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1 CORINTHIANS, ix. 10.
He that thrasheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
THE toils of the field are succeeded by those of the flail-and perhaps the peasant has no employment more laborious than thrashing; indeed, none equal it in severity of exertion, but ploughing; for which reason, St. Paul in the verse before us, selects these two branches of agriculture to illustrate the work of a minister. The sentiment of the simile app ies to all spiritual labors for the good of others-these are strictly ministerial, as the original import of the term implies. Much of the skill of an artificer is seen in the selection of appropriate tools-of the talent of a preacher, in finding out acceptable and instructive metaphors; and in this respect, the
marked superiority of the Scriptures is conspicuous. Nor can this excite surprise, though it serves to direct and inflame our gratitude, when we remember the Author is divine;" and that holy men of old, spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Yes, it was the spirit of Christ, (who is the channel of every divine communication to the church; and to Him, for its advantage, is the infinite residue of the purchased influences of the Sacred Spirit confided,) which inspired those subordinate, and successive teachers of the church.
As the sun, renders by its rising, objects which before existed, both visible and beauteous-and imparts to the manifold works of God in nature, a splendor and loveliness which they did not before possess so the rich, strong, and varied faculties of the human mind, the evident operation of Deity, until illuminated by the Light of the World, present no fair and comely prospect-nay, as the copious rivers of the valley, or the romantic elevation of the hills, excite suspicion and dismay to the benighted traveller-the most vigorous mental talents unsanctified, may prove the river of ruin to many, or the precipice from whence others may fall to their destruction. The blind leading the blind, both perish.
Let us discover then, our infinite obligation to
the Teacher come from God-in his light, may we see light.
The scope of the apostle in our text has been developed in a former discourse:* and it will be unnecessary, as it is ever painful to the disinterested mind of a true servant of God, to refer to that subject. It will therefore be our present business to illustrate, exertions for the spiritual welfare of others, by the similitude offered to our notice in the words, he that thrasheth should thrash in hope.
1. On entering a barn and seeing the thrasher beat the corn with his flail, a casual observer would almost conclude the grain would be materially injured. Censures, in ignorance of the process might be heard; and ministerial efforts are open to this misconstruction. Let us revert to that encouraging promise made to the prophets and preachers of the gospel; and addressed to all who wish with instruments of divine appointment, to bring every thought into subjection to Jesus. "Behold, I will make thee "a new sharp thrashing instrument having teeth: "thou shalt thrash the mountains, and beat them
small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou "shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them
away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and
* Discourse iv. pp. 53.
"thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in "the Holy One of Israel."* We find the labors of
Saint Paul in the church of Corinth-labors in their very nature illustrated by those of the thrashing floor-almost excited in his mind alarm lest he had injured the true grain-the wheat, in his attempts to separate the chaff from it. His admonitions conveyed to them in a faithful letter, produced such results, that he frankly acknowledges he did for a season repent, although the happy final issue occasioned him to rejoice.†
Thus have we beheld the tender parent or the affectionate pastor deeply distressed, lest by the threatening and terrors of the Lord, they have broken, or at least bruised, those who have been sincere and upright in heart; especially has this been the case, if others have contended with them for unnecessary severity; they find the roll in which their commission was contained bitter to their taste; they attach no fault to the flail, the word of Godbut they lament their want of skill in handling it: "As for me, I have not hastened from being a
pastor to follow thee, neither have I desired the "woeful day thou knowest :" "Woe is me, my mo"ther, that thou hast born me a man of strife and "a man of contention to the whole earth! I have
*Isaiah, xli. 15, 16.
† 2 Corinthians, vii. 8—16.
"neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me "on usury; yet every ore of them doth curse me.' Such was the language of the prophet, who, but for the threatenings he denounced, would have proved agreeable to his hearers ;- but if ministers are faithful, man will curse them; and God will curse them if faithless. Prophecies, says Bishop Fall, were no burdens, if they did not expose us to misconstruction and peril. We must connive at no sin; every evil unreproved becomes our own. Hatred is the daughter of truth. Am I become your enemy because I told you the truth? was a question proposed by Saint Paul to some whom he had thrashed by the word of God's mouth. Is the husbandman deterred by such apprehensions or censures from thrashing his corn? Certainly not; nor should parents, like David, faulty in this particular, avoid giving offence to their offspring by suitable admonition. “Then Adonijah "the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will "be king: and he prepared him chariots and horse"men, and fifty men to run before him. And his "father had vot displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?"†
Happy is that minister, who realizing his separation from his people, till the period of awful re
* Jeremiah, xv. 10.
† 1 Kings, i. 5, 6.