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provision has GOD made for the sustenance of all his creatures from the great Leviathan of the ocean, to the meanest insect that crawls upon the face of the earth. Not one has escaped or is beneath his notice. The same sun that gendereth the fodder for the cattle, furnishes the most insignificant reptile with the means of subsistence. But more especially is man the last and best of GOD's created works, the object of his fostering protection. Take a survey of all that is lovely and useful under the canopy of heaven: see the hills studded with their ten thousand flocks, while the vallies below are undulating with their golden crops see the various occupiers of the woods arrayed in all their beautiful plumage, tuning their throats to celebrate as far as they are permitted their Creator's praises-see the vast bosom of the deep teeming with its innumerable tenantry, taking their pastime therein; ask wherefore all these were called into existence, for whose sake they are and were created? The answer is for the service and benefit of man. Wherefore? what cause can be assigned for a display of such munificence? None whatever, except that it is a testimony of GoD's love and goodness towards his rebellious family, the overflowings of divine bounty: the only reason that we can give is that "GOD is love." Every argument might be used why this boon should have been withheld; our apostacy would fully have justified such a denial; but mercy triumphed over justice. Well may we exclaim with the enraptured Psalmist, "Lord, what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him?" Thou hast, indeed, set thy glory not only above the heavens, but also upon the earth.
In the third place, let us view the return of a fruitful season as an act whereby GOD testifies of his power. It is true that his power is more magnificently displayed in some of the more stupendous works of creation. The lightnings blaze to his honour, and the thunder roars to his praise, and the floods clap their hands with much louder applause than the gentle murmurings of the waving corn-fields: but the still small voice of GoD is heard in these comparatively silent
whisperings; in all of these the power of the divine artificer is equally conspicuous. It is as much an act of Omnipotence to form the grain of wheat, as to establish the towering mountain. The same Almighty voice which speaks to us in the thunder, calls the vegetable world into existence, and bids the "earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind;" it requires the same Almighty effort to unstop the bottles of rain, and to diffuse them in a fructifying shower over the face of the earth, as it did at first to place the sun in the firmament to be the great source of light and heat. When then you meet with a grain of wheat, cast it not from you as a thing of no reputation; think of the power which was requisite to accomplish its formation, and "behold your GOD." You hold in your hand a most convincing proof of the existence of a divine being; for what man, with all his combined energy could not effect, GOD called into life by speaking the word only; "let the earth, said he, bring forth the herb yielding seed," and his mandate was instantly obeyed. Fourthly, on surveying the rich profusion of luxuries which has been so unsparingly distributed throughout the land, we see GOD witnessing of his Son; attesting by unequivocal signs his divine existence. We should endeavour to view, not only all celestial, but also all terrestial objects through the medium of the spiritual telescope; to discern, if possible, the hidden Saviour who lies concealed in every thing. Though it is true that GoD made all things for himself, yet it is also equally true that he made them by his Son, that "in all things he may be glorified by Jesus Christ." An inspired writer, in speaking of Christ says, "thou Lord in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands." We find the beloved Evangelist corroborating this declaration by saying, "in the beginning was the WORD; all things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." So that we recognise Christ as the image of the invisible GoD, making the world, and upholding all things
by the word of his power. What an additional interest does this throw around the whole face of creation; to reflect that to the Redeemer, you are indebted for all those blessings which you enjoy, which spring either from the prolific earth, or descend from the fertilizing cloud. By the first Adam we lost and forfeited our title to the comforts and luxuries of life, and to the fruits of the ground: but in Christ, the second Adam, we recovered our alienated privileges, and by virtue of our alliance with him, we are put into possession of our estranged inheritance. He himself paid the price of their redemption at the expense of his own life, and presents them unto man as the fruits of the sacrifice of himself upon the cross. By him, and for him all things consist; he sustains not only our souls in life, but likewise all the substance of the vegetable world, upholding all things by his invisible hand. He hath received gifts for men temporal as well as spiritual, and imparts them severally to every man according as he wills. He it is who invests our gardens with all their beauty and fragrance; so that even yet some traces may be discovered of a primeval paradise. If the ground has been cursed for man's sake, it has been blessed for the Redeemer's sake; so that it still continues to contribute to the comfort and happiness of him who is designed to cultivate it, though in the sweat of his brow; thorns and thistles are not its only produce; but at the command of the Saviour it becomes the prolific willing parent, to administer to all the wants and delights of man. Does bread strengthen your heart, and prove to you the staff and support of your life? Who fashioned the grain of wheat, then bid it vegetate and produce "first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear?" Who fills the garners with all manner of store, so that it is necessary sometimes to pull them down, and build greater to enable them to contain their exuberant treasure? "Hath the rain a father, or who hath begotten the drops of dew?" See in Jesus Christ the Lord of heaven and earth, the great mainspring of the universe; see through the efficacy of his mighty atonement, the whole crea
tion rendered condusive to man's happiness and GoD's glory; see him giving us all things richly and freely to enjoy, sustaining our souls by himself, as the bread of life." In partaking then of the bounty of GOD, in every enjoyment, receive it as proceeding from your Redeemer's love, and as the purchase of his agony; think that the author of them all expired on the cross for you; then you will eat your food with gladness and singleness of heart; discontent will be banished from your dwellings; the coldest bosom must glow with gratitude, and adopt the ecstatic language of the Psalmist, bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
It would be an unreasonable trespass upon your time and patience, were I to enumerate all the particulars in which GOD may be said to witness of himself in reference to the fruitful seasons; but I must solicit your attention for a short space only, while I proceed to show, the effects which this testimony of GOD ought to produce on your conduct.
First, of all let it lead you to the recognition and acknowledgment of GoD, as the author and giver of all good things. There is a proneness in human nature to regard human events as the result of secondary causes; to overlook entirely the secret and invisible hand which puts into motion the whole machinery of the universe; to ascribe to itself the successful issue of any enterprize, rather than to assign the praise and glory thereof to the great GOD, who though his mind takes into its comprehensive grasp, immensity and all its wonders, takes such cognizance of an individual man, as if he were the single object of his attention. In surveying the fields as we have lately done, so richly mantled with their golden ornaments, we ascribe the appearance to the superior skill of the husbandman; we are apt thoughtlessly to impute the increase of corn to the fertility of the soil, or to the excellence of the cultivation which has been bestowed upon it; we forget at whose command the seed hath germinated in the clods; who hath watered it with the early and latter rain, or who hath warmed it with the
invigorating fructifying beam. This unmindfulness of GOD hath ever been taken up by him as a ground of complaint against his people. Speaking by the mouth of his prophet Hosea, with reference to Israel's apostacy, he says, “she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal; therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof." We fear that this charge may with the same propriety be adduced against the Israel of modern days: our prayerless families, and graceless tables warrant this conclusion. Innumerable bless ings are introduced daily into our houses, but where are the daily emotions of gratitude in our hearts? Man alone, though "he is afraid of a fellow man, who should die, seems to forget the Lord his maker;" and while all creation resounds with the praises of the Creator, man alone either remains mute and insensible, or else still more impiously blasphemes the name of his GOD. Not so, however, the Christian man in every event however apparently trifling; in every transaction however minute; whether in adversity, or in prosperity, he recognizes an omnipotent ruler, and endeavours, "whether he eats, or whether he drinks, to do all to the glory of GoD." He follows the direction of the wise man of old," in all his ways to acknowledge GoD," feeling confident that under such circumstances he will direct his path.
But it is not sufficient that there should be merely the recognition of GOD, we must in the second place, approach him with the sentiment of praise and thanksgiving. "Whoso offereth me praise, says GOD, he honoureth me." The heart which is a stranger to praise, we have no hesitation in declaring to be a stranger to GOD. It is an act by which he is especially glorified, and in which the Christian will more especially delight. He will rejoice in every opportunity of magnifying the name of GOD, and of declaring his mercies to himself in particular, to his family, and to his country; he will only lament that he
does so feebly and inadequately express the sense of his obligation to his munificent benefactor; he quarrels with himself for the languid and lifeless sentiment of gratitude which almost reluctantly distils from his lips; he would, if it were possible, pour forth his whole soul in a perpetual superabounding torrent of adoration. Nor is this the mere momentary ebulition of excited feelings; he endeavours that his whole conduct should be vocal, and speak the wonders of his creation, preservation, and redemption; that all his energies should be pressed into the service of his maker, his object being to show forth his praise not only with his lips, but in his life! While partaking of God's temporal benefactions he would consecrate them to the service of the donor, not convert them into instruments of licentiousness; accordingly he "deals out his bread to the hungry," he "makes the widow's heart to leap for joy," and invites the poor and needy to feed with him out of the lap of his abundance; he lives not for himself but for the benefit of his fellow man, and for the glory of his GOD.
But while these testimonials of the love of GoD call loudly upon us to praise him for the past, they admonish us, Thirdly, to trust in him for the future. Why should ye doubt, O ye of little faith, of all essential requisites for your situation? With all the resources of omnipotence within his reach, having the key in his possession of all the rich storehouses both in heaven and in earth, will he not supply your puny wants out of his abundance? Will he who so providently caters for the sparrow, and hears the cry of the young ravens who call upon him, be deaf to your supplication, and refuse to permit you to gather up the crumbs which fall from his table? Will he who clothes the lily of the field with such splendour as to surpass Solomon even in all his glory, will he, I ask, withhold from his faithful people bread to eat, and raiment to put on? It cannot be. "Be still then and know that the Lord he is GOD," ""that he will never leave you, nor ever forsake you." Have
you not the Saviour's assurance that you are of infinitely more value in the estimation of his Father, than all the grass of the field, or the fowls of the air if he clothes the one and feeds the other with more than parental solicitude, will he neglect his children as objects in which he has no concern? If he has invested you with the garments of salvation, and prepared for you the robe of righteousness, will he withhold from you suitable apparel to conceal your nakedness in this present state of existence? He will liberally supply you with all that may be necessary to carry you through time to eternity; "put thou thy trust in GOD, and be doing good, and verily thou shalt be fed. What though GOD at this moment is wielding the rod of chastisement, and smiting us with the pestilential scourge, as the just punishment for our numerous and aggravated iniquities; still as if to show that in the midst of anger he remembers mercy, that he hath not entirely cast off, or forsaken his people, he hath been more than usually bountiful in the distribution of his temporal blessings; he has " filled us with the flour of wheat," at a time when a famine or even partial scarcity of bread would have favoured the spread of the withering malady, which seizes with peculiar avidity on the poverty-stricken and the profligate
peace is still within our borders, and plenteousness within our palaces;" and I trust that it shall be recorded of our poor, that they shall eat and be satisfied." Away then with the cry of murmuring and discontent; let the voice of complaint be turned into a song of praise and thanksgiving: let the harp, hung up upon the willows in token of mourning, be now strung to celebrate our creator's goodness, for he hath "reserved to himself the appointed weeks of harvest;" he hath been mindful of his covenant; the earth has yielded more than her usual increase, and "GOD, even our own GOD, hath blessed us." "Let every thing therefore that hath breath, praise the Lord."
Lastly, We are admonished, (and O, that the admonition may not be
given in vain) by the busy interesting scene of harvest just now brought to a conclusion, to carry forwards our imagination to that great harvest, the in-gathering of souls, to be celebrated at the end of time; when angelic reapers will be commanded to thrust their sickle into the field; and to collect together into one congregated mass all its contents, whether they be good or bad. Then will the final separation be made between the righteous and the wicked. "Gather the wheat into my barn," is the mandate of the great husbandman to his heavenly labourers; but "gather together the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them." We as spiritual workmen are now employed in sowing the good seed; but the enemy is also employed in sowing, and that not less diligently, the tares. In this little spot which is assigned to our cultivation, we would wish to have nothing before us but plants of a heavenly growth, springing up into eternal life. Whether such is the case, thou O GOD, alone knowest. I know not. All, however, must grow together until the harvest. The infallible judge alone must assign to each of you his station; I judge no man; no discriminating powers have been imparted to me to determine absolutely between the tares and the wheat; I may have my suspicions, but were it entrusted to me to weed this plantation, I should possibly root up the wheat with the tares. I appear before you in the character of a sower, not of a reaper. I can only pray, and that I do most fervently, that the seed which I and my fellow-labourers scatter within this enclosure, may spring up abundantly and richly in each of your hearts, and return into our bosoms an increase of a hundred fold. I can only beseech Gop, which I do with all the fervour of devotion, that " you may come to your graves in full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in its season;" that you may be gathered into the eternal treasure-house of your GoD, having ripened for the full enjoyment of glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. —Amen.
SERMON BY THE REV. H. MELVILL,
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1832.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. H. MELVILL,
AT CAMDEN CHAPEL, CAMBERWELL, SUNDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 21, 1832. Isaiah xxix. 13.—" And their fear towards me is taught by the precept of men."
It would appear that at the time when these words were uttered, there was no lack, among the Jews, of outward attention to the ordinances of religion. The preceding part of the verse speaks of the people, as drawing near to GOD with their mouth, and honour ing him with their lips, though the heart, all the while, was removed far from him." Therefore, God's controversy with the nation, was not because of the bold throwing off of their allegiance, and his determination to do among them the marvellous work of destruction, sprung not from their open adjurement of his service; on the contrary, it was the keeping up the appearance of loyalty in the midst of actual rebellion, it was the show of obedience without the reality which moved him to the taking a vengeance more than common. The throne of Judah was at this time occupied by Hezekiah, a prince, pre-eminent in piety and zeal for the honour of Jehovah. He had been preceded by an idolatrous father, and was succeeded by an idolatrous son. Ahaz, who reigned before him, sacrificed to the gods of Damascus and Syria; and Mannasseh, who reigned after him,
built altars for all the host of Heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. So that the restoration of the true religion under Hezekiah, was just a temporary impression, lasting only while the sceptre was in the hand of the righteous, and proceeded not from any change in the character of the people. The matter-of-fact would appear to be, that the nation conformed itself to the disposition of the ruler, being idolatrous, or antiidolatrous according as the throne of David was possessed by a patron of the false worship, or an upholder of the truth. We are told that, "in every several city of Judah, Ahaz made high places to burn incense to other gods;" so that, it is unquestionable, he carried the nation with him in his apostacy. And Mannasseh made "Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen;" so that here, again, it is beyond doubt, the people followed the leading of the prince. Between these idolatrous monarchs arose Hezekiah; and when he swept the land clear of the high places and groves, and repaired the temple, and summoned his subjects to the keeping