As I have observed, those who plow iniquity, and those who sow trouble, reap the same.
I. THE TRUTH OF THE PRINCIPLE.
1. This is communicated in the New Testament by St. Paul, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7).
2. This is in accordance with experience. Eliphaz had seen it. We need not suppose that he had been deceived by some strange hallucination. We must all have observed how men make or mar their own fortunes. We know what will be the end of the career of the idle and dissipated. We are constantly watching the triumph of diligence and prudence.
3. This is after the analogy of nature. Then the harvest is according to the sowing, and it is determined by absolute laws. But there is no chaos in the human sphere. Moral causation works there as strictly as physical causation in the outer world. There is no escaping from the natural consequences of our deeds. He who sows the wind will most assuredly reap the whirlwind.
4. This is just. Job's friends were right in feeling that the wicked ought to suffer and that the good ought to be blessed. The attempt to evade the great law of causation in the spiritual sphere is as immoral as it is futile. Why should any one expect to be saved firm the harvest which he has himself sown?
II. THE FALSE APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE. The whole Book of Job demonstrates that Job's friends were wrong in applying this principle to the case of the patriarch. But why was it not applicable?
1. They anticipated the harvest. The harvest is the end of the world. Some firstfruits may be gathered earlier; often we see the evil consequences of misdeeds ripening rapidly. But this is not always the case. Meanwhile we can judge of no life until we have seen the whole of it. In the end Job reaped an abundant harvest of blessings (Job 42:10-17).
2. They ignored the variety of causes. It is a recognized rule of logic that while you can always argue from the cause to the effect, you cannot safely reverse the process and reason back from the effect to the cause, because the same effect may come from any one of a number of causes. Job might bring calamity on himself, and if he did wrong he would bring it - in the long run. But other causes might produce it. In this case it was not Job, but Satan, who brought it. It was not the husbandman, but an enemy, who sowed tares in the field.
3. They mistook the nature of the harvest. The man who sows iniquity will not necessarily reap temporal calamity. He will get his natural harvest, which is corruption, but he may have wealth and temporal, external prosperity on earth. And the man who sows goodness may not reap money, immunity from trouble, etc.; for these things are not the natural products of what he sows. They are not "after its kind." But he will reap "eternal life." Nothing that had happened to Job indicated that he would not gather that best of all harvests. - W.F.A.
Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.Hosea 8:7; Hosea 10:12, 13; Galatians 6:7, 8. We see the operation of this law in the natural world. There, in that world, as people sow, so they reap; nor do they ever expect it to be otherwise. But in the moral and spiritual world, nothing is more common than to meet with those who sow iniquity, and yet do not expect to reap of the same, either in this world or in the world to come. Men do not expect any consequences to follow a life of carelessness and impenitence. It may be that you have seen solemn and affecting instances of the operation of this law; if not, ministers of Christ will tell you that they have seen them only too often. They have seen those who have lived careless and self-indulgent lives struggle at last in vain. The hardened heart was but the fulfilment of the solemn law of God's kingdom. Amongst the many ways of sowing to the flesh, there is one which we cannot omit. It is the indulgence of pride and self-confident feelings. St. Paul speaks of sowing to the Spirit. In which way have you been sowing? Do you wish to escape the consequences — the harvest of misery — which, in the very nature of things, will follow your sowing to the flesh? Through grace you may do it.
(Alfred Bowen Evans.)
1. It is so far true as to assure us that there is a righteous Governor and a just Judge of the world. We cannot apply the rule laid down by Eliphaz. It is a rule to us no longer. We have no right to fix upon any individual or nation upon earth, and to affirm that Almighty God is dealing with the one or the other in a way of retribution, because they may be suffering such and such things. But, notwithstanding this, there is a principle at work in the affairs of men, so far manifest as to show that the world is not left to take its chance, and that the children of men cannot do as they please.
2. It is so far true as it hath respect to the natural constitutions of men. Men cannot transgress the principles of their nature with impunity, nor run counter to the rules of their constitution unharmed. Nature is not to be trifled with. And the retribution that followeth the violation of physical laws is a sure pledge of a retribution that will follow the infringement of moral.
3. It is true so far as to obviate the necessity of our ever taking vengeance into our own hands. God repayeth that we need not. Vengeance is His, that it may not be ours. It has been said, "God avengeth those that do not avenge themselves."
4. It is true so far as to inspire us with a salutary fear for ourselves. There is to be a resurrection of action as well as of agents; of deeds as well as of doers; of works as well as of men. And we know not how soon, as to some of its details, this resurrection may take place. The transgressor is never safe. Whatsoever wrong any man hath done may be required of him at any time.
(Alfred Bowen Evans.)
Homilist.I. HUMAN LIFE IS A SOWING AND A REAPING. All the actions of a man's life are inseparable, united by the law of causation. One grows out of another as plants out of seed. The sowing and the reaping, strange to say, go on at the same time. In reaping what we sowed yesterday, we sow what we shall have to reap tomorrow.
II. LIFE'S REAPING IS DETERMINED BY ITS SOWING. "I have seen, they that plow iniquity," etc. Like begets like everywhere, the same species of seed sown will be reaped in fruit. He that soweth hemlock will not reap wheat, but crops of hemlock. All moral actions are moral seeds deposited in the soul.
III. THE REAPING OF THE SINNER IS A TERRIBLE DESTINY. What a destiny this: to be reaping wickedness, to be reaping whirlwinds of agony. From this subject learn —
1. The great solemnity of life. There is nothing trifling. The most volatile sin is a seed that must grow, and must be reaped. Take care!
2. The conscious rectitude of the sinner's doom. What is hell? Reaping the fruit of sinful conduct. The sinner feels this, and his conscience will not allow him to complain of his fate.
3. The necessity for a godly heart. All actions and words proceed from the heart: out of it are the issues of life. Hence the necessity of regeneration.
(Homilist.)1. That to be a wicked man is no easy task; he must go to plough for it. It is ploughing, and you know ploughing is laborious, yea, it is hard labour.
2. That there is an art in wickedness. It is ploughing, or, as the word imports, an artificial working. Some are curious and exact in shaping, polishing, and setting off their sin. So to say such a man is an abomination worker, or a lie maker, notes him not only industrious, but crafty, or (as the prophet speaks) "wise to do evil."
3. That wicked men expect benefit in ways of sin, and look to be gainers by being evil-doers. They make iniquity their plough; and a man's plough is so much his profit, that it is grown into a proverb, to call that (whatsoever it is) by which a man makes his living or his profit, his plough. Every man tills in expectation of a crop; who would put his plough into the ground to receive nothing? It is even so with wicked men, when they are stoning, they think themselves thriving, or laying up that in the earth a while, which will grow and increase to a plentiful harvest. What strange fancies have many to be rich, to be great, by ways of wickedness! Thus they plough in hope, but they shall never be partakers of their hope.
4. That every sinful act persisted in shall have a certain sorrowful reward.
5. That the punishment of sin may come long after the committing of sin. The one is the seedtime, and the other a reaping time; there is a great distance of time between sowing and reaping. The seeds of sin may lie many years under the furrows.
6. That the punishment of sin shall be proportionable to the degrees of sin. He shall reap the same, saith the text, the same in degree. If ye sow sparingly, ye shall reap sparingly; on the other side, if ye sow plentifully, ye shall reap plentifully.
7. Punishment shall not exceed the desert of sin.
8. That the punishment of sin shall be like the sin in kind. It shall be the same, not only in degree, but also in likeness. Punishment often bears the image and superscription of sin upon it. You may see the father's face and feature in the child. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).
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