Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. INTRODUCTION: DENUNCIATION OF JOB AS A FOOLISH AND VIOLENT SPEAKER. (Vers. 1-4.) He is one who "hunts after words." Let him be truly sensible and rational, begs this confident Pharisaic preacher. "Why do you treat us as stupid beasts? ' he indignantly expostulates. "You tear yourself to pieces in your anger, and think yourself lacerated by God" (comp. Job 7:16). Does Job exact the earth to be depopulated and rocks to be removed for his sake? Bildad thinks that Job's repeated assertion of his innocence aims at the subversion of the moral order of the world - the holy order given by God (comp. Romans 3:5, 6). It is a grand thought, though misapplied by the speaker. The order of God, alike in nature and the human spirit, is unchangeable, and admits of no exception. But this order is not to be misunderstood by drawing conclusions from the outward to the inward life. Where the higher, the spiritual, is concerned, reason, Scripture, and conscience, rather than any outward tokens, must decide the truth.
II. DESCRIPTION OF THE DREADFUL DOOM OF THE HARDENED SINNER. (Vers. 5-21.) Most solemn and pathetic; a masterpiece of dramatic representation. A series of striking figures is made to pass before the eye of imagination.
1. The light of the wicked is put out; no flame leaps from his fire, no cheerful lamp hangs from his tent-roof. This is a favourite image (Job 21:17; Job 29:3; Psalm 18:28; Proverbs 13:9). The Arabs say, "Fate has put out my lamp" (vers. 5, 6).
2. Another figure: his steps are hemmed in - current in the East - and his own counsel overthrows him (ver. 7).
3. Again, the figure of the nets and snares and pitfalls, by which he meets his ruin (vers. 8-10). Terrible thoughts and dread events throng around him, and pursue him, like the Erinnyes of the Greek mythology - messengers from God to disquiet his guilty soul (ver. 11).
4. Disaster and ruin are personified in the poetic description. The one has an eager hunger for him; the other stands ready, like an armed foe, to cast him down (ver. 12).
III. The description now TAKES A MORE PERSONAL DIRECTION - POINTING TO THE STATE OF JOB.
1. His disease - the terrible elephantiasis - the "first-born of death," devours him piecemeal (ver. 13).
2. Expelled from his secure abode, he advances into the power of the "king of terrors" (ver. 14). He dwells in the tent of another, while brimstone from heaven desolates his former habitation (comp. Job 15:34; Deuteronomy 29:22, 23; Psalm 11:6). This, it is said, is still at the present day the most dreadful of images to the mind of the Semitic peoples - the desolation of the home (ver. 15).
3. Another figure: he is like a tree, withered at the root, and topped above (ver. 16). An imprecation was written on the sarcophagus of Eshmunazar, "Let him have neither roots below nor branches above]" (comp. Isaiah 5:24; Amos 2:9).
4. His memory passes away from the land, and his name is known over the wide steppe no more (ver. 17; comp. Job 13:12). He is thrust out of the light of life and happiness into the darkness of calamity and death, and is hunted from the round habitable earth (ver. 18). No scion nor shoot springs from him among the people; none escaped from his utter ruin in his dwellings (ver. 19).
5. An awful impression is felt by all, in East and West alike, who contemplate so dreadful a doom. "Thus," concludes Bildad, "it befalleth the dwellings of the unrighteous, and the place of him that knew not - recognized and honoured not - God" (vers. 20, 21). Detaching this address from its inappropriate application to the sufferer, it is in itself a noble piece of warning and exhortation. Letus gather from it a few lessons.
1. The curse of the wicked is the extinction of the light of God, who is the Light and Brightness of the righteous (vers. 5, sqq.; Psalm 36:9, 10; Psalm 119:105). The light, again, may be taken as a figure for the clear knowledge of man's destiny, a clear consciousness in the whole life (Matthew 6:22, 23). Then the light in the tent enhances the figure, and beautifully points to this clear consciousness in the daily relations of the house.
2. (Vers. 17, sqq.) The memory a man leaves behind is not of so much consequence as the consciousness in life of being known to God. There are many true and hidden ones in the world, whose deeds are done in secret for God's sake (John 3:21); and many godless ones, who make so great a stir and noise in the world that they are talked of after they are gone. It is a peculiar blessing to the child of God if he be made an example to any, and after his death a sweet savour ascends from his life to God's praise (Proverbs 10:7).
3. The repeated descriptions of the doom of the ungodly are intended to quell our envy at the sight of unhallowed prospering, and direct our thoughts to the inward, the only real life. How can we judge whether any one is a true fearer of God? Not from his religious observances, not from the external fortunes which befall him, not from his individual good works; but from the .faith which he owns, from the whole direction of his life to the Divine, from the frame of mind in which he dies (Psalm 73:17, 19, etc.; Wohlfarth). - J.
I. THE INDIVIDUAL MAN IS TEMPTED TO THINK SUPREMELY OF HIS OWN NEED. We are all naturally self-centred, and trouble magnifies our sense of personality and peculiarity. Thus it comes about that each person is inclined to feel his own wants as of paramount importance, and to expect that the whole order of things must shape itself to meet his requirements. If that is not the case, and the world goes on in its large way, treating him as but a unit among the millions, a drop in the ocean of humanity, he feels himself slighted and wronged. A more reasonable view of the whole of God's world and its interests should remove this foolish notion; but it can only be conquered when its moral character is attacked, and selfishness is made to give place to love.
II. GOD GOVERNS THE WORLD FOR THE GOOD OF THE WHOLE CREATION. We cannot judge of it till we can take a large and fair view of the wide field. The shadow which makes a corner look gloomy by itself is necessary for the completion of the whole picture. God-is not partial, selecting one for favour and neglecting a multitude. He is not like the aristocratic Roman, who looked down with scornful indifference on the ignoble plebs. There is nothing so democratic as nature. Here all alike are under exactly the same laws. As the great ship ploughs her way through the ocean, though children are crying and women are ill, the watch calls out his cheery word, "All's well!" for the vessel is going right in spite of these individual distresses.
III. THE GENERAL CONSTITUTION OF THE WORLD CANNOT BE UPSET TO SUIT INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. Should the earth be depopulated for the sake of one man's convenience? That is Bildad's extravagant way of putting the thought; but the extravagance is only a magnifying of an idea which is foolish even within the smallest dimensions. That a man should ever expect a rock to move out of his path is absurd. As the massive rock will not stir, and as the traveller must either climb over it or go round it, so the course of nature generally will not budge before man's will. He may dash himself against it, but the results will only be bruises and pain. As God has made all things well, and as the laws of nature make for life and welfare, it is a matter of profound thankfulness that foolish, selfish men cannot set them aside.
IV. THE INDIVIDUAL MAN IS HELPED THROUGH THE GENERAL COURSE OF THE WHOLE WORLD. There is a special providence. God does not deal with masses, but with men. The very hairs of our head are all numbered. It is in accordance with God's perfect mind that he should so govern the whole that the result should be good for each. We have to learn to take our places in the great family of God with humility and sympathy for our brethren. Then we shall see that the rules of the household, which cannot be set aside to suit our whims and capricious fancies, are really good for us. It is better the rock should not be carried away. We are trained and strengthened by having to overcome the difficulty. Finally, it is in accordance with these principles that - through his atonement which magnifies the Law and makes it honourable - Christ brings a salvation for each soul which does not disarrange the general course of God's government of the universe. - W.F.A
I. To THE IMPIOUS THE LIGHT OF PROSPERITY IS EXCHANGED FOR THE DARKNESS OF MISFORTUNE. His "lamp is put out." Sorrowfulness, sooner or later, overtakes him. For a time he is in great prosperity; but his sin finds him out. The ill-gotten gain of ungodliness has no blessing upon it, but a withering curse. Sooner or later the heyday of wicked rejoicing is exchanged for the blackness of dark night. Universal experience affirms this. It is a just punishment of wrong, and a warning to the tempted; while it admonishes the obedient, and declares "there is a God that judgeth in the earth."
II. THE EVILLY FORMED PURPOSE OF IMPIETY FAILS. His "steps are straitened," how strong soever they may seem to be. Even his very counsel itself shall be a stumbling-block to cast the wicked down. The hope cherished without God must be disappointed; the selfish design is itself a trap for the feet of the ungodly.
III. IMPIETY ENTANGLES IN DIFFICULTIES. "The snare is laid for him in the ground." The whole kingdom of right and truth is against him. Judgment waits on his steps. Sooner or later his feet will be in "the trap" that is laid "for him in the way." His course is not a plain, direct, clear course. His motives are confused. He hedges himself with difficulties. One wrong exposes him to another. At last "the gin takes him by the heel"
IV. IMPIETY EXCITES TO FEAR AND DREAD. "Terrors make him afraid on every side." The awakened conscience makes a coward of him. He fears the rustling of the leaf. Judgment is passed in the secret chambers of his soul. He cannot escape.
V. IMPIETY WASTES THE STRENGTH AND BRINGS THE LIFE DOWN TO DESTRUCTION. Sin is the transgression of law. Laws of life cannot be broken without the health failing. An impious spirit, unruled and uncontrolled by righteous principle, will pursue evil and dangerous courses, will yield to evil habits, and the strength of the life will be undermined. Then "the firstborn of death shall devour his strength." He becomes the prey of. destruction. He is brought "to the king of terrors." Thus the course of impiety ends in ignominy, shame, and destruction. "This is the portion of their cup." Darkness, difficulty, fear, wasted purpose and wasted strength finally issuing in death, are the inevitable fruits of impiety. - R.G.
e.g. ver. 18). As usual, we may here follow the imagery of the Shuhite without applying it to Job. Wickedness extinguishes light.
I. THE LIGHT OF KNOWLEDGE. Bad men may be learned and good men may be ignorant in regard to the knowledge of the schools and the world. But there is a deeper knowledge from which sin excludes, a light to which wickedness simply blinds the eye.
1. The knowledge of God. Spiritual knowledge depends on sympathy. But God is holy. Therefore the unholy, being out of sympathy with him, cannot understand his thoughts or his ways.
2. The knowledge of goodness. The wicked life is spent in a state of ignorance concerning the very nature of the Christian life. No one knows what that better life is till he has tried to live it.
3. The knowledge of the largest truth. Sin degrades and narrows the soul. It shuts off that wide, comprehensive vision which is only possible when passion and lust and all dark experiences are removed.
II. THE LIGHT OF LOVE. All sin is selfishness. The wicked man degrades the very name of love. Its true meaning is quite unknown to him; or if it dawn upon him in his better moments, as when he takes his little child upon his knee and looks into its innocent eyes, it is like a light from a far-off world, which only makes the foul darkness of the regions his soul inhabits the more visible to his startled apprehension.
III. THE LIGHT OF JOY. There is a mad pleasure in sin, and for a while it seems to fulfil its deceitful promises. But it is not long before its dupe discovers his folly, and finds that his so-called pleasure is a mockery. Of real unalloyed gladness he has none. There are bitter dregs at the bottom of the cup of self-indulgent pleasure which he drinks so greedily. All that he delights in is superficial, transient, unreal. When he has made the most of it, it leaves the deeper hunger of his soul unsatisfied.
IV. THE LIGHT OF LIFE. Light vitalizes; darkness is akin to death. The sinful soul is on the road to the gates of darkness, through which the road loads to the dreadful death which is its rightful wages. Already much of the light of life has faded away, and dim shadows as from the tomb hover about the career of wickedness. He who has chosen sin for his inheritance has chosen a sunless territory overshadowed by the dark wings of death.
V. THE LIGHT OF GOD'S FAVOUR. When God lifts up his countenance upon any one, his light shines forth; for God is Light (1 John 1:5). But the wickedness that offends the Law of God necessarily removes the light of his favour. A certain temporary prosperity may remain, so that the foolish sinner may think himself a favourite of fortune. But there is no grace of God in it; and even in the glaring brightness of its immediate presence it is possible to see the meretricious tinsel, which is very different from the true glory of God's goodness. - W.F.A.
I. THE READY SNARE. "The snare is laid for him in the ground."
1. Its author. It is laid for him. He does not make and set it; he does not know where it is. If he knew, of course he would avoid it. He does not even think of its existence. Were he to do so, he would be on his guard. Another has laid the snare. Man has a great enemy, watching to pounce on him - a robber of souls, who sets traps and gins for the unwary. Let us be on our guard. Like the Pilgrim, we are on the enchanter's ground; this earth has become our foe's territory.
2. Its character. A snare is a hidden device. The net is set among the bushes, the wires are hidden by the grass. Men are deluded into ruin. Deceitful appearances lure them to destruction.
3. Its condition. The snare is already laid. If we are not ready to meet our foe, he is ready for us. No one can accuse Satan of dilatoriness. He is beforehand with his schemes. He was prepared to entrap the first man. The snare was ready almost as soon as Eden was planted.
4. Its position. "In the way."
(1) The bad man's way. This is its most usual place. The snares are most numerous on the broad road.
(2) The common way. The snares are also to be found on the narrow way that leads to life. The Christian is not out of danger. Bunyan's enchanted ground lay right in the road to the Celestial City. We do not escape the dangers of temptation by becoming Christians.
II. THE UNWARY FEET. The wicked man walks straight into the snare. Here is the difference between this man and the good man. There are snares about the path of the man of God; but a Divine light reveals them, and a Divine hand draws him back from his great peril. It is otherwise with the godless man. Note the reasons why his feet go straight for the snare.
1. Darkness. His light is put out (ver. 5). If he started with a lantern, the foul atmosphere through which he has travelled has extinguished it. Now that he needs it in the place of peril, it is but a useless impediment, 2 Desertion of God. We are too blind to see all the snares that are set for our feet, but we may have the help of an unerring Guide. The sinner rejects the heavenly Guide. In proud independence he prefers to go alone.
3. Proneness to coil. The sinner sees a fascination in the region of the snare. Perhaps it is set in a bed of flowers, or in an orchard of fruit. It may be that some pleasant shady dell conceals it, or possibly it is hidden by a mossy couch that invites repose. At all events, it is most deceptive and powerful where sin most abounds.
4. Destiny. A sort of fatality dogs the footsteps of the sinner. Start how he may, he is sure to direct his feet at last straight for the snare. He is like one mesmerized. He can but walk into the net. The hideous explanation of his fascination for ruin is that he is no longer his own master. He has made himself the slave of Satan. Yet even he may find safety in the mighty deliverance of the Christ who came to destroy the works of the devil. - W.F.A.
I. LET US CONSIDER WHY DEATH IS REGARDED AS THE KING OF TERRORS. Men instinctively think of death as "the grisly terror."
"I fled, and cried out, 'Death!' 1. It is opposed to the natural love of life. "All that a man hath win he give for his life." Therefore death appears as his enemy. Every living creature shuns it. The fear of it makes a tragedy of the chase. 2. It is irresistible. A veritable monarch. We may maintain a state of siege for a time, but we know we must all capitulate at last. When death storms the citadel in real earnest, no power can keep it out. 3. Its territory is unknown. The mystery of death adds to its terrors. If we saw more we might fear less. We launch our vessel on a dark sea, not knowing what surges beat on the further shore. 4. It comes in pain. We often say that the worst is over with the poor sufferer before the end has come. The bitterness of death has passed before death itself has been reached. Still there is suffering at the end of most lives, and we instinctively shrink from this. We cannot bring ourselves to face the thought of the death-struggle. 5. It takes us from all the light and joy of earth. The natural love of life is confirmed by experience. To die is "to lie in cold obstruction." All the sunshine and flowers of this fair world are gone, all the sweetness of companionship with the loved on earth. The soul is severed from its earthly delights. 6. It comes to each singly. Each soul must venture alone into the dread unknown. 7. It ushers us into future judgment. "After death the judgment" The sinner who dares not give an account of himself before God dreads to hear the summons from the messenger of the unseen. "The sting of death is sin." II. LET US SEE HOW DEATH CAN BE SOBBED OF ITS TERRORS. Christ dethrones the king of terrors, and wrests his dark kingdom away, flooding it with the light of his grace. The Christian can do more than the Roman hero and the Stoic philosopher who had learnt to me, t death "with an equal mind." He can say, "To me... to die is gain." 1. Christ removes the causes of the fear of death. He does not lull the fear as with an opiate, He dissipates it by abolishing its source, as one dissipates a malarious fog by draining the marsh from which it rises. He goes to the root by conquering sin, which is the most fundamental cause of the terror of death. Bringing pardon for past sin, he dispels the alarm of future judgment; and bringing purification of soul, he removes the indwelling sin that always shrinks from death as the foe of man. Then Christ helps us to face the pain, the darkness, and the mystery of death, by assuring us of his own supporting presence: "It is I; be not afraid." 2. Christ throws light on the region beyond death. He would not have us fix our attention on death. That is but a transient experience. At the worst it is a dark door to be passed through. The Christian will never dwell in the kingdom of death. To him death is "That golden key
1. It is opposed to the natural love of life. "All that a man hath win he give for his life." Therefore death appears as his enemy. Every living creature shuns it. The fear of it makes a tragedy of the chase.
2. It is irresistible. A veritable monarch. We may maintain a state of siege for a time, but we know we must all capitulate at last. When death storms the citadel in real earnest, no power can keep it out.
3. Its territory is unknown. The mystery of death adds to its terrors. If we saw more we might fear less. We launch our vessel on a dark sea, not knowing what surges beat on the further shore.
4. It comes in pain. We often say that the worst is over with the poor sufferer before the end has come. The bitterness of death has passed before death itself has been reached. Still there is suffering at the end of most lives, and we instinctively shrink from this. We cannot bring ourselves to face the thought of the death-struggle.
5. It takes us from all the light and joy of earth. The natural love of life is confirmed by experience. To die is "to lie in cold obstruction." All the sunshine and flowers of this fair world are gone, all the sweetness of companionship with the loved on earth. The soul is severed from its earthly delights.
6. It comes to each singly. Each soul must venture alone into the dread unknown.
7. It ushers us into future judgment. "After death the judgment" The sinner who dares not give an account of himself before God dreads to hear the summons from the messenger of the unseen. "The sting of death is sin."
II. LET US SEE HOW DEATH CAN BE SOBBED OF ITS TERRORS. Christ dethrones the king of terrors, and wrests his dark kingdom away, flooding it with the light of his grace. The Christian can do more than the Roman hero and the Stoic philosopher who had learnt to me, t death "with an equal mind." He can say, "To me... to die is gain."
1. Christ removes the causes of the fear of death. He does not lull the fear as with an opiate, He dissipates it by abolishing its source, as one dissipates a malarious fog by draining the marsh from which it rises. He goes to the root by conquering sin, which is the most fundamental cause of the terror of death. Bringing pardon for past sin, he dispels the alarm of future judgment; and bringing purification of soul, he removes the indwelling sin that always shrinks from death as the foe of man. Then Christ helps us to face the pain, the darkness, and the mystery of death, by assuring us of his own supporting presence: "It is I; be not afraid."
2. Christ throws light on the region beyond death. He would not have us fix our attention on death. That is but a transient experience. At the worst it is a dark door to be passed through. The Christian will never dwell in the kingdom of death. To him death is
"That golden key
I. IT LACKS THE DEFENCE OF RIGHT PRINCIPLES. The righteousness which exalteth a nation establishes a house. On the health, the pursuits, the habits, the business, the family, right principles exert a beneficent influence. The absence of them is the precursor of evil of all kinds. The wall is broken down; protection is wanting. The home is a prey to evil.
II. IT LACKS THE PROMISE OF THE DIVINE PROTECTION AND BLESSING. It is as a field unwatered. There is no spring of hope within it. In the blessing of the Lord lies hidden the secret germ of all true prosperity, and all safety and permanence. Where that blessing is not, the house is as a tender plant unsheltered beneath a scorching sups. The Divine providence cannot be expected to work for the promotion of ends directly contrary to its own. The whole world, with its innumerable laws and its wise administration, is on the side of right, on the side of virtue and goodness. The blessing of the Lord, which makes the field to be fruitful, makes the abode of the righteous to be an abode of safety, of peace, and of blessing. The home of wickedness has none of these things.
III. The home of the wicked finds NO ENCOURAGEMENT TO ITS PROSPERITY IN THE GOOD WILL OF MEN AROUND. The evil companions are not trustworthy. They turn aside as a deceitful bow. They are as likely to rejoice and make sport out of their companion's downfall as to pity him under it; while the ungodly, having separated himself from the righteous, can find no sympathetic spirit amongst them. That the home of evil should be broken up is rather a cause of rejoicing, for it is the putting aside a cause of evil. This is the portion of the man that maketh not God his trust. He fights against his own best interests. He forsakes the only true and safe way. He puts himself in opposition to the great forces of righteousness which ever in the end prevail. He links his interests with that on which the withering curse of God rests, and "brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation." "His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off." - R.G.
I. A PRINCIPLE OF THE DIVINE JUDGMENT AGAINST EVIL-DOING. It is frequently announced in Holy Scripture. God, the jealous God, visits "the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation." It is part of his holy and wise and just retribution. As he blesses the sons of the faithful for their fathers' sakes, so he visits upon the children the offences of their fathers. The evil-doer withers as a plant without water. "His roots shall be dried up beneath." Therefore his branches spread not; but they are "cut off." The remembrance of him perishes from the earth, and his name from the street (ver. 17). He dies away without descendant and without remembrance.
II. This judgment is seen to be A NATIONAL CONSEQUENCE OF WRONG-DOING. For evil is visited in various ways by the avenging Nemesis that hovers over all life. Evil undermines the health; it tends to habits and pursuits which are destructive of the peace arid security and progress of home. It puts man in conflict with his neighbour, and so men drive the evil-doer "from light into darkness." He is "chased out of the world." Even should his posterity be perpetuated, it is lost to sight. It sinks down in the world till it sinks out of view.
III. This judgment STANDS IN DIRECT CONTRAST TO THE LOT OF THE RIGHTEOUS - the man who knoweth God. Over his house is the Divine protection. "When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." The blessing of God rests upon the home and the doings of the righteous. Even though chastisement and calamity may fall upon him, they do not destroy him; rather, he, as a pruned tree, groweth the more and more fruitful God's promise is unto the good, and unto their children after them. The family of the good man has the advantage Of a holy example. They are screened from a thousand perils, while innumerable blessings descend upon them in response to the prayer of faith. This will in the end be proved to be true of Job.
IV. These judgments STAND AS A WARNING TO ALL PARENTS. They make the duty of parental piety more and more obvious. They illustrate the solemn responsibility of heads of houses, since their doings descend in their effects upon their children. They owe it to their offspring that they so live as rightly and beneficently to affect their lives. The blessing of God which rests upon the just, and the curse and condemnation of God upon the evil, are warnings to all. Upon those the eye of God rests, but upon these the curse of God. The abodes of wickedness, over which no blessing from on high hovers, are abodes of death and destruction. "Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God." - R.G.
I. THE ROOTS DRIED UP. The roots stand for the sources of life and strength. Roots nourish the tree and hold it in its place. If they fail, all else must perish.
1. The roots are out of sight. The most important things are not the most prominent. The secret springs of toe soul are of vital interest. All that is visible to the eye may be untouched; yet if the hidden roots of our being fail we must be utterly undone.
2. The roots depend on nourishment. They are dried up for lack of moisture in the soil. There may be no defect in the roots; yet if the soil is drained dry they cannot perform their natural function of nourishing the soul. We are all dependent on what is outside us, in soul as well as in body. If the food of the soul is withdrawn, if the water of life no longer flows near to the roots of our spiritual being, no vigour of constitution, no inherent personal life, can survive.
3. The waters may fail. The course of the river may be deflected, or there may be a season of drought. We have nothing in ourselves or in the constitution of things to guarantee a continuance of supply in this case of our deepest wants. We have no right to that supply, no claim on the grace of God. The hand that gives may withhold. Therefore our continued prosperity depends absolutely on God's continued favour. The insolent and rebellious independence that forfeits God's grace withers the roots of the soul.
II. THE BRANCH CUT OFF. The branch stands for the external growth. It is seen by all, snowed with blossoms and freshening with new green in the spring, or laden with luscious fruit in the autumn. When the root is dried up, leaves and fruit wither on the branch. But a more untimely fate may overtake it. It may be severed from the tree. Perhaps it is too stout and tough to be torn off in the gale, but it cannot resist the woodman's axe.
1. The branch is cut off by an external calamity. This is what had happened to Job. His prosperity was suddenly wrenched away from him. The family into which his life had branched out was smitten; this branch was cut off from the parent stem. What we most love, rejoice in, and pride ourselves upon may be removed by the hand of death, or by some misfortune of life.
2. The cutting off of the branch may not be an unmitigated evil. It may be a pruning process. The tree may be running to wood rather than producing fruit. Mere growth of wealth and external prosperity may be taking the place of fruit-bearing in regard to the real good of life. Then it is to be observed that pruning a tree is not felling it. Though the branch is cut off, the trunk is left, and the life of the tree will yet be seen in a new and healthier growth. We must not despair at external disaster. If the life of God is in us, we shall survive it, and even triumph over it.
3. The most fatal condition is when the dying of the roots goes with the cutting off of the branch. If the internal resources are dried up when external calamity falls upon us, our condition is desperate. There is then nothing to fall back upon. External ruin only crowns and completes internal decay. CONCLUSION. The gospel of Christ is as deep-searching and as far-reaching as the evil of in. It saves roots and branches, giving life to the soul, and also a Divine growth and prosperity. - W.F.A.
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