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in every successive age. To convince of this
perilous prepossession for wealth, honor, and pleasure, is the chief design of this book of Ecclesiastes; and in the chapter before us, is specified the true and proper use of earthly treasures,-to promote the welfare of others; to do good even to the unthankful; to cast precious grain on soils which promise least profit ; and the writer assures them notwithstanding apprehensions, or even appearances to the contrary, it shall be seen after many days. Now although the carnal wisdom of the human mind, will captiously object to this as bad policy, yet the experience of ages, and the observation of the wisest of men, confirm the propriety of giving “a portion to seven and also to
eight, for thou knowest not what evil shall be
upon the earth;" make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that prepared for the vicissitudes of this state, so manifold in change, ye may be received into durable habitations. To the merciful, mercy is shewn; and in times of great general affliction, or personal and private ill, woe betide that individual who hath shewed judgment without mercy; in every province of God's great empire, mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
Can we account for this ? No; it is allowedly mysterious on natural principles; it must be resolved into that determination which constitutes
the law of nature, confirmed by innumerable proofs of daily occurrence; “ Even so Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight.” The verse preceding our text, establishes by a reference to the ordinary succession of the human race, the existence of His sovereign pleasure by whom we are created, and
“ Be fruitful and multiply, and replen“ ish the earth.” And then proceeding to the far more intelligible allusion in our text, the Preacher inculcates the necessity of unsparing and persevering effort in every known duty of ordinary or religious life; convinced that the Divine sanction shall not be withheld from such labors, though success may wear different aspects, and be bestowed in different degrees of proportion. Liberality is the certain method of acquisition; and unthrifty is that management, which in times of extreme scarcity, withholds seed from the sower. « There is that “ scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that “ withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to “ poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; ; “ and he that watereth shall be watered also him* self."* “ He which soweth sparingly shall reap “ also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully “ shall reap also bountifully. Every man accord
ing as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; " not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth
* Prov. xi, 24, 25.
" a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all
ye, always hav" ing all-sufficiency in all things, may abound to
every good work: (as it is written, He hath
dispersed abroad; He hath given to the poor ; “ his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he " that ministereth seed to the sower, both minis“ ter bread for your food, and multiply your seed
sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness :) being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanks
giving to God.”* The appropriation of this general sentiment is easy to every religious obligation.
I. Let us primarily and briefly glance at this general view of the text. It inculcates.prompt and persevering industry. , “ In the morning sow thy “ seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand.”
1. Early attention to the respective duties of the day, is by every one, considered as a fair test of character, and a sure presage of success.
« Love “ not sleep, lest thou come to poverty: open thine eyes,
and thou shalt be satisfied with bread."'+ The inseparable consequence of a late and lazy attention to our various occupations, is disappoint
* 2. Corinthians, ix. 6-11. + Proverbs, xx. 13.
ment and failure. In that inimitable picture of human misery, taken from real life, by the Penman of the Book of Proverbs, the waste of property, and the ruin of fields, is imputed to this indolent frittering away of time. “ I went by the field of “ the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void “ of understanding; and lo, it was all grown over " with thorns, and nettles had covered the face “ thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken 66 down. Then I saw, and considered it well; “ I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet
a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of “ the hands to sleep : so shall thy poverty come as “ one that travailleth ; and thy want as an armed
тап. . To commence our labors early, in the sweet hours of prime, is the certain method to succeed. “ In the morning sow thy seed.” * Whatsoever thou hast' to do, do it with all thy
2. Persevering diligence is enjoined :-in the evening, withhold not thy hand-slacken not thy exertions.
It will take some days, indeed, to sow spacious fields, but it is not the letter but the spirit of the Scriptures, to which we are to pay the principal attention. In every thing which can lawfully engage us, perseverance is required; and in fact, our diligence ought rather to be doubled than diminished, by the lapse of time—the approach of evening. A traveller pushes on with a speedier pace, when the shadows of surrounding objects lengthen. The day is far spent, the night is at hand; it is high time to be more active, for now is the termination of our toil near.
* Proverbs, xxiv. 30-34.
3. The words on which we meditate, clearly intimate that this early and persevering diligence must be connected with total dependance on God for success.
“ Thou knowest, not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether both 6 shall be alike good.”
To engage in the useful affairs of life without this, would be presumptuous; and is a folly which men in their secular affairs, are rarely guilty of. After you have sown your fields, though still anxious for the springing of your corn, it may chance of wheat or some other grain, you depend on God for the event; and so it is in the Kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into his ground; he sleeps, he rises, night and day—but whether cheerfully trusting to the Divine promise, or fool. ishly solicitous about the event, the seed springs and
grows up he knows not how.