Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
In a nation, men's minds are in every stage of development; a hundred phases of feeling prevail. Hence God, in his kindness, sent his instructions in every possible form, and adapted his reproofs to every state of mind - to children as well as to men of riper years.
I. THE PARABLE IMPLIES A RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN MEN AND FOREST TREES. Amid many differences, there are some resemblances, and it is on one of these resemblances that this admonition fastens. In the earlier stages of their life, trees grow better in clusters. They serve as a support to each other, and also as a protection against storms. But soon the roots rob nourishment, each from the other. The boughs shut out the light and air. They prevent the growth and hardening of the wood. They become mutually injurious. Sap diminishes. The branches dry and decay. So it is with men in society. Casting off the fear of God, they corrupt each other. They become one another's tempters. Healthy growth ceases. Shutting out, each from the other, the light and sunshine from heaven, their proper life shrivels, epics up, and decays. They become combustible - lit for burning.
II. RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN GOD'S RIGHTEOUS ANGER AND MATERIAL FIRE. On these two resemblances the parable depends. As fire naturally lays hold of and destroys forest trees, be does God's anger naturally lay hold of and destroy wicked men. There is a fixed and unalterable correspondence. "Be sure your sin will find you out!" You may as well swallow poison, and hope to live; you may as well set fire to gunpowder, and expect it not to explode; you may as well touch a galvanic current, and think to avoid any nervous sensation, - as to sin, and not suffer penalty. Each is alike an eternal decree of the living God. As each plant has in it the potency to produce another plant, so every sin has in it the germ of destruction.
III. PROXIMITY TO EVIL MEN CONSTITUTES A DANGER. All the trees in a forest are not equally dessicated. Yet such becomes the fierceness of the flame, fed by the drier trees, that those less dessicated are reduced to ashes. Men may be less guilty than their neighbours; they may flatter themselves that they are not so corrupt as others; nevertheless, it they do not separate themselves, or labour to improve their neighbours, they may be consumed in the general conflagration. The green trees were threatened with destruction along with the dry. Evil company is perilous. Each one has sin enough to draw down Divine anger.
IV. MENTAL BLINDNESS IS A DISASTROUS EFFECT OF SIN. "Doth he not speak in parables?" The bulk of men say, "It is a pretty story. It has much literary beauty. The preacher was eloquent, imaginative, interesting." Yet they see not the moral significance, do not feel the points of application. The sermon well suited some absent person; it did not touch them. The eyes of conscience are put out. As it was in the day when Jesus spake his parables, so is it always. "Men see, but do not perceive; they hear, but do not understand." Today a thousand self-blinded men say, "The doom of the wicked is not so terrible as it seems; for the alarming language of Jesus Christ was only a parable." Yet a parable contains hidden truth, sometimes the most arousing. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,