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seriousness about a provision for the perishable bodywhere wealth has become the chosen and adopted divinity of the whole of life, and that in the place of God who endureth for ever, every care and every anxiety are directed to that which is as frail as our earthly tabernacle, and fleeting as the vapour that soon passeth away.
But there is still another word that requires explanation. The term corruption in this passage is expressive not of what you may conceive on the first and cursory reading the phrase-it is expressive not of moral worthlessness, as it frequently is, but of decay or expiration. The meaning of it here is precisely in opposition and contrast to that of the term incorruption in the place where it is said " this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality." Where it stands in this phrase it is expressive not of a moral but of a physical property. The corruption which is spoken of in the text is simply opposed to the life everlasting spoken of in the same verse. It is not designed to affirm the wrongness of any carnal pursuit, but the instability of its objects. We are here but translating the text into another language when we say, that all the harvest which is reaped by him who soweth to the flesh cometh to an end; whereas he who soweth to the spirit shall reap a harvest of pleasures which shall be for evermore. So that the language here is quite the same as that which we find in the apostle John—" The world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
And now that we have finished these various explanations, the first lesson which we urge from the text is THE VANITY OF THIS WORLD'S AMBITION. We are elsewhere told, in plainer language, not to love the world, neither the things that are in the world ; that to gratify our affections for those things is to reap of the flesh, all that the flesheven in its most extended sense - has to bestow on us. To provide, again, for this gratification is to sow unto the flesh. The man soweth when under the impulse of a desire after earthly things, he applies and prosecutes his measures for
be attainment of them; he reaps when he does attain them. Were it not for a strange anomaly in the moral nature of man, the distinction could not have been better exemplified
than by him who first labours with the whole bent and strenuousness of his soul after the money which purchases the objects of this world's gratification, and then gives himself up to the harvest of indulgence. But what mars and confirms the distinction in this instance is, that when a man devotes himself to the acquisition of that money which purchases all things, it is not always with the view of purchasing. Wealth is often pursued without this view. An independent charm is annexed to the bare possession of it. Apart altogether from the power of its command over the enjoyments of life, it has become with many an object in itself of the most passionate and intense ambition. All the pleasure of the chase is keenly felt in the pursuit of it, and all the triumph of a victory as keenly felt in the attainment of it; and this, without any regard to the harvest of subsequent enjoyments into which it has the power of ushering its successful votaries; it it thus, that although the mere shadow and representative of enjoyment, it has at length infatuated its worshippers into a higher relish for itself than for all the enjoyments of which it is the minister; so that instead of being the handmaiden to the gratification of other appetites to many, it has itself become the object of an appetite more domineering than all others; and wealth, apart from all its uses and subserviences, now stands to their imaginations in the place of a mighty and dispensing sovereign, to whom they render the devotion and the drudgery of all their services.
In those cases, however, where wealth is the terminating object, there is still the process of sowing, even the process of diligence and busy device by which the scheme of this earthly ambition is carried on, only the harvest instead of consisting of any ulterior thing which the wealth of the world can purchase, consists in the mere possession of the wealth itself. In the walks of merchandise, were we to look to the minds and motives of its most aspiring candidates, should we often see that it is not what comes after the wealth, but the mere wealth itself, which both set them agoing and kept them agoing. They may be sowing, not unto the lust of the flesh, not unto the lust of the eye, not anto the pride of life-all of which are opposite to the love of the Father, but still they are sowing, and to that too the
love of which is equally opposite to the love of the Father. They who are seeking treasures for themselves instead of seeking to be rich towards God, are in fact sowing unto the flesh, for they are sowing unto that which terminates with the body,—they are sowing unto that which is altogether corrupt, understanding this term in its textual meaningaltogether transitory; they are sowing unto that on which death in a few little years will put its impressive mockery. They are rearing their chief good on a foundation that is perishable, or labouring for one only portion which will speedily be wrested from them by the gripe of a destroyer, who will leave them without a portion and without an inheritance for ever. They are labouring for a part of this world's substance, and in the possession of it “verily they have their reward ;" but in regard to the substance which “ endureth for ever" they have never sought it, and, as they have never laboured for it, so of it they will never reap. They have sought to be arrayed in perishable clothing, and perhaps to find a little hour of magnificence on earth ere they bid their everlasting adieu to all its infatuations; but that hour will soon come to its termination, and death may leave all the possessions untouched, but he will lay his rude and resistless hand on the possessor. The house
upon foundations broad and in castellated pride for many generations, and the domain may smile for ages in undiminished beauty, but in less, perhaps, than half a generation, death will force his unbidden way into the inner apartment, and without spoiling the lord of his property he will spoil the property of its lord; he will enter and leave uninjured the hall, but he will level and destroy the lord of the mansion. It is not his way to tear the parchments and the rights of investiture from the hand of the proprietor, but it is the hand that possessed that he paralizes; he unlocks not the coffers, but he leaves their contents and their owner like, useless and forgotten things of the world. It is thus that death smiles in ghastly contempt on all human aggrandisement. He meddles not with the things that are occupied, but he lays hold on the occupier; and this to him is as entire deprivation as if he had trampled on all that belonged to him in the world. He does not seize upon the wealth, but he lays his arrest upon the owner; he forces away his body to the grave, where it moulders into dust, and in turning the soul out of its warm and well sheltered tenement, he turns it adrift and unprotected into the cheerless waste of a desolate and neglected eternity.
We are not taught here that it is wrong to sow unto the flesh. This may be, this is, a doctrine of Scripture, but it is not the doctrine of this particular verse.
It does not pronounce on the criminality of the pursuit, but just on the evanescence of its objects. It simply tells us that the good obtained by sowing unto the flesh is temporal; and to this the whole experience of man bears testimony. He cannot look on the pages of general history without perceiving the rapid movement of one generation after another. He cannot live long in the world without perceiving the fall of acquaintances on every side of him. He cannot have a circle of relatives around him without the lesson of death being brought home to his feelings by the touching incidents of his own domestic bereavements. Should he himself still persist in the pursuits of ambition, and in associating either durability or magnitude with his earthly interests, this may prove a moral or intellectual derangement in himself; but it proves nothing against the affirmation, that in sowing to the flesh he shall of the flesh reap only corruption. As he grows older in years,
may grow more inveterate in delusion. As he draws towards the termination of his earthly existence, he may cling with more intense affection to its various vanities. As the hour of his eternal separation from the world approaches, it may grow in his estimation, and he may adhere more tenaciously than ever to all its objects and interests. This proves him to be the child of infatuation, but against the truth of the text it proves nothing. It may bespeak the virulence of some great spiritual disease that overspreads our species, it may demonstrate that in reference to a great and awfully momentous truth the man may labour under all the obstinacy of an habitual blindness; but the truth remains unbroken, and in every instance and on every indivídual that is born into the world it will be most surely and speedily realized.
So much, then, for the first lesson, the VANITY OF THIS WORLD'S AMBITION ; and the second lesson, founded on these
explanations that our text affords, which I would propose, is THE UNPROVIDEDNESS OF ALL THOSE MEN FOR ETERNITY whose affections are settled on the wealth of this world, and who possess not one wish nor have one practical interest beyond the limits of its sensible horizon. That, indeed, is a meagre theology which would look upon the outcasts of human society as the only outcasts from heaven, and which would represent the path that leadeth unto life-that leadeth unto spiritual and everlasting life—to be so gentle and so accessible as that few can miss it; instead of representing it as that arduous and narrow path, of which our Saviour has said, that " there be few who find it.” It is a woeful delusion, and we fear the undoing of many an immortal spirit, that God will shut out of paradise only those who have been guilty of such flagrant offences against the law of rectitude, as would degrade them beneath the average character of those decent and respectable and neighbour-like families by whom we are surrounded; and that, if we but acquit ourselves with tolerable fairness on earth, we may expect when we die, to become the companions of those who constitute the celestial choirs, and of the myriads of happy souls that will surround the throne of heaven. Now, it may be true that we may stand exempted from all gross and outrageous delinquency; we may fulfil all the proprieties of social intercourse; we may have more than an average share of its humanities ; cordialities of domestic affection may by the mechanism of our sentient nature, flow through our bosoms in a stream as warmly and as kindly as doth the blood that circulates through our veins; and to many of the graces of private life there may be added the activities of public life and of patriotism, the pulse of high and honourable feeling, the blush of unviolated delicacy, the ingenuousness of nature's truth, the sensibilities of nature's tenderness, and, with all, there may be a taste most keenly and feelingly alive, if not to the spiritual duties which irradiate the character of the Godhead, at least to all those sensible beauties, wherewith the face of our goodly creation has been decked so profusely by his hand; and there may be science and imagination, and towering intellect, and sublime thoughts of truth and of the universe; there may be all those virtues which