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of the crop. The land might be brought into cultivation, in spite of its natural badness,—the heart might be reclaimed, in spite of its natural corruption, were proper care and pains bestowed on it. But in too many cases they are not. This is the woful truth; and to this is the scantiness of the crop owing. It is owing, we can trace it, to no other cause: it is owing to nothing but badness of tillage. The land is no worse than it used to be; the seasons are as good as ever; the Sun of Righteousness still sheds light and warmth; the dew of the Holy Spirit still falls ; the Word is still the seed of eternal life; it is scattered much more plentifully; much more land is sown and yet, owing to the sloth, or the folly, or the dishonest negligence of the men to whom God has let his farm, the crop with all these advantages has not increased in due proportion. Think you then, God will leave his farm in the hands of persons who so neglect it? Think you, he will continue to pour down the riches of his grace on us in such abundance, if we continue to disregard it, and to make him no due return for it? Remember the barren fig-tree.
These are some of the thoughts and questions, which spring up in the mind of a thinking person on his hearing what a vast number of Bibles and New Testaments have been sold and given away
in England in the course of the last thirty years. But another step is wanting to make these questions practically useful; and that is, to apply them to ourselves.
Have we made the most of the opportunities which God has vouchsafed to us, of reading his word and learning his will? Some of us have enjoyed these opportunities from childhood upward; and these have the more to answer for. Others had fresh opportunities of the kind offered them last spring and summer; and many of you embraced them eagerly. You shewed a becoming wish for the most part to obtain the word of God. You did obtain it. You have had the Bibles and New Testaments that you were so properly desirous of, some of you eight months, some longer. What use have you made of them? Have you used the book at all? Have you used it regularly? Have you read it for the purpose of trying to learn the will of God? Have you read it thankfully, and felt grateful to God, that, while so many of the wise and rich heathens are pining from lack of food for their souls, you have plenty,--that, while they are left in darkness, you see? Have you read it devoutly, and prayed to God that he would enable you to understand what you read? so that you might apply the promises and the threats of Scripture, each to his own wants. Above all, have you endeavoured to prac
tise what you have learnt? Have you kept well in mind that it is useless to read about God's will, unless we also do it? In a word, have you wished, and tried, and prayed, to become, not wiser only by your reading, but better? These are home and searching questions perhaps; but they are no way the worse for that. If they help you to search out the nature of your soul's disorder, be it spiritual sloth, or thoughtlessness, or a disregard for God's holy word,-be your spiritual malady what it may,—if these questions lead you to search it out, one of these days you will be thankful for them. As to their being home questions, what is the pulpit made for? why is the preacher set here, except to call you home? Home, ye lost sheep, to the fold of Christ your Shepherd! Home, ye prodigal sons, to the house of your loving Father! Home, ye truant children! your God is calling, your Master and Saviour is waiting for you; hasten home to him. Sin is not your home; for ye are heaven-born spirits! Earth is not your home; for Christ has redeemed you from its bondage! You are free to go where you please back then to your only true home, to heaven. These are the very invitations which we, who have received the ministry of reconciliation, are to utter before you in Christ's name. The preacher is ordained on purpose to call your wan
dering hearts homeward: if the questions I have been putting to you help to do so,-if they awaken you to bethink yourselves that you have all a journey to take,-some of you perhaps a long one, and that the Bible is a book of rules and directions, given you by your heavenly Father, to guide you on this journey, and to shew you the true and only road to his great mansion, —if they remind you that a book is of no use, unless it is read, and that reading is of no use, unless we practise what we read,—if these questions stir up thoughts of this kind within you, or put you in timely remembrance of these plain but most important truths, they do just what they ought to do. May God render them, and what ever else I may say to you in his name and as his messenger, profitable to the welfare of your souls!
But questions are of no use, unless they are answered, and answered truly. I would therefore advise every one who owns a Bible or a New Testament, to think well what answer he can make to the questions I have been asking. They who can say yes, from the bottom of the heart, to all those questions,-they whose consciences bear them witness that they have regularly, thankfully, and with prayer to God searched the book of life, for the sake of learning how to live,-these have
good reason to rejoice: for they may feel sure that their prayers will be heard, and that their search after God will be rewarded. Though he may seem to hide himself from them for a season, it is only to draw them on to seek him with greater earnestHe is near them all the time, and sooner or later will unveil himself. Just as men see, and can bear to look on the image of the sun in a clear fountain, so shall all such persons see God reflected in the character of his Christ. They shall see him in Christ's purity; they shall see him in Christ's patience; above all, they shall see him in Christ's love. He will teach them every truth necessary for their souls: he will lead them by his Spirit along the paths of holiness. On them the good seed will not be thrown away; but they shall bring forth the fruit of good living every year more and more, until their Master sends Death to reap them, and gather them into his heavenly
Such will be the blessed lot of those who are making a right use of God's good book, if they only persevere as they have begun. If they do not persevere, I need hardly tell you, all they have done hitherto will go for nothing. Their object as farmers is to house their corn: their object as travelers is to reach their home. If a man had to receive a legacy by going to Bris