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· branches is, that they may bring forth more
fruit, John xv. 2.
How careful then ought I and every one else to be, after having been under the rod, to see that we answer the intention of the chastening, and shew ourselves to be men of wisdom, and pliable children, by hearing the rod, and him that hath appointed it? Mic. vi. 9., if so, instead of being envious, like the Psalmist, in an unthinking hour, at the prosperity of the wicked, Psal. lxxiii. 3. like him, on a proper reflection, we will see such to be on slippery places, ver. 18., and have reason to bless God for his chastisements, acknowledging that his rod, as well as his staff, comforteth us, Psal. xxiii. 4.
Instead then of being too much cast down, and grieved, on account of the afflictions and troubles which we meet with in a present life, let us bless God for these distinguishing marks of sons, and improve them for his glory, knowing well, that these light afffictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 2 Cor. iv. 17.
Deep in this sequestered wood, far from the hurry and bustle of life, meditation may be amply indulged, and prayer and praises with freedom ascend on the wings of faith, to the God of heaven, the bountiful Creator of all. For these ends, woods appear to have been at first planted by the hands of man; and hence the father of the faithful planted a grove, Gen. xxi. 33.
These arborous temples, when in full verdure, cannot fail to call forth the serious mind to contemplate that power, wisdom, glory, and goodness, which not only clothe the grass of the field, but also every tree of the wood; and lead to adore our bounteous Lord. Then it is, in the figurative language of the Psalmist, that all the trees of the wood
That groves were highly honoured of old is evident from both sacred and profane history; for what else was paradise, but a delectable arbour and fruitful grove, interspersed with spacious openings, pleasant walks, and beautiful flowers; with every thing else that could attract the fancy, improve the
mind, promote the happiness, or gain the esteem of the perfect pair.
That there grew a multitude of trees is evident from these scriptures : “ Of every “ tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; 66 but of the tree of the knowledge of good " and evil, thou shalt not eat of it. And the “ woman said unto the serpent, we may eat “ of the fruit of the trees of the garden. “ And Adam and his wife hid themselves “ from the presence of the Lord God among " the trees of the garden," Gen. ii. 16, 17. iii. 2, 8.
And did not Abraham entertain his heavenly guests under the shade of a tree ? Gen. xviii. 4.-9. And the angel of the Lord appeared to his servant Moses in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush, Exod. ill. 2. Ņay, Jehovah himself condescended to call unto Moses out of the midst of the bush, Exod. iii. 4.; and he is said to have dwelt in the bush, Deut. xxxiii. 16. And in the feast of tabernacles, were not the Israelites commanded to take the boughs of goodly trees, and branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and to rejoice before the Lord their God seven days, and to dwell in booths seven days; that their generations might know, that the Lord made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, Lev. xxiii. 40, 42, 43.
And when our Lord was riding in triumph into Jerusalem, branches were cut down from the trees, and strewed in the way, in token of high respect to him, Matt. xxi. 8.
- Not to mention the tabernacle, mercy-seat, and the adorning of the temple, in all which woods were highly honoured, is it not by them we correspond with the different nations of the world ? For what are our ships but inverted woods ? and has it noť been through their means that the gospel hath been carried to all the kingdoms of the earth? As an echo resounds through the wood, so through these means the glad tidings of great joy, which began first to be proclaimed in Jerusalem, have resounded through all the world.
And was it not upon wood our everblessed Lord and Saviour offered himself an
expiatory sacrifice for our sins ? Let us then bless God for the bounties of creation, and for making woods to be such a blessing to man.
As woods have thus tended to the propagation of religion, they have also been made the means of punishing the wicked: Witness that from which the two she-bears issued, which tore the forty and two children that impiously mocked the prophet, 2 Kings ii. 23, 24. And that wood through which the rebellious Absalom rode, where the oak caught him by the head, and suspended him between the heaven and the earth, as a monument of divine indignation, and unworthy of a place in either, till Joab came, and thrust him through with his darts ; and many a rebel, besides, that day the wood destroyed, 2 Sam. xviii. 7.---15.
Hence we see that the Most High, who ruleth over all, can make the blessings of creation prove a curse to the wicked. Whenever I see an arbour, behold a bush, green branches of trees, or spacious woods, may they bring these memorable things to my re