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to select the most able of their association, who should be prepared with a short discourse, pertinent to the occasion,
and thus obtaining the last words, there would be more probability of producing, upon the minds of the people, a lasting impression.
Accordingly they made their election, agreeably to the above plan, which taking wind, the congregation was very large, and the important period being'arrived, I ascended the desk. You will find my subject in St. Matthew's gospel, iii. 12 :
“ Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner: but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
I commenced, by observing, that as I was by the good providence of God, on this occasion, called upon to preach the gospel to hus. bandmen, I could not do better than to select my subject from objects which were daily passing under their observation. I persuaded myself, my hearers would find no difficulty in acknowledging the propriety of the mode of expression adopted in the passage I had read.
You will observe, my friends, said I, that our God, as a faithful Creator, is represented by the Baptist, as a husbandman collecting the fruits of his labour, upon the floor of his granary, that he may winnow and purify it. The husbandman soweth his wheat free from chaff, but when he reaps it, every grain is coated with a substance, which it seems to have received in its contact with the earth, and without this coat of chaff tuo grain was ever yet found.
But as the wheat, in order to its being rendered useful, must be brought into the same state, in which it was when committed to the earth; that the husbandman may not lose his labour, he must separate between the precious and the vile ; therefore, the owner collects it in the chaff in which it grew, and placing it in his fan, waving it with his hand against the wind, while thus winnowing it, the chaff being light as vanity flies off and the wind blows it away, while the wheat, more weighty, rests on the floor of the granary:
The chaff, collected in a heap without the door, being altogether unprofitable, is burned up; and the separation thus made, what was sowed, is thoroughly purged, and gathered home, as pure as when it left the hand of the proprietor.
Thus the figure is strikingly grand. But, observe, the floor is thoroughly purged, not a single particle of chaff remains, and, as I said, it is clean as the labours of the husbandman can render it.
The grand object of the spirit of truth is to lead us into all truth, and following this divine guide, we will enquire,
First, What we are to understand by the wheat ? and,
Ist. What by the wheat. The wheat is undoubtedly a figure of the human race, which, when first planted in the earth, we are assured was planted upright. The lip of truth pronounced the nature he had formed very good. But it continued not in honour. It soon acquired its coat of chaff, although made upright, in the image of its Creator. Our general mother was beguiled by the subtlety of the serpent. Adam, although he sinned, was not deceived, but designed as a figure of him who was to conne, of him who styles himself the husband of the human nature, he put himself in her condition. “ The woman that thou gavest to be with me; she gave to me, and I did eat." Thus was the coat of chaff acquired.
2dly. Of what is this chaff a figure, or what are we to understand thereby? All those impurities which cleaveth to humanity, from which every individual must eventually be purged, whatever is extraneous, or was not a part of the nature, when it passed from the hands of its great Proprietor. The Almighty husbandman sowed it in honour, but in this crust of mortality it soon became enwrapped, and as long as the grain is growing, so long the chaff grows with it ; but, in the harvest, when the grain is gathered in, then will the separation be made, every particle of wheat thoroughly purged, for his fan is in his hand, and he will gather his wheat spotless, and unmingled with every thing that can injure, into his garner, while the chaff that once adhered thereto shall be consumed, Thus saith a Christian poet :
« On Grace's door this motto's graved,
“Let sin be damned, the sinner saved.” The destruction of the chaff is the salvation of the wheat. The wheat could never separate itself, having neither will nor power thus to do ; but the husbandman knew, before he committed it to the earth, what would be its condition, and his plans were laid according to his foreknowledge : so God, the great husbandman, knew, before he sowed his 'seed, what would be the issue, and his eternal purposes were, like his blessed self, firm and unchangeable. This omnipotent proprietor of the harvest determined he would appoint a day, in the which he would gather all things into one, and
then, and there, beholding his harvest complete, thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat, thus purified, into his garner, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
How strong is the delusion of that man who supposes that by any exertion of his own, he can convert or transform chaff into wheat! Let the attempt be made ; let philosophy tax its utmost powers; let the chymist prepare his crucibles, bring every faculty of the soul, combine the efforts of every individual, from Adam to his youngest son, and examine the result. What is it, pray? Why, definitions have been given, they have discriminated, in some instances, perhaps, accurately; they have composed and decomposed, designed and separated, combined and disjoined; but, tell me, if in any instance, they have absolutely and physically changed one substance into another? if they have ever turned chaff into wheat ?
Again, let me entreat those, who believe the chaff emblematic of sinners, to investigate more closely. See, every grain of wheat is encompassed with its chaff, and they grow together. Thus the whole world layeth in wickedness. But in the commonly received view, , every good man or saint should be wrapped about with a wicked man or sinner. Will the figure hold, thus distorted ? But the advocates for the final destruction of a large proportion of their species do not admit the ultimate felicity of more than one in ten of the human family; I believe not so many : but it is my wish to keep within compass. Yet in this figure, there are as many coats of chaff as grains of wheat. Is it not then more rational, as well as scriptural, to suppose the wheat, that seed which God hath sown, sown in human earth, sown originally free from spot or blemish, but accumulating, as it grows, numerous impurities, from which, when separated, agreeably to the doctrine of the restitution of all things preached by all God's holy prophets, it shall be gathered into the garner of its God?
Such, trust me, my hearers, is the consolatory truth, plainly taught by the teaching spirit of God. This holy spirit, which ta. keth of the things of Jesus, and sheweth them unto us, assures us upon the authority of the sacred Majesty of heaven, that when the Redeemer bowed the heavens, and descended to earth, he came to destroy not his own works, but the works of the adversary.
But the adversary is not the creator of either the bodies or souls of men; these are not the orks of the adversary ; these are the works of the Redeemer. What then are the works of the adversa
ry? Lies, deceit, vanity, iniquities of every description ; in other words, chaff : these he hath sown in the human nature, and they grow with, and closely adhere to every soul of man.
But God our Creator will separate those works of the adversary from his own works; his fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor destroying whatever can offend, and gathering what he esteemeth right precious, into his garner. And, saith the spirit of truth, having purged our sins by himself, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, Hebrews i. 3. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Thus is Christ Jesus, indeed, and in truth, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world : and this ministry of reconciliation is committed unto all God's sent seryants, to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. 2d Corinthians, v. 18, 19:
“ And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation ;
“ To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them ; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
But if God did not impute the sins of the world unto the world, unto whom then did he impute them? The prophet Isaiah furnishes an answer to this question, chap. liii. 6. “ All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. « On whom, pray ? on Jesus the head of every man. Isaiah proceeds to the close of this chapter, to render this matter incontrovertible :
“ He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth : he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
“ He was taken from prison and from judgment : and who shall declare his generation ? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgressions of my people was he stricken.
“ And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death ; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
“ Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him ; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall
see his seed, he shall prolong his days and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
“ He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied : by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
66 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong ; because he hath poured out his soul unto death : and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
Thus, that mercy and truth might meet together, that death, which was the wages of sin, followed the transgression. Jesus, bearing all our sins in his own body on the tree, suffered for the unjust to bring us to God; for he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil the law, and it is therefore that a sinful world is saved, by the justice of a just God, and a Saviour; and hence we are called upon to behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world ; and it is therefore, we believe, that if the Lamb of God hath taken away the sin of the world, he hath also taken away the procuring cause of condemnation and misery.
It is the believing of this glorious, and most consolatory truth, which bestoweth peace, that peace, which the world can neither give, nor take away; and it is this indubitable truth, which renders glory to God in the highest, and peace and good will to men.
It was in some such manner as this I pursued my subject, until suffering much from previous indisposition, and being very weary, I hastened to a close.
The gentleman who statedly administered to the congregation then arose, and informed them, that a reverend gentleman then present had a short discourse to deliver, if they were willing to tarry, and hear it ; for, by the movements of the audience, it appeared they were designing to pass out of the church. I addressed them, however, earnestly requesting they would listen to the proposed discourse, regretting the severe indisposition which necessitated my departure, but congratulating them on the golden opportunity with which they were now furnished, of investigating whatever could be said, for and against the gospel of God our Saviour, of comparing, and of judging, for themselves ; and, I devoutly added, God Almighty give you understanding in all things.