Trees of Righteousness Under the Gardener’s Pruning Knife

John 15:1,2; Isaiah 61:3
       I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
       That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The Lord Jesus Christ looking around his church, if He sees anything evil in it, will do one of two things; either He will go right away from His church because the evil is tolerated there, and He will leave that church to be like Laodicea, to go on from bad to worse, till it becomes no church at all; or else He will come and He will trim the lamp, or to use the figure of the fifteenth of John, He will prune the vinebranch and with His knife will cut off this member, and the other, and cast them into the fire; while, as for the rest, He will cut them till they bleed again, because they are fruit-bearing members, but they have too much wood, and He wants them to bring forth more fruit.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): The church grows by tears, and withers by smiles. God’s vine thrives the better for pruning.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Now God the Father is ever training the members of this family for their everlasting abode with Him in heaven. He acts as a husbandman pruning his vines, that they may bear more fruit. He know the character of each of us—our besetting sins—our weaknesses—our peculiar infirmities—our special wants. He knows our works and where we dwell, who are our companions in life, and what are our trials, what are our temptations, and what are our privileges. He knows all these things, and is ever ordering all for our good. He allots to each of us, in His providence, the very things we need, in order to bear the most fruit—as much of sunshine as we can stand, and as much of rain—as much of bitter things as we can bear, and as much of sweet.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Let a Christian―saith a late writer―be but two or three years without an affliction, and he is almost good for nothing.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Trees long unpruned have the more cuts of the knife when the gardener begins with them.

C. H. SPURGEON: So have we seen our Father, who is the Husbandman, cut and slash terribly with those who have been long prosperous, and have, therefore, borne little of the fruit of grace, and much of the wood of worldliness. See how their wealth diminishes, their health declines, their family sickens! Providence multiplies their trials till they feel that the hand of the Lord is gone out against them. Does the gardener hate the apple tree which he prunes so remorselessly? Far from it; he knows it to be a choice tree, and, therefore, he would have fruit from it: he would not thus wear away his knife upon a crab [apple]. Abounding trials prove their own necessity and the Lord’s sagacity…Men do not prune the vine they mean to uproot; nor thresh out the weeds which they mean to burn. He who is chastened is not given over unto destruction.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): True faith is no more destroyed by these sharp trials than the oak is destroyed by cutting away the ivy, or by a storm blowing down some of its rotten branches. And thus, as the oak, the more the winds blow upon it, takes a firmer root in the soil; so the storms and tempests that blow upon the soul, only cause it to take a firmer hold of the truth, and to strike its fibres more deeply into the Person, love, work, and blood of Jesus―the Holy Ghost secretly strengthening it by the very things that seemed to threaten it with destruction.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): The vine-dresser does the tree good, not by suffering the wanton shoots to grow on draining the sap, but by pruning it, that it may bring forth more fruit. What saith David? “It is good for me”―that I have prospered? that I have risen from obscurity? that I conquered Goliath? that I gained a victory in the valley of salt? No; but it is good for me, that Doeg impeached me; that Saul hunted me like a partridge on the mountains; that Absalom drove me from my palace; that Shimei cursed me on the hill; that sickness brought down my life to the ground; “it is good for me that I have been afflicted,” Psalm 119:71.

C. H. SPURGEON: Trials are the winds which root the tree of our faith.

J. C. RYLE: Trials are intended to make us think, to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible, and to drive us to our knees.

C. H. SPURGEON: Years ago, I was taken very ill, in Marseilles, while attempting to come home to England. As I lay in my bed, it seemed as if the cruel mistral wind was driving through my bones, and breaking them with agony. I ordered a fire to be kindled; but when I saw the man begin to light it with a bundle of little branches, I cried out to him, “Pray let me look at that.” I found that he was using the dry prunings of the vine, and the tears were in my eyes as I remembered the words—“Men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned,” John 15:6. Comfort followed, for I thought, “I am not unfeeling, like those dried-up shoots; but I am the bleeding vine, which is sharply cut with the pruning-knife; I feel the keen blade in every part of me.” Then could I say, “The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over,” Psalm 118:18. What joy lies in this, “He hath not given me over!” As long as the father chastens his boy, he has hope of him; if he ceased to do so altogether, we might fear that he thought him too bad to be reclaimed. Be glad, then, dear child of God, that since the Lord chastens you sore, He has not erased your name from His heart, and His hands, nor yielded you up to your enemy’s power.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Better be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.

C. H. SPURGEON: It is the Lord’s way to tear before He heals. This is the honest love of His heart and the sure surgery of His hand.


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