I SHALL now proceed to give a short description of the Tree of Life. . . 1. That the tree is a striking emblem of Christ we need not doubt for a moment, being told so by the Holy Spirit in Revelation 2:7. "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." We overcome all our enemies entirely through the blood of the Lamb, whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed. The only life-giving food is Christ Jesus our Lord, who is the Resurrection and the Life, and in whom whosoever liveth and believeth shall never die.
That the natural Tree of Life bore fruit which possessed very animating and invigorating qualities, we will not dispute; and on account of which, no doubt, it was denominated the Tree of Life, as our commentators have informed us: but that it has a direct reference to Christ, and in that case was intended of the Lord as a sweet and delightful emblem of the life-giving Saviour, is so evident by corresponding passages of God's Word as to become unquestionable. He says concerning Himself, "I am as a green fir tree: from Me is your fruit found." And by the mouth of David, "I am like a green olive-tree in the house of God" (Psalm 52:8); and here, the Tree of Life. For there is neither spiritual nor eternal life but that which is found in Him, and flows from Him; the book in which the names of God's elect are written is "the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27); the pure river of water of life proceeds out of the throne of God and the Lamb; and Paul says positively that our life is hidden with Christ in God; that when He who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:3,4). For saith the blessed Redeemer, in one of the most charming promises that ever proceeded from His gracious lips, "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). Rejoice then, 0 ye believers in Jesus, that your living depends entirely on Christ's living. If our enemies can destroy Christ, then indeed they must destroy us. But that is an absolute impossibility. Then our salvation is as certain and secure as His throne, and our life as infallible as the life of Christ.
2. The Tree of Life stood in the midst of the garden. So Christ is the Lamb amidst the throne above, amidst the golden candlesticks below (His redeemed churches), in the midst of His people, to protect, defend, and deliver them: according to Zephaniah: "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty," &c. (Zephaniah 3:17); and however small the number who assemble to worship Him in spirit and in truth, He has said, "There am I in the midst of them" Who then would forsake the assembling of themselves together to enjoy such company? to enjoy the presence, and what is more, the very affectionate and soul-ravishing smiles of the Friend of sinners, who laid down His life and shed His blood for our salvation? Christ is in the midst, in the center of His church, as the sun in the solar system, shedding all around the bright beams of His love on us who are opaque not in body only, but much more in our immortal souls; and to Him the Sun of Righteousness, who has arisen upon us with healing in His beams, we are indebted for every particle of spiritual light, and every spark of spiritual life, with which our immortal spirits are illumined and animated. He is amidst His church as a father amidst his children, to feed and protect them; to teach and smile upon them as the children that bear His own gracious image.
But here they are a garden enclosed, and He amidst them the Tree of Life. . . . We now come to the Plant of Renown, the Tree we prefer to all others; and shall examine,
1. The Root, which (of a natural plant) is the reservoir of all vegetative life. At this season of our year (winter), though all foliage disappears, and trees, plants, shrubs, and flowers (excepting evergreens) wear the appearance of everlasting death; those vernal beauties which we expect in a few months to decorate them so beautifully—to ornament them in an almost endless variety of green and gay, are now all in the ROOT concealed from human view; not a leaf will appear then that does not now radically exist. The root contains the whole, in all their peculiar formations; which will then, by the force of solar attraction and influence, ascend through the stem in all their intended ramifications to the extremities of the numerous branches. So Christ, the Tree of Life, who is the ROOT as well as the Offspring of David, contains all the sap, the fullness of divine blessings, and all the fulness of God. The wisdom, love, power, and boundless grace, which were concealed from men and angels, lay in the ROOT of His Divinity from all eternity. He calleth things that are not as though they were. He seeth the end from the beginning. With Him the Eternal God, there is neither past nor future; His tense is always the present, and as Watts has well expressed it;
The salvation, and all the admirable decorations of His church in the robes of salvation put upon her in a timestate, and in which she shall shine brighter than the sun for ever, all existed from everlasting in the eternal mind. The atonement of Christ and all the graces of the blessed Spirit were prepared for the elect of God; and shall be in the exactly appointed time conferred upon every individual for whom they were prepared. There can be no chance work with our God. Faith and repentance were prepared for His elect before the foundation of the world; and they shall obtain them, while the rest are blinded. Not because one party is better than the other by nature; for the elect shall sing to all eternity, "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight."
2. The stem, or the trunk, of the tree is that stout and substantial part through which all the sap ascends, to enliven, clothe, and fructify the branches. In the stem of the Tree of Life we have a sweet view of the human nature of our adorable Immanuel, God with us; God in human flesh— that wonder of angels; and the Hope of Israel. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell," (Colossians 1:19) who was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows; and the Spirit was without measure poured out upon Him. All the innumerable, extensive, and everlasting blessings of the covenant flow through the Man, God's Fellow. He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. To know Him, therefore, is eternal life, which is indeed the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.
3. The branches. In the first place, we must consider the children of God the branches of the Tree of Life; agreeable to Christ's own assertion: "I am the Vine; ye are the branches." In Him by an everlasting love-union. One with Him, even in the winter of our unregeneracy; but deriving the sap of life, grace, and vigorous faith from Him in the spring of our regeneration. In the second place, the fruits of His love—the redemption of our persons, and the atonement of our sins, by His most precious blood. And all the innumerable blessings of the Holy Spirit in His gracious work in our souls; all which flow freely from the Root of His Divinity, through the stem of His humanity, to the children of God in all ages.
4. The leaves. The beautiful and virtuous leaves are for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2). And this healing is effected in a most peculiar way, only by looking steadfastly upon them; for our Immanuel says, "Look unto Me, and be ye saved." The serpent-bitten Israelites were so healed; they looked at the brazen serpent, and lived. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so shall the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever looketh unto Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:14,15) Thus the vernal foliage delights our eyes, after howling storms and wintry snows. Spring's more gentle atmosphere produces a vegetative resurrection; so Christ, with the evergreen smiles of His love, effects a spiritual resurrection in the soul.
5. The fruits. This Tree of Life is said in the passage above quoted to bear twelve manner of fruits. (Revelation 22:2). ... I would rather understand them as the twelve eminent and glorious acts of the Eternal Trinity in our salvation: the Father in His four-fold work: loving, electing, adopting, and blessing His people with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. The Eternal Word, in His four-fold work of taking their nature, redeeming their persons, atoning for their sins, and justifying them in His own spotless righteousness. And the four-fold work of the Holy Spirit, in their regeneration, sanctification, consolation, and perseverance. For all the twelve grow on Christ the Tree of Life, inasmuch as the blessings of the Father are all in Him; and whatever the Holy Spirit performs, is done in the name and for the sake of Christ.
The Christian varies in his feelings and enjoyments, like the annual seasons: but, blessed be the Lord, he has always fruit from the glorious Tree of Life. There is not a month throughout the year, however sultry the heat or severe the cold, but he is supplied with fruit according to his pressing necessities. "For my God," saith the apostle, "shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19)