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spiritual fruitfulness which the word of prophecy depicts, notwithstanding the impression of sense and unbelief. All the nations shall be rendered fruitful with the doctrine of Messiah's righteousness and praise. It is true they are now like the barren and waste wilderness, where few or no fruits of righteousness are seen, few or no seeds of grace planted, few or no trees of salvation spring up. It is true few sowers are now going forth to sow the seed of the kingdom. It is true that the poisonous plants of sin, ignorance, idolatry, cruelty, oppression, lust cover the surface of the Heathen and Mohammedan world, and choke large portions of the visible Church. But the time shall as cer. tainly arrive for the fulfilment of the divine purposes, as the time arrived of old for the rescue from Egypt and the return from Babylon; as the period was accomplished for the birth and sacrifice of Messiah ; as the day of the Holy Ghost fully came; as the time of the first spiritual fruitfulness of the then known world was fulfilled in the conversion of the Roman empire in the three first centuries. Men shall be again raised up and quali. fied for the sowing of the earth; the universal putting forth of its bud shall mark the divine faithful. ness ; and the garden of the Lord, wide as the circuit of the globe, shall cause the things sown in it to spring forth.”
Let us, then, in application, first observe, that the state of the spiritual vegetation in the comparatively narrow field of our own hearts may serve as
key to all we have been considering. The barrenness naturally as to all spiritual good there, will teach us what must be the greater destitution of the millions who have the same fallen nature with ourselves, with scarcely one of our advantages. What naturally springs up within us but thorns and briars? No love to God, no holiness, no faith, no repentance, no charity; all is as a desert and salt land.” But what has made the difference? What has caused your heart to bud? What has made your mind as the garden of the Lord ? Is it not the doctrine of Messiah's “righteousness and praise,” taught by the Holy Spirit ? Then here is the key to the conversion of the world. Feel your own ruin, and you will discern theirs. Perceive the evil of sin yourself, and you will know what it must be in others. Consider the grace which has made your own heart in any measure fruitful, and you will recognise the power which can make the world so also.
Cease not to use, then, every means, however weak, for advancing the fertility of the earth. Not only do not with the ungodly sow tares; but be active and incessant in casting in the immortal seed of the gospel. No one can tell what ultimate extent of good the smallest quantity of seed-corn may produce, if perpetually resown as the crops appear. Twelve men filled the world with fruit. There may be again, at any moment when God shall please, a reproduction of that mighty change. “An handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains, may bear fruit that shall shake like Lebanon.” “ Cast, therefore, thy bread upon the waters"—thy bread-corn upon the watered field "and thou shalt find it after many days.” “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that or whether they shall both be alike good."
* The rice fields during the rains in India resemble pools of water, on which the seed is merely cast by the hand of the sower.
SERMON XXI ,
2 CORINTHIANS X. 4, 5.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but
mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity
every thought to the obedience of Christ. Such is the striking image employed by the apostle to depict the conquests gained by the gospel over the powers of Satan, sin, and the human heart.
The image is preserved entire throughout the whole passage, which is one of the most noble in the Holy Scriptures.
It proceeds on the same idea as the language of our Lord, “When the strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he cometh upon him, he taketh away his armor wherein he trusteth, and divideth the spoil.” And as that of the apostle, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
The occasion of the apostle's introducing these triumphant words, was his being charged by the false teachers at Corinth with being actuated by secular and personal motives in the use of his spiritual authority, and with assuming a boldness when absent, which did not agree with the impression made when he was with them. To this he replies by declaring, in the verse before the text, that though he walked like others in the flesh, as partaking of the human nature, and sharing all its ordinary feelings and infirmities; yet he did not carry on the warfare of Christianity against the powers of darkness according to the flesh, and by the maxims of merely human prudence. No; he was armed in another manner, and reposed his hopes of success on other aid. though we walk,” he says, “in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." And then the apostle adds, in allusion to the pride and contempt with which the Heathen and Jew, on the one hand, and the false teachers on the other, were actuated, in resisting the gospel and its divinely inspired ministers, “And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
The subject, then, presented for our consideration is, The spiritual conquests of the gospel over the human heart; which well follows our two preceding topics, The commission given by our Lord for the universal propagation of the gospel ; and, The graGual conversion of the world, illustrated by the p.ocess of vegetation.
For, in the first of these we showed both the authority on which we act, and the gentle and benevolent character of the means we employ. In the second, we proved that all the nations of mankind were to be included in the intended garden of the Lord; the fruitfulness of which would at length resemble that of the earth, and be produced by a like mysterious, but powerful exertion of divine mercy and grace. When our present topic, therefore, is developed, all will have been considered that seems essential for our encouragement and direction in making known "the glorious gospel of the grace of God.” For we now come to particulars ; we descend from the doctrine of the power of God operating generaily, as in the process of vegetation, to the same power subduing specially and individually the proud resistance of the human heart.
Three points offer themselves for consideration in this spiritual conquest; The Fortresses which resist the power of Christ ; the Weapons employed against them; the Success of the warfare.
I. The fortresses which resist the power of Christ are the hearts of fallen men, with their unnumbered rebellious thoughts and imaginations dictated by pride and conceit. For the apostle explains the figurative expression “strongholds,” by "imaginations," and a “high thing exalting itself;" and after- . wards speaks of "those imaginations and this high thing," being “ cast down” and subdued ; and of all
thoughts” of which they were composed, being brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. This at once opens the whole passage.
The human heart, since the fall of Adam, is a fortress in the hands of a rebel fue. The reasonings and imaginations, the prejudices and sophisms, the systems of error and long-fixed intellectual and moral habits, the lusts and appetites, the maxims of false philosophers, and the heresies and perverseness of conceited teachers, resemble the ancient fortifications