Isaiah 55:10
For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return without watering the earth, making it bud and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat,
A Free SalvationIsaiah 55:1-13
A Gracious InvitationJ. Parsons.Isaiah 55:1-13
Buy and EatJ. Trapp.Isaiah 55:1-13
Buyers Will Show that They PossessW. Cleaves, M. A.Isaiah 55:1-13
Buying of ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Buying Without MoneyIsaiah 55:1-13
Christ's Gracious TermsO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
ComeJ. Trapp.Isaiah 55:1-13
Come to the WatersJ. Trapp.Isaiah 55:1-13
Come! Come!T. De Flirt Talmage, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Driving a Trade with ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Food a Supreme NeedSunday School ChronicleIsaiah 55:1-13
God Eager for SinnersIsaiah 55:1-13
Gospel Blessings to be BoughtW. Cleaves, M. A.Isaiah 55:1-13
Gospel Invitation Without RestrictionJ. R. Macduff, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Invitation; Expostulation; EntreatyO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Man's Misery and God's CallG.A. Chadwick, D.D.Isaiah 55:1-13
No Coinage Can Buy Spiritual GoodA. Maclaran, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Soul ThirstHomilistIsaiah 55:1-13
Spiritual MerchandiseO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Spiritual ThirstO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Benefit of Trading with ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Best BargainMonthly Visitor.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Cries of the Water-CarriersF. Sessions.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Desire to Bring Something to ChristIsaiah 55:1-13
The Fulness of Christ Offered to the Needy SinnerO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Gospel First Addressed to Human NecessityJ. Parker, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Gracious InvitationT. D. Witherspoon, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Great ProclamationA. Mallard, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Jews in Exile Prosperous Yet ThirstingJ. H. Jowett, M. A.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Proclamation and Expostulation of MercyJ. S. Swan.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Spiritual Appetite and its GratificationLira of FaithIsaiah 55:1-13
The True ImperialismJ. H. Jowett, M. A.Isaiah 55:1-13
Too Valuable to be BoughtChristian Budget.Isaiah 55:1-13
True Satisfaction in ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Trying to Buy SalvationChristian Budget.Isaiah 55:1-13
Water for the ThirstyO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Water, Wine and MilkF. Delitzsch, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Willingness to Buy of ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Wine and MilkR. Jones, M. A.Isaiah 55:1-13
Without Money and Without PriceIsaiah 55:1-13
Without Money and Without PriceO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Without Money and Without PriceChristian Budget.Isaiah 55:1-13
Exhortations and AssuranceE. Johnson Isaiah 55:6-13
Change and Permanence in God's WordR. Tuck Isaiah 55:10, 11
Analogy of the Natural and the SpiritualJ. S. Shields, D. D.Isaiah 55:10-13
ChristianityHomilistIsaiah 55:10-13
Divine Grace and Human ResponsibilityA. Warrack, M. A.Isaiah 55:10-13
Rain Snow, Symbolic of the Word of GodG. Campbell Morgan, D. D.Isaiah 55:10-13
The Certain Success of Evangelistic LabourG. T. Shedd, D. D.Isaiah 55:10-13
The Efficacy of the Divine WordJ. Robertson.Isaiah 55:10-13
The Errand of the WordT. T. Lynch.Isaiah 55:10-13
The Fruitfulness of Sacred TruthW. Clarkson Isaiah 55:10-13
The Law of GrowthJ. S. Shields, D. D.Isaiah 55:10-13
The Laws of Grace as Effectual as the Laws of NatureW. Unsworth.Isaiah 55:10-13
The Rain And, the WordHomilistIsaiah 55:10-13
The Return of God's WordT. T. Lynch.Isaiah 55:10-13
The Word of GodIsaiah 55:10-13
The Word of God Likened to RainC. Adie, D. D.Isaiah 55:10-13
It may be said that the rain and the snow do, in fact, return to the heavens whence they came, drawn up by the sun as it shines on sea and lake, on stream and river, everywhere. But not until they have done the work for which they came, not until they have "accomplished that which God pleases," until they have prospered in the purpose for which he sent them; not until they have fertilized the soil, and made it bring forth its precious fruits. The vast amount of rainfall which the earth receives during every year renders incalculable service before it returns to the skies. So also does all the outpouring of Divine truth on the mind and heart of men. There may be times when the human spokesman may question this - when he may have grave misgivings as to its utility, when it may seem unprofitable and vain. But we have the strong assurance that God's Word "shall not return unto him void" - that the issue shall be one in which all surrounding nature may well take its part with jubilant acclaim (vers. 12, 13). The excellency of sacred truth will be seen if we regard -


1. The unproductiveness of the human mind when thus untaught; the sad fact that men who are capable of the loftiest conceptions, the most ennobleing convictions, the most elevating feelings and aspirations, live and die without cherishing any one of these, in blank and dreary ignorance.

2. The noxious growths which flourish: the errors, the superstitions, the dark and foul imaginations. which defile the mind in which they spring up, and those also on whom these are acting.


1. The outward transformations it works - great and happy reformations in the conduct, the career, the condition of individual men, of families, and of nations.

2. The inward blessedness it confers - peace, freedom, purity, love, joy, hope.

III. ITS OCCASIONAL, APPARENT FRUITLESSNESS. Even as the rain and the snow often fall on rock and sand and sea without seeming to produce any beneficent result, so does the truth of God, as preached, or taught, or printed, often seem to be unavailing; and there is discouragement, despondency, even despair, in the heart of the Christian worker. But we look at, -


1. There is much of actual efficacy which we can discover - of incidental result, bringing strength and sanctity to those whose benefit is not sought; of indirect result; of ultimate result, being "found after many days."

2. There is more which we take on trust. God has ways of using material things which long escaped our notice, and doubtless many ways which still elude our observation. Has he not ways of using our spiritual efforts, of turning them to account, so that one day we shall find that his own Word never returns to him void - that it always prospers in the thing whereto it is sent? "He that goeth forth weeping... shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." - C.

For as the rain cometh down.
The fitness of the symbolism is apparent even to the most casual observer.

1. Snow and rain are characterized by gentleness which merges into force. One drop of rain falls upon my hand, and I crush it, and it is not; but when the drop is multiplied, and the great storm sweeps along the valley, it is almost resistless in its onrush. One feathery flake of snow falls through the atmosphere; I touch it, and it passes and is lost, its crystal beauty gone for ever at the rudeness of my human hand; but let that flake be multiplied and the falling snow will take hold of the thundering locomotive, clog its wheels, cheek its progress, bury it beneath its soft and noiseless whiteness.

2. Rain and snow are characterized by helplessness which grows into beneficence. We ask: What can this drop of rain do for man? What can this flake of snow do for humanity? And yet we know that when we pass from the individual drop to the great rain, that in falling makes the earth laugh back in harvest, and crowns the labour of the hands of men. There is no more exquisite word in all Scripture about Nature than that simple and sublime passage, "He giveth His snow like wool." Like a warm mantle, it wraps the earth in winter-time, and keeps it, itself of the nature of cold, from the penetration of intenser cold. And so we find that rain and snow, helpless as they seem, are the very messengers of beneficence to men.

3. Rain and snow come to us characterized by unfruitfulness, yet generating fruitfulness, wherever they fall.

(G. Campbell Morgan, D. D.)

Let us take this symbolism of the prophet and consider it exactly as he has stated it —

I. AS TO THE SIMILARITIES SUGGESTED. Let me first tabulate the phrase that we are to consider in this verse: "Cometh from heaven, returneth not thither; watereth the earth, making it bring forth, and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater."

1. Man has nothing to do with the coming of the rain and the snow. In the midst of that wonderful questioning of Job by God occur these two inquiries: "Hast thou entered into the treasuries of the snow?" which, being translated, from poetry into prose, means, "Do you understand the snow. Do you know from whence it comes. Can you analyze the mystery of its crystallization and deposit? Then, "Hath the rain a father?" Are you able to generate it, to produce it? The Word of God is a message from God to man which no man was able to find out for himself. It is never a philosophy formulated by human wisdom; it is always a revelation made. The supreme quality of the Word of God is that however men may occupy their time in discussing thee methods by which we have come into possession of these documents, there is stamped upon every page of it the sign manual of Jehovah, great unveilings of His nature, great revelations of the deepest secrets of human life, great illumination of the problems that confront men by Divine revelation. It is the gift of God and not the contrivance of man.

2. But it "returneth not thither." The snow and the rain pour themselves out on the face of the earth, they melt and pass, and within a very few hours of the great rainfall which has sweetened everything in its coming the roads are dusty again, and we say, "How soon the rain has passed. ' So after the snow has once come under the influence of the sun it is gone. Judged by first appearances, it seems as though this gift of heaven had been poured upon earth to be spoiled, contaminated, wasted. So the Word of God. The Word of God has been given to men in figure and symbol, in prophecy and song, and at last in the Person of Jesus, and since He came, in exposition and explanation, for centuries; and, how perpetually it seems to us, as we watch the openings of the decades, and even of the centuries, as though this great outpouring of Divine revelation was lost, falling upon man but to be spoiled.

3. But it "watereth the earth." Take this dust as it lies upon the highway and over the furrowed field, and within the dust is the making of everything that is beautiful and fruitful. But the dust does not laugh in flowers; it is capable and incapable. Lying within it are all the forces of life. All the mysterious magnificence of your personality on the physical side lies within the dust at your feet, and all flowers that bloom lie there in potentiality. As the rain and snow water the earth, which is at once characterized by capacity and yet unable to fulfil the possibilities that lie sleeping within its own being, it makes all Nature laugh with new beauty. So also the Word of God comes to men in whose nature are the potentialities but not the realizations. The Word of God falls upon the centuries, upon society, upon individuals, and we thought it touched them but to be spoiled and soiled and pass, but we watched and we found that by its falling the soil became productive. There is in every human being the capacity for Deity. There arc in every human life the potentialities of the highest and the noblest and the best.

4. The prophet now adds a further truth concerning these elements in the statement, "making it bring forth." After the rain and the snow the dull russet ground becomes beautiful with emerald and opal and ruby and diamond, and you know that when God's rain and snow touch the dust it makes the dust bring forth. So with the Word of God. The Word of God makes the dormant forces in man move to fulfilment. All men that have ever realized the possibilities of their own life have done so in response to some part of the Word of God, to the Word spoken, to the Word written, to the Word lived.

5. Yet another word that I have taken separately, because I think it really is separate. It is a stronger word than the former — "maketh it bring forth, and bud." I feel inclined to use here the literal Hebrew word, "and sprout." That is to say, the rain and the snow not merely touch the dust into generation, but come again in the grass, the flowers, the fruitage. And the Word of God has come from Him to touch the failure of human life, and it has been returning to Him laughing with the harvest of ransomed souls. The Word was incarnate in the Christ supremely, and in a less and different degree, but nevertheless as truly, God's Word has been re-incarnate in human lives in all the passing centuries.

6. Yet that is not all. "That it may give seed to the sower." What is this harvest for? You say for the sustenance of human life. That is not the first thing. Bread to the eater is a secondary thing. Bread to the eater is provision for the toiler that he may continue his sowing and reap his harvests; but the first tiling is that, in the new form in which the rain and snow return to God, there is always found the potentiality of propagation waiting for new showers and new transmutations and new harvests. So with the Word of God. The Word of God taking hold of human life, changing it, becoming incarnate in it, communicates propagative power; it makes a centre from which the seed may be scattered still further afield, and from one life re-made and sanctified by the Word of God there must go forth the seed that will affect yet other fields, and stretch out into great lines of blessed harvest.

7. "And bread to the eater." The man that ploughed and sowed and reaped feeds. The Word of God is also the bread of life to the toiler.

II. AS TO THE GREAT PRINCIPLES REVEALED. The symbolism of this great prophetic Word teaches —

1. That the Word of God is purposeful. The Word of Cedis not given to be possessed; it is given that it may possess.

2. That the Word of God is powerful. It shall not return to Him void. And why not? Because it never comes void from Him. Every word of God thrills with fruitfulness. If we but know how to receive it and how to respond, then it shall return to Him not void, but fruitful, in lives changed, re-moulded, re-fashioned, sanctified.

3. That the Word of God is prosperous. The word "accomplish" means it does something, it makes something, it realizes something; and the Hebrew word "prosper" literally means it "pushes forward." It is a great dynamic force.

III. AS TO THE RESPONSIBILITIES ENTAILED. Rain and snow might fall upon the earth a long time and there be no harvest unless the earth is prepared. The rain and snow may fall in all their prodigal munificence and magnificence upon the earth, and there will be no harvest unless the seed is sown. And rain and snow may fall and make the earth laugh with harvest, if the earth be ready and the seed be sown, and yet men get no benefit unless the bread be eaten. Here, then, are three things at least that I would say: The earth must be prepared; "take heed how ye hear." The seed must be sown; "preach the Word." The bread must be eaten; "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly."

I. THE LAWS OF NATURE ARE EFFECTUAL. "For as the rain," etc.

1. Rain and snow are heaven sent agents.

2. They effectually answer their purpose.

3. Their beneficent results.

(1)Earthly beauty. "Maketh it bring forth and bud.'

(2)Husbandman supplied. "Giveth seed to the sower."

(3)The citizen fed. "Bread to the eater."

(4)Processes always repeated.


1. The Divine origin of Christianity. My Word. Out of My mouth.

2. Christianity will not be defeated. Shall not return unto Me void."

3. Christianity will ultimately accomplish God's will and pleasure. "Shall accomplish that which I please."

4. Christianity shall produce its Divinely intended results. "Shall prosper in the thing whereto! sent it."

5. As in nature, the process slow but certain.

(W. Unsworth.)

1. Repeatedly has one come across good people making out, to their own satisfaction and comfort, that the non-return of God's Word to Him void just means that, when it does not soften and save it hardens, convicts, and condemns a man. And they think that dire result is the accomplishment of God's pleasure — is prosperity in the thing whereto He has sent His Word. It is true, of course, that where God's Word does not save, it condemns. But this is not the truth of these two verses. There is to reference in them to God's sovereignty as bent upon getting something or other out f the work of His Word; or to alternative purposes of His in sending it; or to some unknown, mysterious will of His that is served by the apparent or actual failure of His revealed will; or, indeed, to any judicial, punitive purpose or after-thought of his that comes into operation when His first and gracious purpose proves abortive. he verses contain no warning to impenitent sinners, but an encouragement to doubting believers in front of promises, like those in this, chapter, which seem almost too good to be true. They do not set forth God's sovereign purpose in sending His Word as other than a sovereignly gracious purpose, and always gracious. They give a definite assurance, enforced and illustrated by "the rain and the snow in heaven," of God's kindness, of His power to make good His gracious Word, of faithfulness to His beneficent promises. The similitude of the fertilizing, fruit producing snow and rain, and the statement of vers. 12, 13, forbid other than a gracious purpose in God's sending His Word. When, therefore, it is asserted that His Word shall not return to Him void, all that is meant is that this gracious purpose shall be affected, by His Word, before it goes back to Him. It does not tail. There is no lack of life, virtue, or grace in it. As regards its saving purpose, it never does return to Him void.

2. But how? Now, here we come to the true causes of the failure of God's Word to produce its legitimate and Divinely intended results, where it happens to fail. Just as the rain and the snow may, in some cases and under some conditions, very exceptional and mostly incidental, become a curse and not a blessing, so may God's Word fail to save men and only harden and condemn them. Men may be condemned in spite of Christ's coming to save the world. Men may bring upon themselves the wrath to which God did not appoint them. If so, it is in every case because God's purpose was resisted or thwarted; or the conditions of its fulfilment dependent on men were not complied with. The failure is not owing to Gods pleasure that it should occur. It is an indirect consequence of His purpose, for which men alone are responsible. For, in the ease of the rain and snow, God's purpose is realized only as men comply with the fitting and necessary conditions of using these aright. The rain and snow from heaven must be met by suitable conditions on earth by man's contribution of active preparation, careful husbandry, and seasonable watchfulness and diligence. Rain will not make sea-sand fertile. Rain will not make seed grow even in rich soil where no seed is sown, or where the seed, if sown, may be choked by weeds. There will be no seed sown, or And so one can to the sower who sows none; no bread to the cater who eats none. see that where God's Word fails to effect His purpose of grace, it is simply and solely from causes for which man is responsible. It does not work mechanically, by lifeless necessity, regardless of man's freedom and man's contribution to its success. God's Word fails, wherever it does fail, just because men do not comply with the simple, ordinary, commonplace, but essential conditions of spiritual husbandry.

(A. Warrack, M. A.)

The thoughts of God have been shown to be high above men's thoughts. Now He indicates that His words, what ever may appear to the contrary, are efficacious with a like Divine efficacy.

1. It is to be received as an encouragement. It is not given as an explanation or justification for the want of results. It is meant to give new heart to the messenger who fancies his words are falling fruitless and all his efforts proving vain before the inert, immovable mass of sin and evil in the world. Most who have essayed to be messengers of God have been conscious of the sense of failure at times, and this thought would be fitted to buoy them up.

2. It declares the fact that God's Word is never altogether a failure. It may seem to our eyes to be producing no result. It works secretly but certainly. The law of its working is the law of working with all seeds, at first slow and secret and unseen. Who does not believe that, although unseen, the seed is still duly germinating? Even the words of Christ did not prove uniformly successful with His hearers, but in the end how like the seed, has been their great and ever-increasing influence!

3. It gives the correct idea of preaching. Preaching should be the uttering of a word of God. It rebukes the notion that preaching in the sense of speaking our words about God is useful or effectual. This is what the scribes and Pharisees did. This is what happens always in the age of cold dogmatism, when men do not forthtell what they have felt of God in their own souls, but substitute explanations, traditions, and views about the truth that make it powerless.

4. It tells us of the never-failing benefit of public worship. Men say that such and such preachers are not worth hearing. But this reminds us that in every service there is the Word of God declared. Even if prayers be slovenly, praises be harsh, and sermons be dull, and the occupant of pulpit unworthy, yet we have a sure word of prophecy to rest upon, " It shall not return to Me void."

(J. Robertson.)

I. THE UNIFORM ACTION OF LAW. "The rain returneth not thither," void, without having effected the purpose for which it came. How is it that farmers are willing to put forth the labour of a whole year in order that they may have a gathering in at harvest-time? How is it that during the winter, and the spring, and the summer, they labour so hopefully, and wait so patiently! Because they know that the principles on which God carries on the processes of the material world are uniform and constant. So we conclude it is in the domain of spirit. There is uniform action of law. Notice this fact —

1. In our own nature. Effects always follow causes in our life; actions always produce effects.

2. In relation to God. This is but one expression of the truth that He is faithful.

(1)His purposes will surely be fulfilled. His ways are not as our ways.

(2)His Word is powerful; it cannot be void.

(3)His promises are sure.

II. THE COMBINATION OF FORCES. The harvest which whitens the fields has not been produced by the action of one cause or process only. There have been mechanical action, physical action, chemical action, vital action. The germ of life in the seed has been stimulated by heat, quickened by rain, fed by minerals, tended by man. Many unlikely things, too, have contributed to the result. The long, cold winter caused the land to lie dead; but that was a necessary preparation for the activity of spring. Storms and tempests beat upon the ground, snows in winter covered it as with a pall; but these were necessary in their place and at their time. The changes in the atmosphere, the variations in the temperature, the rest and coolness of night after the heat and glare of day, all helped to swell the grain, to draw forth the blade, to fill the ear. The processes of nature are carried on by the combination of numberless causes, many of thence small and perhaps insignificant in themselves; and by the intermingling of various laws in almost infinite variety. So in our inner lives we find this fact, that many causes combine to produce results. Life is made up of an infinite combination of forces.

1. God has bestowed upon us many gifts. To one He has given quickness of perception; to another, clearness of reasoning powers; to another, strength of will; to another, power of invention; and so on. But these are not the only gifts He has bestowed upon each: and it is not by the use alone of one particular power that life is to be carried on. It is by the due combination of all. So in spiritual things, it is not by faith, alone, or by hope alone, or by love alone, or by endurance alone, or by reading God's Word alone, or attending the means of grace alone, that our souls are to grow, that our characters are to be moulded. And sometimes the things which go to the moulding of our characters seem to us strange: the snows of winter sorrows settle round our hearts; the storms of difficulty and trial beat down upon us. We do not see how these can be necessary. But God sees, and He combines all causes, that He may lead to the best result.

2. So also it is with temptation. Hardly any sin is presented to us, or presents itself to us, in its naked reality. It comes clothed often in garments, if not of seeming righteousness, at least of negative purity. No temptation comes isolated; but mixed motives move us. We are, as it were, not so much in danger of being overwhelmed in a river, as of being beaten upon by successive drops of rain.

3. The possibility of usefulness comes to us not in one great offer, but a constant succession of small opportunities.

III. EFFECTS ARE SLOWLY ATTAINED TO. Not all at once, not in a few moments, do the operations of nature effect their results. So it is in the working of life. There are no sudden effects.

1. Growth in grace should be our daily aim.

2. Growth in knowledge, too, is our privilege, not only of outward things, of the mysteries of creation, of the history of the past or the work of the present; but of God's Word.

3. Growth in strength may also be ours. The muscle that is used grows stronger by use. The spirit that exerts itself in the things of God, by God's blessing gains strength therein.

(J. S. Shields, D. D.)

I. THE ANALOGY OF NATURE TEACHES US THAT WHEN GOD CREATES A NEED IN HIS CREATURES, HE MAKES ARRANGEMENTS TO SUPPLY THAT NEED. "Bread to the eater." Our bodies are so constituted as to need food. He who has so made them, has also arranged that the food shall be supplied. What about the soul's needs? God has so created it that it needs a food which the "constitution and course of nature" cannot give. It looks beyond the natural, and craves for the supernatural. We long for knowledge of things spiritual; for guidance and comfort. in daily life; for a hope beyond the grave; for a sphere less trammelled by limitations and temptations. We feel, even the most careless, that sin is a burden which weakens and defiles and condemns. Has the great Architect and Designer made no provision for such wants as these? Yes. As it is in His workings in creation, so in the spiritual sphere: "So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth. God's Word he sent forth to give the knowledge of Himself. It tells of the living Bread which alone can satisfy the soul's need. It comes direct from God Himself. Written down by man, it is applied to the heart by God the Holy Spirit. Notice, therefore —

1. Its absolute truth. It is not a series of speculations, or philosophizings, or aspirations; guesses of good or wise men, which may or may not be perfectly accurate. It is the Word of truth.

2. Its binding authority. It is the Word of a King.

3. Its unchanging, faithfulness. It is ever reliable. Its promises, are always "yea and amen in. Christ Jesus." They are bank notes for which there is always a reserve of gold in the treasuries of heaven.

4. Its unutterable blessing. It tells of full comfort for the sorrowing; perfect rest for the weary; abiding peace for the distressed. Never grateful showers fell with greater refreshment on the parched and thirsty fields than the dew of God's Word on the weary and longing hearts of men. How important that we should receive that Word, obey its commands, rest on its promises, take heed to its warnings!

II. THE ANALOGY OF NATURE TEACHES US THAT WE MAY CO-OPERATE WITH GOD IN THE WORK OF ENLIGHTENING MANKIND. The harvest-fields supply not only bread to the eater, but "seed to the sower." The grain is not merely food — it is seed. Each contains the embryo of a plant. Placed in proper environment at the right time, that little life will cause movement amongst its surroundings, will weave a shoot, a blade, and an ear full of corn. Next year's harvest will not be gained by a direct creation of God, but by a due use of the grain of this. This in-gathering contains the promise and power of future crops; it not only will satisfy present needs, but it has an expansive, and extensive, and far-reaching possibility. So it is in the kingdom of grace.

1. The Christian's life should be extensive as well as intensive. He receives, not only that he may gain benefit, but that he may help others.

2. The effects of truth are germinant as well as satisfying.

3. The rule of work prevails in the spiritual as well as the natural harvest-fields. Because the grain is seed, the work of the husbandman becomes possible. If the life were not there, the labour of the year would be in vain. Because the grain is seed, the work of the husbandman is obligatory. It is God's rule that part of this harvest should be used for the next. It is God's command that man should co-operate in this great plan. It is also man's interest to do so. The produce of the ground is the fundamental and dominating source of wealth. So it is in spiritual things. Think of the possibilities of the Christian life. Think of the obligatory nature of Christian service. We may even speak of the analogy of our own interest.

(J. S. Shields, D. D.)

The Gospel is compared to rain and snow. —

I. IN ITS ORIGIN. From heaven. All truth is Divine.

II. IN ITS OPERATION. "Watereth the earth." The Gospel changes the human heart and promotes and nourishes all that is good.

III. IN ITS BENEFITS. "That it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater." The Gospel gives instruction, comfort, and strength to men, and brings forth a harvest of fruit for God.

IV. IN ITS FINAL RESULTS. "It shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."


These words suggest several ideas concerning Christianity.

I. VARIETY. It is compared to the rain and the snow.

1. How varied in form. The rain comes down softly and gently, and sometimes in torrents; and the snow, too, has a variety of form.

2. How varied in distribution! How much falls on oceans, how much on sands and desert wastes and rocks, as well as on fertile soils! It is so with Christianity. As the Word of God, its forms are varied, it comes in history, poetry, philosophy, precept, example, menaces, and promises. How varied in distribution! It falls on every class of mankind, the literate and the illiterate, the hardened, the tender, the rich, the poor, etc.

II. PRECIOUSNESS. How inestimably valuable the rain and snow to nature. How precious Christianity! It is the "water of life," etc.

III. DIVINITY. "The rain cometh down and the snow from heaven." It is manifestly from above. So is Christianity. "It is," says God, "My Word that goeth forth out of My mouth." The Divinity of Christianity is clear from its congruity with the facts of universal history, the soul's a priori notions of a God, the spiritual intuitions and longings of mankind, and the deep moral wants of the world. It is, indeed, the Word of God.

IV. INEVITABLENESS. It shall not return unto Me void." Not a drop of rain or a flake of snow is wasted. It may be swallowed up in the desert, but it is not lost. Every drop has a mission, and its mission will be fulfilled.

1. God in giving Christianity to the world had a purpose.

2. That purpose will be inevitably accomplished. If God has made a promise to the world and that purpose is not accomplished, it must be for one of three reasons: either —

(1)He was insincere when He made it; or

(2)He subsequently changed His mind; or

(3)difficulties arose in the future, that baffled Him, which He never anticipated. All these are inadmissible, so that His Word shall not return unto Him void.


Upon what errand has God sent forth His Word? "Ten thousand thousand are its tongues," and yet its work is one. It publishes "salvation" with all its tongues. For if it speak to the mourner, it would save him from the wasting effects of his grief; and if it speak to the wanderer, it would save him from the further loss of his time, and the final loss of himself, in the wrong paths on which he has entered: and if it speak to the busy, it would save them from spending labour on that which satisfieth not. This is the lesson He would have sink into the heart of dull unbelieving man as the rain does into the earth, that the heavenly errands of Nature are not more sure of success than the heavenly errands of Grace; that the God of husbandry is even more the God of the husbandman; that, if water nourishes the earth, much more truth nourishes the soul: that if God's bidding is done by the winds that carry about the clouds to water the world, so also is it done — as surely, and in a higher way — by the Spirit that brings and dispenses to us the words of holy instruction and comfort.

(T. T. Lynch.)

I. THE CERTAINTY. The great purpose of God cannot fail.

II. THE MANNER. But, then, we read of messengers who went to the husbandmen that kept God's vineyard, and returned to Him empty-handed. "Why have ye not brought the fruit of the vineyard?" "There was no fruit, Lord, to bring. They have wasted the hours of labour, or consumed Thy fruit in their own revels." This is quite according to God's will — that men should be free to taste and try what manner of god folly is, what manner of reward sin can offer. God's messengers go once, twice, seven times. And, if needed, the Word goes forth to banish the husbandmen from the vineyard. The Word returns to God in many ways. It yields, by its operation, proofs that His charge against men is true; it yields fruits of patience in the souls of those who carry for God the rejected message; it produces, by the results of its rejection, the acknowledgment that it ought to have been accepted, and the disposition to accept it if it be again offered. If His word of mercy, on which men might rely, is not received by them, then His word of punishment, for which the rejected word has opened the way, goes forth into act; and this, by its action, may in turn prepare the way for another word of mercy, which is ready to go forth on its errand. So God's Word is always fruitful, however unfruitful we may be.

III. THE MEASURE. In one sense all God's words are effective; that is to say, none shall be without its use, none without service rendered in illustration of His power and character. But some possible effects may not result, others coming in their stead; the conversion of a sinner,, for instance, may not now result, but, in its place, there may be a display of God's forbearance toward him. And so a hundredfold may not now be the measure of success, but only sixtyfold or thirty. In measure, as in manner, God's always powerful Word returns to Him variously.

IV. THE TIME. Our time is short, and God's time long. Therefore many of the returns His Word shall make Him, returns in the abundance and glory of which we too are interested, are of necessity, and most wisely, delayed.

(T. T. Lynch.)


II. FROM ITS ADAPTATION TO THE END WHICH IT IS INTENDED TO SERVE. The rain that descends from above softens and subdues the stubborn clod; it furnishes food for the whole vegetable kingdom, and thus also for the animal kingdom; it mollifies and warms the atmosphere — and as it is the means of dissipating those clouds of cold that intercept the genial rays of the sun, it is no less necessary for the progress and perfection of vegetation than the sun in all his glory. One of the finest objects in nature is the appearance which the earth presents after having been saturated with rain, when warmed and invigorated by the rays of the sun; and accordingly the Messiah is thus represented, "He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun ariseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by the clear shining after the rain." The Word of God is no less fitted for all those purposes of enlightening, convincing, converting, and comforting for which it is sent.

III. WITH REGARD TO THE MANNER OF ITS OPERATION. The falling of the rain from the clouds in small drops is a remarkable instance of the wisdom of Him who is perfect in knowledge. When, at any time, as in the case of storms, it descends in torrents, this truth appears to us more obvious, as then, instead of refreshing the vegetable tribes, it carries desolation in its train. Such, in general, is the manner in which the Word operates upon the heart of man. The Spirit of God worketh where, and when, and how He pleaseth, by the Word generally, yet not always — sometimes by alarming dispensations of providence, and sometimes by the voice of conscience speaking within us. The Word of God is the great means which He employs for the salvation of sinners; the rain is the great means which He employs for the fructifying the earth: in the ordinary course of providence, the one acts in a gradual imperceptible manner; in the ordinary course of His grace, this is the way in which the other operates.

IV. THE WORD IS LIKENED TO RAIN IS THIS RESPECT — "It watereth the earth, and maketh it to bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. The great benefits that flow to the people of God from the Word, are set forth under the figures of bread to the cater, and seed to the sower; or, in other words, present support and future provision.




(C. Adie, D. D.)

We argue the certainty of success in evangelistic labour.

I. FROM THE NATURE OF DIVINE TRUTH. There is something in the quality and characteristics of the doctrine which we are commanded to preach to every creature, that promises and prophesies a triumph. The Word of God is both living and quickening. This is implied in the figure which the prophet Isaiah employs in the text. This is the declaration of God Himself, who understands the intrinsic nature of His own revelation; and by it teaches us that there is no greater adaptedness in moisture to fructify the ground, and germinate a corn of wheat, than there is in Biblical doctrine to renew and convert a human soul. For the truth which the evangelist scatters upon the printed page, or teaches from his own lips, is superhuman. In this fact, there is great encouragement to diligence and perseverance, upon the part of every disciple of Christ, to proclaim Divine truth in every form and manner possible. Revealed truth is immortal. It can never perish. Not only is Divine truth immortal in its nature, but it can never be expelled from the mind. Teach a child or a man, for example, the true Biblical doctrine of sin; fix it in his mind that God abhors wickedness, and will punish it everlastingly, and you have imparted something to him which he can never get rid of. And on the other side of revelation, all this is equally true. The peace-speaking promises of mercy, the doctrine of the Divine pity, of the forgiveness of sins and the preparation for eternal life — all this portion of Divine truth when once imparted is never again expelled. Even if, owing to the inveteracy of vice, or the torpidity of the conscience, or the obstinacy of the proud heart, the soul goes into the presence of God unforgiven, still the truths of the Gospel will be a portion of the soul's knowledge through all eternity; the evidence of what it might have secured, and the index of what it has lost.

II. FROM THE FACT THAT GOD FEELS A SPECIAL INTEREST IN HIS OWN WORD. The Scriptures warrant us in asserting that God is more profoundly concerned for the success of that body of truth which He has revealed to mankind in the Scriptures, than for the spread and influence of all other ideas and truths whatsoever. This is the only species of truth which He personally watches over, and accompanies with a Divine influence. The "wisdom of this world" is "foolishness" with Him. "My Word," says God, "shall not return unto Me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Here is personal interest, and personal supervision. You may proclaim all your days your own ideas, or those of your fellow-men, but you will say with Grotius, at the close of a long and industrious career which had by no means been exclusively devoted to humanistic learning, "I have spent my life in laboriously doing nothing."

III. FROM THE ACTUAL INSTANCES OF SUCCESS FURNISHED BY THE ANNALS OF SUCH LABOUR. Christianity must be from God, argued and , "because it makes the voluptuous man chaste, the avaricious man liberal, the man of cursing a man of prayer, the implacable enemy a forgiving friend, converts wrath into gentleness, debauchery into temperance, and vice of manifold form into manifold virtue." The fruits evince the reality, and the quality of the tree. We find what we may call the realism of Christianity in the evangelizing operations of the Church. The power of Biblical truth even when not proclaimed by the voice of the evangelist is continually receiving demonstration from this same source. The records of Bible and Tract Societies are full of instances in which the bare text of Scripture led to the conversion of a human soul. There is no surer evidence that the truths of the Gospel are destined to prevail, than the fact that they do prevail. From the subject as thus discussed, we infer the duty of great courage, and confidence, in the work of evangelizing men.

(G. T. Shedd, D. D.)

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