1 Corinthians 9:7-14
Who goes a warfare any time at his own charges? who plants a vineyard, and eats not of the fruit thereof? or who feeds a flock…
Ploughing the land may properly be considered as one of the most laborious of those services to which husbandmen are called: much strength, skill, and perseverance are required. The same field must be frequently retraced by weary steps, till the whole is regularly and deeply furrowed. But arduous, difficult, and wearisome as this employment is, we find persons cheerfully and habitually engaged in it, although it yields no immediate return of profit, and is only preparatory to their other toils. Hope animates their exertions, not the expectation of a direct benefit, but the hope of suitable weather for sowing; the blessing of heaven on the springing of the seed; and, remotely, the returns of harvest. It will be our purpose to illustrate this one position — that those more difficult duties of religion which do not promise immediate advantage, yet should be promptly and perseveringly engaged in. "He that plougheth should plough in hope."
1. We shall see the propriety of applying the sentiment of our text, primarily, to repentance towards God. This is indeed the gift of God, but clearly the duty of man. Painful, tedious, and distressing as this toil is, it is preparatory to that state of rich cultivation which is the honour of the Christian character. Then those of you who are convinced of sin, and are sorrowing in the bitterness of your spirits, persevere.
2. May not the sentiment of these words be considered as applicable to that reformation and regulation of heart and life which invariably accompany, yea, may be considered as essential parts of true repentance — as the necessary products of genuine contrition? Self-inquiry, like the searching and separating ploughshare, will be driven over every part of the heart: irksome as the service may appear, no nook or corner of that barren field shall be left unbroken.
3. There are numerous acts of self-denial required by Him who for our sakes bare His Cross and hung thereon. These, like the toils of tillage to which our text alludes, require much skill and perseverance in their discharge; and but for a better hope would be in every case neglected.
4. Various are the duties of benevolence He performed towards His fellow immortals.Not only are we called to cultivate our own hearts, but to labour for the good of others, that they may not be barren and unfruitful in knowledge of our Lord and Saviour: but frequently this toil is so irksome, and the advantage, if any, so remote, that but for the principle presented in our text, we should refuse to commence our work, or cease in the midst of our labours.
1. Are there any here who must be charged and convicted of having put their hand to the plough and looked back?
2. Let me offer consolation to such as have long toiled, and have hitherto wrought unrewarded in the field of exertion.
3. I congratulate such as patiently persevere, even where success appears withheld.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?