« ElőzőTovább »
blind; but released from all trammels of disease and pain, free to pursue those great ends which here filled his love, and which will crown his immortality with increasing joy for ever. He has passed from this realm of appearances into the kingdom of realities.
“Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments.” His keen mind sees now with an intelligence more clear than that which we have been accustomed to admire-is growing daily into a more glorious perception of those great truths which it was his delight to understand and teach. And still he prays for “ the peace of Jerusalem,” still labours for her welfare, still and to eternity enjoys the prosperity assured to those that love her. The Church he served so faithfully, the friends in whose affections he will always hold so high a place, those nearest and dearest ones whose grief is too sacred for more than a passing word of reverent sympathy, have not lost him. Ile has but gone before, whither we too must shortly follow. Remember his own touching verses, the interest of which has now become so tender :
“One by one they fall around us,
Loving friends whose race is run;
Dropping round us, one by one.
Going as their work is done,
Beck’ning homewards, one by one.
When their skein of life is spun,
Waiting for us, one by one.
Daughter, lover, brother, son,
Watching for us, one by one.
Till the goal of life be won,
Meet and love them, one by one.
Toiling we, as they have done-
As He called them, one by one."
Hear, once again, his final message. This is what dear John Hyde, from his bed of weakness and pain and blindness, sent to you and me :
Peace, love, prosperity, be with us, and abide, growing to the perfect day. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem : they shall prosper that love thee.''
THE VINE (Vitis vinifera, Nat. Ord. Vitacere).
Quite at the head of the list of Scripture plants, in regard to frequency and variety of mention, stands the illustrious climber to which mankind is indebted for grapes, thus for the wine “ which maketh glad.” The vine itself, vineyards, and the vintage, taken together, are spoken of about 150 times. The allusions to grapes are about 40 in number. Raisins are spoken of upon four occasions; and wine and the winepress are mentioned more than 100 times. Adding the figures together, the total is little short of 300.
For this immense preponderance there must of course be some good reason, since nothing, we may be sure, has been deposited in Scripture without a purpose. At first sight, the incessant mention would appear to arise from the utility of grapes and wine as articles of aliment with the ancient Hebrews; and regarding the Bible simply as an historical and poetical work, this may suffice. But the primary and essential design of Scripture is to communicate spiritual lessons. To this end it employs natural objects as illustrations, and very often finds its language in their names. Nothing more than reasonable is it to expect, accordingly, that those objects will be mentioned most frequently which possess the highest value as representatives. This is just what we find to be the case with water, light, the breath, and various other natural elements; and that the principle should apply also to the vine can hardly be questioned. The vine cannot be introduced, that is to say, these nearly 300 times, except on account of its adaptedness to convey to the mind of man a spiritual idea—an idea of maximum value and interest, an idea that no part of Scripture can dispense with. Now the very life-blood of Revelation, the secret of all its vitality, beauty, and power, is TRUTH, —the department of truth, that is to say, which men emphatically call Religious Truth. Taking this as the watchword, then examining and comparing the miracles, the parables, the allegories, and the allusions in general, which refer us to the vine or its produce, whatever they may signify in the literal sense, they acquire a meaning at once delightful, practical, and consistent, and which is supplied to the Divine lessons by no other view of what the vine may stand for. Curious enough it may appear to some who have never yet regarded the matter from the point of view we seek to indicate. The fact remains, nevertheless, that when we read of the vine, of grapes, of the vineyard, of wine, and of the wine-press, there is always some grand allusion to revealed Truth, the basis of all things good and worthy, and of all that to mankind is indispensable. Truth, such as conduces to man's salvation, is the leading theme, the nucleus and the circumference of all that our Lord has to say to us, and is no less imminent in every verse in Hebrew prophecy where the vine and the vineyard have mention. Truth holds this place because it is the foundation and the corner-stone, simply and sufficiently, of everything else. It is impossible for people to do what is right till they know what is right; a life of negative innocence, unconscious and uninformed as to the truth, is conceivable, but certainly is not enviable, nor does it enter into the scheme of the Divine Providence, which makes happiness and purity consist in obedience to declared laws Sometimes the association is more directly with Truth as it exists in our individual minds; sometimes it is more particularly the Church in general that is spoken of. In the latter class of references it has pleased Divine Wisdom simply to put before us, in a broader and larger way, the old familiar fact, that individual men and women embody within thenselves every principle and circumstance that pertains to the church in the aggregate. If a man does not see that the promises, the blessings, the penalties for wrong-doing, which are announced for the church in general, are announced every bit as much for his own particular use and guidance, he reads his Bible to very little purpose. That Scripture is at all times, and in every portion, personal, constitutes one of the best proofs of its Divine origin. The prophecies, the allegories that talk of the church, and of the vine as its representative, may refer, it is quite likely, in certain subordinate ways that the Divine mind alone is cognizant of, to the history of nations, their fate and their final destiny. The paramount and most excellent fact is that, whether of public and national application or no, they certainly and at all events refer directly to you and to me. To discover this to be their
function is far more pleasant than to regard them as referring only to foreign people and communities with whom we have no personal con
The man is a gainer, at all events, who sees himself in the nation that is to be solaced and enriched; he is a gainer, at the same time when, seeing himself in it, he learns that God is not to be trifled with. There is no objection to the connecting of certain prophecies, etc., with certain nations, if by so doing any practical good is to be got out of it. But I have yet to learn why I should leave all the promises of restoration as a perquisite to "the Jews;" and I have yet to learn that I shall realize the solemn as well as sweet personal use which Scripture universally is intended to serve, by handing over the
curses” and the ugly words to the particular creed or ism I do not happen to belong to.
Thus regarded, the place held in Scripture by the vine would seem to be accounted for. The allegories, the parables, the prophecies, , must assuredly have Truth and its vicissitudes for their pivot; and as formulas of this nature can only be established upon the basis of an original harmony between the objective and the spiritual, they appear to declare sufficiently what the vine has been appointed to signify in the language of nature. No other plant is known to exist which would at all points serve so fittingly for the purposes to which it is figuratively applied. It cannot have been by accident either that the Hebrews dwelt in “a land of vines,” where the spiritual lessons of which their country was to become the scene had so plentiful a supply of the living symbol. The history of the vine, like that of the fig, is lost upon
the horizon of the remotest past. The oldest literature in the world, and the oldest monuments in the world, alike deal with it as something long since familiar, an inheritance from days yet older. Among the drawings upon the walls of the tombs in ancient Egypt are representatives of every circumstance connected with its culture, which was evidently conducted with the greatest care ; the treading of the grapes is also pictured, and the storing of the wine in jars. Homer, when he bestows epithets upon cities of renown, and wishes to make them appear enviable and joyous, employs the epithets åpenedóers and Todvotápūdos, literally, “rich-in-vines” and “possessed of many clusters of grapes ;” the same poet introduces the vine upon the shield of Achilles; and in every other classic author we find some allusion that declares the primeval fame. In Scripture, although the first tree man made useful to himself was the fig, and although the
first that appeared in sight after the subsidence of the waters was the olive, the first that was planted with a view to consuming the produce was the vine. Noah seems to have come direct, as it were, from the sublime covenant of the rainbow, when he “began to be a husbandman, and planted a vineyard.” That the birth-place of a plant so venerable should long have been inquired for, and that many countries should have been honoured with it, no one feeling certain, is another illustration of the profound antiquity of man's acquaintance with it. Men have always been fond of assigning special localities to events and beginnings they regard with admiration. Hence, after many conjectures, it came to be believed that the birth-place so interesting to establish was the hilly district on the southern borders of the Caspian Sea, in latitude 37°. But it is now tolerably well determined that the vine was in all likelihood wild originally throughout the tract which stretches from the hills in question to the shores of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, and eastwards through Khorassan and Cabul, to the base of the Himalayahs. At the present day, in the Caucasus of Cashmere, it climbs to the tops of the tallest trees. That the seemingly wild vines now existing in those regions are the absolute descendants or posterity of the primeval plants does not by any means follow. It is quite as likely that the original form of the vine may have become extinct, and that the present so-called wild vines are waifs of cultivation, just as by the waysides, and in other refuges for the destitute in our own country, there may constantly be found relics of ancient orchards and ancient agriculture. It would seem to have been this outcast vine which the Greeks intended in their autredos áypía, and the Romans in their Labrusca, and the flowers of which, by the Greeks called oiváven, were gathered and dried for use as a flavouring agent, with regard particularly to honey and oil. Unhappily, in modern times, the name of Labrusca has been given to a North American species of Vitis, of course in no way really meriting the appellation, and with the inevitable consequence of confusion.
When, in 2 Kings iv. 39, we have mention of “a wild vine," and when, in Isaiah v. 2, 4, we have the expression “wild grapes," there seems at first sight an indication that the genuine Vitis vinifera was indigenous to the Holy Land, existing there just as wild raspberries and wild currants do in England, where the Rubus Idæus and the Ribes rubrum are occupants not only of the gardens but of the woods and hedgerows. But the allusions in question involve no reference