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agriculture, it is denied or disregarded as expressing a principle in morals.
“ Whatsoever a man soweth, if it chance of wheat or any other grain, that shall he also reap.” And he is out of his senses, who cherishes any other expectation. Now it is equally true in a figurative sense that whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap. It is equally true of the conduct and actions of men as of seed cast into the ground, that they produce after their kind. Men receive according to their doings. Retribution proceeds upon a previous probation. “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.” They shall reap as they have sown. “He that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” On the other hand, “Woe unto the wicked; it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him ;” and again, “ Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices, for the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” They shall reap according as they have sown.” “ He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption.” “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Thus we establish the doctrine. But though it be equally true of the moral conduct of men, as of literal seed, that it produces after its kind, it is by no means as unhesitatingly and universally admitted. Perhaps not many deny the naked proposition, but many,
almost all, act as if it was not true. They sow of one kind, yet hope to reap another totally different kind. They set at nought in morals, the established principle of agriculture that whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. They cherish an expectation in one order of things, which, were they to cherish it in regard to any other order of things, would prove
them to be out of their senses. They would be ashamed of themselves were they to calculate on reaping a crop of a kind different from that of the seed sown. And yet they do confidently expect to receive of a kind totally unlike the character of what they do. Wicked men do not expect to eat of the fruit of their own way, and to be filled with their own devices. They sow the wind, expecting to reap not the whirlwind, but a calm. (Do you expect to reap according to what you have sown ? Would you not quake if you thought you were going to ? For though you have done some things in some sense good, and not been as bad as possible, yet you have not glorified God.) They overlook the doctrine of natural retribution, as I may express it, to distinguish it from what is equally a doctrine of the Bible, that of positive retribution. It is a most interesting fact that God has so arranged things, that a man's own conduct shall call him to account. He
may deny his accountability to God, but how can he deny his accountability to himself? He may temporarily deny or forget it, but he cannot always evade the scrutiny of himself; he must stand at his own bar, if not at God's; he must hear the verdict which his own reason and conscience give against him ; and to
carry that verdict into execution there is an inviolable law of nature, which God will not exert his power of working miracles, to counteract. The thought that I am now upon, is most strikingly expressed in that admonition, “Be sure your sin will find you
out.” That pursues you, and that, your sin, will detect, and deliver you up.
But I say that this truth is now generally denied or overlooked, and men expect to escape the natural consequences of their conduct, as well as those also which the Bible declares shall infallibly follow. On no other principle, is their conduct capable of explanation. Would they sow as they do; indulge such feelings, cultivate such tempers and habits, cherish such thoughts, give way to such language, do such prohibited deeds, and disregard such commanded duties as they do, if they expected to reap accordingly? With what alarm, but for their unbelief, would men read or hear that appeal and declaration of Paul, 1. Corinthians, vi. 6, 10, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God and Christ." They may, notwithstanding, and they shall, is the secret belief, or cherished hope of many. And what is the ground of their faith and hope? The mercy and goodness of God. As well may that be relied on to make fire freeze, and ice burn. Yea better, for God hath expressly said that these shall not inherit his kingdom. His word is given. His veracity is pledged. He delighteth in mercy, but he delighteth also in truth. He is very merciful, but not so merciful as to be false. He is willing men should be saved, but lie he cannot.
It is so manifest that men on this point do deceive themselves, that no wonder he precedes the declaration of the truth with the caution, “Be not deceived." It was needed. Nor is it strange that he added, “God is not mocked.” Would it not be a mocking of God, a trifling with him as the lawgiver and governor of nature, to expect him to interpose to give a man a crop unlike in kind the seed he sowed ? And is it not equally trifling with him to expect him to set aside the laws which govern the moral world, in compliance with our wishes ?
The error involved in the denial of my text is among the most mischievous in its effects. And here I may remark that the human family has never been visited by any scourge so destructive as error. Many speak of error as harmless, or scarcely an evil. Where have they been all their lives? Have they read nothing? Have they never looked about them? Have they never reflected? Why, almost all the misery and mischief that have been in the world may be traced back to its source in error, and all the happiness and order of the world are owing to truth. And just think how by certain truths mankind are restrained as much as they are, and God enabled thereby to carry on his moral government; and imagine what the world would be but for the influence of those truths. Now just conceive what would be the
consequence, if the error of atheism were universal, or cherished by a majority, or that of polytheism connected with idolatry, as it of course is, or that of annihilation, or that which takes from con
science all its power, the denial absolute of accountability. Could famine prove such a scourge, or sword, or pestilence, or the three united ? No; for these but kill the body; while error attacks man in his soul, blinds the guide within us, and poisons the affections at their spring head, the heart.
I design not now to attempt the saying of all that might be easily said on the subject; but only to submit a few thoughts which the topic suggests.
1. It is a most interesting view to take of human conduct, that it is a sowing ; that all our acts and exercises are as if they were planted in a rich soil, and to produce many fold ; that we are to eat of the fruit of our doings, of whatever kind they are. If every act expired in its performance, and every exercise of mind and heart terminated with itself, it would not be of so much importance to attend to the nature of our acts and the character of our exercises. But it is not so. They are seeds sown and abundantly producing each after its kind. Then of what importance the kind. Of what immense moment the spirit I cherish and the life I lead now, when I am to hear from them again through God, aye, and to reap forever according to them. How important how I spend this day! centuries answer to it.
If this is a true view of human conduct, how important that every man should take it, and keep it continually before his mind. I am an accountable being. I am passing through a brief probation, preparatory to a long retribution. God has constituted me in some sense the author of my own destiny. I am to eat of the fruit of my doings.