The husbandman is close to the heart of nature, lives in touch with God, and so, more than many, shares His deep content, His tranquillity, and builds up a character of hardy independence, of kindly considerateness for His servants, and of helpful ministry to the poor.
As clouds and rain, crashing thunder storms, and the chill airs of many a night all contribute to the wealth and ripeness and glory of harvest, so do pain and sorrow and death ripen the human soul for the harvest home of eternal rest.
Believe in God, believe in nature, and do your duty; and the farm life, with its regular round of duties, its simple loves, its high thoughts, its wise economies, its immediate touch of earth, its charming gossip, its pleasant human interests, and its many windows through which we may catch sight of the face of God, will yield us all we need for a simple, manly, godly life.
The farmer is ever a man of faith. Were he not a firm believer in what he has not seen he would not turn a furrow or sow a grain. Why should he believe in a morrow, in a coming summer or autumn; in springtime or harvest, in growth or ripening? It is all of faith, whether we will or no. The harvest is Gods testimony that He is the rewarder of them that diligently work with Him.
So the seed was sown and the harvest came; and though four thousand times the tender grain has sprung up from the soil, that pledge has never once been violated. The harvest fields form the tawny ocean which flows uninterruptedly from the diluvian age to this. And this is evident: that it is to the covenant faithfulness of God that we are indebted for the harvests of each year. Let that stand as the one first great condition of the harvest.
Growth is completed. The fields are at rest, and their green is bordered with russet and gold. The apple-trees are laden with fruit worthy of Eden and reminding one of the forfeited home of the fallen race. Paradise is not wholly gone; rich morsels of precious fruitage still reward the man of well-directed toil. Its flowers bloom for us in summer; its fruits ripen for us in these luscious September days; its fragrance still lingers on the soft wings of the breeze that dances lightly over the fields which the Lord hath blest.
On earth we sang harvest-songs as the wheat came into the barn and the barracks were filled; you know there is no such time on a farm as when they get the crops in; and so in heaven it will be a harvest-song on the part of those who on earth sowed in tears and reaped in joy. Angels shout all through the heavens, and multitudes come down the hills crying, Harvest-home! harvest-home!
Do not despise your work. Do it well. Be a whole man to it while you are at it. Israels great men did not think it beneath them to inspect their flocks. The patriarchs were shepherds and cultivators of the soil. Job was a shepherd. Moses was a shepherd. David looked well after his flocks. Gideon was accosted by God when he was threshing wheat. A great and noble life does not depend on rank or place, but on purpose, faith, love, character and service.
The years food only is grown in the year. Each year the world depends for subsistence upon something freshly given it which it cannot provide for itself. As the harvest approaches the wolf is at the door. Nothing stands between us and starvation but the harvest covenant of the ever-faithful God seed-time and harvest shall not cease. Away, then, with our fancied independence! Our breath is in our nostrils. Back again to old-time simple dependence on the covenant-keeping Godback to the arms of our Father! We pray in the line of the harvest covenant when we say, Give us this day our daily bread.
When the season has become pronounced and settled there is a ripeness in everything. The leaves die and the fruit falls; they die and drop because they have run their course. They tell of completeness and perfection as well as of decay. We are thoughtful, but yet not sad. Autumn wears no weeds in coming to the goal. Her robes of red and gold are put ona sort of royal attire. It is the crowning of the year.
So the life of agricultural industry has better guaranties than the crowns of kings. Husbandry is more secure than the treasures of the great. Nature is exhaustlessly reproductive. Let men have free access to and free use of it, and its cultivation will be a sure source of support for the family and a source of progress for the nation. He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread. Mother Earth cares for her children. The landscape of the farm is full of divine feeling and rich in suggestions that inspire calm and quicken industry. It throbs with the tender heart of God. It is alive. In its simple and steady processes it reveals the Fathers care for His children.
Place what value we will on the productiveness of nature, on the regularity, constancy, of the seasons, these things are worthless of themselves, The fact is, mans food will not come to him of itself. It is a peculiarity of all the cereals that they are never found growing wild; they cannot spring up spontaneously. Further, and curiously, they cannot prolong their existence without the care of man; they are never self-sown. A neglected field of wheat or corn may in the first year produce a few scattered stalks of half-filled ears; but soon even these disappear, and a few summers will suffice to obliterate every trace of grain. Thus undoubtedly is the sentence executed, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. Life depends on laborhere we have the other condition of the harvest. Man may sow and man may water, but God alone gives the increase. But equally true is it that unless man plants and plows and reaps, seed-time and harvest avail him nothing.
In language so clear that the unlearned and the young can understand, the Saviour, in the parable of the wheat and the tares, shows that all along the journey of life mankind are sowing seed of some kind, which at the end of life is going to produce a harvest, the sure outcome of the kind of seed sown. Nature is inflexible in certain results, founded and fixed by the great Creator of nature and her laws. What the farmer sows he will be sure to reap. Never yet since the world began have men gathered grapes from a bush of thorn, or figs from a tuft of thistles. And every one throughout Christendom who is old enough and intelligent enough to read the Bible must know and understand that he occupies the place of a sower who will ultimately reap whatever is sown in the heart as to religious or irreligious belief, as to faith in Christ as a Redeemer, or as to indifference concerning the final condition of the soul.