by Archibald Alexander
Trees are beautiful objects. If we had never seen this part of the creation
before, we would be filled with admiration at the sight. A stately oak or
cedar is really a majestic object. It stands firmly by its own strength. It
raises its head towards the heavens, and spreads out its arms on every side;
and when verdant, affords a canopy and grateful shade to the weary traveler,
and a secure habitation for the birds of the air. Trees are the handsomest
ornaments of gardens and pleasure-grounds. Eden itself, without trees, would
have been shorn of its glory.
But a tree laden with nutritious fruit is an object still
more beautiful and interesting than the trees of the forest. What spectacle
is suited to give more pleasure to the contemplative mind than a tree
bending under the weight of precious fruit?
Between natural and spiritual objects there is a striking
analogy. Of this the sacred writers often avail themselves, to give a lively
representation of important truths. The discourses of our Lord are enriched
and adorned by the employment of striking emblems. His figures are almost
all derived from natural objects.
Among fruit-trees, the VINE is often mentioned in the
Scriptures, because everywhere to be seen; and when loaded with fine
clusters like those of Eshcol, the sight is most pleasing. To represent the
vital union of believers to himself, our Lord employs the union of the
branches to the vine. He is the vine, they are the branches; and the effect
of this union is fruitfulness. As a branch severed from the vine cannot bear
fruit, neither can believers without Christ. And the cogent motive to induce
them to bear much fruit is, that their Father in heaven may be glorified.
"Make the tree good, and his fruit good." "By their
fruits shall you know them." No man, by merely looking at a tree, can tell
whether it will bear fruit, or whether the fruit will be good or bad. When
we see people making a good profession in the church, we cannot tell whether
their religion is genuine or spurious, until we have an opportunity of
seeing the fruits. When John the Baptist called men to repentance, he
required them "to bring forth fruits fit for repentance." A godly life is
the best evidence of sincerity in religion. How beautiful is a consistent
Christian character. Such a one "does justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly
with his God." To his prayers he joins alms, and he abounds in every good
work. As he makes his way through this sinful world, his bright example
sheds a light on all around, and others seeing his good works are led to
glorify his Father in heaven. He makes no ostentatious display of his
religion; and yet his good deeds cannot be hidden--they are like the
fragrant aroma, which betrays itself. He is not ashamed of Christ and his
gospel, but glories in the cross, and esteems all things but loss for the
excellency of the knowledge of Christ.
As the true Christian advances in years, his fruits
become more mellow and mature; and he goes on to bring forth fruit, even in
old age. And finally, like a fruit fully ripe, he drops into the grave; but
his works follow him, and he is blessed in death, as the voice from heaven
declared, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."