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"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." The prize unto which God has called me in Christ Jesus, looking for it, says St. Paul, earnestly looking for it and longing for it. "Let us, therefore, as many as be perfect," or are real Christians, "be thus minded, and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." One in Christ, one way, one rule, and one end. Here we have not only the rules given, but the end at which the Christian is aiming. O Lord enable us to forget the things which are behind, and to look forward unto those things which are before, "for in Thy presence is fulness of joy, and at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." And now to conclude this subject just read the verses which follow the text. "In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day; and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted." Our rejoicing is always in the Lord, and our exaltation is in His righteousness alone which is like the great mountains. A righteousness which is very high indeed, and which endures for ever. "The Lord Himself is the glory of our strength, and by His favour our horn is exalted." "The Lord is the defence of His people; the Holy One of Israel is their King. He shall subdue all their enemies, and give them victory in the day of battle." The Lord has laid help upon One that is mighty, even upon the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father has exalted Him whom He has chosen out of the people. Jesus is now a mighty Prince and a mighty Saviour. And "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance."
SERIES I. No. 8.
"A FRUITFUL BOUGH."
PREACHED BY THE
REV. J. BATTERSBY
(Vicar of St. Simon's, Sheffield),
AT ST. GEORGE THE MARTYR'S, SOUTHWARK, LONDON,
WEDNESDAY EVENING, MARCH 1ST, 1876.
In the 49th Chapter of the Book of Genesis, and at the 22nd Verse you will find the following words :—
"JOSEPH IS A FRUITFUL BOUGH, A FRUITFUL BOUGH BY A WELL; WHOSE BRANCHES RUN OVER THE WALL."
In comparing the history of Joseph with that of our Lord we find that there are several points of resemblance between them. I shall endeavour to point out a few of them to you before I proceed to dwell more especially upon our text. The name of Joseph means increase or adding, -we find that it is said of our Lord by the Baptist: "I must decrease, but He must increase" (John iii. 30). Joseph was the beloved son of his father. Jesus is the beloved Son of His Father. Joseph was hated of his brethren. Of Jesus, it is said, He was "hated without a cause" (John xv. 25). Joseph was sold by his brethren; our Lord was sold for thirty pieces of silver. Joseph was tempted and tried; our Lord was tempted and tried of Satan, but neither of them yielded to the temptations. Joseph was cast into prison; our Lord was led from prison to prison, and from judgment to judgment. Joseph was raised from his low estate to sit next to Pharoah on his throne; our Lord from His low estate of humiliation is raised to sit on the right hand of the Majesty on High. Joseph was visited by his brethren in Egypt; so was our Lord by His brethren. Joseph knew his brethren before they knew him; so our Lord knew His brethren before they knew Him. Joseph, when he sent his brethren away, made provision for them; so our Lord, when He sends His children forth, He makes spiritual provision for them by the way. Now, these are some few of the points of resemblance which we find in comparing the history of Joseph with that of our Lord. I might here enlarge, if it were necessary, but these remarks are sufficient to prepare the way for our further and fuller consideration of the text. Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well whose
branches run over the wall.
The first point is this-Joseph's fruitfulness. The second is this-the source of Joseph's fruitfulness, "a fruitful bough by a well." And thirdly the extent of Joseph's fruitfulness, "Whose branches run over the wall." Under these three heads I propose to bring in all the remarks which I intend to make upon the subject which we have for our consideration this evening.
Now, with regard to the first point-" Joseph is a fruitful bough" or Son. This is spoken of Joseph, and he seems to have understood it well, for he gave the name of "fruitful" to one of his sons, for he called him Ephraim, which means "fruitfulness" (Gen. xli. 52). But Joseph, as a fruitful bough or son, seems to me typically to point to another, Who is pre-eminently "a fruitful bough or Son. This, I shall endeavour to shew you, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ and believers as one with Him. We must not view Christ alone, but Christ and His children as one. Joseph was a fruitful bough, or a fruitful son, as appears from his numerous offspring. We read of the ten thousands of Ephraim, and of the thousands of Manasseh (Deu. xxxiii. 17). Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation; the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees (Gen. 1. 23). Joseph was fruitful, not only in his posterity, but in every good word and work. Joseph was a prominent type of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is indeed God's fruitful bough, or fruitful Son. I shall just mention one or two other figures which I find in God's Word, and which seem to me to bring out Christ as a fruitful bough." In the 92nd Psalm it is said, "The righteous is like a palm tree." Now the righteous, or the righteous One appears to me to be the Lord Jesus Christ. This righteous One is "like a Cedar in Lebanon." Lord Jesus Christ speaking of Himself, says, "I am the true Vine (John xv. 1). He tells us also in the same parable that "Ye (believers) are the branches " (John xv. 5). "I am the Vine, ye are the branches." Now, let us look for a short time at Christ our Lord as a "fruitful Bough." Joseph was a fruitful bough," and had a large offspring. But when we look at the Lord Jesus Christ, as a fruitful Bough,-and when we consider the offspring connected with Him, and read the 7th chapter of Revelation where we find the Jews and Gentiles saved described thus, as 66 a great multitude, which no man could number," gathered out "of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues." This is the largest offspring that I know of. Now, it is said that Christ shall have the pre-eminence in all things (Col. i. 18). He has it in the number of His spiritual offspring. He is and shall be pre-eminently, "a fruitful Bough." But there is another particular in which our Lord Jesus Christ is pre-eminently "a fruitful Bough." It is in good works. I read in the book of Daniel, this account given of Him-Jesus puts away sins, He finishes the transgression, He makes reconciliation for iniquity, He brings in an everlasting righteousness, He seals up the vision and prophecy, and anoints the most Holy (Daniel ix. 24). Was there ever such faithfulness? Whoever put away sins but the Lord Jesus Christ? Whoever satisfied the law, but the Lord Jesus Christ? Whoever brought in everlasting righteousness, but the Lord Jesus Christ? Thus, then in good works the Lord Jesus Christ is preeminently a fruitful Bough. But He is also a fruitful Bough in another respect. You must bear in mind that the Holy Ghost comes forth as a fruit producer in the hearts of the children of God. Where there is no Jesus there will be no Holy Spirit; and where there is no Holy Ghost,
there will be no holy fruit in the hearts of the children of God. St. Paul puts the fruit of the Holy Ghost into three words; these three words are contained in the 5th chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians, and the 9th verse-"The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth," "goodness," "righteousness," "truth." are the fruits of the Spirit which He produces in the hearts of believers, as He comes forth from Him who is pre-eminently the "fruitful Bough," the Lord Jesus Christ. St. Paul describes, also, the fruits of the Spirit in that 5th chapter of Galatians 22nd verse, when he says "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace," and so on. And then, again, Jesus Christ becomes pre-eminently fruitful in His children,-in His brethren, -in those that are one with Him and He with them. Look how this is brought out by our Lord Himself, in that 7th chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” From what we have already said of the Lord Jesus Christ as a Fruitful Bough or Fruitful Son, it must have appeared to you that He is fruitful in the number of His Spiritual offspring, in His gracious works in the behalf of all believers, in the outpouring of His Holy Spirit, producing fruitfulness in the hearts of His blood-bought children, and in the holy lives of His saints. All fruitfulness springs from union with the fruitful bough; "From Me is thy fruit found." Our fruit is now unto holiness, righteousness, goodness, and truth, but the end is everlasting life. "Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name." I shall now pass away from this first point,-Joseph is "a fruitful bough."
But, if you will look into our text, you will see that it is said that he is "a fruitful bough by a well." This is the source of his fruitfulness, which is our Second point. The word for well is peculiar, and it may be necessary for us just to notice how it is rendered and used in the Scriptures. Literally it is translated, a well, or a fountain. If you will turn to the 16th chapter of this book of Genesis, and read the 7th verse, you will see that "the angel of the Lord found her (Hagar) by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur." The word translated " fountain," is the word used in our text for "well." It seems to have a Spiritual significance given to it in the same chapter and in the 13th and 14th verses,- "And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also looked after Him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi." You may enlarge upon this portion for yourselves. Again, this word is used when Abraham's servant met with Rebekah at a well, or at a fountain of waters. It is literally used when it is said that the children of Israel in the wilderness came to Elim where they found twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees (Exodus xv. 27). This word is translated in the book of Numbers, as "twelve fountains of water" (Numbers xxxiii. 9). Passing over to the New Testament we