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"But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it, which also beareth fruit and bringeth forth, some an hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty."--Matt. xiii. 23.
We have now, my dear young friends, passed in review the two earlier seasons of the year, the spring and the summer, and have remarked on the parallel which they bear to our youth and our manhood. We will, at present, follow up the subject by seeing what comparisons we may make between the season
of autumn and the decline of life.
In the autumn, the promises of the spring and of the summer are completed; the fruits are ripe, the corn is ready for the sickle, the vintage and the harvest are at hand. How pleasant it is at this season of the year to walk forth and behold the ripening ears which cover the fields with a golden carpet, and to rejoice in the prospect of plenty. This
is the time of busy employment for the husbandman: the reward of his industry is now in his hands, and he labours hard to gather in the produce of his fields before winter arrives.
It will afford a useful subject of reflection for us, my dear young friends, to retrace in few words the wonderful process by which the Almighty Lord brings forward the corn to this state of maturity. Let us turn our thoughts in the first place to the small hard seed which is laid in the ground. This small hard seed soon softens and swells. Then the skin is rent, and the sprout bursts forth, and finds its upward way to the surface of the earth. At first it is only like a blade of grass, but ere long it rises and strengthens into a tall firm stalk, which, when it has attained its proper height, is crowned with the ear. The seeds of which the ear is composed are at first green, soft, and without substance. But soon they change their colour to a golden hue, and are hardened into grain. Surely whenever these admirable works of the Almighty pass before our eyes, our hearts ought
to expand with gratitude and love to Him who has made them all, and for our use.
It sometimes happens that God permits the ordinary course of vegetation to be interrupted by unkindly seasons, and that the harvest consequently is barren or defective. We must not presume to search into the secrets of the most High, nor dare to decide concerning the reasons of His will. We may still feel assured that he never afflicts the children of men except with some wise and just design. Whenever, therefore, God sends these trials on us, we his creatures ought to submit willingly to them, and turn them to our spiritual good. We may also reflect, that if all harvests were fertile alike, if the course of nature went on always in its usual order, if there were no untimely frosts, no floods, no droughts, no storms, to injure or destroy the produce of the soil, man would be apt to think a continual plenty his own right and inheritance, an inheritance purchased by his own industry and skill, and he would forget to refer it, as he ought, to the bounty and constant providence of God. But when we see
that there are causes beyond our power to regulate, which may render all that we of ourselves can do of no avail; when we see “fire and hail, snow and vapours, wind and storms fulfilling God's word,"* and destroying the fruits of the earth, it is then that we feel our entire dependence on him, and are recalled to our duty. When we are thus visited by afflictions and trials, we acknowledge the chastening of the Lord, and are ready to say in the words of Job, "Shall we receive good at the hands of God, and shall we not receive evil?"†
And now, my young friends, let us consider what reflection we may reasonably draw from a comparison between the season of autumn and the decline of life.
Autumn is the season of fruitfulness. it is also the period from which the decline. of the vegetable creation takes its commencement; the leaves begin to fall from the trees; the flowers decay, and we see that winter is near at hand. And so also men, as they ad
*Ps. cxlviii. 8.
+ Chap. ii. 10.
vance towards the decline of life, find that their strength of body decreases, their hearing and their eyesight begin to fail; their hair turns grey; and they feel that old age is approaching. The storms of life also have perhaps taken hold of them; the autumn of their age is a time of sorrow and worldly disappointments. Still all this may be good for them. Their disappointments and sorrows are inflictions of the Almighty, are inflictions of him " who chasteneth those whom he loveth;" and they are often the inevitable result of the false estimates which men are apt to make of themselves, and of the false expectations which they form of what this world can give.
But let your autumn, my dear children, be, when you come to it, a fruitful autumn. Purchase that future fruitfulness in the only way in which it can be purchased, by bringing your hearts and minds now under good cultivation. The only truly happy autumn is the autumn of those who in their spring and their summer have looked to God in all things which they have done; who have che