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fing with convictions, and thus mak-mentor, God may fulfil all the ends of ing light of the appointment, that a retributive economy, awarding to "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall wickedness its merited condemnation, he also reap."
and displaying to the universe the But we proposed to examine, in the dreadfulness of rebellion. second place, the application of the It may be, we say, that there shall be principle of our text to the future scene required no direct interferences on the of recompense. There can be no ques- part of God. It may be that the Altion that the reference of the apostle is, mighty shall not commission an avengspecially, to the retributions of another ing train to goad and lacerate the lost. state of being. The present life is em- The sinner is hardened by being left to phatically the seed-time, the next life himself; and may it not be that the sinthe harvest-time. And the matter we ner shall be punished by being left to now have in hand is the ascertaining, himself? We think assuredly that the whether it be by the natural process of passage before us leads straightway to the thing sown yielding the thing reap- such a conclusion. We may have haed, that sinfulness here shall give tor- bituated ourselves to the idea that God ment hereafter.
shall take, as it were, into his own You will observe that, in showing the hands the punishment of the condemnapplication of the principle under re-ed, and that, standing over them as the siew to the present scene of probation, executioner of the sentence, he will we proved that the utmost which God visit body and soul with the inflictions does towards confirming a man in im- of wrath. But it consists far better penitence is the leaving him to himself, with the character of God, that judgihe withdrawing from him gradually the ment should be viewed as the natural remonstrances of his Spirit. The man produce of sinfulness, so that, without is literally his own hardener, and, there any divine interference, the sinfulness fore, literally his own destroyer. And will generate the judgment. Let sinwe now inquire, whether or no he will fulness alone, and it will become punbe his own punisher? We seem requir- ishment. Such is, probably, the true ed, if we would maintain rigidly the account of this awful matter. The thing principle of our text, to suppose that reaped is the thing sown. And if the what is reaped in the future shall be thing sown be sinfulness, and if the identical with what is sown in the pre- thing reaped be punishment, then the sent. It cannot be questioned that this punishment, after all, must be the sin; is a fair representation. The seed re-fulness; and that fearful apparatus of produces itself. It is the same grain torture which is spoken of in Scripture, which the sower scatters, and the reap- the apparatus of a worm that dieth not, er collects. We may, therefore, lay it and of a fire that is not quenched; this down as the statement of our text, that may be just a man's own guilt, the what is reaped in the next life shall be things sown in this mortal life sprung literally of the same kind with what is up and waving in an immortal harvest. sown in this life. But if this be correct, We think this
a point of great moment. it must follow that a man's sinfulness It were comparatively little to say of shall be a man's punishment. And there an individual who sells himself to work is no lack of scriptural evidence on the evil, and carries it with a high hand side of the opinion, that the leaving the and a brazen front against the Lord of wicked, throughout eternity, to their the whole earth, that he shuts himself mutual recriminations, to the workings up to a certain and definite destruction. and boilings of over-wrought passions, The thrilling truth is, that, in working to the scorpion-sting of an undying re- iniquity, he sows for himself anguish. morse, and all the native and inborn He gives not way to a new desire, he agonies of vice-that this, without the allows not a fresh victory to lust, withinterference of a divinely-sent ministry out multiplying the amount of final torof vengeance, may make that pandemo- ment. By every excursion of passion, nium which is sketched to us by all and by every indulgence of an unhalthat is terrible and ghastly in imagery; lowed craving, and by all the misdoings and that tormenting, only through giv- of a hardened or dissolute life, he may ing up the sinner to be his own tor- be literally said to pour into the grana
ry of his future destinies the goads and envious man keep his envy, and the stings which shall madden his spirit. jealous man his jealousy, and the reHe lays up more food for self-reproach. vengeful man his revengefulness; and He widens the field over which thought each has a worm which shall eat out will pass in bitterness, and mow down everlastingly the very core of his soul. remorse. He teaches the worm to be Let the miser have still his thoughts ingenious in excruciating, by tasking upon gold, and the drunkard his upon his wit that he may be ingenious in sin- the wine-cup, and the sensualist his upning-for some men, as the prophet on voluptuousness; and a fire-sheet is saith—and it is a wonderful expression round each which shall never be ex
-"are wise to do evil.” Jer. 4: 22. tinguished. We know not whether it And thus, his iniquities opening, as it be possible to conjure up a more terriwere, fresh inlets for the approaches of fic image of a lost man, than by supvengeance, with the growth of wicked. posing him everlastingly preyed upon ness will be the growth of punishment: by the master-lust which has here held and at last it will appear that his resist- him in bondage. We think that you ance to convictions, his neglect of op- have before you the spectacle of a beportunities, and his determined enslave-ing, hunted, as it were, by a neverment to evil, have literally worked for wearied fiend, when you imagine that him "a far more exceeding and eternal there rages in the licentious and profliweight” of despair.
gate-only wrought into a fury which But even this expresses not clearly has no parallel upon earth—that very and fully what seems taught by our passion which it was the concern of a text. We are searching for an identity, life-time to indulge, but which it must or sameness, between what is sown and now be the employment of an eternity what is reaped. We, therefore, yet fur- to deny. We are persuaded that you ther observe that it may not be need. reach the summit of all that is tremenful that a material rack should be pre- dous in conception, when you suppose pared for the body, and fiery spirits a man consigned to the tyranny of a gnaw upon the soul. It may not be lust which cannot be conquered, and needful that the Creator should appoint which cannot be gratified. It is, literdistinct and extraneous arrangements ally surrendering him to a worm which for torture. Let what we call the hus- dies not, to a fire which is not quenched. bandry of wickedness go forward ; let And whilst the lust does the part of a the sinner reap what the sinner has ceaseless tormentor, the man, unable sown; and there is a harvest of anguish longer to indulge it, will writhe in refor ever to be gathered. Who discerns morse at having endowed it with sovnot that punishment may thus be sin- ereignty: and thus there will go on fulness, and that, therefore, the princi. (though not in our power to conceive, ple of our text may hold good, to the and, O God, grant it may never be our very letter, in a scene of retribution ? lot to experience) the cravings of pasA man " sows to the flesh:” this is the sion with the self-reproachings of the apostle's description of sinfulness. He soul; and the torn and tossed creature is "of the flesh to reap corruption :” shall for ever long to gratify lust, and this is his description of punishment. for ever bewail his madness in gratifyHe "sows to the flesh” by pampering ing it. the lusts of the flesh; and he "reaps of Now you must perceive that in thus the flesh,” when these pampered lusts sketching the possible nature of future fall on him with fresh cravings, and de- retribution, we only show that "whatmand of him fresh gratifications. But soever a man soweth, that shall he also suppose this reaping continued in the reap.” We prove that sinfulness may next life, and is not the man mowing be punishment, so that the things reaped down a harvest of agony? Let all those shall be identical with the things sown, passions and desires, which it has been according to the word of the prophet the man's business upon earth to in- Hosea, "they have sown the wind, and dulge, hunger and thirst for gratification they shall reap the whirlwind.” Hosea, hereafter, and will ye seek elsewhere 8: 7. We reckon that the principle of for the parched tongue beseeching our text, when rigidly applied, requires fruitlessly one drop of water? Let the us to suppose the retribution of the ungodly the natural produce of their ac- 1 pearing. "He that is unjust let him be tions. It shall not, perhaps, be that God unjust still; and he which is filthy, let will interpose with an apparatus of him be filthy still; and he that is rightejudgments, any more than he now in- ous, let him be righteous still; and he terposes with an apparatus for harden- that is holy, let him be holy still.” Rev. ing, or confirming in impenitence. In- 22 : 11. The master-property is here difference, if let alone, will produce represented as remaining the masterobdoracy; and obduracy, if let alone, property. The unjust continues for will produce torment. Obduracy is in ever the unjust; the filthy for ever the difference multiplied: and thus it is filthy. So that the indulged principle the harvest from the grain. Torment keeps fast its ascendancy, as though, is obduracy perpetuated and bemoaned: according to our foregoing supposition, and this again is harvest—the grain re- it is to become the tormenting principroduced, but with thorns round the ple. The distinguishing characteristic ear. Thus, from first to last, "whatso- never departs. When it can no longer ever a man soweth, that also does he be served and gratified by its slave, it reap.” We should be disposed to plead wreaks its disappointment tremendousfor the sound divinity, as well as the ly on its victim. fine poetry of words which Milton puts
There is thus a precise agreement into the mouth of Satan, when approach between our text, as now expounded, ing to the survey of paradise. "Which and other portions of the Bible which way I fly is hell; myself am hell.” refer to the same topic. We have in"Myself am hell!" It is the very idea deed, as you will observe, dealt chiefly which we have extracted from our text; with the sowing and the reaping of the the idea of a lost creature being his wicked, and but just alluded to those own tormentor, his own place of tor- of the righteous. It would not, howment. There shall be needed no reti- ever, be difficult to prove to you, that, nue of wrath to heap on the fuel, or inasmuch as holiness is happiness, godtighten the rack, or sharpen the goad. liness shall be reward, even as sinfulHe cannot escape from himself, and ness shall be punishment. And it is himself is hell.
clear that the apostle designed to inWe would add that our text is not clude both cases under his statement; the only scriptural passage which inti- for he subjoins as its illustration," he mates that sinfulness shall spring up that soweth to his flesh, shall of the into punishment, exactly as the seed flesh reap corruption; but he that sowo sown produces the harvest. In the first eth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap chapter of the Book of Proverbs, the life everlasting." We cannot indeed eternal wisdom marks out in terrible plead, in the second case, for as rigid language the doom of the scorners. an application of the principle as in the "I also will laugh at your calamity, and first. We cannot argue, that is, for mock when your fear cometh.” Prov. what we call the natural process of ve1:26. And then, when he would de- getation. There must be constant inscribe their exact punishment, he says, terferences on the part of Deity. God " they shall eat of the fruit of their own himself, rather than man, is the sower. way, and be filled with their own de- And unless God were continually busy vices." Prov. 1:31. They reap, you with the seed, it could never germisee, what they sow: their torments are nate, and send up a harvest of glory. " their own devices.” We have a simi. We think that this distinction between lar expression in the Book of Job: the cases is intimated by St. Paul. The "even as I have seen, they that plough one man sows "to the flesh;" himself iniquity and sow wickedness reap the the husbandman, himself the territory. same." Job, 4:8. Thus again in the The other sows to the Spirit,” to the Book of Proverbs : "the backslider in Holy Ghost; and here there is a superheart shall be filled with his own ways.” induced soil which differs altogether Prov. 14 : 14. We may add that so- from the natural. But if there be not, lemn verse in the last chapter of the in each case, precisely the same, there Book of Revelation, which seems to us is sufficient, rigor of application to bear exactly to the point. It is spoken in out the assertion of our text. "he prospect of Christ's immediate ap-Imember that it was "a crown of righ
teousness,” 2 Tim. 4 : 8, which spar-cisely what you have to do. It is the kled before St. Paul; and we may, rock," the heart of stone," which you therefore, believe, that the righteous- must bring into cultivation. Yet be ye ness which God's grace has nourished not dismayed. Above all things, pause in the heart, will grow into recompense, not, as though doubtful whether to projust as the wickedness, in which the secute a labor which seems to grow transgressor has indulged, will shoot as it is performed. "No man, having into torment. So that, although it were put his hand to the plough, and looking easy to speak at greater length on the back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven. case of true believers, we may lay it Luke, 9 : 62. Rather comfort yourdown as a demonstrated truth, whether selves with that beautiful declaration of respect be had to the godly or the dis- the Psalmist, " they that sow in tears obedient of the earth, that "whatso- shall reap in joy." Psalm 126 : 5. Raever a man soweth, that shall he also ther call to mind the saying of the aposreap.
ye are God's husbandry.” 2 Cor. And now, what mean ye to reap in 3 : 9. It is God, who, by his Spirit, that grand harvest-day, the day of judg- ploughs the ground, and sows the seed, ment ? Every one of you is sowing ei- and imparts the influences of sun and ther to the flesh, or to the Spirit ; and shower. "My Father,” said Jesus, "is every one of you must, hereafter, take the husbandman;" John, 15 : 1; and the sickle in his hand, and mow down can ye not feel assured that He will the produce of his husbandry. We will give the increase ? Look ye on to the speak no longer on things of terror. harvest-time. What, though the winter We have said enough to alarm the in- be dreary and long, and there seem no different. And we pray God that the shooting of the fig-tree to tell you that careless amongst you may find these summer is nigh? Christ shall yet speak words of the prophet ringing in their to his church in that loveliest of poeears, when they lie down to rest this try, "Lo, the winter is past, the rain is night, "the harvest is passed, the sum- over and gone, the flowers appear on mer is ended, and we are not saved.” Jer. the earth, the time of the singing of 8: 20. But, ere we conclude, we would birds is come, and the voice of the turaddress a word to the men of God, and tle is heard in the land.” Cant. 2 : 11, animate them to the toils of tillage by 12. Then shall be the harvest. We the hopes of reaping. We know that cannot tell you the glory of the things it is with much opposition from in- which ye shall reap. We cannot show dwelling corruption, with many thwart- you the wavings of the golden corn. ings from Satan and your evil hearts, But this we know, that the sufferings of that ye prosecute the work of breaking this present time are not worthy to be
fallow ground, and sowing to compared with the glory that shall be yourselves in righteousness. Ye have revealed in us;" Rom. 8 : 18; and, to deal with a stubborn soil. The pro- therefore brethren, beloved in the Lord, phet Amos asks," shall horses run upon "be ye not weary in well-doing, for in the rock, will one plough there with due season we shall reap, if we faint oxen?" Amos, 6 : 12. Yet this is pre-not.” Gal. 6 : 9.
THE POWER OF RELIGION TO STRENGTHEN THE HUMAN
* The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.”
Psalm 119 : 130.
There is no point of view under of earthly might, that you may look to which the Bible can be surveyed, and bring speedily round the wished-for renot commend itself to thinking minds sult. The effective machinery is chrisas a precious and wonderful book. tianity, and christianity alone. PropaTravelling down to us across the waste gate the tenets of this religion, as reof far-off centuries, it brings the his- gistered in the Bible, and a mighty retory of times which must otherwise generation will go out over the face of have been given up to conjecture and the long-degraded community. fable. Instructing us as to the creation We need hardly appeal, in proof of of the magnificent universe, and defin- this assertion, to the records of the efing the authorship of that rich furni- fects of missionary enterprise. You are ture, as well material as intellectual, all aware, that, in many instances, a with which this universe is stored, it great change has been wrought, by the delivers our minds from those vague labors of faithful and self-denying men, and unsatisfying theories which reason, on the savage clans amongst which anaided in her searchings, proposed they have settled. We omit, for the with respect to the origin of all things. present, the incalculable advantages Opening up, moreover, a sublime and consequent on the introduction of simple system of theology, it emanci- christianity, when another state of bepates the world from degrading super- ing is brought into the account. We stitions, which, dishonoring Deity by consider men simply with respect to the representations propounded of his their sojourning upon earth; and we character, turn vice into virtue, and so contend that the revolution, effected banish what is praiseworthy from hu- in temporal affairs, should win, even inan society.
from those who prize not its discloAnd thus, if you kept out of sight sures in regard to eternal, the warmest the more important ends subserved by admiration for the Bible. There has the disclosures of the Bible, there would succeeded to lawlessness and violence be no single gift for which men stood the beautiful scenery of good order so indebted to the Almighty as for the and peace. The rude beings, wont to revelation of himself in the pages of wander to and fro, alternately the prey Scripture. The great engine of civili- and the scourge of neighboring tribes, zation is still the written word of the have settled down to the quiet occupaMost High. And if you visit a tribe of tions of industry; and, gathering themour race in the lowest depths of barba- selves into villages, and plying the rism, and desire to bring up the debased business of handicraft or agriculture, creatures, and place them on their just have presented the aspect of a welllevel in the scale of existence, it is not disciplined society in exchange for that by the enactments of earthly legisla- of a roving and piratical horde. And tion, any more than by the tyrannizings when a district which has heretofore,