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Instruments of curious construction and great efficiency are known to have been devised and used by the Eastern nations; and it is a fact not to be disregarded, and of indisputable authority, that the principle of our best fanning machines, was borrowed but lately from the east, where winnowing engines have long been used to cleanse rice, their most common grain.

Many of the arts and sciences are with us yet in their infancy; none more so perhaps than those connected with the culture of the earth; and is it not a proof of ignorance, and even depravity, to refuse instruction and advantage? Vain man would be thought wise. But to pass by reflections, which even facts of this common character give birth to, we shall proceed to our more immediate object:The security of the true grain amidst the winnowings to which in divine wisdom it is exposed, is affirmed in our text.

Although the righteous shall be tossed to and fro, and agitated as corn is sifted in a sieve, not one grain shall be lost.

Amos was cotemporary with the prophet Isaiah, and like him predicted those dire calamities which shortly after overwhelmed Israel, and which, like wind, dissipated the wicked as chaff, but left the

righteous secure and uninjured; and indeed afforded. ample evidence, either by their escape from trouble or their conduct in it, that they were precious inthe sight of the Lord.

Having in a previous discourse * spoken of the final security of the godly as being gathered into the garner of God, it will be sufficient, at this time, to notice those events which now occur to tryto winnow characters, but by which the righteous shall not be essentially injured-not one grain shall be lost.

I. They that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. Never can we be sufficiently grateful for the quiet and toleration we enjoy in this favored island. Sitting under" our own vine "and fig tree" none can legally make us afraid; the very attempt is perilous. Yet the lapse of a few years, and wise political regulations, can effect no change in human nature. The flesh still does, and ever will, war against the spirit; these are contrary the one to the other. Opposites can never harmonize ; although the sword of persecution rests and rusts in its scabbard, the spirit of enmity in the carnal mind never slumbers or sleeps. A degree of persecution winnows the church at the present day. The finger

* Discourse xv. pp. 242.

of reproach is still pointed against the youthful convert; even now, the generation of the serpent hisseth against the seed of the woman; they sport themselves, they make a wide mouth, they draw out the tongue in derision; and which of us shall laugh to scorn such blasts of persecution, or consider such shakings of the sieve as trivial? An apostle was forewarned of his peril from such a despicable method of assault. We are in most danger from little things. "And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to "have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I "have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and "when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren, “And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go "with thee, both into prison, and to death. And " he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow "this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that "thou knowest me."* What an affecting comment does the penitential record of Peter's conduct afford to this premonition! "And as Peter was beneath "in the palace, their cometh one of the maids of "the high priest: And when she saw Peter warm"ing himself, she looked upon him, and said, And "thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he "denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I " what thou sayest. And he went out into the

* Luke, xxii. 31-34.

66

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porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, "This is one of them. And he denied it again. "And a little after, they that stood by said again "to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou "art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. "But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I "know not this man of whom ye speak. And the "second time the cock crew. And Peter called to "mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before "the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. "And when he thought thereon, he wept." Happily Peter was recovered, but how many insincere characters are thus proven, and found as the chaff which the wind driveth away! The present day is fruitful in such instances.

Persons living in comparative obscurity, and like an unpressed husk of wheat, which seems to contain the true seed, appearing to be truly pious, have risen in life; been led into society where the speech of the Galilean would betray them to contempt and a sneer; soon have they learnt to throw aside every restraint; they have by these means been sifted, and to the bitter disappointment of their ministers, who had exulted over them in the Lord, and of parents who had said, " Ye are my joy," and had

* Mark, xiv. 66-72.

anticipated in their progressive excellence of cha racter, a luminous crown in their own declining years; they have acted out their real dispositionshave appeared lighter than vanity, and should not grace interpose, must be cast as chaff into unquenchable fire..

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Let us not be high-minded but fear; for others let us plead the promise in our text, and, though like Peter they may have fallen, let us beg that they be recovered, and when by their bitter weeping and genuine contrition they prove that the root. of the matter is in them, we shall see the truth of this cheering declaration, that though they were sifted like corn in a sieve, yet that the least grain shall not fall to the earth.

II. Severe temptations winnow characters, and detect the absence of the seed of God which liveth and abideth for ever, or evince that the least grain shall not be lost.

Temptations are as various as our circumstances, ages, or peculiar situation in life. It may be some time before the particular trial, well-adapted to reach our case, may occur. There are frequent and successive gusts of wind-many and repeated revolutions of the fan,-before much grain can be disturbed and the chaff removed. Poverty has prov

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