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He came to it He found nothing but leaves." (Mark xi. 13.)
Papa. But how does the Bible in another place, describe their really barren and spiritually blasted condition in God's sight? look at Jerem. xvii. 5, 6, “ Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness in a salt land and not inhabited." And what is the terrible end of such ?
Arthur. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.” (Matt. vii. 19.)
Mamma. Now I think we must speak of our recovery from this fearful state—for these trees are not cut down without a warning cry-what is that?
Mary. Do you mean, Mamma, where John the Baptist came preaching,-" The axe is laid to the root of the trees.” (Matt. iii. 10.)
Mamma. Yes, but that is not all ; when the owner of the barren fig tree said to the dresser of his vineyard -“Cut down the fig tree, why cumbereth it the ground,” what did he answer?
Mary. “Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it; and if ít bear fruit, well—if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." (Luke xiii. 7, 8)-but what does this mean, Mamma ?
Mamma, All the ways, Mary, in which the Lord tries to draw the hearts of children, and the hearts of men and women to himself, some. times trials, and oftentimes mercies.
Papa. Now look at the ground near that rose tree, my children,-it has been so trodden down from growing near the entrance to our root-house, that the rain cannot enter, nor the sunsbine, nor the nourishing air of spring. I don't see one bud-we must either dig up the ground, or move the plant farther back. So the Lord sometimes sees, when all things have gone on a long time just the same, that the soil of our hearts gets trodden down, and we do not drink “in the rain that cometh oft upon us.” (Heb. vi. 7.) Then He often sends sharp trials that move the ground-work of all our thoughts, and sometimes He even transplants us. How sorry you all were to leave your dear home in Devonshire. Could it be that Jesus saw that any one of my dear little oliveplants was not bearing fruit there? But there is a yet more thorough figure in Scripture, about our recovery than even digging.
Arthur. Do you mean planting, Papa ?
Papa. Well, it was not planting, I meant, but what did you find about this ?
Arthur. “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God.” (Ps. xcii. 13.)
Lily. And it must be the Lord who plants; for Jesus says, “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.” (Matt. xv. 13.)
Mary. And I found, “If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Rom. vi. 5.)
Mamma. Very nice texts, my children,but I think, I know what figure Papa means,
--what was done last February to your crab apple tree, Arthur ?
Arthur. Grafted with shoots from good trees. Mamma. I think there were six shoots grafted in.. .
Papa. Now look at Rom. xi. 17, “ If some of the branches be broken off, and thou being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.” Israel is here a warning and example to all of us; but you see in the figure, how a new nature, a nature not its own, is imparted to a grafted branch. But, Arthur, did all those six grafts take-as it is called- did they all unite ?
Arthur. No, Papa, only three ; and you remember, you cut off the others and told me they were of no use.
Mamma. Now, Lily, read John xv. 1, 2.
Lily reads. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman; every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away, and every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."
Papa. You see my children, the Lord Jesus speaks there of some branches in Him which yet bore no fruit, and were cut off and cast away. Those barren shoots on our apple tree were slipped in like the others, were bound round as carefully, it was the same parent stock, they all enjoyed the same sun and showers, and for a few days they all seemed to do alike. Yet three failed, because the sap never ran from the tree into the graft. Learn, dear children, that it is not enough to be grafted into Christ's Church, to have all his gospel promises sealed in you at your baptism, to share in family prayers, and the worship of God's house, to look like Christian children and to be called so—these things, though great, very great blessings, are not enough, unless you are really made one with Jesus, unless the grace of his Holy Spirit flows from Him into your very soul and heart.
Mary. Dear Papa, how are we to receive that grace ?
Papa. By faith, my child ; that humble confiding trust which hangs upon Jesus for everything. You read before the account of the sinner who depended on man ; now read the description of the believing child of God. (Jer. xvii. 7, 8.)
Mary reads. « Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is; for be shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”
Mamma. And what think you is meant by these waters, and by this refreshing river ?
Arthur. Oh, I think I know, Mamma. As that silver birch tree we saw in the park, drank in the water of the river with its fibrous roots, so this plant dips its roots in the Bible,-am I not right ? For David says of the blessed man,“ His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night, And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” (Ps. i. 2, 3.)
Mamma. Quite right, my boy,--but when the graft has taken, or the plant been planted in a well watered soil, or the fig tree shows real signs of fruitfulness, will it do for the hus. bandman then to leave it alone, Lily?