A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, May 9, 1875, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *3/21/2012
(On behalf of the Religious Tract Society.)
The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the
nations. [Re 22:2]
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1. We have in the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of the Book of the Revelation a very wonderful description of heaven upon earth. I shall not attempt to go into any prophetic explanations concerning when this will be fulfilled, but we know this for certain, for we have it in so many words, that the holy city, New Jerusalem, will descend out of heaven from God, and that, in a word, there will be for a time at least a heaven on earth. But inasmuch as heaven, wherever it is, is still heaven, the description of heaven on earth sufficiently avails to reveal to us in some measure the present joys and blessings of the celestial state. We shall not make any mistake if we read the passage as hundreds of thousands have done before us, and as all common readers will always persist in doing, as a description of the heavenly state as it is at present, for what can come down from heaven except what is in heaven? The results of the revealed presence of the God of love must be to his saints very much the same at all times; the same glory will be revealed, the same happiness bestowed, the same occupations followed, the same fellowship enjoyed. We may, therefore, consider that we have before us a description of what heaven now is and shall be world without end, except that the bodies of the saints are not yet raised, and therefore all the minute details may not be fully developed. The glowing metaphors employed here, for we must to a large extent regard the language as figurative, are evidently taken from the Garden of Eden. That was man’s first inheritance, and it is a type of his last. That paradise which the first Adam lost for us the second Adam will regain for us, with added bliss, and superior joy; we shall dwell where a river rolls with a placid stream, and surrounds a land where there is gold, “and the gold of that land is good, there is bdellium and the onyx stone”; a river watering every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and flowing close by the tree of life, in the midst of the garden. Yet, though there is a likeness between heaven and Eden, there is a difference too; for the earthly paradise with all its perfections was still of the earth earthy, and the second paradise is, like the Lord from heaven, heavenly and divine. The fatal tree of knowledge of good and evil, hedged around by a solemn threatening, does not grow in the garden of the immortals. They have known evil, but they now “know the Lord,” and know evil no more. Everything in the more divine paradise is fuller and more abundant. The gold, which in Eden lay in the soil, is used in the heavenly paradise to pave the streets; the river has no earthly source, but is “a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb”; the Lord, who in Eden walked only at solemn intervals “among the trees of the garden in the cool of the day,” has in heaven his tabernacle among men, and lives among them, while the trees which grew in Eden, and ripened their fruits only in autumn, are succeeded by trees with twelve fruits throughout the year.
It has been thought that man would have preserved the immortality of
his body by eating from the tree of life in Eden, and that therefore
when he sinned he was excluded from it, “lest he put out his hand and
take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.” Some even
go so far as to think that the extreme longevity of the antediluvians
may have been helped by the remaining influence of that wondrous food
upon the constitution of man for many generations. Of that we know
nothing, it is all conjecture. It is, however, very customary for
expositors to speak of the tree of life in the garden as the
sacrament of the primeval age, the eating of whose fruit they
conceive to be the grand means of preserving Adam from death. Now,
there is a tree of life in heaven, but there is this difference, that
it is more accessible — more accessible even than when Adam was in
perfection, for if there was only one tree of life in the garden, the
garden was certainly divided by the river which flowed in several
streams through it, and therefore the tree could not always be easily
reached from all parts of the garden. In the passage before us we
have the tree of life on either side of the river, which I suppose
infers that there were many such trees; though there was only one
kind of tree, yet many in number. The picture presented to the mind’s
eye would appear to be that of a wide street, with a river flowing
down the centre, like some of the broader canals of Holland, with
trees growing on either side, all of them of the same kind, all
called the tree of life. I do not know how we can explain the
metaphor in any other way. Some have represented the tree as only
one, and growing in the bottom of the river, rising out of the water,
and so sending boughs on either side, being itself so large as to
shade all the city. Such a conception is almost monstrous, and to
conceive of many trees of life, all of one kind, growing all along
the street, is to present a beautiful image, which can very readily
be conceived by the mind. At any rate, for all the inhabitants of
heaven the tree of life is equally and perpetually accessible. They
may come to it when they may. No cherub’s flaming sword stands there
to keep them back, but they may always come and eat from its twelve
monthly fruits, and pick its healing leaves.
Here holds court within its own metropolis.
And through its midst the crystal river flows
Exhaustless from the everlasting throne,
Shaded on either side by trees of life
Which yield in still unvarying interchange
Their ripe vicissitude of monthly fruits
Amid their clustering leaves medicinal.
3. We are about to speak only of the leaves of this true tree of life, “the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Of what can this tree be a type except of our Lord Jesus Christ and his salvation? What can it mean but that the presence of Christ preserves the inhabitants of heaven for ever free from sickness, while beyond heaven the precincts, among the nations, the saving influence is scattered? Just as the leaves fall from the trees, so does sacred influence descend from our Lord Jesus in heaven down to the sons of men; and just as the leaves are the least precious products of a fruit bearing tree, so the least things that have to do with him and come from him have a healing virtue in them. I shall handle the text very briefly in reference to heaven, and then at full length endeavour to bring out its relationship to earth, as the Holy Spirit may enable me.
4. I. IN REFERENCE TO HEAVEN.
If you read the passage you will see that the heavenly city is
described as having an abundance of all manner of delights. Do
men rejoice in wealth? “The very streets are paved with gold
exceedingly clear and fine.” The gates are pearls and the walls are
built of precious stones. No palace of the Caesars or of the Indian
Moguls could rival the gorgeous riches of the city of the Great King.
That city with the jewelled crest
Like some new-lighted sun;
A blaze of burning amethyst,
Ten thousand orbs in one.
In our cities we greatly feel the need of light. It must have been a dreary age when our ancestors groped their way at night through unlit streets, or gathered poor comfort from the feeble, struggling rays of a poor candle placed over each householder’s door. The heavenly city knows no night at all, and consequently needs no candle; indeed, its endless day is independent of the sun itself, “for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light.” Conveniences for worship are terribly needed in many of our great cities, and it is a good work to erect temples in which worshippers may assemble; but, speaking paradoxically, heaven is well supplied in this respect, because of an utter absence both of the need of such places and of the places themselves. “I saw no temple in it,” for indeed the whole place is a temple, and every street is in the highest sense hallowed ground. Oh blessed place, where we shall not need to enter into our closet to worship our Father who is in heaven, but shall in the open street behold the unveiled vision of God. Oh blessed time, when there shall be no Sabbaths, but one endless Sabbath! Oh joy of joys when there shall be no breaking up of happy congregations, but where the general assembly and church of the firstborn shall be met for an everlasting convocation, and spend it all in glorifying God.
6. Cities on earth should strive after purity more and more. I am glad that more attention is being paid to cleanliness. Too long has the age of filth made the crowded populations the prey of disease and death. Up there in heaven the sanitary measures are perfection, for “there shall by no means enter into it anything that defiles, neither whoever works abomination or makes a lie.” There every inhabitant is without fault before the throne of God, having neither spot nor wrinkle. There everything healthy, everything holy, and the thrice Holy One himself is there in their midst. As for the necessities under which glorified beings may be placed we know only very little about them, but certainly if they need to drink there is the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, and if they need to eat there are abundant fruits ripening each month upon that wondrous tree. All that saints can possibly need or desire will be abundantly supplied. No pining poverty or grim anxiety shall tempt them to ask the question, “What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear?” “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them and shall lead them to living fountains of waters.”
7. Nor is there merely provision made for bare necessities, their love for beauty is considered. The city itself shines “like a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal”; and her glorious foundations are garnished with all manner of precious stones, insomuch that her light, as seen from afar by the nations, gladdens them and attracts them to her. A city whose streets are lined with trees laden with luscious fruits must be lovely beyond all expression. They said of the earthly Jerusalem, “Beautiful for location, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion”; but what shall we say of you, oh Jerusalem above? Ziona! Ziona! Our happy home where our Father resides where Jesus reveals his love, where so many of our brethren have wended their happy way, to which our steps are always directed: blessed are the men who stand in your streets and worship within your gates! When shall we also behold your brightness and drink from the river of your pleasures? So in all respects the new Jerusalem is furnished, it is even supplied with medicine, and though we might suppose it to be no more needed, yet it is a joy to perceive that it is there to prevent all maladies in those whom previously it has healed. Leaves for health are plentiful above, and hence the inhabitant shall no more say, “I am sick.”
8. Since everything good is present, our text hints that nothing bad is there. One of the worst things that can ever happen to a man is sickness, for, if he is suffering from disease, his gold is cold and cheerless metal; if he is languishing, the light is dark in his tabernacle; if he pines away with pain, he cannot enjoy his food; neither is beauty any longer fair to him. But there can be no sickness in heaven, because the tree of life bestows immortal health on all beneath its shade; its leaves exhale a balmy influence, fostering the vigour of immortality. Sickness and suffering are banished by this tree of life. “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.” As poverty is banished, as darkness is unknown, as infirmity is shut out, as anxiety and doubt and fear and dread are far away, so will all bodily and spiritual disease be removed for ever.
9. It is in heaven, according to our text, again, that there grows the tree which is not only health to heaven, but which brings healing to the nations here below. Heaven is the abode of Jesus, and Jesus is the tree of life. If any man would be healed of the guilt of sin he must look to the eternal merits of the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, who is now upon the throne of God. If any man would be saved from daily temptation and trial he must look to our Advocate in glory who intercedes for us, and pleads that, when sifted as wheat, our faith may not fail. If anyone of us would be saved from spiritual death we must look to Jesus, for he lives at the right hand of the Father, for because he lives we shall live also. “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him, seeing he always lives to make intercession for them.” I say that Jesus Christ, my Lord and Master, is in heaven, and is there comparable to a tree planted in the very centre of the city: under his broad shadow the redeemed delight to sit, and his leaves as they are wafted down to earth bring health with them. If we would be healed, we must gather those leaves and apply them to the wounds and bruises of our souls, and we shall surely recover. Look upward, then, by means of the Scripture before us, to heaven, and see it full of every good, see it purged of every ill, and see in it the great conduit head, from which abundant streams of healing flow down to men below.
10. II. Now let us come practically to the text IN REFERENCE TO OURSELVES BELOW. “The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” There is, then, an abundance of healing power in Jesus Christ and his salvation. Not only is his fruit sweet and nourishing, but the leaves, the little things as it were about Christ, are full of healing virtue.
We will begin our meditation upon the truth of the text by noticing
that all the nations are sick. Leaves are provided for their
healing, which would be superfluous if they did not require to be
healed. We have in our time heard great talk about discovering
pure, unsophisticated tribes, beautiful in native innocence,
untainted with the vices of civilisation; but it has turned out to be
all talk. Travellers have penetrated into the heart of Africa, and
they have found these naked innocents, but they have turned out to be
“hateful and hating one another.” Voyagers have landed upon lovely
islets of the sea, and found unsophisticated innocents eating each
other! They have gone into the backwoods and discovered
The poor Indian, whose untutored mind
Sees God in clouds, and hears him in the wind,
but they have found him cunning as a fox and cruel as a wolf. Though
Pope tells us that the true God is
Father of all in every age,
In every clime adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord,
yet we find neither sages nor savages so worshipping unless the gospel has instructed them. No, the savage nations have been found so morally sick that their customs have shocked humanity, and men have turned from them with horror. Alas, poor human nature, even apart from the many evil inventions of civilisation, your disease is terrible!
12. Neither have nations been delivered from the dread malady of sin by refinement and culture. They tell us a great deal about the wonderful perfection of the ancient Greeks, and certainly they did understand how to draw the human form, and for delineating physical grace and beauty we cannot rival their sculptors; but when we come to look at the Greek moral form, how graceless and uncomely! The ordinary morals of a Greek were too horrible to be described, and when Paul felt it absolutely necessary to speak of them he was obliged to write that terrible first chapter of Romans, which no man can read without a blush, or close without a sigh that such an indictment was too sadly just. May God forbid that the filthiness which the ancients tolerated should ever be revived among us, their very sages were not clear from unmentionable crimes. The Hindus and Chinese, those polished nations of modern times, do they excel? Is it not a fact that India reeks with lasciviousness which will not endure to be thought upon? Ah, Lord God, you know! All the nations need healing, our own among them; if you doubt it, open your eyes and ears. Do not iniquities abound? Are not profanities to be heard in our very streets? Go to the west end and see its fashionable sin, or to the east end and see its more open wickedness; or stay on this side of the Thames and see the degradation of thousands. Overwhelming evidence will come before you to show that our nation needs healing if you traverse the streets beneath the pale light of the moon, or even pass the doors of those haunts of gaiety which have recently been so enormously multiplied.
13. And all individuals in every nation need healing. It is not that some of us are sick and some whole by nature, but we are altogether fallen, and all of us born in sin. The evil is in our nature from the very beginning, and nothing within the reach of mere man can purge away the evil, whatever he may think.
14. There is only one cure for the nations — the leaves of the tree. There grows no healing herb except the one plant of renown. There is one sacred fountain, to wash in it is health, — there is only one, it was opened upon Calvary. There is one great Physician who lays his hands on men and they are restored: there is only one. Those who pretend that their hands can minister salvation, and that drops of water from their fingers can bring regeneration, are accursed. No, there is no balm in Gilead, there is no physician there, the balm is at the cross, the Physician is at the right hand of God.
15. Jesus is pictured here as a blessed tree whose leaves heal the nations. Now the point of the text is this, that the very leaves are healing, from which I gather that the least thing about Christ is healing. It is said of the blessed man in the first Psalm, “His leaf also shall not wither”: God takes care of the little things, the trifles of believers; and it is said of our Lord here, “The leaves are for the healing of the nations”: that is to say, even his common things, his lower blessings of grace, are full of virtue. Many know only very little about Jesus Christ, but if they believe on him, that little heals them. How very few of us know much about our Lord. Some only know that he came into the world to save sinners; I wish that they knew more, so that they could feed upon the fruits of the tree of life, but even to know that is salvation to them, for the leaves heal the nations. Do you know yourself to be a sinner? Will you have Christ to be a Saviour? Soul, will you rely upon his precious blood to make expiation for your sin? Then, although you have not yet reached up to the golden apples, yet since a leaf has fallen upon you it will save you. The touch of his hand opened deaf ears, the spittle of his lips enlightened blind eyes, the look of his eye softened hard hearts. The least fragment of this sovereign remedy has omnipotence in it.
16. We may also learn that the humblest and most timid faith in Jesus Christ will save. It is a grand thing to believe in Jesus Christ with all your heart, and soul, and strength; it is delightful never to doubt, but to go from strength to strength until you come to full assurance of understanding; but if you cannot mount up like this with wings as eagles you will be saved if you come limping to Jesus. If you have only a mustard seed of faith you are saved. She who in the crowd only touched the hem of the Saviour’s garment found that healing power flowed out of him and came to her. Pick a leaf of this tree by your poor trembling faith, and if you dare not take more than that still it shall make you whole.
17. Beloved, after we have been saved from our sin by faith in Jesus Christ it is very wonderful how everything about Christ will help to purge the blood, which as yet is not cleansed. Study his example, and as you look at the lovely traits of his character, his gentleness and yet his boldness, his consecration to our cause and his zeal for the glory of God, you will find as you value his excellencies they will exercise a curative power over you. You will be ashamed to be selfish, you will be ashamed to be idle, you will be ashamed to be proud when you see what Jesus was. Study him, and you will grow like him. If we take his precepts, and I hope we prize them as highly as we do his doctrines, every command of our Lord possesses a sacred power, by the application of the Holy Spirit, to cure some fault or other of our character. Do as he tells you, and you shall be made whole. Why, every word that ever fell from those dear lips bears healing in it for some one or other of the thousand ills that have befallen our humanity. It is a sweet thing to get even a broken text from his mouth. His least words are better than the best of others. Lay a word from him, like a grain of medicine, upon our tongue and keep it there all day. With what a flavour it fills the mouth! How sweetly it perfumes the breath! It is a grand thing to bind a promise around your arm; how strong it makes each sinew! How forceful for the battle of life. It is a blessed thing to take his cheering words, which are fragrant as “a cluster of camphire,” and carry them in the heart, for they chase away sadness and inspire dauntless courage. A word of his, being his, and recognised as his and coming home to the heart as his, brings healing to head and heart, conscience and imagination, desire and affection. A leaf of the tree of life is a medicine powerful enough to raise the dead. Do you not know its power by a joyful experience? Blessed be God, some of us know it very well, and can bear glad witness to its matchless power.
18. Then, too, this medicine heals all kinds of diseases. The text puts it, “The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” It does not say of this or that malady, but by its silence it teaches us that the medicine is universal in its curative power. Take this medicine, then, dear friends, to any man, whoever he may be, and let it be applied by the Spirit of God, and it will heal him of whatever disease he has, because the gospel strikes at the root of all diseases. Truly it exercises power over all the different branches of the upas tree [a] of evil, but it does so by laying the axe at the root, for it deals with sin, the sin of unbelief, the sin of not loving God; and dealing with this it removes the various forms in which spiritual disease develops itself in human life. No medicine can ever heal all maladies unless it eradicates the root of the evil, and creates a fountain of health; now, the gospel applied by the Spirit of God is radical, it goes to the root of the matter, operates upon the heart, and purifies the issues of life. Human precepts and methods of morality lop off the boughs but leave the trunk of the deadly tree untouched, but this cuts the taproot, and tears away the evil growth from beneath the soil. For this reason it is able to remove all diseases.
19. This medicine heals disease because it searches into the innermost nature. Some medicines are only for the skin; others will only touch a few organs, and those are not vital organs; but the leaves of the gospel tree, when taken as medicine, penetrate the reins and search the heart. Their searching operations divide between the joints and the marrow, and discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. This is a wondrous medicine! It searches the soul through and through, and never ceases its operations until it has purged the entire manhood of every relic of sin, and made it completely clean. Lord give us these leaves! Lord give us these leaves continually! Create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. “Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom”; but this can never be unless you give us to drink of this most potent medicine.
20. These leaves prevent the recurrence of disease by enabling the man after this to find good in all that comes to him. A person diseased, if healed, may, by the food which he shall afterwards receive, bring on the disease again. Place a man under certain conditions which cause him an illness; you may heal him, but if you lead him back to those conditions he may soon be ailing again. And here in such a world as this, even if Christ healed us today we should be sick to death tomorrow, if the medicine did not have some wondrous continuance of power. And so it is; for all things that come to us after conversion are changed, because we are changed; all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. Do we have earthly joy? We no longer idolise it, but it now points us to God, the giver. Do we have earthly sorrow? We dare not despair because of it, for we know who has ordained it. Why should a child of God complain who knows that there is love in every chastening stroke of his Father’s rod? What we once called good is now really good to us; what we called bad is no longer bad for us, for the leaves of the tree of life are an infallible antidote. What would have been our poison is now our food, and what might have destroyed us now builds us up.
21. This wondrous medicine remains in the system as a source of health. “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life.” Another medicine taken into the system acts in its own manner, and there is an end of it, but this one remains. These healing leaves change the lifeblood, affect the spirits, and make the nature other than it was before. Up there in heaven those faces which look so bright and comely, fresher than newborn babes, owe their freshness to these healing leaves; and so until the glory life begins, the abiding power of the healing leaves keeps the soul of the believer in perpetual health, and will keep him so world without end.
I have shown that the leaves will heal all diseases. I will now spend
a minute with the glad truth that these leaves heal whole
nations. They are suited to the peculiarities of differing nations.
The gospel has never been carried to a people who did not need it, or
whom it did not suit. It has been found equally applicable to the
ignorant Hottentot and the subtle Hindu. No man has been found too
degraded for its operation, nor too civilised for its benefits. The
gospel has such abundant power that it heals nations, and “nations”
is a large word, comprehending millions; but the leaves of this tree
can heal countless armies of men, and it will
… Never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.
It is fortunate that an agent of such potency is diffusible by the simplest means. A medicine consisting of leaves may be carried by the apothecary wherever he wishes: it is no cumbersome matter. So we may carry the gospel to the utmost ends of the earth, and we will carry it, and send it to every habitation. The winds shall waft it, the waves shall bear it wherever man is found. These leaves are not cumbersome like the paraphanalia of Popery, but are readily scattered, and wherever they go no climate injures them. The cold of Greenland has not been too severe to prevent the Greenlander rejoicing in the Saviour’s blood; and the heat of the torrid zone has not been too intense to prevent believers from rejoicing in the Sun of Righteousness. No, beloved, the gospel heals nations wherever the nations may be, and readily heals them of the most dire miseries and the blackest crimes. It is the cure for poverty, by making men wise and economical; it is the cure for slavery, teaching men to love their fellows and respect the rights of all; it is the cure for drunkenness, weaning the drunkard from his filthy appetite, saving him from the spell which binds him. The gospel is the only preventative for war. We shall need no blood red soldiers when once the warriors of the Cross have won the day. This is the cure for those foul evils which are the curse of our social economies, which human laws too often increase instead of remove. This shall purge us from every form of knavery, rebellion, and discontent, and only this. May God grant that its healing influences drop upon the nations thick as leaves in Vallambrosa, until that golden age shall dawn in which the world shall be the abode of moral health.
23. I must remind you before I pass on from this, and it is a very sweet thing to remind you of, that this medicine is given and appointed for the very purpose of healing. I draw your attention to this for the comfort of any who feel their sickness this morning — “The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” You look up to this tree and say, “I am sick at heart; I know that here is my cure, but may I dare to partake of it?” Partake freely, for the tree was planted on purpose for you. In the eternal purpose and decree of God Christ was given to heal the nations. In actual fulfilment he has healed nations — many nations already enjoy a partial health because multitudes of individuals in those nations have been healed. Great works have been done in the Isles of the Sea. When I think of England, and of the gems of the Southern Sea, and of Madagascar, the Lord seems to have a particular favour towards the isles, for in the islands the gospel has spread more abundantly then elsewhere: “Let the multitude of the isles be glad of it.” The tree is planted with the intent that its leaves should heal, you need not then hesitate and enquire, “May I be healed?” It grows for the sick. Are you sick? It grows for you. The other day I was thirsty, and passed a drinking fountain; I never paused to ask whether I might drink, for I knew it was placed there for the thirsty, and being thirsty I drank. Who hesitates for a moment when he is in a lonely place upon the seashore, and finds that there is health in every billow, to strip himself and plunge into the wave? Does he ask if he may? Surely God has spread the ocean so that man may bathe. If I want to breathe, being in the air, I ask no man’s liberty to breathe, nor do I sigh for God’s permission either, for did he not give me liberty when he gave me lungs and bade the breezes blow? Since you see Christ before you, brother, take Christ! You need not ask any man’s liberty, nor pine for divine permission; has he not said, “whoever will, let him partake of the water of life freely?” He asks you to receive, he commands you to believe, and he threatens you if you do not. He says to his servants: “Compel them to come in”; and concerning those who refuse to come he says, “He who does not believe shall be damned.” What fuller permission or licence can be imagined?
24. I close with these words. Are you sick this morning? Take these leaves freely. Are you very sick? Then the reason is all the stronger why you should take them. You are sinful; past guilt troubles you, take the leaves again and again. Worse than that, tendencies to evil afflict you; you would gladly be rid of them, feed on the purging leaves as long as you live and they will prove to be an antidote. You need not think that you will exhaust the merit or power of Christ, for if the fruit is described as coming twelve times in the year, how abundant must the leaves be? There is enough in Christ for every sin-sick sinner. If the sinner only comes to Jesus he shall find no stint in Jesus’ healing power; though the sick soul is full of leprosy the Saviour is full of grace. Stretch out your finger sister, and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment now. Lift your eye, sinner, look to Christ on the cross; though he seems far away from you there is life in a glance, however dim the eye or distant the view. Come to this tree, its very leaves will heal you.
Last of all, are you healed? Well, then, scatter these leaves. Are
you saved? Speak of Jesus Christ to everyone. I wish you to teach
others a whole Christ, if you can; I want always to make my ministry
like Simeon’s action when he took the Redeemer entirely into his
arms, and said, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace.” There
was a great difference between Simeon with the Son of the Highest in
his arms and the woman who touched the hem of the Master’s garment,
yet both have gone to heaven; and there is also a great difference
between the Christian who can embrace a whole Christ, and a poor
timid one who can only tremblingly hope in him. If you cannot tell
others all about Christ, and give them the fruit of the tree, go and
give them the leaves; and one very convenient way of doing so is what
will help you today, by aiding the Religious Tract Society, the
friend of us all, on whose behalf I will add a word or two. “The
leaves of the tree” — that is to say, even little portions and single
pages about Christ will do good; It is a rule of the Tract Society
that every tract shall have enough of Christ in it to save a soul if
God shall bless it. Do not despise a mere leaf, or as you say, “a
leaflet,” for if Christ is in it; it is a leaf of the tree, and he
will bless it. Scatter, then, the gospel leaflets. Perhaps you do not
have the means to distribute Bibles and larger books, cover, then,
your pathway with tracts. Large portions of our country still need
wide distributions of tracts, and all the world outside our country
needs the gospel, and needs the gospel in the printed form. Scatter
the leaves. Let them fall as thickly as leaves descend in the last
days of autumn. Scatter them everywhere, since they are for the
healing of the nations. The Tract Society, however, not only provides
us with very excellent tracts, but it brings out books upon common
subjects written in a religious tone; and this class of literature I
hope will be multiplied, because people will not always read books on
religious topics, but will read works on other subjects, and when
these are written in a religious spirit they will exercise the most
healthful influence. These books are not exactly the fruits of the
life-giving tree, but they are leaves, and life is in them. I am glad
to see the Society bringing out pictures to hang on cottage walls,
and little illustrative texts done in colours, and the like, for
anything about Christ will do good. It is wonderful how little a
thing may save a soul, if Christ is in it. “A verse may strike him
whom a sermon misses,” and a picture on a wall may awaken a train of
thought in a man who would not listen to that same thought if spoken
in words. Remember Colonel Gardiner and his remarkable conversion by
looking at a picture of Christ upon the cross. While waiting to
fulfil an appointment of the most infamous kind he saw a picture of
our dying Lord, and under it written: “I did all this for you, what
have you ever done for me?” The appointment was never kept, and the
colonel became a brave soldier for Jesus Christ. Possibly we may not
think well of representations of the crucifixion, which is a theme
beyond the painter’s art, but there can be no question that it is our
duty to proclaim Christ among the people by our speech, so that he
may be seen by their mind’s eye, publicly crucified among them. Make
the passing throng see the gospel in every corner of the streets if
you can. Paste up texts of Scripture among business announcements;
hang them up in your kitchens, in your parlours, and in your drawing
rooms. I hate to see Christian men hang up abominable Popish things,
as they sometimes do, because they happen to be works of art. Burn
every one of such artful works, whether prints or paintings. I would
take the hammer and administer it with an iconoclastic [b] zeal on
all images and pictures of saints and virgins and the like, which
only tempt men to idolatry. Do not degrade your houses by anything
which insults your God, but let your adornments be such as may lead
men’s thoughts properly; and never let a man say in hell “I was
misled by a work of art on your wall which was also a work of the
devil, and suggested evil thoughts.” Everywhere bring Christ to the
front and scatter his words, like leaves from the tree. If you cannot
do more, do this and show your gratitude to your Lord.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Re 21; 22:1-5]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 145” 145]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Heaven — Jerusalem” 867]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — The Brazen Serpent” 539]
[a] Upas Tree: A fabulous tree alleged to have existed in Java, at some distance from Batavia, with properties so poisonous as to destroy all animal and vegetable life to a distance of fifteen or sixteen miles around it. OED.
[b] Iconoclast: A breaker or destroyer of images. OED.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 145 (Part 1)
1 Long as I live I’ll bless thy name,
My King, my God of love;
My work and joy shall be the same,
In the bright world above.
2 Great is the Lord, his power unknown,
And let his praise be great:
I’ll sing the honours of thy throne,
Thy works of grace repeat.
3 Thy grace shall dwell upon my tongue;
And, while my lips rejoice,
The men that hear my sacred song
Shall join their cheerful voice.
4 Fathers to sons shall teach thy name,
And children learn thy ways;
Ages to come thy truth proclaim,
And nations sound thy praise.
5 Thy glorious deeds of ancient date
Shall through the world be known;
Thine arm of power, thy heavenly state,
With public splendour shown.
6 The world is managed by thy hands,
Thy saints are ruled by love;
And thine eternal kingdom stands,
Though rocks and hills remove.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 145 (Part 2)
1 Sweet is the memory of thy grace,
My God, my heavenly King;
Let age to age thy righteousness
In sounds of glory sing.
2 God reigns on high, but not confines
His goodness to the skies;
Through the whole earth his bounty shines
And every want supplies.
3 With longing eyes thy creatures wait
On thee for daily food;
Thy liberal hand provides their meat,
And fills their mouths with good.
4 How kind are thy compassions, Lord!
How slow thine anger moves!
But soon he sends his pardoning word
To cheer the souls he loves.
5 Creatures, with all their endless race,
Thy power and praise proclaim;
But saints that taste thy richer grace
Delight to bless thy name.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
The Christian, Heaven
867 — Jerusalem
1 Jerusalem, my happy home,
When shall I come to thee?
When shall my sorrows have an end,
Thy joys when shall I see?
2 Oh happy harbour of the saints!
Oh sweet and pleasant soil!
In thee no sorrows may be found,
No grief, no care, no toil.
3 Thy walls are made of precious stones,
Thy bulwarks diamond square;
Thy gates are of right orient pearl,
Exceeding rich and rare.
4 Thy turrets and thy pinnacles
With carbuncles do shine;
Thy very streets are paved with gold,
Surpassing clear and fine.
5 Oh my sweet home, Jerusalem,
Would God I were in thee!
Would God my woes were at an end,
Thy joys that I might see!
Francis Baker, 1616?
539 — The Brazen Serpent
1 So did the Hebrew prophet raise
The brazen serpent high;
The wounded felt immediate ease,
The camp forbore to die.
2 “Look upward in the dying hour,
And live,” the prophet cries:
But Christ performs a nobler cure
When faith lifts up her eyes.
3 High on the cross the Saviour hung,
High in the heavens he reigns;
Here sinners, by th’ old serpent stung,
Look, and forget their pains.
4 When God’s own Son is lifted up,
A dying world revives:
The Jew beholds the glorious hope,
The expiring Gentile lives.
Isaac Watts, 1709.