Great Texts of the Bible
The True Vine
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit.—John 15:1-2.
1. Our Lord here opens the book of nature for the last time to complete the training of the Twelve. It had furnished many illustrations for the parables and discourses of the past three years, but none is more rich in suggestion than this of the vine and its branches.
2. What suggested this lovely parable of the vine and the branches is equally unimportant and undiscoverable. The great truth in this chapter, applied in manifold directions, and viewed in many aspects, is that of the living union between Christ and those who believe in Him, and the parable of the vine and the branches affords the foundation for all that follows.
The subject may be considered under three heads:—
I. The Vine.
II. The Vine and its Branches.
III. The Husbandman.
“I am the true vine.”
Two currents of thought are united by Christ when He speaks of Himself as “the true, the ideal vine.”
1. The Hebrew nation and Church in Old Testament times is called a vine. The Psalmist says: “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.” Isaiah says: “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.” Jeremiah says: “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” Ezekiel says of the kings of David’s house: “Thy mother was like a vine, in thy blood, planted by the waters; she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters.… And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty land.” The vine was used as an emblem of the Jewish nation under the Maccabees in the second century before Christ, and appears on their coins. But the people of Israel failed to live a life in harmony with the emblem. They did not bring forth fruit to God. They were not the True Vine.
Now, the Lord Jesus Christ has been planted in the earth like a great fruit-bearing tree, to do what the Hebrew nation failed to do. He is the “true,” that is, the genuine, the real, the perfect Vine; not a mere shadow of it, but its very root and stem, at once living and life-giving. He has been planted in the world of mankind and in the soil of human nature, that our race may yield fruit to the glory of God.
The departure of Israel from God and their ingratitude is illustrated by the comparison with “wild grapes,” “the degenerate plant of a strange vine,” “an empty vine,” “grapes of gall.” Finally, our Lord has selected the vine as the type of Himself in His intimate union with His disciples, who bore fruit through their union with Him: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” “I am the vine, ye are the branches.”1 [Note: H. B. Tristram, The Natural History of the Bible, 413.]
2. But Christ may also have called Himself the true vine in distinction from the material vine, the image of which He had conjured up in the mind of His disciples. The images of the Bible, especially those employed by Christ, are not merely poetic figures. The outward is a real symbol of the invisible world; physical growths are a parable of spiritual growths, the kingdom of nature is a picture of the kingdom of grace, because both come from the same creative hand, are made subject to the same great laws, and are under the same great King. The physical vine is the shadow; Christ is the true, real vine, whom the shadow symbolizes; and it will last when the shadow has passed away.
The material creations of God are only inferior examples of that finer spiritual life and organism in which the creature is raised up to partake of the Divine nature.1 [Note: Dean Alford.]
The Vine and the Branches
One of the most important aspects of Christ, the Vine, is His relationship to His people, the branches of the Vine, and this aspect is set forth in the fifth verse of the same chapter: “I am the vine, ye are the branches.”
1. There is a personal relation. As in other connexions of thought (“I am the light of the world,” “I am the bread of life,” and the like), Jesus here fixes the eye of faith on His own person; but in the present saying He regards Himself as inclusive of His members, who participate in His own life, and, as it were, complete it. He says, not “I am the root, I am the stem,” but “I am the vine—and ye are the branches,” presenting Himself and the Church as one organic whole. Thus we see in Jesus the Incarnate Son, a new stock of humanity, planted of God in the earth, able to expand His own life over others, and so to include their lives in His own, and (if we may use the language here suggested) to ramify Himself in them. This capacity is the consequence of the conjunction in His own person of the human and the Divine natures; for by the one He enters into union with us in the flesh, and by the other He communicates Himself to us as “a quickening Spirit.”
Christ was the Son of God. But remember in what sense He ever used this name—Son of God because Son of Man. He claims Sonship in virtue of His Humanity. Now, in the whole previous revelation through the Prophets, etc., one thing was implied—only through man can God be known; only through a perfect man, perfectly revealed. Hence He came, the brightness of His Father’s glory, the express image of His person. Christ, then, must be loved as Son of Man before He can be adored as Son of God.2 [Note: F. W. Robertson, Life and Letters, 417.]
2. There is a vital union. The figure of the vine offers a type of manifold, of combined, of fruitful energy. It presents to us Christ and the believers in Christ in their highest unity, as a living whole. The figure of the shepherd and the sheep does not indicate relationship so close and wonderful. The shepherd has one nature and the sheep another. Shepherd and sheep are separate and independent beings. What the sheep receive is not directly from the shepherd himself, but only through his agency. The unity of the stem and the branches is organic and living. The branch has a nature like that of the tree. It is the prolongation of its tissues and fibres. The sap that is the life of the trunk is the life of the boughs. A relationship very close indeed is denoted. Stalk and limbs have a resembling nature. Stem and branch perform similar vital functions, are animated by a common principle of life, and act together for the attainment of the same identical ends.
Some day you go down to the shore. Your dingy lies in a wee reed-fringed inlet of one of the many bays that indent the coast of Long Island. You get into your boat and shove off the yellow sand. You drop your oars in and then pull away, away down the winding inlet, from behind the fringe of reeds, across the little bar, over the rocking waves of the bay, out into the deep, green, long, low swell of the limitless ocean. From the inlet into the ocean! And where did the inlet end, and where did the ocean begin? And what is the difference between the water of the inlet and the water of the ocean? The same elements combine in both; the same winds that blow in from the distances sweep over the surface of both; the same tides which roll in from the middle seas swell the waves of both. The difference is shallow and unplumbed, land-locked and unlimited. But the likeness is more than the difference, the likeness of water, wind and tides which bring the ocean into the reed-fringed inlet, and carry you out of the inlet upon the bosom of the shoreless flood.1 [Note: T. C. McClelland, The Mind of Christ, 55.]
If we pour a glass of wine into a glass of water, and mix them, the water will be in the wine, and the wine in the water. So in like manner all that we do, while our own acts, should be manifestations of the indwelling Saviour.2 [Note: Hudson Taylor’s Choice Sayings, 1.]
(1) In this vital union the branches are wholly dependent on the vine. The relation in which the vine stands to the branches in the natural world is, on the part of the vine, a relation of supreme support and nourishment. It provides, it contains, it distributes the life by which the whole tree lives. Without the stem, without the root, the branches are nothing and can do nothing. Instead of bearing fruit they can only wither and perish. A branch is nothing of itself. It is only as it abides in the vine that it has either value or continued existence. And as it is in the natural world so is it in the spiritual counterpart—the kingdom of grace. Jesus Christ, the True Vine, is the supreme and only source of spiritual life to His disciples. Without Him they can do nothing. Without Him they are nothing. It is only as they abide in Him that they can bring forth any fruit, not to speak of bringing forth much fruit. A Christian’s life, in one word, is “hid with Christ in God.” Christ is his life, the source and the sustaining power of his spiritual being.
It is impossible to conceive a more complete image of total dependence than that of the branch on the vine. It is not a partial dependence. One tree may give rise to another tree; but the new plant, whether seedling or sucker, becomes a separate individual, and derives nothing more from the original tree. There is dependence at the beginning, but no further. So, for a while, a child is dependent on the parent; but by and by he is cast entirely on his own resources. The living and thriving branch, on the contrary, is always dependent. To be removed from the stem is death and destruction.
Without something higher and nobler than yourself you will do nothing good. You must have an aim to evolve yourself to. This is an imperceptible and a natural thing. You do not think about breathing. It is natural. Your mother has thrown a sacredness over your life. Her name brings to you purity and love in their highest forms; you are bound to something higher, and through her you are bound to Christ. Thus naturally you are evolved into the Perfect Man. You reflect Him everywhere—in other words, you are growing like Him. A man at college who reflects Christ is a man who is bound to Christ, and thus the “man” in him rules his life. You must bind yourselves to Christ to get it at first hand; you must become acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ as your best Friend.1 [Note: The Life of Henry Drummond, 472.]
Thou art the Vine,
And I, O Jesus, am a branch of Thine;
And day by day from Thee
New life flows unto me.
Nought have I of my own,
But all my strength is drawn from Thee alone.
As, severed from the tree, the branch must die,
So even I
Could never live this life of mine
Apart from Thee, O living Vine;
But Thou dost dwell in me,
And I in Thee!
Yea, Thine own life through me doth flow,
And in Thyself I live and grow.1 [Note: E. H. Divall, A Believer’s Songs, 32.]
(2) The vine is nothing without its branches. It is the branches that bear the fruit, and this is their office. Jesus wants us, and, with all reverence be it said, He cannot do without us. Of course, if He had pleased, He could; but since He has chosen to make us branches in the vine, He requires us each one. All are in the vine, and all are needed.
A vine bears fruit—how? Through its branches. On the branches and on their fruitfulness all the vine’s fruitfulness depends. One branch may wither, yet another bear; but if it were possible that all should fail, there would be no fruit. It is a wonderful honour, then, to be called “branches” by Him who is the Vine. It means no less than this: “I entrust My cause to you; I am content to wait for My fruit till you bear it; through you I choose to live My life; with all My yearning for fruit I inspire you; what you bear, I shall own.”
3. The branches are dependent on one another.
(1) As we are one with Christ and Christ with us, so we are one with other men. Our own bodies are so transitory, we seem to stand so far apart from one another, the sense of individuality within us is so much stronger and so much more obtrusive than the sense of dependence, that we are apt to lose sight of our intimate and indissoluble connexion with others as men and as Christian men. Here again the image of the tree comes to our assistance. Nothing could show us more clearly that there is a unity between us as we now work together in our several places, and a unity between us and all who have gone before us. We are bound together in the present, even as the tree has one life, though the life is divided through a thousand forms, and we are children of the former time, even as the tree preserves in itself the results of its past life, which has reached, it may be, over a thousand years. These two ideas of a present unity and a historic unity are not equally easy to grasp. We can all see the present unity of the parts of the tree; we can all rise from that to the conception of the unity of men in the nation or in the Church. However imperfectly the idea is worked out in thought, however imperfectly it is realized in practice, yet it is not wholly strange or ineffective among us. But that other unity, the unity of one generation with another which has been and with another which will be hereafter, is as yet unfamiliar to most men. The tree may help us to learn it. Cut down the tree, and you will read its history in the rings of its growth. We count and measure them, and reckon that so long ago there was a year of dearth, so long ago a year of abundance. The wound has been healed, but the scar remains to witness to its infliction. The very moss upon its bark tells how the tree stood to the rain and the sunshine. The direction of its branches reveals the storms which habitually beat upon them. We call the whole perennial, and yet each year sees what is indeed a new tree rise over the gathered growths of earlier time and die when it has fulfilled its work. And all this is true of the society of men. We are what a long descent has made us.
Moses was a thinker; Aaron was a speaker. Aaron was to be to Moses instead of a mouth, and Moses was to be to Aaron instead of God. Thus one man has to be the complement of another. No one man has all gifts and graces. The ablest and best of us cannot do without our brother. There is to be a division of labour in the great work of conquering the world for God. The thinker works; so does the speaker; so does the writer. We are a chain, not merely isolated links; we belong to one another, and only by fraternal and zealous co-operation can we secure the great results possible to faith and labour. Some men are fruitful of suggestion. They have wondrous powers of indication; but there their special power ends. Other men have great gifts of expression; they can put thoughts into the best words; they have the power of music; they can charm, fascinate, and persuade. Such men are not to undervalue one another; they are to co-operate as fellow-labourers in the Kingdom of God.1 [Note: J. Parker.]
(2) Yet the Christian life—the Christian life, that is, in its widest sense—is manifold. The loveliness and grandeur and power of the Christian life all spring from the infinite variety of its forms. In some respects the Pauline image of the body and its members presents this lesson to us with more completeness; but the image of the vine—the tree—brings out one side of it which is lost there. In the tree we can actually trace how the variety is all fashioned out of one original element. Step by step we can see how the leaf passes into the flower, the fruit, the seed. Each living part of the true vine is ideally the same and yet individually different. Its differences are given to it to fit it for the discharge of special offices in its life. If therefore we seek to obliterate them or to exaggerate them, we mar its symmetry and check its fruitfulness. We may perhaps have noticed how in a rose the coloured flower-leaf sometimes goes back to the green stem-leaf, and the beauty of the flower is at once destroyed. Just so is it with ourselves. If we affect a work other than that for which we are made, we destroy that which we ought to further. Our special service, and all true service is the same, lies in doing that which we find waiting to be done by us. There is need, as we know, of the utmost energy of all. There is need of the particular differences of all. We cannot compare the relative value of the leaves, and the tendrils, and the flowers in the vine: it is healthy, and vigorous, and fruitful because all are there. We cannot clearly define the minute features by which leaf is distinguished from leaf, or flower from flower, but we can feel how the whole gains in beauty by the endless combination of their harmonious contrasts.
It is the instinct of Christianity to be glad that God has broken the universe into little pieces, because they are living pieces. It is her instinct to say, “Little children, love one another,” rather than to tell one large person to love himself. This is the intellectual abyss between Buddhism and Christianity, that for the Buddhist or Theosophist personality is the fall of man, for the Christian it is the purpose of God, the whole point of his cosmic idea.2 [Note: G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 243.]
“My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit.”
Some readers, and not a few commentators, not noting the distinctive character of the first verse, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman,” treat the whole passage as merely a revelation of the close union of believers with Christ. They overlook the relation to the Father. Overlooking this, they necessarily have an imperfect view of the other; for it is from the relation of Christ to the Father that the relation of believers to Christ takes its character. “What the branches receive by abiding in the Vine is determined by the nature and circumstances of that Vine; by its being the True Vine, and having the Father for its Husbandman. To put this in other words, we lose much if we read here no more than a comparison to the relation which the branches of any sort of tree, good or bad, wild or uncultivated, bear to their stem. The teaching is immeasurably illuminated by the thought that the tree in question is that tree which bears the richest fruit, and that by the thought of the Divine Husbandman tending it, and watching for the fruit, with a view to which He planted it, prunes it, and will glorify it.
1. God is the Husbandman of the True Vine.—Christ ever lived in the spirit of what He once said: “The Son can do nothing of himself.” As dependent as a vine is on a husbandman for the place where it is to grow, for its fencing in and watering and pruning, Christ felt Himself entirely dependent on the Father every day for the wisdom and the strength to do the Father’s will.
When Christ came into this world to establish His Church, He did not set aside the Divine claim upon the creature, but He came to enable the creature to fulfil the claims of the Creator. Consequently, in all the acts which He did as Man, He recognized the will of the Father as supreme. He did not cease Himself to possess the fulness of the Divine power, but His acts were to be perfect according to the measure of human morality, although containing the power of God. That power gave them dignity, but did not exempt them from the necessities of created life. He submitted to receive the treatment proper to man, but He never withdrew Himself from the love proper to the Son of God.
We may learn from this that God’s moral government of mankind is not fixed by any arbitrary or changeful standard. God rules mankind according to law, and that law is suited to the nature of man. All that God appoints for man is fixed by the inherent requirements of man’s nature. The moral law is not a legislation alongside of the physical law of man’s natural condition, but it is the assertion of what man’s physical nature demands. It interprets those demands for us, which perhaps we might not find out for ourselves. It tends to the development of man’s nature, and now that man is fallen it tends to his recovery. Nothing could be altered in that which God has ordained without a proportionate injury to man’s physical well-being. The Creator is the Lawgiver and His word is the explanation of His works.
So the character of a husbandman implies the cultivation of existing powers, not a transformation so that one plant should bring forth different kinds of fruit. God watches over Christ so as to develop by His providence the true glory of the Humanity. He does not seek to make the manhood of Christ fruitful in any way contrary to the nature of man. Christ’s human nature was fitted to germinate in every form of humanity. It possessed the virtues necessary for every individual character, so that His righteousness might really be adequate to all the needs of all times and all ages. The new regenerate Humanity should derive its completeness from the moral nature of Christ, cherished by the providence of God as the great Husbandman.1 [Note: R. M. Benson, The Final Passover, ii. (pt. ii.) 6.]
2. The Husbandman is also the Father.—When the vinedresser, in the literal sense, deals with his plants, he finds that they are filled with a life and purpose quite independent of himself. He has to impose his own purpose upon something not wholly suited either for it or for his methods; and so, it may be, he impairs its natural vigour. But God is the Creator as well as the Gardener; and there is not in His creatures any real purpose or meaning other than His own.
(1) The Husbandman who cultivates this “plant of the Lord” is the very Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. “My Father.” The relationship does not belong to the vine as a vine, but to the Person of Him who assumes the humanity which the vine symbolizes. Thus is brought out the relation of Christ personally to God as Father, and in His created nature to the Divine Providence as moral governor. While culture is according to law, it is nevertheless a personal watchfulness that is exercised. So God does not merely leave Christ to go through the world anyhow. There was a real fatherly care with which He assigned all the events of His life as He, in His infinite wisdom, knew to be most suitable for the development of His personal predestination.
A husbandman cares for the plant as a living thing. The Father cares for the spiritual Vine as having the life of Heaven. As it is the Body of His only begotten Son, He cares for it with all the love which He has for His only begotten Song of Solomon 1 [Note: R. M. Benson, The Final Passover, ii. (pt. ii.) 9.]
(2) God, the Husbandman, is our Father through Christ. The Father is the source and spring of redeeming grace through Christ. Many people think—at all events, they feel—that Christ is their friend, but that God the Father is stern and unbending, almost resentful, ready to swoop upon them for every offence, like an eagle upon its quarry; if the Son did not restrain Him, He would take a positive delight in visiting condign punishment upon sinners. That is a mistaken conception of the disposition of God the Father. True, He is just, and cannot look with any degree of allowance upon sin; but the Son is also just, as is shown by more than one stern rebuke that fell from His lips. However, the truth we now wish to make clear is that God the Father is wondrous kind, filled with love, moved by compassion, and so desirous of our well-being that the scheme of redemption had its inception in His heart, and that, of His own volition, He sent His Son into the world to bring it back to Himself.
Surely, if anything could reconcile us to the culture that the Husbandman imposes upon us it is the name He bears. “My Father,” says Christ; and if Christ’s Father, therefore also our Father. For He Himself has taught us so to think of God: “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” Whatever, then, the discipline of Christian life may be—however sharp and hard to bear—of this we may rest satisfied, that it is such, and only such, as a Father’s heart suggests, and as a Father’s hand may execute.
Does not Christ Himself always tell us about a Father, not a Judge? Why should you not take His own way of it? “The Father” is the key to God’s character, and to all true knowledge of Him; and it is only when we understand that that we cease to fear, and love becomes possible.
Perhaps you have gathered hard thoughts of God from some person whom you have believed to be good and religious; but much religion is harsh in its character, and you should try to get rid of any such impression, and to think of Him as He is in Christ. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”1 [Note: Principal Story, 146.]
And so, encompass’d with our flesh, He came,
Thy Son, Thyself—to make less far and high
The distant Godhead. Now Thy heavens declare
No far Creator, but a Father there!2 [Note: J. Sharp.]
3. The Husbandman and the Branches.—The vine existed to bear fruit. It was useless for anything else. Ezekiel brought home that thought to the exiles in Babylon. “What is the vine tree more than any tree, the vine branch which is among the trees of the forest? Shall wood be taken thereof to make any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon? Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel: the fire hath devoured both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned; is it profitable for any work?” The sole glory of the vine was its fruitfulness.
So God makes fruitfulness the test. Not leaf, not colour, not wood, but fruit. In other words, God’s great test is not profession, not privilege, not apparent power, but the fruit of the Spirit in the life and character. If there is no fruit there is no life. If there is fruit, it is an evidence that Christ is abiding in the soul. He acts, therefore, on the same principle that He laid down for the guidance of His people when He said, “Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
We are not created in Christ Jesus out of good works, but unto good works. We do not make ourselves Christians any more than we make ourselves human beings. Works are the fruit of life, not the root. The works of the flesh are uncleanness, hatred, and their bad train; the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and their good train. Life works from root to fruit; logic argues from fruit to root. We grow from our roots; we are known by our fruits.3 [Note: M. D. Babcock, Thoughts for Every-Day Living, 10.]
(1) The husbandman takes away the branches that bear no fruit. Christ’s words are: “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit”; so the question arises, How can a branch be in Christ and bear no fruit? Calvin’s explanation that “in me” is equivalent to “supposed to be in me” is inadmissible. It does not explain Christ’s words, but substitutes others for them. Alford’s explanation is better, but it labours under the serious disadvantage of substituting for Christ’s declaration, “I am the vine,” the very different declaration that the visible Church is the vine. “The vine is the visible Church here, of which Christ is the inclusive head; the vine contains the branches, hence the unfruitful as well as the fruitful are in me.” But to be in the visible Church and to be in living communion with Christ are very different things. We should rather say that Christ here lays down, in a simile, the general law that to him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. If the soul, in the measure in which it has knowledge of Christ, bears Christian fruit, it will grow more and more into oneness with and likeness to Christ; if, on the other hand, it does not realize the fruits of its knowledge in a life fruitful in Christian works, it will gradually lose its knowledge and become separated from Christ. Thus both the grafting into and the separating from the vine are in the spiritual experience gradual processes, and they depend on the fidelity with which the conscious branch avails itself of its privileges, and shows itself worthy of larger privilege.1 [Note: Lyman Abbott.]
Life is given to us on probation. Whatever be our outward circumstances, the supernatural life is capable of making them fruitful. The fruitfulness of the spiritual vine may be found in the richest or the poorest soil. It is not dependent upon the soil like the earthly tree, which naturally grows there. It has an indestructible life, capable of bringing forth its fruit in every soil, and the life must assert itself by turning to account every condition of outward accident. Riches and poverty, health and sickness, praise and blame, are equally capable of being used to nourish this supernatural fruitfulness. We may not despise earthly gifts, as if we could do without them. If we have them we are responsible for them. But neither may we desire earthly gifts, as if they would enable us to glorify God better than what He has given. We are to rise superior to them, knowing that God expects us to show His fructification under the conditions of difficulty which that outward lack may occasion. The branch that is in Christ possesses all that is necessary to become fruitful; and if it be unfruitful, the supernatural virtue will be withdrawn. The branch will be left to its natural deadness and will be cut off. There is one vocation common to us all in Christ. We are called to be saints. This is a vocation that we can all of us fulfil, for the grace of God will not be wanting to us if we seek it rightly; but if we do not fulfil this vocation, so as to have our “fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life,” we must be cut off from Christ by the unsparing hand of the Great Husbandman.1 [Note: R. M. Benson, The Final Passover, ii. (pt. ii.) 15.]
(2) The husbandman “cleanseth” the fruitful branches that they may bear more fruit. The vine is a tree of rampant growth; its branches easily outgrow its power to fill and ripen the fruit. In a fertile soil, and under genial skies, it spreads out its boughs, puts forth a lavish growth of leaves, and forms many a cluster which a wise hand will cut away. If it were allowed to run unchecked, many of the blossoms would never fruit; they would form tendrils instead of clusters; the bunches that might form would be hardly worth the gathering. The husbandman early fixes on the bunches he will preserve, and devotes all his care to the swelling and ripening of these. He stops the branches on which they grow, that the sap may fill the clusters; many a grape is cut out that those which remain may grow large and rich. All the summer through the pruning is continued; the leaves fall that the sun and air may play among the ripening branches, and that the roots may feel the genial warmth in which the tree delights. It seems at first like reckless waste, this constant use of the knife; but it is the prevention of waste, the husbanding of the strength of the vine for fruit that shall be worth the gathering.
Thanks to Thy sovereign grace, O God, if I
Am graffed in that true vine a living shoot,
Whose arms embrace the world, and in whose root,
Planted by faith, our life must hidden lie.
But Thou beholdest how I fade and dry!
Choked with a waste of leaf, and void of fruit,
Unless Thy spring perennial shall recruit
My sapless branch, still wanting fresh supply.
O cleanse me, then, and make me to abide
Wholly in Thee, to drink Thy heavenly dew,
And, watered daily with my tears to grow!
Thou art the truth, Thy promise is my guide;
Prepare me when Thou comest, Lord, to show
Fruits answering to the stock on which I grow.
In deep dejection of spirit, Mr. Cecil was pacing to and fro in the Botanic Garden at Oxford, when he observed a fine specimen of the pomegranate almost cut through the stem. On asking the gardener the reason, he got an answer which explained the wounds of his own bleeding spirit. “Sir, this tree used to shoot so strong that it bore nothing but leaves. I was, therefore, obliged to cut it in this manner, and when it was almost cut through, then it began to bear plenty of fruit.”1 [Note: J. Hamilton, Works, ii. 186.]
A teacher of music, speaking of his most promising pupil, said, “She has full control of her voice, but she lacks soul. If only something would break her heart, she would be the greatest singer in Europe.”2 [Note: J. Smith, Short Studies, 178.]
The True Vine
Abbey (C. J.), The Divine Love, 246.
Benson (R. M.), The Final Passover, ii. (pt. ii.) 1.
Bernard (T. D.), The Central Teaching of Jesus Christ, 209.
Blackwood (A.), Christian Service and Responsibility, 46.
Bourdillon (F.), The Parables of our Lord Explained and Applied, 289.
Davies (D.), Talks with Men, Women and Children, 3rd Ser., 522.
Hamilton (J.), Works, ii. 169.
Hoare (E.), Fruitful or Fruitless, 1.
Holdsworth (W. W.), The Life of Faith, 41.
Jerdan (C.), Gospel Milk and Honey, 120.
McClelland (T. C.), The Mind of Christ, 51.
Mackennal (A.), The Life of Christian Consecration, 32.
Maclaren (A.), Expositions: John xv.–xxi., 1.
Matheson (G.), Times of Retirement, 134.
Murray (A.), The Mystery of the True Vine, 15.
Pike (J. K.), Unfailing Goodness and Mercy, 89.
Ross (J. M. E.), The Self-Portraiture of Jesus, 195.
Smith (J.), Short Studies, 173.
Telford (J.), The Story of the Upper Room, 155.
Vaughan (J.), Sermons (Brighton Pulpit), ii. No. 330.
Westcott (B. F.), Peterborough Sermons, 50.
Westcott (B. F.), The Revelation of the Father, 119.
Williams (T. Ll.), Thy Kingdom Come, 17.
Christian World Pulpit, xiii. 235 (Mackennal); x. 196 (Roberts); lv. 171 (Body).
Church of England Pulpit, xxxviii. 292 (Reid); lvi. 211 (Hitchcock).
Churchman’s Pulpit: Holy Week, vi. 401 (Farquhar); Mission Work, ii. 245 (Copleston); Harvest Thanksgiving, ii. 241 (Bevan).
Homiletic Review, xlvii. 357 (Hughes).