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men and women? The children of Christians are the best workers in the church to-day; in the home, in the school, in the sanctuary, in the mission field. The sustained work, the work carried on through many toils and many years, is the work of men who devoutly acknowledge their large indebtedness to mothers and fathers of many prayers and godly life. The children of to-day will be the men and women of the future; and what the children are the future will be. Is there not, then, abundant reason, besides the natural parental wish, why we should fervently and unceasingly ask for God's grace and glory to descend upon our children ? It is sad to think how many, in the dew of their youth, are being tainted by vice, and are graduating with quick and facile steps, in every kind of wickedness. It is sadder still to think that some of the children of godly men are turning their backs with scorn on the examples and admonitions of home and kindred. There is no bitterness to godly parents like that which Absaloms create. Yet do not lose heart, ye who have tasted this bitterness. Your prayers, poor lacerated souls, have gone up before the Father of all mercies. Pray still; “pray without ceasing”—broken hearted mother, despairing and sorrowful father. You cannot tell what is God's purpose in thus withholding from you the dearest wish of your heart. Perhaps He is trying your faith, for He is never deaf to a parent's prayers. Or He may be leading you to ask yourselves whether the tone of your life agrees with the spirit of your prayer. He may be training you to think more about Him, and less about yourselves. And do not forget this cheering fact, that God has often answered the parent's prayer after the parent has been called home.
But the third petition is not the utterance of a narrow and selfish wish for the good, the spiritual prosperity and advantage, of our children alone, and of none other. It is far more expansive than this. It is for our descendants, near or remote, for all who shall follow us in that grand and never-broken procession through the ages of living men, It is for the expansion of the work no less than its succession—the widest and completest ; for the time desired by David, the sweet singer of Israel, when “the whole earth shall be filled with His glory;" for the day pro dicted by Isaiah, the Evangelic prophet, when“ the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." This, and nothing less than this, expresses the fulness of the prayer, “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, as in heaven so in earth." This, and nothing less than this, expresses the fulness of the prayer, “ Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children ; and let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish Thou the work of our handsupon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it." The prayer of Moses the man of God and the prayer of the Christian are one. Two cautions, however, we shall all do well to heed. The first is this — prayer without work is mockery. It is scattered before it ascends to the " high and holy place." It is an offence to heaven, and can bring nothing but shame upon the man who utters it. The second caution is like unto the first-work without prayer is vain. Many toilers have discovered this, after their barren work has opened their eyes. Take counsel from them. Begin your work in prayer, in prayerfulness continue it, and God will ere long give you to see by visible, permanent, and even successive harvests, that your labour has not been in vain in the Lord.
J. JACKSON GOADBY.
" He was
Parable of the Sower.—No. 2. The Sower Going forth. Our Saviour's language on this subject, in Matt. xiii, 3, literally rendered is “Behold the Sower went forth to sow." The definite article in the original, besides individualising and thereby imparting vividness to the conception, points significantly to Jesus as himself primarily, properly and pre-eminently “THE Sower.”
Such has He been under every dispensation, in every age. in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” As He was the lamb slain, so He was the prophet teaching, “ from the foundation of the world.” Like His emblem, the sun, He has been “the Light of the World,” girdling the earth with light and love from nature's dawn till now. From the first, “ His delights were with the Sons of Men.” To them “He spake by His holy prophets since the world began." To the rebellious antediluvians “He went and preached” through the preaching Noah and the striving spirit. To Abraham and the Patriarchs He appeared and preached as "the Angel Jehovah ;” to Joshua, His namesake and type, as the “Captain of the Lord's host.” When prophets spake, it was by “the Spirit of Christ which was in them.” When Apostles pleaded, it was “in Christ's stead.” Yea, even the Holy Spirit, if He scatters the seed broadcast over this desert earth, does “not speak of Himself,” but “ takes of Mine," saith Jesus, and “ shows it unto you." All through, it is Christ that sows; primarily or secondarily. His are all the voices of truth and love that are echoing through the ages.
Jesus does not in this parable tell us that He is “the Sower,” but He tells us in the next: “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man." If this explanation is thus true in the parable of the Tares, it holds no less true in the parable of the Sower; and not only by parity, but also by priority of reason, for before it could be true in the second parable, it must have been true in the first.
Let no man here perplex himself with the question, How can Christ be at once the preacher and the theme, the Sower and the Seed ? I answer, How might He not? The difficulty is intrinsically shallow. It were strange that He who came to teach should eliminate from his teaching the one vital element in it because that happened to be Himself. Scripture is full of such dualities as meeting in Jesus ; and they at once explain themselves. “ As Christ," says one, “is Physician and medicine, Priest and sacrifice, Redeemer and redemption, Lawgiver and law, Porter and door, so is He Sower and seed; for what else is the Gospel itself but Christ incarnate, horn, preaching, dying, rising again, sending the Holy Spirit, gathering the Church, and sanctifying and ruling it.
From the larger view of Christ's sowing, which ought never to be lost sight of, we now turn to its specific and concentrated fulness as seen in His personal ministry. Tó this we are summoned by the significant words went forth.” He went : an expression which suggests to us the incarnation, Marvellous benignity ! Sovereigns will concede and proclaim mercy, but is it their wont to quit their palace and go forth to the revolted province, and there in person urge the rebels to accept it ? Above all, do sovereigns “become all things ” to rebels, except rebellion itself, even to sharing their hardest conditions, in order to teach them and gain them? But Jesus did : By virtue of His incarnation, as one remarks, "He went forth, King though He was, like a husbandman putting on a garment adapted to the rain, the heat, and the cold.”+
Arrayed in mortal flesh,
He like an Angel stands,
And pardons in His hands. He left the glory He had with the Father, and “went forth to sow :' yea, and to suffer; to sow Himself, as He touchingly says : “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John xii. 24). Thus in our Sower the priestly blends with the prophetic in a living and loving unity, of which the cross is the life and power. “ His going forth was like the morning." His voice was like the breath of Spring.
Flowers laugh before Him in their beds,
And fragrance in His footing treads. The sickly earth might have exclaimed: “ The voice of my Beloved ! Behold He cometh, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills." “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”
He “ went forth.” How suggestive! He waited not till stray sinners came to Him, like Sheba's Queen to Solomon, from the ends of
* Salmeron (in Trench, p. 67, 68, note).
+ Ib. p. 68.
the earth, but “ went forth" to them, and mingled with them. It was a bleak and barren, yea and prickly wild ; but forth Incarnate Wisdom went, and sowed the life-seed in high places and in low, in the house of God, in the houses of men, by “ the highways and hedges,” in “the chief places of concourse," in " the streets," in " the openings of the gates."
He went forth “ weeping," and “ sowed in tears (Psa. cxxvi.), as became the “ Man of Sorrows," as became yet more, Incarnate Love; weeping over human woe, at the Bethany sepulchre, on the east of Olivet; weeping over human obduracy, on the Jerusalem slope of the same mount. So in their measure feel all under-sowers who are sowers in earnest ; witness David's streaming tears because man “kept not God's law;" witness Jeremiah’s over “ the slain of the daughter of his people ;" witness Paul's as he wrote, “even weeping,” of “the enemies of the cross of Christ."
He went forth in faith; knowing the indestructibility of the truth seed, asserting His Kinghood in the darkest hour, and sending forth Hig Twelve to bring the whole world to His feet. Let us arm ourselves with the same mind;" taking as our watchword that of Carey and Marshman : “Expect great things, attempt great things.” Did we only realise more intensely the indwelling power of the truth, and its adaptation to save, our success, though still limited by human obduracy, would at least be greater than it is.
He went forth praying. He prayed at His baptism, at the commencement of His ministry. He prayed throughout its course, spending whole nights in the mountain solitude, communing with His God, till “His locks were wet with dew;" and He prayed at its close, “ that the whole world might believe;" yea, and on the cross He prayed for His very murderers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Let us, too, pray, if we would avoid being Atheists. If “in everything," pre-eminently in this thing, sowing the Gospel seed, let there be “ prayer and supplication." It is the living and vitalising element in all Evangelical success, for it is the lungs of faith, the breath of the spiritual life.
He went forth with zeal, exclaiming: “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” He counted it his meat to do his Father's will and finish his work. He lamented to see the fields so vast and the labourers so few. “With desire He desired” even His “baptism ” of wrath, as the death-rain that must fall to make the harvest grow. Oh for more of the Master's zeal! “Brethren, the time is short.” “ Work while it is day, for the night cometh.” “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
He went forth in love, dearly compassionating every soul, and even ready to send home the penitent with that best of benedictions, “Go in
peace ; sin no more." Let us, too, “speak the truth in love;" walking softly over the tender ground that may be furrowed by convictions deeper than we know, that may be harrowed by the teeth of sharp sorrows which we have no opportunity to understand ; and let us “ be gentle unto all men, apt to teach,” meekly sowing that “precious seed” which is the germ of life and peace equally for all.
Finally, He went forth to sow on a principle of universality and impartiality. The Sower, with the seed-bag slung over his shoulder paces the field with measured parallels and with a regulated step, and flings out the seed with a free swing of the hand that is kept in harmony with his advance ; every movement of hand and foot being adjusted with the utmost care so as to secure equability of sowing all over the field. If there is any one thing in daily life more than another that is expressive of free universality and studied impartiality, it is the figure and attitude of the sower as he goes forth and sows. His very step has a vigorous tread, his very hand has a vigorous swing, his very eye has an unswerving glance all to secure this end. Anything short of this sustained attention and well-balanced energy, anything constrained, contracted or artificial, would mar the universality and equability of the distribution. Rather than this, let the seed fall on the beaten path, on the rocky ledge, or in the stony copse, if some of it should fail, or the cloud of birds over head should swoop down and pick it up; even as in the cosmical harmonies of our globe, the sun is divinely made to shine on the icy pole, and the rain to fall on the howling waste and the barren sea, rather than that influences so largely needed should not be impartially and universally supplied. Alas ! that so many of the under
should have fallen, on this vital point, so far short both of their Master's example and of their Master's commission. Here, if anywhere, to falter is to spoil all. On a life and death concern like this there must be no ambiguity. The silver trumpet of Gospel jubilee must give forth no uncertain sound. We would rather hear grim-tongued Limitarianism speaking forth in its own tones, than something that pretends to be other than it is, speaking forth the universalities of the Gospel as through a scrannel pipe with subdued voice and timid, stammering tongue.
Even universal terms, yea, and some very particular terms, are oftentimes felt by the thoroughly aroused and conscience-stricken sinner to be barely universal enough, barely particular enough to make him see himself veritably embraced in the arms of Gospel grace. To such a one, in his self-diffidence, the faintest quaver in the joyful sound, the slightest discernible reserve, though far short of the above-named hard and grimvisaged ambiguities, might be a stunning blow in the face on the very door-step of the Gospel. “I thank God," exclaimed Richard Baxter,