Page images
PDF
EPUB

gerous to be relied on as a mark that we are the children of God.

Here is a stately walnut tree, underthe shade of which grow a few young ashes, which have unhappily been planted there by the wind; for, owing to his droppings they make but little progress, nay, rather seem to be on the decline : So I may call him an oppressor. And how many among the children of men more justly merit this name; who, when they are advanced somewhat highly, and grown rich in this world's goods, oppress those whom Providence hath placed under them? But this is their comfort that fear the Lord, he will arise for their oppression and sighing, and set them in safety from their oppressors, Psal. xii. 5. What a privilege is this which I enjoy in common with others; that I can walk through the wood, approach to and contemplate every tree with safety; though justly, on the account of our first parents having not only approached to, but eaten of the forbidden tree, every one else in the world might have been made a Bohun-upas, or poison tree, that no man could have come within many miles of, without certain death; as it is reported of this tree, which is said to grow in the island of Java in the East Indies, where for ten or twelve miles around, no tree, herb, grass, or any animal is seen to exist, and very few of the criminals who are compelled to visit it ever return.*

What is this which makes the whole wood resound ? It is repeated again and again. What an awful crash is that? Let me cautiously step back a little to that glade, and see if I can discover what it is. Ah! now I perceive it hath been the hewer plying his axe, which has occasioned all I have heard ; for yonder is the lofty walnut tree, which I was but lately contemplating, laid low. Happy ashes ! you are now delivered from your oppressor, and may grow up with freedom. Just so death at length will hew down every oppressor among men; then shall the oppressed be delivered from their tyrany.

As the neighbouring trees were made to quake, while the hewer was cutting down that of the walnut, so at the report of death having done his office on some of our neighbours, we are struck with awe, which is almost as soon over with us, as that vibration of the trees after their neighbour had fallen ; and, alas ! too often leaveth no salutary effect.

* See Appendix to Darwin's Botanical Garden, and the Universal Magazine for January, 1784.

Here, in this rather marshy place, is an aged alder, in the trunk of which the nightowl has often shrieked, hatched, and brought forth her young; so brittle, twisted, and crooked, that it is good for nothing but to be cast into the fire. This is an emblem of a sinner who hath lived perhaps threescore and ten, or fourscore years in the world, in whose heart Satan hath often, as it were, brooded and brought forth his horrid temptations; whose life and conversation, all that time, hath been crooked from the divine law : and such deriving no sap from Christ Jesus, (not being ingrafted in him) are good for nothing, but to be cast forth into hell fire.

There are a few elms, straight and tall, which do no little honour to the skill of the woodman ; not a dead branch nor superfluous bough encumbers them. By his care, together with the answerableness of the soil where they grow, their trunks are become comely and large; these in due time will be taken from the wood and put to excellent uses. So the righteous grow up as the planting of the Lord, Isa. lxi. 3, being purged from, and pruned of, every thing that might hinder their growth in grace, with the potion of personal affliction, and sharp knife of outward crosses; they grow up heavenward, strong in the Lord ; and when they are cut out of the wood of the world, will be put to a noble use, even to glorify God, and to enjoy him through all eternity.

Here is a lofty bay, proudly spreading his branches around, as if he were king of the wood, and valued none of his neighbours. This is that tree to which the royal Psalmist compareth the

prosperous state of the wicked : “ I have seen the wicked," saith he, “ in great power, and spreading himself like

green bay tree,” Psal. xxxvii. 35. How just is the comparison ! To look with a superficial eye on the wicked in prosperity, we are apt, with Israel's king, to conclude that

а

they are happy, and envy their state. Psal. Ixxiii.

Yonder is a tree with a large and beautiful shade, under which I may find an asylum from the beams of the sun, which are now become scorching : Thither will I go for a little.

How salutary is such a shade when the sun is so hot! O how infinitely more so is the covert which Christ's blood and righteousness afford from the scorching wrath of Almighty God! And glory to his name who hath made all men welcome, nay, even invited them to fly under this shelter for protection.

O! this is the plane ; how exceedingly broad are its leaves, of a lovely green, and curious delicate shape : 'the shade is truly delightful! This is that tree which was anciently so much esteemed, according to history, by the Romans, that they went to Africa to fetch it into Italy, from whence it was propagated in France, where those who walked under its shade had to pay tribute to the Romans. What infinitely more reason have all

« PreviousContinue »