“The tree of life.”—Revelation 22:2
Lead me, O Holy Ghost, by the hand of faith, this morning, into the paradise of God, and cause me to sit down under the tree of life; and for a while, before the world breaks in upon me, enable me to meditate on its beauties, its loveliness, and its fruit. Is it not Jesus which I behold in this charming similitude? Surely Jesus is to me the tree of life, for I have no life but in him! And it is not only he which gave me life at the first, but preserves it, maintains it, and will preserve it for ever. He saith himself, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” And as he is himself the life of my soul, so every thing in him is the promoter of my life. His fruit also is all my sustenance, all I want, all I desire, all I can truly enjoy. .He bears twelve manner of fruits. Yes, for there is in him both fulness and variety: pardon, mercy, and peace, in the blood of his cross; favour with God, affection with men; the Spirit’s gifts, graces, influences; comfort in this life, happiness and joy in that which is to come. And every month these fruits abound. Yes, he saith himself, “fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold: and my revenue than choice silver.” “I will cause them that love me to inherit substance; yea, I will fill all their treasures.” Nay, the very leaves of this tree of life are for the healing of the nations. And how healing indeed is Jesus, in his word, his ordinances, his providences, his promises, his dispensations! Neither is this all: the tree of life grows in the midst of the street, and is open in every gospel ordinance; both to Jews and Gentiles, both to bond and free. He is also on either side the river. The church above, though sitting under the full enjoyment of him, doth not keep him wholly to herself. Blessed be his name, he is as much for the glory and happiness of his church here below, on this side the river of death. And is this tree of life, this Jesus, mine? Oh the vast privilege! I bless thee, Oh thou Holy Spirit, for giving me the knowledge of him now by faith: and ere long, I hope to sit down for ever in the paradise of God, in the unceasing enjoyment of him, from whence I shall arise no more, but dwell under his branches for ever.
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."