Sermon 529. The Cedars Of Lebanon
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 13, 1863, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The trees of the Lord are full of sap. The cedars of Lebanon, which He has planted." Psalm 104:16.
IF Solomon were here this morning, who spoke of all trees, from the hyssop on the wall to the cedar that is in Lebanon, hewould greatly instruct us in the natural history of the cedar and, at the same time, uttering allegories and proverbs of wisdom,he would give us apples of gold in baskets of silver. But since the Lord Jesus Christ has said, "Lo, I am with you always,even to the end of the world," we can dispense with the company of Solomon. For if Christ is present, behold, a greater thanSolomon is here. Solomon probably would confine his remarks simply to the physical conformation and botany of the wonderfultree. But our Lord, I trust, will speak to our hearts this morning concerning those who are "planted in the courts of theLord," and therefore flourish like cedars. May our communications this morn be blessed to us while we talk of those treesof the Lord, those plants of His own right hand planting which grow in the garden of the Lord. I shall have to say some things this morning which are not for beginners in the Gospel school. I shall have to handle somelofty matters which belong to the more advanced of the Lord's family. For Lebanon is a high hill and the ascent is very craggy.The pathway to the summit is not for the feet of babes-it is rather fit for those lion-like men, those men of experience-who,by reason of use, have had their feet made like hind's feet that they may stand on the high places. Follow me as I may beled of the Spirit to climb that arduous pathway. Let us stand this morning under the venerable shadow of those ancient cedarswhich, to this very day, are the Lord's witnesses and are as before, full of sap-the cedars of Lebanon, which the Lord hasplanted. There are three things I shall bring before your attention this morning, in the cedars of Lebanon. First of all, the absenceof all human cultivation. Secondly, the presence of Divine care. And thirdly, the fullness of vital principle. You may not see all this at first, but remember that our translation is not exactly correct. You will observe that the word"sap," is inserted in italics-it is not there in the Hebrew. "The trees of the Lord are full," or rather, which gives themeaning clearly, "The trees of the Lord are satiated-are satisfied-the cedars of Lebanon, which He has planted."
I. That rendering of the text gives me my first point. We see in yonder venerable trees, crowning the ridge of the Lebaneserange, THE ABSENCE OF ALL HUMAN CULTIVATION.
1. Note first, that these trees are peculiarly the Lord's trees, because they owe their planting entirely to Him. "The cedarsof Lebanon, which He has planted." No diligent hands dug the soil, no careful farmer dropped in the fruitful cone. How thoseancient giants of the grove came there, notongue can tell. It must be left among the mysteries. Perhaps the waters of the tremendous deluge washed up the cones andlaid them safely upon the ledge of rock at the top of the hill, and there they sprouted and grew. That would be but a guess.We must leave the early planting ofthose mighty trees among the secrets which belong unto God. Certain it is that they owe nothing to men, that there is nota tree of Lebanon of which we may not safely say, "This is one of the cedars which the Lord has planted."
Beloved, it is quite true of every child of God. The Lord uses instrumentality, but the instrument has no real power exceptas God puts power into it. If we have been converted, we were not converted of ourselves, of the energy of our own free will.We are not self-planted, but God-planted. If wehave been turned from nature's darkness to marvelous light, it was not through the oratory or eloquence of the minister.If so, our religion would be in vain. It was God whose fiat said, "Let the light be," and light was.
It was He who said, "Let that dried branch be planted in My garden," and planted we were-and grow we must- and shall, whileHe supports us. The mysterious finger of the Divine Spirit dropped the living seed into a heart which He had Himself preparedfor its reception. And there itsprang up and continued to grow from the tender shoot until it towered aloft as a goodly cedar of mighty girth. Every trueheir of Heaven, like the cedar, owns the Great Farmer as His planter.
2. As I look upon those noble trees, I note that they are not dependant upon man for their watering. Yonder trees in the plainare fertilized by little canals running at their roots, and therefore are they green. But these on the top of Lebanon, whoshall find a stream for them? Who shall bring therivers of water to their feet? How shall the gardener empty his bucket, that they may drink? No, there they stand on thelofty rock, not moistened by human irrigation. And yet your heavenly Father supplies them. The clouds, those wandering cisternsof the sky, arrested by theirbranches, hover round them and at last pour down in deluges the fructifying rain.
Or the ledges of the rock retain the streamlets which trickle from Lebanon's snowy peaks and then the roots of the cedar drinkup the nourishment which they require. But man has nothing to do with it. Man's cultivation withers in the plain below. Whenautumn comes, the fields are all dry andparched. Man only preserves to himself a little spot of green by perpetually using the processes of irrigation, but thesecedars owe not a single drop to the power and energy of man. Well, now, so is it to the Christian who has learned to liveby faith. He can say-
"My trust is in the Lord alone, My rock and refuge in His Throne; In all my fears, in all my straits, My soul on His salvation waits."
He is independent of man, even in temporal things, because he has learned to trust in his God. He believes the promise-"Yourbread shall be given you and your water shall be sure." And the bread and the water are sure to him in spirituals. Thoughhe uses the means, though he loves the pastorafter God's own heart, though he loves the pastures where he feeds and is made to lie down. Yet still he sings, The Lordis my Shepherd, therefore I shall not want. He leads me beside the still waters, He makes me to lie down in green pastures."On no priest does he rely, on nopersuasions of eloquent tongues does he depend. For his full and his continued maintenance he looks to the Lord his Godand to Him alone. The dew of Heaven is his portion and the God of Heaven is his Fountain. Every Christian, thus, is a treeof the Lord, in His planting and in Hiswatering.
3. Furthermore, if your eyes look attentively at yonder cedars, you will see that no mortal might protects them. They areplanted on a mountain ridge no less than six thousand feet above the level of the sea. The snow frequently lies upon theirbranches in enormous masses. They are in the mostexposed position conceivable. When the cedars were as yet but young, the browsing goat might have destroyed them. As theygrew up, the heavy falls of snow must have completely buried the young trees.
Afterward they were subjected to many dangers. Up there the lightning is at home. There the callow tempests try their youngwings. Lebanon's towering peaks must be a frequent mark for the thunderbolts of God and sometimes when the time has come,the voice of the Lord, that makes the hinds to calve,also rends the cedars of Lebanon and the hoary prince of the forest bows humbly at the touch of the scepter of his King.These trees owe nothing-for their preservation from storm, wind and tempest-to man. There is no hedge set about them. Thereare no means used to shoreup the limbs as they begin to drop by weight-man does not even keep the goat from them. They are left there unprotectedin the pitiless storm and terrible blast, and yet the veterans survive. The cedars of Lebanon have not all fallen even beneaththe insatiable axe ofman-still they stand-God's trees, kept and preserved by Him and by Him alone.
It is precisely the same with the Christian. He is not a hot-house plant, sheltered from temptation. He does not live in aworld of holy and hallowed influence, preserving him from sin. He stands in the most exposed position, on yonder bare rock,where winds of mysterious Satanic influence anddreadful earthquakes of his own doubts and fears daily try him. Where terrific thunderbolts from God's right hand, the thunderboltsof desertion and stern affliction all come against him. He has no shelter, no protection, except this-that the broad wingsof the Eternal Godalways cover the cedars which he himself has planted.
Oh, it is magnificent to think how the Christian bears up! Weak, feeble, less than nothing in himself, yet so mighty thatall Hell cannot crush him and the united hosts of the world, the flesh and the devil, cannot prevail against him. Me-thinksI hear the cedars, as the trees of the woods claptheir hands, shouting aloud-"In all these things we are more than conquerors," as they remember lightning and snow and storm.And so with the cedars of the Lord, when tribula- tion and trial and distress come upon them-"We are more than conquerorsthrough Him that hasloved us." Brethren, forget not that our refuge is in the Lord alone.
4. Fourthly, as to their inspection-they also preserve a sublime indifference to human gaze. Perhaps for thousands of yearsthey may not have been looked upon by human eyes at all. Moses desired to see "that goodly land and Lebanon." David oftensaw them and he sang of that handful of cornwhose fruit shall shake like Lebanon. But I cannot find that the cedars have become a whit more green now that they arevisited by pilgrims, nor, on the other hand, that they lose anything of their verdure because the evil eyes of man may haveglanced upon them.
Solomon spoke of one who was "excellent as the cedars." Sacred to God, they stand high up in lonely grandeur, indifferentto mortal judgment. When the virgin snows of Lebanon were untouched by man's polluted foot, and the Eternal walked in tempest,stepping from crag to crag. Or when in the cooleventide the Unseen One trod their hallowed aisles, these trees were God's trees and God's trees alone, stretching out theirbroad branches for Him to gaze upon. They were quite content if at high noon, or in the deep gloom of midnight, the GreatPlanter in solitary glory lookeddown upon them.
It is just so with the Christian. He stands, like the cedars, in a conspicuous position, but he courts not observation. Heis like a city set upon a hill, yet still consciously he walks before the Lord in the land of the living. He owes nothingto the smiles of men, and he cares as little for theirfrowns. I mean that true Believer who has so grown in faith that he no longer leans upon an arm of flesh, but understandshow to stand upright. I mean that advanced Christian who has not one foot upon the sea and the other on the land, but hasput both his feet on the Rock of Agesand lets earth reel if it will, and bids the storms come and the winds blow, unmoved, possessing a deep calm within, becausehe looks to God. This is his joy and his only joy, "You, God see me, my Father who is in Heaven knows my needs, He looks uponme and regards me."
Out with the piety which depends upon the public eye! Away, away, away with the religion that needs to be watched and guardedlest it desert the standard. I am not to have religion like a dog collar, which I may slip off and on and feel glad to berid of it. It must be part and parcel of my being.My religion must be a thing which lives in the notice of God, in my closet, and in my secret heart. Mine must be a religionwhich I bring into public because I cannot leave it behind. It must not be the Pharisees' paint and tinsel which he puts onin the public place and privatelylaughs at when he gets alone.
Ah, my Brothers and Sisters, we want to be like the cedars, caring only for God, minding little whether we are praised orblamed by any of human shape. If you cannot feel it sufficient honor to be known of Him who sees in secret, you have needto begin to live aright.
5. Nor have we finished here the glorious independence of the cedar. I would I had a tongue to tell it all out, it is a themefor poet or bard. We want a Coleridge or a Milton to sing the majesty of those grand old trees in their solitary glory. Notethat their exultation is all for God and not forman. When the fig tree yields its figs, it may well say, "Thanks to the cultivator who has taken so much care of me." Whenthe vine gives up her luscious clusters she has to thank the vinedresser who has used the pruning knife. When you walk yourgardens, all your plants praise youas well as God, because of your care for them.
But what say the cedars? Who has planted the cedars, or who has watered them? Who has pruned them-who has hedged them aboutand kept them in the day of storm? The Lord, even the Lord, alone, has been everything unto the cedars and, therefore, Davidvery sweetly puts it in one of the lastPsalms, "Praise you the Lord, fruitful trees and all cedars." The cedars have not a green leaf to magnify man with, nora single cone with which to make him proud. The cedar's silent song is, "Let Jehovah, God of Israel, be praised and when wefall, let our split timbers build atemple to His praise, for unto Him and unto Him alone we grow."
They fell, you know, many of them, beneath the axe of Hiram and floated on the sea to Joppa. And then again were carried toJerusalem. But it was that they might make the holy place and build the pillars of the temple of God. So, Christians, is itwith you. There is nothing in you that can magnifyman. If you understand yourselves aright you give unto the Lord glory and strength, for your only thanks are due to Him.Your praise, your gratitude shall ascend to Him who chose you before ever the earth was. To Him who bought you with His preciousblood. To Him who quickens andpreserves you by His Spirit. And when you die, this is your hope and joy-that you shall be pillars in the temple of your
God and go no more out forever. You are the Lord's trees from first to last. If you know yourselves aright, the Author andFinisher of your Faith is your Divine Redeemer.
6. I do not know that there is a cedar upon Lebanon which is not also independent of man in its expectations. They never expectto be fenced about and hedged. They never reckon upon being preserved and watered by man. We have many schemes, but I haveheard of none for preserving the cedars.Speculations are rife every day and one would scarcely be astonished by a projected railroad to the moon. But yet I havenever heard of anyone who has attempted to purchase the cedars of Lebanon, to preserve them, or make them his private property.
Arabs and Turks do their best to ruin the whole grove, but yet there they stand, expecting as little from man as they haveever received from him, giving him their shadow, yielding him their fragrance, but getting nothing and expecting nothing fromhim in return. That is your example, O Christian.You are to live expecting nothing from man and you shall never be disappointed. You are to live looking upon the Lord aloneand there again disappointment shall never come. You are to understand that one of God's objects with you is to knock awayevery prop from you, to take awayevery buttress and to make you lean upon God alone.
There is the round world, what bears it up? He hangs the world upon nothing. If you are what you should be you are just likethat earth-you have no visible support-there is nothing upon which you can depend that the carnal eye can see. But yet asthe earth moves not and falls not fromher orbit, so you, by the power of faith, shall be maintained and kept just where you are. "The young lions do lack andsuffer hunger, but they that wait on the Lord shall not want any good thing." It is a life's work to learn independence ofthe creature and almost another life'swork to learn dependence upon the Creator.
To wean us from the breasts of this world is a long and painful process. To get us clean rid of that walking by sight, whichis the disease of man, and to bring us to walk by faith in the Spirit, which is the glory of a Christian-this is a work wellworthy of a God-and blessed is theman who has this work to a great extent accomplished in himself. I do feel, Brothers and Sisters, more and more that mysoul must wait only upon the Lord, and that my expectation must be from Him alone. You, too, must come here and learn thatthe Lord will provide, but it is only inthe mountain of the Lord that this sweet Truth of God can be seen.
II. Now for the next point. The cedars of Lebanon are a GLORIOUS DISPLAY OF DIVINE CARE.
1. First, in the abundance of their supply. No river, as I have observed, rolls at their feet. No canals keep their leaf fromwithering-man uses no labor and employs no skill to irrigate the steeps of Lebanon-and yet do the cedars need anything? Lookat them! Stand under their shadowand see if they want any good thing. The text tells us, that so far from wanting, they are saturated-"The trees of the Lordare full." Man's trees may sometimes be ready to perish for lack of moisture. They may be frostbitten and their shoots maybe nipped- but the treesof the Lord are full-there is never any want there. There is no want to them that fear Him.
Dear Friends, those Believers who have learned most to live by faith possess the richest part of the land of promise. OtherBelievers live in the land of Egypt and are often making bricks without straw. But these dwell in the land which flows withmilk and honey. They have passed the wilderness,and having believed, they have entered into rest. The lot of the truly full grown Believer who stays himself upon his Godalone, is well set forth in the promise, "His soul shall dwell at ease and his seed shall inherit the earth."
He has his troubles, but faith makes them light. He has his wants, but faith never permits him to call them wants, for theyare always supplied before the necessity begins to pinch him. Other men may, with all their watching and wisdom, come to nothing.They may rise up early and sit up late andeat the bread of carefulness and yet be poor. But they who stay upon God in temporals and spirituals, if Heaven should shake,and if the pillars of the earth should be moved and the sea should be dried up, yet their place of defense shall be munitionsof rocks. "Their bread shall begiven them and their water shall be sure."
See this on a large scale in the case of our dear brother Muller's institution at Bristol. We often see institutions sendingout fresh begging appeals-there is some new claim upon their funds. The Lancashire distress has turned aside very much contributionsfrom this object and that society.Of course it is so-these societies usually lean on man and rest upon an arm of flesh. But our Bristol Brother, by prayerand faith makes known his wants unto God and when does he lack any good thing? When needs he issue a begging appeal? Verily,I do believe that if allEngland were in famine, the orphan house at Bristol would have sufficient supplies. Whatever may happen, the Lord has promisedto hear prayer, and He will honor faith-the cedars of Lebanon shall be full if all the trees of the plain be famished.
I would to God we could exhibit still more and more of the same principle of faith in the conduct of our college. And in thatcase, too, I am persuaded that whatever may occur and whatever may happen, as that is God's work, it never can lack. My confidencein that matter is in my God. I am gladthat so many of the Lord's people are made the instruments to supply the wants of the college, but still I look far higher.Sometimes when friends say, "Mention it to the people," I do not like to do it, lest I should lean too much on you. God'sown work shall be carried on by God'sown means. And I am sure He will send what it requires and in a way which shall be for the glory of His name. They are happy-Iam a witness that they are-Brothers and Sisters, they are well supplied, who, like the cedars, exhibit Divine cultivationand independence ofman.
2. Again, note concerning these cedars that they are not only well supplied, but they are always green. Other trees refreshedwith rivers, if they have the whole Nile at their roots, must drop their leaves once every year at the command of winter-andthen they stretch out their bare limbs, asif they prayed for the return of spring. The oaks of Bashan languish, the fig tree casts her leaves, the ash and the elmare ashamed, but you, O cedar, you live in perpetual spring! The green lawns of your horizontal branches fail not even inthe year of drought.
The birds always sing in her branches, and the storks make their nests in due season among her boughs. Dear Brothers and Sisters,it is so with the man who lives upon Christ alone. He has not the changes of other men. He has his trials, but he sings throughthem. The reason why many of us sink solow in spirit and hang our harps on the willows, is only this-want of faith. But if-
"Our faith is in the Lord alone, Our rock and refuge is His Throne," so that we can say with Habakkuk, "Though the fig treeshall not blossom," and so on, "yet will I rejoice in the Lord." Let our faith be vigorous and unstaggering, let us be plantedup there where God has put us-on the rockyside of Lebanon-in the midst of all kinds of difficulties and dangers, yet our leaf shall be always green and we shall notknow when drought comes.
3. Observe the grandeur and size of these trees. I have found upon reference to Mr. Thompson's work, "The Laud and the Book,"that several of the trees measure forty-one feet in girth, so that they are real giants of the forest. Think of it and admire-neverwatered by man, never cared for byhim-depending upon God and upon God alone-and yet they have grown to the height of one hundred feet and forty feet in girth!Ah, and what magnificent Christians those are who come to rest upon God alone. You think, perhaps, that they, having so littlesupply from secondcauses, would be feeble!
But, dear Brothers and Sisters, it is often that supply from beneath which makes us feeble. I believe it is our riches whichmake us poor and our strength which makes us weak, for when I am weak then am I strong. When I am brought down to feel thatall the creatures put together could not help methe turn of a penny, when I know that all my power and wisdom and strength is not worth so much as a rusty nail, if I putit altogether and strain it to the utmost, O then it is so blessed to get a grip of God-to strike one's root down to the heartof the Rock of Ages and torest alone on Him!
The best Christians, the most splendid specimens of Divine husbandry are those who are most delivered from confidence in thecreature. You shall read all biographies and you shall find in proportion as men become little in self, and little in creaturelove and creature trust, they become great andmighty in their doings for the Lord.
4. Note next, the fragrance of these venerable trees. Hosea speaks of the smell of Lebanon and we know that cedar wood wasamong the aromatic substances burned upon the altar of the sanctuary. Travelers tell us that when they stand under the cedarsof Lebanon the smell is most delightful, thefragrant cedar wood perfumes all the air. Now few of men's trees do that. Some of them do. The citron and the orange andlemon load the air with sweets, but many others, cultivate them as we may, and nurture with the greatest care, never can orwill perfume the air. How sweetly doGod's trees sweeten all about them!
If your piety comes from God and if you wait in spirit upon God and lean only upon Him, there will be about you such a sweetfragrance that you shall be acceptable unto God in Christ Jesus and acceptable to your Brothers and Sisters, and even an ungodlyworld shall perceive that there is in you thesmell of a field that the Lord has blessed. No man will yield so delightful a perfume as the man who is much with Christ.The scented piece of clay declared that it owed its per- fume to sleeping with a rose-and if we have learned to rest uponthe bosom of the Savior, if wehave taught our soul to say, "My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from Him"-our companionship and confidencein God will yield a sweet fragrance both to our words, to our actions, and to everything to which we set our hands.
5. Attentively think upon the perpetuity of these cedars. Do you remember how carnal men said, concerning certain works offaith which we ourselves attempted, "Ah, well, it may be all very well, it will last for a time, it is a sort of spurt ofenthusiasm. It will last for a time and then die outlike the wick of a candle." Societies that are blessed with patrons, vice-presidents, secretaries, directors, subscribersand that use flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer and all kinds of music-those will get on. There is something to lookat there. There is somethingtangible.
But a scheme which lives only upon God! The business man says, "I do not see it. I look at the pounds, shillings and pence.I have not learned to look at things unseen, I cannot confide in these visionary ideas." Now, every year somebody has said,"Muller, of Bristol, will come to nothing, Mr.So-and-So has died, that old gentleman who used to give him two thousand pounds and three thousand pounds a year. Now heis dead, now it will come to an end and cannot keep on." After his death somebody else was going to die, and that somebodydied, but the orphans were still fedand housed. Even at this moment, the men of sight are prophesying evil against that marvel of faith in the same way theymight tremble for the cedars and talk thus.
Now, here are these cedars of God upon the top of Lebanon, with nobody to take care of them, they will surely be destroyed.What? No society pledged to guarantee their preservation! Why, there will not be one of them left in three weeks. They willbe cut down for the sake of their timber, orcarried off piecemeal by tourists. Ah, but my dear Brothers and Sisters, there are some of those cedars that can be reckonedto be at the very least three thousand five hundred years old and some of them are doubtless older. And we cannot, of course,except by cutting them down,discover their precise age by counting the rings.
But there they stand and have stood all those hundreds and thousands of years with no ranger of the forest to look after them-justGod Himself to be the Farmer and Keeper of them all! Depend upon it, Christian, if you rest upon God, your simple faith isa principle which you may use, not onlyfor ten or twenty years, but all your threescore years and ten! It serves you in your youth to be your joy-it shall serveyou in your old age to be your staff. If you could outlive Methuselah, yet still you should find that God would keep the cedarsfull and preserve you amongthem safely even to the end.
6. I conclude this head by noticing that these cedars are very venerable. A traveler declares that often as he has stayedbeneath their shadow, he has never done so without feeling a solemn awe. Mr. Thompson has slept under their shade on one ortwo occasions, and as he has looked up and seen thestars and sometimes climbed up the cedars and marked how they spread out all their branches horizontally, making a seriesof green lawns one above another, he says he has never gazed upon them without feeling there was something holy in the spot.
The mountain tribes treat them with superstitious reverence, calling them saints and giving to each a name. They command,for their antiquity and glory, the veneration of man. Scarcely could even the brute pass them, one would think, without lookingup with something of respect. It is mostevidently so with the Christian who lives wholly upon God. Your common sort of Christians who have very little faith andlive by feelings-your ordinary sort of Christians who live half by faith and half by works-mere professors who have neverentered into the secretplace of the tabernacle of the Most High and think all I am talking about to be mere mysticism.
These, I say, who do not understand the word "faith" to be so broad that it encompasses the whole of human life, so deep thatit penetrates to the depths of the heart and yet so high that hope cannot desire anything greater than faith can give-thesewho have not learned faith fully, have norespect from among men-but those who can act upon the supernatural principle of depending upon God, sooner or later willget the respect even of the most careless. The day is coming when these cedars of God shall be honored in the eyes of themost ungodly-in that greatday when the wicked shall rise to shame and everlasting contempt, then these cedars of God shall have their time of honorand the whole world shall know them to be plants of the Lord's right-hand planting.
I leave this point. I would, dear Friends, that you and I knew more and more what it was to live upon the Lord alone. I believeit is the safest way of life and I am certain it is the happiest. Let the cedar's lot be my lot, let me have my God to bemy sole stay and my support and I shall be richto all the intents of bliss.
III. Now for the third and last point. Taking the text as it stands and reading it, "The trees of the Lord are full of sap,"which, although it is not in the original, is not, after all, a violence to it. It is not a literal translation, but stillit is a free translation that does not violate thesense of the Hebrew. Taking our version, I get my third particular, FULLNESS OF LIVING PRINCIPLE.
1. "The trees of the Lord are full of sap," of which, I shall notice first, that this is vitally necessary. Without sap, thecedar is no tree, it becomes a dead post and nothing more. Sap is needful to make it flourish and exist. Without the lifeof God in the heart, a man is no Christian. He mayattend His Church twice every Sunday, or he may go to Chapel. He may read his Bible regularly and have family prayers inhis house. He may subscribe his guineas to all sorts of societies. He may be very kind to the poor. He may be one whose outwardlife and conversation are quitebeyond rebuke and yet, unless he has been born again and has been made a partaker of the mysterious Spirit of the livingGod, he is not one of the Lord's trees.
Vitality is essential to a Christian. We call not dead ones, sons, and if you have not been quickened, you cannot be childrenof God. It is not likely that Christ is married to a dead corpse. And if you have not been quickened by Divine Grace, youare not His bride, nor even a member of His family.The body always ejects dead substances. With great pain and difficulty, a decayed bone is pushed out from the flesh, throughan ulcer, perhaps-but out it must come. Even so, there are no dead members of Christ's body. Painfully would the body striveto eject such a member.There must be life- a vital principle infused into us by God the Holy Spirit. The trees of the Lord are, without exception,full of sap.
2. Next, essentially mysterious. I do not understand the sap-I suppose the botanist may. The sap is the blood of the treeand in the tree there is a circulation very much like the circulation of the blood through our veins and heart. But who understandsthe circulation of the blood-itis a great mystery-by what force it rises and by what power it descends again? Who shall tell how that river of life isguided? It is a Divine mystery. So is it with the Life within us-it is a greater mystery still. You may discover the sea andunderstand it, but neverthe Life of God in a Christian.
This is God Himself in a Christian, God infused into the Christian's soul as a Divine principle. How shall I set this forth?Regeneration is the Holy Spirit coming into a man and becoming that man's Life. And the Life in a Believer afterward feedsupon the flesh and blood of Christ-likesustaining like-Divine Life being sustained by Divine food. Do you know anything about this mystery? "The wind blows whereit lists and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell where it comes and where it goes: so is everyone that is born ofthe Spirit." Everyone who is atree of the Lord must be full of this essential mystery-"The trees of the Lord are full of sap."
3. Thirdly, it is radically secret. Note that. Who knows how the roots get their sap? They go searching through the soil withtheir little roots, looking after that food which is exactly suitable to the constitution of the tree. But how they transmutethe mineral into the vegetable, how they suckout the various gasses, or draw out the particles they need, who can tell? Now our root is Christ, our life is hid in Him.This is the secret of the Lord. The root of the Christian is as secret as the life itself. Who can comprehend the mysteryof the life within the Believer? Theroot of that life, that vital union with Christ, that reception of Divine Grace-of his very soul out of the wounds of theSavior-who shall explain this? Only this we must say, however Divine Grace flows there from Jesus, it must be there and itmust come fromChrist-for all the trees of the Lord are full of sap.
4. Then, again, it is permanently active. In the Christian the Divine Life is always active-not in fruit-bearing, but in someoperation within. The sap in the cedar never lies still. The sap in common trees is still in the winter, and if you cut atree in the early spring, as I unfortunatelydid, then the sap comes streaming down in great white streams from the wound you have made, because the sap has begun toflow. The tree should be cut at some other period of the year-but the cedar always has its sap active. Perforate it when youmay, a gum begins to exude atall times. So is it with the Christian.
His Divine Graces, are not all of them in activity, but the Life is always in activity. My hand is not always moving, butmy blood is. I am not always working for God, but my heart is always living upon God. The essential Life of the Christiannever dies-never ceases from being in activeoperation. There is a seed in him which cannot sin, because it is born of God, but which must still go towards holiness,because it comes from God. I do not understand this permanent activity, but still, I know it is in everyone of you, if youare Christians, for "the trees of theLord are full of sap."
5. I shall almost have finished when I notice, in the next place, that it is externally operative. A traveler tells us thatin the wood, the bark, and even the cones of the cedar there is an abundance of resin. They are saturated with it so thathe says he can scarcely touch one of the cedars ofLebanon without having the turpentine or resin of them upon his hands. That is always the way with a truly healthy Christian-hisDivine Grace is externally manifested. There is the inner Life within, it is active, and by-and-by, when it is in a rightstate, it saturateseverything. You talk with the gracious man, he cannot help talking about Christ. You go into his house, you will soon seethat a Christian lives there.
You notice his actions and you will see he has been with Jesus. He is so full of sap that the sap must come out. He has somuch of the Divine Life within, that the holy oil and Divine balsam must flow from him. I am afraid this cannot be said ofall of us. It is because we get to be dependent uponman and not on God, and therefore have little of this sap. But if we are independent of man and live wholly upon God, weshall be so full of sap that every part of us will betray our piety.
6. And then let me say lastly, that this sap is abundantly to be desired. Oh, when I think what glory a full grown Christianbrings to God, what honor the faith of a Believer puts upon Jesus! When I think what a knowledge of God and Divine thingsan advanced Believer possesses, when I contemplatehis joy and peace of mind-I could wish that everyone of you, (though it is well to be hyssops on God's wall)-could be cedarsupon God's Lebanon! Oh that we would grow in Grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
There is something of the sap in us, let us pray for more. We live upon Christ. If our hearts do not awfully deceive us, youand I can say-
"On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand."
The Lord knows our hearts and He Himself knows that we can say as Peter did, "Lord, You know all things: You know that I loveYou." But oh, is there one among you that is content with himself? I am not-I am ashamed of myself- forgetting the thingsthat are behind, I would press forwardto that which is before. Not as though I had already obtained, either were already perfect. Ah, Brothers and Sisters, thereis such a height of glorious independence of man and a confident dependence upon God! And there is such a blessed internaljoy and peace, such a Divinefullness of sap which we may yet have that I pray none of you rest till you obtain it to the praise and the glory of HisGrace, who has made you accepted in the Beloved.
Sinner, that which I have been holding up as the strength and beauty of a Christian, must be Life to you. Come, every man,and trust in the Lord, for if you trust in Him, you shall never be confounded. The Lord add now a blessing upon you, for Christ'ssake. Amen.