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pose, not that I suppose it possible for many who hear me to enter at present fully into the truth of what I have been saying ; but to tell them beforehand what will hereafter be their own feelings if they continue faithfully to study Christ's word. There are persons to whom the Scriptures are now their daily bread of life, who would find it impossible to express their admiration and delight in them, whom I could startle by recalling to them their words when they first began to study themI do not mean words of profaneness, but expressing their strong sense of the difficulties of what they were reading, and doubting how that could ever be so intensely valuable which they found at that time so obscure.
For all those, then, who loving what they can understand of the Scripture, yet find themselves unable fully to enter into the excellence of many parts of it;-nay, who though they love the plainer parts, yet do not see in them that perfection of wisdom which they hear ascribed to them ;-for them there is a most encouraging prospect if they do not cut themselves off from it. If they were to hear such language, as I have been using, ten or twenty years hence, it would then seem to them not exaggerated, but inadequate; their own sense of the treasures contained in the Scriptures would go far beyond it; or else--and it is a fearful alternative—the language would sound not exagge
rated merely, but utterly wild and extravagant: those who now can go with it a certain way, would then despise it altogether. So surely do advancing years tell upon our minds for good or for evil; so surely will your full manhood be greatly improved in the knowledge and love of God, or greatly fallen back in it; it most certainly will not be fixed at the same point at which you are arrived now.
I was led to say thus much by thinking over the words of the text, and considering how complete was the lesson which they contained. And then connecting them with the parable of the sower, and with other parables which I have from time to time alluded to, it was very striking to compare the picture there given with what is daily passing before our eyes, and to consider its perfect and startling truth. " I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day ;-the night cometh, when no man can work.” We must work, and that diligently; but not Satan's works por our own, but the works of God, The soil must bear much, but its strength must not be wasted on weeds, however luxuriant; it must bear that which will be kept for ever.
We must work while it is day, for the night is coming. Even while working busily, and working the works of God, we must not forget our own infirmity. We must not repeat those other words of Christ, “ My
Father worketh hitherto, and I work,” for that was language suited to Him only in whom it was no presumption to make himself equal with God. But we must remember and repeat His words in the text,--for in them He speaks as one of us, and not as our God,—“The night cometh, when no man can work :" the day which is so happy to us, and we would fain hope not unprofitably wasted, is yet hastening to its close. It is of no less importance that we should remember that the time is soon coming when we cannot work, than that we should avail ourselves of the time present, to work in it to the utmost.
I will not say much now to those, numerous as they probably are, who require simply the first part of the lesson contained in the text, “to work while it is day, and not be idle.” Their fault being thoughtlessness, any word spoken to them is likely to make but a small impression; they hear it and forget it. Yet thus much may be said, and perhaps it may strike you :-When you divide your companions around you into the working ones and the careless ones; when you know, as you well do know, whether any individual belongs to the one class or the other, you are as it were making the very division which Christ made in his parable of the sower :you are separating off on the one hand those who are like the hard wayside, or the shallow stony ground, and on the other hand, those who may
prove hereafter either the thorny ground or the
But from this wretched and most degraded con-
it encourages us to continue it. Thus from one or more of these causes, many are brought over continually from a state of idleness to one of application; they learn to know the value of time,they work and work diligently while it is day. And this is no doubt a great step gained; it is the beginning of a progress to everlasting life, a departure from a state of certain condemnation. By whatever of the motives just named either boy or man is brought from a state of brute thoughtlessness to one of thought and activity, undoubtedly there is a good work done; undoubtedly the person so altered is so far nearer than he was before to the kingdom of God.
Let us confess this, and confess it with thankfulness; but let us remember that he of whom it is said that Christ loved him for the progress which he had made in goodness, yet went away grieving, and, so far as we hear of him, fell short of the kingdom of God, because he did not go on still farther. Let us be thankful that any who before were careless are now working; but let us not rest, nor ever let them rest, till we may hope that through Christ's Spirit we and they are not working only, but working the works of God.
And here one difficulty which arises is this, that in one sense we are working the work of God probably already; for certainly the particular business of our profession, or calling, or situation, is to us