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'I am the true Vine. My Father is the Husbandman. John xv. 1.
How many beautiful emblems does the Saviour employ to represent himself and the glory and beauty of his doctrine. He takes down the sun and presents it as an illustration. He feeds thousands, and then says, 'The Bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world.'* He stands at the gushing fountain, and then says,
Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again : but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.'t And the lily of the field, as plucked by his hand, has the freshness of the morning and the dew upon it. Indeed, the homeliest fact as unfolded by him is found to contain the most treasured truths. He drew his illustrations from every source. He threw his eye upon the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms, and all awakened at his touch, and yielded their trea
Now we are to contemplate him under the emblem of a Vine, one of the most interesting objects in the whole vegetable world. Who has not admired the vine with its extended branches, its tendrils
* John vi. 33.
| Ib. iv. 13, 14.
sporting in the breeze, and its rich, living clusters of fruit? In the wildness and luxuriancy of nature, it is seen stretching its way over the hills and valleys, and covering the rocks with its verdure.' When assisted by the skilful hand of the culturist, it will climb its way over the humblest dwelling, or cover with its luxuriant growth the arbors of the rich.
Critics are divided respecting the origin of this emblem. Some have supposed that the Saviour and his disciples were in the temple. There was a vine reared by art, composed of gold and precious jewels. It is thus described by Calmet: 'In the temple, at Jerusalem, above and around the gate, seventy cubits high, which led from the porch to the holy place, a richly covered vine was extended as a border and decoration. The branches, tendrils, and leaves, were made of the finest gold; the stalks of the bunches were of the length of the human form, and the bunches hanging upon them were of costly jewels. Herod first placed it there; rich and patriotic Jews, from time to time, added to its embellishment, one contributing a new grape, another a leaf, a third, even a bunch of the same precious materials. If to compute its value at more than $12,000,000 be an exaggeration, it is, nevertheless, indisputable, that this vine must have had an uncommon importance. and a sacred meaning in the eyes of the Jews. With what majestic splendor must it likewise have appeared in the evening, when it was illuminated by tapers !' After the above luminous description, the commentator proceeds to draw his inferences: If, then, Jesus, in the evening, after having celebrated the passover, again betook himself to the temple with
his disciples, what is more natural than, as they wandered in it to and fro, that, above everything, this vine, blazing with gold and jewels, should have attracted their attention? That, riveted by the gorgeous magnificence of the sight, they were adsorbed in wonder and contemplation respecting the real import of this work of art? Let us now conceive that Jesus at this moment, referring to this vine, said to his disciples, "I am the true Vine"how correct and striking must his words have then appeared !-how clearly and determinately must then the import of them have been seen! This vine was gorgeous and magnificent, but yielded no living fruit. That would soon perish amidst the crumbling ruins of the temple. But Jesus was 'the true Vine.' That had only the art and devices of man to sustain it; but the true Vine' had God for its support, and, therefore, could not be destroyed.
The subject presents itself under three different views.
1. The Vine.
1. The Vine. Undoubtedly we are to understand by the Vine, the doctrine which Jesus brought from heaven. Here then, at once, living clusters of the richest fruit present themselves, and we enter, as it were, a choice vineyard, in which we know not, from the plentifulness around us, where to pluck the first fruit. Love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, meekness, hope, life, and immortality all grow upon the true Vine.' 'Let not your heart be troubled,' said
the meek and lowly Son of God; 'ye believe in God, believe also in me.' 'I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.' 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.', * * 'As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in my love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.' We have transcribed these few sayings as a slight specimen of the rich fruit that grows upon the true Vine.'
We may add, that it is perennial, and yields abundantly. We may find fruit at all seasons. Like 'the tree of life,' it ‘yields every month, and the leaves are for the healing of the nations. In the midst of the leafless trees, the decaying plants, and the fading rose, this Vine may be seen, in all its permanency and beauty, as fresh and as fragrant as when first planted by the great Husbandman. This Vine was never known to fail. Age after age, the afflicted and the weary have plucked from its branches, and been refreshed. Indeed, it is one of the chief glories of the true Vine,' that the more frequently we pluck its fruit, the more abundantly does it yield. Like some of nature's plants, it enjoys perpetual verdure, and will grow in all climes. Let us, then, sit beneath its spreading branches, and pluck the living fruit, till we all meet in the great vineyard above, in the presence of the Husbandman, to enjoy its beauty and fragrance forever.
II. The Husbandman. But the Divine Instructor goes farther. He directs the attention of his disciples to the Husbandman, and to the branches. We shall, therefore, proceed to consider the manner in which this Vine is supported, and the object for which it was planted. To the Father, Jesus ever turned for support. As the vine is dependent on the soil, so did the Saviour ever consider himself dependent on God. Separated from his Father, the Husbandman, he would wither and die. 'I do nothing of myself,' said Christ; 'but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.' 'I and my Father are one.' 'If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. To support this Vine, all power was given: 'Jesus came and spake unto the disciples, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.'
This Vine appeared at first as a feeble plant, scarcely able to throw out its tendrils; but it soon struck its roots deep in the earth, and put forth its branches. It has now attained a growth that no earthly power can destroy, and it will eventually spread 'from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.'
But for what object did the Husbandman plant this Vine? It was for the world. It was in accordance with an ancient promise to the patriarchs, that all nations should be blessed. Mankind needed consolation. No system had ever been presented that man could cling to for support. There were vines of human planting, but they brought forth sour grapes, and the children's teeth were set on edge.' Bitterness, sorrow and death grew on them. They were offensive, noxious, and poisonous.