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SERMON IV.

On the End of the Harvest.

JEREMIAH, VIII, 20.-The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

THE rebellious wickedness of Judah had now risen to an alarming height. Her Almighty Ruler had manifested through following ages the same consistent and peculiar kindness for her children. Calamities, the natural consequences of their own impieties, had fallen upon them in rapid succession. In proportion to the sins of Judah had her confidence in her own strength increased but God ever remembering mercy, even in his wrath, commissions his prophet Jeremiah to exhort them to repentance, to unfold the promises of the Gospel to the penitent-its fearful judgments to the obstinately wicked.

The preceding chapters of the Prophet, therefore, are occupied by his earnest expostulations with the Jews for their manifold transgressions, his lamentations over the just judgment of God, and his earnest and repeated efforts to win them to repentance for the past, and obedience for the future. The period for the predicted fall of Jerusalem, their city, was fast approaching: the Chaldeans, at the command of God, were about to bring their hostilities upon. them: a people whose "quiver was an open sepulchre," who were all "mighty men;" whose arrows would "scat

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ter slaughter and carnage all around,"-a people as "insatiable as the grave, and as terrible as death."

It was under the anticipated infliction of this dreadful desolation from an invading enemy, which Jeremiah, for the merciful purpose of persuading her to serious reflection, supposes Judah to be now suffering, that she is made to utter the exclamation of the text, "the harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."

Disobedient as they had been, every rational hope of deliverance forfeited, still had the Jews blindly confided in the intervening aid of Heaven; but now the warning voice of the Prophet brings to their remembrance their multiplied sufferings unrelieved, their interest in Omnipotence lost beyond the hope of recovery. The summer and the autumn had now glided away, and no arm was outstretched to save them.

Let me endeavour to apply the moral of the text, in its spiritual signification. The seasonable meditations to which it will give birth must be obvious to all. "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." The opportunities we have had of making God our friend shall be our first consideration: our unhappy condition, under the conviction of disappointment in our best hopes, the second: and the necessity of redeeming the time we have lost, the last.

The seasons of the year, as applied to the several stages of man's brief and perishable being, have been the favorite metaphor of the moralist in every age. Our Divine Instructor ever delighted to take nature as his model,

and taught us to look to the works of nature as silent but infallible instructors. The sacred writers, before the dawn of revelation, employed this intelligible figure; and the holy apostles, after the promulgation of the Gospel, drew from the analogy of vegetable life useful and impressive lessons of morality. The Christian minister, then, will do well to model his instructions, on some occasions, by these illustrious examples. There are, in every congregation, many of those who surround him, the summer of whose years is past, the harvest of whose lives is nearly ripe for the Almighty Gatherer's hand, and who, in the hour of sober reflection on the opportunities they have lost, and the very few yet remaining to them, may, under a consciousness of their own unworthiness, raise the awful exclamation of the text, "we are not saved."

From the contemplation of the wonders of Creation, the regular and steady movements of its vast machinery at the pleasure of its Almighty Master, you may turn to the inspection of your own hearts, and make the uniform submission of these mute agents of his will, the model for our own obedience. This great volume of instruction is accessible to every condition-it is within the compass of every capacity; the poorest, the most illiterate among the children of men may meet examples of submission in every path. The finger of God is every where visible: animate and inanimate bear alike the impress of Divinity. "The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work: one day telleth another, and one night certifieth another; there is neither speech nor language

-but their voices are heard among them."

"He layeth

the beams of his chambers in the waters, he maketh the clouds his chariot, he walketh upon the wings of his wind."

There will undoubtedly be many who may recall to their recollections the spring of their existence, when the moral and the natural aspect of life were alike unclouded and serene: the features of each lighted up with loveliness and gentleness, and breathing hope, and joy, and peace around. Then, when all creation seemed cheerfulness, you could not forbear to join in the general satisfaction. As without, there was no breeze but what was gentle, so was there no ungentle passion within your breast;-no angry storms then ruffled the fair face of nature:-no moral storm then disturbed the calmness and contentment of your souls: all was peace in the present, and pleasing expectation in the future. Health and happiness were your daily food; for then you lived in innocence, with the glad golden prospect of length of days before you.

If you have remembered your Creator in these the days of your youth,-if you have dedicated to him this the spring of your being,-if you have offered him this early sacrifice of your heart,—with such a sacrifice, be assured, "God has been well pleased;" you have laid the foundation of happiness for your whole future life; the seasons have changed around you, but your heart has not changed with them, it has been immoveably fixed upon its God. Having thus rendered up to Heaven the first fruits of piety, you have made your God everlastingly your friend; you have

contracted a love for virtue that the after enmity of the world has been unable to remove. Unlike the rebellious

Israelite, you entertain no distrustful fears that God's assistance will be withdrawn from you, now that you have entered upon the summer of your lives, and are reaping the harvest of your early toils of piety.

1 would here willingly close the comparison of our early life with the loveliest season of the year: it is, indeed, a pleasing spectacle to behold the morning of our day thus cloudless, to see the produces of life's spring thus cultivated and cherished, preparing for the coming summer's ripening sun, and, with maturing autumn, ready for the reaper's hand. But how many are there, within the contracted circle of our own observation, who have not "so numbered their days as to have applied their hearts unto wisdom." Their spring has been at the best uncultured; their summer's sun has shone on a fruitless soil; they have blindly relied on Almighty deliverance, without having made an effort for themselves; and now that the " summer is ended, and the harvest is past,"-now that they behold distress and trouble hovering over them, they find, to their inexpressible anguish, that the God they neglected in the spring has deserted them in the autumn of their being; that a few more days will bring with them the stormy winter of life;-no friend to cheer them through its desolation; no fruits of early labor to which they may have recourse for support: and, still more miserable reflection, no hope of consolation when the dreary winter shall be past. For, with that desolate and dreary winter will pass by the

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