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L. ON THE THORNS IN THE PARABLE.
In the instructive parable of the sower, our divine Redeemer, who spake as never man spake, has discovered to us the nature of those thorns which choke and render unfruitful the good seed of the word of God." And that which fell among the thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection." WORLDLY CARES ARE THORNS.
If we are careful and troubled about many things; anxious about the events of tomorrow, and forecasting evils which have no existence, but in our own minds, we are sowing tares and thorns, which must of necessity destroy all the vigour and fruitfulness of the Gospel seed.
The work of faith is to perform present duty; and then leave the issue with God, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. We have no power over the varied events of life. Circumstances arise which cannot be foreseen, nor prevented if foreseen. Prudence may lay her plans, but he who ruleth on high can thwart them all. “ There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” It is then the part of Christian wisdom to obey the beautiful precept of Solomon : “ Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
In such a world as this, which is made up of vicissitude and perturbation, how highly privileged is the man who can say with David : 5 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer: my God, my strength in whom I will trust, my buckler, the horn also of my salvation, and my high tower.”
How calm is that soul whose cares are laid upon God. This is the Christian's privilege: “ Castirg all your care upon him, for he careth for you." “ Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee."
O! my soul, remember who it is that invites thee to this rest. It is Jesus—the friend of sinners. How affectionate is his invitation; " Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Cares are vexatious to a worldly mind. Aflictions are viewed as so many suspensions of worldly happiness. Poverty is dreaded as the greatest worldly evil; and even religion itself is treated as an enemy, because it demands the separation of the heart from worldly lusts and pleasures.
And yet, it is owing to the absence of true religion, that the varied dispensations of providence become crosses. We meet them in an unsubdued frame of spirit. We murmur and rebel against the correcting hand of our heavenly Father, and thus render that burden heavy, and that yoke grievous, which would otherwise be easy and light. Whilst in this unhappy state of mind, we hear the Gospel with perpetual distraction. The cares of life, like prickling thorns, cover the ground of our heart, and prevent the good seed from springing up and bearing fruit to the glory of God.
O blessed Spirit! awaken my soul to a due solicitude about my everlasting state. Let me not be sowing tares, whilst thy ministers are sowing wheat. Let not my foolish heart by worldly cares choke the precious seed of holy truth. Make me watchful and vigilant. Break up the fallow ground of my heart by deep and abiding convictions, that I may no longer sow among thorns, but yield abundant fruit to the praise of ihe glory of thy grace.
RICHES ARE THORNS.
What can riches, so coveted after by the world, do for wretched man, simply considered in themselves ? — They cannot produce happiness. How many families overladen with wealth, are made unhappy by the very wealth which they possess.They cannot insure usefulness. How many persons do we continually see, who, with the most extensive means of usefulness, are little better than cumberers of the ground. They cannot promote health. How many are rendered the victims of disease, by the facility which wealth affords for gratifying their carnal appetites and luxurious inclinations. - They cannot prolong life. How many are cut off in the midst of their splendour, when they were fondly promising to themselves a long succession of joyous years.
If riches cannot procure temporal blessings; if they cannot by their mere possession, even to their greatest extent, make us happy in ourselves, or useful to others; if they cannot promote health, or prolong life: how much less can they procure spiritual and eternal blessings: the pardon of sin; peace with God; purity of heart; and perpetuity of bliss in heaven.
And yet, wealth is the grand desideratum of the world. To obtain riches, men are willing to risk the loss of soul and all the glories of heaven.
The nominally Christian world is bowing down to the golden image which Satan hath set up, whilst all kinds of music are employed to celebrate its praise.
Even real professors of godliness have need to watch continually against the seductive influence of the God of this world. He can paint upon the imagination the shadowy glories of the world, and then whisper to the soul: "all these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”
But truth lifts up the warning voice to guard her children against the snares of this father of lies. “ They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
Our blessed Lord, whose love is infinite, has given us a double caution: “ take heed -- and bewareof covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." And St. Paul, writing under the influence of the Spirit of Christ, exhorts us, to “ let our conversation be without covetousness, and to be content with such things as we have, since God hath said : I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
Riches, when loved and coveted after, become our idols. And even when they do not captivate the affections, they will soon choke the precious seed of divine truth, if not carefully guarded against.
Hence our Lord calls it “ the deceitfulness of riches.” They draw away the heart insensibly from God, and then they become a curse and not a blessing. Many, who whilst in the valley of humiliation, adorned the Gospel and laboured with unwearied diligence to promote its extension, have become lukewarm, when wealth has filled their coffers.
These characters present an awful instance of the danger of worldly prosperity, and should make every professor of the Gospel tremble, lest when riches increase, his heart should be lifted up, and he forget the Lord his God. Worldly prosperity is almost always followed by declension. How many Christian families, once the ornaments of the Church, have, in their posterity, lost all semblance of piety through the growing prosperity which attended their secular concerns.
0! blessed Lord, give me grace to covet earnestly the best gifts, even the unsearchable riches of Christ; to labour after the attainment of those riches whose value can never be fully known in this lower world; but after which, all, without exception, are graciously invited to seek, that they may obtain everlasting life.
Blessed Jesus! thou pearl of great price, be thou my treasure.
“Give what thou wilt, without thee I am poor ;
“And with thee rich, take what thou wilt away. WORLDLY PLEASURES ARE THORNS.
Man, has a natural thirst after happiness; but being blinded through the fall, and having all his appetites vitiated, he is continually seeking that from the world, which can only be found in God.
Fallen man, like Cain of old, is a fugitive. He is ever flying from the presence of his Creator, who is the source and centre of true felicity. He is daily committing two evils: “ forsaking the fountain of living waters, and hewing out to himself broken cisterns which can hold no water.”
Hence he is miserable, whilst in quest of happiness. He drinks of the intoxicating wine of carnal gratification ; revels for a time in sensual pleasure; and if he awaken to sober recollection, feels a thousand stings which too often drive him to despair and death.
Consistent professors of godliness, readily allow the sinfulness of gross, sensual indulgences, and of such worldly amusements as lead directly to the violation of chaste feeling, or into the vortex of fashionable dissipation.
There are however pleasures of a sober and innocent kind, which from their friendly aspect are unsuspectedly admitted into the heart, and like the “ little foxes spoil the vines." Few seem to recollect,