REAPING WHAT WE SOW.
"Be not deceived: God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap. For he that soweth to his flesh. shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Galatians8: 7,8.
It very easy for us to deceive ourselves and one another, and there is a good deal of deception in the world. But we cannot deceive God.
When we try to deceive him, we are thinking all the time that he is like us. We are told in Jermian'tnat "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Any man who leans on his own understanding will be deceived. How many times have we deceived others, and because we succeeded in doing so, thought we could deceive God; but we cannot do it. You may mock us; but whatever you do in that way, don't mock God. I was reading, some time ago, of a young man who had just come out of a saloon, and had mounted his horse. As a certain deacon passed on his way to church, he followed the deacon and said, "Deacon, can you tell me how far it is to hell?" The deacon's heart was pained, to think that a young man like that shonld talk so lightly; he passed on and said nothing. When he came round the corner to the church, he found that the horse had thrown that young man, and he was dead. So you may be nearer the Judgment than you think. Now, in the first place, a man expects to reap. That is true in the natural world; men are sowing and planting, and what for? Why, to reap. And so it holds true, you will find, in the spiritural world. Not only that, when he sows he expects to reap more than he sows, and the same that he sows. If he sows wheat, he doesn't expect to get potatoes; if he wants wheat he sows wheat. If a man learns the trade of a carpenter, he don't expect to be a blacksmith. It says in the fifth chapter of Matthew: "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." See how God has dealt with the nations. See if they have not reaped what they sowed. What has become of the monarchs and empires of the world? What brought ruin on Babylon? Why, her king and people would not obey God, and ruin came upon them. What has become of Greece and all its power? It once ruled the world. What has become of Rome and all its greatness? When their cup of iniquity was full, it was dashed to the ground. What has become of the Jews? They rejected salvation, persecuted God's messengers, and crucified their Redeemer; and we find eleven hundred thousand of them perished at one time. Oh, my friends, it \» only a question of time. Look at the history of this country. With an open Bible, our forefathers planted slavery; but judgment came at last There is not a family North or South that has not had to mourn over some one taken from them. Instead of that war humbling us, how defiant we became. Look and see how crime has increased during the past few years. Ah, this fair republic will go to pieces, if there is not more righteousness; it will perish like the other nations, if we don't repent in time. I happened to be in France in 1867, and I confess I could not tell the difference between Sunday and any other day; and did not God punish France for her sins? She went down from her high station, very quickly. But a few yean ago, she stood shoulder to shoulder with the leading nations of the earth. Why have those nations fallen? Just because God made them reap what they sowed. Now if a man sows for this life, why, he will reap in this life; and if he sows for eternity, he will reap in eternity. If he sows to the Spirit, he will have his harvest up yonder. If he sows to the flesh, he will reap disappointment and despair; he will reap gloom and death and hell; but if he sows to the Spirit, he will reap joy and peace and long-suffering and gladness, for these are the fruits of the Spirit; and not only that, but he has everlasting life. Now just ask yourself to-night what are you sowing? Are you sowing for time, or are you sowing for eternity? Are you sowing good seed, or are you sowing bad seed?
You must remember, the judgment sometimes comes down very suddenly, and sometimes it is deferred; but all through Scripture, we find that God deals in grace before he deals in judgment. Now, last night I showed that God dealt in judgment with Lot, and what a bitter end his was. Just take up your Bible, and all through it you will see that God deals in grace and government. Take that priest of his, Eli; he had two sons who didn't care for God. He failed to bring them up right. They sold what was offered to God, and became very wealthy; but they were slain in battle against the Philistines, and Eli himself, when he heard the news, fell back and broke his neck. God sent a message twenty years before that sentence was carried out, that judgment would come. Look at the sons of Jacob. They sold Joseph and deceived their father. Twenty long years rolled away, and away down in Egypt their sin followed them; for they said: "We are guilty of the blood of our brother." The reaping time had come at last, for those ten boys that sold their brother. If God will punish his own priest, Eli, one of his own children, won't he punish those who have not accepted the offer of salvation? Mr. Moody proceeded at length to show that Jacob and David, though children of God, were severely judged in this life for their sins. So keep this in mind, that God has got a government. He may forgive us, he may give us eternal life; but it is the law of high heaven that a man must reap what he sows.
Now bear in mind that these three men were men of graoe. W» will see them in heaven, there is no doubt about that.
Now some of you will say: "If God is going to forgive me mv sins, how does he make me reap what I have sown?" Well, I will illustrate it. Suppose I send out a man to sow wheat; he neglects to do his duty well, and sows tares. When the wheat grows up, I find it out and call him to account. "Well, to be honest with you," he says, "I got mad and sowed a lot of tares; but I am very sorry for it" I forgive him for sowing the tares, but when the reaping time comes, I make him reap them. Why, one of those men who spoke here today was a drunkard for thirty years. I have no doubt his sins are forgiven; but oh! how he is reaping what he has sown! His wife and his children are away from him; he has not seen his little boy for fifteen years! I see a man in this audience to-night, and oh! how he is reaping, how I pity him. A few months ago, he was in a happy home in England. He gambled his employer's money all away, and now he is an exile, a stranger in a strange land, (rod may forgive hi in, but he must reap what he has sown. Some men think that hard, but it can't be otherwise.
I tried to help a poor man in Philadelphia. He had been in prison; and I could not help but try to lift him up. He betrayed my confidence, so we don't know whom to help. Now suppose here is» father; he has got a boy who has gone out and stolen some money. His conscience is thoroughly roused, and he goes and confesses it "Yes, my boy," the father says, "I will forgive you, but you must go and confess it." He don't want to do that, but he must do it; he has got to reap what he has sown. Do you think God would punish Jacob and his own children, and let unbelieving sinners go unpunished? Do you think the ten thousand rumsellers of New York are not going to be punished? I would not take the place of one of them, if you gave me all the world. Look at that little, weak, pale, thin girl, only six or seven years old; she went into a saloon ami went to the bar, and said to the saloon-keeper: "Oh, sir, don't sell papa any more liquor, for we are starving." The ruin-seller ordered her out. You think there was no God to witness that? Oh, there is a just God yonder, and men are going to be gathered there to give an account of their stewardship, by-and-by. Do you think that libertine, who has gone and lied to that lady, and then ruined her and fled—do you think he is going unpunished? He may escape the law on earth; but he will be tried at God's bar, be bound hand and foot, and cast into hell. There is a day of grace now. He will forgive you the sin, though he will make you reap what you sow. He will give you your eternal life, if you will only come to him and confess your sin, and is it not the very best thing you can do to coine to God to-night?