Say not you, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest? behold, I say to you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields…
I. A DESCRIPTION OF THE EXISTING CONDITION OF THE WORLD. The "fields" are the world; they were "white unto harvest," ready for the accomplishment of the work of mercy.
1. It was the time which had been appointed in the predetermination of the Divine counsels for introducing the economy of grace. It was "the fulness of time."
2. The fields were "white" because of the spiritual necessities which then actually pressed upon the circumstances of man. No time could have been more apt. Jews and Gentiles were alike at the furthest limit to which want could possibly impel.
3. The time of the Saviour's advent was one of great expectancy. Among the Jews were many like Simeon; among the Gentiles many like the Magi. The state of the world since has always to some extent admitted the application of the words "white unto harvest," and some periods more particularly than others(1) When the gloom of the Middle Ages was about to pass away.
(2) Now, as seen in the state and relationships of human governments; the influence of our own country in every continent; the feeling of sympathy and the acknowledgment of duty on the part of professing Christians; the wealth and talent of the Church; the actual wants of heathendom, and their readiness to receive the Word of God. The disciples of the Saviour are summoned themselves to contemplate the state of the world. "Lift up your eyes and see."
II. A STATEMENT OF THE DIFFERENT OFFICES OF LABOUR APPOINTED AND HELD IN CONNECTION WITH THE CONDITION DESCRIBED.
1. As to the origin of the offices to be contemplated they are of Divine appointment. "The Lord of the harvest" alone sends forth labourers; and here the Redeemer asserts His own prerogative, "I sent you."
2. The nature of the offices thus exhibited. He that sows has not the immediate tokens of success; he that reaps gathers at once the ripened corn. So the office of some has been to prepare the mind, to settle preliminaries, to lay foundations; of others to follow and to garner the result. The labour of the prophets, and the success of the apostles, is typical of much modern Christian labour. The reformers laboured, ministers now reap. And while we reap from generations past, we sow for generations to come.
3. The spirit in which these offices should be sustained. There should be —
(4) Supplication for the Divine blessing.
III. THE PROMISE OF THE BLESSING BY THE BESTOWMENT OF WHICH THOSE OFFICES SHALL BE CONSUMMATED.
1. There is a recompense granted to the faithful exercise of the duties which the offices comprehend. "He that reapeth," etc.
2. There will be a final meeting of all the labourers for mutual communion and joy, "together."
Parallel VersesKJV: Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.