A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, July 11, 1869, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 4/3/2011*4/3/2011
Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives both the former and the latter rain in its season: he reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest. (Jeremiah 5:24)
Such are the climate and soil of Palestine, that all agricultural
operations are most obviously dependent upon the periodical rainfall.
Hence the people speak of the weather and the crops with a more
immediate reference to God than is usual with us. It is said that the
common expressions of the peasantry are such as quite strike
travellers with their apparently devout recognition of the Almighty
agency. Certainly we may account for a very large number of what may
be called the agricultural promises of the Old Testament, from the
fact that little of the food of the people was gained by manufacture
or commerce, and the whole population depended upon the field, and
the field upon the rain. Palestine is the very opposite of Egypt,
which is so well irrigated by its river; and it is equally different
from our own land, in which seasons of comparative drought may even
prove to be years of plenty. In Palestine, the agriculturalist must
have the rain. He must receive the first rain soon after the grain is
put into the ground, otherwise it will rot or be blown away with the
dust, since his fields become turned into a kind of very fine powder
by the summer’s sun; he must have the latter rain just before the
time of harvest, otherwise the ears lacking the moisture that should
fill them out, will become thin and lean, barely worth the
ingathering; in fact, they will yield no flour for the food of man.
The farmer depends entirely upon the early and the latter rain, and
if these do not fall very plenteously in their season, a time of
famine will ensue. Although our climate does not so immediately
remind us of our dependence upon God, yet it would be well if we
remembered from where all our blessings come, and look up to the hand
from which our daily bread is distributed. In these herbless miles of
pavement, these dreary wildernesses of brick, we scarcely perceive
the lapse of the seasons; in vain for us the violet of spring sheds
its perfume, or the last rose of summer blushes with beauty, seedtime
and harvest come and go all unobserved; yet are citizens and
merchants as much dependent upon the fruit of the field, as the
farm labourers who reap and mow: therefore let us lift up our eyes to
the Lord who gives rain, and in so doing drops bread from heaven.
When he gives seasons propitious for the harvest, let us thank him
for it; and if at any time he restrains the blessings of the
elements, and loads the air with blight and mildew, let us fear and
tremble before him, and humble ourselves before his chastening hand.
The harvest song we would repeat;
Thou givest us the finest wheat;
The joys of harvest we have known;
The praise, oh Lord, is all thine own.
Gratitude for providential mercies is not, however, the subject of this morning’s discourse. I intend to use the text rather in a spiritual sense. Just as it is in the outward world, so it is in the inward; just as it is in the physical, so it is in the spiritual: man is a microcosm, a little world, and all weather and seasons find their reflection in him. Just as the earth is dependent upon the rain shower from heaven, so are the souls of men, and so are their holy works, dependent upon the grace shower which comes from the great Father of light, the giver of every good and perfect gift. A famine would surely follow in the East if the rain were withheld, so would spiritual disasters of the worse kind be sure to ensue if the grace of God were restrained.
2. We shall consider this great truth in its bearing upon two important matters; first, as it respects the work of God which we carry on outside of us; and, secondly, as it respects the work of God as it is carried on within us.
3. I. First, then, THE WORK OF GOD AS IT IS CARRIED ON OUTSIDE OF US.
4. It is needful, whenever any holy enterprise is begun, that it should be watered early by the helpful Spirit of God. Nothing begins well unless it begins in God. It cannot take root, it cannot spring up in hopefulness, unless the Holy Spirit shall descend upon it; it will wither like the grass upon the housetops if the celestial dew of the morning does not fall upon it early. The same grace is equally needed after years of growth; there is urgent need of the latter rain, the shower of revival, in which the old work shall be freshened, and the first verdure shall be restored; for without this latter rain, the period of harvest, which is the intended end, will be disappointing.
5. My brothers and sisters, members of this church, it will make my discourse more practical if I apply it to the church of which we are members. You who are members of other churches can readily, in a similar case, apply the truth to your spiritual homes. Years ago we were diminished and brought low, dark was the hour and pale were the faces; the numbers who gathered for sacred worship in connection with this church might almost be counted on one’s fingers; our Zion was all but utterly forsaken. Yet there was a living band of men whose hearts the Lord had touched, who did not cease to pray day and night that he would be pleased to remember us. To these entreaties heaven sent a gracious answer, and now for these sixteen years God has been pleased to look in mercy upon us as a church and congregation, and in continued prosperity we have rejoiced day by day. Today many of you are the fruits of the blessing which came to us in the first years of the early rain. How soon the congregations were multiplied; place after place was found to be too small for us; still the blessing of God was with us, and multitudes thronged to hear the word! Blessed be his name, we did not only have hearers, but we had converts. We heard on every side the cry of repenting sinners, and multitudes said, “What must we do to be saved?” Our church grew exceedingly, so that we realised the blessing of the apostolic times: “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” We were as wet as Gideon’s fleece with the dew of heaven. And what prayers we raised then! Have not some of us been present in prayer meetings when we were all moved by the breath of God’s Spirit, as the growing wheat is moved by the wind? How often were our souls within us bowed to the very dust in admiring wonder to see how the Lord worked! As we saw the crowds, we stood still and cried in amazement, “Who are these who fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?” Then, being baptised by the Holy Spirit, we walked together in holy unity of love, in earnestness of endeavour, in the generosity which spared no expense for Christ, in the love which thought no evil, in the zeal which dared all things, in the courage that defied opposition. Our graces flourished, and our communion was sweet and unbroken. And now, as pastor of this church, having seen what God has done for us, I can gratefully add, “The Lord has not withdrawn his hand, lo, these almost sixteen years, from our midst.” Conversions have never become less numerous; there has been, as far as I can judge, little or no flagging in the earnestness of your endeavours, and though more might have been done, and should have been done, yet still for what has been done let God have all the praise. But my fear is, a fear which haunts me often, a fear which springs, I trust, out of zeal for God’s glory, lest having had the early rain we should become contented to forego the latter rain. But ah! this must not be. Let any church dream that it is established by the lapse of years, and can stand alone, because of its acquired strength, let it imagine that prayer need not be so humble and vehement, let it conceive that its ministry has in it a natural power which must ensure its efficiency, let it conceive that its membership has become so influential that it can support its own work, let it in any respect rely upon an arm of flesh, its hour of peril is come, and the day of its downfall is near at hand. Do not let the church say, “We have done enough,” do not let it boast that it has reached the Ultima Thule (a) of industry and liberality; the end of progress is come when we have reached self-contentment; when we glory in the much goods laid up for many years, we are already naked and poor and miserable. I, therefore, beseech my brothers and sisters joined with me in church fellowship here, earnestly to entreat that we now may have the latter rain as we previously received the early rain. May renewed grace be to us a token that the God who blessed us in the past has not turned away from doing us good. We have the unconverted in our midst, they sit by our side in these pews: we need grace for these. A number of our hearers who were unconverted fifteen years ago are still with us, and yet not of us; alas! in that period of time a large number have passed into eternity unsaved. The crowds still gather to listen to the word, and we still need the blessing upon the preacher in delivering, and the people in hearing the truth. We cannot do without it. Oh members of this church, let no man take our crown: the crown of this church has been the souls converted to God by the Holy Spirit in this place; let us struggle to retain this crown, let us incessantly pray that instead of losing this glory we may increase in it to the glory of God. I do not know how to speak to you for the very reason that I would speak infinitely better than I can, for it seems to me that if God should leave us, our own sadness and our own shame will be the least part of the evil; for those who have watched our growth and been encouraged in similar efforts, will be discouraged, and the kingdom of the Master will in that measure decline; others of his servants will hang their harps upon the willows, and return to that dull, dead, cold monotony, common for so long in our churches. My brethren, you began the battle well; you rushed to the encounter, and swept all before you. Servants of the living God, the day is hot and long, the struggle still continues, the enemy still holds the ground, can you keep your line, can you stand in your phalanx, can you endure to the end, and march on with still greater ardour to the fray until the field is won, and the shout goes up that the King eternal, immortal, has won the victory?
6. It is so in connection with any one church. The same is true in connection with any sphere of labour in which any individual among us may happen to be engaged. I will trust that every believer here has found something to do for his Lord and Master. In beginning any Christian work, novelty greatly assists enthusiasm, and it is very natural that under first impulses the beginner should achieve an easy success. The difficulty of the Christian is very seldom the beginning of the work; the true labour lies in the perseverance which alone can win the victory. I address some Christians here who have now been for years occupied with a service which the Holy Spirit laid upon them; I would remind them of the early rain of their youthful labours, the moisture of which still lingers on their memories, although it has been succeeded by long years of drought. Brethren, be encouraged; a latter rain is still possible. Seek it. That you need it so much is a cause for sorrow, but if you really feel your need of it, be glad that the Lord works in you such sacred desires. If you did not feel a need for more grace, it would be a reason for alarm; but to be conscious that all that God did by you in the past has not qualified you to do anything without him now, to feel that you lean entirely upon his strength now as much as ever, is to be in a condition in which it shall be right and proper for God to bless you abundantly. Wait upon him, then, for the latter rain; ask that if he has given you a little blessing in past years, he would return and give you ten times as much now, even now; so that, at the last, if you have sown in tears, you may come again rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. Alas! the danger of every Christian worker is that of falling into routine and self-sufficiency. We are most apt to do what we have been accustomed to do, and to do it half asleep. One of the hardest tasks in all the world is to keep the Christian awake on the enchanted ground. The tendencies of this present time, and of all times, are to drowsiness. The life, the power of our public services and private devotion speedily evaporates; we pray as in a dream, and praise and preach like sleep walkers. May God be pleased to stir us up, to awaken and quicken us, by sending us the latter rain to refresh his weary inheritance. So much upon the first point.
7. II. Let us turn to the second point, which will more concern each one of us, and come closer home to our hearts. Spirit of God, help us in dispensing your truth. We shall apply the text to OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE WITHIN US.
1. Here notice, first, that usually the spiritual life, as soon
as it begins, experiences a former rain, or a delightful
visitation of grace. Allow me to refresh your memories for a little
while. You remember when you were converted to God, some of us
remember the day, and the hour, and the very place, to a yard; others
cannot remember, but they do not need therefore to be discouraged,
for if they are alive to God, it is a small question about when they
were born; they may rest assured, if their faith is resting upon
Christ alone, it is well with them whether their conversion was
gradual or sudden. But I say, many of you remember when you were
converted, or thereabouts. Now, was not the period after you had
believed in Jesus the happiest that you ever spent? Yes, although
there have been times of joy since then, yet in some respects must
not that period bear the palm branch? So blessed was our first
conversion to some of us, that those first days are as green and
fragrant in our memories as if they were only yesterday; they are as
fresh and fair as if they had only just budded in the garden of time.
Other days, like withered flowers are no longer sweet and lovely to
gaze upon, but these are as well bedewed with the freshness of the
morning as though they were of the present rather than the past. What
bliss it was to feel that we were saved! Our hearts danced at the
very thought of full salvation. The only fear was that it was too
good to be true. Our faith was exceedingly strong: Christ upon the
cross was always in our view. We had no experience then to set in the
place of Christ, no sanctification to mix up with his righteousness
in our justification. Our belief in Jesus was very simple and
childlike, and consequently was very comforting, and we were very,
very happy. Oh, how blessed prayer was then! Then we did really talk
with God: then we did not need to drive ourselves up to our closets
to pray; we only wished we could stay upon our knees all day long and
talk our hearts out to God. We then cared little whether the place of
worship was hot or cold, whether we were seated or standing; we cared
only for the gospel. We would have gone over hedge and dale to hear a
sermon. It did not matter what the style of the preacher was; if he
was eloquent, we did not hear him for his eloquence — we loved the
gospel too well to care about oratory; if a plain speaking man told
us of our Master and his love, we liked it all the better for his
plainness of speech as long as we could only see his Master. To hear
any one talk about a precious Christ and of pardon bought with blood,
and of full and free salvation, was heaven to us. If, in those days,
we had to suffer anything for Jesus, we only regretted we could not
suffer more. We did not run out of the way of reproaches in those
days, but were almost prepared to court them for his dear name’s sake.
What peaceful hours we then enjoyed,
How sweet their memory still?
That was the early rain. The seed had just been sown, and the Master to make it take deeper root and spring up faster into the green blade, gave us the sacred shower of his loving presence. There was much tender wisdom in this gentleness, for the newly born soul is very weak then. Looking back to those days, we can clearly see what helpless infants we were. In knowledge we were only babes to whom many things could not be revealed, because we could not have borne them. We imagined that our souls’ battle was over, that we were out of gunshot of the devil and doubt, whereas the fight was just beginning, a fight never to cease until death and heaven reveal the victory. The Lord was pleased to restrain the enemy from tormenting us, because we could not then have fought it out with him. The great and good Lord tempered the wind to the shorn lamb; he covered the little bird with his feathers; he carried the baby in his arms; he watered the tender plants and set a hedge around them in love. The Great Husbandman knew how much our weak rootlets required the dew of heaven, and therefore he liberally bestowed it. Moreover, many of us before our conversion passed through fire and through water — conviction of sin frowned on us by the year together. We laid in Doubting Castle, and were beaten with the crab tree club of despair, fearing lest we were reprobates, and past hope. It was tenderly wise on our Lord’s part that when we came out at last, and rejoiced in a crucified Saviour, we should enjoy a time of repose; for our bones were broken, our moisture was turned into the drought of summer, and we were ready to die. It was kindness on God’s part when our terrors had aggravated our weakness and depression of spirits, that he should give us a time of great delight, when the love of our espousals would make us forget our fears.
Besides, our Master at that time gave us the early rain, as it were,
to give our young plant a start in beginning our heavenly growth — a
growth to which we might look back in later years. How often have we
been refreshed since then in our times of sorrow, by remembering the
months past, when the candle of the Lord shone all around our head!
Those early, happy days! Could it have all been a delusion? Was it
all a mistake? What, when our sinful companions were all given up;
when our darling lusts were all torn away; when the right eye was
plucked out and the right arm cut off? Could it all have been a sham?
When the head was leaning upon the Saviour’s bosom, and the promise
was so sweet! Was it all excitement? No, our memory says it was not
so — it was real, it was true; and he who gave us that foretaste,
certainly has not changed.
His love in times past
Forbids us to think,
He’ll leave us at last
In trouble to sink.
10. I do not give much for the faith which lives on past experience; for the precious faith of God’s elect feeds on fresh manna day by day; but, at the same time, there are dark and dreary moments when past experience serves us in good stead. Beloved Christian, if you are now today in the dark, light a torch from the altars of yesterday, with which to kindle the lights of today. The faithful Promiser was with you then; you had his love to cheer you then: go to him still once more, and you shall receive the latter rain of renewed grace from him who gives grace upon grace.
11. Before I leave this point, let me say one word of encouragement to any who are seeking my Lord and Master. I trust some of you are doing so. You have long been hearers of the word, but you are not converted yet, and perhaps you are sad because, after much seeking, you have not been found by him. Let me assure you when you have found the Lord, your waiting will be richly rewarded. I would have lingered at his door for eighty years if he would for a reward give me only the one kiss of his lips. I would gladly lie at his pool of mercy, indeed, a whole natural life, if only at the last my crimson sins might be washed away, and my soul be made whiter than snow. “Oh,” but you say, “if he does not come soon, I shall die of despair before his coming!” But he will bring such cordials to you, such wines on the lees well refined, that your despair shall take wings and fly away, and instead of the black raven of doubt, you shall receive the dove of consolation, bringing the olive branch of peace in her mouth. Hope in God, for you shall still praise him for the help of his countenance. If you wish to have the early rain soon, do not wait any longer. Obey the gospel precept at once, for simple obedience will bring the early rain at once. That precept is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” Oh, the hundreds of times I have proclaimed this to you, and others have proclaimed it in your ears also, and yet you will not yield your hearts to it! You still continue to say, “I feel,” or “I do not feel,” “I am,” or “I am not.” You have fifty thousand excuses why you should not comply with the Master’s message. No comfort, however, can be yours, until, sink or swim, you cast yourself on Christ. If you will only trust Christ to save you, you shall be saved at this very hour. Now shall the burden of your guilt fall from your shoulders, and your peace be like a river, and you shall go on your way rejoicing that you are saved. Oh why will you not obey this? May the Holy Spirit constrain you. May you now do, what I am sure if God has chosen you — you will have to do before long, namely, stop trusting yourself and surrender to Christ, be finished with feelings or lack of feelings, be finished with your works, bad or good, be finished with self and all that grows out of self, and come to that cross where a bleeding Saviour hangs, the world’s only hope. Oh that you could say, “My hope is there alone.” It shall be well with you if you will now cast yourself upon him; you shall then have a happy season, such as only believers know.
12. 2. It is very usual in the life of grace, for the soul to receive in later years, a second very remarkable visitation of the Holy Spirit, which may be compared to the latter rain. As I told you, the latter rain was sent to fill out the wheat, and make it full and mature, ready for the harvest. So there is a time of special grace granted to saints, to prepare them for heaven, to make them completely suitable to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. To some, this is given in the form of what has very commonly, and I think correctly, been called a second conversion. “When you are converted, strengthen your brethren,” was Christ’s remark to Peter, who was even then a converted man. My brethren, there is a point in grace as much above the ordinary Christian, as the ordinary Christian is above the worldling. Believe me, the life of grace is no dead level, it is not a marsh country, a vast plain. There are mountains, and there are valleys. There are tribes of Christians who live in the valleys, like the poor Swiss of the Valais, who live in the midst of the miasma, where fever has its lair, and the body is languid and enfeebled. Such dwellers in the lowlands of unbelief are for ever doubting, fearing, troubled about their interest in Christ, and tossed to and fro; but there are other believers, who, by God’s grace, have climbed the mountain of full assurance and close communion. Their place is with the eagle in his eyrie, high aloft. They are like the strong mountaineer, who has trodden the virgin snow, who has breathed the fresh, free air of the Alpine regions, and therefore his sinews are braced, and limbs are vigorous; these are those who do great exploits, being mighty men, men of renown. The saints who dwell on high in the clear atmosphere of faith, are rejoicing Christians, holy and devout men, doing service for the Master all over the world, and everywhere conquerors through him who loved them. And I desire, oh, how earnestly I desire you to be such men! My craving is, that all of you, my beloved, who have been watered by the former rain, may also be refreshed by a more than ordinary latter rain, which shall make you more than ordinary Christians, bringing you beyond the blade period and the ear period, into the full kernel in the ear.
13. The great policy of Satan of late with the church has been this, not so much to attack her with open infidelity — for really all the infidelity there is in England, does not materially affect churches, worthy of the name, except to an almost infinitesimal extent. There is a great deal more made of scepticism in certain quarters than there is any need for. Sceptics seldom get among our Christian people, at least, I do not encounter them in my enquiries, nor do I see them associating with Christians of my association; the plan Satan seems to have adopted is not that of attacking our doctrine, but that of preventing as far as he can our raising in our midst a tribe of eminent and advanced Christians. Pharaoh said, “Destroy the male children.” Satan seems to say, “Stop the male children from fulfilling their growth.” We are good enough in our way after the common run of manhood; we believe in Christ, we love him, and contribute something to his cause; we preach and we pray; we are a respectable kind of people after a fashion, but we do not grow to maturity or attain “to the first three.” We have in this age very few giants in grace who rise head and shoulders above the common height, men to lead us on in deeds of heroism and efforts of unstaggering faith. After all, the work of the Christian church, though it must be done by all, often owes its being done to single individuals of remarkable grace. In this degenerate time we are very much as Israel was in the days of the Judges, for there are raised up among us leaders who judge Israel, and are the terror of her foes. Oh, if the church had in her midst a host of heroes; if our missionary operations could be attended with the holy chivalry which marked the church in the early days; if we could have apostles and martyrs back, or even such as Carey and Judson, what wonders would be done! We have fallen upon a race of dwarfs, and are content, to a great extent, to have it so. There was once in London a club of small men, whose qualification for membership lay in their not exceeding five feet in height; these dwarfs held, or pretended to hold, the opinion that they were nearer to the perfection of manhood than others, for they argued that primeval men had been far more gigantic than the present race, and consequently the way of progress was to grow less and less, and that the human race as it perfected itself would become as diminutive as themselves. Such a club of Christians might be established in London, and without any difficulty might attain to an enormously numerous membership; for the notion is common that our dwarfish Christianity is after all the standard, and many even imagine that nobler Christians are enthusiasts, fanatical, and hot blooded; while we are cool because we are wise and indifferent, because we are intelligent. We must get rid of all this nonsense. The fact is, most of us are vastly inferior compared to the early Christians, who, as I take it, were persecuted because they were thoroughly Christians, and we are not persecuted because we hardly are Christians at all. They were so earnest in the propagation of the Redeemer’s kingdom, that they became the nuisance of the age in which they lived. They would not let errors alone. They had not conceived the opinion that they were to hold the truth, and leave other people to hold error without trying to intrude their opinions upon them, but they preached Christ Jesus right and left, and delivered their testimony against every sin. They denounced the idols, and cried out against superstition, until the world, fearful of being turned upside down, demanded of them, “Is that what you mean? Then we will burn you, lock you up in prison, and exterminate you.” To which the church replied, “We will accept the challenge, and will not depart from our resolve to conquer the world for Christ.” At last the fire in the Christian church burned out the persecution of an ungodly world. But we are so gentle and quiet, we do not use strong language about other people’s opinions; but let men go to hell out of charity towards them. We are not at all fanatical, and for all we do to disturb him, the old manslayer has a very comfortable time of it. We would not wish to save any sinner who does not particularly wish to be saved. If people choose to attend our ministry, we shall be pleased to say a word to them in a mild way, but we do not speak with tears streaming down our cheeks, groaning and agonizing with God for them; neither would we thrust our opinions upon them, though we know they are being lost for lack of the knowledge of Christ crucified. May God send the latter rain to his church, to me, and to you, and may we begin to bestir ourselves, and seek after the highest form of earnestness for the kingdom of King Jesus. May the days come in which we shall no longer have to complain that we sow much and reap little, but may we receive a hundredfold reward, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
14. Very feebly, but still with the most earnest intentions, I have endeavoured to stir up in you an ambition after a higher life, and the setting up of a higher standard. Seek to love your Master more; pray to be filled with his Spirit. Do not be mere trades people who are Christianised, but be Christians everywhere; not plated goods, but solid metal. Be servants of Jesus Christ, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do. Serve him with both your hands, and all your heart. Get your manhood strung to the utmost tension, and throw its whole force into your Redeemer’s service. Live while you live. Do not drivel away your existence upon baser ends, but consider the glory of Christ to be the only object worthy of your manhood’s strength, the spread of the truth the only pursuit worthy of your mental powers. Spend and be spent in your Master’s service.
3. I must draw to a close by noticing that the text speaks of a
third thing. There is the former rain, and the latter rain, and then
he says, “He has reserved for us the appointed weeks of harvest.”
Yes, if we shall get this latter rain — and may we have it! — it will
then be time to be looking forward to our harvest. Consider well that
the harvest begins in the field, though it ends in the garner. Going
to heaven begins upon earth; and as the text tell us of weeks, so may
I add that going to glory is often a long work. I believe God takes
months and years in getting in his sheaves. We call it dying, do we
not? but it is not dying I am talking about now; that is only the
work of an instant, but I refer to going home, and that is a longer
process. When the sickle cuts away the wheat from the earth, the
harvest is begun. The grain is not garnered yet, but still that is
separated from earth, and that is half the harvest; even so in the
process of getting a soul to heaven, it must be detached from the
earth in which it grew. The sickle has cut many of our earthly bonds
already for some of us, and no doubt the gash at the time has been
very deep and sharp, but how could we as God’s wheat be carried into
the garner without first of all being separated from the earth? How
could our immortal spirits enter into the everlasting rest without
first of all being dissociated from everything in which we tried to
find a rest below? It is a sign of getting near to heaven when we
gradually bid adieu to those things that we hoped at one time to
dwell with for ever; when the almost idolised comforts are readily
resigned; when absorbing aims and engrossing objects are thrust back
into the rear ranks, and the eternal things fill the foreground of
our souls. It is a glorious thing to become indifferent to the
visible, and only earnest about the invisible. We are like a balloon
while it is tied to the earth, it cannot mount; even so our ascent to
heaven is delayed by a thousand detaining cords and bands, and the
process of setting us free is cutting the ropes one by one. Some of
you are conscious of getting older and weaker, God is evidently
loosening the ties of earth. You already have more relatives in
heaven than on earth: if you count over the names of dear companions
on earth, they only make a short list; but count over the names of
dear saints which have gone before, and with whom you have had
fellowship, and then the roll is long. Be thankful that you have so
many ties upward and so few bonds to earth. Prepare to mount to the
majority. The wheat may well rejoice for the sharp cuts of the
sickle, because it is the sign of going home to the garner. After the
wheat is cut it stands in shocks, shocks of grain fully ripe, not
growing out of the earth, but merely standing on it. The shock is
quite disconnected from the soil. How happy is the state of a
Christian when he is in the world but is not linked to it! His
ripeness drops here and there a grain into the soil, for he is still
ready to do good, but he has no longer any vital connection with
anything below, he is waiting to be in heaven. Here comes the wagon.
The grain is put into it, and with shoutings it is carried home. Soon
our heavenly Father will send his chariot, and we who have been
ripened by the latter rain, and separated from earth by his Spirit’s
sickle, shall be borne in the chariot of triumph, amidst the
shoutings of the angels, and the songs of thrice blessed spirits, up
to the eternal garner. Oh, how it overcomes one to think that we
shall be there for ever! Here we are like the wheat that is under the
snow, or bitten by the frost, or nibbled at by the sheep, subject to
blight, and blast, and mildew, but up there we shall be as the wheat
in the garner, beyond the reach of danger, our Lord and Master’s
everlasting portion, the dear reward of all his sufferings and
griefs, which were his ploughings and sowings for us. Shall it always
be so? Shall our heads always wear the starry crown, our hands always
strike celestial harp strings? Oh, yes! it must be so, for we have
believed in Jesus, and faith in Jesus secures a portion among the
blessed. Pluck up courage, you faint hearted ones, and gathering
courage, gather also strong desire. Pray for your own maturity and
perfection. Seek today in earnest secret prayer the latter rain,
because you know it shall have the best results. It shall not be
wasted drops, but it shall fall to be repaid by you in increasing
faith, and love, and holiness, and heavenliness, so that Christ’s
wheat when gathered in may be worthy of the labour he has spent upon
it. May God bless you, dear brothers and sisters, and lead you on
from strength to strength; and if any of you, my hearers, are not
Christians, may the Lord, the Spirit, lead you to the cross of Jesus,
and his shall be the glory.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Colossians 3]
(a) Ultima Thule The name given to the most distant land known to the ancients.