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DELIVERANCE FROM SPIRITUAL BONDAGE ACKNOWLEDGED
Psalms 126:1-4. When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south.
THE great body of the Psalms was composed by David: but some were written many hundred years before his time, as the 90th was by Moses; and others many hundred years after him, as that before us, which was evidently written after the Babylonish captivity. It relates in the first instance to the delivery of Israel from their sore bondage, and their restoration to their long desolated country: but it is well applicable to that redemption which is vouchsafed to the souls of men, and which was shadowed forth by that great event.
Let us consider from the passage,
The deliverance here celebrated—
Grievous beyond expression was Israel’s captivity. They were treated with the utmost cruelty by their Babylonish oppressors [Note: Psalms 137:8-9.]: and their sufferings were greatly heightened by the derision with which their pious lamentations were regarded [Note: Psalms 137:3-4.]. But in proportion to the greatness of their afflictions was their joy at the unexpected deliverance vouchsafed to them. Observe,
The feelings excited by it—
[Among the captives themselves the joy was so great, that they scarcely knew whether it were a reality or a dream. They were like Peter, when delivered from prison by an angel on the very night previous to his intended execution: “He went out and followed the angel; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision [Note: Acts 12:9.].” All their lamentations were instantly turned to joy: “their mouth was filled with laughter, and their tongue with singing.” The sight of such an unprecedented event filled all the surrounding nations with astonishment, and constrained them to acknowledge that it was the work, not of man, but of God: “Then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.” The Israelites themselves readily concurred in this sentiment; and, on hearing the congratulations offered them, thankfully replied, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”]
The supplications it drew forth—
[Though permission was given them to return to their own land, and every thing was provided for their sustenance by the way, and their assistance at the end of their journey, the Jews saw that there was a great and discouraging work before them: but, as nothing was impossible to Jehovah, they entreated him to perfect what he had begun, and “to turn again their captivity as the streams in the south.” In the southern or hilly country of Judea there were, as in all mountainous countries, frequent and sudden inundations; which however as rapidly subsided, soon after the rains had ceased; so that, where, but a few hours before, the country bore the aspect of universal desolation, it speedily assumed the most lovely and flourishing appearance, the valleys smiling on every side with renovated and augmented verdure. Thus the Jews desired, that the ravages made in their now desolated country might be soon repaired, and that, through the influence of their almighty Guardian, their efforts might be crowned with speedy and complete success.]
We forbear to dwell upon the event itself, that we may enter somewhat minutely into,
The more glorious deliverance that was typified by it—
The event before us is undoubtedly to be regarded as shadowing forth that infinitely greater deliverance which is wrought for us by the Lord Jesus Christ [Note: Compare Isaiah 40:3-5. with Luke 3:3-6. or Isaiah 52:7. with Romans 10:15.]. And the correspondence between the two is particularly striking. Observe,
The deliverance itself—
[Grievous as was the captivity of the Jews in Babylon, it was nothing in comparison of that sorer bondage to which we are subjected by the power of sin and the wiles of Satan. All indeed have not the same work assigned them; but all are walking after the imagination of their own hearts, “being taken in the snare of the devil, and led captive by him at his will.”
The promised Deliverer however has arrived; has entered into the conflict with our great adversary, and utterly subdued him. Jesus, foretold by name hundreds of years before his advent in the flesh, has accomplished the work for which he was raised up: and, having now “ascended up on high and led captivity captive,” he has sent his heralds to “proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” This is the very first use he makes of his newly-acquired power. Nor is it an empty proclamation, without any facilities afforded for carrying his gracious purposes into effect: he gives us back for the use and honour of Jehovah all those vessels of which we had been despoiled, and which, though originally formed for the service of God alone, have, through the influence of our great adversary, been prostituted and debased to the vilest uses: yes, all our faculties and powers are now restored by him to their proper office; and the all-sufficient aid of his Spirit is promised to us throughout all our dreary pilgrimage. Our almighty Deliverer has gone further still, and issued his commands to all throughout his vast empire, to succour us in our work, and to impart to us whatsoever we may stand in need of [Note: Ezra 1:1-11.]: the very angels in heaven are enjoined to attend us in all our way, to encamp round about us, to hold us up lest at any time we dash our foot against a stone, and to minister to us in all that our necessities may require.
All this too is offered to us as a free act of mercy on the part of our great Deliverer. It was one of the most extraordinary parts of the Jews’ deliverance from Babylon, that Cyrus should liberate them without any remuneration: but how does it exalt beyond all estimate the value of our redemption, that it is offered to us freely, “without money and without price!”]
The effects produced by it—
[When first a soul that has been sinking under a load of sin and guilt is made to hear the tidings of a free and full deliverance, they seem to him “as an idle tale:” he can scarcely believe it possible that such mercy should be vouchsafed to him, and that one who has been all his days a willing captive should be delivered: and, when the joys of this salvation burst upon his soul, he appears to himself to be, as it were, in a dream; so far does the deliverance exceed all that he could previously have conceived. Then his mouth, which was but lately filled with lamentations and complaints, is “filled with laughter, and his tongue with singing [Note: Isaiah 35:10.]” — — — Nor is the surprise confined to him alone: his friends and neighbours behold with astonishment the change that has taken place in him: they now see the whole course of his life changed: they behold the chains with which he was tied and bound, now loosed; the sins that once had dominion over him, now mortified; and the griefs, which they interpreted as symptoms or forerunners of derangement, now turned to joy, and “thanksgiving and the voice of melody.” So great is the change in their eyes, that though they love it not, they are constrained to admire it, and to acknowledge the hand of God in it; “The Lord hath done great things for them:” and, though they may deride it in public, they envy in their hearts the lot which they affect to despise. As for those who experience the happy change, they thankfully adore their heavenly Benefactor; “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad!” — — — They take their harps that have been so long suspended on the willows, and sing with inexpressible delight the songs of Zion.
But the more they have experienced, the more they desire to possess all the fulness of the blessings prepared for them. Gladly would they, if it were possible, have all the remains of sin purged out from their hearts, and all conflicts with it for ever terminated. They pant for the full attainment of the Divine image; and cry with fervour to their God, “Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south!” Still however, not discouraged by the length of their journey, or the difficulties to be surmounted, or the toils which they must undergo, before they shall attain the full object of their desires, they set out in humble dependence on ther God, assured of final and complete success. They are willing to “sow in tears, confident that in due time they shall reap in joy.”]
To those who have experienced some measure of this deliverance—
[You have heard the parallel drawn between the deliverance of the Jews from Babylon, and that of which you are the happy subjects. It remains for you to carry it yet further, and to realize it in its utmost extent. Of all the multitudes who set out on their journey towards Zion, there was not one who was not sensible of the cruel bondage from which he had been delivered; not one who did not feel his obligations to Cyrus as his great deliverer; not one, who did not see that his provision by the way, and his succours at the close of his journey, were the fruits of that same grace that first proclaimed the deliverance: moreover, all of them without exception would feel a consciousness that they were not yet arrived at the place which their souls longed after; but that they were daily proceeding towards it: they felt no inclination to rest satisfied with any thing they met with in the wilderness; but looked forward to the enjoyment of God’s ordinances in Jerusalem as the consummation of their bliss. Now then let it be so with you. Never for a moment lose the remembrance of your former captivity, or of your obligations to the Lord Jesus Christ, who “by his own death has destroyed death, and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and hath delivered those who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage.” Never for a moment forget that you are on a journey towards Zion, and that all your fresh springs are in that adorable Saviour, who has redeemed you by his blood. Never for a moment cease to press forward in your heavenly way; but, forgetting what is behind, reach forward, like coursers, to the destined goal. Let all your hopes, and all your happiness be in heaven. In a word, be exactly in the state and habit of your minds, what the liberated captives were in their journey towards Zion. Then will you have attained the perfection of Christian pilgrims, and will in due time possess in all its fulness your destined inheritance.]
To those who are yet the bond-slaves of sin and Satan—
[This is the state of every man by nature. It is to little purpose to say, that we are not addicted to any gross iniquity; for “the whole world lieth in wickedness,” or, “in the wicked one:” and if the Captain of our Salvation have not rescued us from the hands of “the strong man armed,” our very peace is a sufficient evidence of our bondage. If you are yet strangers to the experience above described, you are yet in bondage to the great enemy of Zion — — —
But we are authorized to declare that this adversary is cast down; that our Cyrus has prevailed over him; and that liberty is now given to every captive in Babylon to return to Zion. Behold, as a herald of our adorable Saviour, I now announce to you these glad tidings. O! be ye not like too many of that ill-fated nation, who preferred their ease to toils, their bandage to liberty, their dwellings in Babylon to their inheritance in Jerusalem.
Put yourselves under the guidance of the true Zerubbabel, before whom “the mountains shall become a plain.” If you meet with difficulties, know that he has issued his proclamation to all his creatures, to afford you all necessary aid: and if, instead of aiding, they endeavour to obstruct you, he has engaged that all things shall work together for your good. Come out then from Babylon, every one of you; and let this be the one harmonious proposal of you all, “Come, let us go up to Zion, unto the Lord our God.” Fear not but that the object, when attained, will richly recompense all the difficulties of your way. Even in this world your “joys shall be unspeakable and glorified:” but who can conceive the joy that awaits you in the Zion above? How will your mouth then be filled with laughter, and your tongue with singing! How will you then, in concert with all the heavenly hosts, exclaim, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad!” Be content then to “go on your way weeping, bearing precious seed, knowing assuredly that at last you shall come again with rejoicing, bearing your sheaves with you.”]
SOWING IN TEARS
Psalms 126:5. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
THIS seems to be a general truth founded on the experience of those who returned from the Babylonish captivity, and the correspondent experience of all who return from the bondage of sin and Satan. The Israelites, like Peter liberated from his prison, were so astonished at their deliverance, that it seemed to them more like a dream than a reality. The very heathens themselves wondered at it, and ascribed it to the influence of Jehovah, as also the Israelites did with joy and gratitude, taking occasion from it to implore the speedy and perfect restoration of all their tribes [Note: Ver. 1–4. The rain which descended in torrents on the southern or hilly country of Judea, often filled the vallies with rapid streams, which quickly passing away as soon as the rain ceased, the rivers were suddenly transformed into verdant fields. Thus sudden and perfect the Israelites desired their restoration to be.]. Such also are the wonder and joy occasioned by the conversion of a soul to God; and such are the desires which instantly vent themselves in fervent petitions for complete deliverance. But as among the captive Jews, so in the enslaved soul, a season of sorrow precedes the time of emancipation. Nevertheless it shall be found universally true, that they who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
Let us inquire,
What we are to understand by sowing in tears?
“The sorrow of the world worketh death;” and therefore cannot be that to which the promise is made. To sow in tears implies,
A painful recollection of past sins—
[We all are sinners from our earliest youth: and every sin we have ever committed, is as fresh in the remembrance of the Deity as if it had been committed this very hour. Nor should we think the less of our sins because they have been long passed: on the contrary, we should view them with all the shame and sorrow that they excited in our bosoms the very instant that our consciences first accused us. Like God’s people of old, we should be bowed down greatly in the recollection of them [Note: Psalms 38:3-8. Jeremiah 31:19; Jeremiah 3:25.Ezekiel 16:63; Ezekiel 16:63.], and earnestly entreat, with David, that God would not call us into judgment for them [Note: Psalms 25:7.].]
A penitent concern for present infirmities—
[The very best of men has much within him to mourn over. It is but in part that any of us are renewed. Many are the corruptions that yet work within us; and the very imperfection of our prayers and praises is enough to make us go mourning all the day long. St. Paul found so much conflict in his soul by reason of his indwelling corruptions that he exclaimed, “O wretched man that I am [Note: Romans 7:14-24.]!” and groaned earnestly for death as the season when he should be freed from all the imperfections of his nature, and serve, as well as enjoy, God with unabated ardour [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:4.]. Thus should we also “go softly before God in the bitterness of our souls [Note: Isaiah 38:15.],” and lothe ourselves before him in dust and ashes [Note: Job 40:4; Job 42:6.].]
An overwhelming sense of God’s goodness—
[Nothing a more characteristic of true piety than this. Every day and hour we have reason to adore the divine goodness. What patience does God exercise towards us under all our backslidings! What readiness does he manifest to return to our souls the very instant we return to him, yea, often revealing himself to us, and shedding abroad his love in our hearts, when we had no reason to expect any thing but some heavy token of his displeasure! The psalmist, impressed with such views of God, exclaims, “O how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men [Note: Psalms 31:19.]!” But the most striking example of this frame of mind is afforded us by the poor woman, who, to express her love and gratitude, kissed the feet of her Saviour, and washed them with floods of tears [Note: Luke 7:38.]. Would to God that such were the state of our minds, and that we might ever be found, as to our souls at least, in that posture!]
Omitting many other grounds of weeping, we proceed to inquire,
What encouragement we have to weep?
To those who sow their corn, there is but one harvest: but to those who sow in tears there are two:
We shall reap in this world—
[God will not despise the broken and contrite heart [Note: Psalms 51:17.]: on the contrary, “he will hear the voice of our weeping:” tears, when flowing from a contrite soul, have an eloquence which he cannot resist. He will speak peace to the soul: he will blot out its transgressions as a morning cloud [Note: Luke 7:47-48; Luke 7:50. 1 John 1:9.]. He will cause the light of his countenance to shine upon it; and will give unto it a spirit of adoption, whereby it shall cry with confidence, Abba, Father [Note: Jeremiah 31:9; Jeremiah 31:20.]! And will not such a harvest recompense a hundred years of weeping? Look but at the state of the Prodigal, and see him, after his short seed-time of weeping, welcomed to his father’s house, and feasting with him on the fatted calf; was he not well repaid? had he any reason to regret his tears of penitence? Thus then shall it be with us in this world, provided we be content to sow in tears: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy shall come in the morning [Note: Psalms 30:5.].”]
We shall reap also in the world to come—
[All that the penitent soul enjoys in this world is but an earnest of what it shall hereafter possess. There is “a full reward [Note: 2 John, ver. 8.],” “an everlasting life [Note: Galatians 6:8.],” which shall be reaped as the fruit of what we now sow. The tears we shed are all treasured up with care in the vial of our heavenly Father: every sigh, and every groan, shall be remembered before him; and shall add to that abundant and eternal weight of glory which we shall then receive. And who can estimate those “sheaves which we shall then bring with us?” How will all our sorrows vanish in an instant, and be turned into unutterable joy [Note: Isaiah 30:10.]! Let us then look forward to that time, and “not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”]
To those who have never known any seed-time like this—
[Is there not occasion enough for you to weep? Think how you have neglected your God and father; how you have trampled on the blood of Christ your Saviour: and how you have resisted the motions of the Holy Spirit in your hearts! Think too, how you have made the very consideration of God’s mercy and forbearance an occasion of more boldness in transgressing against him! This, independent of any gross acts of sin, is sufficient to make your head a fountain of tears to run down day and night for your iniquities. “Be afflicted, then, and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into heaviness; humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up [Note: James 4:9-10.].”]
To those who are daily sowing in tears—
[Possibly, some may be discouraged, because they do not reap so soon as they expected. But, if this be the case, let them examine whether they do indeed “sorrow after a godly sort:” and, if they have the testimony of a good conscience in this respect, let them wait patiently, as the husbandman [Note: James 5:7.], for “doubtless they shall come again with rejoicing:” joy and gladness are sown for them, and shall spring up in due season [Note: Psalms 97:11.]. Let them be contented to “go on their way” weeping, even though the way be ever so long; for tears are a seed “precious” unto God, and they shall bring a glorious harvest at the last.]
THE SPIRITUAL HARVEST
Psalms 126:5-6. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
SO much of sorrow is entailed on fallen man, that his path through life is not improperly called, a vale of tears. But it is not to the ungodly only that this portion is allotted: the man who is regenerate still finds much occasion to weep; and if he have reasons for joy peculiar to himself, so also has he for grief. The Israelites, when restored from their captivity in Babylon, felt, as well they might, that the mercies vouchsafed to them were exceeding great. The very heathen that surrounded them were constrained to acknowledge this. But, when they came to their own land, and saw the desolations that were spread on every side, and reflected on the time and labour that must be employed in rebuilding their city and temple, on the opposition they were likely to meet with in their work, and on their utter incapacity to restore either the city or temple to their former grandeur, they might well weep. They were, however, encouraged with the divine assurance, that God would be with them in their labours, and prosper their endeavours; and that, if they were content to “sow in tears, they should reap in joy;” yea, that every one of them who should “go forth, weeping, and bearing precious seed, should doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
But we must not confine ourselves to the immediate occasion on which these words were written. They refer to every one that is engaged in raising a spiritual temple to the Lord: and they assure to him a happy issue to his exertions.
To elucidate the subject, we shall consider,
The events here connected—
Between seed-time and harvest there is in the minds of all a necessary connexion; and as in the natural world the action of sowing has always a reference to that of reaping, so it has also in the spiritual world.
The seed which the Christian sows is “tears”—
[What other can he sow, when he looks back upon the transgressions of his former life? How he, from the first moment that he began to act, lived in rebellion against his God! In no respect has he been subject to the law of God, or regulated himself according to the divine commands. From open and flagrant sins he may be free: but he has lived as without God in the world, making his own will the one rule of his conduct, and his own pleasure the only end of his existence — — — Does not such a life as this call for deep humiliation, and require to be mourned over with floods of tears?
Nor is this contrition less called for by his sins of daily incursion. Let any man compare the frame of his mind with that which his circumstances, and God’s dealings with him, demand: how faint his gratitude for mercies received! how superficial his sorrow for sins committed! how cold his devotions at the throne of grace! how feeble his efforts to glorify his God! Verily, in the retrospect of every succeeding day, he may well sit down and weep bitterly, yea, and mourn before God in dust and ashes.
In truth, this is, in a measure, the habit of the Christian’s mind; he is bowed down under a sense of his own manifold infirmities; and he walks softly before God, under a consciousness of his own extreme unworthiness. If David could say, in reference to the sins of others, “Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy law,” how much more may every man say it, in reference to his own sins! In the days to which we are looking forward, when the remnant of Israel shall return to the Lord their God, it is precisely in this way that they will come up to Zion: “They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born [Note: Jeremiah 31:9.].”]
From this seed, however, shall spring a harvest of “joy”—
[In the natural world we expect to reap the very seed which we have sown: but it is not so in the spiritual world. If we sow tears, shall we reap tears? No, never, never, never. Far different shall be the fruit arising from that seed! even joy, yea, “joy unspeakable and glorified.” Look at the very remnant of whom we have just spoken; and see the issue of their humiliation: “They shall come,” says the prophet, “and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their souls shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow [Note: Jeremiah 31:12-13.].” It must be observed, that the first-fruits of this harvest are enjoyed even now: for the very scope of the Gospel is not only to “proclaim liberty to the captives; but to give unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them,” I say, “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord; and that He may be glorified [Note: Isaiah 61:1-3.].” But, after all, this is only a foretaste of that which they shall hereafter enjoy, a cluster from Eshcol, an earnest of their future inheritance. The time is coming when they shall reap the full harvest in the fruition of their God, in whose “presence there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore [Note: Psalms 16:11.].”]
The connexion between these two periods being marked, I proceed to shew,
The certainty and blessedness of this connexion—
The certainty of it—
[In the natural world the connexion is not sure: every care may have been exercised in preparing the ground, and the best seed may have been sown in it; and yet, through blasting or mildew, or some other unforeseen calamity, the hopes of the husbandman may be disappointed. But in the spiritual world this can never occur. There may be many events which seem unpropitious, and threaten the total destruction of the life of God in the soul: but God will overrule them all for the final accomplishment of his own gracious purposes, agreeably to his own express engagement, that “All things shall work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose [Note: Romans 8:28.].” The untoward circumstances may continue for a considerable length of time; but God engages, that “though their weeping may endure for a night, joy shall assuredly come to them in the morning [Note: Psalms 30:5.].” Extremely beautiful is that promise in the Prophet Hosea: “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord. His goings forth are prepared as the morning [Note: Hosea 6:3.].” The benighted traveller may be ready to imagine that the morning, as it were, will never arrive. But the sun, though as remote as possible from us, will return, and is actually making a progress towards us; and has its radiance ready prepared to pour it forth, for the benefit of the earth, at the appointed hour. So, in the darkest seasons of desertion is God prepared to lift up the light of his reconciled countenance upon us, and to refresh our souls with his enlightening and invigorating beams.]
The blessedness of it—
[The joy of the harvestman may be fitly used to characterize the Christian’s consolations here [Note: Isaiah 9:3.]: but it will convey no idea of his felicity hereafter; for all that here he sought and tasted shall there be enjoyed in its utmost fulness: and if the feast of which the prodigal was made to partake, on returning to his Father’s house, was so blessed, what must the banquet be which is prepared for us above! Verily, in comparison of that, the sublimest happiness of man on earth is no more than as a twinkling star to the meridian sun. To attempt to speak of the heavenly glory, is only to “darken counsel by words without knowledge:” for, what conception have we of the immediate vision of our God in the full effulgence of his glory? or what idea can we form of that throne and that kingdom which we shall possess above? Suffice it to say, that all which the blood of Christ could purchase, and all that the love of God can bestow, is the portion reserved for us in the realms of bliss.]
How desirable is true repentance—
[I grant that repentance, considered without relation to its consequences, is not a pleasing exercise of mind: nor would a husbandman find any pleasure in casting his seed into the ground, if he had no prospect of a future recompence. But both the husbandman and the penitent sow in hope. Each of them knows, that without sowing he can never reap; and each of them expects, that if he “sow in hope, he shall be partaker of his hope.” Hence the employment is that which each of them affects. But there is this difference between the two: the husbandman is confined to a few weeks for the discharge of his duty, whereas the penitent prosecutes his labours to the very end of life; seeing that there is no day or hour which does not give him fresh occasion for penitential sorrow. He is to go forth bearing “a seed-basket [Note: So it is rendered in the margin of our Bible.];” and exactly as the sower, bearing the seed-basket, scatters the seed as universally as he can over the whole field, so does the penitent, every step he takes in the field of life. And whereas one may sow too early and too much, the other knows that he never can too soon begin the blessed work; and that the more profusely he sows, the more abundantly he shall reap: God having ordained, in reference to this as well as to every other duty, that “he who soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he who soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully [Note: 2 Corinthians 9:6.]”. To all then I say, “Be afflicted, and mourn and weep: let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into heaviness: humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and he shall lift you up [Note: James 4:9-10.].” I say, To all, without exception, would I give this advice; for it is by a conformity to it, under the Gospel dispensation, that every child of God shall be known: “In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going, and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward; saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten [Note: Jeremiah 50:4-5.].”]
How reconciled we should be to trials—
[To the Christian there may be many storms and tempests, or a long-protracted season of distress, which may threaten the destruction of all his prospects: but as, in relation to the wheat, the frost is even desirable to destroy the vermin, so are diversities of seasons beneficial to the spiritual seed: as St. Peter has said; “The trial of our faith, which is much more precious than of gold, which, though it stand the trial of fire, will perish at last, will be to praise and honour and glory at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ [Note: 1 Peter 1:7.].” It is remarkable that our blessed Lord, speaking of himself as the true vine, and of his people as the branches, says of “every branch that beareth fruit, the husbandman purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit [Note: John 15:2.].” It might be hoped, that, since it was already fruitful, it might escape the wounds inflicted by the pruning-knife: but that is not consistent with the will of the great Husbandman, who consults its ultimate benefit in proportion to the prospect which it affords of progressive fruitfulness. So are God’s dearest people often most severely tried; and they whose sheaves shall hereafter be found most abundant, are often made to apprehend an entire failure of all their prospects. Consider, thou tempted Believer, how profitable thy trials have been to thee; how they have tended to humble thy pride, to weaken thine attachment to earthly things, to make thee feel thy need of God’s continual help, and to quicken thee in thy way to the heavenly Zion: and learn to say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; and it is in love and faithfulness that thou hast afflicted me.”]
How sweet to the Christian should be the thoughts of death—
[Death is as the waggons that are about to carry home the produce of the field, or as those which were sent to bear the afflicted Jacob to his beloved Joseph. The sight of these made Jacob forget all his troubles, and become indifferent to all that he possessed in this world: “He regarded not his stuff, became all the good of the land of Egypt was his [Note: Genesis 45:19-20.].” So then, Brethren, let it be with you. Behold the waggons sent to bear you home, whither you shall “go rejoicing, bearing your sheaves with you.” Yes, the tears that you have shed have been treasured up by God in his vial [Note: Psalms 56:8.]; and they shall be recompensed into your bosom a hundred and a thousand fold. Hear the declaration of God himself to this effect: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: even so saith the Spirit: for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them [Note: Revelation 14:13.].” Only view death aright, and you will account it amongst your most valued treasures: you will even “be looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of Christ.” If it “be unto you Christ to live,” doubt not a moment but that “to die will be gain [Note: Philippians 1:21.].” For this is the irreversible decree of God, that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap: he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting [Note: Galatians 6:7-8.].”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 126". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26