[ocr errors]

Personal Religion.



Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt."Amos ix. 13.

- D

[ocr errors]

God's promises are not exhausted when they are fulfilled, for, when once performed, they stand just as good as they did before, and we may await a second accomplishment of them. Man's promises, even at the best, are like a cistern which holds but a temporary supply; but God's promises are as a fountain, never emptied, ever overflowing, so that you may draw from them the whole of that which they apparently contain, and they shall be still as full as ever. Hence it is that you will frequently find a promise containing both a literal and spiritual meaning. In the literal meaning it has already been fulfilled to the letter; in the spiritual meaning it shall also be accomplished, and not a jot or tittle of it shall fail. This is true of the particular promise which is before us. Originally, as you are aware, the land of Canaan was very fertile; it was a land that flowed with milk and honey. Even where no tillage had been exercised upon it, the land was so fruitful, that the bees who sucked the sweetness from the wild flowers produced such masses of honey that the very woods were sometimes flooded with it. It was 'A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil, olive, and honey." When, however, the children of Israel thrust in the ploughshare and began to use the divers arts of agriculture, the land became exceedingly fat and fertile, yielding so much corn, that they could export through the Phoenicians both corn, and wine, and oil, even to the pillars of Hercules, so that Palestine became, like Egypt, the granary of the nations. It is somewhat surprising to find that now the land is barren, that its valleys are parched, and that the miserable inhabitants gather miserable harvests from the arid soil. Yet the promise stands true, that one day, in the very letter, Palestine shall be as rich and fruitful as ever it was. There be those who understand



the matter, who assert, that if once the rigour of the Turkish rule could be removed, if men were safe from robbers, if the man who sowed could reap, and keep the corn which his own industry had sown and gathered, the land might yet again laugh in the midst of the nations, and become the joyous mother of children. There is no reason in the soil for its barrenness. It is simply the neglect that has been brought on, from the fact, that when a man has been industrious, his savings are taken from him by the hand of rapine, and the very harvest for which he toiled is often reaped by another, and his own blood spilt upon the soil.

The duty of the Church is not to be measured by her success. It is as much the minister's duty to preach the Gospel in adverse times as in propitious seasons. We are not to think, if God withholds the dew, that we are to withhold the plough. We are not to imagine that, if unfruitful seasons come, we are therefore to cease from sowing our seed. Our business is with act, not with result. The Church has to do her duty, even though that duty should bring her no present reward. "If they hear thee not, son of man, if they perish they shall perish, but their blood will I not require at thine hands." If we sow the seed, and the birds of the air devour it, we have done what we were commanded to do, and the duty is accepted even though the birds devour the seed. We may expect to see a blessed result, but even if it did not come we must not cease from duty. But while this is true so far, it must nevertheless be a Divine and holy stimulant to a Gospel labourer, to know that God is making him successful. And in the present day we have a better prospect of success than we ever had, and we should consequently work the harder. When a tradesman begins business with a little shop at the corner, he waits awhile to see whether he will have any customers. By. and-by his little shop is crowded; he has a name; he finds he is making money. What does he do? He enlarges his premises; the back-yard is taken in and covered over; there are extra men employed; still the business increases, but he will not invest all his capital in it till he sees to what extent it will pay. It still increases, and the next house is taken, and perhaps the next: he says, "This is a paying concern, and therefore I will increase it." My dear friends, I am using commercial maxims, but they are common-sense rules, and I like to talk so. There are, in these days, happy opportunities. There is a noble business to be done for Christ. Where you used to invest a little capital, a little

There never was such

effort, and a little donation, invest more. heavy interest to be made as now. It shall be paid back in the results cent. per cent.; nay, beyond all that you expected you shall see God's work prospering. If a farmer knew that a bad year was coming, he would perhaps only sow an acre or two; but if some prophet could tell him, "Farmer, there will be such a harvest next year as there never was," he would say, "I will plough up my grass lands, I will stub up those hedges: every inch of ground I will sow." So do you. There is a wondrous harvest coming. Plough up your headlands; root up your hedges; break up your fallow ground, and sow, even amongst the thorns. Ye know not which shall prosper, this or that; but ye may hope that they shall be alike good. Enlarged effort should always follow an increased hope of success.

And let me give you another encouragement. Recollect that even when this revival comes, an instrumentality will still be wanted. The ploughman is wanted, even after the harvest, and the treader of grapes is wanted, however plentiful the vintage; the greater the success, the more need of instrumentality. They began at first to think in the North of Ireland that they could do without ministers; but now that the Gospel is spread, never was there such a demand for the preachers of the Gospel as now. Proudly men said in their hearts, "God has done this without the intervention of man." I say, they said it proudly, for there is such a thing as proud humility; but God made them stoop. He made them see that after all He would bless the Word through His servants—that He would make the ministers of God "mighty to the pulling down of strongholds." Brothers and sisters, you need not think that if better times should come, the world will do without you. You will be wanted.


A man shall be precious as the gold of Ophir." They shall take hold of your skirts, and they shall say, "Tell us what we must do to be saved?" They shall come to your house; they shall ask your prayers; they shall demand your instructions; and you shall find the meanest of the flock become precious as a wedge of gold. The ploughman shall never be so much esteemed as when he follows after the reaper, and the sower of seed never so much valued as when he comes at the heels of those that tread the grapes. The glory which God puts upon instrumentality should encourage you to use it.

And now I beseech and entreat you, my dear brothers and

sisters, let not this auspicious gale pass away without singular effort. I sometimes fear lest the winds should blow on us, and we should have our sails all furled, and therefore the good ship should not speed. Up with the canvas now. Oh! put on every stitch of it. Let every effort be used, while God is helping us. Let us be earnest co-workers with Him. Methinks I see the clouds floating hither; they have come from the far west, from the shore of America; they have crossed the sea, and the wind has wafted them till the green isle received the showers in its northern extremity. Lo! the clouds are just now passing over Wales, and are refreshing the shires that border on the principality. The rain is falling on Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire; Divine grace is distilling, and the clouds are drawing nearer and nearer to us. Mark, my brethren, they tarry not for men, neither stay they for the sons of men. They are floating o'er our heads today. Shall they float away, and shall we still be left as dry as ever? 'Tis yours to-day 'to bring down the rain, though 'tis God's to send the clouds. God has sent this day over this great city a Divine cloud of His grace. Now, ye Elijahs, pray it down! To your knees, believers, to your knees. You can bring it down, and only you. "For this thing will I be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them." 'Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, and see if I will not open the windows of heaven, and give you such a blessing that you shall not have room to contain it." Will you lose the opportunity, Christians? Will you let men be lost for want of effort? Will you suffer this allblessed time to roll away unimproved? If so, the Church of 1860 is a craven Church, and is unworthy of its time; and he among you, men and brethren, that has not an earnest heart today, if he be a Christian, is a disgrace to his Christianity. When there are such times as these, if we do not every man of us trust in the plough, we shall indeed deserve the worst barrenness of soul that can possibly fall upon us. I believe that the Church has often been plagued and vexed by her God, because, when God has favoured her, she has not made a proper use of the favour. “Then,” saith He, "I will make thee like Gilboa; on thy mount there shall be no dew; I will bid the clouds that they rain no more rain upon thee, and thou shalt be barren and desolate, till once again I pour out the Spirit from on high." Let us spend this week in special prayer. Let us meet together as often as we can, and plead at the throne; and each man of you in private be mighty


with your God, and in publio be diligent in your efforts to bring your fellow-men to Christ.

I have frequently remarked, that in any revival of religion, it is not often the children of pious parents that are brought in, but those who never knew anything of Christ before. The ordinary means are usually blessed to those who constantly attend them; but the express effort, and the extraordinary influence of the Spirit, reach those who were outside the pale of nominal Christians, and made no profession of religion. I cannot conceive a more doleful wail than that of the man who cries at last in hell, "The harvest is past—there was a harvest; the summer is ended—there was a summer—and I am not saved." To go to perdition in ordinary times is hell; but to go from under the sound of an earnest ministry, where you are bidden to come to Christ, where you are entreated with honest tears to come to Jesus-to go there after you have been warned, is to go not to hell merely, but to the very hell of hell. The core and marrow of damnation is reserved for men who hear the truth, and feel it too, but yet reject it and are lost. Oh! my dear reader, this is a solemn time with you. I pray that God the Holy Spirit, may remind you that it may be now or never with you. You may never have another warning, or if you have it, you may grow so hardened that you may laugh at it and despise it. My brother, I beseech thee, by God, by Christ Jesus, by thine own immortal welfare, stop and think now whether it be worth while to throw away the hallowed opportunity which is now presented to thee. Wilt thou go and dance away thine im. pressions, or laugh them out of thy soul? Ah! man, thou mayest laugh thyself into hell, but thou canst not laugh thyself out of it.

There is a turning-point in each man's life, when his character becomes fixed and settled. I pray that God the Holy Spirit may sweetly whisper in thy heart-" Man, yield, for Jesus invites thee to come to Him." Oh, may my Master smile into your face and say, "I love thy soul; trust me with it. Give up thy sins; turn to me." O Lord Jesus, do it! and men shall not resist thee. Oh! show them thy love, and they must yield. Do it, O thou crucified One, for thy mercy's sake! Send forth thy Holy Spirit, and bring the strangers home; and grant thou, O Lord, that many hearts may be fully resigned to thy love, and to thy grace!

« 上一页继续 »