Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Evangelist


page 253


Let us forth into the fields—those which have now become the battle fields of what Mudie calls “the armies of Autumn, and which at the same time are the storehouse and garner of Him who causes the valleys to be “covered over with corn,”—let us go in that spirit that will make for us

“Tongues in the trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.”

and then, as we listen to the “tongues” of which we may say, “there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard,” as we read the “books” which are every where opened to court our perusal, we shall scarcely fail to sympathize with the royal psalmist, in his rapturous exclamation, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works: In wisdom hast thou made them all.”

But stay—can it be Autumn yet? A few days ago it was Spring. Still shine the warm suns of Summer. No, no, dreary winter must be far away—it cannot be Autumn yet. Ah! thus it is, that in the more important business of life men delude them-page 254selves, still whispering to their hearts, in satisfied self-complacency, “the end is not yet.”

However, let us not linger but “forth and walk a while.” The solar heat has wrought in nature's great laboratory—the workshop of him who is “wonderful in counsel and mighty in working”—and the results are before us. The “kindly fruits of the earth” have been produced in rich luxuriance. The golden grain waves cheerfully in the breeze. The farmer's hopes are being realized. For this he laboured in a most unpromising time; but “he that will not plough by reason of the cold, shall beg in harvest and have nothing.” In the cold damp days of winter he went out singing,

“Sink, little seed, in the earth's black mould,
Sink in your grave so wet and cold,
There must you lie;
Earth I throw over you,
Darkness must cover you,
Light comes not nigh:”—

and the seed sank, and in due time the plants arose; the grain died, and yet was quickened; the majestic and incomprehensible resurrection from the dead was once more foreshadowed as in a lively rehersal; and now the grain waits for the sickle, “the harvest of the earth is ripe.”

What an astonishing mingling of complexity and simpleness there is in nature's plan! Vegetation, carried through its earlier stages by the rains of spring, perfected by the sun of summer, is cheeked by the dry heat of autumn. By the hardening of the seed ease, that is made brittle, and the cessation of vegetable life causes the seed to be shed upon the earth. The seed, having been previously dried, does not decay, although it should lie upon the ground. The dead and decaying plant falls upon it—vegetable matter is accumulated—its elements are restored to the earth—and thus provision is made that again that seed may become a plant and perpetuate its kind—verily it is not wonderful that those who look only at the outside should see in this an endless cycle—yet it is wonderful that any rational beings should page 255 not see clearly enough through a covering so transparent, the plan of the great designer—the manifold wisdom of God.

We have glanced at the products of autumn, but where are its battles, where are its armies contending? No sound of trumpet heralds their approach. Noiselessly the resistless hosts come on—see that whitened spot on the fallen tree—mark that grotesque looking fungus that has fastened itself on the vast trunk of yon forest king—these are at once the signs and the weapons of the destroyer; but as the Goths in invading Rome and breaking down the gorgeous monuments of that gigantic empire, removed the greatest hinderances from freedom's path, and modern civilisation has sprung from the triumph of the barbaric hordes; so the moss and the fungus are but removing from the earth that which has become an encumbrance, and by their decomposing and disintegrating powers, are preparing for the fertility of future years. And the “dry rot” on the timber, and the “mould” on the decaying animal or vegetable substance, are themselves plants as perfect in their parts, as adapted to their ends, as is the oak of the forest, the corn of the field, or the rose of the garden. True, their seeds float on the “viewless air; true, their structure escaped for ages the eyes of all observers; yet from illimitable periods have they been accomplishing their destined work. The great Creator spreads his works around that his creatures may study and admire, but waits not their discoveries to fulfil his will. The ocean rolled for ages before it bore man's argosies. The Pole-star held it's place before it became a beacon to the mariner. The loadstone possessed its marvellous powers before man turned them to his own account. The steam of the cauldrons, that seethed the pottage of the olden days, was potent as that which now hurries with lightning speed the railroad car,—so let us learn that, which for us is true wisdom—our proper place; to observe, not to-appoint—to witness that which He by his own power doeth. As such marvel-page 256lous powers and agencies are at work around us— agencies which undetected have been pursuing their course for untold centuries; let us learn to “judge nothing before the time.” If it must now be deemed treason against the powers of the human intellect to loubt that the agencies, which in the vegetable kingdom are seen operating, do resuscitate that which seemed to die; so “why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead.” The discoveries of things now so patent to all eyes ought to forbid the presumption of the thought, which would thus arrogate all knowledge, and fix the bounds of the possible and true; while the beautiful analogy already discovered ought to prepare us with grateful appreciation to take Paul for our teacher, and learn lessons of spiritual wisdom from the things of the material world.

Nor let us fail to observe that which confirms the general argument—that in God's fair creation there is no death. The tree falls—but its elements are recombined, and multitudinous plants spring from its decay. The grain ripens, and the plant, losing the green hue of verdant health, lies prone on the soil from whence it grew; but its seed has already been sheltered in earth's kindly bosom, and soon shall the fair plants of spring tell of life and loveliness again. So when the autumn of man's one year has come, and the man stoops under the load of fruit, which by its maturity tells at once his honours and his decay; the winds of autumn, that shake the “sere and yellow leaves “around his path, yet whisper gently to his ear of coming immortality, and the deepening shade has lost its gloom, and with “dauntless words and high” he bids the setting sun,

“Go tell the night that hides thy face,
Thou saw'st the last of Adam's race,
On earth's sepulchral clod,
The darkening universe defy,
To quench his immortality,
Or shake his trust in God!”