by Archibald Alexander

Trees are beautiful objects. If we had never seen this part of the creation before, we would be filled with admiration at the sight. A stately oak or cedar is really a majestic object. It stands firmly by its own strength. It raises its head towards the heavens, and spreads out its arms on every side; and when verdant, affords a canopy and grateful shade to the weary traveler, and a secure habitation for the birds of the air. Trees are the handsomest ornaments of gardens and pleasure-grounds. Eden itself, without trees, would have been shorn of its glory.

But a tree laden with nutritious fruit is an object still more beautiful and interesting than the trees of the forest. What spectacle is suited to give more pleasure to the contemplative mind than a tree bending under the weight of precious fruit?

Between natural and spiritual objects there is a striking analogy. Of this the sacred writers often avail themselves, to give a lively representation of important truths. The discourses of our Lord are enriched and adorned by the employment of striking emblems. His figures are almost all derived from natural objects.

Among fruit-trees, the VINE is often mentioned in the Scriptures, because everywhere to be seen; and when loaded with fine clusters like those of Eshcol, the sight is most pleasing. To represent the vital union of believers to himself, our Lord employs the union of the branches to the vine. He is the vine, they are the branches; and the effect of this union is fruitfulness. As a branch severed from the vine cannot bear fruit, neither can believers without Christ. And the cogent motive to induce them to bear much fruit is, that their Father in heaven may be glorified.

"Make the tree good, and his fruit good." "By their fruits shall you know them." No man, by merely looking at a tree, can tell whether it will bear fruit, or whether the fruit will be good or bad. When we see people making a good profession in the church, we cannot tell whether their religion is genuine or spurious, until we have an opportunity of seeing the fruits. When John the Baptist called men to repentance, he required them "to bring forth fruits fit for repentance." A godly life is the best evidence of sincerity in religion. How beautiful is a consistent Christian character. Such a one "does justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly with his God." To his prayers he joins alms, and he abounds in every good work. As he makes his way through this sinful world, his bright example sheds a light on all around, and others seeing his good works are led to glorify his Father in heaven. He makes no ostentatious display of his religion; and yet his good deeds cannot be hidden--they are like the fragrant aroma, which betrays itself. He is not ashamed of Christ and his gospel, but glories in the cross, and esteems all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.

As the true Christian advances in years, his fruits become more mellow and mature; and he goes on to bring forth fruit, even in old age. And finally, like a fruit fully ripe, he drops into the grave; but his works follow him, and he is blessed in death, as the voice from heaven declared, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."