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SERMON XXXVIII.

THE FINAL HARVEST.

The harvest is the end of the world.

MATTEEW, xiii. 39.

AFTER Christ had spoken and explained the parable of the sower," he put forth another parable saying, The kingdom of

, heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came, and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field ? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them ; but gather the wheat into my barn.” This parable Christ spake to the multitude, in the hearing of his disciples, who, when Jesus had sent the multitude away, and went into the house, “ came unto him saying, declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that sowed the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world; the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. Who that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” By this parable Christ gives us a lively and striking representation of the last day. " The harvest is the end of the world.” The time of harvest, is the time when men reap the fruits of their long and painful labors. So the end of the world is the time when God will reap the fruits, not only of his own labors, but of the labors of all whom he employs in his vineyard. The text in this connection plainly teaches us,

That God will have a harvest at the end of the world.

I shall endeavor to make it appear, in the first place, that God will have a harvest, and in the second place, that this harvest will be at the end of the world.

I. God is the wisest, the most powerful, and most active being in the universe. He always proposes some wise and important end in all he does. No wise man will cultivate and sow his field, without a design of reaping a valuable crop. Who then can suppose that God will be incessantly sowing, without any design of reaping? He had a wise design in creating the world, and he is constantly exerting his almighty power in accomplishing his primary and important design. He employs his powerful influence every moment in preserving and governing the world, in causing the regular succession of day and night, of winter and summer, of seed time and harvest, and in bringing about every event that takes place in any part of his vast dominions. And can we entertain the thought that he will exert his omnipotence for thousands of years, without obtaining his object, and enjoying the fruits of his labors? The ultimate end of all labor is rest and enjoyment. Men labor in one season, in order to enjoy rest in another. God intends that all his great and laborious exertions shall terminate in eternal rest and enjoyment. Though his plan of operation be immensely great in duration, as well as extent, yet it must be completely accomplished. Though his seed time may continue many thousand years, yet it is inseparably connected with the harvest. To suppose that he should be eternally creating new worlds, or new modifying old ones, would be to suppose that he has no perfect, consistent and ultimate end in view. And to suppose this, would destroy all the wisdom of his operations. His ultimate end, therefore, in the creation of this world, must be completely accomplished; and the accomplishment of it must put a final period to all his operations, and to the operations of all his creatures here below. There must be a cessation of labor and a time of rest, in the moral world. God must have a time to reap as well as to sow, a time to enjoy as well as to labor. It is just as certain that he will have a harvest, as that he now has a seed time.

I proceed to show,

II. That God's harvest will be at the end of the world. It will be more than three months, more than three years, and it may be more than three thousand years, before his harvest will come. His field is the world. His laborers are now sowing, and preparing the way for the great harvest; but it will not corne till the end of the world. For neither the wheat, nor the tares in the field, will come to maturity before that important period. But then all rational and accountable creatures will appear in the perfection of their natures and characters, and be fully ripe for a final separation. And when the wheat and the tares, or the righteous and the wicked, shall be separated and fixed in their final and unalterable state, then God will rest from his labors, and reap the happy fruits of all his works of creation, providence and redemption. This is that glorious consummation, which will take place at the end of the world. But in order to a more clear and full illustration of this interesting subject, I will enter into particulars, and observe,

1. That God will, at the end of the world, reap the rich and glorious fruits of his own labors. He has been laboring, in a certain sense, from the early days of eternity. Before the foundation of the world, he formed the best possible plan of operation, and determined all things that should ever take place, by his own operations, and by the operations of all his creatures. Though he formed this great, complicated and comprehensive design with perfect ease, yet it required the highest possible effort of his all knowing, all wise, and all benevolent mind. It requires considerable mental exertion in a man of large proper. ty, to form a wise and correct plan of his own conduct, and of the conduct of all whom he employs in his service; and it requires still greater mental exertion in a general of a numerous army, to form a wise and complicated plan of his own conduct, and of the various operations and movements of all under his command. But it required an infinitely greater exertion of the Deity, to determine in his own mind how many worlds he would make, how many creatures he would form, and how he would dispose of them all through every period of their exist

Having made these astonishing mental exertions in adjusting the whole plan of creation, he began to labor with his own hand. By his omnipotent hand, he brought heaven and earth, angels and men, out of nothing into being; and by the same hand, he constantly upholds and governs all his creatures, and his works. He universally controls all the views, and designs, and conduct of angels and men, and employs them all as laborers in his vineyard, and as instruments in his hand, of executing his original and eternal purposes. Thus God, speaking after the manner of men, has been laboring, in devising the plan of creation, in performing the work of creation, and in superintending both the natural and moral world, from the beginning to this day; and he will continue his constant and laborious operations till the end of time. Then, his harvest being fully ripe, he will gather it in, and reap the fruit of all his labors from the beginning to the end of the world. His harvest will not be blasted nor injured by any unforeseen or unexpected accident, but be a complete compensation for all his laborious exertions, and a complete fulfilment of his benevolent desires and designs.

ence.

2. At the end of the world, God will reap the fruits of all the labors of his holy creatures. These are his faithful and industrious servants. All the holy angels are his ministering spirits, and continually engaged in his service. They guarded the tree of life. By them, he conveyed his messages to the patriarchs and prophets in former ages. And he still employs them to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, both while they live and when they die. He employed the ministry of angels, in giving the law at Mount Sinai. He employed the instrumentality of angels in destroying Sodom, and spreading destruction in the camp of the Assyrians. He sent angels to announce the birth of Christ. He sent an angel to strengthen Christ in his agony in the garden. He sent angels to watch the sepulchre of Christ, and to confirm the truth of his resurrection and ascension to heaven. And there is reason to think that he continues to employ a vast many angels to carry on the purposes of his providence and grace. With all these powerful and faithful laborers in his service, all good men always have been, and always will be united, while they remain on the earth. All the real friends of God, in every age and in every part of the world, have freely and faithfully labored in his vineyard. Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and all the patriarchs, spent their long lives in serving God and their generations. Moses and Aaron, Caleb and Joshua, Samuel and the prophets, were no less faithful and zealous in doing the work that God gave them to do.

If to these eminent servants of God, we add the apostles and primitive christians, and all the good men that have ever lived from the beginning of the world to this day, and all that ever shall live from this day to the end of time, the laborers in the

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VOL. VI.

Lord's vineyard will appear immensely numerous. Solomon employed no less than one hundred and fifty thousand laborers every day, for seven years together, while he was building the temple in Jerusalem ; but what is this number of laborers, in comparison with the many millions of laborers that God has employed, and will employ, in the course of seven thousand years, in finishing his living temple, which he is here erecting, and determines to bring to absolute perfection? We cannot, at present, form any adequate conception of the great, and glorious, and everlasting effects of so many faithful laborers for so many thousand years. But we know that God will reap all the fruits of all the labors, and sufferings, and prayers of all who shall be renewed and sanctified, and redeemed from among men at the last day.

3. At the end of the world, God will reap the fruit of all his unholy, undutiful and mercenary servants. Though God made all his rational and immortal creatures for himself, and formed them capable of yielding him a free, voluntary and faithful service; yet a large number of them have renounced their allegiance to their rightful Lord and Sovereign, become disaffected to his character, opposed to his wise and holy designs, and resolved to pursue their own selfish interests in direct contrariety to his. Apostate angels and apostate men are alienated from God, and heartily opposed to his cause and interest in the world; and would not, if they could avoid it, do any thing to promote the designs he is pursuing, and is determined to accomplish. But God is able to overrule all the enmity and opposition of fallen angels and of fallen men, in subserviency to his own glory, and the great interests of his kingdom. T'his he has most clearly and strikingly manifested in the course of his providence, from the beginning of the world to the present day. He has always had the hearts of all his enemies in his hand, and made them undesignedly willing to promote the very ends they hated. God designed to promote his own glory in the fall and recovery of mankind. And he employed Satan, his first and greatest enemy, as a free, voluntary instrument to promote that design, which he had no desite nor intention to promote. And after the apostacy of the human race, we find that God employed evil spirits, as free, voluntary agents in fulfilling the purposes of providence. He undoubtedly employed their invisible influence in bringing about the dispersion of the ambitious and idolatrous builders of Babel ; in sending Joseph into Egypt; in trying the patience of Job; in hardening the heart of Pharaoh, and the hearts of the Egyptians; in hardening the hearts of the seven nations of Canaan, and preparing them for their predestinated ruin; and in tempt

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