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“ While through the neighb'ring fields the sower stalks “ With measur'd steps, and lib’ral throws the grain *.”
Thus sung our Scottish bard, and this I verified behold : While o'er yon furrowed land the husbandman, with careful steps and slow, in handfuls from his sheet, by damsel fair supplied from yonder
sack, sows wide in hope the wholesome grain, and distributes to every ridge its just proportion.
The crows fly round, and view with eager eyes the tempting corn white covering all the field, descend by stealth, and peck, till once the harrows come and disappoint them all.
As this man is joyful in sowing his grain in the earth, so the great Husbandman, with infinitely more joy, soweth the seed of grace in the heart of a sinner; for he rejoiceth over his elect to do them good, Jer, xxxii. 41.
· This husbandman, I observe, uses his servants in carrying the seed to the ground, but he sows it there himself. So the great Husbandman useth his servants, the ministers of the gospel, for carrying the seed of the word to the ears of sinners, but he soweth it in the ground of their hearts himself by the Holy Spirit.
This man, I observe, is careful in sowing, that he miss none of the ground with
the seed, and gives to every ridge its just proportion. With infinitely more care doth the great Husbandman sow the good seed in the heart; no place of it is missed; every faculty of the soul receiveth a proper measure of it: the understanding is not enlightened and the will left unrenewed; nor the conscience made tender, and void of offences, while the memory is unsanctified, and the affections cold : No, all are sown with the good seed, which will grow up in due time to perfection.
I observe the harrows following the husbandman, and covering up the seed; if this were not done, very soon would it be snatched from the earth by the fowls of the air. In like manner, the good seed of the word must be as it were covered up, and hid deep in the heart, lest the foul fiend Satan come and catch it out: thus did the Royal Psalmist : “ Thy word have I hid in mine heart," saith he, “ that I might not sin against thee," Psalm cxix. 11.
From this ground, which is now harrowed over, I behold large quantities of weeds gathered together, with a number of stones, which would have intercepted the growth of the seed ; yet some of the weeds, and many of their poisonous roots, still remain there, but will be more and more taken out as the seed springs up. In like manner, from the soul which the great Husbandman hath cultured and sown in the day of conversion, the hard and stony heart, that would have intercepted the growth of the heavenly seed, is taken out, together with a great deal of the weeds of sin and corruption; though, alas ! many of them with a bitter root still remain, which will be taken more and more away as the believer groweth in grace, and the good seed springeth up in him to eternal life.
Next comes the ponderous roller, which saddens the ground, keeps it from heaving and spewing out the grain. So a proper sense of sin, and man's state by nature, like a weighty roller saddeneth the heart, keepeth it humble from proud risings, and throwing out the good seed.
To a partial observer this ground appears to be sown ; and so does much that is only harrowed over, but has no good seed sown in it, which the husbandman has reşerved for other purposes than growing of corn: but, by a more careful scrutiny, such as entering into the field, and turning over some of the mould, it may be certainly known whether the seed be there. In like manner, owing to some external reformation and civility of life, many are deceiyed, and too often, it is much to be doubted, the person himself that hath these outward appearances, thinking his heart is sown with the good seed, but by a more strict examination of it, made by the man himself, he may know whether the good seed be in him. How careful then ought I to be, not to stand at a distance, as it were, from myself, but to enter into the field of my own heart, which appeareth to be thus cultured and sown, and turn up the secret recesses thereof, to try if it be so in reality. Have I ever experienced any saving work there? are the faculties, of my soul renewed ? is the hard and stony heart taken away, with many of the foul weeds of sin and corruption and are the remainder a burden under which I groan, and of which I long to be rid ? chiefly because they are offensive to God, and cost my Lord and Sa.