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They are often likewise persecuted to banishment, and even to death itself; and for what reason only because they prove to be offensive to the wicked : nor is this owing to any thing in them, or the principles of that holy religion of which they are the votaries, (which are all calculated for the most salutary and endearing purposes) but wholly owing to the noxious qualities of the wicked themselves, which, like sore eyes that cannot endure the light and beams of the sun, are offended by the purity of their lives, precepts, and doctrines which they teach.
There is the comely chesnut, which is not only patient of the cold itself, but assists those of its own kind in defending other trees from the nipping frosts and severities of winter. So the people of the Lord are not only patient under trials, whether of a spiritual or temporal nature themselves, but contribute also very much, by their example and salutary counsels, to support others who are afflicted with such.
This tree also putteth me in mind of those yariegated rods of the same wood, which
Jacob used to encrease his wages from his deceitful father-in-law, Gen. xxx. 37. these means he knew, though unavailing in themselves, by the blessing of the Lord upon them, would answer his end; and that it was only this made them do so, he saw in a dream, Gen. xxxi. 10, 11.
Very small means, and even those, one would imagine, to be contrary to the design for which they are used, through the divine blessing, prove effectual. Witness the clay which our Lord made use of to anoint the blind man's eyes, John ix. 6.
Here is the fir, which, for its lofty majestic stature, and perpetual verdure, stands unrivalled by any tree in the wood. To this our Lord hath condescended so infinitely low for our more suitable uptaking of his goodness, to compare himself: “I am like a green “ fir tree,” saith he, “
saith he, “ from me is thy fruit “ found,” Hos. xiv. 8.
Not more delightful and refreshing to the sun-burnt weary traveller is the shade of this tree, (which indeed is most pleasant and sasutary in those hot eastern countries, where it
grows to a very great size) than Christ is to the Zion traveller : “ I sat down under his
shadow with great delight,” saith the spouse,
" and his fruit was sweet to my “ taste," Cant. ii. 3.
As this tree shades those who come under it, not only from the scorching beams of the sun, but also from tempestuous winds, hail, and rain: so Christ Jesus sheltereth them who come under his shadow from the heat of Satan's malice, the furious blasts of an accusing conscience, the storms of God's infinite wrath, and showers of eternal vengeance: “ He that dwelleth in the secret
place of the Most High, shall abide under “ the shadow of the Almighty,” Psal. xci. 1.
And as this tree, like others, stands with open shade, to receive any under it that will come: so Christ Jesus standeth with open arms, as it were, to shelter all guilty sinners who will fly to him for safety: He, the Godman, is “ as an hiding place from the wind, “ and a covert from the tempest,” Isa. xxxii. 2.
It is said that the smell of this tree drives away wild beasts : so Christ, whose “
gar“ ments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cas
sia," Psal. xlv. 8. driveth away the wild beasts of sin and corruption from them who fly under his shadow.
Here, in this low level part of the wood, grow a number of beeches, tall and straight, yielding a beautiful shade. It is observed in this friendly manner and situation of soil, these trees make the most proficiency in growth: So when Christians live humbly and friendly with one another, bearing one another's burdens, helping each other forward in the way to Zion, they make the most proficiency in growth in grace :
whereas he that exalteth himself shall be abased ; " and woe to him that is alone, for when he “ falleth he hath none to help him up,” Luke xiy. 11. Eccl. iv, 10.
These trees, when young, grow exceedingly crooked, knotty, and ill-shaped, but turn more and more beautiful and straight as they grow up: In like manner, those newly converted from sin to a life of holiness are but crooked from the divine law, knotty and thwart to the will of God, in comparison of that beautiful conformity to the holy law, and cheerful acquiescence in the divine will, to which they arrive afterward through sanctification of the Holy Ghost.
It is likewise observed, that the leaves of these trees vary their colours toward autumn; so the Christian's robe of implanted righteousness groweth whiter and whiter towards the harvest of death.
The leaves of these trees also are reported to make fine sweet beds to lie upon; so a well spent life, and a conscience void of offences toward God and man, make a sweet death-bed,
The mast of this tree yields fit oil for lamps; so the life and conversation of a Christian ought to be all as a shining lamp, to direct others the way to Zion, past the shoals and rocks of vanity, which the god of this world hath made and reared to wreck the unwary mariner, while he steers his ves. sel over the sea of human life.