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“ my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and “ see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead
me in the way everlasting."*
The word of God, which is sharp and powerful, will be applied to their own case; and although it should condemn them most severely, and pierce to the dividing asunder of their hearts, they will say, Good is the word of the Lord! Nay, further: the dispensations of providence, though they oppress by their heat, or deluge by their full waters wrung out unto them, though they are like the snows of winter or the stormy wind and tempest, are greeted in their approach and welcomed on their arrival, so that the end may be the taking away of sin. Humbly conscious of the hidden remains of evil that is in them, they give all diligence to prepare their hearts for the precious seed of divine comfort. Nor would they consider it as the act of a friend, but indeed the attribute of a foe, to offer relief till the set time was come.
The insincere, serk premature consolation; insatiable for ease, they cry “ Give! Give!" if they may be healed, they care not how slightly; but I have seen that they who thus plough iniquity and sow wickedness, reap the same.
“ Every way
* Psalm cxxxix. 23, 24.
“ of a man is right in his own eyes; but the Lord
pondereth the hearts. An high look, and a proud “ heart, and the ploughing of the wicked, is sin :"* while the approved prayer, the accepted petition of the upright, is “ Judge me, O Lord; for I have “ walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in “ the Lord, therefore I shall not slide. Examine “ me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and “ my heart.”+ And to these shall ministers be sent with this commission, “ Comfort ye, Comfort “ ye my people, saith the Lord; speak ye com
fortably to Jerusalem.” And with much delight will they perceive the desert prepared for God; the surface of the land smoothed, and ready for the seeds of joy; the disobedient and rebellious turned to the true wisdom of the just or upright; a people made ready, prepared for the Lord the Saviour.
III. We are now led to the consideration of the advantages of this procedure. In all labor there is profit; to every service of the field there is a reward; but most of all to the farmer from fallowing his ground.
The plant shall be kindlier, and more healthy; the necessary subsequent efforts to keep down the weeds, when the seed is sprung up, will be fewer; and the crop shall be proportionably abundant.
* Prov. xxi, 2, 4.
+ Psalm xxvi. 1, 2,
Those who make thorough work with their spirits, and deal honestly with their own hearts, will find that their religious joys and better hopes, though delayed, shall be most vigorous and lively; their subsequent sufferings from the grieving thorn and pricking brier, shall be fewer; and a larger sheaf shall fill their grasp--a richer harvest shall at length crown their toil.
God, who frowns on the indolent, will smile on the laborious; and to these unpromising and difficult services does he appear promptly propitious; and “ where you as Judah, thus plough at the 6 command of God; and as Jacob, thus break up “ the clods; you shall sow to yourselves in righteousness, and
thus “ break up your fallow ground, He will come and “ rain righteousness upon you.
This view of our text, will in the first place, account for an important but humiliating truth, daily confirmed by observation, if not indeed by our own personal and bitter experience; and while it suggests the cause of the lamented evil, strongly urges the real remedy.
Hosea, x. 11, 12
Many fields by the great abundance of weeds, and by being extremely foul, proclaim the want of a thorough fallow; and the indolence of many good people, their indisposition to self inquiry, and neglect of self-denial, has made them, though they knew it not, to sow among thorns; these have also sprung up. It is of the utmost importance to begin well; pernicious habits, small and undreaded as the downy seed of the thistle; questionable associations, hardly considered as the grieving thorn; and feeble hopes, like good grain weakened by worthless weeds; these declare the ground was not well fallowed. To such I wonld say, begin again-set your hand a second time to the work pray
that you may have a clean heart; yes, though you would destroy your present crop of fond expectation, you had better plough it up, and cleanse the land by a complete course of fallowing. Such advice as a farmer, you would give; and is it on matters of such plain and spiritual importance that I must say, Are ye also without understanding ? You neglected this command; break up your fallow ground; you have sown among thorns.
you who are young, and but commencing, let me beseech you as you value your future peace and prosperity, proceed determinately to this work; it is not lost labor-it will pay you well; and if ye will not hearken, “ there shall come a dry wind de from the wilderness, not to cleanse, but to de“ stroy. You will be greatly deceived, and though
you expect peace, the sword shall reach unto 46 the soul."*
you desire permanent prosperity and joy in the Holy Ghost, break up the fallow groundsow not among thorns.
2. Our obvious duty is taught us by this subject. Be personal in this labor : break up your fallow ground. Each of us has his appropriate work; his appointed spot on which to toil: for this work and this plot we are severally responsible. Our own hearts are to be cultivated with care: every species of charity begins at home, especially that which has the soul for the object of its benevolence. Turn your eyes from others direct them to yourself. Begin as our text enjoins; for surely if you neglect your own, none will confide to you the care of others. “ And besides this, giving all
diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to vir“ tue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temper
ance; and to temperance, patience; and to pa“ tience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly “ kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. “ For if these things be in you, and abound, they
* Jeremiah, iv. 10, 12.