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who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” This is no mystery. “We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ.” This is no “ doctrine of doubtful disputation." Though the knowledge of the Divine essence is “high as heaven," and
deeper than hell,” we need not climb the skies, or plunge into the abyss, to learn, that “ He will judge the world.” Though the measure of his perfections is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea, we need not traverse the earth, or compass the ocean, to discover, that “He will judge the world.” Ponder this, ye that are wasting the hours of trial in scholastic debate and strife of words !—ponder this, ye that are consuming the day of grace in the unprofitable drudgery of avarice, or the low enjoyments of sensuality,—" He will judge the world !” The “ Alpha and the Omega,” the “FIRST AND THE LAST," hath pronounced in terms that all can understand, and which all are bound, at the peril of their souls, to hear and to remember,—“Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me; to give to every man, according as his work shall be.”
GOD OPERATES IN THE MORAL, AS IN THE
MARK, CHAP, IV. VER. 26, 27.
“ And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should
cast seed into the ground, and should sleep and rise, night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how."
This, like many of our Lord's allusions, is very intelligible, upon the least reflection, to every common capacity. But the misfortune is, that they are often rendered obscure by absurd comments; and the plain reader is led from the mark by an injudicious attempt to set him right. He would readily enough have found his way, if left to his own understanding. It is a common error with interpreters to attempt to make too much of a parable; to find out some latent meaning in almost every word; when, in fact, we
ought only to look to the general sense and purport of the story, which is brought forward to impress more strongly one great and leading truth. “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep and rise, night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.” The kingdom of God is put here for religious principle,—that knowledge of the relation in which we stand to God, and that sense of the obligation we owe to our great Benefactor, which incites us to the discharge of every duty, moral, social, and sacred.
There appears something of obscurity in this parabolical allusion, which, perhaps, may have arisen, in part, from a wrong punctuation. Agreeably to the pointing in our translation, it is commonly read thus: “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed in the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day.” Now, by pausing at the word sleep, we make a contradiction, for how can a man sleep, yet rise night and day? Whereas, if, instead of resting at sleep, we read, "should cast seed into the ground, —and should sleep and rise, night and day,--and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how,"—the meaning will be plainly this,- If, having once deposited his seed in the earth, he, alternately, retires to rest, and rises in the morning to his usual occupations, without any particular regard to what he has committed to the care of nature, it will spontaneously rise, without his interference, by the established laws of vegetation; a process, of which he is utterly ignorant, though he expects, and enjoys the effects : " for the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first, the blade, then, the ear, after that, the full corn in the ear.” In consequence of the original command of the Creator, the earth, endued with prolific qualities, draws forth its fibres from the dry grain, fills the vessels of the rising stalk, and, under the genial influence of the sun, ripens and perfects the expanding ear.
This may be considered as an emblem of the work of religion in the human soul. The vital principle is lodged there, as good seed in the native soil. The vivifying influence of the divine Spirit assists its growth; it springs up fresh and healthy, and, in due season, produces fruit to life eternal. This, I conceive, is the general mode, or course of operation, of what is called, God's grace in the soul of man, answerable to his
general providence in the natural world. He is the First Cause, the source, the support, the consummation of all : “By Him we live and move, as mortal creatures, here--through Him, alone, we can survive, and exist, as immortal spirits, hereafter.
There is an evident analogy, as far as we have ability to trace it, in all the operations of the great Lord of the universe. His works of grace are like His works of nature. In the intellectual, as in the material system, --in the moral, as in the physical world,—we mark the all-ruling power, we discern the all-perfect wisdom, we confess the all-comprehending goodness, which fashions, directs, sustains, creation. Yet we know not in what precise mode those glorious attributes are exerted, or how the first impulse is given to the agents and ministers of his will. Every where, and in all, He bears the sway,—but “clouds and darkness are round about Him:" His arm is felt, ---but is no where seen: “He sendeth forth His commandment upon earth, and his word runneth very swiftly,”—but “no man hath heard his voice:" He comes“ riding on the wings of the wind,”—but no man hath “seen his shape.” All created things, all existing beings, are his instru