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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

XLV THE PRODIGALITY OF PROVIDENCE

Matthew xiii.1-9.

I wish to dwell for several mornings on this parable of the sower, and for to-day I call attention to the air of prodigality which pervades this story. There seems to be an immense amount of seed wasted. Some of it falls on the roadway; some of it is snatched away by the birds; some of it is caught among the bushes. Yet the sower proceeds in no niggardly fashion. He strides away across the field scattering the seed broadcast, far beyond the border where he expects a crop, for he knows that, though much shall be wasted, whatever seed may fall on good ground will have miraculous increase. There may be prodigality of waste, but there shall be prodigality of reproduction. If but one seed in thirty takes root in good soil it may produce thirty or sixty or a hundred fold.

Such is the prodigality of Providence. And it comes close to many experiences, and {114} interprets many perplexities of life. A man goes his way through life scattering his efforts, distributing his energy, doing his work as broadly and generously as he can, and some day he notices what a very large proportion of all that he does comes to nothing. Much of the soil where he sows seems hard and barren, and he might as well be trying to raise wheat on a stone pavement. It seems to be simply effort thrown away. But then some other day this man makes this other discovery, -- that some very slight effort or endeavor or sacrifice or word has been infinitely more fruitful than he could have dreamed. It was an insignificant thing which he did, but it happened to fall at the right time in the right place, and he is almost startled at its productiveness.

And so he takes his lesson from the prodigality of Providence. Of course it will happen that the great proportion of his efforts will come to nothing. Of course he is to be misjudged and ineffective and barren of results; but if only one word in a hundred falls in the right soil, if only one effort in a hundred touches the right soul, the hundred-fold fruitage brings with it ample {115} compensation. Thus he strides cheerfully over the fields of life with the broad swing of an unthrifty mind, expecting that much of his seed will fall among the thorns and rocks, but with faith that the harvest -- even if he is not himself permitted to reap it -- is yet made safe through his fidelity to that prodigal Providence which miraculously multiplies the little he can do, and makes it bear fruit, sometimes a hundredfold.

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