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of her house"-lest, by going nigh, you , in it that led him comparatively to undervalue should be tempted to go in. “Can a man and even despise every thing else. And no take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be wonder. burnt? Can one go upon hot coals, and his What can be so suitable, so necessary, to feet not be burnt ?" Can a man wish the creatures in our circumstances, as the knowweeds in his garden to wither, and daily wa-ledge of the Lord Jesus? If we are exposed ter them? If a man prayed to be heavenly- -he is our refuge. If we are wanderersminded, would he go and wait in a place of he is our guide. If we are poor-he is rich. dissipation for the answer?
If we are nothing—he is “all, and in all." Sometimes Christians are called into situa- The Christian, feeling his necessities, and tions and circumstances, in the discharge of enlightened from above to know the source their duty, that are very trying. When this of his supplies, often exclaims, as he reads is the case, the business is the Lord's; and through this sacred volume, “ We have found he will take care of the servant employed in him of whom Moses in the law, and the proit. And therefore, in such instances, we have phets, did write; whom David, Joseph, Isaac, seen the weakest believers preserved. But pre-figured; who realizes, in his own characit is otherwise when you rush into such ter, the temple, the altar, the paschal lamb, dangers, uncalled of God. Is God bound to the ark.” He holds communion with him as work miracles as often as you choose to play the “Rock of ages," as “the Sun of rightthe fool, or to act the sinner? Are you jus eousness," as the “ Fountain of living waters," tified in bringing yourselves into a situation as "the Tree of life, in the midst of the pawhere the alternative is either a supernatu- radise of God.” ral deliverance, or a shameful fall ? 1. Of this we have a striking representation
Thus, then, let us make our prayer to God, in the words before us. John saw the new and set a watch. Let us impress our minds Jerusalem descending from heaven. It was with a sense of our danger-let us study our a city four-square. The gates, the walls, the natural dispositions—let us remark in what very foundations, were of precious stones. manner we have been injured already-let The pavement was of gold-for what we us guard against the beginnings—and shun adore, they trample upon. Thus far the al. all the occasions of sin. Thus shall we “stand lusion is taken from the world of art—but in the evil day; and having done all, shall nature also lends her combined aid—and here stand. Yea, in all these things, we shall be is a reference to Eden, the original residence more than conquerors through him that loved of man. In this residence, it is well known,
man drank pure water, and lived on fruit. Nor shall we be always in a state of war. Accordingly, a fine river watered the garden; fare. We shall soon exchange the toil of the and a tree, called “the tree of life," grew in soldier for “the rest that remains for the peo- the centre. Hence the water of life, and the ple of God.” Our praying and our watching tree of life, stand significantly for all the will soon be needless. We shall put off the supplies of the spiritual life. And here we helmet, and put on the crown." Sing, o have both. “And he showed me a pure river daughter of Zion: shout, O Israel: be glad of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding and rejoice with all thy heart, O daughter of out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In Jerusalem! The Lord hath taken away thy the midst of the street of it, and on either judgments: he hath cast out thine enemy: side of the river, was there the tree of life, the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the which bare twelve manner of fruits, and midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves more."
of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
It will be necessary to premise, that the
tree of life which John saw, was not a single DISCOURSE XXV.
tree: for, then, how could it grow on both
sides of the river ? but a species of tree, or THE TREE OF LIFE.
many trees of one kind. There is nothing
forced or unusual in this language. We In the midst of the street of it, and on either should be easily understood were we to say,
side of the river, was there the tree of life, the cedar tree crows on both sides of Lebawhich bare twelve manner of fruits, and
non; or the apple-tree flourishes best in such yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves
a soil: and we should be understood to mean of the tree were for the healing of the na
-not an individual tree, but the kind of tree. tions.--Rev. xxii. 2.
And this is confirmed by a parallel passage, “ YEA, doubtless, and I count all things but taken from the visions of Ezekiel. “And by loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of the river upon the bank thereof, on this side Christ Jesus my Lord.” Such was the ex- and that side, shall grow all trees for meat, clamation of the Apostle. Such was the whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the judgment he formed of an acquaintance with fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth the Saviour of sinners. He saw an excellency new fruit according to his months, because
their waters they issued out of the sanctuary:/ takers of Christ” without resembling him. and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and we cannot receive a life-giving Saviour, and the leaf thereof for medicine." Upon the remain dead in trespasses and sins. If joinsame principle, it is not necessary to suppose ed to him, we shall be quickened by him, and the tree of life in Eden was a single tree; it walk “in newness of life.” And it is owing was more probably a number of trees of the to the little communion we have with him same species, finely arranged, and bearing in that our religion is so languishing, and that abundance. This conjecture has to plead not there are so many things in us that are only probability, but authority. The learned ready to die;" for he came not only "that we Doctor Kennicot has defended this opinion. might have life,” but “ that we might have
But however this may be-whatever the it more abundantly." tree of life was to man in his innocency, The situation of this tree is worthy of our Christ is to man in his fallen estate; what attention. Endeavour to apprehend the that was to Adam under a covenant of works, scenery as it appeared to the eye of John. Christ is to man under a covenant of grace. The river softly rolled down the middle, and That insured life to obedience; he insures thus formed a street on each side of it; and life to faith. It is his own declaration, “God in the midst of each street, in a beautiful row, so loved the world, that he gave his only be- grew the tree of life. So that the inhabitants gotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him could walk between the houses and the trees, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” | and between the trees and the river, on each This is the new and living way opened inside. It was therefore not concealed, but the Gospel, and by which we can alone pass obviously seen; it everywhere met the eye, into a happy immortality.
and tempted the hand. Nor was it confined, Whether the tree of life in paradise was but easy of access to all who passed along, more than sacramental, affording a pledge of and to persons on either side of the riverthe continuance of life, while man remained - In the midst of the street of the city, and in a state of obedience; or whether, in ad-on either side of the river, was there the tree dition to this, it had an innate virtue to per- of life.” petuate the immortality of those who partook And “ the righteousness of faith speaketh of it—we cannot absolutely determine. The on this wise, Say not in thine heart, who shall latter has been deemed probable by many, ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ from the words of Moses; “And the Lord down from above:) or, who shall descend into God said, Behold, the man is become as one the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest from the dead.) But what saith it? The he put forth his hand and take also of the tree word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which the Lord God sent him forth from the garden we preach; that if thou shalt confess with of Eden to till the ground from whence he thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe was taken. So he drove out the man; and in thine heart that God hath raised him from he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the dead, thou shalt be saved." Is Christ Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turn-hidden? Exposing himself to view in every ed every way, to keep the way of the tree direction, he cries, “ Behold me, behold me. of life." But we are sure that Jesus Christ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends has not only procured for us a title to endless of the earth; for I am God, and there is none life, but actually communicates life to all else. Come unto me, all ye that labour and those who believe in him. “God hath given are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." Is he secluded from approach, and from And therefore it can only be derived from participation ? Few, comparatively, will parhim. And as what we live upon is previous-take of him, but he has told us the reason: ly destroyed, so that we literally live by death " Ye will not come to me, that ye might have:
-the death of fruits and vegetables, and ani- life.” Otherwise, none are forbidden: for mals—so by his death we live. It is his own “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is declaration, though it may prove as offensive neither bond nor free, there is neither male to some who read it, as it did to those who nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus: originally heard it: “Then Jesus said unto for the same Lord over all is rich unto all them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except that call upon him.” Is he a fountain ? He ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink is a fountain opened. Was he represented his blood, ye have no life in you. For my by the manna? This fell all around the flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink camp, and all were equally welcome to go indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drink- and gather it up. Was he held forth by the eth my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. brazen serpent? This was suspended upon As the living Father hath sent me, and I a pole fixed in the centre of the camp, and it live by the Father: so he that eateth me, was announced, that every one that was bita even he shall live by me."
ten, when he looked upon it, should live. And, therefore, we cannot be made “par-/Was he typified by the cities of refuge ?
There were six of these at certain distances ways in winter, as well as in summer-perfrom each other, that, in what part soever of haps he bears most in winter, or at least more the country the man-slayer lived, he might is then gathered than at any other time. Our soon reach a place of safety. They were external troubles, and our internal distresses, situated on high hills, or on extensive plains, endear him, and urge us to make a more that the avenger of blood might not overtake earnest application to him. But the Apostle him, while searching for them. The roads tells us that he found him answerable to all leading to them were fifty-eight feet four his varying conditions: “I have learned, in inches wide, and well repaired, that nothing whatsoever state I am, therewith to be conshould hinder his progress, or stop him for a tent. I know both how to be aba sed, and I moment. Where rivers would have checked know how to abound : every where and in all their course, bridges were thrown over: and things I am instructed both to be full and to where crossways would have perplexed their be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. minds, directing posts were fixed, with their I can do all things through Christ which extended arms pointing and crying, REFUGE, strengtheneth me." If we prosper, he cas REFUGE !—The application of all this is easy. keep us. If we fall into adversity, he can Oh! think of it, ye who are disposed to "flee sustain us. He can bless you in social for refuge to the hope set before you !" "Here scenes; and also in solitary seasons. Joseph is strong consolation-and spiritual distress enjoyed him in the prison, and Daniel in the requires it.
lions' den, and John in his banishment. And Behold further, the fertility of this tree. when nothing else looks green and fair-he
First. It is said that it bears “twelve man- affords succour and supplies. And therefore ner of fruits." Other trees yield only after says the Christian, whose faith and hope are their kind. To a vine we go for grapes, to fixed on him; “ Although the fig-tree shall a fig-tree for figs. But suppose a tree that not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; should bear both these, and ten more sorts the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields of the most delicious fruit! Would it not shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut excite your curiosity ? Would you not even off from the fold, and there shall be no herd go far only to see this wonder of nature ? in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I
"Turn your eyes towards me," says the will joy in the God of my salvation." Hence, Saviour, “I am all this. I am the child in a case more distressing to a good man than born,' and the everlasting Father.' 'I am any other; I mean, when his family yields the root and the offspring of David.' •I am him no comfort, bears nothing, yea, discovers alpha and omega, the beginning and the end- no marks of spiritual life-he can pluck ing. I am he that liveth and was dead.' I something from this tree, which is always am the Lamb slain from the foundation of bending with fruit: “Although my house be the world,' and the lion of the tribe of not so with God; yet he hath made with me Judah.' Such a combination of perfections an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and blessings, Oman, did thy salvation re- and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all quire! Though all thy miseries flow from my desire, although he make it not to grow." one cause—sin; thy wants are various, and And when we are taking a farewell of life, demand various relief. You are enslaved, and all the powers of nature fail-he is the and need redemption—and I give my life a strength of our heart, and our portion for ransom for sinners.' You are guilty, and ever-And hence the same tried and triumphneed justification—and my blood cleanseth ant believer exclaims, “ Yea, though I walk from all sin. You are unholy, and need through the valley of the shadow of death, sanctifying grace—and a new heart will I will fear no evil; for thou art with me: thy give you, and a new spirit will I put within | rod and thy staff they comfort me." you.' You are weak-but my strength shall! When our Saviour, as he came from Bebe made perfect in weakness.' You have thany, hungered, he saw a fig-tree, and went tribulation in the world—but in me you shall up to it, hoping to find fruit thereon, and have peace.'” Thus God “supplies all our found none, " for the time of figs was not yet." need according to his riches in glory by But he himself will never occasion such a Christ Jesus." Thus we are blessed with disappointment in those who apply to him. all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Come when we will, it is always the time of Christ."
fruit. The tree bears “ every month.” Ye Secondly. The produce is not only abund-young, you cannot come too soon. Ye aged, ant but continual. It yielded her fruit "every you cannot come too late. It is necessary; month." This is not the case with our trees. however, to observe that this is true only of They bear only once a year. And hence the time of your continuance in this world. our spring is so important-we go out and If you drop through life destitute of the blessanxiously look for the buds and blossoms; and ings of his salvation, your opportunity is over, if we find none, our hope is cut off, and for ) and will never return. You are therefore twelve months we impatiently wait for the admonished to “ seek the Lord while he may return of the season. But this tree bears all be found, and to call upon him while he 15
Bear. Behold, now is the accepted time: eous men have desired to see those things behold, now is the day of salvation.” which ye see, and have not seen them; and
Observe, finally, what is said of the leaves to hear those things which ye hears and have of this tree. They “are for the healing of not heard them.” Not only are these means the nations." Other trees have leaves, and instrumental in awakening us at first, but they are by no means useless. Not only do they are useful to revive, to refresh us; to they add to the appearance and beauty of the strengthen our weak hands, and confirm our tree-for how would a tree look without feeble knees, all through life. Here, like them !--but they serve to screen the new | Hannah, we pour forth our sorrows, and leave born naked bud from the cold by night, and them behind us. Here, with Jeremiah, we the excessive heat by day; they catch the find his word and eat it, and it is the joy and dew and the rain; retain and guide the mois-the rejoicing of our hearts. Our doubts are ture; and thus they aid the preservation and solved. Our peace is restored. Our resolugrowth of the fruit. The leaves of a tree tions are invigorated. Our “strength is reafford a comfortable shade to those who not newed. We mount up with wings as eagles, only wish to partake of its produce, but want we run and are not weary, and walk and are also to stand out of the sun. The Church | not faint.” therefore says, “I sat down under his shadow Secondly. Let us be concerned for the exwith great delight, and his fruit was sweet tension of these privileges to others. Let us to my taste." Leaves, especially in the earlier exert all our influence in diffusing them. Let ages of the world, were frequently applied to us endeavour to spread them, not only in our wounds, and many of them are to this day own neighbourhood, and in our own country, reckoned medicinal.
but in all “ the regions of darkness, and of the What then are the leaves of this tree, here shadow of death." O when shall thiese leaves distinguished from the fruit-but the institu- be for the healing of the nations !” How tions of religion, the ordinances of the Gos much do they need the influences of the gospel, which we commonly and properly call pel of peace! How are they enslaved; how are the means of grace? These derive their be- they bruised; by tyranny, by war, by superstiing and their efficacy from him, as leaves tion, by “the God of this world !" Hear how from a tree. In the use of these he has pro- they groan; see how they bleed and die ! How mised his blessing: by the application of them, many millions of your fellow-creatures are he brings us health and cure. What are our there who never heard of the name of a SaSabbaths ? What are our sanctuaries? What viour! They feel the same depraved disposiare the ministers of the word? What is this tions with yourselves, but know nothing of book- What are the leaves of this book ? that grace that can create a clean heart, and but “the leaves of this tree, which are for the renew a right spirit within them. They are healing of the nations ?"
burdened with a sense of guilt, and many of When we are perfectly recovered, and re-them make costly sacrifices, and go toilsome moved to that country, “where the inhabi- pilgrimages, to get relief-but they never tants shall no more say, I am sick," these heard an Apostle saying, “Behold the Lamb means and ordinances becoming unnecessary, of God that taketh away the sin of the world !" will be laid aside. There will be no more Let us therefore pray that God would pity prayer; no more sermons; no more bread and the nations, and communicate to them the wine, the emblems and memorials of a Sa- same means and privileges which he has beviour's death. The end of all will be fully stowed upon us. It is easy to see how healaccomplished in our happy experience. ing the institutions of the Gospel are to a
In the mean time, they are of unspeakable nation, even when in numberless instances importance, and we should be careful to show they are not effectual to salvation. Where our regard for them two ways:
they prevail, they civilize the multitude. First. By being thankful that we are in- They tame the fierceness of their passions, dulged with the means of grace ourselves. and the savageness of their manners. They Let us hear what the saints of old said, who | tend equally to secure the prerogative of the lived under a dispensation far inferior to ours. prince, and the rights of the subject. The “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord same may be said of all the other relations in of Hosts !-Blessed are they that dwell in thy life. They expand the affections, quicken house; they will be still praising thee. Blessed sensibility, and promote benevolence. There is the man whom thou choosest, and causest was no hospital in the heathen world. The to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in philosophers of Greece and Rome never thy courts: he shall be satisfied with the planned an infirmary. But in this country, goodness of thy house, even of thy holy tem- so highly favoured by the Gospel, it is hardly ple." As soon as ever our ministers end their possible to move without being struck with discourses, we should remember the words of the monuments of christianized humanity. our Lord: “ Blessed are your eyes, for they Here the blind are led into an asylum. There see ; and your ears, for they hear. For verily I orphans are snatched from ruin. There the may unto you, that many prophets and right victims of seduction are hid from infamy, and
encouraged to repentance. And here the much ingratitude and unbelief; they often sick are made whole.
complained and murmured, and sometimes What then would a nation be--if all its talked of making themselves a leader, and inhabitants were christians indeed! A single returning back into Egypt. Nevertheless sentence of the Gospel, if every one would God here speaks of it comparatively with agree to be influenced by it, would be enough honour—" I remember thee, the kindness of to turn a country into a paradise— Whatso- thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when ever ye would that men should do to you, do thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a ye even so to them!"
| land that was not sown.” He was acquainted Lord Jesus, put this law into our minds, with all the disadvantages of their situation. and write it in our hearts! Increase daily He considered how material things affected the number of those who shall make it the the body, and how the body influenced the rule of their lives! “ Thou art fairer than mind. He knew their frame, and rememthe children of men: grace is poured into thy bered that they were dust. lips : therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
" He saw their flesh was weak and frail, Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, 0 most
He saw temptations still prevail; Mighty-and in thy majesty ride prosperously,
The God of Abraham loved them still,
Aud led them to his holy hill." because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness. O King of saints, become the king While we admire this tenderness, let us of nations and reign for ever and ever!" learn also to resemble it. Let us excuse and Amen.
approve as far as we can; and in examining
characters let us observe the good more DISCOURSE XXV I.
largely than the evil. Let us beware of indiscriminate reflection; of speaking severely
of persons in the gross; of branding a whole BACKSLIDING REPROVED.
course of life with the reproach of a particu. Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, lar action. A man may redden with a blush,
Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the or turn pale with a fright-but what should kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espou- we think of the painter, who in his delineasals, when thou wentest after me in the wil- tion would secure this temporary incidental derness, in a lund that was not sown.—Jere- colour, instead of his natural and common miah ii. 2.
complexion? When the angel appeared to This address employs a figure of speech Abraham, Sarah behaved very unbecomingly; very common in the Scripture, especially in she hid herself behind the door; she listened, the prophecies. It consists in representing she disbelieved, she laughed, and she dethe state of a nation by the various ages, nied the whole. There was only one good changes, and circumstances of a single indi- thing; one thing commendable and exemvidual.
plary on this occasion--and the Holy Ghost When the Jews left Egypt, and began has seized and mentioned this only to her their journey in the desert, it was the time honour: “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, of their “youth.” And when, in Horeb, God calling him Lord, whose daughters ye are as claimed them as his peculiar people, and they long as ye do well, and are not afraid with said, all that the Lord commandeth us we any amazement.” Job, in the paroxysm of will do, it was the season of their “espou- his grief, cursed the day of his birth; but he sals." Since that interesting period, they is proposed only as an example of patience; had become more remiss and degenerate. “ Ye have heard of the patience of Job." NotAnd Jeremiah is commissioned to cry in the withstanding the imperfections remarked in ears of Jerusalem— I remember thee, the the seven churches of Asia--they are still kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espou- called the seven “ golden candlesticks." sals, when thou wentest after me in the will Secondly. “God remembers the past." derness, in a land that was not sown." Our memories soon fail us. How little can
Yet surely these words are not less suited we now retrace of all the busy concerns in to an individual than to a nation; or less true which we have been engaged! How few of Christians than of Jews. Let us then of our actions, and how much fewer of our consider them two ways. I. AS THEY FUR- words, and of our thoughts, are we able to NISH US WITH REMARKS. II. AS THEY APPLY recover from the oblivion of time! But all TO CHARACTERS.
of them are with God. Old impressions soon These words supply us with several useful give place to new ones, and we often find it remarks.
difficult to recall, without assistance, an ocFirst. Behold in God a disposition to currence that happened a few months, or a commend, rather than condemn; to praise, few weeks ago. But "a thousand years are rather than to censure. To a person who in his sight but as yesterday, when it is passed, reads the history of the Jews, their early be- and as a watch in the night." haviour in the wilderness will appear very As he observes every thing, so he reimproper and blameworthy. They discovered tains it; and what with us is past, with him