He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
: — Our text, taken in its largest significance, is to be classed with those passages which speak of the reward of good works, and use that reward as a motive to their performance. There can be nothing clearer from the Bible than that though man can expect nothing for his works, so that his best actions, if tried by their own merit, would produce only wrath; he will, nevertheless, be judged by his works, and receive a recompense, of which these works will determine the extent. It is impossible that man should gain any reward, if you connect with reward the notion of merit; but it is quite possible that while that which is bestowed is of grace and not of debt, yet there may be a rigid proportion maintained between his actions and his condition, so that his final allotment will be dependent on his works, as though those works could establish a right to some portion of happiness. And when this principle has been settled — the principle that though We cannot merit from God our actions will decide our condition — we may speak of good works as to be hereafter rewarded, because they shall as actually regulate our portion as though that portion were a recompense in the strictest sense of the term. If, then, it be lawful to speak of reward, we may certainly speak of the husbandman who "goeth forth weeping, bearing precious seed," as coming "again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." It will frequently happen that we have no means of ascertaining that any beneficial results have been produced by our most earnest and disinterested labours; and it is quite possible that no such results have yet followed, and that they never will follow. The minister may have toiled in vain; the parent may have striven in vain; the philanthropist may have been generous in vain. Not only may it be true that none of these parties can discern any fruit of their exertions and sacrifices; it may be further true that no fruit whatsoever has been yielded; so that minister, and parent, and philanthropist have apparently spent their strength for nought. And yet, even in this extreme case, you can only suppose that the retributions of eternity will abundantly prove the statements of our text. The "precious " seed has been sown; the man perhaps "weeping" as he sowed it, and our decision must be, if we shut out the appointments of the future, that it is utterly lost, and will never, in any fruit, return to its original proprietor. But, if you bring those appointments of the future into the account, you presently discover the falseness of such a decision. You show that God has kept an exact register of our every effort to promote His glory and the welfare of our fellow-men, and that whatever may have been the success of that effort, it will receive a recompense proportioned to its zeal and sincerity. There must be no such thing as the giving up in despair, because hitherto we seem to have been toiling in vain. We cannot tell that it has been in vain. We know that the remark is often made that the children of religious parents turn out worse than those of worldly; but we have no faith in the historical accuracy of this remark. Now and then there will be striking and melancholy cases; and these cases the more noted because occurring in families upon which many eyes have been fixed, are taken as establishing a general rule, and that a rule which concludes against the worth of religious education. But we are persuaded that the sum total of the evidence from fact is immeasurably the other way; and we have no hesitation in appealing to this evidence as corroborating the gracious description of our text. It will sometimes happen that the parent's efforts are frustrated, so that neither during his life, nor after his death, is the prodigal child reclaimed from his wanderings. But ordinarily you have the spectacle of the old age of a father and a mother cheered by the piety of their offspring. If the sons and the daughters have been carefully trained in the way they should go, then adherence to it will be generally amongst those rich consolations which God ministers in their last days to parents.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.