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" the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and “ cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day “ and night, shall not cease:"* and they continue to this day according to God's ordinances. Yet have there been for the trial of faith or as the penalty of crimes, occasional suspensions of the divine promise; and although a dry seed-time is considered as the best, especially for spring corn, still frequently the wetness of the weather has not destroyed or diminished the crop: if, however, the season were unfavorable to the hopes of the sower, and the scarcity of corn in a late spring rendered it difficult to procure a competent supply for his hungry family, the husbandman would yet cast in the principal seed; his regrets, indeed, would be many—he would sow in tears, hoping, however, to reap in joy.
In such case, this precious grain would be buried in the earth, when the wants of his household might render it almost necessary to send it to the mill. Considerable risk is run at every seed-time; especially when the season is bad; yet hoping against hope, he goeth forth, carrying this valuable store, and scattereth it abroad in the prepared fur
Failure may, however, ensue in our terrestrial fields; not so on that consecrated ground, where the laborers work in faith under the Great Husbandman. The promise is sure: no good word of all the Lord hath spoken, shall fail-all shall come to pass. Let none be discouraged by their present sufferings or sorrows: weeping must not hinder sowing,
* Genesis, viii. 22.
Frequently are the words of the text confirmed, by providential arrangements in favor of persons who have suffered severely from external causes, but who knew not him that smote them. As the Governor of the world, God's tender mercies are over all his works; and nations, families, and individuals, who have conducted themselves well in trying circumstances, have at length had their hopes brightened, and their sighs exchanged for songs, We have, however, no immutable warrant; no covenanted hope to expect these interpositions of mercy, in their behalf who are in open rebellion against the God of all grace. This promise is the children's bread; the exclusive privilege of the citizens of Zion,—not the earthly Zion of old, but the better, the spiritual, the new Jerusalem, into which enter Jews and Greeks, Barbarians, Scythians, bond and free ; for all are one in Christ Jesus, by whom we are made nigh; and “ are no more “ strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with “ the saints, and of the household of God.”*
* Ephesians, ii. 9.
The distresses of a religious life, are here met by a gracious declaration ; “ They that sow in tears “ shall reap in joy.”
1. Religious sorrow, commences with spiritual existence; the new birth, is the date of this godly grief. When Jesus became incarnate at Bethlehem his earliest hours proclaimed him a man of sorrows; his acquaintance with woe commenced in the cradle, and was continued until the sepulchre. To Him saints are conformed; each of the family resembles his elder brother-not more in his sanctity and security, than his sorrows. “God had one Son without sin, none without suffering.
• Even “ so Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight; $ The cup which thou givest us shall we not drink 56 it? Not our will but thine be done."
Many are the tears of contrition and penitence shed by the sinner at his primary turning to God; convinced of his desert and danger, he trembleshe seeks to escape from vengeance--he shuns society—in the glooms of solitude, he bemoans himself thus,—“I am ashamed and confounded; smit
ing on his breast, he is surely heard to say, God 66 be merciful to me a sinner!”—but, reflecting on the vast variety, the excessive aggravation, and infinite number of his sins, he relapses into despairhe says, “there is no hope;"--revived by the character of Jehovah, as forgiving sin,-encouraged by the conduct of God, as passing by iniquity,—and cheered by the cross of Calvary, and the sight of Him who hung thereon, he approaches to the hallowed altar, and while his only sacrifice is a broken and contrite heart, he hears the voice of mercy, saying, “ with this I am well pleased,
through the merits of that better offering, “ the appointed Lamb of God.” Now is the sinner melted into a flood of tears; he sows liberal. ly the pious purposes of his heart-the earnest prayers for pardon--the intense breathings after holiness; and though tears of apprehension and doubt-yea, almost of despondency, are copiously poured out, like the water on the accepted sacrifice of the solitary prophet of Jehovah,* the secret satisfaction arising from the anticipated harvest, finely illustrates the language of our text, “ He that sows in tears shall reap in joy.” Thus are brought to God, such as are his children; and “ they shall come with weeping, and with suppli6. cations 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 fa“ ther to Israel, and Ephraim is my
This promise is, indeed, to receive its full and
* 1 Kings, xviii. 34.
f Jeremiah, xxxi. 9,
final accomplishment at the end of the world, the great and general harvest; but now its primary and partial fulfilment occurs. The seed thus moistened with tears, and afterwards warmed by the clear shining of the Siin, of Righteousness, soon vegetates, and multiplied pleasures are reaped by the pardoned penitent; his conscience is pacified by the blood of sprinkling,—the Balm of Gilead is applied to his wounded spirit; joy in the Holy Ghost is graciously bestowed ; and amidst some remaining drops of the storm of grief by which he was nearly deluged, he sees the rain bow of mercy -the symbol of unchanging love—the assurance that he shall never be forsaken-and that the good work begun, shall be carried on until the day of Christ Jesus.
2. And does he weep no more? alas! “ O “ wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me “ from this body of death? I groan, being bur“ dened.” The continuance of indwelling sin, is an unfailing source of sorrow. He soon discovers that though as the captive exile he is loosened, an unholy nature, a treacherous heart, and unceasing opposition from Satan, occasions him many tears.
Like the weeping sower, he slackens his hand : the falling torrents almost induce him to desist from labor. So numerous are the obstacles to his