|Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good; unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation
.| -- John v: 28, 29.
Ignorance of the Seed Makes no Difference.
Now, notice again: Ignorance of the kind of seed makes no difference. If I think I am sowing good seed and it happens to be bad, I shall have a bad harvest; therefore, it becomes me to see what kind of seed I am sowing.
Suppose I meet a man who is sowing seed, and say: |Hello, stranger, what are you sowing?|
|What kind of seed?|
|I don't know.|
|Don't you know whether it is good or bad?|
|No, I can't tell; but it is seed, that is all I want to know, and I am sowing it.|
You would say that he was a first-class lunatic, wouldn't you? But he wouldn't be half so mad as the man who goes on sowing for time and eternity, and never asks himself what he is sowing or what the harvest will be.
Father, what seed are you sowing in your family? Are you setting your children a good or a bad example? Do you spend your time at the saloon or the club, until you have become almost a stranger to them? or are you training them for God and righteousness?
The story is told that a man once said he would not talk to his son about religion; the boy should make his own choice when he grew up, unprejudiced by him. The boy broke his arm, and when the doctor was setting it, he cursed and swore the whole time.
|Ah,| said the doctor, |you were afraid to prejudice the boy in the right way, but the devil had no such prejudice. He has led your son the other way.| The idea that a father is to let his children run wild! Nature alone never brings forth anything but weeds.
One of Coleridge's friends once objected to prejudicing the minds of the young by selecting the things they should be taught. The philosopher-poet invited him to take a look at his garden, and took him to where a luxuriant growth of ugly and infragrant weeds spread themselves over beds and walks alike.
|You don't call that a garden!| said his friend.
|What!| said Coleridge, |would you have me prejudice the ground in favor of roses and lilies?|
Have you never noticed the same thing about the mind and the heart? Let a child be idle, and Satan will soon lead him into mischief. He must be looked after. Those things that will help to develop character must be selected for him, and hurtful things must be kept out, just as industriously as the farmer cultivates the useful products of the soil, but wages continual war on weeds and all unwholesome growths.
A murderer was to suffer the penalty of his crime. Speaking of his reckless career, he said:
|How could it be otherwise, when I had such bad training? I was taught these things from my youth. When only four years old my mother poured whisky down my throat to see how I would act.|
On the morning of his execution, the wretched mother bade good-bye to the son whom her influence had helped to that shameful end.
A father started for his office early one morning, after a light fall of snow. Turning, he saw his two year-old boy endeavoring to put his tiny feet in his own great footprints. The little fellow shouted: |Go on, I'se comin', papa, I'se comin' right in ure tracks.|
He caught the boy in his arms and carried him to his mother, and started again for his office.
His habit had been to stop on the way at a saloon for a glass of liquor. As he stood upon the threshold that morning he seemed to hear a sweet voice say: |Go on, I'se comin', papa, I'se comin' right in ure tracks.|
He stopped, he hesitated, he looked the future squarely in the face.
|I cannot afford to make any tracks I would be ashamed or sorry to have my boy walk in,| he said decidedly, and turned away.
Father, mother, neighbor, are your tracks true? Are they straight? Can you turn to any walking behind you and say: |Follow me as I follow Christ?| Are you leading the little ones safe to the Great Shepherd?
The best time to sow the good seed is before Satan has scattered the tares. God has given numerous warnings and instructions to do it. |Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.| |Train up a child in the way he should go.| |Provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.| If a farmer neglects to plant in the spring-time, he can never recover the lost opportunity: no more can you, if you neglect yours. Youth is a seed-time, and if it is allowed to pass without good seed being sowed, weeds will spring up and choke the soil. It will take bitter toil to uproot them.
An old divine said that when a good farmer sees a weed in his field he has it pulled up. If it is taken early enough, the blank is soon filled in, and the crop waves over the whole field. But if allowed to run too late, the bald patch remains. It would have been better if the weed had never been allowed to get root.
Young man, are you letting some secret sin get the mastery over you, binding you hand and foot? It is growing. Every sin grows. When I was speaking to five thousand children in Glasgow some years ago, I took a spool of thread and said to one of the largest boys:
|Do you believe I can bind you with that thread?|
He laughed at the idea. I wound the thread around him a few times, and he broke it with a single jerk. Then I wound the thread around and around, and by and by I said:
|Now get free if you can.|
He couldn't move hand or foot. If you are slave to some vile habit, you must either slay that habit or it will slay you.
My friend, what kind of seed are you sowing? Let your mind sweep over your record for the past year. Have you been living a double life? Have you been making a profession without possessing what you profess? If there is anything you detest it is hypocrisy. Do you tell me God doesn't detest it also? If it is a right eye that offends, make up your mind that you will pluck it out; or if it is a right hand or a right foot, cut it off. Whatever the sin is, make up your mind that you will gain the victory over it without further delay.
What kind of seed are you sowing, my friend, good seed or bad seed? There will be a harvest, and you are bound to reap, whether you want to or not. Tell me, how do you spend your spare time? Telling vile stories, polluting the minds of others, while your own mind is also polluted? Do you read any literature that makes your thoughts impure? How do you spend the Sabbath? Boating, fishing, hunting, or on excursions? Do you think ministers are old fogies -- that the Bible belongs to the dark ages? Tell me bow you treat your parents, and I will tell you how your children will treat you. A man was making preparations to send his old father to the poorhouse, when his little child came up and said:
|Papa, when you are old shall I have to take you to the poorhouse?|
Do you never write home to your parents? They clothed you and educated you, and now do you spend your nights in gambling? You say to your godless companions that your father crammed religion down your throat when you were a boy. I have a great contempt for a man who says that of his father or mother. They may have made a mistake; but it was of the head, not of the heart. If a telegram was sent to them that you were down with smallpox, they would take the first train to come to you. They would willingly take the disease into their own bodies and die for you. If you scoff and sneer at your father and mother you will have a hard harvest; you will reap in agony. It is only a question of time. There is a saying --
|The mills of God grind slowly,
But they grind exceeding small.|
The Lord Jesus said, |With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.|
A man told me when I was last in London that England had the advantage of America in one respect. I asked how. He said:
|We have more respect for our laws in England than you do in America. You don't hang half your murderers, but all our murderers are hanged if they can be proved guilty.|
I said: |Neither country hangs its worst murderers. If my son wants to murder me, I would rather have him kill me outright than to take five years to do it. A young man who goes home late night after night, and when his mother remonstrates, curses her gray hairs, and kills her by inches, is the worst sort of a murderer.|
That is being done all over the country. You may not be guilty of a sin as black and as foul as this, but I tell you, every sin grows, and if you have sin in your heart you cannot tell where it will land you. Nothing separates a son from his mother or a man from his wife like sin. The grace of God binds men together, but sin tears them apart and separates them.
Come, my friend, what kind of seed are you sowing? What will the harvest be? Will it be a black harvest, or are you going to have a joyful harvest? If you think that, when you have sown tares, wheat will come up, you are greatly mistaken. If you think you can give a loose rein to your passions and lusts, and yet have eternal life, you are being deceived. For God says, |He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.|
I beg of you to choose carefully your path. The farmer is careful in the choice of seed. He does not want bad seed or inferior seed, because he knows that such will give a poor crop. He looks for the best seed he can buy. If you choose to sow to the flesh, you will have a corrupted harvest. If you commit a sinful deed, it may land you into a dishonored grave.
Choice is a solemn thing. You can make this moment a turning-point in your life. Once during the conquest of Peru, Pizzaro's followers threatened to desert him. They gathered on the shore to embark for home. Drawing his sword, he traced a line with it in the sand from east to west. Then turning toward the south he said:
|Friends and comrades, on that side are toil, hunger, nakedness, the drenching storm, and death; on this side, ease and pleasure. There lies Peru with all its riches; here Panama and its poverty. Choose each man as becomes a brave Castilian. For my part, I go south.|
So saying, he stepped across the line, and one after another his comrades followed him, and the destiny of South America was decided.
Napoleon was once offered a position as officer in the Turkish artillery. He declined it; but had he chosen to accept it, the history of Europe would have been different.
On your choice in spiritual things depends your eternity. On the one side there is Christ; on the other, the world. Between them you must choose. Do not wish to grow both wheat and tares. Oh, choose Christ! Let there be no half-heartedness. Give Him your whole heart. He died to redeem you from the curse of sin, and He lives to save you from the power of sin.
|No man can serve two masters.| You can not belong to two kingdoms at once. Lord Brougham grew to be so fond of Cannes that he sought to be naturalized as a Frenchman, but found it was impossible to be both a peer of England and a citizen of a French town; he must renounce the one to become the other.
Now this is where the will comes in It is easy to follow other people's lead, to swim with the tide; but it requires character, moral back-bone, to stand against the current of popular opinion and practice. During the late war a deserter came into the Federal lines before Pittsburg. He was asked:
|What did you go into secession for?|
His answer was: |Because they all did.|
That reason will account for many a man's action. He will act according to the saying: |While you are in Rome, do as the Romans do,| neglecting to investigate and determine whether or not the Romans do right. If they do wrong, a man should stand against a whole nation, if need be, like another Daniel.
Almighty God set two sides before the children of Israel, and I set them now before you. Remember, as you choose, that your eternity is in the balance.
|See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, and His statutes, and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply; and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them: I denounce unto you this day that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE LIFE that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life and the length of thy days.|