"In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig-tree." — Zechariah 3:10.
This inspiration characterizes the reign of the Messiah. It was to be distinguished by three things:
The First, is enjoyment. The very image is delightful. Vines and fig-trees were much prized in the East. They afforded at once delightful fruit for the taste, and refreshing shade from the heat. Persons therefore regaled themselves under their branches and leaves, and thus the expression in time came to signify happiness. And what said our Lord to his disciples? "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." Because Christians do not run to the same excess of riot with others, and turn their back on the pleasures of sin, and the dissipations of the world, many think they are mopish and melancholy. But "blessed are the people that know the joyful sound." It was so in the beginning of the Gospel. Wherever it came, it was received as good news, as glad tidings; and it was said of the receivers, that they walked not only in the fear of the Lord, but in the comforts of the Holy Ghost. It not only relieved, but delighted them. It not only tranquilized them, but inspired them with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Have we the same Gospel? Or do we embrace it properly, if, instead of being thus blessed, it leaves us in a dungeon of gloom, the victims of sadness, and care, and apprehension?
The Second, is liberty. Slaves and captives did not sit under their vines and fig-trees; nor did proprietors in time of war. When invaded, they were liable to the surprises of the enemy. Then the inhabitants disappeared from these loved, but no longer safe retreats, and longed for the time when, released from perils and alarms, they should go forth with joy, and repose and refresh themselves again. Therefore, Rab-shakeh, to urge the Jews to a surrender, said, "Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig-tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern." Hence we read, There was peace all the days of Solomon; and from Dan to Beersheba the people sat every man under his vine and under his fig-tree. But a greater than Solomon is here. In "His days shall Israel be saved, and Judah shall dwell safely." What have his subjects to fear? "If God be for us, who can be against us? What shall separate us from the love of God? Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." Christians may therefore give up themselves to holy confidence. Their souls may dwell at ease. They are free indeed. They are kept by the power of God. "They shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand." Let them realize this, and feel a peace that passeth all understanding, keeping their hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Let them say, "I will trust and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation."
The Third, is benevolence. Ye shall call every man his neighbour under the vine, and under the fig-tree. There is nothing like selfishness here; they are anxious that others should partake of their privileges. There is no envy here; there is no room for it. Here is enough not only for themselves, but for their neighbours, and for all of them.
And if we are Christians indeed, our happiness, instead of being impaired by the experience of others, will be increased by it. Let us therefore remember the lepers. They had discovered plenty, and were regaling themselves, while their fellow-citizens were perishing with famine in Samaria. But conscience smote them, and "they said one to another. We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household." Thus the first subjects of Christianity said to the spiritually destitute and dying, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." Cursed be the temper of the elder brother that turned wretched at the tears of joy that bedewed the beard of an aged father, and the ecstasies of a family thrown into transport at the return and reception of the prodigal. Let me resemble, in every feeling of my soul, those happy beings who rejoice in the presence of God over one sinner that repenteth. Let me invite all that come within my reach to that mercy which I have found. Let me say, "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." And let me do this not only by my lips, but by all my temper, and all my conduct, holding forth the word of life.
Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
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