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By comparing the devil to a roaring lion that walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, God has instructed me in the subtlety and cruelty of that great enemy; and the necessity of being always on my guard against him. He knows my weak points: he knows how to spring on me with advantage, when I am least prepared for his assault. He would make my soul his prey, and reign over it as a cruel lord, or miserably devour it. If baffled, or defeated, he is ready at once to renew the contest, and finds often that he can do so most successfully, when the soul that has lately conquered him, is tempted to think itself in less danger for a time, and perhaps to presume on its own strength. What advantage do we give him, if we suffer our minds to be taken up with the things of this world, or to be surcharged and deadened by undue indulgence in yielding to the desires of the body! What need have we to be ever on our guard; that so being stedfast in the faith, we may be enabled to resist him !
Blessed be God, we are taught that our great Redeemer hath "prevailed.” According to the word that went before of Him“, He hath trodden upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon He hath trampled under His feet. And He hath given us a sure rule, by which we shall escape this disgraced and conquered enemy: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you; draw nigh to God, and God will draw nigh to you."
" For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break
up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns." Jer, iv. 3.
See also Matt. xiii. 3-30. Mark iv. 26-29. THERE is scarcely a process of husbandry which does not supply some image and illustration of Divine things to the sacred writers.
4 Ps. xci. 13.
5 James iv. 7, 8.
The careless and carnal heart is likened to the hard fallow ground, full of thorns and weeds, which must be broken up and ploughed, that it may be fit to receive the good seed; and the Law of God, which alarms the sinner in his fancied security, and carries conviction to his soul, is the sharp ploughshare, by which the ground is thus opened and prepared.
The Word of God is “the seed” which is sown by the great Husbandman; and the parable of “the sower” sets forth to us the various reception which it meets with from the several sorts of ground on which it falls. The silent and gradual growth of religion in the heart, under the influence of the dew of God's grace, and the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, is described in the parable of “the seed growing secretly,” while that of “the wheat and tares” is intended to prepare us for the present admixture of the evil with the good in the visible Church of Christ, as well as to assure us of the final separation of the two classes. The harvest (we are told) is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels. The saint who has finished his course with joy, is said to come to his grave
like as a shock of corn cometh in his season; but the wicked are like the worthless weeds, which are bound in bundles to be burnt, while the wheat is gathered into the barn. The Husbandman, “whose fan is in his hand?,” to separate the grain from the chaff when the corn has been threshed on the floor, is an emblem of the Son of Man when He shall return to judgment. The Church will then have undergone that searching trial which is necessary to discern the precious from the vile (and which is compared to the process of threshing); and the last judgment will separate for ever the one from the other, as the chaff is scattered from the grain by the fan or winnowingmachine. The wicked « are like the chaff which the wind scattereth away from the face of the earth o."
6 Job v. 26.
7 Matt, iii. 12.
And he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
A book is thus laid open to us at all seasons of the year, in which (if it be not our own fault) we may read lessons of Divine instruction; and he whose mind is stored with scriptural thoughts and images, cannot walk forth abroad without having "the things which concern his peace” suggested to him by the humblest employments of the husbandman whom he sees engaged in his useful labours. When he sees “the plower” making a long furrows” in the “ fallow ground,” he will pray that his heart may be “a broken and a contrite heart," and that the thorns and weeds which would choke the good seed may be utterly rooted out. The sower going forth to sow will recal the image of the gracious Saviour, who left His glory with the Father, to bear “precious seed” to the souls of men; and the sight of some springing field which is glistening with dew, and quietly growing up to its perfect and matured condition, will lead to humble and earnest prayer, that the plant of true religion may thus thrive in his own heart, and the dews of God's grace may thus fall upon it. When the
66 white unto the harvest "," his soul will be kindled with a holy desire, both that he may himself be thus by degrees ripened for the heavenly Husbandman, and also that it may please “the Lord of the harvest" to 6 send forth labourers” into that harvest of immortal souls which is perishing for want of being gathered. The field busy with the reapers will suggest the solemn thoughts of death, and judgment; and when the corn is threshed and winnowed, he will reflect, “ with fear and trembling," on that searching trial which every soul of man must undergo, and the miserable portion of those who shall not be able " to stand in the judgment,” nor to appear in the congregation of the righteous. He will remember, how
1 John iv. 35.
ever, that not one grain of wheat will fall through the sieve in which it will be sifted ?.
Led on to a somewhat different train of thoughts, he will then remind himself, that what a man sows he will also reap; and how it is written, that they who have sown the wind shall reap the whirlwind, and they who “sow to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption : :" and, on the other hand, that “he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Holy resolutions and faithful endeavours are the fruit of such peaceful meditation as is thus suggested to the soul; and we may surely say, 66 Whoso is wise will ponder these things, and they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.”
A CRY FROM THE GREAT DEPTHS.
Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications."
Ps. cxxx. 1, 2.-See also Jonah i. ii. The language which Jonah used when he was literally in the depths of the sea, and when he prayed to God out of the whale's belly, is applicable to the case of a sinner, when he sees the full measure of his guilt and danger, and cries to God out of the depths of those abounding sins which seem to pour in like a flood upon his soul", to bear him down for ever. This is so much the case, that Jonah seems to have applied to his own condition (when he was inclosed in that strange and fearful prison) the expressions which David had long before used with reference to his temporal or spiritual sorrows, and which have been used in all ages of the Church as descriptive of the feelings of
3 Gal. vi. 8.
2 Amos ix. 9.
5 Ps. cvii. 43.
4 Ps. cxxvi. 6. 6 Isa. lix. 19.
every soul which feels the power of its corruptions, and the dreadful consequences of the wrath of God. We find his words, “I said, I am cast out of the sight of thine eyes,” in Psalm xxxi. 22; and those, 6 All thy billows and thy waves passed over me, in Psalm xlii. 7; and again, when he says, “ The waters compassed me about, even to the soul,” he seems to use the first verses of Psalm lxix. : “ Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.”
The same application may be made of the case of St. Peter', when he walked on the water to meet Jesus; “ but when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried, Lord, save me ! And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
What can more strongly show the danger of a sinner, than that he should be likened to a drowning man? How little are most people sensible of the abounding power of evil, and how it drowns in destruction and perdition all those who plunge into it! And we should also picture to ourselves the eagerness with which a drowning man catches at the rope
which is thrown within his reach. He knows his own helplessness; and he is conscious that his preservation depends upon the rope, and on those who hold it. He clings to it instinctively. He has no thought of taking merit to himself for an escape, in effecting which he must indeed co-operate with his compassionate friends, but for which he owns himself to be indebted only to their exertions.
It is thus that when a man sees himself in danger of perishing for ever, he eagerly and thankfully lays hold of the hope set before himo; and while he knows, indeed, that he must earnestly work with God', he ascribes 7 Matt. xiv. 30, 31.
Phil. ii. 12, 13.
3 1 Tim. vi. 9.
9 Heb. vi. 18,