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This subject is susceptible of further improvement, by enquiring
1. Are there any here who must be charged and convicted of having put their hand to the plough and looked back? What is the plain language of such dishonorable practice-is the Master whom you serve, unworthy of your obedience? Is the work you have had allotted you, such as justifies disgust? How would your conduct be censured on mere worldly principles ! The event clearly proves you began in your own strength, and relied on your own fancied powers. powers. While on the plain maxims of common sense, you are convicted and condemned; on the known dispositions and promises of divine mercy, you are invited again to set your hand to the work a second time; to-day is this offer made, to-morrow it may be withdrawn. Harden not your hearts by a fatal delusion, by indolent wishes, by unwarranted expectations. “The sluggard will not plough by reason of the "cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have "nothing."*
The faint-hearted and pliable apostate, is among the most miserable of the finally lost; without having enjoyed even the pleasures of sin for a season,
* Proverbs, xx. 4.
he pays the full penalty of his crime; he sins against light, and is plunged into the grossest darkness where is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
"The fearful soul that tires and faints,
"And makes his own destruction sure.”
2. Let me offer consolation to such as have long toiled, and have hitherto wrought unrewarded in the field of exertion.
Ignorant persons, would consider land ploughed and then unoccupied, as desolate; and indeed, some who were unacquainted with the operations of farming, have not known the difference between land at rest, and land wasted. Those who are timid and write bitter things against themselves, and are guilty of the fatal folly of comparing themselves with others, rather than God's holy word, are, though unintentionally, the foes of their own peace. They resemble the man who would compare a land ploughed and fallowed, with one sown and burdened with a crop, and deduce despair from the prospect. Any experienced farmer will tell you, one is as necessary, and displays as much skill, and promises in its order as fair a crop, as the other, Every thing is beautiful in its season,
The fallow will be most fruitful. Your present state is preparatory to future abundance. Now are you broken and furrowed, and soon the good seed of the word shall be sown in your hearts, which are as prepared ground, and shall yield thirty, sixty, and even an hundred fold.
Finally. I congratulate such as patiently persevere, even where success appears witheld. Convinced that he who directs, will prosper, they continue their efforts. Humbled under a sense of the evil of their own hearts, they know that this previous discipline and lengthened delay are absolutely needed. With an eye stedfastly fixed on Him who for their sakes "gave his cheek to the smiters, and on "whose back the ploughers ploughed and made long "their furrows," they anticipate the period when a large and plenteous share of the free gift of sovereign mercy shall succeed their toil. Highly, as others may estimate their exertions, they see no proportion between the scantiness of their effort, and the unparsimonious liberality of the increase.
In this happy and humble temper, they pass the time of their sojourning in this vale of tears, these lowlands of their exile; working while it called to day; cheered by a hope full of immortality; and looking forward without dismay, to that auspicious hour when they themselves shall be cast into
the deep furrows of the grave, and descend to the clods of the valley, there to lie buried until the appointed angel shall proclaim the arrival of that glorious day, when what was sown in weakness, shall be raised in power; when the natural body shall be raised a spiritual body, and this corruptible shall put on incorruption.
"These lively hopes we owe
"We would adore his grace below,
THE GROUND MANURED.
ISAIAH, XXv. 10.
For in this mountain shall the hand of the Lord rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him, · even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.
GOD has made nothing in vain: none of his works are superfluous or unnecessary; and frequently are we indebted to things which are despised and considered of no value, for multiplied advantages.
When our blessed Lord had, by miracle, afforded a full and seasonable meal to his numerous auditors, in the grassy fields of Judea, he commanded his disciples to gather up the fragments, that nothing might be lost. This injunction is, like every other divine precept, when obeyed, its own reward; and daily do we discover in the oc