Sermons to slingers and archers, to falconers and troubadours would now find scarce a reader; but farmers are as plentiful as ever, and discourses, designed for them will find hearers if they deserve them.
It is fit that farmers should have sermons gathered out of their own occupation, for it is one which, above all others, abounds in holy teaching; and, as it would be ill for dwellers in the Indies to go from home for gold and spices, so would it be unwise to leave the field and the plough in search of instruction. He who dwells at Newcastle wastes time when he goes far for coals; he who lives by the labour of the field will be foolish if he neglects the teaching of nature for the most glittering philosophy. Some of the mightiest of prophets and preachers came from the plough, and surely that must be a good college which has furnished such able divines. As all the world is fed by the produce of the farm, so may all men's minds find food in meditating upon the ways of God in nature and providence, as seen by the husbandman. Hence we have sought
He who despises truth because it wears in this case no other adornment than a garland of the flowers of the field about its neck, or a wreath of barley around its brows, has no eye wherewith to discern beauty, which is as fascinating in rural dress as in classic attire. So long as the soul is fed it is small matter whether the subjects were suggested by the palace or the barn. Reader, if you are a farmer, it will be for your eternal pleasure and profit if the Great Husbandman should meet you by his Holy Spirit in the pages of this book, and exercise his skill upon you, that you may become in his hand as a land which is both tilled and sown. Paul says of believers, "ye are God's husbandry"; may this be true of both reader and author.
Farmers should make brave Christians when grace renews them, for God is everywhere about them, and in his presence gracious souls are sure to thrive. Of old the Lord met men by the bush, the brook, and the well, and spake with them in the field, the threshing-floor, and the sheep-fold; and he still seems nearer in the country than in the grimy town. Never can the tiller of the ground open his eyes without learning something if he is willing to be taught. Weeds and plants, frost and sunshine, green shoots and yellow ears, drills and reapers, hedges and ditches, foxes and sheep, drought and flood, waggons and horses, harrows and ploughsall reveal some spiritual mystery concerning God and our own souls. Surely those men should learn much who find a schoolmaster and a lesson-book in every acre which they cultivate.
Moreover, the farmer is in a very special sense made to see his dependence upon God from season to season. He has never done; his labour is never ending, still beginning; and his hopes are never all fulfilled. From the time he sows the seed to the day when he sees the corn in the ear he is every hour dependent upon the Lord for sunshine and shower; and even when the grain is ready for the garner a stretch of rainy weather will take his harvest from him and leave him mourning at the last. He can never count his profits till he has them in his pocket, and hardly then. This manifest, absolute, and daily dependence should help the good farmer to learn the lesson of faith right thoroughly. He must look up, for where else can he look? He must leave his business in the Lord's hands, for who else can be his helper? Faith which is daily tried, and tried all the day long, has a fair opportunity of becoming unusually strong, and hence our agricultural Christians ought to be the strongest believers in the land. They have not of late been indulged with much temporal prosperity, but our hope is that a succession of adversities may have driven them to set less store by the world, to look more eagerly for the better portion, and to leave all things more believingly in the Lord's hands. This will be good out of evil beyond all question, and such good we ought to look for. Sharp discipline should by this time have made good soldiers of our yeomanry. If it be so, the failing purse is more than recompensed by the enlarged heart: if our farmers are wiser men through their bad seasons, that will be better than being richer men.
For farmers these sermons were prepared, and to them I dedicate them, with fervent prayers that when I am dead and gone some living seed may spring up from these pages, and bring forth fruit to God's glory and the benefit of immortal souls. True religion in former generations found many of her sturdiest defenders among the farmers of England and Scotland. It is to be feared that things have sadly changed in many a homestead, and the world has the mastery where once there was a church in the house. Oh that the good old times might be repeated in grange, and farm, and lodge, till every village shall have in it a sanctified people who shall glorify the Lord.
Reader, yours truly,
(A fine paperback edition of this delightful work may be ordered from Pilgrim Publications, publishers of original C. H. Spurgeon works.)
This book was transcribed for by Jo Ann Finnimore.