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fore." As our natural life is never at a stand-still; but keeps flowing on, year after year, day after day, hour after hour; heaping upon us more experience, and forcing upon even the most thoughtless and unobserving a daily increase of knowledge in the affairs of this world;—so the spiritual life which we enjoy as members of the body of Christ, should be making daily progress likewise; we are not to remain always "babes in Christ," but should be daily seeking to approach nearer to the "measure of the stature of His fulness," and advancing towards the period of full age, when we shall be able by use to distinguish " clearly between good and evil.”

In like manner we may push the comparison yet further, and say that in the seasons of the natural year, there is the same lesson to be learnt; they teach us in like manner to be aiming constantly at perfection, and from youth to age to be diligent in "working out our salvation with fear and trembling," "not counting

ourselves," as St. Paul saith, "to have already attained, neither to be already perfect, but following after" perfection, "if by any means we may attain unto the resurrection of the dead"* to life eternal, being raised in the perfect image of Christ, and made partakers of His glory. "So is the kingdom of heaven," saith our blessed Lord, "as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how, for the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear; after that the full corn in the ear; but when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come." Here Jesus Christ points out the similarity between the natural year of husbandmen, and the spiritual life of the Christian. There are the various gradations of spiritual life answering to the various stages of natural vegetation. First, the seed is sown in the earth; it lies + Mark iv. 26.

* Philip. iii.

buried for a time, it seems as though it were dead, there is no sign of its existence upon the face of the earth; so it is with the seed of the grace of God in man. It does not at once spring up in perfection; it lies, perhaps, for years, buried in the heart, and seems to be entirely lost. A child, for example, has at his baptism received the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit; as he grows up, nevertheless, he turns aside into the ways of sin; his parents mourn over him, and look vainly, as they think, for the good fruit of that grace which they in faith believe that he received when they presented him at the font of baptism; but let them not despair, nor distrust the word of God: that grace may not be dead-that seed may not be lost; let them wait in faith for God's appointed time let them not cease to water the seed, as they have opportunity, by words of affectionate exhortation-let them pray and hope in after years, perchance, they may see the fruit of their pious labourby-and-bye the seed will spring up upon

the face of the earth, a change will come. over the spirit of him over whom they have been watching, and the first appearance of an altered character in such a man is as the tender blade shooting up; then comes a season of active growth in grace; the ear succeeds the blade, and the full corn ripens in the ear-the character of the Christian advances gradually and steadily towards perfection,— and by-and-bye "the harvest cometh, and he is gathered, in his season," into the heavenly garner of his Lord!

66 as a shock of corn

Such is the encouraging picture which our blessed Lord bids us behold in the progress of natural vegetation. As often, my brethren, as we look upon the fields around us, whether it be when just newly sown, or when beginning to be green with the first shooting of the blades of corn, or when ripe and ready for the harvest, or when heaped in sheaves gathered together for the garner,—we may behold an emblem, a true representation,

of some stage in the Christian's spiritual course, and may ask ourselves how it is with our own hearts; whether, since we last beheld the same sight in the year that is past, we have ourselves made progress, and proceeded onwards in our heavenly race, by mortification of self, and increased knowledge of Christ and spiritual mindedness; or whether we have gained nothing in spiritual things, and are but in the same stage which we were in before, or, as is too often the painful conviction of our consciences, gone backwards and lost ground! Thus we may draw a lesson from every season of the year, and find subjects for profitable meditation in every field which we look

upon.

That season to which the words of my text more particularly call our attention, is the completion of the harvest, when the summer is ended, and the last of the fruits of the earth have been gathered into our garners, and we are beginning to look forward to winter. This, my brethren,

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