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BY THE REV. HUGH ALLEN, M.A.
AT ST. JUDE'S CHURCH, WHITECHAPEL.
" He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with himn.”- Psalm cxxvi. 8.
MEN and brethren, we are again assembled in the house of God under favourable circumstances : the minister is ready to preach the everlasting gospel, and here we are in health and strength, permitted to hear “the truth as it is in Jesus ;” and let not then inattention of spirit, and let not carelessness of soul ; let not worldly-mindedness, or the thoughts of the world ; let not anything of a sublunary character interfere with the interesting occasion, the interesting place, and the solemn circumstances in which we are assembled. Every Sabbath is an interesting occasion, but more especially the present Sabbath, for how can we tell how many more such Sabbaths will be granted unto us? And the house where prayer is wont to be made, and where the gospel is preached, is a very interesting place to be assembled in. Here you are assembled where many a sermon has been preached, where many a sermon has been blessed ; you are sitting in pews, upon benches, where others have sat before you, and have heard the word of God, and have been saved. Some of them have gone to foreign lands, to tell there the story of the cross, and others of them are scattered up and down the provinces; and a few of them have gone to heaven, to bless and praise God for evermore, for redeeming and sanctifying love, and that ever they heard the gospel of the Son of God preached unto them. We are thus 'met under the most favourable circumstances. The gospel, that was necessary for them, is necessary for you. The gospel, that was blessed to them, may be blessed to you. The gospel, that saved them, may save you. And there is no other gospel. If not saved by it, you cannot be saved at all. If you die without being saved by it, you die without the hope of being saved at all; without a hope beyond the grave, but of the worm that never dieth, and the fire that can never be quenched-and who would hope for that? Who would not tremble at the idea of that being their doom?
May the Lord bless what I am about to say to-night; and may this sermon be blessed to the conversion of many souls, and all be brought to heaven, to the everlasting glory hereafter! God grant it, for Christ's sake! Amen.
Our text introduces us to the consideration of sowing and of reaping-of casting the spiritual seed into the soil of the human soul, and of that glorious harvest, a harvest of saved souls which gladdens the church on earth, and will hereafter gladden the millions of the skies, when mortality shall be swallowed
up of life.
We have to bring before you, first, the sowing of the seed; and, secondly, the hardest.
I. In considering the sowing of the seed, the precious seed of the gospel of the grace of God, we, in the first place, consider the text as representing the labours of the faithful minister. He goes forth, and weepeth, bearing precious seed. This, I say, represents very simply, but very fully the labours of the faithful minister of the gospel of the Son of God.
1. He “goes" forth; he does not dash into the office of the ministry without consideration; he does not rush to the position of an ambassador of Christ, without having duly and properly considered the sacred office, with all its requirements and responsibilities. He "goes" forth. There is an order in the expression which shows that the man is not sent by himself, but that he
is called of God, and he does not rush forth ; but, it is said, “he goes forth." There is an order about it, which is not only the order of discipline, but an order which introduces to your notice the unction which the Holy Ghost gives to those whom he raises up to preach the everlasting gospel. He goes forth. He is well aware of his difficulties. He is well aware of his trials. He is well aware of all he has to meet with, and to do, and yet he goes forth; he has made up his mind, and he goes calmly, thoughtfully, steadily, under the Divine unction, yet, nevertheless, with determination, that, having put his hand to the gospel plough, he will never take it back ; that, having gone forth to suffer, and to do all for Christ, he will never turn his back upon the sacred office, come what may, come trials, come oppositions, come difficulties, from whatever quarter they may come, he has made up his mind to go on, and cries out, like the Apostle, “I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified." "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to erery one that believeth."
2. Then it is said, further, that "he weepeth.” There is a very striking passage written by the Apostle Paul, to which I am anxious to draw your attention, in expounding this part of my text; it is in 1 Corinthians ii. 3, the Apostle thus writes—" And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." This appears to me to be a very ample comment upon the expression of the text. He weepeth, first, because of his own essential weak. ness. It is essential to the success of a minister of religion that he be fully aware of his own weakness. The pomp of High-Churchism, the arrogance of the Confessional, the domination of the priesthood, are as antagonistic to the spiritual success of the ambassador of the gospel, as any opposites can be antagonistic to that success. The ambassador of Christ is to convert men, not to himself but to Christ, not to what he can do, but to what Christ hath done. His office is well expressed in the specimen of the preaching of John the Baptist, when it is recorded of him, that the matter and manner of his preaching was, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." The men who first preached Christianity were men who professed their weak
One of them, who was a man of great learning. Paul, says, “I count all things but dung and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord.” « God forbid," he exclaims, “that I should glory, save in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." He says, that he preached the everlasting gospel in plainness of speech, and in plainness of manner, proclaiming his own essential weakness. And he gives you the reason of all this, when he says, that he was striving to behave, and to do so, in order that “the faith of the believer should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of the living God." And in saying this, think not, that I undervalue the acquisitions of human learning, ancient and modern, classical and scientific, legal, and social; and all that figure in the beautiful fields of general literature. I, at least, should be most ungrateful, if I did so. I spent too much time most agreeably and profitably in one of the most ancient of the universities of our common country: I obtained too many of the rewards allotted to successful competitors in this interesting rivalry; and, to this very hour, I find myself too constantly drawing upon the literary stores, acquired in my collegiate career, ever to indulge in such an insane and depreciating cry. Yet, in preaching the gospel, not only must human wisdom be made subservient to the verities of Divine Inspiration, but in diction and style, the successful ambassador of Christ must closely follow the direction and guidance of the simple yet sublime words of the oracles of the Bible.
He weepeth, further, because of the difficulties which are in his way. The minister of religion is well aware of the difficulties, which lie in his path; he has himself been converted to God by the same gospel, and he is experi. mentally acquainted with the kind and number of difficulties to be encountered and overcome.. And he is not only acquainted with general difficulties, but with the peculiar difficulties of place, prejudice, education, of previous views, and previous habits, and therefore he weeps and cries to God for help. He prays that the Holy Ghost may be sent down to aid him, to enable him to speak wisely, faithfully, and to prepare the minds of the people to receive the
seed. There is no use in casting in the seed, except the ground is prepared. If the seed be sown by the way side, the devil will take it away; and if the seed be cast upon stony ground, then the oppositions which arise from the world, the persecutions that arise from the enemies of Christ, will mar the seed, and no fruit will come forth. Then again, if the seed be cast upon thorny ground, if the seed be cast where there is much prosperity, much worldly business, over-much employment to swallow up men's attention, then, except there be Divine help, the word will be choked. There must be the preparation of the soil, for it is not good by nature-it must be made good, it must be made fit to receive the seed, in order that, eventually, there may be fruit. And then he weeps, because of the peril of his hearers, because of the consequences of their rejecting the gospel which he preaches. Every minister of the gospel knows very well, that by every sermon that is preached the people are made better, or they are made worse-better, if they receive it; worse, if they neglect it; for they have thereby added another terrible sin to the fearful catalogue already against them. They have once more rejected the offer of the gospel, they have once more refused to be enticed for their own salvation; they have once more spurned Divine love, Divine mercy, Divine grace, and the offers of a free, full, and everlasting salvation, through the loving obedience, through the wondrous sufferings and death of Christ, the Son of the living God. Well, well, did the Apostle express himself on this subject, in these solemn words, “We are a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death." There is not a person in this church but will be the better or the worse for this sermon to-night! Oh! this makes the minister of religion weep, because every man who leaves the church, every man that leaves the gathering of people assembled to hear the gospel, every man and woman who leaves unimpressed, has neglected, despised, and rejected the offer of mercy-and thereby become worse than when they entered. Oh! my hearers, surely you are not going to leave the church to-night and be worse, but you will leave it and be better. You will embrace Christ, you will receive the gospel, you will be won by the invitations of the blessed Jesus, when he says, “ Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." The solemn and affectionate remonstrances of Jehovah surely will not be spurned again, when
“ As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth. Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die ?. O house of Israel !" Oh! we want such ministers as the text describes, we do not want mere talkers, we do not want stiff priests, we do not want men to preach what they do not feel; we want men who preach their sermons with much earnestness and much anxiety-we want men to preach as the pious poet expresses it
“ I'll preach, as if I ne'er should preach again
I'll preach, as dying, unto dying men." 3. Notice also, he not only weeps, but he is bearing precious seed, that is, he holds up to the people the statements of the gospel, “God so loved the world, that he gave his Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?" He presses upon the people's attention this great and glorious gospel. It is a great gospel, because it gives a great blessing; it is a glorious gospel, for it will accomplish it by the love of the Father, and by the merit of the God-Man Son, and by the power of the Holy Ghost. 0, yes, it is a gospel, great and glorious, and it is a gospel too, that is gloriously powerful which has saved, and can save every soul that will receive it. It is precious seed, it is dear and costly, for a moment consider and estimate it. The seed here spoken of means the word of God. This is the explanation given by the Saviour himself“The seed is the word. And Jesus further says, “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me;" and the Apostle John says of the word in the opening of his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then speaking of the Word, he says, "In him was life; and the life was the light of men: and then in verse 14, he says, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” And then you read of the incarnation of this Son of God, the Word was made flesh, you read of his be coming a man, you read of him obeying the law, you read of his being tempted, you read of his being tried, you read of his surrendering everything that he inay become a proper substitute for the sinner, that he may become a proper sin-offering for the sinner, that he may be able to save to the uttermost then that come unto God by him. You read all about this Eternal Word coming into our world, becoming an infant; you see him in the manger at Bethlehea, the Infinite God joined to the finite creature, the weeping babe; you see the riches of eternity joined to the poverty of him who had not where to lay his head; you see the Preserver of all—for by him all things consist-brought te the necessity of asking a drink of water, that he might slake his thirst; you see the God of the unirerse, the King of Glory, insulted by men, tempted by devils, maltreated even by those he came to bless, rudely treated, seized upon, arrested and scourged; you see the blood pouring down his back, the flesh cut open; you see that head, which, as God was wearing the crown of the universe, insulted by the Roman soldiers placing a crown of thorns upon ii, insulting and torturing him at the same time; you find the strong, bravny arms of these Roman soldiers pressing the erown of thorns into his brow, and the blood streaming down: you see him dragged from court to court and usjustly condemned: you see him compelled to bear his own cross: though be was the everlasting God, yet he was a perfect man, and you see him sinking with exhaustion under the cross; you see him dragged up the hill of Calvary and nailed to that cross; his holy hands nailed, and his blessed feet nailed to that wood, and he is lifted up, gasping and suffering between earth and heaven : you see him again and again insulted in every way.
But is this all ? No, it is not. You hear a groan—"My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me" What is the meaning of this? It is now that his father is punishing him. What! has he not suffered enough? Has he not endured enough? Has he not been maltreated enough, in body, mind, and soul? Yes, too much, but not enough that God may be just, and the justifier of every one that believeth in Jesus-not enough that salvation may be accomplished legally, completely, and fully-not enough, that he may be able to save to the uttermost, as well as from the uttermost; from the aitermost of sin, guilt, and pollution, to the uttermost of pardon, redemption, and holiness, even to the heights of heaven itself. Not enough, that he may be able to do this legally and justly, and it could be done in no other way. Therefore, the Father smote him. This, then, is the great and solemn feature of the suffering that made him cry, "My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" It was not merely bodily, mental, or spiritual pain; he was treated as a sinner, punished as a sinner. Our sins were laid upon him; he was made a sin-offering in the stead of us. It was the Father that drew the sword of justice ; it was the Father that executed the punishment; it was the Moral Governor of the Universe that forsook his beloved Son. Such was the love of God, such was the love of Christ, such was the salvation necessary for our deliverance, On, man, how can you treat this matter with negleet? How can you treat this subject with indifference? Behold this gigantic enterprise! Behold this wonderful history! Behold the Deity concerned in all the arrangements! Behold the everlasting Son dying for you! The Father smote him, the Father punished him, and all this for you. Oh ! how much it cost our God to save the sinner!
This is the seed; the proclaiming of this—that now God can be the justi: fier of every one that believeth in Jesus, that now the ministers of religion may proclaim that there is pardon, full, complete, everlasting pardon for all who come to the Father by Christ. Every poor sinner may here find a Saviour-whatever the amount and nature of your guilt, whatever crimes you inay have committed, no matter how vile your parentage may have been-no matter how loathsome the associations with which you have been connected no matter how infected with the basest turpitude-how deeply dyed with the blackest crimes, you may here find pardon and forgiveness. Every poor sinner is welcome alike, from the enlightened Briton to the ferocious Sepoy. Any poor sinner, and every poor sinner, may now come for the road is open, and
hell may be escaped, and heaven may be scaled to its most glorious heights through the blood of Christ.
The seed is also precious, if you consider its inestimable value, if you consider that it can procure many blessings, and they are such blessings as nothing else can procure. If all the world were to agree to die for one man, that one man could not be saved by the sacrifice! If all the angels in heaven, as well as all the men on earth, agreed to suffer for one man, they could not save him! There must be such an offering as the Son of God alone could present. He was under no obligation of duty, therefore all his obedience was voluntary, and he could transfer it. He was under no obligation to suffer, and his suffer. ings therefore, as well as his obedience, could be transferred. The seed then is precious, because of the blessings-the many blessings, it procures. Look at the condition of the fallen soul of man-the soul that could not cease to exist. It was created to live for ever; it fell, it was condemned ; it could not be driven out of existence, because it was created to live for ever. Annihilation could not reach it. And, therefore, if it were to be driven from God, it must be driven from him for ever. Its punishment must be punishment for ever, because it can never cease to exist. Some people think it a very extraordinary thing that the punishment of the sinner must be the punishment of eternal torments, but they forget the law of the soul's creation, the characteristic nature of the soul. If the soul therefore is not saved, it must be damned for ever! It was created with the high intent and purpose of living for ever. God breathed into Adam's nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul, a soul that should never be without an existence; consesequently the fall was an everlasting fall, and its effects everlasting woe. What a fearful thing! And what a wonderful seed must that be which can give life to that soul, can bring to it pardon and purity, and restore it to communion with its God! It conveys the blessings of regeneration, pardon, justification, and sanctification, gives grace according to our time and day, it promises the Holy Spirit's guidance and support, and the care of the Almighty Father's arm; it provides an interest in that salvation, which, when once it begins, is carried on to completion and fection. Look the innumerable series of blessings-each one a wonderful blessing in itself.
Now this is the precious seed that can save the soul so circumstanced as we have seen, and save it completely, save it entirely-for mind, no salvation could be of use to the soul, but that; if the salvation was partial, no soul could be saved.
Who can estimate the value of the sufferings and death of the Son of God ? It will take eternity to estimate that value, and blessed be God, redeemed souls will for ever declare the inestimable value of that great salvation; and near the throne will cry out, for ever and for ever without ceasing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, who hath redeemed us from our sins with his own blood, and he shall reign for ever and ever."
There is the seed. Oh, will you not receive it now? Only believe, and all the blessings of Christ, which he has provided, are yours. Oh, will you not receive the seed into your hearts? May the Holy Ghost help you to receive it. May the Holy Ghost break up the fallow ground of your souls, that you may receive this blessed seed, and be finally happy and glorify God in him. But allow me also just to mention, that the text may also include the labours of all persons who are engaged in promoting the salvation of their fellow-sinners, whether they are teachers of scriptural schools, ragged schools, Sunday schools, district visitors, tract distributors, or whatever other class they may belong to in the glorious spiritual army. Ministers and missionaries are first, but these others are spiritual helpers, and, by the grace of God upon them, they may do much towards bringing the people to a knowledge of Christ; and I say, therefore, to each and all of the classes of helpers I have mentioned, go on in your holy work, and be not discouraged by the difficulties, that may lie in your path. You will be called upon again and again to weep : but never forget that you are bearing precious seed, that will bring forth fruit, to the praise and glory of God. Let the remarks I have uttered regarding ministers and missionaries be also felt by you Sunday school teachers, tract distributors, district visitors, for you ought to feel them in the same way, if not perhaps in