others who enjoy the comfort of them.

So we are taught to waste nothing-not to expend too much strength, too much time, too much feeling, on what after all is not worth it; to allow no waste either of resources, or of time, or of life, or of happiness.

All this is true of truths and of life's experiences. God builds the philosopher out of the child mastering the alphabet. God evolves the astronomer, who can work out the sky problems, out of the child mastering arithmetic, and the meaning of points, lines, angles, and circles. Great truths dawn upon men's minds, but only through the agency of other truths they have learnt. You cannot understand holiness unless you first understand cleanness. When God would redeem the race, He took the Hebrews, and taught them truths which had relations they did not understand, but whose fulfilment

2. The preciousness of things that have life in them. If I had a diamond to carry, I could estimate what a loss it would be to me or the world if I dropped it into the depths of the sea. But, if I have a new seed, I can do no such thing. The Prince of Wales brought a single grain from the East a few years ago. Out of it came enough

L

« PoprzedniaDalej »