Christians, a Blessing to the World
William Nicholson, 1862
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he who wins souls is wise." Proverbs 11:30
Religion is not a mere name — but the source of joy and pleasure here, and endless life hereafter. It is not mere formality; it is life and activity in promoting the happiness of our human race. If there are no good works adorning the life, then the profession is like a dead tree, etc. It is natural to a Christian to do good. Then he resembles a tree of life — beautiful, verdant, and full of fruit in its season. The character of Christ himself is illustrated by similar imagery, Revelation 2:7.
I. The Character Spoken Of."The righteous."
1. Not those who pretend to be so, and wish to be esteemed as such. This was the case with the Pharisees, who . . .
loved the praise of men,
appeared unto men to fast,
sounded the trumpet when they gave,
and prayed at the corner of the streets, that they might be seen by people coming two ways.
These, Christ denounced as hypocrites!
2. Not those who are only zealous and active by profession. It is very possible to adopt a system of religion, to espouse even the cause of Christ, and to make sacrifices to promote its advancement — and yet the soul be not righteous.
3. Those alone are righteous, whom are made so by Christ. He pardons them. He justifies them. They are free from all charges of guilt, and no longer liable to condemnation. He who is uncharged with sin, must be righteous.
4. By his Spirit he has regenerated them and given them the principle of righteousness. The soul is renewed — diverted from sin, and disposed to holiness. It is righteousness of heart. The fountain of action is made good.
5. It implies practical righteousness. They have a regard . . .
to a holy walk and example before men. "No one who lives in him, keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil." 1 John 3:6-8 .
The Christian trusts in Christ alone for salvation: but these external fruits of holiness are necessary to show that his trust is genuine.
II. The Righteous Bear Good Fruit.
1. None but the righteous can bear good fruit. The tree is made good — and then the fruit is good. See John 15:4, etc.; Matthew 7:17-20.
2. Christians are influenced by the example of Christ. His life and his death were a tree of life. He pitied the wretched and guilty — he relieved the destitute. He lived and died for us. Look at that cross! There is the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:2.
3. Christians are solicitous for the salvation of men. They are concerned about . . .
their dreadful state as lost sinners,
their exposure to everlasting ruin,
the value of their souls.
All awakens the most intense solicitude. "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved!" Romans 10:1. They are restless for souls.
4. They labor to win souls to God by personal entreaty. They sound an alarm of danger to their fellows. They cry, "Escape for your life!" Alas! how little is done to save men by personal entreaty! You can advise your fellow-man as to his secular difficulties — but when his soul is in danger, you have not courage to utter one warning.
5. They labor to win souls to God by the employment of talent.
Some can instruct the young,
some can pray with the sick,
some can preach,
some have much time at command,
and some have worldly substance.
In all "the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life."
6. They labor to win souls to God by spiritual and seasonable counsel. Some are capable of advising in difficulty — in despondency — under temptations and afflictions — some can console the dying.
7. They labor to win souls to God by an exemplary life which is commanding and influential. Scoffers, infidels, and persecutors have been awed and subdued by the embodiment of Christianity in the life and conduct.
8. They labor to win souls to God by prayer, which attends all. The private Christian, and the minister of God, feels that all his efforts are nothing without the Divine blessing.
III. Contemplate the Grand Result of Christianity."He who wins souls is wise."
1. He is made wise unto salvation to win souls.
2. In winning souls he acts wisely. As a proof of it:
(1.) He recognizes his own responsibility. He labors to save others — and whether he succeeds or not, he clears his own soul.
(2.) Think of the immense good he confers upon others. "He saves a soul from death."
(3.) These attempts to save others, will give him satisfaction when he comes to die.
(4.) The grand result of Christian exertion, will be signally apparent at the last day.
3. Christian activity will influence eternity.