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Gleanings after Harvest.

by Isaac Williams

from Sermons on the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays and Holy Days

throughout the Year, Vol. II. Trinity Sunday to All Saints' Day 

Rivingtons, London, 1875.

First part of Sermon LXXI. for the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity.
 Jer. xxiii. 5-8.    St. John vi. 5-14.
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.JER. viii. 20.

IN our sacred year, as well as in the natural, we have a harvest and a summer time; and one of these has now again come to a close; so that all we can now say of the year that is past is in the words of this day’s Gospel, “Gather up the fragments that remain.” Another season of grace has gone, with all its opportunities; it is numbered among the past; its seed is laid up in the eternal future.

The portion of Scripture which our Church has appointed for the Epistle is from the Prophet Jeremiah, where, amidst the desolations of Israel and the abounding of unfaithful shepherds, God gives the promise of Christ, the Shepherd that should feed His scattered flock, and gather them out of all countries. And our appointed Gospel describes the fulfilment of this prophecy being acknowledged by the Jews, when our Lord fed the multitudes with miraculous bread in the wilderness. The one lesson, therefore, of this our last Sunday in the year, appears to be this: that amidst the desolations of the Christian Church, and whatever may be the want of faithfulness in its pastors, yet the one Great Shepherd of His flock is distributing to each the portion convenient for him; and the question to each is, whether he has made and is making the most of what he has received. For inconceivably great is our blessing as the chosen people of God; and equal to the blessing is the responsibility.

First of all, then, we have the prophecy, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth. Our Blessed Saviour is often called “The Branch,” “the Man whose Name is the BRANCH," (Zech. vi. 12; iii. 8.) inasmuch as He has been pleased to take upon Him our nature, to be made man, to be born of the stock of Abraham, of the family of David; to be, as He called Himself, “the Son  Man.” And as when He takes on Him our poverty He gives us His riches, He has graciously transferred the same name to Christians, that they should be “branches,” (St. John xv. 5.) branches in Himself, the true Vine, partakers of the Divine nature; and as He is the Son of man, that they should be made in Him sons of God.

“The righteous Branch shall reign in the earth.” Declarations of God are always fulfilled in a truer and higher sense than the words first sounded to the ear: so the Ring, the Son of David, reigning and executing judgment, has an accomplishment in us, the true Israel of God, at this day beyond the letter. Who does not feel that there is One reigning in his heart, and exercising a sway there beyond that which any mere earthly sovereign could do?

In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His Name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. “The Lord,” i. e. Jehovah, God and man. He is our sanctifica-tion, by procuring for us the Holy Spirit; our redemption, by paying for us the ransom of His death; He is “our righteousness,” says Bishop Wilson, “by satisfying the justice of God in our nature.” “A man shall be a covert from the tempest.”

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, Which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, Which brought up, and Which led the seed of the house of Israel, out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them: and they shall dwell in their own land. That is, the mercies of God are so great in the coming time that men shall no longer swear by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Who brought them up out of the land of Egypt; but by Him, the same God, Who hath wrought things far greater, of which those were but the sign ; when the Great Shepherd of the sheep shall feed His flock on the mountains of Israel, “and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd.” And then this prophecy in the Scripture appointed for the Epistle seems, as it were, to pass into the Gospel,...

.... (for the second part, on the Gospel.)