“My Father is the husbandman.”—John 15:1
Blessed truth, and blessed assurance, to the true followers of Jesus. Yes, Almighty Father! I would pray for thy continual teaching, to behold thee as the husbandman of thy vineyard, the church, in which thou hast raised up the Plant of Renown, the Man whose name is the Branch, the true Vine, in whom, and upon whom, and through whom, all thy redeemed, taken from the olive- tree that is wild by nature, are grafted, and bring forth fruit unto God. Yes, Almighty Father! I would desire grace to behold thee, and while I behold, to love, to praise, to adore thee, that from everlasting thou hast graciously been the husbandman of thy church. It was in thee, and from thee, as the contriver and appointer of all that concerned redemption, we trace the fountain and source of all that grace, mercy, peace, and favour here, with all the unknown treasures of glory hereafter, which thou hast placed in his most blessed hands, who is the Lord our righteousness. In every renewed view of Jesus, as the true Vine, which thou hast planted; and in every renewed communication from his fulness, nourishment, and life-imparting influences; may it be my happy portion, Oh Lord, to eye thee, as the husbandman, while I feel and know my union in Jesus as the Vine. And do thou, most gracious God and Father, condescend to act the part of the kind husbandman still. Let thine eyes be upon me for good, as the husbandman visits his vineyard. Water, Lord, with the heavenly dew of thy word and Spirit, the dry and languishing plantation. Oh that the Lord may give showers of blessing, and that he may be to me as the latter, and as the former rain, upon the barrenness of my heart. Preserve me, Lord, from the wild boar of the wood, even Satan, that he may never tread me down. Weed out, Lord, the briers and thorns, even the corruptions of my own heart, which would twine themselves with the tender branches. And lop off, Oh Lord, all the superfluous shoots, even the world’s enticements, which might prevent fruitfulness in Jesus. In all things, blessed God and Father, be thou the kind, the tender, the wise husbandman, in doing for me what thou seest to be needful, however painful to flesh and blood the pruning dispensations and wintry providences may be found. Do thou purge, as Jesus hath said, every branch that beareth fruit, that it may bring forth more fruit; and by thy gracious Spirit so cause me to abide in Christ, and that Christ may abide in me, that thou, my God and Father, mayest be glorified in my bearing much fruit, to the praise of thy grace, wherein thou hast made me accepted in the beloved.
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."