And it is so if you get a little closer home, still, to the microcosm or little world of your own self. There is no part of man which does not yield him its thorns. Many of us have a thorn in the flesh. Is there any part of the body which may not, if God so wills it, become the subject of disease and, consequently, the source of pain to us?
I know some whom God dearly loves—I know He loves them, for He favors them very highly—who, nevertheless, find that in the body of this flesh there are the seeds of corruption. There are the bitter wells of Marah by reason of sharp pain of body and, as to the mind, itself, what mind is there that is full of faith and most joyful in the Lord which is not naturally, still, the subject of grief? Yes, and even in the soul, itself, by reason of the imperfection of our sanctification, from the fact that we are not so filled by the Spirit, and not so conscious of the abiding of the Spirit within us as we yet shall be, thorns, also, and thistles are brought forth to us.
I may be speaking to some who can say, with an emphasis, that they oftentimes find great crops of thistles springing up in their hearts. And they have to keep the sickle of sacred mortification going to cut them down and they try, if possible, to dig them up by the roots. But thus it is—you cannot expect a perfect life of happiness in an imperfect world like this. No, your Savior carried the Cross, and you will have a cross of some kind or other to carry after Him.
Now, still dwelling on this dreary fact, as we have it foretold in the text, let us learn from the text, itself, first, that trials will come spontaneously. Nobody is so foolish as to sow thorns and thistles. I have often wondered who that great fool must have been, who, being a Scotchman, desired to see the old Scotch thistle growing up in New Zealand and, therefore, sent a packet of seed out there to poison, with his precious thistle, that land where there were none before!
I think the man who would venture to sow even one seed of a thistle in such a world as this, where thistles grow quite plentifully enough, must have gone a long way in folly. But if, dear Friend, you never cause trouble to others and do nothing that can bring trouble to yourself—and you will be a wonderfully wise man if that is the case—still, troubles will come of themselves! If you need a herb of the field that you are to feed upon, you must sow it.
Your wheat and your barley, you must sow with care.
Commentary on Matthew
As to the thorns and thistles, you need not take any trouble about sowing them—they will spring up of themselves spontaneously—and so will the afflictions and tribulations of this life come to you without any effort on your part! And, as they come spontaneously, so trials will come unavoidably. I care not how careful a man may be with his farm—he will find thorns and thistles springing up and needing to be destroyed! He may have plowed and harrowed, and done his best to get rid of every thistle in autumn before it has seeded, and yet he cannot keep the troublesome things out—they will be sure to come.
So you may rest assured that troubles of heart, and troubles of body, and troubles of mind will come to you, watch and guard against them as you may! All the prudence and care, yes, and all the prayer and faith that you can summon to your help, will not keep you clear of these thorns and thistles. As they are spontaneous, so are they unavoidable. To many, also, trials are very abundant. If any of you are vexed with trial after trial, I pray you do not think it a strange thing—you are not at all alone in such an experience.
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I can find you another man who can equal you, and many women who can surpass you in their afflictions! Are these the toils Your people know, While in the wilderness below? Thorns and thistles come abundantly—and trials come very variously. Ah, well, you are to expect these things! If you had only one form of trouble, perhaps you would grow used to it and, therefore, it might lose its effect. It is the very fact that it wounds that makes it useful to us! If the rod does not make the child smart, what is the use of it?
And if our troubles do not make us grieve, why, then, they are not troubles, and there is no room for Divine Grace to support us under them! We may expect to have trials of every sort and size, for they attend the followers of the Lamb as long as they are in the world that lies under this curse.
I think that, without straining the text, I may say that trials will come very frequently, for thorns and thistles seem to spring up very early in the morning, and very early in the spring, and very late in the autumn, and even far into the winter! When is there a time when a man in this world, yes, a Christian, too, can be sure that he will be perfectly free from trouble? And trials come universally. I have seen thorns and thistles on the tops of the Surrey Hills, growing by myriads, enough to seed a kingdom with them!
They grow in the gardens of Windsor Castle as well as in the backyard of your lodging house. Thorns, also, and thistles grow anywhere—on dunghills or in conservatories! They seem to be universally scattered! The downy wings carry the thistle seed everywhere and it springs up in most unlikely places. If you think that other people are to be envied because of their freedom from trial, it is possible that if you knew more about them, you would find that they were to be pitied, and that your lot, after all, is much better than theirs! Now, I am not going to say any more about this general fact, a fact which I suppose most of you know quite as well as I do, that thorns and thistles, trials and troubles, abound in this sin-cursed world.
Now know this, you Christian people, especially, know this, and then it will prevent disappointments. If you begin your Christian life imagining that because you are a Christian, everything is to go smoothly with you and that you are henceforth never to have any more troubles, you will be bitterly disappointed when the thorns and thistles begin to spring up!
Expect them! Look forward to them and then, when they do come, half of their sting will be gone!
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Now that they have come up, to be forewarned is, in a great measure, to be forearmed—I shall not sit down and weep with bitter disappointment, for what I suffer is no more than I expected. In the next place, the knowledge of this fact will awaken gratitude.
If you have not a little lot of thorns and thistles, be thankful that you have not. I seem to sail on a mill pond, everything goes smoothly with me. It should tend to make you grateful if there is no bitter in your cup, when you might have expected that there would be. Then drink the sweet with gratitude and pour out a portion for the poor—and have sympathy with others who are not as favored in this respect as you are! This fact should arouse your gratitude. In the next place, being forewarned that there will be thorns and thistles, should brace up your soul to expect them.
The finest men in all the world are not to be found in the warm, genial climates, where the earth has only to be tickled with a hoe and it laughs with plenty! The strongest and the most enterprising spirits have been found at the back of the north wind, where there are frosts and ice, and long, dreary winters, and men have a hard struggle for a livelihood. They become real men under that stern training!
Now, if there were no thorns and thistles, no struggles and no trials, should we have any brave Christians? Should we have any great and noble souls at all? It was in the persecuting times, when they had to swim through seas of blood to hold fast the Truth Sermon Thorns and Thistles 5 Volume 39 www. It is, perhaps, the worst thing that can happen to us to be without any kind of trouble.
We do not grow in Grace very quickly without trial—and we do not, then, develop the Graces of the Spirit as we do when God sends the thorns and thistles to grow up around us. Further, dear Friends, the knowledge that we may expect the thorns and the thistles should prevent our clinging to this world.
diabipercandda.gq Let me cheer my soul with the prospect of being forever with the Lord, where nothing can distress or annoy my glorified spirit forever! The Lord does not mean Believers to be satisfied with this world. If you are His child, however fair your portion here, He means you to be always restless until you rest in Him and never to be fully satisfied until you wake up in His likeness. Therefore, be thankful for the thorns and thistles which keep you from being in love with this world and becoming an idolater as so many of your fellow men are.
Does not the Lord intend, by these trials and troubles, to bring us to seek after higher things? Brethren, are there not many men who would have been lost if they had not lost their all?
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It will be necessary to have these things cut away. You are like a ship that is going down through overloading and you will have to be unloaded that you may float—and blessed is that hand of God which unloads you of many an earthly joy, that you may find your all in the world to come!
If that dog is after anyone here, tonight, I pray you, fly away to the Shepherd! Do not begin fighting the dog and trying to struggle with him, for you will get nothing by that, but run away to the Shepherd! One of these days you will be glad for all the rough treatment that the black dog gave you in the day of your tribulation.