While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
I. THAT THERE IS A CERTAINTY OF A REGULAR RETURN OF THE NATURAL HARVEST, RESTING UPON THE UNCHANGEABLE PURPOSE OF GOD.
1. The harvest is a time of poetry, rich in meaning, full of beauty, and set to music by God Himself, the poetry of nature smiling in her loveliness and ripe fruition, accompanied by the music of the breeze, as it rustles among the golden ears of bearded grain, and enlivened by sounds of human gladness.
2. Harvest is a time of joy. Then is seen the fruit of long and arduous toil, the fulfilment of ardent hopes and doubtful promises.
3. It is not only the result of work and the triumph of work, but it needs work to secure its golden spoils. Labour is the price of securing as well as of cultivating the fruits of the soil? What more joyous occupation than gathering the fruits of the soil? Man is here a worker with God.
4. Harvest is a time for thankfulness. Whose is the earth we till? God's. Whose the seed we sow? God's. Whose the influences of the sunshine, rain, and air? God's. Whose are the appointed laws by which the seed develops into the plant, and by which the plant bears the precious grain? God's. Whose gift is the intelligence that wields the reaper and drives the team afield? God's. All come from God.
II. THE NATURAL HARVEST REPRESENTS OTHER HARVESTS IN WHICH MEN HAVE A PART. Nature is a picture lesson for man to learn, and there are realities in the world of mind and man corresponding to her images.
1. There is a seed time and harvest in the history of man, analogous to that established by God in nature. Look over the record of the ages and do you not find that the exertions, the struggles, the sacrifices of the men in one age have produced results for the benefit of later generations? Who sowed the harvest of civilization which we are now reaping? Was it not the sages and the poets of ancient Greece, the lawyers and rulers of ancient Rome; the prophets and apostles, the martyrs and evangelists of the Jewish and of the early Christian Church? These were the men that sowed the seeds of law, of learning, of morality, and of religion; and we today, in conjunction with other Christian people, are reaping in our Christian civilization, with all its faults and deficiencies, still great and glorious, the fruit of all their toils, the rich results of their laborious exertions. To bygone ages, to bygone men, how much, then, do we owe! Ah! you cannot separate the ages. One sows, another reaps, and the world of man is richer.
2. There are seed time and harvest for every individual life. The young especially ought to remember that they are now to make those preparations without which age will bear but little fruit. Now is the season to deposit the store of knowledge in their memories as into genial soil, there to take root and germinate into blissful fruit, so that when future years come they may reap the harvest of ripened wisdom and be enriched with the results of work which has gone before, and looking into their minds, as into rich storehouses, they may view the accumulated thoughts, facts, and principles, which form the abundant harvest of their minds. Nor is it with knowledge and wisdom in secular affairs that the individual seed time and harvest should be solely concerned. The spirit requires cultivation. Seed time and harvest is also going on at the same time in the sphere of Christian experience. No sooner do we know the Saviour than we begin to reap the fruits of believing; every gain to our Christian knowledge, or effort of the Christian life, procures for us a greater benefit. We reap as we go on sowing and cultivating our immortal nature — sowing truth, love, and holiness, we reap present satisfaction, delight, and peace, and prepare the way for grander and richer harvests on high. And even in heaven the cultivation of our powers of love and wisdom will go on forever, and bring us increasing harvests of progress in all that is excellent and godlike — world without end.
3. But there is, strictly speaking, a spiritual harvest. And this spiritual harvest has a double aspect — as it respects the righteous, as it respects the wicked. Have you never seen the drunkard, the sensualist, the debauchee, sowing to the lusts of his flesh, nourishing, cultivating, pampering his passions and the brute-like instincts of his nature, and reaping in like kind, creating evil and degraded habits for himself, brutalizing and polluting his thoughts and his imagination, destroying his strength, and health, and manly beauty, and ruining his immortal soul? He is reaping what he sows. Have you never seen, on the other hand, the noble Christian, sowing to the higher life of the spirit, sowing love and kindness to all around him, to come back to him in a harvest of gratitude and affection; sowing intelligence and wisdom to be paid to him in happy thoughts, beautiful fancies, and glorious aspirations; sowing piety, and adoration, and devotion to God, and reaping here the peace that passeth understanding, joy in the Holy Ghost, sweet communion with God, and in the world to come, life everlasting. Let us be thankful for nature's kindly law, the regular return of seed time and harvest, the ordinance of our covenant Jehovah, our loving Father in heaven.
(E. E. Bayliss.)
Parallel VersesKJV: While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.