"You are God's field." 1 Cor. 3:9
God's spiritual flock are his FIELD, his VINEYARD. Every soul in this happy number is also the GARDEN of the Lord. He has chosen it for his own cultivation. He has separated it from the wilderness around. He has fenced it and protected it by his providence and ordinances. He is occupied in cultivating it by his own Spirit, and planting it with his seed. He watches over it with the utmost care. His cultivations of mercy abound upon it. He takes the highest delight in the results of his work, and rejoices in the fruits which it brings forth to his glory. How great is this privilege! To be thus selected, favored, and blessed, as the garden of the Lord! How happy is it for me, to have been thus adopted as the portion of the Lord's inheritance! He has then redeemed me from the wilderness, and renewed me and refreshed me with the early and latter rain of his Spirit. And whatever agency he may employ, he still keeps all the right and property in himself. God's field! Am I so? Then,
1. What COMFORT such a privilege imparts! I might have been in the wilderness still, trodden down by all the wild beasts of sin and worldly lusts. But of his own grace he has selected me for himself, that I may be to the praise of his glory forever. The cultivating and guarding of his garden is all his own. The soul of man was a paradise in the beginning. Every trait of beauty and fruitfulness was there. God means to make it a paradise again, with every holy trait once more restored. Oh what comfort do his purposes give to me! He means to make me holy forever--perfectly conformed to his holy and perfect will. When I am despondent and cast down--when I find so much within me opposed to his will--when I see how rapidly all evil grows--I should despair, were I my own field. Never could I recover a wilderness like this. But when God undertakes it--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit combine to choose, restore, and cultivate it, for his eternal glory--the purpose of God greatly comforts me. I am God's field, and he will thoroughly restore me, and make me to bring forth fruit to his glory.
2. But then what WARNING it gives me! God will allow no weeds in his garden. He will cultivate it, but in his own way. His methods will often be rough and painful to me. He sees much fallow ground that he must break up with mighty power. The overgrowth of thorns and briers must be burned up. Dark providences make deep furrows in my soul. Wintry seasons seem to freeze up all my hope forever. I am sometimes almost ready to despair. But he knows his own plan, and he directs every step of it in his own way. I vainly imagine that all his tillage with me can be with sunshine. I dwell in no tropical region here. Oh no! I know that I must often be severely dealt with, if he will do me good in my latter end. Then let me never repine. Let me have entire confidence in his wisdom and his love. He is leading me on to a glorious destiny. If I am watchful, he will not forsake me. But ah, I am surrounded by a wilderness! Against its influence I must watch continually. I am in the world. Oh let me not be of it, or with it, in its habits or its fruits!
3. But it furnishes me also equal ENCOURAGEMENT. God does not leave unfinished works. Did he give his Son for me? Has he sent his Spirit to me? Did he awaken, recall, and pardon me? Has he carried me so far, in this spiritual cultivation, only to give me up in the end? Ah, I know he has given up many cultivated spots, he has pulled down the hedges and laid them waste. But why? Because, when he looked for grapes, they brought forth wild grapes--no fruits for his honor. "Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?" he may say. If I am careless and fruitless, he certainly will say so. Let me not be high-minded, but fear. His past cultivation is no inducement to carelessness--but it is great encouragement to effort, great excitement to fruitfulness. If I bear fruit, he will purify me, that I may bring forth more fruit. I would be watchful to bear always the marks of his field. In every condition, to carry with me the image and the holiness of the Lord who has chosen me. All that he has done, will then be a constant argument for what he means to do. And I may rejoice in the hope which his gracious cultivation imparts.
4. For what blessed HOPE does this title give me! I shall not always be in a wilderness. The world now harasses and distresses me; but it will not be so forever. God has higher purposes for me. He has a holier and happier condition to bestow upon me. Every season brings nearer the happy result. He comes now into his garden to examine and cultivate it. He will soon come down into his garden to gather its fruits, that he may rejoice in them forever. Oh how great is the privilege, to be forever the garden of the Lord!--to have him delight in me, and dwell with me, and refresh me with his presence, and render me more and more holy and happy in his likeness, and to shine forth forever under his blessing for his own glory. And this is the hope he sets before me. Let me live under its influence, and according to its demands. I would make it the business of my life to bear fruits for him--fruits of benevolence, and holiness, and love, and praise. Then how full of hope is my prospect! Soon an everlasting spring will open before me; and Jesus, my glorious Lord, will rejoice in the work of his own hands forever.
5. Thus blessed is my state as God's field. The title is full of comfort, of warning, of encouragement, and of hope to me. While God is carrying on his work, far from opposing it, or rendering it difficult, I will be a worker together with him, in everything. I will strive myself carefully to keep the vine that he has planted, and the branch which he has made strong for himself.
Oh could rebellious spirits taste
Those glorious seasons they have lost,
Or live again their misspent days,
How would they spend them all in praise!
Thus may I pass this life of mine,
While days of grace unclouded shine;
Thus my accepted time improve,
Lord, to the glory of your love.