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But if, forgetful of God, neglecting his revealed word and will, Psa. ix. 17; Prov. i. 24, etc., and stilling the voice of conscience, you are indulging the “lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life, Rom. viii. 548; Gal. v. 19-21; or if you are setting your affections upon earthly things, seeking them for their own sake, and without reference to the glory of God as your chief end, Phil. iii. 19; 1 John ii. 15, etc.; if your influence and example, so far from leading others to heaven, lead them to commit iniquity with greediness, or to despise religion, or at least to be indifferent about it, Prov. iii. 33; vi. 12-15; xiii. 20; Ephes. v. 4–6; Matt. xxv. 24–28; then you are “ sowing to the flesh," and as surely, again, as every seed produces its own kind, you will “ of the flesh reap corruption." You are sinning, and making others to sin; but “God is not,” and cannot be,“ mocked." There are certain consequences, which, if his grace prevent not, must follow. A harvest you shall reap, but it will be one of sorrow and misery, "shame and everlasting contempt."
One thought more. “ For everything there is a time, and a season for every purpose under heaven." Seed-time and harvest follow one another in a regular and ordained succession. No one would think of sowing in autumn, that he might reap in winter. No one who neglects the seed-time can ever expect to unite in the joy of harvest. Now, in this life only is our seed-time, in which to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, and be reconciled and saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Soon shall there appear in the clouds of heaven “one like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle ;” and an angel shall cry with a loud voice, “ Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe," Rev. xiv. 14, 15. And what, then, can be left to the slothful servant, except the heartrending, but utterly unavailing lamentation, “ The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved !” For “then shall.the Son of man send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and then which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, Matt. xiii. 41, 42.
" He that hath cars to hear, let him hear.” It is a truth, the importance of which eternity will unfold in a manner of which we can now form little conception, “ Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” How unspeakably momentous, then, the inquiry, WHAT SEED ARE YOU NOW SOWING ?
THE UNHAPPY FAMILY MADE HAPPY. The following facts are related by a minister of the gospel :
One sabbath morning, as I was leaving the Sunday-school, one of the children came to me, and, sobbing with grief, begged that I would go and see her mother as soon as I could; “for," she said, “mother has nothing to eat, and father will give her no money.” I asked, “Where is your father gone?” She said, “I do not know; but he always goes out on Sunday morning, and never comes home till near night.” “Have you had any breakfast ?” “ Yes, but mother has had none. My mother, my poor mother!” exclaimed the child, with great grief. Not a word of her own suffering escaped from her lips, though the white bandages on her forehead and arm concealed the wounds and bruises her father had inflicted on them while in a state of drunkenness. Knowing the child, and having heard much of the depraved habits of her father, I readily believed her tale of woe, and made prompt arrangements to provide food for this unhappy family during that day. After the morning service, I went to this abode of misery and want, both of which were caused by the father's sin of sabbath-breaking.
As I entered their little dwelling, where all was clean and neat, though it had a look of poverty, the mother of the child meekly rose, and made one or two steps towards me, but soon sank down in her chair, and, covering her face with her hands, wept bitterly. She was not quite thirty years of age, but appeared as if she were fifty: care and sorrow had done the work of years. The mother continued weeping for some time, and so did her two children ; the eldest, a little girl, nine years of age, often trying to comfort her, saying, “Our good minister prays for us, mother. Do not cry; God will hear his prayer, ar'. make father good, and then lie will love us."
When the poor woman had given vent to her feelings by continued weeping, and was sufficiently composed to speak, her first words were expressive of thankfulness to God, who had raised up friends to help her and comfort her in her trouble. “ It is no small part of my trouble,” said she, “to be obliged to receive help. Tought to be able to give for the assistance of others, and I should be so, if it were not for these Sundaycompanions and Sunday-strollings. William," referring to her husband, “is a good workman, and receives every week twentyfive shillings; and, with the five shillings a week I receive from my mother's executors, we might be very comfortable ourselves, and have something to give away."
“But,” I said, “ you do not nean to say, that your husband spends the whole of his week's earnings on Sunday ?”
“Not exactly so: sometimes he will give me ten shillings on the Saturday night, for two or three weeks together, and I get him something nice for his Sunday dinner; but only once in two years has he stayed at home a whole Sunday. If he return home with any money, I know it is condemned, because it is on Sunday his companions fix on the days and on the public-houses where they will meet in the week.”
After exhorting this daughter of affliction to continue to look to Christ for her own salvation, and to be careful to instruct her children, as far as she was able, in the ways of the Lord, I commended her and her two children to God in prayer, and pleaded with God on behalf of the absent father, that he might be convinced of the error of his ways, and be converted. Just as I was leaving the house, I observed that the poor woman rose, and attempted to go with me to the door, but almost fell in the attempt. She was unable to walk, from an injury received on the hip, which I ascertained, (but not from herself,) was inflicted by a violent blow from her husband.
The children's clothing seemed, at all times, to tell of the cleanliness and industry of the mother.
About one month after this visit had been paid, William had, as usual, gone out on the sabbath morning; and his wife, having waited at home, anxiously expecting his return, until about six o'clock in the evening, went with her younger daughter to public worship, leaving their room in charge of the elder child, Jane. It was in the month of October, when the days were getting
THE UNHAPPY FAMILY MADE HAPPY.
short, and darkness had begun before the mother and child left to go to the house of God. They had not quitted their house more than a quarter of an hour when the father came home. As he entered, he inquired, in a rough tone, “ Where is your mother, Jenny?” “Gone to , father." No sooner had the child named the place of worship, than he swore he would fetch her out, and drag her home by the hair of her head.
Thus saying, he left the house, hastened to the place of worship, and just as he entered, and began looking eagerly over the place, he heard the text announced, “ Be sure your sin will find you out." This truth fastened on his mind, and held him in fixed attention to the close of the discourse. lle hastened home, to escape observation.
Little Jane, who had trembled and listened, and listened and trembled, at the sound of every footstep, expecting to endure a more painful scene than she had ever witnessed before, was sur. prised by the gentle lifting of the latch, and the quiet entrance of her father, who was sorrowful, but not cross.
“ Did you find mother?" was the immediate inquiry of Jane.
“ No, my child," said the father, with a tone the child could not understand. He sat down by the fireside, drew Jane nearer to him, and kissed her, and wept aloud. A few minutes elapsed, and his wife and younger child came in. There sat the husband, so to speak, "clothed, and in his right mind;" and, with a meekness never before displayed, he said, “Why, Mary, you have told your minister all about me."
“No," said his wife; “I seldom see lin; and if I had told him, you will not go to hear him.”
“Then,” said he, “ God must have told him. lle knows what a sinner I am. He seemed to be preaching to me, when I heard him this evening; but I will hear him again, if God will let me."
The word had been conveyed, by the Holy Spirit, to his heart and conscience. He wept. He was convinced that he was a sinner, and expressed his fears that his sins were too great and too numerous to be pardoned. llis wife, a truly Christian woman, became, as she had often tried before to be, a messenger of mercy to him: she pointed to his present convictions and repentance, as the operations of that Spirit who would not forsake the work begun. She told him of the all-sufficiency of Christ to save to the uttermost, and that he was as willing as he was able to save all that come unto him.
Thus instructed and encouraged, he at length fled, as a guilty sinner, to the cross, and through grace obtained mercy. He believed, and found peace.
That sabbath evening will never be forgotten. The hours passed away rapidly; but, before they retired to rest, at his wife's request, the Bible was read: the third chapter of the Gospel by John was the portion selected: then, for the first time, the father, mother, and two children, kneeled down together; while, with a broken heart, and abrupt sentences, the reclaimed sabbath-breaker poured out his confessions and desires to God, who never despises " a broken and contrite heart.”
He now spent his evenings at home, and employed much of his time in reading the Bible, and the books which he obtained from the Sunday-school library. He totally abstained from all intoxicating drinks. He shunned the society of his former companions, and esteemed it a privilege to have intercourse with those who were pious. His love for prayer became very great. These and other satisfactory proofs of his decided conversion to God were daily and increasingly afforded.
The sabbath is now the happy day to that family. Peace and comfort are enjoyed where discord and misery reigned; comparative wealth is possessed where poverty inflicted bitter pains. The joy-beaming countenances of the children confirm what they once said_" Father loves us now."
That family affords a proof of the truth of the Divine word, “Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
Reader, improve your sabbaths for the glory of God and the good of your soul. The sabbath-breaker prepares for himself sorrow in time, and woe in eternity. But do you fly from present misery, and eternal ruin. Trust in Christ, and serve him, and you will be saved and happy.
Joy is a fruit that will not grow
In nature's barren soil;
Is vanity and toil.
And made his glories known:
Are found, and there alone.
A sense of pardoning love,
Give joys like those above.
And sanctify the mind,
And leave the world behind.