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That these happy results may ensue, let me press on you the absolute necessity of daily imploring the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit; without which, the best directed and most indefatigable endeavors are disappointing and dangerous. "Paul may plant, Apollos may water, but God "alone can give the increase." If these things be so, the success of your labors depends exclusively on the free grace of God. Blissful recollection! Your prayers come up in memorial before God. Though you sow in tears, you shall doubtless return bringing your sheaves with you.
2. Let each of us habituate ourselves to derive instruction from rural scenes. What attainments might have been ours, if every day and year we had studied with diligence this opened volume! Great and marvellous are the works of God, sought out by all those who have pleasure therein. You are frequently reminded that you are solemnly responsible for the sabbaths which pass over you, the sermons you hear, and all the varied means of grace with which you are indulged; for these you must give an account:-and will he not expect some benefit to result from the inferior means of cultivation he has employed? "He has not left himself" without a swift witness against every impenitent sinner, in the daily distribution of providential mercy, in the gift of rain from heaven
and in smiling on their rural labors. Not only is there a voice from the temple, but a voice also from the field:-unto you, O men, it calls—its address is to the sons of men.
"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
THE GROUND CURSED FOR MAN'S SAKE,
GENESIS, iii. 17, 18, 19,
Cursed is the ground for thy sake-thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee—in the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread,
As in husbandry, so in religion, toil precedes profit; the ground must by an irksome and laborious process, be prepared for the good seed which shall then be cast in, and springing up yield a plenteous harvest. Those pleasing representations which are calculated to cheer and console, must not be offered until you have learnt those salutary truths which shall confound and condemn, The Holy Ghost invariably convicts of sin, before he comforts; this is the order in which the promise is made, and in which only it will be fulfilled. You perhaps, hoped to have heard to day, in some entertaining allegory, of the promised privileges of religion; to have been invited to walk through
fields standing thick with corn, or over hills covered with flocks; but you are led to barren ground, and called to rove among thorns and briers; for we must begin where God begins, and conform to the wise order he has prescribed. You labor first, and then receive your wages.
I rejoice that many of you are accustomed to eye the hand of God in every thing; and He who has thus instructed you, may and will in rich mercy, teach others also to their saving profit; and under his illumination the most difficult truths shall be comprehended, and the most distasteful shall be rendered both pleasant and profitable.
The bee taught by his maker, extracts honey from the same flower which yields poison to the spider; and while there are many like the noxious insect, deriving nourishment to their discontent, indolence, or rebellion,-which are the poisons of human life, from their being obliged to work hard for their bread, you will like the active and useful inhabitant of the hive, obtain the sweets of spiritual advantage, even from those wearisome efforts by which you procure your scanty provisions; and thus what was originally a penalty, shall to you become a privilege, while to them the curse shall be made a crime.
Although what may be said on this subject will
principally be confined to the employments of the farm and the field, yet remember it is equally true of all those "varied services and sciences" which occupy the attention of social man; and alike applicable to those who get their bread by the sweat of the brain, as of the brow: more so, indeed; for anxious cares and mental toil are far more severe than manual exertion.
That you may more fully derive those instruc tions to be found in the subject, before us, I shall request you to meditate on man's sin, and its deplorable consequences as it respects the earth.
1. The words lead us to make some enquiries about man's sin: "for thy sake" the ground is cursed. Why, what has man done? In noticing the crime which occasioned this curse, we must necessarily have respect to the offended party, the offender, and the offence.
... The offended Being is God, the great God who created the earth, and formed man as the holy and happy inhabitant: God, who is not easily offended, nor waits to discover faults in his creatures.
After He had formed the world on which we dwell, and pronounced all very good, it pleased him to create man an intelligent and perfect being,