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UNION OF PRAYER AND WATCHFULNESS.

Sometimes Christians are called into places and circumstances, in the discharge of their duty, that are very trying: when this is the case, the business is the Lord's, and he will take care of the servant employed in it; and, therefore, in such instances, we have seen the weakest believers preserved. But it is otherwise when you rush into such dangers uncalled of God. Is God bound to work miracles as often as you choose to play the fool, or to act the sinner? Are you justified in bringing yourselves into a situation where the alternative is either a supernatural deliverance, or a shameful fall ?

Thus, then, let us make “ our prayer to God, and set a watch." Let us impress our minds with a sense of our danger—let us study our natural dispositions—let us remark in what manner we have been injured already—let us guard against the beginnings—and shun all the occasions of sin. Thus shall we “stand in the evil day; and, having done all, shall stand.-Yea, in all these things, we shall be more than conquerors, through him that loved us.”

Nor shall we be always in a state of warfare. We shall soon exchange the toil of the soldier, for “the rest that remains for the people of God.' Our praying and our watching will soon be needless. We shall put off the helmet, and put on the crown. “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel : be glad, and rejoice with all thy heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee : thou shalt not see evil any more.”

DISCOURSE XXV.

THE TREE OF LIFE.

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the

river, was there the tree of life, which baretwelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. -Revelation xxii. 2.

“ YEA, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Such was the exclamation of the apostle; such was the judgment he formed of an acquaintance with the Saviour of sinners. He saw an excellency in it that led him to undervalue, and even despise, everything else. And no wonder

What can be so suitable—so necessary-to creatures in our circumstances, as the knowledge of the Lord Jesus? If we are exposed, he is our refuge : if we are wanderers, he is our guide : if we are poor, he is rich: if we are nothing, he “is all, and in all."

The Christian, feeling his necessities, and enlightened from above to know the source of his supplies, often exclaims, as he reads through the sacred volume, “ We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write ;whom David, Joseph, Isaac, prefigured; who realizes in his own character, the temple, the altar, the paschal lamb, the ark.” He holds communion with him as “ the rock of ages," as "the sun of righteousness," as "the fountain of living waters," as " the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God.”

- And

of this we have a striking representation in the words before us. John saw the New Jerusalem descending from heaven. It was a city foursquare. The gates, the walls, the

very

foundations were of precious stones. The pavement was of gold; and what we admire, they trample upon. Thus far the allusion is taken from the world of art; but nature also lends her combined aid ; and here is a reference to Eden, the original residence of man. In this residence, it is well known, man drank pure water, and lived on fruit: accordingly, a fine river watered the garden, and a tree called “the tree of life,”

grew

in the centre. Hence, “ the water of life," and “the tree of life,” stand significantly for all the supplies of the spiritual life : and here we have both. he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruits every month: and the leaves 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 tree; for then how could it grow on both sides of the river? but intends a species of tree, or many trees of one kind. There is nothing forced or unusual in this language. We should be easily understood, were we to say, the cedar tree grows on both sides of Lebanon; or the apple tree flourishes best in such a soil: and we should be understood to meannot an individual tree, but the kind of tree. And this is confirmed by a parallel passage, taken from the visions of Ezekiel: “ And by the river, upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side,

shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." Upon the same principle, it is not necessary to suppose the tree of life in Eden was a single tree; it was more probably a number of trees of the same species finely arranged, and bearing in abundance. This conjecture has to plead not only probability, but authority. The learned Doctor Kennicot has defended this opinion.

But, however this may be—whatever the tree of life was to man in his innocency, Christ is to man in his fallen estate : what that was to Adam under a covenant of works, Christ is to man under a covenant of grace. That ensured life to obedience, and he ensures life to faith, according to his own declaration: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This is the new and living way opened in the gospel, and by which alone we can pass to a happy immortality.

Whether the tree of life in paradise was more than sacramental, affording a pledge of the continuance of life, while man remained in a state of obedience—or whether in addition to this, it had an innate virtue to perpetuate the immortality of those who partook of it, we cannot absolutely determine. The latter has been deemed probable by many, from the words of Moses : “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever; therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims, and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” But we are sure that Jesus Christ has not only procured for us a title to endless life, but actually communicates life to all those who believe in him.

6. God hath given to us eternal life, and this lise is in his Son :" and therefore it can only be derived from him. And as what we live upon is previously destroyed, so that we literally live by death—the death of fruits, and vegetables, and animals—so by his death we live. It is his own declaration, though it may prove as offensive to some who read it, as it did to those who originally heard it: “ Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you: for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father ; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

And, therefore, we cannot be made partakers of Christ, without resembling him.

We cannot receive a life-giving Saviour, and remain dead in trespasses and sins. If joined to him, we shall be quickened by him, and walk in newness of life. And it is owing to the little communion we have with him, that our religion is so languishing, and that there are so many things in us that are ready to die: for he came not only that we might have life, but that we might have it more abundantly.

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