Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

that he did not regard life, as bestowed only for the purposes of self-denial and mortification. He withdrew not to the solitude of the desert, but upon one memorable occasion, as preparatory to the high and arduous duties, which awaited his performance. And in the very midst of those incessant and urgent claims upon his time, he even sought intervals of repose, and mingled in the social scenes of life. Indeed, if we compare in this respect the conduct of our holy Founder with that of many among his mistaken followers, we shall find it as inimitable for the graceful cheerfulness of his demeanour, as for the active usefulness of his employments. No sullen seclusion from the haunts of men; still less, a withdrawing from the calls of active duty; no self-inflicted torment, nor even abstinence from food but upon one occasion, marked his religious career. He cheerfully partook of gratifications, which the manners of his country and his age supplied ; was a welcome guest at the marriage in Cana, and joined in friendly and instructive converse at the well-spread table in Bethany. The peculiar circumstances of his own time required indeed from some of his followers a degree of devotion to his cause, which in the same extent has not been necessary since ; certainly not in these latter times; while his unequivocal censure of the affected precision of the Scribes and Pharisees, and his avowed preference of active duties over mystical contemplation or formal devotion, shew that the spirit of his religion is ill understood and perversely explained by such, as enjoin a rigid abstinence from the world. That spirit is indeed most accurately represented by his inspired followers, who expressly enjoin us to “use the world, as not abusing it”a ; who instruct us that “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving”.

» b; who assure us that “unto the pure all things are pure”¢; and who charge us to “ trust in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” d

The sum of the Apostle's doctrine then is this; that we are not to love the world, or the things of the world, with undue or indiscriminate fondness; that we look upon it as precarious and deceitful, compared with the enjoyments of futurity; that we should most cautiously and conscientiously decline all participation in its guilty pleasures, and even deny ourselves such, as are in themselves innocent, when they would draw us off from any serious study, any useful pursuit, any active duty. But we are permitted to share its harmless amusements, and enjoy its cheerful recreations, because we are the creatures of a benevolent God, who must have formed us for our happiness, and the servants of a gracious Redeemer, who has taught us, by his holy Apostle, that “ godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."

[ocr errors]

a 1 Cor. vii. 31.

bl Tim. iv. 4. c Titus, i. 15. d 1 Tim. vi. 17. e 1 Tim. iv. 8.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

THEY THAT SOW IN TEARS SHALL REAP IN JOY.

HE THAT

GOETH FORTH AND WEEPETH, BEARING PRECIOUS SEED, SHALL DOUBTLESS COME AGAIN WITH REJOICING, BRINGING HIS SHEAVES WITH HIM.

This is one of those charming allusions to rural scenery, and the labours of the field, which abound in Scripture; and which not only render the lessons and the truths contained in it more intelligible, but give them an additional hold upon our minds from the beauty and usefulness as well as familiarity of the objects, to which they refer. What argument, for instance, can illustrate more strongly, yet more agreeably, the providential care of our Almighty Father, than the following? “Behold the fowls of the air ;. for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns ; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” What can set forth more clearly the vanity of human pursuits, and the insufficiency of worldly advantages, than the comparison instituted by St. James ? “ Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low: because, as

a Matt. vi. 26.

[ocr errors]

the flower of the grass, he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth : so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.". Again, what can be more striking, and even conclusive, than the reply of the Apostle to the doubts or cavils of him, who scrupled to admit the doctrine of the resurrection of the body? “ Thou fool,” (or rather, Thou inconsiderate man!) “That which thou sowest, is not quickened, except it die : and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain : but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him; and to every seed his own body."

I have selected these passag'es, not only for the purpose of shewing the pleasing and familiar manner, in which the language of Scripture is accommodated to the capacity and feelings of mankind, but because, in the moral and religious truths which they inculcate, they confirm the doctrine of the text. The providential care of God for His creatures ; the vanity and instability of earthly good; and the glorious certainty of a state of future retribution, are truths, connected with that declaration of the Psalmist, which I have selected for the words of my text: “ They, that sow in tears, shall reap in joy."

Before however I enlarge upon the particular doctrine conveyed by these words, I shall make a few observations upon the Psalm itself, and upon one or two passages in it, that are not so clearly translated. There seems to be little doubt that the Psalm was written, when the first portion of the Jewish captives returned with Esdras or Ezra : and it was probably written by him, or by some inspired contemporary. “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, then were we like unto them that dream.The words "that dream” would be translated better “they that are recovered to health.” The time of captivity, , during which they suffered great hardships, is compared to a state of sickness; but that of their return, to a restoration unto perfect health. Again, in the fourth verse we read, “ Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the South.That is; “as to those of our brethren, who yet remain behind in a foreign land, do thou, Lord, be pleased to hasten their delivery. That mercy will come as seasonable to them, as water to the most parched dry soil,” such as the countries south of Judea. Then follows the text, again applying itself to those still in captivity; They, that sow in tears, shall reap

a James, i. 9--11. b 1 Cor. xv. 368.

in joy.”

"“This thou wilt do in thy good time; vouchsafe to give them, as thou hast done unto us, a joyful return, after so sad a time of captivity.” The concluding verse may be thus paraphrased : “The poor man that carries out his handful of seed, (and looks upon it with some sadness, as a melancholy thing to cast that away to rot in the earth, which cost him much labour to get into his granary; to bury that in the clods, which was prepared for his sustenance, and so takes his leave of it with wet eyes, sending his tears and prayers after it,) cannot be more joyed to bring home in time of harvest full loads of sheaves into his barn,

« AnteriorContinuar »