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luxuriant, when from age they might otherwise be expected to decay. They that are planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall bring forth fruit in old age, they shall be fat and flourishing.
There is a vast degree of beauty in this figure, when analyzed, and highly descriptive of what it is designed to convey, of the blessed operations of grace
in the heart.
Those trees are said to be planted, not grow spontaneously, but planted : for nature, in its loveliest production, and before grace hath formed it a new stock, is in itself, a degenerate plant, and grows only, in the world's wide wilderness: where like the heath in the desert, it knoweth not when good cometh. And which, if it bear fruit, it is only the fruit of the vine of Sodom and of the fields of Gomorrah, whose grapes are gall and their clusters bitter. *
Moreover; those trees, are not only trees of God's own planting, taken out of nature's common, but they are brought into the sacred inclosure of God's house. That is, they are brought nigh the divine
and live under his continual favor. It is sweetly said, by the Lord himself, concerning his vineyard of
* Deut, 32. 32.
old, in allusion to this happy state; that he had fenced it round, and gathered out the stones of it; intimating, that he had so surrounded his people with his constant protection, that nothing from without, should hurt them, and by taking away their stoney hearts, nothing from within, should obstruct their fruitfulness.
And thus all true believers, like trees taken from the wild wilderness of nature, and planted in God's own house, are brought into a state of high cultivation, and may be said, from the plentiful supply of ordinances, and continual manifestations of the divine presence, to have the Summer's warmth and the Autumn shade, the clouds, and the dew, and the rain of heaven, dropping their fulness and fatness upon them.
But what is most striking, and particularly meriting our notice, in this sweet figure of the text, because it is altogether descriptive of the work of grace, and perfectly foreign to nature; is the flourishing state of those trees, in advanced age. For this is wholly supernatural. In the common operations of nature, every thing is progressive. After the season of maturity is completed, barrenness, and corruption, must follow. But in grace, the trees of God's right hand planting, are said to be most fat, and Aourishing, when nature is decaying. With God's people, the sweetest fruit, is in old age.
Their last days, are their best days. And to use another similitude, like the setting sun, in some fair evening, whose orb of glory, appears to be magnified to the view, and his beams more abundantly shining with gold, when sinking beneath the horizon:
So the dying saint, sometimes shews forth greater accessions of
grace, manifests stronger and sweeter evidences of the life of God in the Soul, and from long experience of God's faithfulness, affords in his latest moments, more precious testimonies of the liveliness of his faith; than in any other former period of his existence.
Think of this, my aged Fathers, in the house of God! and when health, and strength, and friends, and life, and all are decaying; beg of God, that a growing acquaintance, in the covenant love and faithfulness of the Lord, may give you increasing confidence, to bear stronger, and fuller testimony, to the truth as it is in Jesus. This will be indeed, to bring forth fruit in old age, when from the refreshments of grace, in your own heart, you are enabled to refresh all around you. And surely the most desirable of all deaths, must be the dying, as you have lived ; hanging upon the promises, and by faith realizing heaven, even before entering upon it. Oh! what a glorious testimony is it in those latter ages, when we see a dear aged saint of the Lord manifesting like the Attraction of the magnet, that the nearer he is approaching, to the object Q
of his desires the Lord Jesus, the stronger his soul is drawn towards him; and thus increasing longings, and increasing dependance, in his faithfulness, are hourly emptying the soul, of all that is its own, and filling it with all that is from above. And at length when the moment comes, he dies, as it is said that Moses did, upon the very mouth of the Lord, and sweetly falls asleep, in the bosom of Jesus.
The subject proposed to our Meditation, from the words of our text, will be found I hope, under the divine teachings, generally profitable. Nothing can convey instruction more, to God's own people, who are already brought by grace, into the sacred plantation of God's house, than to see the security, which they possess therefrom, and the assurance of flourishing which they are promised in advancing years.
And while this view, may serve to shew them, from whence all their fruitfulness must be derived, cur subject if commissioned by the Lord, will no less be useful, to convince some uncultivated mind present, that unless they are gathered out, from the original stock, of a corrupt nature, and become planted in the house of the Lord by grace ; their root will be as rottenness and their blossom go up as the dust. *
In the prosecution of this subject, I shall have only to follow up, the beautiful order, which the sacred Writer hath observed, in first speaking, of that state described by planting, in the Lord's house : and then secondly, the sure effect of fruitfulness, springing out of it. The text therefore forms its own arrangement.
imagery Q2 # Isaiah 61, 3: