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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

LXXIX THE SOIL AND THE SEED

Matthew xiii.1-9.

It takes two things to make a seed grow. One is a good seed, and the other is a good soil. One is what the sower provides, and the other is what the ploughman prepares. God's best seed falls in vain on a rock. Man's best soil is unfruitful till the sower visits it. Now the tilling of the soil of life is what in all its different forms we call culture, and the expansion of God's germinating influence is what we call religion. Some people think that either of these alone is enough to insure a good crop. Some think that culture makes a man fruitful, and some think religion is a spontaneous growth; and some even talk of a conflict between the two. But culture does for a man just what it does for a field. It deepens the soil and makes it ready, and that is all. The merely cultivated man is nothing more than a ploughed field which has not been sown, and when it comes to the proper time of harvest has a most {199} empty and untimely look. And religion alone does not often penetrate into the unprepared life. Sometimes, indeed, it seems to force its way as by a miracle, and take root, as we see a tree or shrub growing as it seems without any soil in which to cling. But in the normal way of life the seed of God falls in vain upon a soil which is not deepened and softened to receive it. It waits for preparedness of nature, for the obedient will, the awakened mind, the receptive heart; -- and all these forms of self-discipline are comprehended in any genuine self-culture.

Culture and religion -- here they meet in university life. Most of your time is given to culture. What are you doing? You are enriching and spading up the soil of life. That is the test of culture. Is it quickening, deepening, stimulating the mind? Is it opening the imagination and training the will? Then it is true culture and not that spurious cultivation which spreads over life gravel instead of fertilizers. Culture prepares the soil; and then in sacred moments, perhaps in your worship here, perhaps in the solitude of your own experience, or perhaps in the busiest moments of your day, God, the sower, comes, scattering {200} His seeds of suggestion and His minute influences for good over the heart, and what He needs is a receptive mind and an awakened heart; the life of man ready for the life of God, and the descending influences of God finding depth of earth within the life of man.

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