The Poor Man's Morning and Evening Portions
Robert Hawker (1753-1827)
"The tree of life."—Rev. xxii. 2.
Lead me, O Holy Ghost, by the hand of faith, this morning, into the paradise of God, and cause me to sit down under the tree of life; and for a while, before the world breaks in upon me, enable me to meditate on its beauties, its loveliness, and its fruit. Is it not Jesus which I behold in this charming similitude? Surely Jesus is to me the tree of life, for I have no life but in him! And it is not only he which gave me life at the first, but preserves it, maintains it, and will preserve it for ever. He saith himself, "Because I live, ye shall live also." And as he is himself the life of my soul, so every thing in him is the promoter of my life. His fruit also is all my sustenance, all I want, all I desire, all I can truly enjoy. He bears twelve manner of fruits. Yes, for there is in him both fulness and variety: pardon, mercy, and peace, in the blood of his cross; favour with God, affection with men; the Spirit's gifts, graces, influences; comfort in this life, happiness and joy in that which is to come. And every month these fruits abound. Yes, he saith himself, "fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold: and my revenue than choice silver." "I will cause them that love me to inherit substance; yea, I will fill all their treasures." Nay, the very leaves of this tree of life are for the healing of the nations. And how healing indeed is Jesus, in his word, his ordinances, his providences, his promises, his dispensations! Neither is this all: the tree of life grows in the midst of the street, and is open in every gospel ordinance; both to Jews and Gentiles, both to bond and free. He is also on either side the river. The church above, though sitting under the full enjoyment of him, doth not keep him wholly to herself. Blessed be his name, he is as much for the glory and happiness of his church here below, on this side the river of death. And is this tree of life, this Jesus, mine? Oh the vast privilege! I bless thee, Oh thou Holy Spirit, for giving me the knowledge of him now by faith: and ere long, I hope to sit down for ever in the paradise of God, in the unceasing enjoyment of him, from whence I shall arise no more, but dwell under his branches for ever.
"And at midnight there was a cry made, behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him."—Matt. xxv. 6.
When Jesus, the bridegroom of his church, first came, it was in a moment sudden and unexpected, like the surprise at a midnight hour. And when Jesus cometh to any of his people, it is unlooked for. Indeed, it is always midnight in the soul of a sinner, when the cry is made! But how blessed is the cry, when a poor lost perishing sinner is advanced to the midnight of death, on the verge of an approaching eternity, and in that season hears the voice of the Son of God, and lives! How many, like the thief on the cross, or like the jailor at Philippi, have been surprised into grace at such seasons, by the sovereignty of Him, "who calleth things that are not, as though they were?" Precious Jesus! in all the circumstances of life, in the midnight of nature, the midnight of carnal security, the midnight of sleep, in which even thy dear children are so liable to be found; Oh! that we may hear thy voice, and go forth to meet thee! And, Lord! let the going forth of thy redeemed be, not with the lamp of a profession, but with the enlightened oil of grace, that we may meet thee with all our affections alive, to hail and welcome thy coming; so that "at midnight, or cock-crowing, or in the MORNING," when Jesus saith, "Behold, I come quickly," our souls may cry out, in joyful reply, "Even so; come, Lord Jesus!"