I. THE LARGENESS OF THE FIELD. "The harvest truly is great." It is not a few human families, or a few small populations; it is not one large nation; it is not even one great continent; it is the entire human race, which Jesus Christ proposed and which he still purposes to redeem - this great human race, with all its nationalities, with all its creeds and all its doubts and denials, with all its pride and all its degradation, with all its profound estrangement from Divine truth and the living God. The harvest is great indeed; the task is tremendous; the victory, if it be gained, will make all other victories sink into utter insignificance; they will be but the small dust in the balance, There is encouragement in the thought of -
II. THE CHARACTER OF THE SEED WHICH IS SOWN. That seed was in course of preparation as Jesus Christ was speaking and working and suffering. It was his whole life; it was, indeed, himself in all his relations with men, in all the aspects in which he could be regarded, whether as Teacher, or Friend, or Exemplar, or Divine Sufferer. This was the seed which should be sown, the fruits of which would be the great harvest of God. "I, if I be lifted up," etc. But, on the other hand, there has to be taken into account -
III. THE CHARACTER OF THE AGENTS at work in the broad field of the world.
1. Their infirmity. They are men; good men, but "the best of men are but men at the best;" all (they should be) renewed by the Spirit of God and fired with the love of Christ and of human souls; but all (they are) "compassed about with infirmity," all bound with limitations of understanding, of character, of wisdom.
2. Their paucity. "The laborers are few" - few in comparison with the agents of evil and the sources of error; few, regarded in their proportion to the multitude on whom they are to act. in this light they are lamentably insufficient. There are great breadths of the field scarcely worked and other vast districts positively untouched. What, then, is -
IV. THE HOPE OF THE FAITHFUL? When we survey the greatness of the harvest and the fewness of the laborers in the field, where does our hope lie? In the providing power of the great Lord of the harvest. He who moves the stars in their spheres can create human souls, can endow them with noble faculties, can inspire them with generous aims, can send them forth on glorious and triumphant missions. We cannot tell the possibilities which are hidden in one great human soul whose heart God has touched, whose hand God has strengthened. One such man may be instrumental in turning a whole tract of barrenness into fertility: what, then, may not a number of such souls accomplish? When the Lord of the harvest speaks the word, great will be the company of the preachers, the number of the laborers. Wherefore let us pray the Father of spirits to put forth his creative power and send mighty workers into his waiting fields. - C.
As lambs among wolves.I. THE NATURE OF PRUDENCE. In general, it is a discerning and employing the most proper means of obtaining those ends, which we propose to ourselves. It is an important branch of prudence to avoid faults. One false step sometimes ruins, or, however, greatly embarrasses and retards a good design. Prudence likewise supposeth the main-raining of innocence and integrity. We may not neglect our duty to avoid danger.
II. THE NECESSITY, GROUNDS, AND REASONS OF PRUDENCE. These are chiefly the wickedness and the weakness of men. Good men, therefore, are obliged to be upon their guard, and make use of some methods of defence and security. Nay, if there were no bad men, yet there would be need of prudent behaviour, because some who have not much reflection or experience are apt to put wrong constructions upon harmless actions. A great part of prudence lies in denying ourselves, so as to keep some way within the limits of virtue.
III. SOME RULES AND DIRECTIONS concerning a prudent conduct, with regard to our words and actions.
1. The first rule of prudence I lay down is this, that we should endeavour to know ourselves. He that knows not himself may undertake designs he is not fit for, and can never accomplish, in which he must, therefore, necessarily meet with disappointment.
2. Endeavour to know other men. It is a point of charity to hope the best of every man, and of prudence to fear the worst.
3. Watch, and embrace opportunities.
4. Advise with those who are able to give you good counsel.
5. Restrain and govern your affections.
(Arch. deacon Farrar.)
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