And saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like passions with you…
I. THE GIFT OF GOD. "He gave," "He fills." Among the numerous scenes of beauty with which the world is furnished, there are few more calculated to delight the eye and heart than a rich autumnal prospect. It is delightful to allow the mind to rest on a wide extent of country whose plains are richly covered with waving fields of corn, and the mountains clothed with verdant pasturage, or overshadowed by the stately forest. It is delightful to reflect what a prodigious amount of enjoyment is prepared for sensitive and rational beings by the fruits of the earth arriving and arrived at maturity. It is natural to put the question, Whence originates so rich a scene?
1. Man is a proud, vain creature, and he is very apt to take the credit of almost everything to himself. Even in what is the production of human ingenuity and industry, man has but little to boast; it is merely the result of powers, which God bestowed on him, on materials bestowed by God. But there is seen less to nourish pride when contemplating the riches of harvest. Man has been at work, but human ingenuity and labour have done but little in producing the results. Man can plant and water, but man cannot give the increase. He cannot cause it to rain on the earth, to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth.
2. But it may be said that it is to be traced to the eternal laws of nature, to the independent qualities and powers of matter. It is not very easy to attach meaning to these phrases; we question their existence altogether if they mean anything more or less than a name for the ordinary way in which the great Supreme Agent has been accustomed to manifest His wisdom and power in producing certain effects. And if we were to admit the existence of "the eternal laws of nature," or "the independent qualities and powers of matter," they could not satisfactorily account for the result; for surely they must operate always precisely in the same way, It the productions of the earth are to be attributed to them, we should naturally expect that all seasons would be alike. Nothing is more self-evident than that what is in itself inert can act only as it is acted upon. And it is a principle of our nature which we cannot resist, that whenever we perceive an end steadily prosecuted, and means employed in order to gain that end, there has been the operation of a superintending being — there has been intelligence at work. The language of the Bible is the language of sound philosophy. "Thou visitest the earth and waterest it," etc.
II. A WITNESS OF GOD TO MEN. When God gives us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, He gives us a testimony with regard to —
1. His existence. We reason from the effects to a cause. There is no way of accounting for the regular motion of the earth, but by admitting that there does exist such a Being, infinitely wise, powerful, and good, as the Being whom we describe by the name of God.
2. His power. All the created powers in the universe cannot produce the humblest weed that grows in our fields. If we allow our minds to reflect on what is necessary, in order to the production of a fertile harvest, we shall be struck with amazement at the display of the power of God. Think of what is exhaled in the shape of vapour from seas, and rivers, and lakes, in every part of the earth — taken into the upper regions of the atmosphere, and there condensed, and sent down on the earth in the shape of dew and of rain — insinuating itself into the soil, making the seeds that are imbedded there to expand and grow upward. Thus God brings forth the various fruits of the earth to maturity, and furnishes abundance of food for man and beast.
3. His wisdom. How wonderfully does God adapt different soils to different grains — different grains to the constitutions of different animals! How wonderfully does He regulate the various degrees of heat, and cold, and moisture, so as to gain the great end of producing abundance of salutary food for His prodigious family of sensible and irrational beings. "How wonderful are Thy works, O Lord! in wisdom hast Thou made them all."
4. His goodness. Think what a quantity of suffering is prevented by an abundant harvest. What mind can form any conception of the horrors produced by a single season failing? And there is also the communication of an incalculable measure of happiness. No mind can form any conception of the degree of enjoyment that is produced through the world in consequence of the bounties of harvest.
5. His sovereignty. Every season is not a fruitful season; and the same seasons are not equally fruitful in every district of the same country, or in different countries. The same God, who, when He causes it to rain on one land, withholds rain from another — punishes one part of the world with scarcity, whilst He blesses another with plenty. It is the voice of God proclaiming, "Be still, and know that I am God: have not I a right to do what I will with My own? None shall stay My arm; and none dare say to Me, What doest Thou?"
6. His patience. The pensioners upon the Divine bounty are rebels against it. Surely, though God be not slack concerning His threatenings, as some men count slackness, He is long suffering, not willing that any should perish. Oh, how hardened are men's hearts not to feel the force of this appeal.
(J. Brown, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
WEB: "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the sky and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them;