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The Home Preacher
Or Church in the House - Week 37

By Dr. Caird


O LORD, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth, send Thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, which is humble, meek, kind, long-suffering and patient, the very bond of peace and of all virtues; grant this for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

HYMN, or Psalm li. 7-13.

LORD, when we bend before thy throne,
And our confessions pour,
Teach us to feel the sins we own,
And hate what we depore,
Our contrite spirits pitying see;
True penitence impart;
Then let a healing ray from thee
Beam hope on every heart.

When we disclose our wants in prayer,
May we our will resign;
Let not a thought our bosoms share
Which is not wholly thine.
Let faith each meek petition fill,
And waft it to the skies;
And teach our hearts ’tis goodness still
That grants it or denies.

I. SAMUEL II. 1-10.

AND Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord; mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. 2. There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none besides thee; neither is there any rock like our God. 3. Talk no more so exceedingly proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighted. 4. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. 5. They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. 6. The Lord killeth, and maketh alive, he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 8. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s and he hath set the world upon them, &c.



ALMIGHTY God, give us grace whereby we may serve Thee acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. Who is a strong Lord like unto Thee? The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at Thy reproof. Thou removest the mountains and they know not, and overturnest them in Thine anger. Thou commandest the sun and it shineth not, and sealest up the stars. In Thy hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. Wherewith shall we come before Thee, O Lord, in whose sight the heavens are not clean, and who art of purer eyes than to behold evil? We humbly and reverently bow before Thy sovereign majesty; abashed and confounded we tremble at the thought of Thine infinite purity. Will God in very deed dwell with men upon the earth? We have turned our backs upon Thee, and justly mightst Thou turn Thy face from us. Our trust is in Thy mercy, and on that sure word of promise on which Thou hast caused us to hope. Blessed be Thy name, we follow not cunningly devised fables. Assured that Thy faithfulness Thou shalt establish in the very heavens, and that one good word shall not fail of all that Thou hast spoken, we lift up our cry unto Thee in the name of Thy Son, and entreat Thee, for His sake, to be merciful unto us sinners. We beseech Thee, O God, to have compassion upon us, and save us.

Our souls cleave to the dust. When we would do good, evil is present with us. Even did we ever act, up to the measure of our power, in conformity with Thy will, we must still say that we are unprofitable servants; we have done only that which it was our duty to do. But how often have we failed to do what we could! How often, in the hour of temptation, have we courted the assaults of our adversary the devil, and given him the advantage over us, by neglecting prayer to Thee for grace to help in time of need. How often have we fallen before temptations springing out of the unhallowed lusts and passions that reign in our members; and yielded ourselves an easy prey to the foes of our own house! Thy grace alone has kept us back from utter and irretrievable ruin; and not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name be the glory. Conscious of our infirmity, our waywardness, our sympathy with evil and the powers of evil, we come to Thee, O God, for strength, for guidance, and for such a measure of the influences of Thy Spirit as will enable us to fight the good fight of faith, and to stand in the evil day.

We bless Thee for the sabbath, and for the tender and loving regard to our comfort and well-being which Thou hast shown in appointing it. Enable us this day to enter into the spirit of its holy exercise, and to value duly its exalted privileges. Turn away our eyes from beholding vanity, O God; and let neither the cares nor the pleasures of the world, nor any unhallowed thoughts of whatever kind, mingle or interfere with the homage which we offer unto Thee, or shed their deadening and polluting influences upon our minds. May our spiritual sight, purged and strengthened by that faith which purifies the heart, pierce through all those darkening and deceptive mists which sin and unbelief so abundantly create, and enter into that within the vail, whither the Forerunner hath for us entered, even Jesus, who is made an high priest for ever.

And Thee, O Divine Spirit, who givest life to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, we entreat to descend this day upon the churches, and form a people for Thyself to show forth Thy praise. O that Thou wouldst rend the heavens, that Thou wouldst come down, that the mountains might bow down at Thy presence, to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence! O Captain of our salvation, gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, and in Thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness; let Thine arrows be sharp in the hearts of the King’s enemies, whereby the people shall fall under Thee; and at the close of this day may multitudes, who, in their stoutness of heart, had hitherto maintained an attitude of hostility to Thee and to Thy cause, be found submitting to Thy righteous and benign sway. These our prayers, O Lord, we beseech Thee to grant, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.



FATHER of mercies, who causes the sun to shine and the rain to descend, so providing meat for all thy creatures in due season; evermore give us the bread of God which cometh down from heaven, that so we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, even Christ. Amen.

HYMN, or Psalm lxv. 9-13.

LORD of the harvest, once again
We thank Thee for the ripened grain;
For crops safe carried, sent to cheer
Thy servants through another year;
For all sweet holy thoughts supplied
By seed-time, and by harvest-tide.

Daily, O LORD, our prayers be said,
As Thou hast taught, for daily bread:
But not alone bodies feed,
Supply our fainting spirits’ need:
O Bread of Life, from day to day,
Be Thou their comfort, food, and stay!


PRAISE waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed. 2. O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come. 3. Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away. 4. Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple. 5. By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea: 6. Which by his strength setteth fast the mountains; being girded with power: 7. Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people. 8. They also that dwell in the uttermost parts are afraid at thy tokens: thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice. 9. Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. 10. Thou waterst the ridges thereof abundantly; thou settlest the furrows thereof; thou makest it soft with showers; thou blessest the springing thereof: 11. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness. 12. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness; and the little hills rejoice on every side. 13. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.




THE image here employed by the prophet is one which we must all recognize as a most graphic one. There are probably few who would not sympathize with the cheerful emotions congenial to such a season as harvest, when Nature, arrayed in all her loveliness, has again begun to pour the rich tribute of her bounty into the lap of man. As we pass through some fair and fertile district of our land, where every breeze is laden with fragrance, every field teems with fertility, every tree is covered with foliage or hangs heavy with fruit; or as we climb the hill that skirts some noble landscape where for miles on miles the broad acres are waving, a mimic sea of gold, beneath you, and survey the busy toils of the reapers and listen to the merry shouts that rise, blended with the voices of birds and streams, now faintly echoing from the far hamlet, now more distinctly heard from the nearer homestead; and as, moreover, the happy associations connected with such a scene as this come before our mind -- visions of plenty and peace and comfort, of garners overflowing with goodly store, of homes and hearts made glad by nature’s bounty -- we cannot resist the universal sentiment of cheerfulness and gratitude, and as it steals over our mind, we feel ourselves rejoicing before the great Bestower of all blessings, “rejoicing with the joy in harvest.”

In further illustration of the analogy which these words suggest, let us consider in what respect the joy or happiness of the individual believer as well as of the Church at large may be conceived to resemble the harvest-joy.

I. One aspect of the harvest-joy which suggests a corresponding emotion in the spiritual experience of the believer, is that of a joy which succeeds to a period of suspense and uncertainty.

It is very obvious that the pleasure experienced from any happy or auspicious event, will be more or less vivid in proportion to the degree of doubt and anxiety that preceded it. Regularity and certainty in our enjoyments in some measure diminish their intensity; rarity and suspense greatly heighten them. The longer we labour for any good thing, and the more numerous the conditions which render the result a dubious one, the greater will be our delight when all goes right at last, and the matter is brought to a successful issue.

Of this simple principle the text affords us two examples: “They joy,” says the prophet, “before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” In the latter of these we are led to contemplate the consummation of some warlike enterprise, the close of the brilliant campaign, the victorious warriors in the first flush of success, when after all the excitement, anxiety, and hazard of some mighty conflict on which vast consequences were staked, the thrilling shout of victory has been heard, and the victors are just beginning to repose amid the glory and the rapture and the rich rewards of conquest. The other example is one with which we are more immediately concerned. It is that of the husbandman, who, in the language of St. James, has “had long patience, waiting for the precious fruit of the earth until he might receive the early and latter rain. Exercising all his skill and experience in the selection of the crop and the preparation of the soil, he has ploughed and sown and gone through all the process of his husbandry, and then with anxious eye he has watched the course of the seasons and the progress of his work. Through the slowly rolling months, the fluctuations and uncertainties of weather and the remembrance of many past disappointments have kept him in much doubt and uncertainty as to the result. But as the season crept on, the genial influences of Nature have come forth in unwonted benignity over the ripening fields; and at length, as he watches the busy reapers engaged in their rapid and peaceful conquests, his heart gladdens with the satisfaction of successful industry, and he “rejoices with the joy of harvest.”

Now to this sort of joy -- joy after long labour and suspense -- many parallels may be found in spiritual things. The successful termination of any inquiry or enterprise for our own good, or for the moral and spiritual welfare of others, would give rise to it. For instance, is it not emphatically realized in the feelings of the Christian parent when he contemplates the happy results of his watchful care over the early years of his children? No province of labour upon earth can call forth more anxious and incessant care, more thoughtful wisdom and sagacity, more forbearance, prudence, patience, than that of parental discipline and instruction. In none, I believe, will carelessness or neglect be more frequently avenged, even in this life, on those who are unfaithful to their trust; and in none, on the other hand, is the reward of fidelity more precious, or, in general, more sure. What soil can be compared with the soil of mind in fertility, in richness, in tractability, in the scope it presents for the most varied and skilful cultivation? Neglect it, and its very richness will be manifested in the rank vigour and abundance of the crop of weeds that will speedily overspread its surface. Tend it, study its capacities, give yourself in good earnest to the sowing of the seed of knowledge, truth, piety, to the fostering and tending of their growth, to the eradication of the weeds of sloth and ignorance and selfishness; and though it may cost you many a weary hour, many a day and year of untold anxieties, yet a thousand instances prove how sweet, how unspeakably precious may be our reward even in this world. One can imagine -- would that it were oftener something more than imagination and theory! -- the case of a wise, tender, watchful Christian parent, as he prosecutes this high and laborious work of education. Dedicating his little ones in holy baptism to the Saviour, one can conceive him seizing the earliest moments of opening consciousness to sow the first seeds of Christian knowledge and holy thought and principle, eagerly watching the first indications of character, the first up-growth of disposition, temper, talent, above the yet virgin soil of mind -- cheered, it may be, by the hopeful signs of gentleness, goodness, native vigour, or pained, humiliated, and discouraged by the already too obvious germs of a stubborn, or selfish, or dull and intractable character. As years roll on, we can well suppose, even in the most fair and hopeful cases -- nay, in these more than others, -- how much trembling hope and anxiety, and alternate elation and sinking of spirit, a pious and thoughtful parent must experience. When sickness visits the home, for instance, and the prattle of childhood is hushed, and the bright eye grows heavy and dull, and the fair young plant, bright with opening promise, droops and seems ready to wither away, the very beauty, and delicacy, and rare attractiveness of its unformed being will make the thought of losing it more sad, and call forth a more thrilling suspense and anxiety in the parent’s mind. Or when temptations beset its path, and the auspicious progress of character threatens to be arrested, or the fond hopes and flattering promises of past years are rudely checked and disappointed by some grievous fault or failure, who can tell what pognant grief, what inexpressible heartfelt bitterness, such lapses in his child’s history occasion in a good man’s mind? But let us suppose, on the other hand, amidst all such occasional misgivings and anxieties, that as time slips on and the characters of their offspring become developed, the father or mother can perceive the more and manifest proofs that their long labours have not been lost; let us conceive them, as they look round on one and another and another member of that family circle, discerning in the innocent gentleness that beams in the countenance of one, and the manly integrity and truthfulness of another, and the gravity and thoughtfulness and intelligence of a third, and in the mutual love and amiableness and Christian sincerity of all, the fruit of many prayers and efforts in years bygone; or yet again, as the little group becomes thinned of its numbers and one and another goes forth to the struggle of life, let us realize the fond delight of the parent in hearing of their advancement and honour, or, what is better still, in watching their holy and Christian lives; and finally, as the evening of life gathers on, let us imagine them cheered amid the infirmities of age by the reverence, the fond regard, the tender love and care of those over whose infant years they had watched, and looking forward to a blessed re-union with them in the loftier and purer intimacies of heaven -- oh! who can doubt that such parents would feel in all this a rich recompense for their former toils and fears, that in the fulness of their present satisfaction all their bygone anxieties would be forgotten, or remembered only to render that satisfaction the sweeter, and that in the fulfilment of their hopes and the frustration of their fears, there would be indeed to them a realization of that text -- “They joy before thee according to the joy in harvest.”

II. The joy of harvest may be regarded as typical of the Christian’s joy in this respect, that it is a joy that is connected with active exertion.

The mirth of the harvest-field is not a mere listless amusement. The shout that rings, or the song that rises cheerily from the reaper’s lips, is the shout that inspires to effort, and the song that beguiles toil of its weariness and fatigue. When it catches your ear as you pass by the wayside, or is born along and re-echoed from distant plain and valley and upland, it does not pain you like the vacant laugh of indolence, or the wild ribaldry that breaks forth from the tavern. It tells not of folly and reckless enjoyment, of wasted hours and wanton carousing, but of busy and honest exertion. It speaks not, like the sluggard’s or the drunkard’s merriment, of squandered substance, and squalid homes, and beggared broken-hearted families; it is the symbol rather of plenty, and peace, and comfort, of smiling face and well-clad forms, of garners overflowing with corn, and homes where the sunshine of prosperity smiles. It conveys to us, besides, the tidings not merely of labour that is profitable, but of labour that is pleasant, of toil that is pursued neither in grim silence, like the work of the overtasked mechanic, nor amid groans and curses, like the work of the slave or the felong, but with the merry and light-hearted song and jest that tell how the labourer likes his work.

And when it is averred that the joy of a Christian resembles the harvest-joy, may not the comparison remind us of that great law of man’s nature which connects his true happiness and dignity with work? Man was not made for idleness. The world is but a great harvest-field, in which, each in his own place, we are called forth to take our part, and do our share of labour. Neither by the structure of our nature, nor by the constitution of society, is there any room for the idler, or any possibility of true enjoyment and happiness without work. If we want to be truly happy, to attain in any measure to the real use and enjoyment of life, work of some kind we must have. There ought to be no play without work. No man is entitled to enjoyment who does not purchase it by labour. The sweetest holiday is that which we have earned by strenuous application. God has so made us that we must find our pleasure either in working, or as the reward of working. It is quite true that we may set a man to work for which he is not adapted, and which, therefore, will not be pleasant, but irksome and disagreeable; or we may so overburden him, even with work of the right kind, as to exhaust and break down his strength of body and vigour of mind. If God has endowed a man with high mental gifts, and you set him -- weak, it may be, in physical strength, and utterly deficient in manual dexterity -- to a trade or handicraft, where little or nothing of his intellectual power is called forth; or if, on the other hand, God has bestowed upon a man a sturdy frame and strong hand, and instead of setting him to the plough, or the saw, or the trowel, you must needs make a student and scholar of him -- no wonder such men are unhappy, no wonder they drag on, ill at ease, out of place and proportion, as would be a cart horse on the race-course, or a high-mettled steed harnessed to the hay-waggon. But in no such case is the unhappiness any disproof of the law in question, that man’s true joy is in labour. The only conclusion to be drawn from it is that every man must be put into his own peculiar sphere of labour -- set to do his own work. Or again, if we put a man even into the sort of place for which his talents are adapted, and yet goad and drive him on to incessant application, make his life all work and no play, till the jaded faculties, whether of mind or body, lose their elasticity, till the wheels of energy and buoyancy roll off, and the framework of life, like Pharaoh's chariots, drives heavily, no wonder such a man feels work to be no pleasure, and sighs for emancipation from its bondage and misery. Overwork we admit is bad, but that does not prove that no work is good. In this, as in many other cases, happiness is to be found in the medium between extremes. God has created us with a nature made for work, and whatever be our peculiar sphere of duty, our own happiness and that of society at large will be found in doing our work to the best of our ability. Do not say that this is not a topic for the Christian teacher, that religion has nothing to do with this. Religion has to do with everything that affects man’s duty and happiness. It goes with us, or should go, to the shop, the plough, the anvil, and takes cognizance of what passes there; and the idle servant, the dawdling, trifling workman, the man who wastes his time and hangs listlessly over his work, sins against religion just as certainly as the man who neglects prayer or seldom opens his Bible. Constituted as human nature and human society are, there is something holy, something divine in work. “My Father worketh hitherto,” said Jesus, “and I work.” Angels are happy beings, for they are working beings. They continually “do God’s commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word.” Civilization, progress, goodness, have spring from work. The world has reached its present height of intellectual and social greatness because it is a busy and working world. And as with society at large, so with individuals. Nobody in the world is so contemptible, next to the proligate man, as the mere idler; and between profligacy and idleness there is a close connection. A man who has nothing to do but enjoy himself, will never know what real enjoyment is. The hardest of all work is doing nothing. The mere man of pleasure, the hanger-on upon life who sets before him no duty, no distinct object and aim, no definite work, in short, is of all others the man who is least likely to extract true enjoyment out of life. If men are born without the necessity of toil, exempted from labour for daily bread, the true course for them -- that which wisdom, prudence, even selfishness, as well as Christian principle, points out -- is to devise some path of active duty, to consider what work they can do in God’s world, and strenuously to set themselves to do it. For not only will we look back on our working hours with greatest comfort, not only is it true that those parts of our lives which we remember with most pleasure are always the busiest parts of it, not only will relaxation and amusement be far sweeter and more intense after hard work, than if we spent our whole life in the pursuit of pleasure and amusement; but when the first difficulties of labour are over, and habit has smoothed away the roughness of oil, no man but will find that there is happiness in the very putting forth of his energies in some congenial sphere. Whether it be in the toil of the hand, or the trouble of the brain, the true joy of life is in working, with a sense of God and of duty upon us, as well and as hard as we can. No one who has tried it but must feel that in thorough and earnest occupation there is a buoyancy of spirit, a lightness of mind, an ease of troubles, an elasticity and animation diffused throughout a man’s whole being, which the listless and idle can never know. The world is but a great field of duty, in which they who labour the hardest may not only reap the richest results, but in their very labouring rejoice the most.

But upon this point remark still further, that the comparison of the Christian’s to the harvest joy may teach us that the Christian is one who does God’s will because he loves it; or in other words, that the true motive to Christian obedience is not fear of punishment, or desire of reward, but love. If we are true Christians, the reason why we do our duty is not because we would escape hell or gain heaven, but because we love to do it. A man may begin an outwardly religious life from inferior motives, and may indeed feel for many a day that to do one’s duty, to avoid sin and obey God’s will, is a hard and difficult task. Nor would we discourage any from attempting a life of duty because they feel no love to it. On the contrary, we would warmly encourage those who have been roused, from whatever cause, to serious thought, instantly to renounce their sinful and selfish ways, and to begin at once, however hard and irksome it may be, to try to please Christ, in the assurance that sooner or later duty will grow, first easy, then pleasant, then delightful, and at last that the service of Christ will become perfect freedom. When a man is learning a trade or profession, or beginning a new branch of study, the first attempts are almost always hard, blundering, uneasy efforts. The endeavour to construct or utter a sentence in a new tongue is invariably sad and rugged work. We cannot catch the right accent, the grammatical rules are laboriously followed, and a thousand niceties escape us. But we must not be discouraged; only persevere, and the difficulties will gradually vanish, the efforts will become less and less formal and elaborate, till at last, by dint of regular and constant practice, we will learn to talk and write with fluency, elegance, and ease. Or to take another case: when an artist first takes the pencil in hand, what sad work often does he make of it! Even in his earliest efforts, indeed, there may be detected amid all the rude scratches some signs of incipient taste or genius. But the power of expression for long will be operose and feeble. Yet on he works; and with work and perseverance, the facility grows. The eye and hand become quicker, more delicate, more powerful, till by degrees the labour vanishes, the difficulties are forgotten, and at last there will come such a pleasure and fascination in the work, that it becomes the most delightful pursuit of life.

It is the same with the grandest of all pursuits, the service of God in Christ Jesus. Hard and stern and laborious at the first, yet to him who perseveres, in the strength of grace and in the consciousness of duty, it will infallibly grow light-some and easy in the end. Self-denial, temperance, purity, truthfulness, strict integrity in thought and word and deed, the giving up of our own ease and pleasure for the good of others and to please God; prayer, self-examination, the reading of God’s word, realization of God’s presence in the active duties and intercourses of life -- these duties may be difficult and severe to observe at first, may often impose on a man an almost intolerable yoke; so that in the weariness of effort and amid the heart-sickening sense of frequent failure, many a one may be, and has been, tempted at the very outset to abandon a religious life in despair. But if only, in reliance on the Holy Saviour’s cheering promises, the attempt is persevered in, sooner or later a sweet sense of freedom and ease in duty will begin to dawn on the soul. Love to Jesus will increase, and what we do for him will lose the feeling of hardness and effort. Spiritual employments will assume an attractiveness and gather around them a pleasure we knew not before, till by degrees we shall reach that condition in which the Psalmist’s language will not be strange to our minds: “Oh, how love I thy law; it is my study all the day:” “My soul fainteth for the longing that it hath to thy judgments at all times:” “I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord, and thy law is my delight.” In the daily round of duty such a man may come to feel free, happy, and rejoicing as a bird on the wing. What is hard to others will be to him “a yoke which is easy and a burden which is light.” Obstacles and efforts that formerly seemed insuperable will yield before him as gently as the dungeon doors before the angel-guided apostle of old. A sweet sense of heavenly companionship and love will gather round his daily toils. He will go forth to his appointed duties with the light of holy love to cheer him, as when the reaper goes forth amid the bright beams and free air of the autumnal morn. In the fulness of his love and devotion to his Lord, he will feel that, amid all hardships and labours and even sufferings, there is for him a secret blessedness, and that beneath the eye of his heavenly Master it is given to him ever ot “joy according to the joy in harvest.”

III. Another obvious point of analogy between the joyful labours of the harvest-field and those of the Christian is, that they are in both cases the labours of those who combine to help and cheer each other on in their work. Work, as everyone knows, is always more efficient, more hearty, more energetic when men combine and work together, than when each man works by himself. When men labour together they can divide the work better, and each take the place and do the portion of the work for which he is best adapted. When men work together, again, they can help each other, and two can often do together four, ten, twenty times the work of men working separately and apart. When men work together they not only help, but they cheer and instigate each other; sympathy brings out a new power of exertion, emulation quickens energy, the cheering voice of a brother sends new alacrity through the frame, and electric chain of fellow-feeling binds each to all the rest; in the sense of community, toil loses its irksomeness and fatigue is forgotten; a generous rivalry stimulates the powers, and the sluggish and indolent, stirred up by the example of the energetic, and ashamed to lag behind the rest, feel themselves possessed of energies and putting forth powers and performing feats that astonish themselves as much as others.

Now, so it is very strikingly in the two cases already referred to -- that of warfare, and that of husbandry. An army is just a little community which each has his own place and station and work allotted to him, and in which all cheer and help each other on. It would not do for all to be generals, colonels, captains; there must be those who execute as well as those who devise and issue orders. It would not do for all to be infantry, or all to be cavalry. There is needed alike the steadiness and compactness of the one, and the more active and impetuous movements of the other. And so, when the hour of battle comes, all in their place, and all under strict command and discipline, they move rank and file, shoulder to shoulder, a vast assemblage, yet with the concentration and quickness of an individual will. The command is issued from the central authority, it flies from rank to rank, and from company to company; a common sympathy binds heart to heart and hand to hand, so that every heart beats high and every hand grasps the weapon with a firmer and steadier hold; in the sight of his fellows and with the memory of home and country rising in his soul, each feels the common impulse to brave all perils and do radiant deeds; and when the shout of battle rises, there is a tremendous power called forth by common action with which the mightiest individual and separate achievements could never cope.

Now turn for a moment to the more peaceful illustration, to that quieter scene which is not less graphically illustrative of the principle in question: for where more vividly than on the harvest-field are you taught of the power of sympathy, combination, common action, and mutual helpfulness? Here is a little company each at his own work, and all cheering, encouraging, urging each other on. There is perhaps the farmer who superintends and watches the progress of the work; there are those who cut, and those who bind, and those who glean, and those who load the cart or lumbering wain and bear away the result of the common toil. And as the reapers nimbly ply the sickle, and each band or individual strains every nerve pushes on that he may not be surpassed by others, and as the cheering word, or shout, or merry song rises up in the clear bright air over the scene of blithe and busy toil, one perceives again a most striking proof of the increased power of common work and mutual helpfulness. Now so it is, or should be, in that noblest of all communities, bound together for the grandest of all works, -- the church of Christ, the company of Christ’s true soldiers and faithful workmen on earth. Religion is not a solitary thing, a thing with which each man has to do exclusively in the hidden solitude of his own heart. It must begin there, and in many of its deepest exercises it must be carried on there; and without the private intercourse of the soul with God, the private discipline and governance of a man’s own secret heart, all other religion would be vain. But, on the other hand, as little will it do to make religion altogether an individual and secret thing. In many of its highest privileges, exercises, and engagements it is social; and one of its most momentous duties is that of mutual sympathy, encouragement, and helpfulness. If we are sincere Christians, we ought to feel that all we have and all we are, our wealth, time, talents, power, influence, our penitence, faith, virtue, Christian experience and wisdom, all our blessings and privileges temporal and spiritual, have been bestowed upon us, not for our own use alone, but for the common benefit of that holy family, that household and brotherhood of God’s redeemed, to which we profess to belong. Our portion of meat God has given us not to hasten away and devour it, like a greedy child, in secret, but to share it with all our brethren in Christ. Our light was not kindled that it might be hidden for ever underground, illuminating only the walls of our own tomb-like solitude. We are to “let our light shine before men,” and not only by our example, but by our active exertions and sympathies, we are bound to help on the work and workmen in Christ’s church. No member of Christ’s church but can do something to promote the cause of religion, and by his kindly aid, his visits of sympathy, his soothing charities, his cheering encouragements, his recountal of his own experience, be of some use to his fellow Christians. What a happy state of things would it be if each parish in our land were as the dwelling-place of a band of brothers enlisted in some noble and heaven-blessed enterprise, fighting for home and country, in the cause of freedom, truth, and justice! What a happy scene would that be in which the wise and experienced were ever ready with their advice and aid to help the untried and ignorant, in which the powerful aided the weak, and the weak in turn were ready to bless, honour and stand true to the strong; in which by the head or by the hand, by endurance, forbearance, courage, zeal, self-devotion, all were ready to act together in the work of putting down sin and winning the world to Christ! What a parish that in which the scene that is now enacted on many a bright summer field were but a symbol and representation of our work in the nobler field of Christ’s church; where from year to year all of us together, and each in his own place, were straining every nerve to be and to do good, to help and encourage each other in the work of the Lord, to prepare for the great harvest-home of eternity! Then, indeed, might our Sabbath song of praise be a prelude of that glorious song in which we all hope to join, in which the thousand times ten thousand voices, but one mighty heart of the redeemed in glory, shall celebrate the praises of the great Husbandman, affording the noblest, most glorious fulfilment of that text, “They joy before thee according to the joy in harvest.” JOHN CAIRD, D.D.




AFTER the death of good king Josiah, the kingdom of Judah came very soon to an end. His just and pious rule could not undo the evil wrought by the long bad reign of Manasseh, followed by that of wicked Amon; and the four kings that succeeded Josiah, three sons and one grandson of the good prince, did not walk in his ways. The time for God’s fulfilment of his words of threatening by his prophets was now come. The people, high and low, were very corrupt, and the land groaned, as it were, under their sins. So, first of all, God brought the king of Egypt against them, and he laid a great fine on the country, and took their king away with him, putting his brother on the throne in his stead. Then came Nebuchadnezzar against this king, and took him bound to Babylon, and left his son in his place. He was but a boy, and he was king for only three months and ten days, when he had given such offence to Nebuchadnezzar that he sent an army against Jerusalem, and in the end went himself and conducted the siege of the place till he took it. The young king, with many others and much spoil, he took away with him, and left his uncle, another of Josiah’s sons, to reign in his room, making him swear by God to be a faithful subject of the great Babylonian empire. But Zedekiah the Jewish king did not keep his oath, and then came a great captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s, and took Jerusalem again and laid it waste, and put out the king’s eyes, and took him blind to Babylon, and carried away a multitude of captives, leaving only a very few persons in the whole land. But God did not forget his own people in the strange land. He showed them many mercies there, and it is of some of these I am now going to tell you a very remarkable story.

The great king of Babylon, though a very proud despot, who would have only his own will and did what he liked, was yet a wise and able man. So it was his plan when he conquered a county and took its chief men captive, to try and make them fond of his rule by raising the ablest among them to grand posts in his kingdom. When he took princes of Judah captive, he tried this plan. He bade an officer of state look out among the young princes and nobles of the wise, and have them educated with other youths for the king’s service. This was, accordingly, done. Now, among the young persons chosen there were four whose Hebrew names were changed at the time, and they were called Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. They were all pious and excellent young men, fearing and loving the God of their fathers. Their education was prospered by God; and when after a time they were examined by the king, he was pleased to find that they were very wise and learned indeed, so that none of the rest of the youths were at all like them. After this he was still more pleased to find that, when all his wise men were unable to tell him what a dream was which God had sent to him, and by which he was troubled the more that he had, quite forgot it in the morning, one of these four youths was able to tell him both the dream and the meaning of it. God had showed it to him in the night, in answer to his own and his companions' prayers. This one of the four is best known to us by his Hebrew name of Daniel, and there are other great stories about him in Babylon. But it is of the other three we are to read at present.

The Hebrew names of these three were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; but we have come to think of them most as Shadrach, Mesach, and Abed-neo. After Daniel had pleased the king so much by explaining his dream to him, and had himself been promoted to a very high place, these three friends were set over the affairs of the province of Babylon at his request. This made the native great men very angry, and they watched for an opportunity to accuse them to the king. At last the occasion they were waiting for arose.

The proud king made a huge image all of gold, perhaps to represent his own great self; and setting it up in the plain of Dura -- a place in the province of which the three Hebrews had care -- he fixed a day for its dedication, and resolved to make it a grand time. He gathered together all the great officers of his whole kingdom, and brought them round about the golden image. He determined that at his word every one should bow the knee to it, and so do homage to himself. So he set in array a perfect host of musicians, with every kind of instrument, and made a decree that as soon as the sound of the loud music should burst forth, every person in the vast crowd should fall down before the golden statue, and worship it. I suppose the king meant to stand up himself, or remain seated on his throne, and enjoy the sight of so many great people falling down at his bidding. What a proud man he was when he saw the whole throng, as he thought, bow to the ground at once at the sound of the music! He seemed to feel as if he were indeed a god.

Almost all in the vast crowd did as the king had bidden. The decree had said that if any one did not obey, he should be thrown into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. That was enough for the many, even if they had objected to idol-worshipping. They knew where the furnace was blazing, and the dread of the king’s wrath, or a wish to please him, made them bow the knee at once. But there were three persons that wished to please a greater king, and did not care to think of what would become of them, if they disobeyed Nebuchadnezzar. They resolved to obey God, who had forbidden them, in the second of the ten commandments given at awful Sinai, to bow down to idols; they would do his will, and leave all the rest to him. So these three, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, stood straight up when all the others fell on their faces. Their enemies must have expected this, and were on the watch to see. So as soon as the great act of worship was over, they hasted to the king, and told him that the three Jews had defied his authority, and had not bowed the knee to the image he had set up. They did it in a way to make the king as angry as possible; and indeed, when he heard what they said, his rage rose to a perfect fury.

He sent for the three Hebrews at once; and as soon as they had come before him, he called out to them, Is this true that I hear of you? Do you refuse to obey me, and worship the image that I have set up? I will give you another chance for your lives. The music will sound again, and if then you fall down immediately on your faces -- well; but if not, ye shall go to the fire that hour. Then, thinking perhaps that they might be trusting in the Lord, he added very daringly, And where is the God that can save you? The three Hebrew youths gave the furious king a calm answer. They acknowledged that it was true that they had not worshipped his image. As for his threats of the fire, they were not moved by them. They said that they knew the great God whom they served was able to deliver them from the burning furnace, and out of the king’s hand. But in any case they would keep his commandment. These were their closing words: “Be it known to thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

The king’s face grew white hot with rage, to think that men could stand there, and calmly say that they would not do what he bade them. He cried out, Make the furnace seven times hotter than usual (not thinking, in his passion, how that would make death easier), and cast them into the midst of it. He told the mightiest officers of his army to attend to it, and see it done. So the three Hebrew children were bound in their dresses, just as they stood, and the officers took them up, and carried them to the mouth of the burning furnace. Now the flame was flashing out so fiercely that the men who carried them were scorched to death, as they went near, and heaved the three bound martyrs into the blazing fire. You might think they are sure to be burnt to death in an instant. But God was there, and their faith in him “quenched the violence of the fire.” His promise was that day made good to the very letter, “When thou passest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle on thee.”

The king had his seat placed where he could see the three men, with whom he was in such a rage, cast into the fire. I do not know whether he took much notice of the burning up of the persons who carried them, and flung them into the furnace. But he soon saw something which made him start up in great haste, and call out to those about him. He said, Did we not throw three men bound into the flames? what, then, is this I see? They are all walking in the fire free, and there is a fourth with them, and his form is like the son of God! He did not wait to hear much, but hasted to call loud to the three Hebrews to come out from the furnace. His rage was all gone now, lost in wonder at what he saw. At his call the three brave and good youths came forth, as as the people gathered round them, they were astonished to find that they were not only quite unhurt themselves, but that the smell of fire had not passed on their clothes. The only things about them that the flames had burned were the cords that bound them.


1. Do you know where to find a phrase in the New Testament, which points out the ripeness of the season for some purpose and work of God?
2. Which of the prophets tells us about the Jews that were left in the land when their brethren were carried captive to Babylon?
3. What Hebrew youth, long before Daniel’s time, rose high in the service of a foreign king?
4. What great king was it that prayed to God, and received a gracious answer in a dream of the night?
5. What king was it that saw a great image, in a dream, ground all to powder?
6. When was it that God made gracious mention of a number of persons who had refused to worship an idol?
7. Can you find words spoken by an apostle in the name of his brethren, showing that God’s will is to be minded more than man’s?
8. When did one brave man oppose a multitude of the worshippers of idols?
9. Where is the story of the three Hebrew youths alluded to in the New Testament?
10. When did bad men show their rage against one whom they hated, by gnashing their teeth together?

ANSWERS to the foregoing questions will be found by consulting the following chapters: --John xvii., and Gal. iv.; Jer. xl.; Gen. xli.; 1 Kings iii.; Dan. ii; 1 Kings xix.; Acts v.; 1 Kings xviii.; Heb. xi.; Acts vii.



O GOD, we thank Thee that we have been taught the knowledge of Thyself the true God, and have not been left to bow down and worship stocks and stones and images made by men’s hands. May we truly worship Thee. May all the world soon be brought to know Thee, from the least to the greatest. Teach us, O Lord, always to do Thy will without fear or flinching. Let us never be ashamed to acknowledge that we fear to offend Thee, and desire to please Thee. Let us be enabled always to do that which is right, without being afraid of consequences. Keep us from being overcome by our own passions. Teach us how to rule our own spirits. May Thy Spirit rule them, and Thy sweet peace keep them. And when at any time we are tried by severe affliction, may Jesus be with us in the furnace, and keep us from all real harm, and make us patient in the fire, and cause it to burn only our bonds of sin. This we ask for His own name’s sake. Amen.



O LORD, we beseech Thee to keep Thy church and household continually in Thy true religion, and to stir up every member of the same to adorn their holy profession, by putting on bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, that, resting only upon the hope of Thy heavenly grace, and doing all in the name of our blessed Saviour, we may evermore be defended by Thy mighty power, giving thanks unto Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

HYMN, or Psalm lxxii. 16-19.

LORD of the harvest, hear
Thy needy servants cry;
Answer thy people’s earnest prayer,
And all our wants supply.

On thee we humbly wait,
Our wants are in thy view;
The harvest truly, Lord is great;
The labourers are few.

Convert and send forth more
Into thy church abroad;
And let them speak thy word with power;
Co-workers with their God.

O let them spread thy name;
Their mission fully prove;
Thy universal grace proclaim;
Thine all-embracing love.


AND when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2. Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying, 5. Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7. And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and thy set him thereon. 8. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11. And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. 12. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast our all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13. And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. 14. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.



O FATHER, Lord of heaven and earth, of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things, to Thee be glory for ever. We bless Thee for the unwearied and tender care which Thou takest of us and of all Thy creatures, supplying our ever returning wants, and giving us all things richly to enjoy. Thou visitest the earth and waterest it; Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God; Thou blessest the springing thereof, and crownest the year with Thy goodness, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And, while we praise Thee for the kindness thus unceasingly manifested in providing for the wants of our bodies, we would especially acknowledge with warmest gratitude the great love wherewith Thou hast loved us, as displayed in the rich provision which, at infinite cost, Thou hast made for the wants of our spiritual and immortal nature. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! May the Father himself give us that true bread of life which cometh down from heaven, of which if a man eat he shall ever die. May ours be the blessing promised to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Thou hast given us to enjoy another sabbath, and to Thee we must yet render an account of the way in which we have spent it. Hide Thy face, O Lord, from all that Thou hast seen amiss in our services. Forbid that our seasons of grace should, through indifference and the moral perversity of our nature, be suffered by us to pass away unimproved; that we should thus cast Thy sayings behind our backs, and bring upon ourselves swift and sure destruction. May Thy word abide in us, and amidst the snares and temptations of a world lying in wickedness, and the seductive promptings of our own depraved and deceitful hearts, may Thy Spirit, through the word, enable us to keep our feet from every evil way, and to go on unto perfection.

In the spirit of the exercises of Thy holy day we would make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for all men: for kings and all that are in authority, that they who rule over men may be just, ruling in the fear of God; for subjects, that, submitting themselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, they may lead quiet and peaceable lives, in all godliness and honesty. Especially we pray for them who are of the household of faith. Stablish, strengthen, settle them, O Lord, and let Thy good Spirit perfect His own work in them. Have mercy upon those who, enjoying abundantly the means of grace, say unto the Almighty, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways. Convince them by the power of Thy Spirit that they cannot set themselves against Thee and prosper, and subdue them to repentance and to the obedience of faith. Shine forth, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that dwellest between the cherubim, and let Thy glory and Thy salvation appear to the unnumbered multitudes of our fellow-men who are yet shrouded in the gross darkness of heathenism. May He, who is the Light of the world, speedily bring them out of darkness, and break in sunder the bands in which they are held by the tyranny of the god of this world. May Jesus destroy the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations, that soon through all the tribes of earth it may be said, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation. Send, O Father, a gracious answer to these our humble prayers, for our Saviour’s sake. Amen.





Rejoice evermore.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.

1 Thess. v. 16. Col. iii. 15, 16, 17. Phil. iv. 4. 1 Chron. xvi. 10.


Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

1 Thess. v. 17, 18. Mat. xxvi. 41. James v. 13. Ps. xxxiv. 4, 8. Jonah ii. 7.



Quench not the Spirit.
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

1 Thess. v. 19. John iii. 5, 6. John vi. 63. Gal. v. 22, 23. 1 Cor. ii. 12.


Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without.
In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
Sound speech that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

1 Thess. v. 21. 1 Thess. iv. 11, 12. Tit. ii. 7, 8.



Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of god, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

Eph. vi. 10, 11, 12, 13. Phil. i. 27.


Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
That ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Eph. vi. 14, 15, 16, 17. Col. iv. 12. 2 Cor. xiii. 14.



As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

1 Cor. ii. 9. 1 John iii. 2. 2 Tim. iv. 8.


We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Heb. ii. 9, 10, 17.



Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.

Heb. iv. 14, 15. Heb. v. 8, 9.


There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Heb. iv. 9, 10, 11. Rev. xiv. 12. 13.



And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.

Rev. xxi. 1, 3, 4, 5.


And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him;
And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
And there shall be no night there.

Rev. xxii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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