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Casting Bread Upon the Waters.

Casting Bread Upon the Waters.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Mar 26, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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CASTING BREAD UPON THE WATERS.BY FRANCIS JACOXECCLESIASTES XL I.THE promise that bread cast upon the waters, thatseed sown broadcast by the sower beside all waters,even upon them when the floods are high, shall be foundafter many days, is from Him that elsewhere hath de-clared, that as the rain cometh down, and the snow,from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth theearth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it maygive seed to the sower and bread to the eater ; so shall486 SEED-CORN CAST UPON THE WATERS:His word be that goeth forth out of His mouth ; it shallnot return unto Him void ; but it shall accomplish thatwhich He pleaseth, and it shall prosper in the thingwhereto He sent it And " blessed are they that sowbeside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of theox and the ass. " He that observeth the wind shall notsow ; and he that r^ardeth the clouds shall not reap/'Sky-gazing is not work, and to be over weather-wise isthe reverse of wisdom. Therefore, " In the morning sowthy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand, forthou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this orthat, or whether they both shall be alike good." Theharvest may be late. Though it tarry, wait for it Theseed may not yield its increase for awhile, till the floodsabate and the dry land re-appears ; but thou shalt findit after many days.We may apply the suggestive and finely expressedlines of Wordsworth :'' And when the streamWhich overflowed the soul was passed away,A consciousness remained that it had left,Deposited upon the silent shoreOf memory, images and precious thoughts,That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed.", Non edit arva henCy qui semen mandat arence^ says themediaeval proverb ; but between the sands of this saw,and the waters of the text, there is a (literally) substan-tial difierence — the substratum of a submerged butfertile and finally remunerative soil. Jeremy Taylorfinely speaks of agencies and results which though tous they are like water spilt, yet to God are "as waterfallen into the sea, and united in His comprehensionand enclosures." It is a loyal faith in such assurancesthat enables a worker to comply with the injunction to
be stedfast, unmovable, alway3 abounding in the work of HARVEST AFTER MANY DA YS. 487the Lord, forasmuch as he knows that his labour is notin vain in the Lord.We read of Julia Dodd, in Mr. C Readers matter-of-fact romance, that she diligently visited the wretchedBarkington, gave him good books, read to him, and*' ploughed his heart with her sweet voice, and sowed thegood seed in the furrows — seed which, like wheat orother grain, often seems to fall flat and die, but comesout green after many days." Cooper's Deerslayer isedified by the earnestness of simple Hetty's account of her interview with the Red Indians in their camp, she,as usual, with her Bible in her hand : " When I read thetexts to the chiefs, you could not have seen that theymade any changes on their minds ; but if seed is plantedit will grow. God planted the seeds of all the trees — ^**" Ay that did He, that did He," muttered Deerslayer ;" and a goodly harvest has followed." " God plantedthe seeds of all the trees," continued Hetty, after amoment's pause, "and you see to what a height andshade they have grown ! So it is with the Bible. Youmay read a verse this year, and forget it, and it will comeback to you a year hence, when you least expect toremember it" There is a simile in the laureate's GoldenYeary" As if the seedsman, raptUpon the teeming harvest, should not dipHis hand into the bag : but well I knowThat unto him who works, and feels he works,This same grand year is ever at the doors."The text of casting bread upon the waters was in fre-quent use with Coleridge, who, in the Aids to Reflection^for instance, referred to the contradistinction of theunderstanding from reason as a point for which duringtwenty years, with a perseverance which nothing but thedeepest conviction of its importance could have inspired.488 ALL WORK IS AS SEED SOWN.** I have been contending, * casting my bread upon thewaters/" One discourse of his begins with a modesthypothesis of his finding a reader for it. " Should heexist only in my imagination, let the bread float on thewaters ! If it be the Bread of Life, it will not have beenutterly cast away/' He would have said Amen in adeep voice to Arthur Hugh Clough's utterance of resig-nation, if not of patient hope, —
" Others, I doubt not, if not we,The issue of our toils shall see ;Young children gather as their ownThe harvest that the dead had sown,The dead, forgotten and unknown."Blessed are the humble, are they that are not known,says Mr. Carlyle in the course of his description of Ra-hel's life as no idle one for herself or for others-^so many-souls may the "sparkles showering from that light-fountain '' have kindled and illuminated ; whose " new-virtue goes on propagating itself, increasing itself, underincalculable combinations, and will be found in farplaces, after many days.'' He considers it beautiful tosee and understand that no worth, known or unknown,can die even in this earth. The work an unknown goodman has done he likens to a vein of water flowing underground, secretly making the ground green ; it flows andflows, it joins itself with other veins and veinlets ; oneday, it will start forth as a visible perennial well. " No-thing dies, nothing can die. No idlest word thou speakestbut is a seed cast into Time, and grows through allEternity." Hence a momentous import in the resolve," At least, not rotting like a weed,But, having sown some generous seed.Fruitful of further thought and deed,"to pass, with the rest that are passing away, passingsaway. All work is as seed sown ; it "grows and spreads^NO GOOD WORK IS DONE IN VAIN. 489and sows itself anew, and so, in endless palingenesia,lives and works." Good men, again to quote Mr. Car-lyle, are, by a bountiful Providence, sent hither to dis-seminate goodness ; literally to sow it, as in seeds shakenabroad by the living tree. " For such, in all ages andplaces, is the nature of a Good Man ; he is ever a mysticcreative centre of Goodness : his influence, if we considerit, is not to be measured ; for his works do not die, butbeing of Eternity, are eternal ; and in new transforma-tion, and ever-wider diffusion, endure, living, and life-giving." No act of man, he insists, no thing, isextinguished when it disappears ; he has known adone thing work visibly three thousand years andmore; invisibly, unrecognized, all done things work through endless times and years. " A man's little Work lies not isolated, stranded ; a whole busy World, a wholenative-element of mysterious never-resting Force, envi-rons it ; will catch it up ; will carry it forward, or elsebackward ; always, infallibly, either as living growth, orat worst as well-rotted manure, the Thing Done willcome into use." In God's world, contends Frederick Robertson, for those that are in earnest there is no

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