God's work of grace in the soul

(Letters of John Newton)

"The soil produces grain—
  first the blade,
  then the stalk, and
  then the ripe grain on the stalk."
    Mark 4:28

The Lord compares the usual method of growth in grace—to the growth of grain, which is perfected by a slow and almost imperceptible progress.

The seed is hidden for a time in the soil; and, when it appears, it passes through a succession of changes—the blade, the stalk, and lastly the ripe grain.

And it is brought forward amidst a variety of weather: the dew, the frost, the wind, the rain, the sun—all concur to advance its maturity, though some of these agents are contrary to each other; and some of them, perhaps, seem to threaten the life of the plant! Yet, when the season of harvest returns—the grain is found ready for the sickle!

Just so is God's work of grace in the soul. Its beginnings are small, its growth for the most part slow, and, to our apprehensions, imperceptible and often precarious.

But there is this difference in the comparison: frosts and blights, drought or floods, may possibly disappoint the gardener's hopes. But the great Gardener of the soul—will not, and cannot be disappointed. What He sows—shall flourish in defiance of all opposition! And, if at times it seems to wither—He can and He will revive it!

For the most part, God's people are exercised with sharp trials and temptations; for it is necessary they should learn not only what He can do for them—but how little they can do without Him! Therefore He teaches them not all at once—but by degrees, as they are able to bear it.

"The soil produces grain—
  first the blade,
  then the stalk, and
  then the ripe grain on the stalk."
    Mark 4:28