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leaves of a tree afford a comfortable shade to those, who not only wish to partake of its produce, but want also to stand out of the sun: the church, therefore, says, I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste." Leaves, especially in the earlier ages of the world, were frequently applied to wounds, and many of them are to this day reckoned medicinal. What, then, are the leaves of this tree, here distinguished from the fruit-but the institutions of religion, the ordinances of the gospel, which we commonly and properly call the means of grace? These derive their being and their efficacy from him, as leaves from a tree. In the use of these he has promised his blessing, and by the application of them, he brings us health and cure. What are our sabbaths? What are our sanctuaries? What are the ministers of the word? What is this book-what are the leaves of this bookbut the leaves of this tree which are for the healing of the nations?"
When we are perfectly recovered, and removed to that country, where "the inhabitants shall no more say, I am sick," these means and ordinances becoming unnecessary, will be laid aside? There will be no more prayer, no more sermons, no more bread and wine, the emblems and memorials of a Saviour's death. The end of all this will be fully accomplished in our happy experience.
In the mean time they are of unspeakable importance, and we should be careful to show our regard for them two ways:
I. By being thankful that we are indulged with the means of grace ourselves. Let us hear what the saints of old said, who lived under a dispensation far inferior to ours: "How amiable are
thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts !-Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; they will be still praising thee-Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple." As soon as ever our ministers end their discourses, we should remember the words of our Lord: "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." Not only are these means instrumental in awakening us at first, but they are useful to revive, to refresh us; to " strengthen our weak hands, and confirm our feeble knees," all through life. Here, like Hannah, we pour forth our sorrows, and leave them behind us. With Jeremiah, we “find his word, and eat it, and it is the joy and rejoicing of our hearts." Our doubts are solved; our peace is restored; our resolutions are invigorated; our "strength is renewed; we mount up with wings as eagles: we run, and are not weary; and walk, and are not faint."
II. Let us be concerned for the extension of these privileges to others. Let us exert all our influence in diffusing them. Let us endeavour to spread them, not only in our own neighbourhood, and in our own country, but in all the regions of darkness and the shadow of death. O when shall these leaves be for the healing of the nations? How much do they need the influences of the gospel of peace! How are they enslaved-how are they bruised-by tyranny, by war, by super
stition, by the god of this world! Hear how they groan; see how they bleed and die! How many millions of your fellow-creatures are there who never heard of the name of a Saviour! They feel the same depraved dispositions with yourselvesbut know nothing of that grace that can create a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us. They are burdened with a sense of guilt, and many of them make costly sacrifices and go toilsome pilgrimages to get relief-but they never heard an apostle, saying, 66 Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!"
Let us therefore pray, that God would pity the nations, and communicate to them the same means and privileges which he has bestowed upon us. It is easy to see how healing the institutions of the gospel are to a nation, even when in numberless instances they are not effectual to salvation. Where they prevail, they civilize the multitude. They tame the fierceness of their passions, and the savageness of their manners. They tend equally to secure the prerogative of the prince, and the rights of the subject. The same may be said of all the other relations in life. They expand the affections, quicken sensibility, and promote benevolence. There was no hospital in the heathen world. The philosophers of Greece and Rome never planned an infirmary. But in this country, so highly favoured by the Gospel, it is hardly possible to move without being struck with the monuments of Christianized humanity. Here the blind are led into an asylum. There orphans are snatched from ruin. There the victims of seduction are screened from infamy, and encouraged to repentance. And here the sick are made whole.
What, then, would a nation be, if all its inhabitants were Christians indeed! One sentence of the gospel, if every one would agree to be influenced by it, would be enough to turn a country into a paradise : "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."
Lord Jesus put this law into our minds, and write it in our hearts! Increase daily the number of those who shall make it the rule of their lives! "Thou art-fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O Most Mighty, and in thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness." O King of Saints, become the king of nations-and reign for ever and ever. Amen.
Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.-Jer. ii. 2.
THIS address employs a figure of speech very common in the Scripture, especially in the prophecies. It consists in representing the state of a nation by the various ages, changes and circumstances of a single individual.
When the Jews left Egypt, and began their journey in the desert-it was the time of their youth. And when in Horeb God claimed them
as his peculiar people, and they said, all that the Lord commandeth us we will do-it was the season of their espousals. Since that interesting period, they had become more remiss, and degenerate and Jeremiah is commissioned to cry in the ears of Jerusalem, "I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown."
But surely these words are not less suited to an individual than to a nation; or less true of Christians than of Jews. Let us then consider them two ways. I. As they furnish us with remarks. II. As they apply to characters.
These words supply us with several useful remarks. First. Behold in God a disposition to commend, rather than condemn: to praise, rather than to censure. To a person who reads the history of the Jews, their early behaviour in the wilderness will appear very improper, and blameworthy. They discovered much ingratitude and unbelief; they often complained and murmured; and sometimes talked of making themselves a leader, and returning back into Egypt. Nevertheless God here speaks of it comparatively with honour-"I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown." He was acquainted with all the disadvantages of their situation. He considered how material things affected the body, and how the body influenced the mind. He knew their frame, and remembered that they were dust.
"He saw their flesh was weak and frail,