SOWING AND REAPING
BY R. GOVETT.
[ “ ‘Sow an act, and reap a habit; sow a habit, and reap a character; sow a character, and reap a destiny’: therefore read hard, think hard, pray hard. Habit is tyrannous: make it tyrannous for good. ‘Give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Be diligent in these things, give thyself wholly to them; that thy progress may be manifest unto all’ (1 Tim. 4: 13, 15).” (Counsels for Young Workers, by D. M. Panton.)]
WHEN does any
piece of news affect us? When we believe
it: not before. There were tidings at
first of gold found in
results would follow, were God's testimony to the coming millennial
Let me set before my readers one principle most clearly stated in the New Testament, and of the closest, deepest importance to each.
It is contained in the following words of the Spirit of God.
“Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his [own] flesh, shall [out] of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit shall [out] of the spirit reap life everlasting:”Gal. 6: 7, 8.
God's works in nature are designed to teach us great spiritual truths. The harvest is the great crisis of the year. To its importance all are alive. Our sustenance for a year depends upon it. But harvest looks back to the previous year. Harvest depends upon the sowing. Let the field be unsown,- and from its fallow surface you gather no crop of wheat. Sow the field; and, such as the seed you cast into the furrows in the sowing time, such is the crop in the reaping time. Such as is the seed of spring, such is the sheaf of autumn. Sow barley, and its yellow ears will greet you. Sow the turnip seed, and its white globes will be one day carted off the soil. This principle is perfectly regular and constant. All reckon upon it, - whether farmers, labourers, gardeners, gentlemen, or mechanics, - with undoubting confidence.
Now, the Scripture before us assures us, that the same truth holds in the spiritual World as in the natural. Not every one is a farmer, nor every one an agricultural labourer. But every one is a sower now, and each must be a reaper at last. None can help sowing: each must reap as he has sown. But there are as different kinds of seeds in the spiritual, as there are in the natural world. In the natural world there is the red poison-berry, there is the golden wheat. Some are sowers of nightshade, some of thistles. Some men are good and holy; and prayer and praise to God go forth from their lips, and deeds of good go forth from their hands towards men. Some are evil: cursing, swearing, lechery, drunkenness, are by them strewn around their path. Now, each of these seeds will entail its fitting consequence in the day to come. Now the word is spoken - the deed is done. It waits its completion of recompense in a time to come.
In nature’s course there are, three strongly marked seasons.
1. There is the sowing-time. The sower takes out of his basket handful after handful of seed, and flings it broadcast over the land. It then disappears under the earth. But it is not lost. Such as it was in the sower’s hand, such is its character when hid beneath the soil.
2. There is the waiting-time. The seed beneath the furrow begins to swell and put forth its stem, and blossom, till at length it comes to ripeness.
3. The third and last season is the reaping time. The time of ingathering is come. The sower of good seed now rejoices in his yellow sheaves.
These three seasons are found also in the spiritual world. The sowing goes on daring the man’s life. Then his last seed is cast, and the crop cannot be disturbed. The harvest will greet him when he rises from the dead. Whether he likes or not the crop he has sown, reap he must. Whether it be wheat or briers, he must gather it into his bosom. “As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him; as he delighted not in blessing, let it .be far from him! As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones:” Psa. 109: 17, 18. Sad reaping, but very like the sowing!
There are, therefore, two great questions for every one:
1. WHAT SEED ARE YOU SOWING?
2. IN WHAT SOIL ARE YOU CASTING YOUR SEED?
God will take care that the crop you reap shall be of the same kind as the seed you sow. “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” You may sow prayers - and they are not lost. They will meet you as old friends on the last day. You may sow oaths and curses; they too will meet their sower on the great reaping day. A long time may intervene between the seed dropt, and the fruit borne into the garner. But the two are closely knit to each other, and each must come to pass in its own time. Many are indeed led to do evil because its recompense is so long in coming, that they trust it will never arrive at all. Here faith in God’s word steps in. It discerns, that all the promises and threats of the Most High, shall be accomplished. It sees all moving on, beyond this day of grace to “the day of judgment,” that is, the day of justice. Then recompense is to be rendered to each according to his works, be he converted or unconverted: as it is written, where the apostle is expostulating with one who is sinning, because it is now the day of forbearance. “After thy hardness and impenitent heart thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God: Who will render to every man according to his deeds. To them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life. But unto them who are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God:” Rom. 2: 5-11.
We are taught by this word of warning to prepare for the day to come. For, then, a principle, wholly opposed to the one that rules this season, will come into play, - the receiving for our deeds, and according to them, God means, in the coming day, to display His justice, by rewarding each according to his deeds. He is not doing so now. He is sparing the world because of His Son’s intercession: 2 Cor. 5: 18-20. But in the day of justice soon to dawn, He will prove Himself just, by rendering to each - whether sinner or saint - not according to the work of Christ, but according to his own work, whether that work be good, or whether it be evil.
In this day of God’s patience, there are often glaring examples like that which the Psalmist mentions, of persons deeply wicked, yet highly exalted, and prospering. This is a part of God’s plan. The day of mercy is prolonged, because the Most High desires not to smite, but to spare. He is by goodness, leading men, if possible, to repentance. And some avail themselves of the respite, in this its true direction. But the Psalmist saw, by the end of the evil man, that wickedness will prove destruction at last: Psa. 73. And the despised patience of God will but kindle more fiercely the terrors of His wrath.
Some little results flow from our deeds already, whether for good or evil; but they are as nothing compared with the grand result. We obtain the interest now, but the principal is to be returned in the coming day. It is only a foretaste, telling of something of a like quality yet to arrive. At Christ’s appearing will arrive the award, exact, dispassionate.
If we sow the seed of the earth, our reaping will be woe. If we sow the seed of heaven, our crop will be joy - the joy of the Lord - glory for ever.
What question then of such intimate moment to us as - What kind of seed are you scattering? Is it the world’s? or God’s? Is it out of Satan’s granary? or Christ’s? What kind of harvest will it yield? Brambles and nettles? or sheaves of gladness? The Lord will reward “according to works.” That includes another truth. Not only will the crop be according to the quality of the seed, but according to its quantity also. So does the Holy Spirit state the case. “This I say, He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully:” 2 Cor. 9: 6, 7.
But we proceed to speak next upon THE KINDS OF SOIL.
Much, in farming, depends upon the land. Is it good or bad? Heavy or light? Now the Spirit teaches us, that in the spiritual world there are two kinds of fields in which we may sow.
1. THE FLESH: or 2. THE SPIRIT.
1. THE FLESH is the ordinary land, such as is alone seen by men of the world. To that they commit their seed; from that they expect their harvest. Multitudes are sowing, in order to reap the wealth of the world. Many Christians, many truly converted ones, are doing the same.
Now this soil is not wholly barren. Seed committed hereto does spring up, and bear a crop. The temporal result is, gold, and the pleasures and possessions it can purchase. The spiritual result in the soul of the sower is a great increase of worldly lusts, and desires after more of the possessions of time and the flesh.
But what are the results in the day to come? “He that soweth to his own flesh shall (out) of the flesh reap corruption.”
How are we to understand that?
Does it mean - That diligence for the things of time finds its necessary end in the grave? No! It does not signify merely, that death will overtake all, and destroy the plans which have only earth for their horizon. For death does assail many long before Christ’s appearing, and the Holy Spirit is speaking of recompense in God's due season. Besides, death comes upon, and corruption holds at present, multitudes of the Lord’s people, who will rise and partake His joy.
We shall best see its meaning by comparing this verse with some of the preceding chapter. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditious, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God:” Gal. 5: 19-21. I put together, then, these two assertions, and thereby I learn, that the reaping corruption from, sowing to the flesh is the same as being shut out of the millennial kingdom. When the Lord adjudges to the sowers unto the Spirit the glory of the first resurrection, to these sowers to the flesh He will award the sentence, - that their bodies still remain under the power of death. “Out of the flesh they shall reap corruption.” And so it is written again: “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall [are about to] die: but if ye through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live:” Rom. 8: 13. What death is this? Not the present death, which is experienced by multitudes of saints; but a future one, to be received at Christ’s appearing. What is the life that is to be received? Not spiritual life; for this is spoken to believers already possessed of that. Not natural life: for the best of saints still die. Both the death and the life, then, look onward to the future day. As the Saviour Himself puts it from another point of view, more than once, - “He that saveth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake, shall find it:” Matt. 16: 25. Thus, then, God, by His Spirit, warns Christians - yes, true believers - against sowing to the flesh. For, alas! multitudes of Christ’s people do.
‘Who is that lady, sparkling with earrings and broaches, lockets, and rings, gems and chains of gold, with braided hair, robes of vivid colours, and costly array of lace? She cannot be a Christian!’ Yea, but she is. She sows daily to her own flesh: she has very little to spare for the poor, even of Christ’s flock. What will be the issue to her in that day which is to come? She will scatter her seed in this bad soil. Well, it will be her loss, then! “Out of the flesh” - as sure as God is true – “she will reap corruption.” Sisters in Christ! lay this to heart! The word has as loud a voice to you as to others. You have some gold in your purse. What shall you do with it? The flesh says – ‘Earrings are, much worn: a handsome pair would greatly improve your appearance.’ But there is a consumptive brother in Christ unable to work, needing all the nourishing things that can be procured, but too poor to obtain them. What if the money to be devoted to earrings, were made over to him? Which would be the good seed cast into the good soil?
It is a fine Sunday in summer - the leaves are out in their fresh green, the birds trill their pleasant songs, the country is lovely this afternoon. One believer goes out for a walk, another goes prayerfully to his class in the Sunday school. Which of these two is sowing the good seed?
Many a one dislikes service for Christ; yet he hopes at last to have a harvest of broad acres, though he folds his arms now.
“Sluggard, rouse thee from thy sleep!
Sow thou must, if thou wouldst reap.”
Is there no Christian brother whose sideboard is laden with plate; whose table is the focus of every luxury of the season; of expensive wines, fruits, liqueurs? What shall we say of this? That it is sowing to the flesh; and that out of that rank soil, only corruption will spring. Christian! be warned! The world’s proverb says of fruit – ‘Soon ripe, soon rotten.’ And so it is with the harvest of the flesh. Its joys are all now - its fruit in the coming day will be corruption.
2. But there is a better Soil – “THE SPIRIT;” the new nature produced in the renewed by the Holy Ghost. This is good land: in this sow as much as possible. Here you cannot lose. The harvest of earth may be taken from the farmer by force or fraud of men, or by the hand of God. But in this field there is no such loss to be feared. What, then, is the sowing to the spirit? We sow in this field wherever we are employed, for Christ, either in doing good to the church, or to the worldly, for Christ’s sake. He who aids the orphan or widow, the poor, or the sick, for Christ’s sake is sowing to the spirit. He who is preaching the gospel, scattering tracts, or edifying believers, is casting into this soil. In a thousand good deeds seed may be sown here.
These are the works which Jesus has promised to reward at His appearing and kingdom. “When thou [Christian] makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just:” Luke 14: 13, 14.
“Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again: and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest:” Luke 6: 35. 11. “When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly:” Matt. 6: 3, 4. “Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be:” Rev. 22: 12.
The crop which is to spring at Jesus’ appearing out of this good soil, is “life everlasting.” For while the immediate result of this blessed sowing is the being ‘accounted worthy’ to obtain part in the coming age, and the first resurrection, or that from among the dead, it does not end there. The reign of the thousand years melts into the closing announcement, ‘They shall reign for ever and ever.’
But the Holy Spirit intimates, that this truth is so strong and searching, that there is GREAT DANGER OF ITS BEING REFUSED. This appears in those words which occur in the text, and are repeated in a like passage – “Be not deceived, God is not mocked.”
The Scripture view of the certain consequences of our actions in the day of justice near at hand, is one of God’s motives to holiness; - a very strong one, - repeated in various forms in the Epistles to the Churches. But it condemns so many; it frightens so many who believe they are wrong in some things, or suspect that they are, that they dare not face it - they will not receive it. Where the heart is warped, it is not difficult to persuade one’s self, that a falsehood which flatters us is better than a truth which condemns. Hence God lifts up His friendly warning, to point out to you a real danger: a pit - into which many believers fall.
‘In the coming day of Christ reward will be rendered to each, whether believer or not, according to his works.’ Such is God’s placard of notice. But many have a great deal to say against it.
‘That can't be correct; for God’s election of His people is unto eternal salvation.’
True, friend: but there is a special clay of a thousand years, before the eternal portion of the saved begins upon the new earth. Election assuredly carries with it salvation, or God’s gift in grace. But it does not bring reward: that is according to works.
‘But you are introducing the principle of Law. The Gospel is grace, all grace. The true Christian is a man standing upon the gifts of God; enclosed on every side with privileges. He is a member of the Son of God; he is a son with the Father; he possesses forgiveness of sins, and the indwelling Spirit. And Jesus, our High Priest, maintains our cause on high, before the Father’s throne, against the Great Accuser, in spite of our many failures.’
All true, brother! All true of this day of God’s patience and salvation. But I read of another day upon another principle which is to come, and then comes this dealing with each according to his works. “ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS.” Methinks, brother, you have often uttered those words, never received them, never felt them! Not according to Christ's work for us; - else all believers would stand on a level: but according to our works. The same Spirit that wrote – “Who saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began” (Tit. 1: 9), caused also this to be penned for us: “All the churches shall know, that I am He that searcheth the reins, and hearts; AND I WILL GIVE UNTO EVERY ONE OF YOU ACCORDING TO YOUR WORKS:” Rev. 2: 23.
‘But,’ says another, ‘how can we poor things stand, if God does not give us His grace? If the Lord does not give me the power to pray, and the grace to abstain from things hurtful; how can I do it?’
If your principle were good, Jehovah could not judge any. “God forbid: for how then shall God judge the world?” Rom. 3: 6. Have a care of this devil’s deceit! If you cannot help sinning, God cannot help smiting. “Be not deceived., God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” You may think, that all threatenings are meant only for the non-elect, the sinners of the world. They cannot touch you, for you are God’s beloved son. It is the old deceit – “Cast thyself down, for it is written, He shall give His angels charge over thee.”
The true reply is
the Saviour’s: “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
“I would not
that you should be ignorant, that all our fathers wore under the cloud, and all
passed through the sea; and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in
the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same
spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and
that rock was Christ. But with many (most) of them God was not well
pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness:” 1 Cor. 10: 1-5. That is, privilege is no bar to
punishment on disobedience. The
‘Aye, but that cannot touch us who belong, not to the Law, but to the grace of the Gospel.’
“Now, these things were our examples; to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.” “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of the serpents:” 1 Cor. 10: 9.
‘But you don’t mean that there will be rewards to evil works as well as good!’
Will not nettle-seed grow as well as seed of the gourd? Yes! the text expressly says, - “WHATSOEVER a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” There is a crop to follow both kinds of seed: the acres of both soils will be reaped. To believers, Paul writes, - “He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons:” Col. 3: 25. Your heart flatters you, that if a son of God sows bad seed, God’s fatherly heart will shield him; while, if an enemy sows tares, he, without fail, will receive for his evil work. The Holy Spirit foresaw this delusion, and scatters this refuge of deceit, by those strong words, - “There is no respect of faces” with God!
Yonder is a basket
of furze-seeds. Will it signify, think
you, to the ensuing crop, who sows
them? May the Emperor of all the
Again, and again, both in the Old Testament and the New, this principle is affirmed. And it is testified also, that Jesus is coming as the “RIGHTEOUS JUDGE,” so to award: 2 Tim, 4: 8. This principle is absolute: it applies with equal sweep to believer and unbeliever, to elect and non-elect, in the coming “day of judgment.”
How close and searching is the application to each of this great principle! This is the time of secrecy. God allows much to be unknown in the life of each. But the day is coming of unearthing and unmasking. Woe, then, to the hypocrite! Woe to many converted ones, who, finding that the veil is often not lifted in this day, go on to sin Remember, Christian, God’s serious determination, - the Saviour’s solemn assurance, - “THERE IS NOTHING COVERED, THAT SHALL NOT BE REVEALED; NEITHER HID, THAT SHALL NOT BE KNOWN:” Luke 12: 2. Is that a word to the world? Nay, but “to His disciples first of all!” ver. 1. Live, believer, then, so that the rending of the veil, which now overlies much of your life, shall discover, not foulness, but beauty; not treachery, but faithfulness. Do not mistake present appearances! As God is true, darkness shall not then rest upon your deeds. They shall come forth to light and to answerable recompense.
This. truth applies to:-
The not-sowing of good seed. A case is presented in the former verse. “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” This clearly asserts, that believers ought to support those who instruct them in the things of God. But outside state-establishments, this claim is not in general enforced. It is a payment which is left to conscience, to a sense of duty and obedience to Christ. And hence many give nothing, some, the smallest pittance. Some can even boast how little, as church members, they have given in a course of years. A professor of the religion of Christ is said to have closed an exhortation somewhat in this wise, - “My friends, you had better join the Church. You need not think it is so expensive an affair, after all: for I have been a member of the Church more than twenty years, and it never cost me but two shillings.” There are, I fear, many ‘two shilling Christians,’ not professors alone, but really converted men. Now most of these cases are quite unknown their gross love of money cannot be brought home to them. They suffer now no rebuke, or discipline. Are not they then quite as well off as those who give most? To these belong the Spirit’s strong rebuke, – “Be not deceived. GOD is not mocked.” Men do not know it, men cannot deal with it; but God is not deceived. The Son of God will recompense such. They have not cheated Him, but only themselves, as the coming day will prove. Only the trees that bear good fruit will stand the search of the day to come.
Take another very common
case. Here is a Christian who is always
on the borders of poverty, and is an adept at borrowing. ‘If you will but lend
him thirty shillings at this present. crisis, he will
be able to procure tools and work, and will feel eternally obliged to you. He will be sure to pay you two shillings a
week, till the whole debt is discharged: - more, if possible.’ . You lend; and week passes
after week, but neither the borrower nor his money makes its appearance. As a Christian you cannot prosecute him. His case never comes into the world’s court. He suffers but little in his character. Now is he not a gainer by this fraud, which he
has several times perpetrated? “Be not deceived: God is not mocked.” The
day is coming, that will show who has been cheated. The sowing is dishonesty: take into your
account the day of reaping. “Whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap.” God’s witness must be fulfilled. Bitter will the day of reaping be to the sower of fraud. For
it is written - written to believers: - “Nay, ye do wrong and
defraud, and that your brethren. Know
ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom, of God ? Be not deceived; neither fornicators,
nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with
mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the
0 then, believers, give up any secret sin which has hitherto held you! The day of uncloaking, the day of recompense is at hand. It will not be always night about you. God is a God of reality, a God of holiness. “We must all APPEAR (BE MANIFESTED) before the judgment-seat of Christ: that each may receive the things done in the body (by means of it), according to that he hath done, whether it, be good or bad” 2 Cor. v. 10.
But the principle has also its bright and cheerful side. SOWERS OF GOOD! GO forward with greater diligence than ever! Your harvest cannot fail. It is growing, beyond the reach of thief, or storm, or the march of armies, and the range of the cannon-ball. Go on! The time of sowing is brief. “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, specially unto them who are of the household of faith.” The season of sowing is but a day. “The night cometh when none can work." The Lord is at hand. “His reward is with Him to give to each as his work shall be.” Great the joy of the sower of good. Brilliant his sheaves in the day of recompense. Great his glory from the Head and Master of the Harvest. God’s appointed time of joy draws on: sow, sow more diligently still! There should be no repentance in the casting abroad of the good seed. Faint not, though skies be dark, and winds be cold, and you be weary. The reaping shall be in the long summer-day to come, amidst the sunshine and the fruits of eternity.
This applies also, of course, with mighty force to the ungodly. The sower, the hourly sower of sin during a long life, will reap the awful woe of hell-fire. “If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
The following little narrative will display some of the present results of the sowing of evil seed, the earnest of the awful day of woe to come.
“ ‘Behold a sower went forth to sow,’ said my father, who was about to give an account of a sermon he had heard at the parish church; but you will better understand the drift of what fell from his lips if I first give you a short history of some of my evil days.
“Though older than my brothers and sisters, I set them a sad example; I was the only scapegrace in the family. In an evil hour I was led astray by a bad companion, after which I led others into my own sinful courses. It was fearful to think of my excesses. My parents loved me through all my errors, while they mourned over me, I wonder that I did not bring them both down with sorrow to the grave. ‘My poor Frank,’ my father once said, ‘is the heaviest of my earthly sorrows.’ For some time I left the cottage of my father, and lived an idle, dissolute life; nor is it at all likely, though my conscience reproached me for my wickedness, that I should ever have returned home, had it not been for an accident that befel me.
“In my native village I was almost a by-word for hardened impiety, but even then I was not so much at case as people supposed. True is the word of Holy Writ, ‘There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.’
“It was on a Sabbath day that after an idle ramble with my wild companions, we came on our return to the little garden of a cottage at which my father frequently called. The pear-tree near the road was laden with tempting fruit, and we pulled straws to see which should mount it, and gather pears for us all; the lot fell upon me.
“Hardly had I climbed the tree before one of my comrades, from fear or mischief, cried out that ‘the owner of the cottage was coming.’ In my fright, I lost my footing and fell: my thigh was broken. My comrades deserted me, every one taking to his heels with all speed. It was some time before my cries brought any one to my assistance, but at last I was carried into the cottage, and laid on a bed in a back room, on the ground-floor.
“It was when in this wretched plight, waiting the arrival of the doctor who had been sent for, that I heard the voice of my father. He had called in after attending divine worship at the church in the afternoon, knowing nothing of my accident, and not even supposing that I was in the village. The kind-hearted cottager, unwilling to communicate the bad news too hastily, partly shut the door of the little room in which I lay. Afflicted as I was both in body and mind, I refrained from letting a sigh or a groan escape me, fearing that it would be heard.
“My father opened the Bible that lay on the table, for the cottager and his wife and daughter were pious people, and read the text as I said before, ‘Behold a sower went forth to sow.’ He then gave a short account of the sermon. ‘Among other things,’ said my father, ‘our good pastor told us of a brother clergyman, a friend of his, who in sowing gospel-seed had great difficulties to overcome, for so bitter were the people of his parish against him, that they would not allow him to enter his own church. It was necessary for a policeman to clear a way for him, before he could ascend his pulpit stairs. How could it be expected that under such circumstances he could sow with any advantage?
“ ‘When he was permitted to preach in peace, he had only about twenty or thirty people to hear him, though his church would have held six or seven hundred; still he went on sowing, looking to his heavenly Father to give the increase. At last one of his bitter enemies was curious enough to attend divine service, when it pleased God to make the word so powerful that he ‘Who went to scoff - remained to pray.’
“ ‘Nor was this all, for the scoffer was so alarmed after retiring to rest that night, that he, rose from his bed, and called up a neighbour to pray with him. The report ran through the neighbourhood that the clergyman was a man of God, and that God was with him. Numbers now flocked to hear him, and the congregation so increased, that at the end of three years it became necessary to enlarge the church, as it was not at all equal to hold the multitudes that flocked to the place; thus God blessed the sower and the seed that he scattered abroad.
" ‘Every man is a sower,’ continued my father, speaking to those around him, ‘we are all sowing good seed, or bad seed, and that seed will spring up, too, both for time and eternity. God of His mercy pardon us for all the bad seed we have ever sown in the course of our lives! We are all sowers; my poor son Frank, wherever he may be, is a sower.’
“Here he came to a stand; hardly, indeed, did I think that he would have been able to go on again, his voice faltered so; but he did go on in the following manner :-
“ ‘Yes, my poor prodigal son is a sower, and many a sad crop has sprung up from seed sown by him. In the first place he sowed sabbath-breaking seed, and it sprung up and made many sabbath-breakers. Poor lad! he did not intend to do this mischief; but for all that he did do it, and every sabbath-breaker that has been led astray by him has a right to lay his sin at his door.’
“I was unhappy enough before, but these words were daggers to me. I writhed in agony upon my bed; but my father, who knew nothing of the pain he was inflicting, went on,-
“‘The next seed that Frank sowed was drinking seed, and that came up, too. He became a drunkard, and made other drunkards, who, to their shame, and disgrace, have gone beyond him in iniquity. Poor lad! he did not intend to do this mischief; but for all that he did do it, and every one of these drunkards has a right to lay his sin at his door.’
“Again I felt as if a sword had entered my bosom, but my father had not yet done, he went on,-
“ ‘The next seed that Frank sowed was swearing seed; awfully did he take the holy name of God in vain, and awfully was he imitated by his companions. Even this very day, not a stone’s cast from the house of God, I heard one of these reprobates utter a tremendous oath. Oh, thought I, poor Frank! thou didst not intend to, do so much mischief; but thou hast done it, and the bold blasphemer has a right to lay his sin at thy door.’
“ ‘The next seed that Frank sowed was infidel seed; for he joined the fools.who say, “There is no God,” and he led on others to follow his example, who, but for him, might this day have listened to the sermon that I have listened to Poor Frank did not intend to do this mischief; but for all that he did do it, and the infidels his example has made, have a right to bring their crying sins and lay them all at his door.’
“While my father spoke, I felt that he was indeed a sower. Unknown to himself he was sowing burning coals on my head, and poisoned arrows in my heart. My punishment was heavier than I could bear; I sobbed aloud, and lifted my voice and wept. My father was soon on his knees by the bedside of his poor prodigal.
“It was long before I left that bed of affliction, and very grievous was the chastening I endured; but it was made a means in holy hands of yielding to me the peaceable fruit of righteousness. I had sinned, and I sorrowed. I had sowed iniquity, and I reaped punishment. Never shall I forget the pain I endured when my father described me as a sinner; never shall I cease to remember the joy that I felt when I heard him say, ‘My son that was dead to me is alive again: he was lost, and is found.’”
May the Lord give grace to any sower of evil seed who may read this, to take heed to God’s call and repent!