They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
: — Painful work often finds pleasant reward. The way through the Red Sea and the howling wilderness leads to a fair and fruitful land flowing with milk and honey. Such is God's law of compensation, always and everywhere working out its infallible result in the experience of His chosen people. Trace this principle —
I. IN THOSE WHOM GOD ORDINARILY EMPLOYS IN EFFECTING THE GREATEST GOOD OF OTHERS. Those who gain liberty for a nation, who achieve great things in art or literature, who are the leaders of great movements. They did none of these things, nor are such things ever done, without great personal self-sacrifice. They have had to sew in tears ere they, or any whom they sought to help, could reap in joy. Did Moses, or Joshua, or Gideon, or any of the old prophets sow without tears? or, having sowed in tears, did they fail in due time to realize the joy of harvest? Did not Athens poison her greatest philosopher and expatriate her grandest orator? Was not the most eloquent advocate of the Roman cause that ever raised his voice in the Roman Forum banished by the authority of a Roman senate, and beheaded by the perfidy of a Roman triumvirate? Did not the Copernican system of the universe long hang trembling on the lips of hated and persecuted men before it dared to stand forth and speak boldly to the world? and was it not afterward in the person of Galileo imprisoned, and in his books made to pass through the fire to Ignorance? Did the great discovery of Harvey cost him no pain or weariness? or were the works of Bacon, Newton and Shakspeare fully appreciated while they lived? And the artists who live for ever in their productions — the painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, who have filled the world with the triumphs of their genius — did they not toil, for the most part, in disappointment, and poverty, and sorrow, little esteemed during life, to be almost deified after death? The pioneer settlers of this new continent sowed the wilderness with their tears, and the heroes of American independence fattened her soil with their blood.
II. IN THE SPHERE OF RELIGION AND MORALS. Whenever any great evil has been averted, or any signal triumph of truth and righteousness achieved, it has ever been at vast personal cost. See the Bible histories of all the heroes of the faith. Read St. Paul's account of his sufferings. And thus it was that Christianity, whose throne was a manger, whose diadem a thorn-wreath, whose victory the crucifixion of its Author, whoso triumphal pageant a funeral procession to a borrowed tomb, whose earliest champions a little band of despised and persecuted fishermen, is now filling the earth with its voices of jubilee, and peopling paradise with the subjects of its redemption. What painful sowing was there in the dark and dismal catacombs of Rome, in the gardens of Nero, and the Flavian amphitheatre. But the blood of the martyrs has ever been the seed of the Church. In the days of the great Reformation the life of Martin Luther was a perpetual conflict with error, but it filled all Continental Europe with God's blessed evangel, and on the same ground Dollinger and his noble compeers have lately renewed the good fight of faith. But look we higher. Who are these arrayed in white robes, with palms, and lutes, and starry diadems, and whence came they? "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne," etc. They are all witnesses that the seed which your fathers scattered fell not all upon the rooks, among the thorns, and by the desert wayside. And this is your consolation — that however hard the toil, and however unpromising the seed-time, and however tardy the advent of the genial spring, an unweeping eye shall wash the field, and a celestial dew shall water the soil, and a creative power shall quicken the germ, and in due time the whitening grain shall summon the reaper's sickle, and the harvest of joy shall have come.
(J. Cross, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.