For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden enables seed to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
I. HER CLOTHING. As garments are for protection and ornament, so it may stand as a figure of a community arrayed in the strength and righteousness of Jehovah. And so the Church still sings -
"Jesus, thy robe of righteousness II. NATURE'S PARABLE OF SPIRITUAL JOY. (cf. Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:19; Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 55:10, 11; Isaiah 58:11.) The joy with which we see the earth becoming all "one emerald" with the new verdure of spring; the burgeoning of the trees, the disclosure of the rudiments of future leaves and flowers, is in a sense prophetic of some analogous process in the spiritual world. For self-fulfilling is the power of the Divine Word. And even when the aspect of Church and state is most dark and depressing, life is stirring, seeds of better development are germinating, and events are being set in motion which shall stir men up to praise Israel and the God of Israel. - J.
II. NATURE'S PARABLE OF SPIRITUAL JOY. (cf. Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:19; Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 55:10, 11; Isaiah 58:11.) The joy with which we see the earth becoming all "one emerald" with the new verdure of spring; the burgeoning of the trees, the disclosure of the rudiments of future leaves and flowers, is in a sense prophetic of some analogous process in the spiritual world. For self-fulfilling is the power of the Divine Word. And even when the aspect of Church and state is most dark and depressing, life is stirring, seeds of better development are germinating, and events are being set in motion which shall stir men up to praise Israel and the God of Israel. - J.
Isaiah 55:10; Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:19; Isaiah 58:8).
For as the earth bringeth forth her bud.
(F. Delitzsch, D. D.)
(Prof. J. Skinner, D. D.)
I. It is a MANIFESTATION that we see. A mystery hidden during the winter months is being revealed. As Nature hides and then reveals, "So the Lord will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth."
1. It is a great manifestation of power that we see. We more readily associate God's power with vast convulsions; but this is the continuously working and gentle power of the Most High. Mark the consummate case with which all is done. Yet not a sheath is split, not a flower starts from the earth, but it is moved to do so by some power.
2. Is not this putting forth of leaves a great manifestation of mind? Suppose we discard the word "design ' and accept the word "adaptation," do we escape from the suggestion of mental action? It is not possible to describe the facts as they appear to us without using language that implies adjustment by means of mind.
3. It is something more than mind that is manifested in the beauty of nature. Beauty is only visible to reason, indeed to the higher kind of reason. Your horse sees nothing of the beauty of the landscape; your dog despises your flowers. The images of all these things are reflected on their eyes as on yours, but they produce no emotion. So that in nature, it seems, special provision is made for the peculiar gratification of the higher mind of man. Surely it must be reason that thus addresses itself to reason, and if reason, then benevolence.
II. The prophet sees in this THE PARABLE OF ANOTHER MANIFESTATION — a great moral and spiritual manifestation. "So the Lord God," etc. It is pathetic that he should maintain this faith through the "winter of his discontent." All spiritual influences are treasured up, and there is a conservation of spiritual force as of natural. But the preparation is long, as the winter that precedes the spring. How great the joy of knowing that we may help to provide or strengthen the forces of the world's true vernal hour.
III. Remember that WE SHALL BE MANIFESTED (2 Corinthians 5:10). Forces arc gathering within us. When we "awake, may our surprise, even in respect to ourselves, be like that with which we look upon the new heavens and the new earth!
(A. H. Vine.)
1. It defends the rights of man. It takes nothing from him but his sin.(1) Every man has a right over his own person. God has given him a body, and over its senses and members he has a sovereign right; and if he does not by the use, or rather by the abuse of this right, sin against the laws, order, and welfare of society, no one but God has any authority to take it away. But, alas! man is often robbed of his original right. There are two systems in the world, which, without shame or apology, perpetuate and sanction the guilty act; slavery and religious persecution. Now the Gospel detects, condemns, and in proportion to its progress destroys, these dark and direful systems.(2) Man has a right over his property. The Gospel, by prohibiting fraud, theft, robbery, and every form of dishonesty, defends this right. It teaches men to be righteous in the acquisition, the enjoyment, and the disposal of wealth.(3) Man has a right over his mind. And it is the mind, after all, that gives value to man. But it is injured, enslaved by ignorance, error and the world. For there is a slavery darker and deeper than that which tortures the flesh. A mind in chains is the greatest injustice and the greatest distress in the universe. It is painful to think how little real advantage the souls of men have derived from civilization, and its attendant blessings. There is nothing on earth that can give purity, freedom, righteousness, and comfort to the soul, except the truth and spirit of Christ. "If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
2. The Gospel also reveals a righteousness which God has provided for man as a guilty and lost sinner. It shows that God can save transgressors without transgressing Himself the eternal laws and the general interests of His government. To show this is its peculiar use. The chief object of the Gospel is not to prove that there is love in God, but to show the nature and extent of that love. Natural religion preaches the benevolence of God; revealed religion preaches the justice of His benevolence. The creation proves the existence of God's perfections; the cross of Christ harmonizes them.
II. THE SPIRIT OF GOD ALONE CAN RENDER THIS SYSTEM OPERATIVE AND EFFICIENT IN THE WORLD. "The Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." The process by which this is to be accomplished is figuratively described in the text: "As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth," so the Lord God will make the Gospel effectual to the salvation of men. The process is Divine, vivifying, progressive, and beautiful.
(Caleb Morris.)I. THE ONCOMING OF SPRING TEACHES THAT THERE IS A GOD. There is an invisible Creator, a reflection of whose thoughts and a product of whose power are all these magic spring wonders.
II. Another lesson which spring particularly teaches is that THERE ARE ALLOTTED SEASONS FOR CERTAIN TASKS. Our Saviour thus on several occasions speaks of "times and seasons" ordained by God. And the Psalmist refers to this same arrangement when he says,: "The Lord appointeth the moon for seasons, the sun knoweth his going down. In nature, therefore, spring holds an ordered place. As summer is for ripening and autumn for reaping, so is this season for planting. It is the season for beginnings, the time for casting in the seed. Just such an order there is in the vineyard of grace. There is a spring-time of the Gospel, when all the conditions are favourable to making secure our eternal interests. Let every one heed this period. For it is most critical. It is his accepted time; it it his day of salvation. Ordinarily, the spring season is your youth. But in some cases it, doubtless owing to unfavourable early circumstances, comes later.
III. ANOTHER LESSON OF SPRING WE LEARN ALONE FROM INSPIRATION. It is that taught by the prophet in the text: "For as the earth bringeth forth her bud," etc. That is, as Christians look upon nature putting on her flowery spring attire, and as they see a universal bursting forth of life, activity and joy, they are to behold in this a sign and a pledge of the progress, triumph and universal prevalence of the kingdom of God.
IV. SPRING, MOREOVER, TEACHES THE DIVINE ORIGIN AND POWER OF BEAUTY. Does it not fulfil that Scripture which says "He hath made everything beautiful in his time"? And we learn therefrom that beauty is Divine. That we live not for blind utility and stern necessities alone.
V. SPRING IS AN EMBLEM OF IMMORTALITY. This rejuvenation coming out of the icy tomb of winter shows us that Nature does not die — she only sleeps. Emerson puts this argument thus: "The soul does not age with the body. On the borders of the grave the wise man looks .forward with equal elasticity of mind and hope. For it is the nature of intelligent beings to be for ever new to life."
(J. B. Remensnyder, D. D.)
I. CONTEMPLATE THIS TRUTH IN REFERENCE TO THE BROAD FIELD OF THE WORLD. Let our meditations range through history and into prophecy.
1. This leads us to expect that there may be in God's work, and in our work for God, a period of unrequited labour. The analogy between the processes of nature and God's work in the Church holds good not only as to the revivals of spring, but as to the depressing incidents of winter. We must not always reckon to see nations converted the moment the Gospel is preached to them, and especially where new ground has been broken up (James 5:7). While the seed is under the ground a thousand adversaries present themselves, all apparently in array against its ever rising from the earth. When we survey the condition of affairs apart from faith in God, it may even seem to us that, our cause is hopeless.
2. Our text excites the hope of a sacred spring-time. God's Gospel cannot perish. That which is sown in the garden springs up because there is vitality in it. Even so the truth of God is an incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever. Life in garden seeds may be destroyed; under certain influences the life-germ may perish, but the living truth of God is immortal and unconquerable (1 Peter 1:24, 25). But seed springs up, not only because of its own vitality, but because of its surrounding circumstances. So we may rest assured that Godwill make all things propitious in His providence to the growth of His own truth. But the corn comes not up out of the earth because it is vital, or because of its surroundings merely, for, as we believe, there is the actual power of God at work throughout nature. And it is because God is at work in His Gospel — mysteriously at work, it is true, but certainly at work, for the Spirit of the living God which was given at Pentecost has never gone back to heaven — that we expect the Gospel to flourish. If at any time our mind should grow desponding concerning the progress of the Gospel, it ought to encourage us to remember that the Gospel will conquer, not because it looks as if it would, but because God has declared and decreed that it shall do so. The disheartening circumstances of the winter may have been, all of them, promotive of the success of the spring. Remember what sowing has already gone before. Christ sowed the earth with His own self. Remember, too, who is the Husbandman of this field. Moreover, there is the Spirit Himself, as well as the Father and the Son, and He has designed to dwell in the midst of the Church.
II. CONTEMPLATE THIS TRUTH IN REFERENCE TO THE GARDEN COMMITTED TO YOUR OWN PERSONAL CULTURE. As God's people you have all something to do for Him; I want you to do it in the best possible manner; but you will not do so unless you are of good heart. Be not impatient with regard to the result of what you are doing. Exercise faith as to results.
III. CONTEMPLATE THIS SAME TRUTH IN REFERENCE TO THE BELIEVER'S SPIRITUAL STATE. Do you not sometimes fall into a wintry condition? There are times when we feel as if we had no life at all. In such times as these we cannot make any change in ourselves. What we cannot do, God can do. Spring comes from yonder sun, and so must our revival in religion, and our restored joy and peace, come from God.
IV. CONTEMPLATE ALL THIS IN REFERENCE TO THOSE WHO ARE NEWLY AWAKENED. Those very desires of yours show that there is some good seed sown in you. It is winter-time with you; may that winter do you good. Your only hope of anything better than what you arc passing through lies in Christ.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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