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harvest springs. Weeds will grow of themselves, but corn requires culture; nor can any harvest be expected but in consequence of a patient and laborious attention to the duties of husbandry. Thus it is also with the Gospel. That is the seed from which alone any fruit will arise to God. Men will bring forth all manner of evil fruits without any instruction or advice. But never will they abound in fruits of righteousness unless the seed of divine truth be first sown in their hearts.]
The place whereon this seed is cast is like "the tops of mountains”.
[Vallies are fruitful; but mountains, and especially the mountain-tops, are barren. They rarely have any soil; nor, if they had, would they be proper situations for the sowing of
Were any corn to spring up upon them, the storms and tempests would destroy it long before it could arrive at maturity. Such is the world at large, and the heart of every individual in it, barren in itself, and exposed to storms of passion and floods of temptation. And most discouraging is the prospect of that labourer who goes forth to sow his corn in such a soil.
Moreover the mountain-tops were the places where the idols of the heathen deities were worshippeda. Thus were they the seat of all superstition and idolatry. What a view does this give us of the place where the Gospel seed is sown! Yet, alas! it is but too just a representation both of the world, and of the heart of man. Superstition and idolatry abound in every place and every heart. What seed then can be expected ever to flourish in so foul a soil?]
Nor is there more than a mere “ handful” of corn sown there
[If the seed were multiplied in proportion to the badness of the soil, there might still be some little hope of a harvest. But of what use is a mere handful of corn when cast on a surface of such vast extent? What hope could there be that the whole world should be evangelized by twelve poor fishermen? Even at this time, how wide the field, and how few the labourers! Millions of our fellow-creatures never so much as hear the name of Christ; and of those who do, there are, alas! too many who never have the whole counsel of God declared unto them.]
But notwithstanding these discouragements we shall not despair of the success of the Gospel, if we consider,
a In reference to this custom, the prophet Isaiah, foretelling the triumph of the Gospel over all false religions, says, " The mountain of the Lord's House shall be established on the top of the mountains."
II. The blessing which God has promised to it,
The prophecy before us declares that the increase of this seed shall be, 1. Strong
[The woods of " Lebanon” were proverbially grand. Waving their lofty heads, they seemed to defy the storms and tempests. Such was to be the fruit that should spring from the Gospel seed. Weak as corn is to withstand a storm, that which was to grow upon the mountain-tops should be firm as the deep-rooted cedars. And has not the event justified the prediction? The powers of earth and hell eombined against the infant church, but were not able to crush it. Neither imprisonment nor death could intimidate the disciples of Jesus. Even the weaker sex were enabled to endure the most cruel tortures, and to glory in their tribulations for Jesus' sake. In every successive age the same holy fortitude has characterized the followers of the Lamb. If any through the fear of man have forsaken the Church, they have only proved thereby that they never truly belonged to it; “ they went out from us because they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with usb.” Every true believer has been faithful unto death.] 2. Numerous
[What more numerous than the piles of grass? Yet such, it was foretold, should be the converts to Christianity. And how was this verified in the apostolic age! Thousands were converted by one single sermon.
years the followers of Christ filled, not Judea alone, but also the whole Roman empire. At the reformation too the seed that had long lain under the earth, sprang up and yielded a glorious harvest. But the promised period is yet future, though, we hope, it is hastening on apace. In the latter day “the people of God shall be as the stars of heaven for multitude".
“ A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation". Yea, " a nation shall be born in a day". And “ All the ends of the earth shall remember themselves and turn unto the Lordd”. There still indeed may be seasons when, as in former ages, they shall be mown down by their persecutors; but they shall spring up again like the grass : and the
very blood of the martyrs shall be the seed of the church. “ The knowledge of the Lord shall surely cover the earth as the waters cover the seae".] This SUBJECT may well excite in us,
1. Thankfulness for what is past, b1 John ii. 19. c Isai. lx. 22. d Ps. xxii. 27. e Hab. i. 14.
[What a mercy is it, that, when only a handful of corn is sown on the earth, some grains of it should fall on this barren spot! And what a signal mercy if it have sprung up in our hearts! And have we not reason to hope that this is indeed the case ? If we cannot boast of multitudes like the piles of grass, are there not sufficient to shew the virtue of the Gospelseed, and the blessing of God upon the sowing of it? Have not some attained a height and stability, and maintained their steadfastness against the united assaults of the world, the flesh, and the devil ? Let us then rejoice and be thankful to God for such distinguished blessings. And let us still shew ourselves to have been “ planted in the house of the Lord by flourishing in the courts of our God.”] 2. Hope respecting the future
[The promise of God is sure, and shall be fulfilled in its season. We cannot but grieve when we see the barrenness of the field, and fewness of faithful labourers. But there is nothing impossible with God. He can send forth labourers into his harvest, and give the most abundant success to the seed sown.
Yea, he can overrule the most adverse circumstances for the manifestation of his own glory. Let us wait upon him then in prayer, and cry from our inmost souls, “ Thy kingdom come." Let us beg, “ That the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified" throughout the world'. And let us look forward in certain expectation, that the “grain of mustard-seed shall become a great tree,” and that in due time “ All shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest h."]
f 2 Thess. iii. 1. 8 Matt. xiii. 32. h Jer. xxxi. 34.
DCXXI. THE PERPETUITY AND EXCELLENCY OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM. Ps. lxxii. 17. His name shall endure for ever : his name shall
be continued as long as the sun : and men shall be blessed in him : all nations shall call him blessed.
NONE of the Prophets, except Isaiah, have written so copiously and so plainly respecting Christ as David. His prophecies are very frequently referred to in the New Testament; and their accomplishment in Jesus is frequently asserted, incontestably proved, and copiously illustrated. The psalm before us was most probably the last that David penned. It was written at the close of his life, on occasion of Solomon's coronation. The dying monarch hearing that
his son Adonijah had usurped his throne, gave immediate orders that Solomon should be anointed with the holy oil, and placed upon the throne, and be proclaimed king throughout all his dominions; that by this means his oath to Bathsheba, respecting the succession of Solomon, might be fulfilled, and the nation be rescued from the calamities in which a disputed succession might involve it". The psalm begins with a prayer for Solomon, and proceeds to foretell the peace, glory, extent, duration, and happiness of his government. But beyond, a doubt, a greater than Solomon is here: the Messiah himself is manifestly referred to; and the words of our text must be considered as describing his kingdom : I. Its perpetuity
[The names, not of the Jewish monarchs only, but also of many heroes of antiquity, have been handed down to us, and probably will be transmitted to the latest generations. But there are several points of view in which the remembrance of Jesus' name differs widely from that of any other person whatever.
It is transmitted to us in a way of filiation.—Other names come down to us by means of historic records: but that of our blessed Lord “is continued,” or propagated (as the word means) in the same way as the name of a father is continued in his children. Children were born to him by the preaching of his Gospel; and, after him, were called Christians: from that period, others have risen up, in constant succession, to perpetuate his name : nor shall the line ever be broken: “instead of the fathers there shall be children, who shall make his name to be remembered in all generations b."
It is heard with the same regard that it ever was.—There was a time when the name of Cæsar or of Alexander made whole nations tremble : but who fears them now? What is their love or their hatred unto us? What is Solomon himself to us? We admire his character ; but for his person we have no regard. But it is not thus with the sacred name of Jesus. We tremble at it with a holy awe; we love it, as expressing all that is amiable and endearing. We dread his displeasure above all things, and covet his favour more than life itself. And as long as the sun shall continue its course, so long shall the name of Jesus be venerated and adored.
It "endures" in spite of all the endeavours that have been
a 1 Kings i. 33–35.
b Ps. xlv. 16, 17. and cxlv. 4–6.
made to blot out the remembrance of it from under heaven.— No sooner was the name of Jesus exalted by the preaching of the Apostles, than the rulers exerted all their power to suppress it: they beat and imprisoned the preachers, and menaced them with yet severer punishment, if they should presume to speak any more in his name. Thus also, in all subsequent ages," the potentates of the earth have taken counsel together against the Lord, and against his Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from usa." What name, like that of Jesus, is proscribed at this day?
descant upon the virtues of ancient sages; and the more light we can throw upon their characters, the more acceptable we shall be in every company: but let us speak of Jesus, let us set forth his transcendent excellencies, and expa
all the wonders of his love, and we shall excite in our hearers nothing but disgust. But has this confederacy prevailed to banish his name? No; rather," the more his people have been afflicted, the more they have grown and multiplied :" and however earth and hell may combine their efforts to efface his memory, or diminish his influence, “He who sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them, and have them in derisione."] II. Its excellency
[The administration of Solomon was attended with great benefit to his people: and such a king as he must be considered as a rich blessing to any nation. But there are many benefits which it is not in the power of any king to communicate. What can a creature do to mitigate our pains, or to rescue us from the dominion of unbridled lusts? It is otherwise with the Lord Jesus : he can impart to his subjects whatever blessings they need, for body or for soul, for time or for eternity. Do we desire the pardon of our sins ? We may be “justified freely through his blood'.” Do we long for peace of conscience? He has left it to his subjects as a legacy 8, and gives them “a peace which passeth all understandingh.' Do we stand in need of strength ? “Through him we shall be enabled to do all things'." Do we extend our desires to all the glory of heaven? him we may be saved with an everlasting salvation." It is not ufficient to say that the subjects of Christ's kingdom may be thus blessed; for they actually are so : there is not one in all his dominions who is not thus highly favoured. If we consult the prophets, they declare this uniformly; and represent them all as saying, “ In the Lord have I righteousness
c Acts iv. 17, 18. and v. 28, 40, • Ps. ii. 4.
f Rom. v. 9. h Phil. iv. 7.
i Phil. iv. 13.
d Ps. ii. 2.
Isai. xlv. 17.