Sermon 757. In the Hay Field
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, JUNE 23, 1867, by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"He causes the grass to grow for the cattle."- Psalm 104:14.
VE who are condemned to live in this great wilderness of brick are very likely to forget the seasons altogether. And our friendswho live out in the green country and see the changing seasons, are quite as apt to hear the voices of the seasons with theirears only, and not to learn the inward meaning with their hearts. Spring, summer, autumn, and winter are God's four Evangelistswhom He sends into this world to teach those who are willing to be taught. But the most of men are far too much intent uponthe problem of how they may be fed to care for spiritual instruction.
"He that has ears to hear, let him hear." As for others, in whom the god of this world is reigning, they will not hear thoughHeaven, and earth, and Hell should mingle their voices into one great thunder-clap. Just now all the world is busy with ingatheringthe hay, and you could scarcely ride for a few minutes in the country without enjoying the delicious fragrance of the hayfield and hearing the sharpening of the mower's scythe.
I believe there is a Gospel in the hay field, and that Gospel we intend, this morning, to bring out as we may be enabled.Our text conducts us at once to the spot and we shall therefore need no preface. "He causes the grass to grow for the cattle"-threethings we shall notice. First, that grass is, in itself, instructive. Secondly, that grass is far more so when God is seenin it. And thirdly, that by the growth of grass for the cattle, the ways of Divine Grace may be illustrated.
I. First then, "He causes the grass to grow for the cattle." Here we have something WHICH IS, IN ITSELF, INSTRUCTIVE. Thereis scarcely any emblem, with the exception of water and light, which you will find more frequently used by inspiration thanthe grass of the field. In the first place the grass may be instructively looked upon as the symbol of our mortality, "Allflesh is grass."
The whole history of man may be seen in the meadow. He springs up green and tender, subject to the frosts of infancy whichimperil his young life. He grows. He comes to maturity. He puts on beauty even as the grass is adorned with flowers and themeadows are bedecked with varied hues. But after awhile his strength departs and his beauty is wrinkled even as the grasswithers, and is followed by a fresh generation, which withers in its turn. Like ourselves, the grass ripens but to decay.
The eons of men come to maturity in due time, and then decline and wither as the green herb. Some of the grass is not leftto come to ripeness at all, but the mower's scythe suddenly removes it, even as swift-footed Death overtakes the carelesschildren of Adam. "In the morning it flourishes and grows up. In the evening it is cut down and withers. For we are consumedby Your anger, and by Your wrath are we troubled." "As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more."
This is very humbling for us to remember, but we need frequently to be reminded of it, or we dream of immortality beneaththe stars. We are and we are wot! We are not substance but shadow! Our years are as a shadow which declines and, as for ourage, it is gone as a weaver's shuttle. We pass away like the swift ships. We fly as the eagle. We burst as the bubble. Wesink back into the wave of time that bears us as the foam dissolves into the sea-
"Great God, how infinite are You! What worthless worms are we!"
We ought never to tread upon the grass without remembering that whereas the green sod covers our graves, it also reminds usof them. And it preaches, with every blade it has, a sermon to us concerning our mortality of which the text is, "all fleshis grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field." In the second place, grass is frequently used
in Scripture as an emblem of the wicked. David tells us from his own experience that the heart of a righteous man is apt togrow envious of the wicked when he sees the prosperity of the ungodly.
We have seen them spreading themselves like green bay trees, and apparently fixed and rooted in their places. And when wehave smarted under our own troubles, and felt that all the day long we were scourged, and chastened every morning, we havebeen apt to say, "How is this just? How can this be consistent with the moral government of God?" But we are reminded thatin a short time we shall pass by the place of the wicked, and lo, it shall not be. We shall diligently consider his place,and lo, it shall not be, for he is soon cut down as the grass, and withers as the green herb. The grass withers, the flowerfades away, and even so shall pass away forever the glory and excellence of those who build upon the estate of time, and digfor lasting comfort in the mines of earth.
It is true the kings of the earth are most often on the side of evil, and the great ones with their pompous State are usuallyagainst the Most High. But let not God's people mourn, though waters of a full cup be wrung out of them, for the portion ofthe wicked is not forever. They shall have their day and then shall come their endless night. They are set in lofty places,but they also stand in slippery places. They shall be brought to destruction as in a moment. "As a dream when one awakes,so, O Lord, when You awake, You shall despise their image."
O, you who know not the Lord, and rest not in the atonement of the Lord Jesus, see to what an end you shall come- your endshall be the oven! As the Eastern farmer gathers up the green herb and despite its former beauty, casts it into the furnace,such must be your lot, O vainglorious Sinners! Thus will the Judge command His angels, "Bind them up in bundles to burn."Where, now, is your merriment? Where, now, is your confidence? Where, now, is your pride and your pomp? Where, now, your boastsand your loud-mouthed blasphemies? They are silenced forever, for, as the thorns crackle under the pot but are speedily consumedand leave nothing but a handful of white ashes, so shall it be with the wicked! They shall pass away in the fire of God'swrath, and the flames shall utterly consume them.
It is more pleasing to remember that the grass is used in Scripture as a picture of the elect of God. The wicked are comparableto the dragons of the wilderness, but God's own people shall spring up in their place, for it is written, "In the habitationof dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes." The desert of sin shall yet be verdant with Divine Grace.The elect are compared to grass because of their number as they shall be in the latter days and because of the of their rapidgrowth.
You remember the passage, "There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains. The fruit thereofshall shake like Lebanon, and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth." O that the long expected day mightsoon come, when God's people should no longer be a little flock, but when a multitude shall come to Christ and the Redeemershall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied! It is said of Zion's children, "They shall spring up as among the grass,as willows by the watercourses"-two of the fastest growing things we know of-so shall a nation be born in a day!
So shall crowds be converted at once, for when the Spirit of God shall be mightily at work in the midst of the Church, menshall fly unto Christ as doves fly to their windows, so that the astonished Church shall cry, "These, where had they been?"O that we might live to see the age of gold-the time which Prophets have foretold and longed for- when the company of God'speople shall be as innumerable as the blades of grass in the meadows! Then Grace and Truth shall flourish where once everythingwas barrenness.
How like the grass are God's people for this reason, that they are absolutely dependent upon the influences of Heaven! Ourfields are parched if vernal showers and gentle dews are withheld-and what are our souls without the gracious visitationsof the Spirit? Sometimes through severe trials our wounded hearts are like the mown grass, and then we have the promise, "Heshall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth." Our sharp troubles have taken away our beauty,and lo, the Lord visits us, and we revive again!
Thank God for that old saying which is a gracious doctrine as well as a true proverb, "Each blade of grass has its own dropof dew." God is pleased to give His own peculiar mercies to each one of His own people. "Your blessing is upon Your people."The river of God, which is full of water, waters the Church which is a vineyard in which every vine is so dependent upon Godthat He must be its heavenly dew, or it will dry up at once. As you look at the fields of grass, think of them as being comparableto the great company of the redeemed whom God shall make to grow upon the face of the earth!
Once again, grass is comparable to the food with which the Lord supplies the necessities of His chosen ones. Take the 23rdPsalm and you have the metaphor worked out in the sweetest form of pastoral song. "He makes me to lie down in green pastures:He leads me beside the still waters." Just as the sheep has nourishment according to its nature, and this nourishment is abundantlyfound for it by its shepherd so that it not only feeds, but then lies down in the midst of the fodder, satiated with plenty,and perfectly content and at ease-even so are the people of God when Jesus Christ leads them into the pastures of the Covenant,and opens up to them the precious Truths of God upon which their souls shall be
Beloved, have we not proven that promise true in this House of Prayer? "In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make untoall people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined"?Why, my soul has sometimes fed upon Christ till I have felt as if I could receive no more, and then I have laid down in thebounty of my God to take my rest, satisfied with favor, and full of the goodness of the Lord.
Whenever you see the sheep at noontide, resting in the rich herbage beneath the spreading oak, think of that enquiry of Solomonwhen he said, "Tell me where you feed, where you make your flock to rest at noon." And when you see the herds with all theirneeds supplied both in summer and in winter, then sing with the Psalmist, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Thusyou see the grass, itself, is not without instruction for those who will incline their ear. It is a memorial of our mortality,and of the passing away of the wicked. It is a picture of the elect of God when watered with the dew of Heaven, and an emblemof the spiritual meat with which God will satisfy the sheep of His pasture.
II. In the second place, GOD IS SEEN IN THE GROWING OF THE GRASS. He is seen, first, as a Worker, "He causes the grass togrow." He is seen secondly as a Caretaker, He causes the grass to grow for the cattle.
1. First, as a Worker, God is to be seen in every blade of grass if we have but eyes to discern Him. A blind world this, whichalways talks about "natural laws," and "the effects of natural causes," but forgets that laws cannot operate of themselves,and that natural causes, so called, are not causes at all unless the First Cause shall set them in motion. The old Romansused to say, God thundered, God rained. We say, it thunders, it rains. What "it"? All those expressions are subterfuges toescape from the thought of God.
We commonly say, "How wonderful are the works of nature!" What is "nature"? Do you know what nature is? I remember a lecturerin the street, an infidel, speaking about nature, and he was asked by a Christian man standing by whether he would tell himwhat nature was. "Walk in the fields, and see nature"-"nature did this and nature did that"-these are common phrases but isthere any meaning in them? Is not that an old heathen way of talking?
If we see aright, we see God working everywhere. We frequently talk as if we were trying to thrust our God into the distance.Our good old forefathers, the Puritans, when they wanted rain, used to pray that God would unstop the bottles of Heaven. Atanother time that He would be pleased to bind up the clouds, that there might not be too much rain. We run to the barometer,or grumble at the bad weather. They referred all natural phenomena to the Most High and were accustomed to see Him at workin all the events of life.
We have grown so wise nowadays that we find a thousand second causes interposing between the world and its Maker. Unhappyis the wisdom whose boasted discoveries would gladly push us away from our heavenly Father into a wild sea of laws and secondcauses. To my mind it would be even better if we could get back to the untutored mind of the Indian who sees God in everycloud and hears Him in the wind. We need our God-we are like orphans without Him- and it is well to be reminded, in the simplelanguage of the text, that He is very near us, for He makes the grass to grow for the cattle.
The simple production of grass is not the result of natural law apart from the actual work of God. Mere law would be inoperativeunless the great Master Himself sent a thrill of power through the matter which is regulated by the law- unless, like thesteam engine which puts force into all the spinning-jennies and wheels of a cotton-mill-God Himself were the motive powerto make every wheel revolve. How I could fall down and find rest on the grass as on a royal couch, now that I know that myGod is there at work for His creatures!
Having asked you to see God as a Worker, I want you to make use of this-therefore I bid you see God in common things. He makesthe grass to grow-grass is a common thing. You see it every day everywhere, yet there is God in it. Dissect it and pull itto pieces. There are the attributes of God illustrated in every single flower of the field, and in every green leaf. Come,my Friends, see God in your common matters, your daily afflictions, your common joys, your everyday
mercies. Do not say, "I must see a miracle before I see God." In truth, everything is a miracle, everything wonderful, everythingteeming with marvel.
See God in the bread upon the table and the water in your cup. It will be the happiest way of living if you can say in eachProvidential circumstance, "My Father has done all this." See Him in common things, I say, and see Him in little things. Thelittle things of life are the greatest troubles. A man will bear that his house is burned down more quietly than he will bearto see an ill-cooked piece of meat upon his table-when he reckoned upon its being done to a turn. It is the little stone whichgets into the shoe and makes the pilgrim limp. Oh, but to see God in little things, to believe that there is as much the Presenceof God in a sere leaf falling from the elm as in the avalanche which crushes a village!
O, to believe that the guidance of every drop of spray, when the wave breaks on the rock, is as much under the hand of Godas the guidance of the mightiest planet when steered in its courses! To see God in the little as well as in the great is truewisdom! Think, too, of God working in the solitary things, for the grass does not merely grow around our populous cities,and where men take care of it, but up there on the side of the bleak Alps where no traveler has ever passed! Where only theeyes of the wild bird has beheld their lovely verdure, the moss and the grass come to perfection and display all their beauty,for God's works are fair to other eyes than those of mortals.
And you, solitary child of God, dwelling far away from any friend, unknown and obscure in a remote hamlet. Or you in the midstof London, hiding away in your little attic, unknown to fame, and forsaken by friendship-you are not forgotten by the loveof Heaven. He makes the grass to grow all alone, and shall not He make you flourish in loneliness? He can bring forth yourgraces and educate you for the skies in solitude and neglect. The grass, you know, is a thing we tread upon-nobody thinksof grass-men pass over it and have no compassion for the stems which bend beneath their weight, and yet God makes it grow.
Perhaps you are oppressed and down-trodden, but let not this depress your spirit, for God executes righteousness for all thosethat are oppressed. He makes the grass to grow, and He can make your heart to flourish under all the oppressions and afflictionsof life so that you shall still be happy and holy though all the world marches over you-still living in the immortal lifewhich God Himself bestows upon you though Hell itself set its heel upon you! Poor and needy one, unknown, unobserved, oppressedand down-trodden, God makes the grass to grow and He will take care of you.
As I turned over this text in my mind, to catch the various gleams of light which glance from it as from a prism, I thought,"How many are those blades of grass!" Set a child to count them, even in one acre, and how long the task will occupy-and yeteach one of those blades God makes to grow as much as if there were not another in all the field! So with all the myriadsof God's people-He preserves each child as if He had no other.
He loves as much every single one of all the blood-bought seed as if it were the only object of Divine Grace, the only onethat should sing within the pearly gates. Be of good comfort, then-the God who abounds in mercy towards the grass of the fieldwill not forget you.
2. But I said we should see in the text God also as a great Caretaker. "He causes the grass to grow for the cattle." DoesGod, then, care for oxen, or does He say it altogether for our sakes? "You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadsout the corn," shows that God has a care for the beasts of the field. But it shows much more than that, namely, that He wouldhave those who work for Him fed as they work. God cares for the beasts, and makes grass to grow for them. Then, my Soul, thoughsometimes you have said with David, "So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before You," yet God cares for you.
Do you remember our sermon upon "The Ravens' Cry"? [Volume 12, #672.] "He gives to the beast his food, and to the young ravenswhich cry"-there you have an instance of His care for birds, and here we have His care for beasts. And though you, my Hearer,may seem to yourself to be as black and defiled as a raven, and as far from anything spiritually good as the beasts, yet takecomfort from this text! He gives to beasts their food, and He will give to you, though you think yourself to be beast-like,what your spirit needs at His hands. Observe, He cares for these beasts who are helpless in caring for themselves. The cattlecould not plant the grass, nor cause it to grow.
Though they can do nothing in the matter, yet He does it all for them. He causes the grass to grow. You who are as helplessas oxen to help yourselves, who can only stand and moan out your misery, and know not what to do-God can prevent you in Hisloving kindness, and favor you in His tenderness. Now let the bleating of your prayer go up to
Heaven! Let the moans of your desires go up to Him, poor guilty ones, and help shall come to you though you cannot help yourselves.
We generally say beasts are dumb and speechless things, yet God makes the grass grow for them. Will He hear those that cannotspeak, and will He not hear those who can? The beasts shed no tears of penitence and pour forth no sobs and sighs of ferventprayer, and yet their needs are supplied! Will God let that poor young man yonder continue month after month seeking Him,and will He not be found of him? Shall that poor woman's briny tears all fall in vain, that poor broken heart cry out in bitterness,and meet with no response?
Shall the Lord of Mercy answer the beasts, and not hear men who are made in His own image? Since our God views, with kindconsideration, the cattle in the field, He will surely have compassion upon His own sons and daughters when they desire toseek His face. How often the cattle are oppressed by man! I am sure it is painful to see them driven through these streets,bruised and faint, with their poor tongues hanging out of their thirsty mouths. I wish the authorities would provide suitabledrinking troughs for them, for at present their sufferings are a disgrace to our city.
It is frequently so sickening a sight to see poor tortured cattle in our thoroughfares, that it makes one long to fly fromsuch brutality, and cry-
"Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness, Some boundless mass of shade,
Where sights of cruel men and maddened beasts Might never reach us more."
Yet the great God looks after those poor dumb cattle whom men despise! Comfortable thought for some of you who are of themeekest and lowliest spirit. You despise yourselves, and others despise you, but He who causes the grass to grow for the cattlehas an eye to you! Man may have nothing for you but strokes from the rod. Thoughtless, heartless man may goad and vex yourspirit and drive you through the streets of this busy world without so much as a drop of comfort to cool your burning tongueand fevered brain when you are fainting with many cares and fears. But God thinks of you, God cares for you still.
When your father and your mother forsake you, then the Lord will take you up. The cattle, forlorn as they are, have God tothink of them and so have you. Shall they be silently trustful, and will you be noisily complaining? There is this also tobe said-God not only thinks of the cattle, taking care of them-but the food which He provides for them is fit food! He causesgrass to grow for the cattle, just the sort of food which ruminants require. Even thus the Lord God provides fit sustenancefor His people. Depend upon Him by faith and wait upon Him in prayer-and you shall have food convenient for you.
You shall find in God's mercy just that which your nature desires, suitable supplies for your grievous needs. This convenientfood the Lord takes care to reserve for the cattle, for no one eats the cattle's food but the cattle. There is grass for themand nobody else cares for it, and thus it is kept for them. Even so, God has a special food for His own people- He knows howto preserve it, too, and keep it for them and them only. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will showthem His Covenant."
Though the grass is free to all men who choose to eat it, yet no creature cares for it except the cattle for whom it is prepared.And though the Grace of God is free to all men, yet no man cares for it except the elect of God for whom He prepared it, andwhom He prepares to receive it. There is as much reserve of the grass for the cattle as if there were walls around it-no oneelse eats it-no one else cares for it. And so, though the Grace of God is free, and there is no bound set round about it,yet it is as much reserved as if it were restricted-and none might receive it but the elect of God.
God is seen in the grass as the Worker and the Caretaker. Then let us see His hand in Providence at all times. Let us seeit and lean upon it, not only when we have abundance, but even when we have none, for the grass is preparing for the cattleeven in the depth of winter. God is preparing and breaking the soil. He is sending the juices into the roots, giving the rootsa little rest that they may afterwards bring forth abundance. And you, you sons of sorrow, in your trials and troubles, arestill cared for by God. He has an end to serve in all your griefs and miseries. He will accomplish His own Divinely graciouspurpose in you-only be still and see the salvation of God! Every winter's night has a direct connection with the joyous daysof mowing and reaping, and each time of grief is linked to future joy.
II. Our third head is most interesting. GOD'S WORKING IN THE GRASS FOR THE CATTLE GIVES US ILLUSTRATIONS CONCERNING DIVINEGRACE. I ask every Christian here to give me his earnest attention for a few
minutes, and I think he may hear something which may cheer him. I will suppose that I am soliloquizing, and I will say tomyself as I read the text, "He causes the grass to grow for the cattle. Here I perceive a satisfying provision for that formof creature.
"Now, I am also a creature, but I am a nobler creature than the cattle! I cannot imagine, for a moment, that God will provideall that the cattle needs and not provide for me. But naturally I feel uneasy. I cannot find in this world what I want-ifI were to win all its riches I should still be discontented-and when I have all that heart could wish of time's treasures,yet still my heart feels as if it were empty. There must be somewhere or other something that will satisfy me as a man withan immortal soul.
"God altogether satisfies the ox. He must, therefore, have something or other that would altogether satisfy me if I couldget it! There is the grass-the cattle get it-and when they have eaten their share, they lie down and seem perfectly contented.Now, all I have ever found, as an unconverted man, has never satisfied me so that I could lie down and be content. There mustbe, then, something somewhere that would content me if I could get at it."
Is not that good reasoning? I ask both the Christian and the unbeliever to go with me so far. But then let us proceed anotherstep: "The cattle do get what they need-not only is the grass provided, but they get it. Well, then, why should not I obtainwhat I need? I find my soul hungering and thirsting after something more than I can see with my eyes or hear with my ears.There must be something to satisfy my soul-why should not I find it? The cattle find that which satisfies them-why shouldI not obtain what would satisfy me? There must be such a thing. I cannot suppose that my heavenly Father made me as a creaturewithout making something, also, that could satisfy my largest desires. There is such a thing, and surely if the cattle getwhat they need, I shall not be left unsupplied."
Then, I begin to ask in prayer, "What is this which You, O God, have provided to satisfy my soul?" And while I am praying,I also meditate and think, "Well, God has given to the cattle something which is consonant to their nature- they are nothingbut flesh, and flesh is grass-there is therefore grass for their flesh. But, then, though I am flesh, I am something elsebesides, I am spirit. Then, if I am to get something to satisfy me, it must be spiritual-a spiritual meat.
Where is it?"
When I turn to God's Word, I find there that though the grass withers, the Word of the Lord endures forever, and the Wordwhich God speaks unto us is spirit and life. "Oh, then," I say, "here is something spiritual for my spiritual nature, somethingsuitable to me as an immortal being." O may God help me to know what that spiritual meat is and enable me to lay hold uponit, for I perceive that though God provides the grass for the cattle, the cattle must eat it themselves. They are not fedif they lie down and refuse to come and eat!
Then what must I do? Must I imitate the cattle and eat that which God provides for me? What do I find provided in Scripture?I find the Lord Jesus Christ laid down as the Food of my soul. I am told that He came into this world to suffer, and bleed,and die instead of me, and that if I trust in Him I shall be saved. And being saved, the thoughts of His love will give solaceand joy to me and be my strength, the strength of my life and my portion forever. I do not find the cattle bringing any purchasemoney to the pasture, but they enter it and receive their portion-they open their mouths and receive what they need.
Even so do I, by an act of faith in Jesus. Lord, give me Grace to feed upon Christ! Make me hunger and thirst after Him! Giveme the faith by which I may be a receiver of Him, so that I may be satisfied with favor, and full of the goodness of the Lord.I think my text, though it looked small, begins to grow and swell as we meditate upon it!
Now, I want to introduce you to a few more thoughts on this matter as illustrations of Divine Grace. Preventing Grace mayhere be seen in a symbol. Before the cattle were made, in this world there was grass. We find in the first chapter of GenesisGod provided the grass before He created the cattle. And what a mercy that there were Covenant supplies for God's people beforethey were in the world! He had given His Son Jesus Christ to die, to be the Sponsor and Surety of the elect, before Adam wasmade in the garden. Long before sin came into the world, the everlasting mercy of God foresaw the damages of sin and provideda Refuge for every elect soul.
Oh, what a mercy it is for me, that, before I hunger, God has prepared for my hunger! That before I thirst, God has openedthe rock in the wilderness to leap forth with crystal streams to satisfy the thirst of my soul! See what Sovereign Grace cando! Before the cattle come to the pasture, the grass is grown for them, and before I feel my need of Divine
mercy, that mercy is provided for me! Then I perceive an illustration of Free Grace, for wherever the ox comes into the field,he brings no money with him. There is the food ready for him, but he brings nothing with which to purchase it.
So I, poor needy sinner, having nothing, come and receive Christ without money and without price. He makes the grass to growfor the cattle, and so He does provide Grace for my needy soul, though I have now no money, no virtue, no excellence of myown! And why is it, my Friends, why is it that God gives the cattle the grass? You will perhaps be surprised when I say toyou that the reason is because they belong to Him. Here is a text to prove it. "The silver and the gold are mine, and thecattle upon a thousand hills." That is why He provides grass for them-because they are His ownproperty.
How is it that Christ is provided for God's people? Because "the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance."Of every herd of cattle in the world, God could say, "They are Mine." Long before the farmer put his brand, God had set Hiscreating mark upon it. They are God's making, preserving, and feeding altogether. So, before the stamp of Adam's Fall wasset upon our brow, the stamp of electing love was set there. "In Your book all my members were written, which in continuancewere fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
Another thing may, perhaps, surprise you still more! God feeds the cattle because He has entered into a Covenant with themto do so. "What? A covenant with cattle!" says somebody. Yes! Truly so, for when God spoke to His servant Noah, in that daywhen all the cattle came out of the ark, we find Him saying, "I establish My Covenant with you, and with your seed after you;and with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you." Sothere was a Covenant, you see, made with the cattle, and that Covenant was that seedtime and harvest should not fail. Thereforethe earth brings forth for them, and the Lord causes the grass to grow.
Does Jehovah keep His Covenant with cattle, and will He not keep His Covenant with His own beloved? Ah, it is because Hischosen people are His covenanted ones in the Person of the Lord Jesus that He provides for them all that they shall need intime and in eternity, and satisfies them out of the fullness of His everlasting love! Once, again, God feeds the cattle andthen the cattle praise Him. We find David saying in the 148th Psalm, "Praise the Lord...you beasts and all cattle." They havetheir music for God! The Lord feeds His people in order that they may praise Him, to the end that their glory may sing praiseunto Him and not be silent. While other creatures give glory to God, let the redeemed of the Lord especially say so, whomHe has delivered out of the hand of the enemy.
Nor even yet is our text quite exhausted. Turning one moment from the cattle, I want you to notice the grass. It is said ofthe grass, "He causes the grass to grow"-here is a mighty blow to free will, because if the grass does not grow without God'scausing it to grow, how is it that Divine Grace should be found in the human heart apart from Divine operations? Surely Graceis a much more wonderful product of Divine wisdom and more complicated than the grass can be! And if Grace does not grow withouta Divine cause, depend upon it, Grace does not dwell in us without a Divine implantation! And if I have so much as one bladeof Grace growing within me, I must trace it all to God's Divine will.
As the grass all depends upon God's causing it to grow, so the Divine Grace we have depends upon God's constant kindness andtender loving mercy to make it ripen to perfection. You are a babe as yet in Grace, and that you are alive unto God at allis due to God's quickening power. But if ever you are to attain to the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus, that mustbe due to the continuous putting forth of the Divine energy. There is no having Grace, and no growing in Grace except Godgives us both the one and the other-for if He causes grass to grow, much more must Grace come from
Again, if God thinks it worth His while to make grass, and take care of it, and make it grow, much more will He think it toHis honor to cause His Grace to grow in my heart. If the great invisible Spirit, whose thoughts are high and lofty, condescendsto look after that humble thing which grows by the hedge, surely He will condescend to watch over His own nature which Hecalls the incorruptible seed, which lives and abides forever! Mungo Park, in the deserts of Africa, was much comforted whenhe took up a little piece of moss and saw the wisdom and power of God in that lonely piece of verdant loveliness.
So when I introduce you today to the fields ripe and ready for the mower, how your hearts ought to leap for joy to see howGod has produced the grass, caring for it all through the weary months of the long-delayed spring-and the rigorous cold ofa suddenly perpetuated winter-until, at last, He sent the genial rain and sunshine, and brought the fields to their propercondition. And so, my Soul, though you may have many a frost and biting winter, and much to
bear with, yet He causes the grass to grow, and He will cause you to grow in Grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and SaviorJesus Christ!
Once again, you perceive that the grass does not grow without an object-the grass grows for the cattle. And then you knowwhat the cattle grow for-they grow for man! So the whole business comes to a point. But, then, what does man grow for? Thatis the next question. Then, my Soul, if there is any good thing growing in you, it is for a purpose- and you, yourself, ifyou are favored with Divine manifestation, are blessed for a purpose! And as the grass does not refuse to be fed upon by thecattle, take care that you do not refuse to yield yourself unto God!
And as the cattle do not refuse to give themselves up to labor and slaughter, so bow yourself and render yourself to God,for God has an end in sparing and blessing you, and preserving you, and strewing your path with kindnesses. Take care thatyou do not miss this end, for to gain it will be your happiness as well as God's glory. It should be your chief end on earthto serve Him, and to glorify Him forever above. I draw to a close when I have noticed that the existence of the grass is necessaryto complete the chain of nature.
There would be no cattle if there were no grass-and no cattle, no something else-so the whole chain would go to pieces. Sothe meanest child of God is necessary to the family. They in Heaven without us cannot be made perfect-the little ones areas necessary to God's family as the great ones. The Lord cannot, will not, put you away from it, my desponding Friends, because,though you cannot see it, you are one stone in the building. And if you are taken away, what becomes of the next, and thenext? Perhaps every heir of Heaven is necessary to complete the purpose of God. I said "perhaps," but we know it to be so,for we are told by Paul that we are the fullness of Christ.
The church is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all. Nature would be incomplete without the trembling grassblade, and the economy of Divine Grace would be incomplete without you, Mr. Fearing, and you, Mrs. Much-Afraid. You are necessaryto complete the Divine purpose-in order to let it be seen, world without end, that God is not defeated-that since Christ lovedHis own, He loved them to the end. And so He can say, "Of all which He has given Me, I have lost nothing."
Oh, how blessed it is to think of this! Since we are all thus necessary, if saved by Grace, let us begin this morning to blessand to praise the God of Providence and Grace! While the grass, with its verdure, serves God by beautifying the earth. Andwhile the cattle take their turn, also, in the economy of creation, let each Christian say to himself, "Lord, what would Youhave me do?" And having found it, whatever our hand finds to do, let us do it with all our might.
The Lord bless these remarks to you, and make them profitable to your souls for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.