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This wood forms an agreeable prospect, all the trees and shrubs of which begin to be attired in native green, budding forth with a pleasant scent, while almost every spray is made vocal with musicians of gay plumage, and the cuckoo just arrived, repeats her name from bough to bough; swains at a distance catch the gladsome sounds, listen again, and tell their neighbours they have heard the voice of the welcome visitant; all which invite my steps through its recesses, and what can be more pleasant than to have the sight, smelling, and hearing, all regaled at the same time, while the mind finds ample scope for contemplation?
While I walk through the glades, I behold trees and shrubs of various kinds, divers growths, and for different uses. Here I have a picture of the world, and may see with the blind man in the gospel, when partly enlightened, men as trees, Mark viii. 24. though all of one kind by nature, of very opposite dispositions ; possessing various talents useful for different purposes.
so many Sauls
Some of these trees, for stature and majesty, look like kings over the rest, being as
among the woody people. In like manner, some men's education, excellent talents, and good behaviour, give them a superior dignity to the rest of their brethren.
Here I perceive several beautiful trees growing, as it were, out of one root, like so many brothers linking their branches together, supporting one another as they grow; so that hardly any wind, though blowing ever so tempestuously, shall be able to overturn them. A beautiful emblem this of what men ought to do: being all sprung from one. root by nature, ought not they to live as brethren, linking their concerns together, supporting and strengthening one another? If this were the case, how stable and flourishing would kingdoms, nations, and families be! Then the storms of anarchy, sedition, and intestine broils should be unable to overthrow them. Thus the Church would flourish like Lebanon, Hos. xiv. 5., and the world be rendered a paradise.
The royal Psalmist beautifully expresseth the high delight he had of such a state as this through the whole of Psal. cxxxiii., and that this may more and more take place, may I cast in my mite in cultivating a brotherly disposition towards all men, especially the household of faith, accounting them my nearest and dearest brethren; for have we not all one Father, one Saviour, one
Sanctifier, one hope, one faith, and one inheritance, at last to be conferred on us all. If we love not one another, it is a proof that we love not God, and therefore have no title to the inheritance of the saints in light : “ for “ if we love not our brother whom we have
seen, how can we love God, whom we “ have not seen ?" i John iv. 20.
Neither ought our love to be confined to those saints only who are rich in this world, but extend also to those who are poor; for if we love the former only, it is the image of the world in them which attracts our love; but if also the latter, it is a sign it is the image of God in both which engageth our esteem. Neither ought the personal injuries of either committed against us, if we hope they are saints, to cool our love to them as such, but rather to draw forth our compassion to bewail these sad slips of theirs, while we pray for their recovery. If Stephen prayed for the forgiveness of his enemies, when they were in the very act of stoning him; and Christ for his bloody murderers on the cross, Acts vii. 60. Luke xxiii. 34., ought not we for those who are real friends in
Christ, though at times they be guilty of the actions of our enemies ?
Neither should their favours to us be the main things which draw forth our love to them, although they may tend to heighten it; for if either the former retard our love, or the latter mainly attract it, such prove it not of the genuine kind, and therefore dangerous to be relied on as a mark that we are the children of God.
Here is a stately walnut tree, under the 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