Galatians 6:7
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return.
Sermons
The Seed-Time of PhilanthropyR.M. Edgar Galatians 6:6-10
Well-DoingR. Finlayson Galatians 6:6-10
Christian DiligenceDean Alford.Galatians 6:7-8
Christian LiberalityEmilius Bayley, B. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Deception in Matters of ReligionT. Raffles, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Deception in Spiritual ThingsW. Dawson.Galatians 6:7-8
Fallacies in ReligionAlex. Brunton.Galatians 6:7-8
Futility of Delayed RepentanceArchdeacon Farrar.Galatians 6:7-8
God is not MockedT. Fuller.Galatians 6:7-8
Harvest an Increase on SowingW. M. Taylor, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Harvest in Proportion to SowingW. M. Taylor, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Importance of This Life in the Light of the FutureW. M. Taylor, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Like Produces LikeJohn Eadie, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Man's Seed Time and HarvestThomas Adams.Galatians 6:7-8
Man's Work and His Certain RewardS. B.Galatians 6:7-8
Men Reap as They SowJ. Hawes, D. D., Samuel P. Jones.Galatians 6:7-8
No Loss from Sowing Good SeedThomas Adams.Galatians 6:7-8
Relation of Human Actions to the Other WorldJ. Angell James.Galatians 6:7-8
Reproduction in KindPulpit AnalystGalatians 6:7-8
Reproduction in KindA. McElroy Wylie.Galatians 6:7-8
RetributionReuben Thomas.Galatians 6:7-8
Retribution and GraceS. Pearson, M. A.Galatians 6:7-8
Retribution, Though Delayed, Comes At LastH. W. Beecher.Galatians 6:7-8
Seed-Time and HarvestJ. Angell James.Galatians 6:7-8
Self-Deceit and Future RetributionS. Johnson, LL. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Self-DeceivedBagley's Family Biblical InstructorGalatians 6:7-8
Sowing and ReapingW.F. Adeney Galatians 6:7, 8
Sowing and ReapingC. H. Spurgeon.Galatians 6:7-8
Sowing and ReapingW. M. Punshon, LL. D., D. L. Moody., R. W. Dale, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Sowing and ReapingGalatians 6:7-8
Sowing and ReapingGalatians 6:7-8
Sowing and ReapingJ. H. Wilson, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Sowing and ReapingJ. McCosh, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Sowing for EternityW. M. Taylor, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Sowing to the FleshT. Chalmers, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
That Every Man Shall Finally Receive According to His WorksS. Clarke, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
The Certainty of a HarvestJ. McCosh, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
The Danger of Self-DeceptionB. Beddome, M. A.Galatians 6:7-8
The Double HarvestJ. B. Geden, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
The Folly of Sowing to the FleshWilliam Dawson.Galatians 6:7-8
The Law of RetributionSamuel Cox, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
The Law of Sowing and ReapingR. Johnson, M. A.Galatians 6:7-8
The Method of PenaltyT. T. Munger.Galatians 6:7-8
The Moral HarvestW. Nevins, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
The Moral HarvestJ. Broad.Galatians 6:7-8
The Present Seed-Sowing, Decisive of the Future HarvestJ. Stratten, M. A.Galatians 6:7-8
The Principle of the Spiritual HarvestF. W. Robertson.Galatians 6:7-8
The Reward of the WorkBishop A. P. Forbes.Galatians 6:7-8
The Seed Contains the Germ of the HarvestH. W. Beecher.Galatians 6:7-8
The Spiritual HarvestJ. Davies, M. A.Galatians 6:7-8
The Spiritual LawBishop Lightfoot.Galatians 6:7-8
Three DualitiesD. Thomas, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
True Moral CultureD. Thomas, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
Two Kinds of HarvestJ. N. Norton, D. D.Galatians 6:7-8
The Galatians appear to have been stingy in their contributions for the support of their Christian teachers (ver. 6). St. Paul warns them that such conduct will tell against themselves (see Proverbs 11:24). The principle on which he bases his admonition is one of deep significance and wide application. No doubt the apostle wished it to be impressed upon his readers in all its bearings as well as in relation to the particular case that led him to mention it.

I. IT IS A LAW OF NATURE THAT THE REAPING SHALL CORRESPOND TO THE SOWING.

1. This is part of the general law that, other things being equal, the same cause always produces the same effect. There is no known exception to the law of causation; there is no possible evasion of it. We see it plainly working in human affairs. The eternal constancy of nature assures us that the consequences of which certain conduct is known to be the cause will undoubtedly follow.

2. The special law of sowing and reaping is that the product of the harvest will be the same in kind as the seed sown. Tares will never produce wheat, nor wheat tares. But each seed reproduces its own kind. This is seen in human affairs. Commercial industry 'tends to commercial wealth, intellectual study to a state of intellectual culture, etc. It is vain to think that money will buy refinement or that learning is the road to wealth. Each pursuit has its own consequences in accordance with its own nature.

II. THIS LAW APPLIES TO SPIRITUAL SOWING AND REAPING.

1. Here the future depends on the past and present by a certain law of causation. No words could more plainly assert that our conduct is shaping our own fate; and these are not the words of St. James, but of St. Paul! and they occur, of all places, in the Epistle to the Galatians, where the doctrine of justification by faith is most vehemently asserted! Moreover, they are not addressed to Jews still under the Law, nor to heathen who have not yet availed themselves of the privileges of the gospel, but to Christians who have come into the justification by faith, as it is to Christians that St. Paul says elsewhere, "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God" (Romans 14:10). We are here reminded that the future consequences of conduct are natural, not adventitious - that they are caused by what we are and do, that they flow of their own accord from our lives, and are not assigned from without by any arbitrary decree. We simply reap what our own sowing has produced for us.

2. In spiritual things there is a correspondence between what is sown and what is reaped.

(1) Sowing to the flesh produces its own natural harvest - corruption. The mere animal life, the life of worldly interests, the life of the lower self, is itself a life of corruptible things. Its soil and nourishment are earthly and cannot outlast death. When the grave opens all is lost. Even before death thieves steal, and moth and rust eat into the treasures. The soul itself, too, is corrupted by such a life. Its faculties are dissipated and decay away. It descends to the evil state of moral rottenness and death.

(2) Sowing to the Spirit produces its own harvest of eternal life. Spiritual things are eternal things. Treasures in heaven are beyond destroying influences. In proportion as the spiritual within us is cultivated we have what will outlast death and what no grave will ever claim. Already we have an eternal life in living in the things that are spiritual and therefore eternal. Money goes, but faith remains; the pleasures of the senses pall upon us, but the peace of God never fails; self-seeking leads to dissatisfaction, the love of God sustains us with undying interests.

III. THE KNOWLEDGE OF SUCH A LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING IS A WANNING AGAINST INSINCERITY. It is vain to shut our eyes to it. Nature is pitilessly inexorable, and here we are considering a law of nature which is as rigid as the law of gravitation. Deception may avail with men, but here we have God's action, and no subterfuge can escape his detection. There is a sort of irony on our petty schemes and contrivances in the calm, sure way in which the laws of the universe work out their issues, totally regardless of what we may imagine or pretend. Yet we are in danger of self-deception.

1. The harvest is delayed. The result is not the less certain, however, on that account. Seeds found buried with Egyptian mummies thousands of years ago when sown now bear fruit after their kind, with as little deviation as if they had been produced last harvest.

2. We expect more consequences than the law of sowing and reaping justifies. Thus we are surprised that bad men should be prosperous in worldly matters and good men unfortunate. But each reaps as he sows. fie who sows to the world reaps worldly gain, with its ultimate corruption. He who sows only to the Spirit has no right to expect more than spiritual returns. His harvest will be eternal life, not money and pleasure. He gets just what he sows, only with increase. Finally, how can we reconcile this principle with the gospel of Christ and the doctrine of grace? Simply by seeing that to have a true submissive and obedient faith in Christ is to sow to the Spirit. - W.F.A.







Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
And I suppose, that nature is full of spiritual instruction, in all its subdivisions and departments, if we had but an eye to see it. And for anything I know, it may be as much the purpose and design of God, to teach us by all the objects and operations in His world and in His works round about us, as it was the object and design of God to teach us by the furniture and all the preparations of the Hebrew sanctuary. Our Lord frequently adverted to the harvest.

I. And first, then, for THE SENTIMENT AND DOCTRINE, WHICH THE TEXT CONTAINS. I think that the text necessarily carries out our thoughts to the future life. If we sow to the Spirit, we shall "of the Spirit reap life everlasting;" which can, as it seems to me, have no reference to the existing economy of things, where every object around us is transient and perishing and passes away. And if "sowing to the Spirit," leading to a harvest of "life everlasting," directs our view to the future world, then "sowing to the flesh," involving in it "corruption," must also necessarily relate to the future life; the two being parallel to each other, both must have reference to the result of good and evil actions in the world to come. What is "sowing to the flesh?" By "the flesh" understand, not the body as in contradistinction to the mind; but understand depravity as in opposition to holiness. They will "reap corruption." That which is defiled, that which is worthless, that which is filthy, that which is abominable — corrupted in body, corrupted in mind, corrupted in associates — all the corrupt deeds of the guilty past, of the unforgiven, unrenovated, human population, concentrated, amassed for them. A harvest of corruption. Let me turn, therefore, to the other question, respecting "sowing to the Spirit." And the "sowing to the Spirit," again, here, is the same thing with bringing forth "the fruits of the Spirit," of which we read in the foregoing chapter. But of the principle, of the fact, of the truth, we have the deepest certainty — that as we "sow to the Spirit," we shall "reap life everlasting." And this notwithstanding the time, be it what it may, longer or shorter, more or less, which may intervene between the period of the sowing and the period of the reaping. In the ease of the natural harvest, as you are aware, there is a considerable period intervening. But I think that time has respect purely and exclusively to man, and not to God at all. Neither does it matter how entirely the sowing of the seed may have been forgotten. It does not appear that the memory of the husbandman has any influence whatever upon the seed sown. There it is; it takes root, germinates, buds, comes to perfection, whether he remembers and thinks of it or does not. Now we know nothing of man's memory. We cannot explain what man's memory is; we do not know how it was created, or in what manner it acts; we can give no explanation of the diversities of memory — why is it that one man's memory retains clearly all things, and another man's memory is like a sieve which lets all things through; we cannot tell how this is, or why this is. But in the future life memory may be a perfected capacity; so that, as I have intimated, all things may be as fresh and vivid, as powerful and direct upon the spirit, as if no time had intervened whatever. Therefore, though there maybe a non-recollection now, an utter forgetfulness of what kind and manner of seed we may have sown for the last seven years, or the last twenty years, this is no proof whatever against the principle of the text — that the seed has been sown, and that the harvest will be reaped, and that when the harvest is reaped, either for good or for evil, we may have brought powerfully to our recollection the seed that has been sown. Neither is it of any consequence, that we cannot understand the nature of the connection between the process of the sowing of the seed and the coming of the harvest. If you saw a man casting seed into the soil, and were not perfectly acquainted with the probable result — if you or I were not acquainted with the fact, that the seed-time always precedes the harvest, we should think the man was throwing the seed away; we should ask — "What is he doing? he is casting his bread into the ground." But we know what he is doing. Yet we do not understand any one of the principles, which bring to pass the harvest in connection with the seed sowing; we only know the fact. And exactly in the same manner, though I cannot explain what is the nature of the thing, or what are the manifold causes which are at work and in operation so as eventually to evolve a harvest of glory or of corruption, yet as I see the close connection subsisting in the one case in nature, why should I doubt an equally close or a stronger connection in morals, when I have reason on my side and God's Word declares it? And I think, the principle to which I have now adverted, which is the resurrection of character, the re-appearance of our moral actions, stands in close connection with the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. I believe, as I have said, from Scripture, that there is to be a resurrection of man's body; but that is comparatively a mere small matter. Suppose it be a resurrection of the body in glory; well, let the body in glory stand by itself, alone in its glory, what is it? — (I mean, without its mind, and without its character and these transactions.) What is it? A statue, that shines and glitters; that is all. A statue; nothing but a statue., You must have the mind; not the mere intellect — you must have the moral state and condition; you must have the virtues, with which the mind is endued and ingrained; you must have the achievements, if there are any — or the softer and milder emanations of moral beauty, if there is nothing that is great and grand.

II. Now I have to state, secondly and more briefly, THE EVIDENCE AND AUTHORITY BY WHICH IT IS SUSTAINED. And I might remark, it is God's ordinance — God's constitution. It is His arrangement and His pleasure; and we can even see wisdom and reason in it. The connection between seed time and harvest is of Divine constitution. All that we see in the processes of nature round about us, from the one period to the other, is of Divine arrangement and according to the will of heaven, The elements work, all the agencies and causes are in action, under the presidency and direction of the unerring and infinite Mind. The connection by man cannot be destroyed. God's ordinance by God will be carried into effect. So it is in morals. It is certain; it is irresistible; it will be triumphant. The sower to the flesh shall reap his corruption; the sower to the Spirit shall reap life everlasting. Secondly, this is plainly revealed to us in Scripture. We have it in various other forms, besides that of the passage which is now before us. There is the parable of the talents. And, thirdly, I observe, that it is sustained by the justice and fidelity of God. Without this, there is no explanation of the exceeding mysteries of the Divine providence. Hereafter good is to have its day — justice its day. It is the day of God. Now, he says, "they call the proud happy;" now they say that those who blaspheme God are in honour; then —hereafter — "shall ye discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not." There are various kinds and degrees of vice and virtue, According to the kind and according to the degree, whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Not only according to the quality and the degree, but the quantity. And I think the text implies the principle of reproduction. The seed produces itself over and over again. And the principle of multiplication is seen in a vicious action or in a vicious principle. It existed and was manifested in you; it may be copied — re-produced — in your sons and in your daughters; and it may go on from them illimitably. Or it went forth from you and took root in society; and it went on, and reproduced itself in its own unslightliness and enormity over and over again. Or take the other view of it. There is a virtue and an excellency in you; it reproduces itself; it is seen in your family, it shines in your sons and your daughters; it is copied; it reproduces itself in your circle; it goes on to posterity; no man can tell where it goes, any more than a man can tell what will be the result and produce of a handful of corn planted upon the top of the mountains. And this principle of reproduction I hold to be one of the greatest importance, and consolatory in the highest degree to good men. It is what is intended in Scripture by "the dead yet speaking;" because their thoughts and their actions go on. Especially note the influence of it in the compositions of wise and holy men — such men as Owen, and Howe, and Baxter, and Jeremy Taylor, and Bishop Hall; view their thoughts, their character, their writings, re-produced over and over again, till nobody knows to what extent they scatter the principles of truth. And on the other hand, the principle is terrific in respect to vice. Take up such a writer as Hobbes, Voltaire, Hume, Lord Byron; think of the mischief done by such men, the evil which comes over and over again — the seeds of pestilential doctrine, the mischief of bad and malign passions, over and over again. Yes; reproduction — multiplication — again and again. A harvest of evil, a harvest of corruption — a harvest of good, a harvest of glory — in the life that is for ever and ever. So it will be.

III. THE DANGER OF OUR BEING DECEIVED. "Be not deceived." What is the danger? Why, the heart is very deceitful, "deceitful above all things;" and there may be reasoning, very acceptable but very delusive, that men may indulge in sin and yet escape any punishment — that they may not serve God and yet arrive in heaven. I find Scripture, in several emphatic places, giving this caution — the caution "not to be deceived" in connection with the indulgence of sin. If this be true, what importance attaches itself to our dally life! You rise in the morning, and go through the day; you are sowing seed of some kind or other. You rise without God, live without Christ, go up and down among men unjust, a thundercloud, hating, angry, backbiting; what are you sowing? You rise in the morning; your first thoughts consecrated to God; you come into your family, meek, gentle, bland; among men, just, upright, good, generous; what seed are you sowing? See; the harvest you shall reap in the world to come.

(J. Stratten, M. A.)

The metaphor of seedtime and harvest, although capable of an almost universal application, is primarily applicable to the principle of Christian liberality, and the earnestness of St. Paul's admonition finds its probable explanation in an allusion in 1 Corinthians 16:1: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given Order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye." He had at his former visit urged them to contribute to the support of their suffering brethren of Judea; but Gallic avarice was proverbial. And is it not reasonable to suppose that the messenger who had brought the apostle word of their defection from the faith, reported also unfavourably of their liberality? Hence his strong statement concerning sowing and reaping; hence his earnest exhortation to support their teachers, to do good unto all men. And surely, brethren, the money test is one of the truest tests by which the genuineness of a man's religion can be tried. It was the money test which our Lord applied to the rich young ruler, and from which he shrank; it was the money test which proved too much for Achan and Gehazi in the Old Testament, for the Apostle Judas, and for Ananiss and Sapphira in the New. And the money test has not, I believe, lost its practical value now. The love of money is the root of as much evil in England as it was in Gallatia or Judea; it is equally now as then a lust of the flesh which needs greatly to be crucified. Show me a liberal and large-hearted man — one whose delight it is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked; a generous, ungrudging, cheerful giver. His creed may possibly be defective, his knowledge limited; yet surely it may be said of such an one, that he is not far from the kingdom of heaven; for is it not promised that "if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday." But let a man be close and miserly in his habits — more ready to hoard than to give — one that knoweth to do good, but doeth it not — then, however accurate his creed, however strict and orthodox his profession, he lacks surely the vitality of grace; he has a name to live, but is dead. All separation between knowledge and action is ruinous and enfeebling, and faith in Christ as dying for us is worth little, unless there be also faith in Christ as living in us... There is no alternative between sowing to the spirit and sowing to the flesh. No middle course is possible. The policy of inaction, whilst the great contest between good and evil is raging around us, is nothing else than the policy of selfishness, and many a life, which drifts along in amiable, aimless inactivity, is just as truly a sowing to the flesh as is the life of the most abandoned. According to the context, the man who soweth to his flesh is he who spends upon himself that which he ought to spend upon others — the stingy Galatian who neglects his Christian teacher, or the poor saints at Jerusalem, that he may hoard or squander his gains — the professing Christian of every age who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God. It is in such things that self-deception is so easy. The profligate, the drunkard, or the murderer cannot doubt for a moment how he is sowing: his works of the flesh are manifest. But the man of Christian profession may conceal his selfishness beneath such a veil of devout behaviour as to deceive others, and perhaps himself. Hence the warning of the apostle — "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." If Christ would have His followers count the cost of becoming His disciples, He would have all men count the cost of serving sin, whether in its grosser or in its more polished form; He would have no man cheat himself into believing that a life of self-indulgence, however amiable and engaging it may be, can issue in aught but ruin.

(Emilius Bayley, B. D.)

Man is both deceitful and deceived; and being so, it is difficult to undeceive him. We have also to do with a deceitful enemy. Moreover, everything around us is deceitful. Riches are so. Favour is deceitful. The heart also is deceitful. Sin also is said to be deceitful; and there is therefore great need of the caution in the text — "Be not deceived."

I. CONSIDER SOME OF THE INSTANCES IN WHICH WE ARE LIABLE TO BE DECEIVED. Men in general have mistaken apprehensions of the character of God. We are also much deceived about our fellow-creatures. We call the proud happy, and regard the poor as miserable: we despise those whom God honours, and applaud those whom He condemns. But, above all, we are in danger of being deceived about ourselves.

1. Those are certainly deceived who entertain lessening apprehensions of the evil of sin, saying of this and the other transgression of God's holy law, as Lot did of Zoar, "Is it not a little one? and my soul shall live."

2. Those are deceived who think that the wrath of God against sin is represented in too strong a light.

3. Those who amuse themselves with the hope of a death-bed repentance, are in danger of being deceived.

4. Those who flatter themselves with the idea of safety, while they continually expose themselves to danger, are under great deception.

5. Those are awfully deceived who think their state to be good when it is really otherwise. Many imagine that they are justified and pardoned when they are in a state of wrath and condemnation.

II. CONSIDER THE EVIL AND DANGER OF SELF-DECEPTION.

1. It leaves us in a state of painful uncertainty. Those who are under the power of it will still be in suspense, and never attain to full satisfaction: they will be continually fluctuating between hope and fear, neither enjoying the pleasures of sin nor the contentments of piety.

2. Remember, God cannot be deceived. He knoweth them that are His, and them that are not so.

3. Those who are deceived will one day be undeceived, and that perhaps when it will be too late.

4. Self-deception discourages from the use of means. Those who fancy themselves safe and right, though they have the greatest need of a Saviour, are not likely to apply to Him.

5. Present deception will aggravate future misery. None sink so deep in hell as hypocrites and self-deceivers.Hence we may learn —

1. The necessity of self-examination.

2. The advantage of a soul-searching ministry.

3. When we have examined ourselves, and have been tried by others to the utmost, still there is a need to prostrate ourselves before the throne, and to pray with the Psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts!" (Psalm 139:23, 24).

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

"Whatsoever" — both in kind and in degree. The law runs through all creation, from the natural up to the supernatural life — from the world of sensation to the world of spirits — from this earthly existence to life eternal. The what and the how much are proportionate. The wheat-seed comes not up as barley, and the scanty sowing sends not forth an abundant harvest. The acorn comes not up as the sycamore, nor does the orange seed produce the fig-tree. Each has its own crop. What we put into the earth, that we know will come back to us after many days. Or rise into the world of man. Here the same law obtains. What man labours for, that he for the most part achieves. What man labours for, that he achieves, and in proportion to his labour. The years given to intellectual study do not produce the athletic champion of his country. These form the student. The keen politician does not find his meed in the peace and retirement of a learned leisure. Each man works to an end; and the appropriate end for which he works, that he obtains. He gets his own reward, and not another's. Now let us go a step further. We have found this great law of God pervading physical and intellectual life — does it extend into the spiritual life? The text gives us the answer — "God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." The law of the natural harvest, of the intellectual harvest, of the spiritual harvest, is one; and that law is the law, so universal, so all-encircling, that the heathen in their blindness supposed it a Deity — Retribution.

I. THE LIFE OF THE FLESH. There is a gross sowing to the flesh in the indulgence of the carnal desires of the flesh in their coarsest form. Not only is there retribution here, but retribution in its most evident form. The man who lives for the purpose of indulging his passions does so with effect. He makes a science of sinning. The whole powers of his mind are bent upon compassing his desires, and by the great law of life, he succeeds beyond other men. Occasions of evil, by an inscrutable mystery, present themselves to him beyond others. Success attends his efforts in evil, as we see in the luck which attends the incipient gamester. He has good fortunes (as another nation terms such offences) in his iniquity. He reaps the meed of the care, and thought, and time, and money he has expended upon his favourite faults. But this very harvest is — corruption. The very success is ruin. Linked as cause and effect with the fortunate perpetration of sin comes the destruction of all the aspiring part of man. And what is the condition of things when this fearful degeneracy has budded and flowered and brought forth its fruit in the world to come? What a sight will it be in the sunlight of the new creation to behold the haggard, scowling, bloated features of the victim of past sin; how fearful will it be to fix our eyes upon those hardened and deformed lineaments in which weakness and brutality, coarseness and emaciate sickliness in marvellous combination, alike have their part and portion. But what will this be to the state of their souls? The measure of iniquity has been fulfilled; not one unit from the full sum of absolute degradation is wanting, — the natural powers have been perverted — the spiritual ones are lost, gone for ever, or only exist in the increased responsibility which attends them, and nought remains but the full measure of the fruits of sin — the pain of the loss of God's presence — the agony of the undying worm, inextinguishable despair, and absolute hatred of God.

II. THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT. He that sows to the Spirit shall also reap, both in degree and in kind. In degree he will reap in proportion. He that soweth sparingly, shall reap sparingly; and he that soweth plentifully shall reap plentifully. A scanty obedience will produce a scanty reward: scanty, both here and hereafter; scanty in the graces and comforts accorded by the blessed Spirit of God as the consolation of our pilgrimage here below; scanty, alas! also in the jewels of our eternal crown. A plentiful sowing on the other hand will produce its proportionate harvest. For everything done for Christ we shall have our own reward; and in the degree that we work for Him so shall that reward be. The same law of retribution will run through the apportionment of every seat in heaven. Everything in the way of faithful obedience done here below will determine and establish its own peculiar glory and bliss in the world to come.

(Bishop A. P. Forbes.)

I. GOD IS NOT TO BE TRIFLED WITH.

1. Either by the notion that there will be no rewards and punishments.

2. Or by the idea that a bare profession will suffice to save us.

3. Or by the fancy that we shall escape in the crowd.

4. Or by the superstitious supposition that certain rites will set all straight at last, whatever our lives may be.

5. Or by a reliance upon an orthodox creed, a supposed conversion, a presumptuous faith, and a little almsgiving.

II. THE LAWS OF HIS GOVERNMENT CANNOT BE SET ASIDE.

1. It is so in nature. Law is inexorable. Gravitation crushes the man who opposes it.

2. It is so in providence. Evil results surely follow social wrong.

3. Conscience tells us it must be so. Sin must be punished.

4. The Word of God is very clear upon this point.

5. To alter laws would disarrange the universe, and remove the foundation of the hopes of the righteous.

III. EVIL SOWING WILT BRING EVIL REAPING.

1. This is seen in the present result of certain sins. Sins of lust bring disease into the bodily frame. Sins of idolatry have led men to cruel and degrading practices. Sins of temper have caused murders, wars, strifes, and misery. Sins of appetite, especially drunkenness, cause want, misery, delirium, etc.

2. This is seen in the minds becoming more and more corrupt, and less able to see the evil of sin, or to resist temptation.

3. This is seen when the man becomes evidently obnoxious to God and man, so as to need restraint, and invite punishment.

4. This is seen when the sinner becomes himself disappointed in the result of his conduct. His malice eats his heart; his greed devours his soul; his infidelity destroys his comfort; his raging passions agitate his spirit.

5. This is seen when the impenitent is confirmed in evil, and eternally punished with remorse. Hell will be the harvest of a man's own sin. Conscience is the worm which gnaws him.

IV. GOOD SOWING WILL BRING GOOD REAPING. The rule holds good both ways. Let us, therefore, inquire as to this good sowing.

1. In what power is it to be done?

2. In what manner and spirit shall we set about it?

3. What are its seeds?

(1)Towards God, we sow in the Spirit, faith, and obedience.

(2)Towards men, love, truth, justice, kindness, forbearance.

(3)Towards self, control of appetite, purity, etc.

4. What is the reaping of the Spirit? Life everlasting, dwelling within us and abiding there for ever.Conclusion:

1. Let us sow good seed always.

2. Let us sow it plentifully, that we may reap in proportion.

3. Let us begin to sow it at once.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Doth any think he shall lose by his charity? No worldling, when he sows his seed, thinks he shall lose his seed; he hopes for increase at harvest. Darest thou trust the ground, and not God? Sure, God is a better paymaster than the earth; grace doth give a larger recompense than nature. Below, thou mayest receive forty grains for one; but in heaven (by the promise of Christ) a hundred-fold: a measure heapen, and shaken, and thrust together, and yet running over. "Blessed is he that considereth the poor"; there is the seeding: "The Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble" (Psalm 41:1); there is the harvest. Is that all? No; Matthew 25:35: "Ye fed him when I was hungry, and gave Me drink when thirsty" — comforted Me in misery; there is the sowing. Venite, beati. "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you"; there is the harvest.

(Thomas Adams.)

The days and hours of this present state, which often flit by so little heeded, are of immense consequence to us all. They contain the seeds, the concentrated germs, of an endless future life. As the seed enwraps the plant that shall be, so the thought, the word, the act of time, enwraps the expansion of the man in eternity. Now, what does the Christian sow? and what shall he reap? In the answer to this question, comes in a deep and most important truth, to which I will beg your earnest attention. When the husbandman has sown, and tended the seed, and waited the appointed months till the harvest come, what, — of what kind, is his reward? It is not a bestowal of something different, and from without, as a recompense for his labours; but the fruit and expansion of those labours themselves; that which he has sown, the same does he reap, not, it is true, as it was sown, but enriched with God's abundant blessing, increased thirty and sixty and an hundred fold, still, however, the same; the very thing which he deposited, so unpromising itself, in ground so unpromising, does he now gather into his bosom, a full and rich reward, satisfying him and gladdening him, and filling his heart with praise. Again then, what does the Christian sow? for that also, not a reward or recompense external to and separate from that, shall he reap; that same, but blessed and expanded and glorified, and become his exceeding great reward. The Christian, brethren, sows to the Spirit, not to the flesh. Let us try to give a plain practical interpretation to these words. The sowing being interpreted to mean the thoughts, words, and acts of this present life — the Christian thinks, speaks, and acts with reference to the Spirit — to his higher, his Divine part; to that part of him which being dwelt in by God's Holy Spirit, aims at God's glory; loves Him, serves Him, converges to Him in its desires and motions. His Spirit, the abode of the Divine witness within him — the highest part, which aspires after God and His glory — this deserves especial culture of its own, but not exclusive culture. It must reign in him, not by sitting on a height apart, not by dignified slumber only broken on solemn occasions, but by watchful and constant rule, by claiming fur itself and for God the subordinate thoughts and plans and desires. And it is among these that the Christian's sowing for eternity will most commonly and most busily take place. Educate for God by drawing forth, and as you draw them forth, balancing with love and with wisdom those mental and bodily capacities, and the several parts of that spiritual character, which God has entrusted to your care. But do not educate for self and for the world, for the display of person and of attainment; for this is sowing to the flesh, and the harvest shall be accordingly.

(Dean Alford.)

Human actions draw after them consequences corresponding with the nature of those actions. I shall begin with offering a few familiar illustrations of this principle as witnessed in the common affairs of life, in the hope that I shall thus be able to show more clearly and usefully its bearing on the higher interest of the soul and eternity. I remark then —

1. The assertion of our text is literally true. Whenever the husbandman goes forth and sows his prepared acres, or the reaper gathers in the harvest, or the passer-by surveys the crop as he looks abroad upon the fields, waving with the ripening grain, and fruits of various kind, a voice continually sounds in the ears of each, "Whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap." It is the voice of nature repeating the voice of revelation.

2. We see the principle of our text illustrated in the culture of the mind. Here it holds true that whatsoever a man soweth, that he also reaps.

3. The same truth is illustrated in all the various occupations and pursuits of life. The lawyer, who sets his mark high in his profession and pursues his object with earnest, persevering application, is sure to acquire a reputation and an influence corresponding with his efforts. The physician, who gives himself to his calling, and is judicious and thorough in his practice, draws around him, if not suddenly, yet certainly, the confidence and patronage of the community, and in the end reaps the rewards of his diligence and skill, while the pretender and the quack are of ephemeral reputation, and soon pass away and are forgotten. The master mechanic and the merchant, and men of business of every name, know well how universally applicable to their respective callings is the principle we are considering. They know that success depends on diligence, industry, perseverance, and that to expect to rise to eminence or to wealth without corresponding efforts, would be as vain as to expect to reap a harvest without the previous labours of sowing and cultivation.

4. Apply this principle to another case: the acquisition and use of property. The moral law of accumulation is but little understood. We are not our own masters, but God's stewards. So long as we plan and toil on this principle, we act in accordance with the will of God and for our own best and highest interests. We are sowing our seed well, and we shall reap a plentiful harvest both here and hereafter. But when the law here referred to is transgressed, and the just limits of accumulation are disregarded; when a man comes to feel that he is his own master, and gives himself up to the getting and laying up money for his own selfish purposes, to gratify his worldliness and love of gain, or to heap up treasures for his children, he just as surely sows to the flesh, and of the flesh shall reap corruption, as that he is a living man.

5. The truth of the maxim declared in our text is also strikingly illustrated in the training of families. The family state, the first ordained of God in Paradise was expressly appointed, as He tells us in His Word, "that He might seek a godly seed," in other words, to spread and perpetuate truth and piety in the world, and no institution can be conceived more wisely adapted to this end. There is no so hopeful a vineyard for cultivation as a young, rising family. The soil is rich and mellow, as yet unoccupied by noxious plants, and ready to receive whatever seed may be cast into it.

6. The principle of our text holds true in regard to the attainment and growth of personal religion, Every man, while life lasts, may be regarded as entrusted with the care of a moral vineyard, which he is required to cultivate, and the harvest he reaps is sure to correspond with the seed he sows in it. A part of this vineyard, if I may so speak, lies in his own bosom. It is his mind, his heart, his conscience, his affections, his character.

7. The principle we are considering will be fully illustrated in the retributions of eternity. Men are now forming the characters in which they are to appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

(J. Hawes, D. D.)It is impossible for a man continuously and successfully to practise a fraud.

I.UPON HIS OWN IMMORTALITY.

II.UPON HIS NEIGHBOUR.

III.UPON HIS GOD.

(Samuel P. Jones.)

I. OUR PRESENT LIFE IS A MORAL TRIAL FOR ANOTHER TO COME.

II. HUMAN LIFE HAS ONE OR OTHER OF TWO GREAT CHARACTERS, AND WILL ISSUE IN ONE OR OTHER OF TWO GREAT RESULTS.

III. WE ARE LIABLE TO DELUSIONS WITH RESPECT TO THESE GREAT VERITIES.

(J. B. Geden, D. D.)

I. THE PRINCIPLE.

1. There are two kinds of good possible to man; the one enjoyed by our animal being, the other by our spirits. There are two kinds of harvest, and the labour which procures the one has no tendency to produce the other.

2. Everything has its price, and the price buys that and nothing else: the soldier pays his price for glory and gets it: the recluse does not.

3. The mistake men make is that they sow for earth and expect to win spiritual blessings, and vice versa. Christian men complain that the unprincipled get on in life, and that the saints are kept back. But the saints must pay the price: "they have as their reward something better for which they do pay. No man can have two harvests for one sowing.

II. THE APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE.

1. Sowing to the flesh includes

(1)open riot, whose harvest is disappointment and remorse.

(2)Worldliness whose harvest being with earth perishes.

2. Sowing to the spirit, which is "well doing," the harvest of which is

(1)Life eternal; here and hereafter.

(2)Not arbitrary but natural: the seed sown contains the harvest.

(F. W. Robertson.)

I. A CAUTION which is —

1. Dissuasive — "Be not deceived" (Ephesians 5:6). To prevent the deceivings of sin (Hebrews 3:13.) The pretexts for sin are —

(1)Predestination.

(2)God saw it and might have prevented it.

(3)Ignorance.

(4)Good deeds outweigh it.

(5)God is merciful.

(6)Christ died for it.

(7)I shall repent of it.

2. Persuasive — God is not mocked (2 Chronicles 6:30; Acts 1:24). Hypocrisy and gold can cozen men, but not God.

II. THE REASON. "Whatsoever," be it good or evil, blessing or cursing, truth or hypocrisy, "a man," Jew, Turk, heathen or Christian, prince or subject, rich or poor, "soweth," etc.

1. To begin with the wicked. They shall reap what they have sown.

(1)"In kind (Obadiah 1:15; Ezekiel 35:15).

(2)In proportion (James 2:13; Hosea 10:13).

2. The godly. They sow

(1)in faith, and have eternal life (John 5:24).

(2)In obedience, and have a sense of God's love (John 15:10).

(3)In tears, and reap in joy (Psalm 126:5; Matthew 5:4).

(4)In charity, and have heaven's abundance (Matthew 10:42; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Matthew 25:35)

(Thomas Adams.)

I. THE SOLEMNITY OF THE APOSTLE'S WARNING.

1. The nature of self-deception. It is sad to be deceived in

(1)a friend;

(2)our state of health;

(3)our means — but these are not beyond remedy — but

(4)to be deceived about the soul's condition is irreparable.

2. Its cause.

(1)Living upon the memories of the past.

(2)Zeal for the ordinances of religion.

(3)Taking safety for granted.

3. Its futility. While you deceive yourselves God is not mocked.

II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE APOSTLE'S STATEMENT.

1. Flesh includes all desires whether sensual or refined that does not lead us to God: the Spirit those desires which spring from His inspiration and find in Him their response and their joy.

2. The underlying principle here is that we have largely the making and marring of our own future.

3. The marring is when by sowing to the flesh in, e.g., pride, covetousness, ungodliness, a man reaps corruption, i.e., desolation and decay; the making when by sowing to the Spirit we reap everlasting life, something that shall not pass away.

(W. M. Punshon, LL. D.)

I. A man expects to reap THAT WHICH HE SOWS.

II. He expects to reap A CROP OF THE SAME KIND THAT HE HAS SOWN.

III. He expects TO REAP MORE THAN HE SOWS.

IV. IGNORANCE OF THE KIND OF SEED SOWN WELL MAKE NO DIFFERENCE TO THE CROP.

(D. L. Moody.)

I. RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SIN ALWAYS YIELD THEIR HARVESTS: the moral results of our actions are determined by definite and irresistible laws.

II. YET IN THE LOWER PROVINCES OF LIFE THERE IS A GOOD DEAL OF SOWING THAT IS FOLLOWED BY NO REAPING.

1. In business;

2. Politics;

3. Science;

4. Home and society.

III. THE DISAPPOINTMENTS IN THESE LOWER PROVINCES MAKE US CYNICAL, BUT GOD PERMITS THEM in order to warn us against sowing too much seed where it may be blighted.

IV. GOD IS THE ONLY MASTER WHO ALWAYS GIVES HIS SERVANTS THE WAGES THEY WORK FOR. Serve Him —

1. In business, and whether you make money or not, you will increase your treasure in heaven.

2. In the service of the public, and whether you have your reward or not you will have honorable distinction in the kingdom of God.

V. THE HARVEST MAY NOT BE TOMORROW or the day after, but in due season we shall reap.

VI. ENOUGH, however, IS REAPED NOW TO SAVE MEN FROM DESPAIR. Work done for God is never wasted.

1. Take the social and political improvements of recent years.

2. The advance of the kingdom of God.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

1. A timely caution: God's omniscience renders it impossible that He should be mocked.

2. A great principle stated: what is true in nature is true in morals.

3. This great principle in its application to man's probation. The work of man is —

I. THAT OF SOWING TO THE FLESH.

1. Pleasure seeking.

2. Money making.

3. Knowledge acquiring. This must reap corruption, because

(1)the corruption of death will put an end to most earthly accomplishments.

(2)That which survives the work of corruption will entail the agonies of spiritual corruption.

II. THAT OF SOWING TO THE SPIRIT.

1. Those who yield their heart a willing sacrifice to God.

2. Who consecrate their substance to God.

3. Who devote all their energies to the service of God, sow to the Spirit;

(1)because they enter into sympathy with the strongest elements, laws, and forces of the spiritual universe: and

(2)in eternity reap in quantity and quality what they have sown here.

(S. B.)

I. THE PREACHER OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH LAYS DOWN THE PRINCIPLE OF RETRIBUTION.

1. This principle is of universal application.

2. It is applied to man not only as the agent but as the one on whom it is to operate.

3. In virtue of it we can be prophets of our future.

II. THE LAWS OF GRACE AND RETRIBUTION ARE PERFECTLY HARMONIOUS.

1. Salvation is a gift.

2. But we have to take advantage of this gift.

3. This is accomplished by faith.

4. But faith is a continuous act, and involves obedience as well as trust.

(S. Pearson, M. A.)

I. A duality of NATURE.

1. "Flesh," representing that which connects man with time and sense.

2. "Spirit," that which connects man with the immutable and the Divine.

II. A duality of PROCEDURE.

1. Sowing to the flesh: cultivating the animal powers and propensities.

2. Sowing to the Spirit: cultivating the spiritual powers and propensities.

III. A duality of RESULT.

1. Corruption.

2. Everlasting life.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. The SPIRITUALITY of the work.

1. The spirit requires moral cultivation. In its unregenerate state its ground is fallen; it is a wilderness, full of the germs of evil.

2. The spirit is capable of moral cultivation. Facts show this: what moral changes have taken place in human nature: read the history of Paul.

II. The ETERNITY of the work.

1. The soil is everlasting.

2. The seed is everlasting: we are sowing for eternity.

3. The uniformity of the work.

(1)Of kind. The kind you sow you will reap.

(2)Of amount. If little, reap little. All this is ensured by the laws of causation, habit, memory, retribution. Every deed is a seed sown in our nature, either good or evil, and according to the seed will be the harvest.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I could both sigh and smile at the simplicity of a native American, sent by a Spaniard, his master, with a basket of figs, and a letter wherein the figs were mentioned, to carry them both to one of his master's friends. By the way this messenger eat up the figs, but delivered the letter, whereby his deed was discovered, and he soundly punished. Being sent a second time on the like message, he first took the letter, which he conceived had eyes as well as a tongue, and hid it in the ground, sitting himself on the place where he had put it; and then securely fell to feed on his figs, presuming that that paper which saw nothing, could tell nothing. Then taking it again out of the ground, he delivered it to his master's friend, whereby his fault was perceived, and he worse beaten than before. Men conceive they can manage their sins with secrecy, but they carry about them a letter, or a book rather, written by God's finger, their conscience bearing witness to all their actions. But sinners, being often detected and accused, hereby grow wary at last, and to prevent this speaking paper from telling tales, do smother, stifle, and suppress it, when they go about the committing of any wickedness. Yet conscience (though buried for a time in silence) hath afterwards a resurrection, and discovers all, to their greater shame and heavier punishment.

(T. Fuller.)

If you saw a man with a seed basket on his shoulder, who had a field which by proper cultivation would yield a plentiful crop and profit, and there he was with his basket filled with thistles and nettles, and all noxious weeds that he could lay his hand on, and he was sowing that field with these from morning to night and on Sunday too — you would say, "I doubt yon man is spoiling that field, sowing it with that stuff;" and if you saw him sowing still all day long, and on Sunday more than any day, you would say, "I think it is time yon man was stopped, he must be a madman," and suppose you talked with a person that saw it too, and he said to you, "Do you know what the end will be?" "Why," you would say, "he is ruining his field, it must be all undone before any crop can be got from it again." "Ah! but (says the other) do you know these seeds that he is sowing will rise and prove to be a plentiful harvest, and they will touch the clouds, and then afterwards the field is to be cleared of them, and there is to be a fire made of them in which the man himself will be consumed?" "Do you say so?" "That is the truth." "Why then, surely he must be undeceived; let us try to undeceive him." Ah, friends, I am afraid that there are many such madmen here to night.

(William Dawson.)

Bagley's Family Biblical Instructor.
A Neapolitan shepherd came in great anguish to his priest. "Father, have mercy on a miserable sinner! It is the holy season of Lent, and, while I was busy at work, some whey, spurting from the cheese-press, flew into my mouth, and wretched man! I swallowed it. Free my distressed conscience from its agonies by absolving me from my guilt!" "Have you no other sin to confess?" said his spiritual guide. "No; I do not know that I have committed any other." "There are," said the priest, "many robberies and murders from time to time committed on your mountains, and I have reason to believe you are one of the persons concerned in them." "Yes," he replied, "I am; but these are never accounted a crime; it is a thing practised by us all, and there needs no confession on that account."

(Bagley's Family Biblical Instructor.)

An American minister, towards the close of his sermon, introduced a very powerful and dramatic illustration in allusion to some well-known place where certain blasting was to be carried out. "The rock is tunnelled, and deep under the solid masses over which men walk with such careless security, there are now laid trains of explosive powder. All seems so safe and firm outwardly, it is hardly possible to imagine that those solid masses will ever be shaken; but the time will come when a tiny spark will fire the whole train, and the mountain will be in a moment rent in the air, and torn to atoms." "There are men," he said, looking round, "there are men here who are tunnelled, mined; their time will come, not to-day or tomorrow, not for months or years, perhaps, but it will come in a moment, from an unforseen quarter, a trifling incident, their reputations will be blown to atoms, and what they have sown they will reap. There is no dynamite like men's lusts and passions."

One day as Felix Neff was walking in the city of Lausanne, he saw a man whom he took for one of his intimate friends. He ran up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder, and asked, "What is the state of your soul, my friend? "The stranger turned; Neff perceived his mistake, apologized, and went away. A few years after a stranger came to Neff, saying he was greatly indebted to him. Neff did not recognize the man, and begged him to explain. The stranger replied, "Have you forgotten an unknown person whose shoulder you touched in the street in Lausanne, and asked, 'What is the state of your soul?' It was I; your question led me to serious reflection, and now I trust it is well with my soul."

There are four subjects which the apostle would have us particularly guard against being deceived in.

I. BE NOT DECEIVED IN THE CHARACTER OF THE BEING AND PERFECTIONS OF GOD.

1. He is omnipresent.

2. He is omniscient. There are no secrets on earth to Him — no secrets in hell: hell is naked before Him, and destruction has no covering; much more the hearts of the children of men.

II. BE NOT DECEIVED REGARDING YOUR OWN CHARACTER AS RATIONAL AND REDEEMED CREATURES. You are a probationer for eternity. What infinite importance, then, is stamped on every thought, word, action; they will all spring up again, multiplied a hundredfold at the world's great harvest.

III. BE NOT DECEIVED CONCERNING THE EVIL NATURE AND DREADFUL END OF A LIFE OF SIN. Whenever a man is living according to the principles, appetites, propensities, and passions of his fallen nature, he is sowing to the flesh, and the crop that he must reap is eternal perdition. He can't have anything else.

IV. BE NOT DECEIVED CONCERNING THE NATURE AND EXCELLENCY OF A LIFE OF HOLINESS. "Sowing to the Spirit" is yielding to the illuminating and quickening energies of the Holy Ghost, living according to the light of the Spirit of God within and without us. Surely this is better than sowing to the flesh. A man who is sowing to the flesh has to labour; and sowing to the Spirit is no more laborious than sowing to the flesh, nor yet so much. The exercises of holiness are no greater than the exercises of sin: so that even in that view the saint has no loss. But then there is the harvest to come; and what a difference then.

(W. Dawson.)

It is above all things important that in the great and momentous matters of religion we should not be mistaken or deceived, but should have the most correct, exact, and vivid impressions and opinions; because religion deals with such momentous subjects as God, the soul, eternity; and if in these momentous interests we are deceived, and our conduct in consequence be mistaken, the consequences must be to us lamentably and eternally fatal. No other way of acceptance with God, no other refuge from the wrath to come; nor can we offer acceptable worship and service to the Most High, if our impressions of His character be false and incorrect. For, remember, God cannot be deceived.

I. CONSIDER OUR LIABILITY TO DECEPTION.

1. Our ignorance.

2. Our natural selfishness. For the most part, men are fearfully inert, awfully indifferent, strangely unconcerned about religion. They won't take the trouble to ascertain the truth,

3. Our natural warmth. Susceptible of impressions; easily moved — first one way, then another. Like the chameleon, men are ever shifting the hue of their religious character. The misfortune is, that those who try everything, generally hold fast nothing.

II. SOME OF THE WAYS IN WHICH DELUSION IN RELIGION OPERATES.

1. It produces satisfaction in externals, and the deluded sinner rests there.

2. It fills the mind with false, distorted views of religion. Eve actually believed Satan when he gave the lie direct to God! Men will rather receive a pleasing error than embrace a self-denying truth.

3. It substitutes mere animal excitement for practical godliness.

III. THE CONSEQUENCES OF SUCH DECEPTION.

1. Criminality. It is the sinner's own fault. No excuse for ignorance or apology for error, because he ought to have sought the truth, which whosoever seeks, shall surely find.

2. Eternal ruin. The mistake is final and fatal Repair it while there is time.

(T. Raffles, D. D.)

If anything is important, religion is all-important. It may be undervalued in health and prosperity; but in sickness and trouble we feel its necessity. When the ship is overtaken by the storm it must have not only a good anchor, but a strong cable. Here are some of the fallacies with which men deceive themselves.

I. AMPLE TIME IN THE FUTURE FOR ATTENDING TO THE CONCERNS OF THE SOUL. What a mistake! You cannot tell what a moment may bring forth. By delay the heart gets harder. The unwillingness of to-day becomes still deeper to-morrow (2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7, 8, 15; Hebrews 4:7; Ecclesiastes 9:10).

II. IF ELECTED, WE SHALL BE SAVED; IF NOT ELECTED, WE MUST BE LOST. But, observe, election is the result of foreknowledge on God's part (Romans 8:29). It is our own fault, and only ours, if we are not elected. The gospel has been preached to us, and the offer of salvation extended.

III. IT WILL BE ALL THE SAME A HUNDRED YEARS HENCE. No: it will not, it cannot be. The present is seed-time; the harvest is to come (Galatians 6:7). Our destiny hereafter depends upon our conduct now.

IV. GREAT MEN HAVE HELD THAT THERE IS NO FUTURE PUNISHMENT; So we need not fear. A bold assertion, but no proof. Butler's argument is unanswerable: that, inasmuch as the visitation of our acts by rewards and punishments takes place in this life, rewards and punishments must be consistent with the attributes of God, and therefore may go on as long as the mind endures. The soul that dies in love with sin and sinful pleasures, may only have that love intensified in the future state. Change of residence brings about no change of moral character.

V. WE ARE TO BE SAVED BY DOING THE BEST WE CAN. Nay; but by taking hold on Christ by the hand of faith, and walking with Him in newness of life.

(Alex. Brunton.)

Be not deceived:—
If any of you rely upon the hope or the chance or the possibility of a deathbed repentance as an excuse for sin; if any of you are secretly saying to yourselves, I will go on stoning now; I will repent before or when I die," — I would say to you briefly and most solemnly, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked," but when you wickedly think thus you are mocking, you are insulting, you are defying God, you are, as it were, insolently bidding God to wait your leisure; you are bidding Him to be content with the ragged and bitter lees of life after you have drained to the dregs what should have been its bright libation. You are flinging to Him, as it were, the shrivelled and withered leaves in which you have yourself cherished a canker in the worthless flower. There is an awful truth, if there be also quaintness, in the language of one who said, "My Lord, heaven is not to be won by short hard work at the last, as some of us take a degree at the university after much irregularity and negligence. I have known," he says, "many old playfellows of the devil spring up suddenly from their deathbeds, and strike at him treacherously, while he, without returning the blow, only laughed and made grimaces in the corner of the room." If you rely on deathbed repentance, you are, believe me, relying on a bruised and broken reed, which will break beneath you and run into your hand. I have seen deathbeds not a few, and I know that he who thinks he can make sure of deathbed repentance, or even a mere semblance of it, is hanging his whole weight upon the thread of a gossamer over a deep and dark abyss.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

No analogy is more easily understood than this. A certain point of resemblance between the thoughts, wishes, affections, purposes of the mind, and the seed-corn cast into the earth at one season of the year; and another between the gathering of the harvest, and the result in our own minds of the thoughts and affections we have cherished during our life. "Culture" and "cultivation," e.g., — terms originally denoting the tillage of the earth, have been transferred, by the hint of analogy, to the soul.

I. SOWING AND REAPING AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF SPIRITUAL LAW.

1. In reference to labour and reward, we cannot reap without previous sowing; we cannot reap where we have not sown; inferior seed will yield a poor return. And we must patiently wait for our crop till "due season."

2. In reference to Divine will and operation. God is faithful; He will not fail those who sow in dependence on Him.

II. THE APPLICATION OF THIS LAW TO THE PERSONAL AND THE SOCIAL LIFE.

1. The life for self distinguished from the life for others. The cultivation of the lower mind and nature in us. There are men who hunt after sensualities as if they were digging for hid treasures, or pressing after the discovery of truth that would bless mankind; they cultivate their propensities as if they were talents that ought to be increased by use, and faculties that might be improved by constant exercise. How they are deceived! They reap the quality of their sowing; and it is a harvest of corruption. A soil that has been forced, and whose virtue has been used up, is the image of their souls.

2. The life for self united with the life for others. "Flesh" — the ordinary uninspired life of man; "Spirit" — the inspired life of those who have come under a higher influence. Slavery to custom is life after the flesh, the origin of a thousand corruptions in the whole system of our social life. The ideal of the Christian is the inspired life, sowing to, walking in, being led by the Spirit — the promotion of truth, justice, love, between man and man.

III. THE APPLICATION OF THIS LAW TO THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE LIFE.

1. The present life as a sowing incomplete. To follow the inspiration of God, to live the truly elevated and conscientious life is too hard and fatiguing for many; and the few who do persevere are exposed to terrible temptations to doubt of themselves, and to suspect they would have done better to have walked in the beaten track of the world's use and wont. This life does not afford materials for the complete solution of the problem; it leaves room for a multitude of doubts which only the strongest illumination and faith can overcome.

2. Indications of future completeness. Traits of character so Divine, promises of youth cut off by untimely death, loftinesses of the human spirit, buds not yet unfolded, aspirations only starved here — what of these? Surely their harvest is to come.

3. The hope of future perfection and glory. Life will then be rounded and made whole, moving on from true beginnings to worthy ends. Death is not the end of our being, but rather the moment for putting in the sickle, and reaping that fulness and completeness, that purity and intensity of all intellectual and social joy, that glorious revelation of the truth of the spiritual nature, which is included in the great word "Life Eternal."

(R. Johnson, M. A.)

I. THE SOWING. That is a description of our life — a description which very few people, old or young, seem to think of. Our present life is our sowing-time for eternity. You may have been in the country in spring, when the frost and snow have disappeared, and preparations are being made for the work of the coming year. The ground has been ploughed and manured and made ready for receiving the seed, and you may have seen sacks of seed-corn standing all over the field, and men walking up and down the furrows, with bags tied round their waist or slung across their breast, throwing out their arms in a peculiar way. Those of you who have been brought up in towns, may have thought they were taking exercise on a cold spring morning, or were amusing themselves. But if you had asked them, "What are you doing?" you would have got the answer, "We are sowing." If you had stood in their way, or done anything to interrupt them, or put off their time, they would have called out to you, "Keep out of our way, we are sowing; this is seed-time. After a long winter, we must make the most of spring, for all the rest of the year depends on what we make of it. If we lose the spring, we lose the harvest; and so we want to make the most of every hour. We have not a minute to spare." Or you have seen in the garden, at the same season of the year, the gardener busy at work. Everybody wanted to have him, and so he was hurrying through with his work, in one garden after another, late and early. If you had asked him, "What are you doing, gardener?" he would have said, "I am sowing — pease, and turnips, and lettuce, and carrots, and spinach; or mignonette, and sweet pea, and candytuft, and saponaria, and asters, and marigolds, and wallflower, and stock. If we miss these weeks — if we were not to sow, as we are doing, you would have no vegetables and no flowers. And what would you say to that? All depends on what we are now doing. It is the most important work of the year." Now, suppose some mischievous boy were to take up a handful of vegetable seeds and to scatter peas and beans and potatoes over the flower-beds; or a handful of flower-seeds, and were to scatter Indian cress, and wallflower, and Virginian stock, and Venus' looking-glass, and Love-lies-bleeding over the vegetable-beds, the gardener would call to him, "Stop, boy! do you know what you are doing?" "Getting a little fun," he might say. "Fun is all very good in its own place," says the gardener, "but you are sowing. It is not as if you were scattering clay, or stones, or bits of wood. These are seeds, and they will grow; they will spring up again; and what a strange sight the garden will be!" Now your life is just like that. It may seem mere amusement to some; but it is a sowing — a scattering of seed.

1. The sowers — who are they? All of you. Every one who lives sows, and sows until he dies.

2. The seed — what is it? Everything that you do. There has never been a day or an hour in which you have not been sowing. You have never done anything else. Your work, your play, your lessons at home or at school during the week or on the Lord's Day, when you were at your games, when you were reading some story or other book, when you were amusing yourself or other people — it was a seed which you were sowing — sowing, indeed, for this life, but sowing also for the life to come — for eternity. Some of us have the field or garden of our life well filled up — some have it almost full, almost all sown over. Some have only a tenth of the field filled, and some an eighth, and some a fifth, and some a quarter, and some a half; and by the time we come to die, it will be filled altogether; it will be like a field in which every corner is sown with seed. Have you ever thought of this? Do you ever think of it? No action of your life is done with. It may be out of sight. It may be out of mind. It may have troubled you for a while, and you said, "I wish I could forget it." And you have forgotten it. Or you have never thought about it. It has never troubled you. And yet it is no more done with than the seed that is buried in the ground, and that will spring up by and by. "Whatsoever a man soweth," is just the same as saying, "Whatsoever a man does."

3. The character or kind of the sowing — what is it? All the sowing must be one or other of two kinds. There is an endless variety of seed. If you were to take a seedsman's catalogue, you would find an almost endless list of seeds and roots. And so there is no limit to the number and variety of actions which you do. But they may all be divided into two classes. They may all be arranged under two heads. The verse that follows our text tells what these are. The one is "Sowing to the flesh;" the other, "Sowing to the Spirit." Take anything you have done during the past week — anything you are about to do now, and ask yourselves: Is this sowing "to the flesh, or to the Spirit?" Is it only to please myself, or is it to please God?

II. THE REAPING. Wherever there has been a sowing, people expect a reaping. The harvest follows the spring. It is God's arrangement in the world of nature everywhere, and so it is in the moral and spiritual world.

1. The reapers — who are they? All of you. As you are all sowers, so you shall all be reapers, every one of you. Every sower shall be a reaper, and he shall reap what he sowed. "That shall he also reap." He must do it himself. No one can do it for him. He cannot hand it over to another.

2. The kind of reaping — what shall it be? Of the same kind as the sowing. It must be so. Every kind of seed has fruit of its own kind. Everybody knows to expect this. If a farmer sowed oats, he would not expect to reap wheat or barley. If he sowed turnips, he would not expect to gather potatoes. And just so with your actions, your conduct, your life. You cannot do one kind of action, and expect fruit of a different kind. You cannot have an evil sowing, and expect to reap what is good. You cannot sow to the flesh, and reap what is of the Spirit. And as we saw there are but two kinds of sowing, so there will be but two kinds of reaping — the one, in each case, corresponding to the other. It is not merely that if we do what is wrong, we shall be punished for it. But if we sow evil, we shall reap evil. The one grows out of the other. If you sow nettle seed, the nettle with its sting will come of it. If you sow the thistle, the thistle with its prickles will spring up. And so with sin. And so, also, with good.

3. The measure of the reaping — what shall it be? What is the measure of other reaping, as compared with the sowing? Plant a single grain of corn in the ground, and from the one grain you have several stalks, and each head has many grains. Plant a pea or a potatoe, and how many you get for the one. Some people think sin a very small thing, to have such consequences coming of it. But if it is a seed, and if there is a harvest, must not the increase be as with every other kind of sowing and reaping?

4. The certainty of the reaping. Other harvests sometimes fail. Too dry or too rainy a season, a strong wind brushing off the flower when it is in bloom, or a storm when the corn is all but ripe, may deprive the husbandman of his harvest. In some cases, in a bad season, you will see sowing that has had little or no reaping. The straw is uncut. It was not worth cutting. It is left to rot on the ground. But in regard to the sowing to the flesh and to the Spirit, God says "we shall reap." "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The seed may lie a long time in the ground, but it is still there, it is not dead, And when it does grow, its growth is sometimes very slow and gradual. "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." It sometimes looks as if it would never come to anything. But God's word stands pledged, alike as regards the good and the evil, that failure there shall be none: "Shall reap."

(J. H. Wilson, D. D.)

I. Sowing and reaping is an example of a principle seen everywhere in the government of God. An act performed at one time leads to products at a future time. See this exemplified in nature and also in human character.

II. Consider the application of the principle to corrupt human nature: "He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption." Man, when he comes into the world, has seeds in his very nature, tendencies to act for good and for evil. The tendency to evil grows unless it is restrained. The roots strike themselves deeper into the soil, and the seeds of evil develop in the course of years. See this exemplified in intemperance, in pride, in all temptations and lusts.

III. The application to regenerated nature: "He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." We have seen that in our nature evil propagates itself. But it is equally true that good does so, good purposes, good dispositions, good acts. It increases at compound interest. Every temptation promptly resisted strengthens the will. Every step we take on the ladder upwards helps up to a higher. The new nature is in the form of seeds. Grace grows upon grace. In the same way the Church as a whole grows and increases.

(J. McCosh, D. D.)

So it is with all temptations and lusts. They are ever scattering seeds — as weeds do. What a power there is in seeds! How long-lived they are! — as we see in the mummies of Egypt, where they may have lain for thousands of years in darkness, but now come forth to grow. What contrivances they have to continue and to propagate themselves! They have wings, and they fly for miles. They may float over wide oceans, and rest themselves in foreign countries. They have hooks and attach themselves to objects. Often they are taken up by birds, which transport them to distant places. As it is with the seeds of weeds, so it is with every evil propensity and habit. It propagates itself and spreads over the whole soul, and goes down from generation to generation.

(J. McCosh, D. D.)

God leaves us free to sow what sort of seed we will, and no one can blame the Almighty, that having chosen our own course, we reap our own harvests. The individual who indulges in one known sin is planting a seed, which will be sure to spring up, and grow, and, perhaps, prepare the way for a wider departure from duty. A second and third temptation, will prove more irresistible and dangerous than the first. Every careful farmer will look after his fences, lest his own cattle make their escape, or his neighbour's break in. "Set double guard upon that point to-night," was the command of a prudent officer, when an attack was expected. Our whole life is nothing but a seed-time, and the present and the future already stand facing each other. "Corruption" is the harvest of "sowing to the flesh," and "life everlasting," the harvest of "sowing to the Spirit." If we desire a fruit, in eternity, to please us, the seed must be sown which will bring it. A philosopher once said to his friend, "Which of the two would you rather be, Croesus, the wealthiest, but one of the worst men of his day; or Socrates, who was the poorest of the poor, but distinguished for many virtues?" The answer was, that he would rather be Croesus in this life, and Socrates in the next! A Christian woman was one day visiting an aged man, who, in years gone by, had been associated with her own father in business. Although differing widely in their opinions on various subjects, the two old men still felt a deep interest in each other. The good woman had answered a hundred questions, which her father's former partner had asked concerning him, and, as he listened to the story of his friend's patience in suffering and poverty, and the unflagging cheerfulness with which he could look forward, either to a longer continuance of his pilgrimage in this world, or to a speedy departure to a better one, his conscience applied the unuttered reproach, and he cried out, in a tone of hopeless despair, "Yes, yes: you wonder I cannot be as quiet and happy too: but think of the difference: he is going to his treasure, and I — I must leave mine!" Such is the condition of every possessor of worldly wealth, who sows only for the ingathering of a temporal harvest.

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

The warning implies a liability to deception or error: in this case the deception appears to be, that a man may be sowing to the flesh, and yet be hoping to reap of the Spirit, or that for him might be changed the unchangeable order which God has ordained — "like seed, like harvest." But, he says, "there's no such thing as mocking God." The expression is a strong one, taken from that organ of the face by which we express careless contempt. The verb μυτκηρίξω, from μυτκήρ, is to turn up the nose at, to sneer at, to mock. Men may we imposed on by a show of virtue on the part of one who all the while scorns their weakness; but God cannot be so mocked. Let him sow what he likes, that and that only, that and nothing else, shall he also reap. The reaping is not only the effect of the sowing, but is necessarily of the same nature with it. He that sows cockles, cockles shall he also reap; he that soweth wheat, wheat also shall he reap. It is the law of God in the natural world — the harvest is but the growth of the sowing; and it illustrates the uniform sequences of the spiritual world. The nature of conduct is not changed by its development and final ripening for Divine sentence; nay, its nature is by the process only opened out into full and self-displayed reality. The blade and the ear may be hardly recognized and distinguished as to species, but the full corn in the ear is the certain result and unmistakeable proof of what was sown. And the sowing leads certainly, and not as if by accident, to the reaping; the connection cannot be severed — it lies deep in man's personal identity and responsibility.

(John Eadie, D. D.)

The Bible everywhere describes men as reaping what they sow, and as receiving again, not the bare seed sown, but the harvest of their actions. And, when we test this common and pervading metaphor by our experience, we find it true. Our actions are fertile, and we do have to eat the fruit they yield. Every time we take a decisive and deliberate step, we set forces in motion which soon slip from our control. But it is we who have set them going, and we are held responsible for whatever effects they produce. If you throw a stone into the air, you may mean no harm, or only a little harm; but you may do a great injury. And when the harm is done, you cannot turn lightly away and say, "It was none of my doing." It was your doing, even if it went beyond your intention, and you have to pay the penalty of it; you have to eat she fruit of your deed. If in the charm of bright social intercourse, or to relieve the gloom of depression, you take too much wine, you may have had no distinctly bad motive for it; your motive may have been nothing more than a friendly wish to share and promote the hilarity of the hour, or to free yourself from the disabling effects of a transient incapacity for a task you felt bound to do: but if that indulgence should excite a growing craving for similar indulgences, as in some natures it will, and you sink into a sot, and your health flies, and your business goes to rack, and your domestic peace is broken up, you cannot plead, "I did not do it." You did do it, and the world fairly holds you responsible for all that has come of it. Or, to take a still sadder and more perilous instance, if, out of mere thoughtless hospitality, you press a man to drink with you, and he sets out by your prompting on the perilous and slippery path which leads him to a madhouse or to a dishonoured grave, you cannot escape the consequences of your own act; you have to bear all the misery of witnessing his downfall, and of the heartrending fear that, but for you, he might never have fallen. Do you not see, then, how the results of our bad, and even of our thoughtless, actions accumulate upon us, multiplying sometimes in a geometrical ratio, and landing us in the most awful responsibilities? And can you doubt that, in like manner, the results of our good deeds multiply and accumulate? If a man cultivate any faculty, that of learning languages, for example, or of written composition, or of public speaking, who can say whereunto it will grow, what nutriment it will meet from the most unexpected quarters, how one opportunity will open the door for another, and one success pave the way for a dozen more? If you once brace yourself for a good deed which involves thought and labour and self-sacrifice, do not all similar deeds become easier to you? Does not even one good deed induce your neighbours to ask your help in other good deeds, and thus furnish you with ever new opportunities of service? Does not your example stimulate and encourage them in the good works they have in hand, or now and then even rouse the indolent and indifferent to interest and activity? Do not those who benefit by your kindness at least sometimes remember and imitate it? Have you yourselves never been constrained to help a neighbour by a recollection of how, when you once needed similar help, some good man or woman came to your assistance? A good deed shines, we are told, "like a candle in this naughty world." And how many solitary and forlorn wayfarers, stumbling in the dark, may even one such candle, shining through a cottage casement, serve to guide, to stimulate, to console! We do get according to our deeds, then, and, through the mercy of God, we get, in addition, all the fruit our deeds bring forth. And if, in the world to come, the consequences of our deeds, even to the last, should more largely come upon us, we cannot deny that this, too, will be just. But in the future at all events, and far more largely than in the present, the law of retribution will work, the consequences of our actions will come home to us, according to the infinite wisdom and compassion of God. Then, if not now, God will deal with us, not according to the outward form and appearance of our conduct, but according to those inward springs of thought, will, emotion, purpose, of which our life is at best but a poor and inadequate outcome, a pale and distorted reflection. He will search the inmost fibres of our hearts in order that He may mete out to us the recompense we deserve, the discipline we require; in order that, to the last fibre of our hearts, we may be satisfied with the justice and the love of His award.

(Samuel Cox, D. D.)

"What? You hold back? Nay, do not deceive yourselves. Your stinginess will find you out. You cannot cheat God by your fair professions. You cannot mock Him. According as you sow, thus will you reap. If you plant the seed of your own selfish desires, if you sow the field of the flesh, then when you gather in your harvest, you will find the ears blighted and rotten. But if you sow the good ground of the spirit, you will of that good ground gather the golden grain of life eternal."

(Bishop Lightfoot.)

What is the seed? Our thoughts, our feelings, our purposes, our plans, our words, our actions; and, as we are always thinking, feeling, purposing, planning, speaking, or acting, except when under the power of sleep, so we are always sowing for eternity, which is the harvest-time of the soul. What millions of thoughts, and feelings, and words, and actions, enter into the history of a single year! And all these have moral character, a moral bearing, and are being "sown" for eternity. It is not only to religious matters that this observation applies, but to the transactions of the world. There is a moral character belonging to our everyday conduct. The man in the shop, the man in the bargain, the man in the transaction, is acting under a moral influence: there is a motive in his mind influencing him for good or for evil; there is seed being sown. The moral character does not belong merely to the greater actions and transactions of life, but equally to the lesser. There may be as much moral character in a pecuniary transaction over a shilling, as in one over a thousand pounds. So that there is a moral character stamped upon all that we are engaged in doing; and consequently there is a "sowing" in many actions that we think little about; there is that attending each, which makes it a moral and eternal agent.

(J. Angell James.)

I. Our connection with the invisible and eternal world is more close and intimate than we generally feel. Everything connects us with eternity; we are not only travelling to it, but are already on its confines.

II. Our misery and happiness proceed not merely from Divine appointment, but from ourselves.

III. There must be different degrees of glory in heaven.

(J. Angell James.)

The fact of retribution is necessarily a very serious one to all who are not "past feeling." We find the law of retribution working here in our life. It cannot be denied. The natural inference is that a law here indicates a similar law beyond the period and condition we call temporal. It is wiser and better always to face facts, never to ignore them, never to close our eyes to them. Interrogate them. Let us have the courage resolutely to stand by the laws and facts which are revealed. We recognize in ourselves, and so in other men, a sense of a righteousness which ought to be obeyed and maintained; and we recognize also a condition of feeling, mind, will, life, that is not according to righteousness. All our efforts to make righteousness and unrighteousness the same, or the one a modification of the other, are failures. We recognize also that unrighteousness brings penalty. Righteousness and unrighteousness, happiness and misery, are not expressible in terms of material gifts. The kingdom of God is within you, saith the Lord; so is the kingdom of the devil. Thus, it is evident that in considering this theme of retribution, we have to look below the surface. We have to school ourselves into the recognition that a man is rich or poor really not according to what he has but according to what he is. Let us never lose sight of this fact that union with God in Christ is heaven, for the soul of man was made for that; separation from God in Christ is hell, the soul of man was never made for that. Whatever brings us nearer to God brings us into the sphere of ineffable reward, such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man to conceive; whatever separates us from Him brings us into that sphere of retribution into which we cannot look far, where the selfish and the loveless find those of their own order and hind.

1. That the Eternal One can make no compromise with sin. "If God were not sure to punish the evil, and to make it bear, so far as it remains evil, the weight of his condemnation, the good would lose for us its reality."

2. As to duration, that as long as the sin lasts, so long will its appropriate punishment last.

3. That no punishment will be inflicted which will throw the Divine Character as revealed in Christ into discord with itself.

4. That, as there is no malice in the Divine nature and no cruelty, all punishment will have as its purpose an end worthy of the Divine nature.

5. That future punishment will be to present sin as consequence to cause.

6. That it will be inevitable and not arbitrary.

7. That it will be of such a nature, that no enlightened mind in the universe of God can offer any objection to it that shall not be unreasonable.

(Reuben Thomas.)

I. Here is laid down the general and fundamental doctrine of true religion; that every man shall finally receive of God, according to what he has done. This maxim is the reason and end of all laws, the maintenance and support of all government, the foundation and ground-work of all religion. By the disposition and appointment of the same Author and Ruler of the universe, the moral consequences and connections of things do, in their proper manner, and at their proper seasons, take place likewise in the world. And could our faculties extend themselves, to take in at one view those larger periods of the Divine dispensations, on which depends the harmony and beauty of the moral world; in like manner as our experience enables us to contemplate the yearly products of nature; we should then probably be no more struck with wonder, at the seeming forbearing of providence to interpose at present in the ordering of the moral state of the world, than we are now surprised, in the regular course of nature, to see grain lie as it were dead in the earth in winter, and seemingly dissolving into corruption; and yet, without fail, at the return of its proper season, bringing forth the certain particular fruit, of which it was the seed.

II. Here is a declaration, that every opinion or practice, that subverts this great and fundamental doctrine; is, in reality and in true consequence, a mocking of God: "God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The word, "mock" (which in the New Testament is in the original expressed by two or three synonymous terms), in its literal and most proper sense, signifies, deceiving any person, deluding him, or disappointing his expectation. Thus Matthew 2:16. At other times, it signifies affronting or abusing any person by open violence. Thus Matthew 20:18. By way of derision, in a scornful, insulting, and despiteful manner. Thus Matthew 27:29. Now in the literal and proper sense of the phrase, 'tis impossible in the nature of things that God should in any of these ways be mocked. But figuratively, consequentially, and in true reality of guilt and folly, all wicked men, who set themselves to oppose God's kingdom of righteousness; who, without repentance, amendment, and obedience to God's commands, expect to escape, and teach others that they may escape, His righteous judgment; are, in the apostle's estimation, mockers of God. And the grounds or reasons upon which they are justly so esteemed are very evident. For —

1. Such persons, as far as in them lies, confound the necessary reasons and proportions of things, and endeavour to take away the eternal and unchangeable differences of good and evil; which are the original order and rule of God's creation, and the very foundation of His government over the universe.

2. But also further, because 'tis an entertaining of very dishonourable and very injurious apprehensions, concerning the perfections and attributes of God Himself.

3. As such persons are, in true estimation of things, mockers of God, upon account of their confounding those essential differences of good and evil, which are the foundation of God's government over rational creatures; and upon account of their entertaining dishonourable and very injurious apprehensions concerning the perfections and attributes of God Himself: so they are still further guilty of the same charge, in perverting the plain revelation of Christ, and overthrowing the whole design of His religion (see Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The doctrine itself; that every man shall finally receive of God, according to what he has done, whether it be good, or whether it be evil; that, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap;" is undeniably proved by all the principles of reason, and expressly confirmed by all the notices of revelation. Yet so manifold and various are the delusions of sin, and such a mist of darkness do the passions and appetites of men continually cast before their eyes; that the apostle thought it necessary to add, with great affection and earnestness, the caution in the text; and to repeat it frequently elsewhere, upon the like occasion (1 Corinthians 3:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 5:5, etc.). And here, that which first and most obviously offers itself, in our view of mankind, is the deceit men put upon themselves by a general carelessness and inattention. They pursue the ends of ambition and covetousness; they labour continually to gratify their passions and appetites; and consider not at all, that the most High regardeth, and that for all these things God will bring them into judgment. Some judge of God by themselves; not according to the reason of things, but by their own disposition and temper. And because they themselves are not apt to be displeased, unless at things directly injurious to themselves; therefore they flatter themselves that God, who can no way be injured by the sins of men, will not be severe in punishing them; and particularly, that His anger will not be so highly provoked by sins of debauchery or injustice, as by irreligion or profaneness. In which matter they deceive themselves for want of considering, that God is not a party, but the Judge and Governor of the universe; who punishes wickedness, not that He himself suffers anything by it, but as being repugnant to the nature and reason of things, to the eternal laws of His righteous government, to the welfare and happiness of the whole creation. Others there are, who deceive themselves by imagining that God is pleased or displeased with little things, instead of judging of men according to the whole course and tenor of a virtuous or vicious life. Another sort of men there are, who seem to content themselves with a loose and general expectation that they shall fare upon the whole as well as others; and that the multitude of those who live in the same sensual way with themselves cannot be all of them in a state liable to God's severe displeasure. They hope, therefore, that the debaucheries they are guilty of will be put to the account of natural infirmities, and excused as the weaknesses of human nature in general. And here they deceive themselves by not considering, that the very end and design of Christ's religion, was, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, and purchase to Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works; that we might not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind; that we might prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. There are still others, who speak peace to themselves in a vicious course of life, upon the mere general notion of the mercy and patience and goodness of God; without at all considering whether they themselves be proper and capable objects of His mercy and compassion. And these deceive themselves, by fixing their attention wholly upon one single attribute of the Divine nature; and consider not God as indued with all those perfections together, which complete the character of an all-wise and righteous governor of the universe. They consider not, that as power, though infinite, is still confined to what is the object of power, and extends not at all to the working of contradictions; so mercy likewise, however infinite, is still limited to the things which are in their nature the objects of mercy. But the frequentest, and, of all others, the most extensive deceits; are the two following.

I. A careless misunderstanding of certain texts of Scripture, wherein salvation may seem to be promised upon other terms, than the practice of virtue and true righteousness.

II. An imaginary design of future repentance.

(S. Clarke, D. D.)

One of the mighty blessings bestowed upon us by the Christian revelation, is, that we have now a certain knowledge of a future state, and of the rewards and punishments that await us after death, and will be adjusted according to our conduct in this world.

I. THE SINNER'S SELF-DECEIT. Of self-deceit, in the great business of our lives, there are various modes. The far greater part of mankind deceive themselves, by willing negligence, by refusing to think on their real state, lest such thoughts should trouble their quiet, or interrupt their pursuits. He that is willing to forget religion may quickly lose it; and that most men are willing to forget it, experience informs us. Others there are, who, without attending to the written revelation of God's will, form to themselves a scheme of conduct in which vice is mingled with virtue, and who cover from themselves, and hope to cover from God, the indulgence of some criminal desire, or the continuance of some vicious habit, by a few splendid instances of public spirit, or some few effusions of occasional bounty. The mode of self-deception which prevails most in the world, and by which the greatest number of souls is at last betrayed to destruction, is the art which we are all too apt to practise, of putting far from us the evil day, of setting the hour of death, and the day of account, at a great distance.

II. GOD IS NOT MOCKED. God is not mocked in any sense. He will not be mocked with counterfeit piety, He will not be mocked with idle resolutions; but the sense in which the text declares that God is not mocked, seems to be, that God will not suffer His decrees to be invalidated; He will not leave His promises unfulfilled, nor His threats unexecuted. And this will easily appear, if we consider, that promises and threats can only become ineffectual by change of mind, or want of power. God cannot change His will; He is not a man that He should repent; what He has spoken will surely come to pass. Neither can He want power to execute His purposes; He who spoke, and the world was made, can speak again, and it will perish.

III. IN WHAT SENSE IT IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD, THAT WHATSOEVER A MAN SOWS, THAT SHALL HE REAP.

(S. Johnson, LL. D.)

Is it not strange that the apostle should have thought it necessary to draw out into a formal proposition a truth so obvious and admitted as that whatsoever a man soweth, that and not something of a different kind he shall also reap? Is it not universally understood that the product of a field will be according to the nature of the seed sown in it? The contrary proposition involves an absurdity. Why, then, does Paul so solemnly introduce and so formally express this truth, or truism, as I may call it? Because, though this proposition is assented to as expressing a truth in agriculture, it is denied or disregarded as expressing a principle in morals.

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. How important how I spend this day! centuries answer to it.

2. The seed we sow consists not merely of overt acts, but comprehends whatever goes to constitute or to manifest character. We must beware of our words. We must take heed to our spirits. We must keep our hearts with all diligence. We must not only consider what we are doing, but from what motive, and with what aim we are doing it.

3. How much seed every man sows even in a short life, seed of some sort or other! How many acts, words, thoughts, and feelings enter into the record of every day, and each is a productive seed! Now let these be multiplied by the days of the life of man, and what an aggregate they make!

4. Nothing which is sown is so productive as human conduct; nothing so fertile in its consequences; so abundant in results.

5. The season of sowing precedes that of reaping. Yes, my friends, be not deceived. It does. You may wonder that I so gravely assert this. The reason is, that some deny it. They make sowing and reaping, probation and retribution, contemporaneous. They say we reap while we sow. Every farmer knows better; and every, sinner ought to know better.

6. As it regards the duration of the reaping, we have nothing to rely on but the declaration of Holy Writ.We may learn some things from this subject.

1. Some suppose that, if a man is only sincere, all will be well with him, however erroneous his views may be, and however wrong his conduct. But can sincerity arrest and alter the tendencies of conduct? If a man, verily thinking he is sowing wheat, sow tares, will he reap wheat?

2. We may learn the importance of beginning right; that the first seeds we sow should be good, because they are the first; they sink deepest. And the first may be the only seeds we shall sow. If you begin not early to sow to the Spirit, you may never sow to it.

(W. Nevins, D. D.)

As we look at retribution in the mingled light of revelation and reason, we can understand why it is that some sins are punished in this world, while other sins await punishment in a future world. If we were to classify the sins that reap their painful consequences here, and those that do not, we would find that the former are offences that pertain to the body, and the order of this world; and that the latter pertain more directly to the spiritual nature. The classification is not sharp; the parts shade into one another; but it is as accurate as is the distinction between the two departments of our nature. In his physical and social nature man was made under the laws of this world. If he breaks these laws, the penalty is inflicted here. It may continue hereafter, for the grave feature of penalty is that it does not tend to end, but continues to act, like force imparted to an object in a vacuum, until arrested by some outside power. But man is also under spiritual laws — reverence, humility, love, self-denial, purity, and all that are commonly known as moral duties. If he offends against these, he may incur but little of painful consequence. There may be much of evil consequence, but the phase of suffering lies farther on. The soil and atmosphere of this world are not adapted to bring it to full fruitage. We constantly see men going through life with little pain or misfortune, perhaps with less than the ordinary share of human suffering, yet we term them sinners. They do not love nor fear God; they have no true love for man; they reject the law of self-denial and the duty of ministration; they stand off from any direct relations to God; they do not pray; their motives are selfish; their temper is worldly; they are devoid of what are called graces, except as mere germs or chance outgrowths, and make no recognition of them as forming the substance of true character. These men seem to be sinning without punishment, and often infer that they do not deserve it. The reason is plain. They keep the laws that pertain to this world, and so do not come in the way of their penalties. They are temperate, and are blessed with health. They are shrewd and economical, and amass wealth. They are prudent, and avoid calamities. They are worldly wise, and thus secure worldly advantages. Courteous in manners, understanding well the intricacies of life, careful in device and action, they secure the good and avoid the evil of the world. If there were no other world, they would be the wisest men, because they best obey the laws of their condition. But man covers two worlds, and he must settle with each before his destiny is decided: he may pass the judgment seat of one acquitted, but stand convicted before the other. It is as truly a law of our nature that we shall worship, as that we shalt eat. If one starves his body, he reaps the fruit of emaciation and disease. But one may starve his soul and none remark it. This world is not the background upon which such processes appear, or they appear but dimly; but when the spiritual world is reached, this spiritual crime will show itself....It is not strange that the world of thinking men reject the doctrine of punishment of sin when it is taught as some far off, arbitrary, outside infliction by God in vindication of His government, the issue of some special sentence after special inquisition. This is unlike God, it has no analogy, no vindication in the Scriptures; it is artificial, coarse, unreasonable. But carry the subject over into the field of cause and effect, and we find it irradiated by the double light of reason and revelation. It takes on a necessary aspect. Penalty is seen to be a natural thing, like the growing of seed. It is not a matter that God, in His sovereignty, will take up after a time, but is a part of His ever-acting law.

(T. T. Munger.)

In the stirring history of English martyrology we read of an eminent victim that on one occasion he was taken from his dungeon to a chamber which was hung round with tapestry; that there he was being gradually drawn into a conversation regarding himself and his companions, when in a moment of quietness he heard the sound of a nib of a pen moving upon paper, as if some one were writing behind the arras; and that immediately thereupon he became silent, for well he knew that by a thoughtless word he might bring upon both himself and his brethren the severest suffering. The actions in which now we engage are seeds whose fruit shall be eternal, and when we know and believe that, shall we be less careful of them than he was of his speech? It is told of a famous painter that he was remarkable for the careful manner in which he went about his work, and when one asked him "why he took such pains?" his answer was, "Because I paint for eternity." Shall this be so in the case of one who is trying to secure a lasting earthly fame, and shall we not be considerate in all our ways, knowing that what we are doing now shall have an eternal effect upon our character and condition?

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

The pea contains the vine and the flower and the pod in embryo; and I am sure, when I plant it, that it will produce them, and nothing else. Now, every action of our lives is embryonic, and, according as it is right or wrong, it will surely bring forth the sweet flowers of icy, or the poison fruits of sorrow. Such is the constitution of this world; and the Bible assures us that the next world only carries it forward.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Pulpit Analyst.
I call my child to my knee in anger; I strike him a hasty blow that carries with it the peculiar sting of anger; I speak a loud reproof that bears with it the spirit of anger; and I look in vain for any relenting in his flashing eyes, flushed face, and compressed lips. I have made my child angry, and my uncontrolled passion has produced after its kind. I have sown anger, and I have reaped anger instantaneously. Perhaps I become still more angry, in consequence of the passion manifested by my child, and I speak and strike again. He is weak and I am strong; but, though he bow his head, crushed into silence, I may be sure that there is a sullen heart in the little bosom, and anger the more bitter because it is impotent. I put the child away from me, and think of what I have done. I am full of relentings. I long to ask his pardon, for I know I have offended and deeply injured one of Christ's little ones. I call him to me again, press his head to my breast, kiss him, and weep. No word is spoken, but the little bosom heaves, the little heart softens, the little eyes grow tenderly penitent, the little hands come up and clasp my neck, and my relentings and my sorrow have produced after their kind. The child is conquered, and so am I.

(Pulpit Analyst.)

There shall be degrees in retribution and reward. The ragged urchin in our city streets, who has not had the opportunities of a Christian household, will not have to gather such a harvest of suffering from his sowing to the flesh as will he who has sinned against light and privilege of the highest order. The heathen, who have not heard of Christ, will not have the same future as those who, having had the Saviour preached to them, have defiantly rejected Him. The condition of each will be proportioned to his guilt. He who creeps in at last to the kingdom through the fast closing gate, and by a deathbed repentance becomes regenerated, shall not have a place like that of the man whose entire life has been devoted to the Lord Jesus. He who made the one pound into ten received in the parable authority over ten cities. He who from the one gained as much as made it five, was set over five cities. All this goes to show that while it is wholly of grace that reward is granted to any believer, yet the reward itself is graduated for each according to the magnitude of the service.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

The harvest is always an increase on that which was sown. From the seed of the flesh the ripened result is corruption, which is flesh in its most revolting state. From the seed of the spirit the full ear is life everlasting, which is eternal holiness with its concomitent of endless happiness. And what can I say to make these ideas more clear and forcible that this simple presentation of them is? Corruption! The delirium tremens of the drunkard, and the living death of the sensualist whose sin has found him out here on earth, may help us to understand something of what that must mean in eternity, and for the rest I must ask Byron to help me out:

"It is as if the dead could feel

The icy worm around them steal,

And shudder, as the reptiles creep

To revel o'er their rotting sleep,

Without the power to scare away

The cold consumers of their clay."But enough of that! I turn rather to the other side, and bid you remember that the highest happiness of the Christian's experience on earth will be but like as the faint light of early dawn is to the meridian day, when it is compared with the blessedness of heaven. The harvest is always an increase. We plant a single grain, we pluck a full ear; we sow in handfuls, we reap in bosomfuls; we scatter bushels, but we gather in rich granary stores. The remorse of earth is but the germ of the despair of hell. The holiness of the present is only the bud from which will blossom that vision of God which is the full-flowered beatitude of heaven.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

It used to be said by the apostles of infidelity, under the name of secularism, that belief in a future state unfits men for the performance of the duties of this life by fixing their minds on that which is as yet in the distance. It were as rational to allege that the husbandman by looking forward to the harvest incapacitates himself for the work of the spring-time; or that the youth by setting his ambition on after success is thereby disqualified for the prosecution of his early education. Faith in the future life intensifies the importance of the present by focussing upon it the issues of eternity. It makes us all the more careful to do the work that lies at our hands, not in the fleshly manner of the unrenewed man, but after the spiritual method of the regenerated soul. Every thought we think, every word we speak, every action we perform, every opportunity of service neglected or improved, is a seed sown by us, the fruit of which shall multiply either into untold miseries or myriad blessings in the eternity into which we go.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Liability to imposture is perhaps inseparable from human frailty; the best of men have been numbered with its victims. Upon no subject is deception more common — upon none more fatal than that of our accountableness to God.

I. LIFE IS A SOWING TIME. This view of life exhibits it as —

1. A season of mercy. Seed-time is the gracious, the covenant boon of Heaven: forfeited by man's original transgression, it was restored in virtue of that dispensation of mercy disclosed in the first promise to the fallen; again held in abeyance, whilst the waters of the deluge covered a polluted world, the sacrifice of faith availed to the renewal of the benefaction in terms more distinct, and ratified by a sign, visible to all the nations and coeval with all the successive generations of man.

2. A season of anxious toil. It imposes upon the husbandman the necessity of diligent and laborious exertion; nothing must discourage him from his occupation. Such a season is human life. Idleness, either in respect to temporal or spiritual things, is utterly incompatible with the circumstances or the destiny of our race.

3. A season of limited duration. The seed-time occupies but a comparatively small portion of the year; it is soon over and gone. "And what is your life?" (James 4:14.) The comparison reminds us that life is —

4. A season of immense importance. The sowing season neglected would entail upon the husbandman, and all dependent upon his exertions, certain ruin. Life is the only time wherein the seeds of immortal bliss can be deposited, and the soul prepared for heaven.

II. ALL MEN ARE SOWERS. Men are active and voluntary agents. Their minds are active. Their passions are active. Their bodies are active. Their influence is active. Men are accountable creatures — necessarily so. Universally so. Consciously so.

III. THE SEED IS OF DIFFERENT KINDS. NOW all those actions must be denominated fleshly seed, which are the natural produce or fruit of the flesh (Romans 7:5). "The old man," our carnal nature, "is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts," and "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." The seed may be attractive in its colour; it may appear clean and free from admixture; but whilst it can boast no higher origin than the natural stock, it is to all intents and purposes fleshly seed. "Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again." Again; all those actions demand this appellation, which are intended to realize carnal satisfaction. Hence it will appear, that those actions only deserve to be classed as spiritual seed, that proceed from the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, and that are performed with a sincere desire to please and to glorify God. Some of these exercises of mind are delineated in Galatians 5:22; Colossians 3:12.

IV. EVERY MAN MUST REAP. He cannot employ a substitute, or devolve the consequencies of his actions upon others. He cannot evade or refuse the task. Self-annihilation is impossible, and the field will present itself in every part of the man. Self-oblivion will be impossible, and memory will yield a prolific harvest.

V. THE CROP WILL BEAR A CLOSE RELATION TO THE SEED SOWN. As to its nature or quality. "He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption," disappointment, shame, misery, eternal death (Job 4:8; Hosea 8:7; Matthew 7:18, 19; Revelation 21:8); "He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting," a life of perfect purity, celestial peace, exalted intelligence, immortal joy (Psalm 17:15; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 7:14, etc.). As to its extent. The subject impresses the necessity of regeneration. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God.

(J. Broad.)

I. THAT EVERY MAN, IN HIS EARTHLY CONDITION, IS TO BE REGARDED AS A SOWER.

II. THAT THE KIND OF SEED SOWN DEPENDS ON EVERY MAN'S CHOICE.

III. THAT THE SOWER SHALL AT LENGTH BECOME THE REAPER.

IV. THAT THE CHARACTER OF THE HARVEST WILL EXACTLY CORRESPOND WITH THE KIND OF SEED.

(J. Davies, M. A.)

Not so much the act of indulging in irregular passions, as the providing for their indulgence. The daughter who engages in a ceaseless round of gaieties, who hastens from one scene of amusement to another, whose attention is wholly directed to the frivolities of dissipation, and from whose course of life nothing can be more diverse than preparation for eternity; it is not so much she who can be said to "sow to the flesh," as her father, who provides all the means of enjoyment in which she indulges, although perhaps he has himself no taste for such delights, although perhaps with brow wrinkled by care he has no desires beyond his counting-house; he whose whole attention is absorbed in the pursuit of gain, and as utterly regardless of a preparation for eternity as his daughter — he it is who "sows to the flesh." Both are hastening to the same end, but by different ways; she "sows the whirlwind," while he "reaps the storm."

I. THE BREVITY OF ALL THE OBJECTS OF THIS WORLD'S AMBITION. Suppose a man who has been engaged in the pursuit of wealth to attain the summit of his ambition. He may, indeed, enjoy a brief hour of delight, but that hour will soon be past. The wealth he has acquired may not be taken from him; but he will, sooner or later, be taken from it. The splendid mansion he has reared may stand in castellated pride for many generations, and his domain may smile for ages in undiminished beauty; but in less, perhaps, than half a generation, death will shoot his unbidden way into the inner apartment, and without despoiling the lord of his possessions, will despoil the possessions of their lord! It is not his way to tear the parchments and rights of investiture from the hand of the proprietor, but he paralyzes and unlocks the hand, and they fall like useless and forgotten things away from him. Thus death smiles in ghastly contempt on all human aggrandisement; he meddles not with the things that are occupied, but lays hold of the occupier; he does not seize on the wealth, but lays his arrest on the owner! he forces away his body to the grave, where it crumbles into dust; and in turning the soul out of its warm and well-favoured tenement, he turns it adrift on the cheerless waste of a desolate and neglected eternity.

II. THE UNPROVIDED STATE, WITH RESPECT TO ETERNITY, IN WHICH ALL ARE LIVING WHO SOW TO THE FLESH. This world is between heaven and hell; but the existence of such a middle region, where the creature may enjoy himself amid the Creator's gifts, and care not for the Giver, cannot long be tolerated. According to the natural course of things, it will come to an end. He who chooses this world for his portion may have his "good things" here, but leaves his eternity a blank. His desires being earthly, his reward is perishable.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

Penalties are often so long delayed that men think they shall escape them; but some time or other they are certain to follow. When the whirlwind sweeps through the forest, at its first breath, or almost as if the fearful stillness that precedes had crushed it, the giant tree with all its boughs falls crashing to the ground. But it had been preparing to fall for twenty years. Twenty years before it received a gash. Twenty years before the water commenced to settle in at some crotch, and from thence decay began to reach in with its silent fingers towards the heart of the tree. Every year the work of death progressed, till at length it stood, all rottenness, only clasped about by the bark with a semblance of life, and the first gale felled it to the ground. Now there are men who for twenty years have shamed the day and wearied the night with their debaucheries, but who yet seem strong and vigorous, and exclaim. "You need not talk of penalties. Look at me! I have revelled in pleasure for twenty years, and I am as hale and hearty to-day as ever." But in reality they are full of weakness and decay. They have been preparing to fall for twenty years, and the first disease strikes them down in a moment. Ascending from the physical nature of man to the mind and character, we find the same laws prevail. People sometimes say, "Dishonesty is as good as honesty, for aught I see. There are such and such men who have pursued for years the most corrupt courses in their business, and yet they prosper, and are geting rich every day." Wait till you see their end. Every year how many such men are overtaken with sudden destruction, and swept for ever out of sight and remembrance? Many a man has gone on in sin, practising secret frauds and villainies, yet trusted and honoured, till at length, in some unsuspected hour, he is detected, and, denounced by the world, he fails item his high estate as if a cannon-ball had struck him — for there is no cannon that can strike more fatally than outraged public sentiment — and flies over the mountains, or across the sea, to escape the odium of his life. He believed that his evil course was building him up in fame and fortune; but financiering is the devil's forge, and his every act was a blow upon the anvil shaping the dagger that should one day strike home to his heart, and make him a suicide.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Links
Galatians 6:7 NIV
Galatians 6:7 NLT
Galatians 6:7 ESV
Galatians 6:7 NASB
Galatians 6:7 KJV

Galatians 6:7 Bible Apps
Galatians 6:7 Parallel
Galatians 6:7 Biblia Paralela
Galatians 6:7 Chinese Bible
Galatians 6:7 French Bible
Galatians 6:7 German Bible

Galatians 6:7 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Galatians 6:6
Top of Page
Top of Page