James Hamilton

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.!” [Psalm 92:12-14]

The Palm tree brings forth its best fruit in old age. The best dates are said to be gathered when it has reached a hundred years. So it is with eminent Christians: the older–the better; the older–the more beautiful; nay, the older–the more useful; and, different from worldlings, the older–the happier. The best Christians are those who improve to the end, who grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ to the very close of life.

They loved Him at first–but now they love Him more. At first they were selfish, and only sought to escape from wrath. Now they are jealous of the Savior’s honor, and long to be saved from sin. At first they only thought of Jesus as the Priest to save them; now they perceive the Priest upon a throne, and love not only the Savior’s cross–but the Savior’s yoke and the Savior’s laws.

And they grow in knowledge of themselves. The truth to which they once assented becomes a deep-wrought experience. “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing.” And the discovery of this depravity, the knowledge how debased and worthless their nature has become, instead of making them morose and bitter towards their fellow-sharers in the fall–makes them lenient and considerate. They know themselves too well, to expect perfection in their friends, and love the brethren in the face of their obvious failings. They have something of the old Reformer’s feeling when he saw the malefactor led to prison: “There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford!”

And they grow in wisdom. Long experience, and still more the secret of the Lord, dispassionate observation and Heavenly-mindedness–have given them sagacity; and sometimes in pithy adages, sometimes in direct and sober counsel, they deal forth that mellow wisdom.

And they grow in spirituality. We have seen those aged pilgrims to whom earthly things at last grew insipid; they had no curiosity for the news of the day, and little taste for fresh and entertaining books. They stuck to God’s testimonies, and you never went in to see them but their Bible lay open on the table or the counter; and they could tell the portion which had been that morning’s food, or the meditation of the previous night. The Word of God dwelt in them so richly, that you could see they were becoming fit to dwell with God; for when a mind has become thoroughly scriptural–it needs but another step to make it celestial. And the last harvest came, and the last gleanings of their precious words, and when we next went that way–their place knew them no longer. They were flourishing in the courts of God’s house on high, and we would sit under their shadow and be regaled by their goodness no more.

But when we recollected how lovely their Christian profession was, how beneficent and serviceable they had ever been, and remembered that their last days were their brightest, and their last fruits their fairest, we said over to ourselves, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green!”

Dear Christian reader, when your own ear cannot hear it, may this be your eulogy–when your own eye cannot read it, may this be your epitaph. In the meanwhile, for the sake of that Savior who is dishonored by proud and selfish and unlovely disciples–strive and pray for consistency in holy living. And for your own soul’s sake, which is dulled by defective views, and depressed by each besetting sin–seek a serene and lofty faith–covet earnestly a blameless life. Let . . .

your triumphs over self, and
your high-hearted zeal for the Savior,
the largeness of your Christian spirit,
your Heavenly elevation,
the exuberance of your goodness,
the multitude of your acts of kindness,
the fullness of your affections,
the abundance of your beneficence–

make Jesus manifest and unmistakable in your life. Let your happy piety be the far-eyed signal announcing an oasis in the desert, and pray that your church may become another Elim to weary pilgrims “where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water.” Exodus 15:27


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