Sermon 1261. Sow To Yourselves
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, OCTOBER 24, 1875,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy." Hosea 10:12.
FARMERS are now devoting their attention to putting seed into the ground. They know right well that without sowing in thepresent they cannot expect a reaping in the future. Seedtime has many lessons. That which we shall learn this morning is verypersonal and practical. Our hearts are like a field and if we let them alone the only crop we shall get will be the naturalweeds of the soil together with those tares which the evil spirit is quite sure to scatter whether we sow good seed or not.We are to sow beside all waters, but we must not neglect to sow to ourselves. There is need that we sow good seed in our owngardens, or else it will be of little use to us to have planted and watered others.
It is concerning this sowing of the home farm, this seeding of our own peculiar acre, that I shall now speak. May the Spiritof God bless the word. Before I launch into the subject, it may be well to observe that it does not apply to unre-newed hearts.It is in vain to sow unto yourselves till the soil has been prepared by our Father, who is the Farmer. Even Christ's own seedof the Word, pure from His own hands, brings forth no fruit when it falls on unprepared hearts. His ministers are bound toscatter the seed in all places-on the hard rocks, on the highways and among thorns-but still no harvest ever comes till thesoil is broken up and made receptive of the Truth of God by the Spirit of God.
Our text stands in the midst of a number of agricultural similes and it is preceded by that of plowing. "I will make Ephraimto ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods." Without plowing what is the use of sowing? Some soils need plowingand cross plowing-they are so heavy by nature that in them the kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and only by mighty rippingof the soil are they saved. Have you ever had a broken heart, dear Hearer? Did the Spirit of God ever drive the black horsesof the Law across your heart with the sharp plow of condemnation, killing your false hopes, wounding your spirit and revealingyour secret sins?
If you have not known something about this I cannot tell you to sow to yourself in righteousness! You are not prepared forthat step-you must first be plowed. I pray the Divine Spirit to operate upon your heart to the breaking up of your fallowground that you sow not among thorns. Let us, also, add another statement, lest we should be misunderstood. Even when we speakto the people of God and bid them, "Sow to yourselves in righteousness," we, by no means forget that all true culture of theheart comes of the Spirit of God.
We exhort men as the Scriptures do, as active, intelligent beings. We exhort them as much as if there were no Holy Spirit,but we also pray to the Holy Spirit to make our exhortations, the efforts of His servants, effectual for the designed end.Without His Divine operations, neither the precept of our text, nor any other, will be obeyed. In this, as well as in everymatter connected with the Gospel, Grace reigns! If the first sentence of the text might seem to breathe legality, "Sow toyourselves in righteousness," yet the second clause of it most effectually evangelizes it, for it says, "Reap in mercy."
Unless we reap eternal wrath we must reap in mercy. If anything comes of what we do-if our prayerful anxiety and earnest faithas to the condition of our heart shall be really productive of holiness-it will be the result of infinite mercy and the effectof the Spirit's energy! Even the desire to be right before God arises from the operation of the Spirit of God! All the righteousnesswhich is found in us comes by Divine power and is not of ourselves, but, like the whole of salvation, it is the gift of God!So, while I exhort, entreat and persuade, I am not forgetful of the Divine One without whose gracious working we can do nothingat all!
We will now draw near to the text. First, my Brothers and Sisters, we must not neglect seedtime and, secondly, we must notneglect harvest when it comes.
I. WE MUST NOT NEGLECT SEEDTIME. "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest shall not cease." Both are necessary and,therefore, God has decreed that time for both shall be given to men. All life is, in some respects, a sowing. All that wethink, say, do, or leave undone is a sowing for the harvest of the Last Great Day. And if we sow to the flesh we shall ofthe flesh reap what always comes of the flesh, namely, corruption. But if we sow to the spirit we shall of the Spirit reapwhat is congruous to the spirit, namely, life everlasting! As a man sows, so shall he reap. It is not, however, upon thatform of sowing and reaping that I am going to speak to you this morning.
As I have already told you, we shall deal with the inner life, for I think the connection shows that this is what was meant,for the Prophet is evidently dealing with the people, themselves, and their condition of heart before God. The outward sowingof righteous actions in the field of the world is, doubtless, very important, but none the less so is the secret sowing ofthe enclosed garden of the heart. Our subject will be just this-that after we have been plowed by conversion we need to takegreat care that our spiritual culture commences and is carried on.
The little spot enclosed by Grace out of the world's wide wilderness now calls for our attention and claims the holy skilland industry necessary to spiritual farming. It must be sown with the good seed of the Word of God, even the precious Truthsof Scripture, that from its soil there may be produced a harvest which shall be garnered with abounding joy and bring gloryto God. The first thing after conversion to Christ is confession of Christ. And the next is instruction in Christ. I fearthat too many professed converts leap over these hedges and endeavor to become teachers at once! Without joining themselvesto the Church of Christ, or becoming disciples in His school, they rush to the front, endeavoring to teach before they havebeen taught-and if they are the least checked, they resent it as an interference and cast suspicion upon the zeal of theiradvisers.
They call themselves disciples and repudiate all discipline. They say they are soldiers of the Cross, but they can neithermarch in line nor keep step and neither will they submit themselves to order. They appear to think that the moment they areborn, they are fathers! The instant they are enlisted they are officers! Now, conversion is the beginning of the spirituallife-not the climax of it! It makes a man a disciple and the main thing a disciple has to do is to learn. After he has learned,he will be able to teach others, also, but not till then. I have often said to you that nothing can come out of you that isnot in you-and therefore if there is not something put into you to begin with, you may go out to war, but, as you have neithershot nor powder in your gun, the enemy will not be much injured by your valor.
We must be filled before we can run over! It is necessary for the Christian man to be prepared for holy service-in fact, whathe does for God should be a harvest growing out of himself-because of a previous seedtime during which much precious seedwas put into him. Let us take note upon this sowing and ask, first, what shall we sow? Here is our heart, a plowed field,ready to receive the seed. What shall we sow? I answer, see to it, my Brethren, that there is sown in you a real faith inthe Lord Jesus Christ. Let it be of the simplest and most childlike kind. Do not trouble yourselves with definitions whichdarken counsel or by words without knowledge.
Hold on to Christ as a babe clings to its mother with its arms around her neck. Trust Him, depend upon Him, rest in Him andin Him, alone. Mind that your faith is real reliance on Jesus, for I meet with some who think that faith is to believe thatyou are saved, but if, indeed, you are not saved, such faith will be a lie and you will entangle yourselves in the net offalse confidence. Others think that faith is to believe that Christ died for them, when at the same time they think that Hedied for everybody, so, of course He died for them! Surely there can be no particular virtue or power in believing what isa self-evident inference!
Many believe that Christ died for them and yet they are not saved. To believe savingly is to trust Christ-see that you havethis trust sown in you. You ought to know why you trust Him and what He did for you, and in what relationship He stands towardsyou and God. You should be able, not merely to sing about His blood, but to know the doctrine of Atonement-to grasp the blessedfact of His Substitution-and know the reconciliation thereby effected. To know whom you have believed should be one of thechief objectives of your life! I am afraid that some who profess to have been converted do not even know the A B C of theGospel, namely, what is the faith of God's elect and on what does it rest? Take heed to yourselves that you are not ignoranthere, but let your heart be well sown with simple reliance upon the eternal Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Sow to yourselves and see that in your soul there is repentance of sin. Do not fall under the notion that the necessity forrepentance is over. I have heard it said that repentance is "merely a change of mind." I wish that those who so speak
had undergone that change! It is a sad sign of a faulty ministry when men can depreciate that precious Grace of God! Markyou, no sinner will enter into Heaven who has not repented of his sins. No promise can be found in the Inspired Pages of eternallife to men who live and die without repentance! It is an old-fashioned virtue, I know, but it is in fashion with the angelswho rejoice over sinners who possess it!
Know, my dear young Friends, that sin is an evil and a bitter thing-and the language to be used about it is such as Davidemployed in the 51st Psalm. Pray to God to convince you of your guilt and ask Him to enable you to flee from every false way.Seek Grace to detect sin and as soon as ever you discern its presence, to fly from it as you would from a deadly serpent!May there be worked in you an inward abhorrence of sin and a loathing of yourself because of your tendency to transgress."You that love the Lord hate evil." "Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." May you also have a full conviction thatin you, that is, in your flesh, there dwells no good thing-that your nature is empty, void and waste, like the chaos of old-exceptas the blessed Spirit shall brood over you and the everlasting God shall create you new.
There needs to be in your soul a deep sense of its rein or you will not prize redemption, or much of the godly sorrow of repentance,or you will not know the ecstasy of forgiveness. O for a plentiful sowing in tears, that we may reap in joy! Labor, also,to have sown in you a clear knowledge of the Gospel. Do not be satisfied to see men as trees walking, but ask for the eyescleansed, even, of the smallest mote. Be thankful if you have only a little sight, but let your gratitude lead you to prayfor the removal of every scale. If you are really to bring forth a harvest of wheat without tares, you must distinguish betweenthings that defer, for a man's belief affects his life more than some imagine.
You ought to know the plan of redemption, the system upon which God grants salvation. It will be a great advantage for youto understand the two Covenants and to see, plainly, the distinction between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace.He who is clear upon that matter has grasped the marrow of theology and possesses the clue to the precious Gospel of JesusChrist. I would have you know the Doctrines of Grace and understand them-and be able to defend them with Scriptural argumentswhenever they are assailed. Young people, I pray you, be willing to learn! Learn before you teach!
Do not go blundering out to tell the tale of mercy before you have considered it and in some measure understood its grandpoints. God forbid that I should dampen your zeal, but I implore you to put a little knowledge with it, or else the best ofcauses will suffer at your hands. Become apt to teach by being first apt in learning. Grow in Grace and in the knowledge ofyour Lord and Savior. Fill your basket with bread from His hands or you will never feed the multitude. I would have you wellequipped for battle with the adversaries of the faith, or, at any rate, able to give a reason for the hope that is in youwith meekness and fear.
Do not even be satisfied with clear knowledge. Ask for living principles growing out of this knowledge. The religion of passionis flimsy. The religion of principle will endure wear and tear. Heat and excitement too often engender a mushroom life whichdies as readily as it is produced. We want you to know the Truth of God so as to feel its power till it dominates your entirenature, sways the scepter of your soul and becomes a resident monarch within you! Then will you be able to stand alone andyou will not need a crowd about you, or a flaming orator to hold you in your place-you will know whom you have believed andbe persuaded that He is able to keep that which you have committed to Him.
Oh, if our young friends and old friends, too, were well sown in this fashion, so that the Truths they profess to believehad a living foothold in their souls by the Holy Spirit, what Churches we should have and what little injury would the Popeand the infidel be able to do to us! A man may hold a religion-he may hold 50 religions and have a new one every week andbe none the better-it is the religion which holds the man which will save him! Your Bibles printed on paper are a blessing,but to have the Scriptures written on the heart is far better! We need not so much the doctrine which has been driven intothe brain by argument, but the Truths of God worked into the soul by experience through the teaching of the blessed Spirit!Would to God that living principles were thus sown in all hearts!
The great point is that whatever is sown in us should be sown in righteousness, that is to say, that it is really sown andthat honest seed is taken into our hearts. If you sow in error, however sincerely you sow, it will produce bad results uponyour intellect. "Sow to yourselves in righteousness." Do not take handfuls of seed out of your grandfather's basket simplybecause he put it there-study to see whether it is God's Seed. Do not snatch haphazard at what is in the creed, or the articlesof your Church-go to the winnowed corn of Scripture-sow that and that only. And though we, or an an-
gel from Heaven, should teach you anything contrary to the Infallible Word of God, refuse such seed a place in your hearts.
Pray God to forgive the preacher his mistakes, but do not follow him. Pray to "sow to yourselves in righteousness." Receivethe Truth of God and only the Truth of God and beseech the Lord to give you an honest grip of that Truth-for there is sucha thing as "holding the Truth in unrighteousness." It is very easy to be untrue to the Truth of God. Truth held by a bad manis as a jewel of gold in a swine's snout. The fair lily of Truth should be held in a clean hand. Nor is this all. Let us askthe Lord to rid us of the mere pretence and mimicry of faith. Away, forever, with a sham faith! Never talk fictitious experience.Do not borrow bits from this man and bits from that and retail them as your own-this is unrighteous!
Pretence in religion is a sort of blasphemy. May all our religion be such as will stand the test of the Day of Judgement.I charge you, make sure work in this matter. If, indeed, the Lord has plowed your heart, the field belongs to Him. Thereforeobey His Word and remember how He forbids His people to sow with mingled seed. Let all that which is sown in you be true,honest, gracious, loving, Godlike and Divine, so when the harvest comes you shall not lose what you have worked. God helpyou thus to sow!
The second inquiry is, How shall we sow it? The answer is, Sow in the Lord's appointed manner. The means of Grace are ordainedof God to help us in sowing, watering, weeding and fostering the good seed. Let us, in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, sowthe heart, first, by diligently studying the Word of God. Every Believer ought to be a student in Christ's College. We whopreach the Gospel are to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Now, a disciple is a learner. Are all thepeople who professed to have been converted during the late special services learners? I should like to know, for one, wherethey are. I have anxiously asked several of my Brothers, the pastors of the neighboring Churches, and they do not know.
I should like to discover the Churches which have received these new converts, for wherever I inquire, I hear of one or two,but scarcely any more-and up to this moment my earnest inquiries have brought me nothing but bitter disappointment. If thesethousands were made disciples, how is it that they do not come under discipline? They professed to be converted, how is itthat they have not united themselves with our Churches? Do they need no instruction, or are none of us fit to edify them?Conversion should be the commencement of discipleship, but where are the disciples? Some months have now passed and with deepestsorrow I inquire with what Churches are they associated. Where are they learning the way of God more perfectly? I should rejoiceto know.
My young Brothers and Sisters, lately brought to Jesus, search the Scriptures through and through! Be not satisfied with simplyknowing the way of salvation-ask to know all that God has revealed-for there is nothing unnecessary in the Bible! There isnot a leaf that we could afford to tear out and throw into the fire and say, "It is a superfluity." It is all to be studiedand we must give ourselves to the study of it by reading it, by hearing it and by bowing ourselves to the influence of theHoly Spirit, that He may lead us into all the Truth of God! How shall we sow? Why, by an inward reception of the Truth intothe soul! I cannot tell you how the branch takes in the sap, but I know it does take it in. And you must receive God's Truthinto your hearts as living sap to your souls-it is the living and incorruptible Seed which lives and abides forever.
I want you not only to know the Truth of God in theory, but to receive it in its inward power into your very souls as babesreceive milk that you may feed thereon and grow. Only by such feeding can you come to the measure of the stature of perfectmen in Christ Jesus. You can, also, thus, "sow to yourselves in righteousness" by much prayer, much praise, and much of everyform of communion with Jesus Christ. O Brothers and Sisters, if you are to do exploits, you must be strong, and you cannotbe strong except in the Lord and in the power of His might. O Brethren, if you are to be holy, you must commune with the HolyOne and get a glow upon your countenance reflected from the face of your Lord! In His light, only, can you shine as lightsin the world.
To say you are converted is nothing! We desire your sanctification, your growing likeness to the Lord! I do not know whetherI make my meaning fully apparent, but I mean this, that we must by all means that God has put into our power make our heartsto be a well-stored seed plot in which there shall grow for God all manner of precious fruits, which afterwards we shall reapand use to His Glory. You are trying to sow others, some of you, have you sown yourselves with that Seed which yields seedto the sower and bread to the eater? Look to yourselves, for if you leave home
plowing unheeded you may have to complain with the spouse, "They made me a keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard haveI not kept."
I am certain that if we want to spread religion we must begin by securing the improvement of those who are already Christians.Until the army of the Lord shall be stronger and every man shall have more of the force of Divine Life, we cannot expect tosee the nations conquered by the Church of God. Look well to this matter and see to it that you use the means of God's ordaining,that by the power of the Spirit you may sow to yourselves.
Thirdly, When shall we sow to ourselves? What is the proper sowing time? I answer, specially at the time of conversion andimmediately after your new birth. Very much depends upon the soil being well sown when it is newly plowed. Then the heartis tender. Then the soul is in the formative stage-like clay on the potter's wheel, or like wax that has just been melted-itis, then, ready to receive the right impression and form. When Paul was converted he went into Arabia, for a time, and thesemonths were, I have no doubt, the most profitable that Paul ever spent, for there he communed with God and his mind was impregnatedwith the Truths of God.
Perhaps he had never been so great an Apostle during the rest of his life if it had not been for that little tarrying in Arabia.The disciples, after the Resurrection of our Lord, were to tarry at Jerusalem till they were endowed with power from on high.O you Christian people, see to it that you give your first thoughts, after your conversion, to being edified and built upin your most holy faith! It will be the most practically useful endeavor to others, in the long run, if, like your Lord, youtake time to do your Father's business in the quiet of Nazareth's contemplation than in bearing unripe fruit.
But, Brethren, it is not immediately after conversion, alone, I take it, that every Christian should sow unto himself in righteousness.We must be always sowing and if we do not, we shall not be always reaping. Ask the best instructed Christian and he will tellyou that he knows more of his own folly than he ever did and is more willing to be a learner, now, than when he first enteredinto the school of Christ. Lord, teach us! Teach us every day! Even to gray hairs, still instruct us, that we may have thepower to instruct others!
There should be a special sowing, it seems to me, whenever we desire a special harvest. Notice our blessed Lord- wheneverHe was about to do some special action, such as sending out the 12, we always read that He retired to pray. Praying was Hishabit, but there were peculiar seasons when He had more of it than usual-that more power might go out from Him. Whenever youare about to be, as you hope, a great soul-winner, wait on the Lord more abundantly concerning it. If you are about to passthrough an extreme trial and need great strength to yield a greater harvest of patience, have a greater sowing of Grace bydrawing nearer to God. Our Grace should always be at the flood tide-but even then some flood tides are higher than othersand we may pray the Lord to give us a spring tide flood when extraordinary Grace is required.
Again, I say, look well to yourselves, lest you lose that which you have worked. Seeing there remains a rest for the peopleof God, let none of us even seem to come short of it. With all your ability, get understanding. With all your doings see toit that your inner man is not neglected, that you walk before the Lord in secret and are not negligent in soul communion withHim. See that you walk circumspectly, that you grow in Grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We should be alwayssowing, for we have to be, in practical holiness, ever reaping.
In the next place, why do so many omit to sow? It may be, first, because they are lifted up with the notion that they do notrequire sowing. How idle is their conceit! Here is a piece of land that has just been enclosed from the devil's common, andit has, for years, produced only briars and thorns. It needs sowing! Is there good seed in it by nature hidden among the clods?Impossible! Do you believe that because it has been plowed it may now be left alone and a harvest will come spontaneously?You know better! The novice is not to be set up as a teacher-he should sit down as a scholar. He may tell what he knows-sofar he has been sown and so far he may produce a harvest-but how can he tell what he does not know, and how shall he communicateto others what has never been communicated to himself?
We do not pick up religious knowledge and maturity by instinct. We are bound to search out the meaning of the Word of Godand yield ourselves to the illumination of the Divine Spirit. We must prove our conversion to be true by being teachable aslittle children. We are not to rush naked to the fight, but to seek full equipment-and that we have not in ourselves-helmetand shield and sword are to be sought for in the armory of God. Some do not like the sowing because it is very quiet work.A young man spends an hour searching into the Truth of God for a certain doctrine. Well,
that will never be put into the newspapers, or written in the reports of a society and nobody will extol him for it-hencehe is apt to despise such exercises.
He goes hour after hour to the Lord Jesus and begs to be instructed in the deep things of God-nobody will sound a trumpetabout that! No, nor do they sound trumpets when they sow fields-the shouting is left till they bring in the sheaves! But thesowing must be done though nobody shouts over it and you must search the Word and get your souls well sown, none the less,but all the more, because it does not bring you applause. Sometimes it is even suggested that to cultivate the heart by quietstudy is a waste of time. The sower in sowing does not see any immediate results! Rather, as he scatters his handfuls, heperceives a void in his basket and there is so much less corn in the granary. There are no results, except his weariness,as he toils over the furrows-yet he is a wise man.
Yes, and you, dear Friend, must not be snatching at results too soon. I and glad that you are wanting to win souls! May thatpassion be increased in you, but more glad, still, shall I be if you combine with that passion, the prudent thought that youmust ask His blessed Spirit to make you a vessel fit to be used! If you have been trying to produce a harvest for God withoutany preparatory sowing, you have only to take counsel of common sense and learn your error. You must be conscious that insome points you will not succeed. You will be staggered by infidel objections. You will often be completely nonplussed whentallying with inquirers because you will not know how to meet the questions put to you. Sometimes you will blunder over atext and will not be able to make heads or tails of it.
Well, come to school a little while before you go out as a teacher! Come and be plowed and sowed a little before thinkingabout the harvest home! Sowing, besides, is often very sorrowful work. We read of some who sow in tears. To learn costs humiliation,weariness, trouble and crying because of the task. I have cried my way into many a Truth of God. I believe there is many aportion in God's Word whose meaning will never reach you except you will work your passage, as some poor men do when theywant to go to America. You cannot open these sealed treasure houses without hard thought, long toil, much prayer, much conqueringof prejudice and yielding up of the soul to the Holy Spirit.
This is a kind of labor which always pays well and when it is over, your other work for God will be much lightened. Afterthe sowing is over the farmer rests and the seed springs up both by night and by day. He knows not how but by thorough seedingof the soul with the Truth of God, studied and understood, there comes forth a future crop with wonderful ease and spontaneousgrowth. Lazy people generally take the most pains in the long run but it is a saving of time and effort to store the mindand heart thoroughly at the very first.
The shoeing of the horse and the buckling on of the harness with care will save time in the journey. Supplying a ship beforeit sails is a part of the means by which a safe and speedy voyage is procured. Your peace and strength in later years wildamply repay you for care and effort now. Sow in the present that you may reap in the future! Last of all, on this point, whyshould we sow? We should sow unto ourselves and cultivate our hearts very carefully because our lives must, after all, asto their results, depend upon this sowing. If a man sows scantily-if he learns little, if he receives little of the Spiritof Christ into him-his life must be feeble and barren. How can there be a rich harvest from a scanty sowing?
Little cast into the soil ends in little coming out of it. If a man sows in a patchy way, attending only to a few selectedTruths and Graces, as some do, there will be a patchy character as the result. Some Brothers and Sisters have been thoroughlysown as to one furrow and there is a first-rate crop in that place. But then they neglect other portions-they do not strivebefore God to obtain all Grace or to know all Truth-and as a consequence their life is faulty in many points. Complete experienceand watchfulness of every point are necessary to the formation of a complete character. Beware of a half obedience in theheart, or a semi-illumination of the mind, for these will create an inconsistent character-a garden here and a desert there.
Be cautious, also, not to sow with mingled seed, for this was forbidden of old and if you do it there will be a bit of wheatin one place and a bit of tares in another-and you will be trying to serve God and mammon. Too many professors are as pleasedwith the tares as with the wheat! They scarcely know one from the other! As the Eastern plant called in our version, a tare,is very like the wheat, so there are counterfeits of the virtues and these deceive many. If we sow only with the good Seedof the Truth of God, we shall realize a holy, influential, acceptable character-but mingled seed will produce fickleness,inconsistency, poverty of character and we shall bring no glory to the great Farmer. I am certain I am right in enforcingthis point upon all the children of God with great earnestness.
Brothers and Sisters, do you believe that people would be carried away with Ritualism, which has now grown to be undisguisedPopery, had they been fully instructed in the doctrines of our Protestant faith? I do not believe it would have been possible!At the present moment the wolves leap into our Churches and they find easy prey where the people are least instructed andestablished in the Gospel. The people that know nothing for themselves-nothing by heart knowledge- are readily deceived. Butwhere there is a clear understanding and a fervent love for the Gospel. Where there is a spiritual growth and an abundantcommunion with God arising out of inward vital principles, men are not carried away by every wind of doctrine. They are notdeceived by the sleight of man and his cunning craftiness-they stand fast, rooted and grounded in Christ!
In conclusion, this steadfastness is a part of the harvest of which I have now to speak.
II. WE MUST NOT NEGLECT THE HARVEST. If a man with constant watchfulness, holy fear, devout prayer and simple faith in Jesusseeks to cultivate his own heart, he may expect fruit to come of it, both towards himself and his God. Towards himself onefruit will be stability, as I have already said. The man will be able to say, "O God, my heart is fixed. I will sing and givepraise." He is not to be decoyed by the boasts of the finders of new truth, nor by the contemptuous sneers of modern thinkerswho deride the good old way, nor by those mighty discoverers who have found out that there is no truth at all! ExperiencedBelievers know and are persuaded and have firm moorings.
Oh, be well sown, for then you will be stable and out of that stability will come solid comfort! Half the fears of Christianpeople rise like mists from the marshes of their ignorance. If we knew the promises better, knew the Gospel better, knew Godbetter and knew Christ better, we should not have a tenth as many fears. Remember that as the soul is penetrated with thespirit of the Gospel, it will be filled with peace and consolation-
"'Tis religion that can give
Sweetest pleasures while we live,
'Tis religion must supply
Solid comfort when we die."
Those sweet pleasures and solid comforts are the harvest which those reap who look well to the good sowing of their souls.Those whose hearts are sown by Grace possess joys utterly unknown to other professors. What rapture and delight are frequentlybestowed on those who have drawn near to God and had their souls full of Him! "Blessed are the people that know the joyfulsound, they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance." When others starve they shall feed, and when others faintthey shall renew their strength because their souls have learned to stay themselves on God, alone.
One blessed fruit of this sowing is boldness in the Lord's service. The men that know their God shall be strong and do greatexploits. He who fears God much fears not men. He has been living near to God and cares no more for the opinions of men thanfor the howling of the wind over the moor. With this courage comes patience under suffering-the man who is full of Grace isable to bear the Lord's will whatever it may be. This is a blessed fruit of the Spirit! You who think resignation a lightthing may yet live to prize it. These are a few of the fruits which grow in a soul well-seeded by Grace.
Now notice the text says that though we sow in righteousness we must reap in mercy. If any fruit, Beloved, ever comes outof your earnest prayerfulness and watchfulness, it will be God's Mercy that gives it to you, for do what you will, anythingthat is God-like and holy must be planted, nourished and supported by Divine power-and nothing short of it! If you have shownany holy courage or gracious patience, or sacred stability, or hallowed experience, or spiritual joy, or heavenly rapture,or true holiness, it is God's Mercy that has enabled you to reap this precious fruit!
God bids you sow-it is your duty to do so and to be jealous over your own spirit-but to reap to the Glory of God is entirelythe gift of His Grace, from first to last and we must cheerfully admit that it is so. The text most pointedly bids us reap."Reap in mercy." There is fruit upon you if you have sown aright in the power of the Spirit of God-therefore reap it! Thatis to say, when the season comes, be ready with the outward fruits of your inward Grace. Let patience be ready in growth andperseverance in the day of labor. As you bring forth these things, bless the Lord for them. Do not be exalted by them, foryou are to reap in mercy-if you were to reap in any other way, you might be exalted-be humble, for it is God's Mercy thatgives you the Graces which flourish in your soul.
Take care to bless God for every good and perfect gift. And whatever comes out of your inner life, reap it so as to lay itout for the good of others in order that God may be glorified! If there is in you any zeal, courage, patience and what not,as the result of the inner culture, then come forward and spend it for your Redeemer's praise! Remember you have
nothing which you have not received-and having received it, you are bound in gratitude to expend it for Him who gave it toyou.
But closing, let us see to it, I say, dear Brothers and Sisters, that all of us are keeping our hearts with all diligencebefore the Lord. It is the Spirit's work! We have admitted this, over and over again, but the Spirit of God awakens us toactivity and does not lull us into a passive condition, for He would have us careful that these things be in us and abound,that we are not barren nor unfruitful. He would have us see that we come not short in any good thing, but that we abound inall knowledge, all love and all patience to His Glory, that thus our life may show that we have, indeed, come under the fosteringhusbandry of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I would to God we were as a Church lifted up to a higher platform altogether, the whole of us, by one blessed lift from theDivine Spirit! And then I would to God that out of us there might be chosen more ministers of Christ, more mighty soul-winners,more missionaries among the heathen and more of every order of soldiers for Christ! When our Master needs workmen, He doesnot take those who are sick. If you had to lay a railway you would not go to Brompton Hospital and pick out all the patientswith consumption and give them a pickaxe or a spade to try and throw up embankments or dig cuttings. No, but you would selectthe strong men, the men of brawny arms, the men of muscle who know how to wield crowbar and spade.
And so will God do in His Church. We must be strong in Grace, strong in secret, strong in private prayer, strong in fellowshipwith God, strong in vital principle within us and after that the Lord will let us loose as a Church upon His foes, like atornado sweeping everything before us! We cannot bring out of ourselves what is not in us! We must go to God to be filledor we cannot run! Lamps may shine, but they must be trimmed with oil, or else they will smell amiss and cease to shine-wemust have food, or we cannot keep up our stamina-we must live upon Christ! We must be nurtured with His very heart's blood,or else the life in us will only be a life of pain and panting-not a life of triumph and of realization! See to this and mayGod bless you therein.
As for you who are not plowed, I beseech you, remember that you can bring forth no fruit to God. Be ashamed at your barrennessand cry mightily unto Him that He would deal graciously with you and bring you to Jesus! For now you are near unto cursing,and before long, unless Divine Grace prevents, your end will be to be burned. May God save you for Christ's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Ephesians 4. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-719; 119 (VER. II), 4-6; 39.