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nature of our apostate parents. Hear these words as addressed individually to each of you. The terrific curse is re-echoed from every untilled common, and though its awful sound is softened in the cultivated field, yet there we hear "the "ground is cursed for man's sake." But this is not all,
"Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto "thee." It is the invariable purpose of Deity to instruct when he corrects; and the fruitfulness of the earth, in noxious weeds, is intended as much for our benefit as our punishment; they are designed to represent the real condition of our mind naturally. This instructive curse typifies the moral results of the first disobedience. Our hearts are barren of all that is good, spontaneously yielding all that is bad, and terrible is the destiny to which all impenitent sinners are doomed. Their end is destruction. "The earth which drinketh in "the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth "forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, "receiveth blessing from God; but that which "beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh “unto cursing whose end is to be burned.*
"For thy sake the ground is cursed." In this, as in every denunciation of divine wrath, there Hebrews vi. 7, 8.
is to be discovered a considerable mixture of mercy. "Judgment is his strange work." Mitigations do in large proportion, accompany threatenings. The darkest earthly valley presents a door of hope; the rainbow is seen in the very midst of the falling clouds; nor could the primary malediction ever heard from God by a mortal, be unattended with a promise. As a tender father he grieves when he threatens. When Jerusalem rejected our Lord, he wept over it. Oh, the depths of divine mercy! His goodness is unsearchable!
Our text may therefore be considered as importing that the curse should be converted into a blessing. "For thy sake the ground is cursed;" the event has illustrated and confirmed the purposes of mercy. "As thou art now fallen, thou art exposed to a re
petition of crime, and to a daily increase of mise66 ry. Idleness would render thee and thy posterity a prey to the most remorseful feelings and the "most destructive passions; to mitigate thy woe
by rendering labor necessary, and to give thee "intimations of my readiness to smile on thy la"bors: in the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat "thy bread." And this is absolutely the case; for we daily see that those who have contrived to extricate their necks from the yoke of useful labor, and thus, to their supposition, escaped the malediction, are, of all men in society, the most miserable.
The indolent invite the devil to tempt them; with them he is ever present also as a tormentor; nay, the very food they take yields not ordinary satisfaction; the relish which labor gives to food, and the preparation it imparts for repose, is denied them. To the hungry, even bitter things are sweet; and to the laborer, sleep is pleasant whether he eats little or much. Your real good. and felicity are thus derived from the curse.
But whatever was the original intention of the displeased Legislator in the enactment of this penalty, or however it was understood by the trembling delinquents, the law has been practically construed in favor of the offender; and we may find even in the curse, a promise of seed-time and harvest, of the bread of sufficiency, and that we shall want no good thing while in dependance on God, we labor, working willingly, as he has appointed.
Thus, by the term "for thy sake," we perceive that the curse is not only a penalty for man's sin, but intended to afford him useful instruction, and has been rendered mercifully beneficial to him in his lapsed state.
In applying this subject for your further improvement, let me
1. Beg of you when you are laboriously employed, to bear in mind whence the duty originated. Blame not second causes: say not, if provisions were not so high in price-if my family were not so numerous-if my parents had left me something to begin the world with-or if I had had the happy chance of being better born, I should not have had to work so hard. No, my dear hearers; sin it is, sin in which you have a common interest, that introduced toil. "If Adam had not "sinned he had not sweat;" he would have worked, and did labor as a creature before his fall, but afterwards he toiled as a criminal. What reflections became him as he wiped from his pallid brow the memorial of his offence? Suppose you had overheard him saying, my wife occasioned me all this difficulty-the fruit was the cause of my sufferings and fatigue; would you not have checked his foolish soliloquy, and reminded him that his own sin was the procuring cause of his labor and languor? You likewise work in consequence of imputed and personal guilt; and will you, whose life is forfeited, murmer? You have health and strength; your exertions are not unblessed: why then, should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?
2. While you are occupied in cleansing and cultivating your land, remember, further, that worse
weeds and more bitter barrenness disgrace your hearts. Thorns and thistles are here put for all weeds; in our fields the darnel, the tare, the wild oat, the carliek, the hemlock, and the couch-grass, all address you: they tell you thus fruitful in evil are your minds, nor until cultivated by Divine grace, will they yield more pleasant fruits or a better crop.
"Such seeds of sin, that bitter root,
"In every heart are found;
" "Till grace renews the ground."
Believest thou this? Has a conviction of this fact ever occasioned the tear of regret? Have you yet implored a new heart, and pleaded that cheering promise that he will turn the wilderness into a fruitful field?
Learn then, the necessity of the new birth; a necessity not founded on the mere will of God, but in the radical and entire depravity of your hearts. Your ground must be dressed and sown, or no crop can be gathered; your heart must be renovated and wrought upon by the " Great Husbandman," or it will only yield present misery and future disgrace: "the harvest shall be a heap in the day of "grief and of desperate sorrow." Well then, will