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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA



PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



KOLOGY

LIBRARY






THE OLIVE LEAF.



V



THE OLIVE LEAF



BY



HUGH MACMILLAN, D.D.,LL.D.,F.R.S.E.,

AUTHOR OF "BIBLE TEACHINGS IN NATURE," "TWO WORLDS ARE OURS,

" THE SABBATH OF THE FIELDS," ETC., ETC.



MACMILLAN AND CO.

1886.

All rights reserved.



QHfl



CONTENTS.



LI



CHAP. PAGE

r I. THE OLIVE LEAF, . . . .. T- ^V \ I

II. THE ONENESS OF THE TABERNACLE, . 15

III. THE HOSPITALITIES OF, NATURE, . . 39

POE TR Y THE A VALANCHE.

IV. THE THIRST OF GOD, . .. .. _ . ... 60
V. A TUFT OF MOSS, . -.. . .. . '. 77

VI. THE STATUE AND THE STONE, . . 106

VII. THE SWALLOW? S NEST, -^ . . . 119
POETRY A NEST IN A HEATHER BUSH.

VIII. THE STAFF AND THE SACRIFICE, . .136

IX. THE VERONICA, .* . . . . . . T 5 2

X. THE LOOKING-GLASS AND THE LAVER, . 169
POETRY THE SUPERGA.

XI. THE AUTUMN CROCUS, 185

OETRYA CORN-FIELD IN GLENCROE.



vi CONTENTS.

CHAP. PAGE

XII. THE AMARANTH, 202

POETRYTHE LAST DAISY.

XIII. THE GATES OF PEARL, . '. . .219

XIV. THE CEDARS AND THE CANDLESTICKS, 241

POETRY THE CORN.

XV. A POTTERY MOUND, . . . . .264
XVI. APPLES OF SODOM, . . . . . 280

XVII. THE STONES BURIED IN THE JORDAN, 301

POETRY THE TWO WRITINGS.

XVIII. THE BUFFET-GAME, 3 J 5

XIX. THE BLOOD OF THE PASCHAL LAMB, . 330

XX. UNTO GAZA, WHICH IS DESERT, . . 343

POETRY " FATHER EVEREST."

XXI. BEAUTY FOR ASHES, . . . '. . 358
POETRY THE CHRISTMAS ROSE.



THE OLIVE LEAF.



THE OLIVE LEAF.

CHAPTER I.

THE OLIVE LEAR

" And lo ! in her mouth an olive leaf pluckt off." GENESIS viii. n.

OWING to the wickedness of man, God brought
back the earth to its primeval condition, when
it was without form and void. The changes of the
climates and zones, the order of the seasons, the
varieties of the landscape, were all obliterated by the
dreary uniformity of the flood. When the flood sub-
sided, the original work of creation was, therefore,
representatively, enacted over again in the growth of
plants upon the new soil, in the descent of the
animals from the ark, in the appearance of the rain-
bow in the clouds, and in the establishment of the
great world covenant, that seed-time and harvest, cold
and heat, summer and winter, day and night, should
never cease. At the first creation, the Spirit of God
brooded over the face of the waters, like a dove with
expanded wings, preparing the world to be the abode



2 THE OLIVE LEAF. CHAP

of vegetable, animal, and human life. At the second
creation, the dove's wings hovered over the waters of
the deluge, announcing the termination of the divine
judgment, and the preparation of a new green world,
that should emerge purified from its baptism and be
to Noah what Eden had been to Adam. At the
new creation of God, the Holy Spirit, in the form of
a dove, appeared over the waters of our Lord's bap-
tism, as a symbol of the better covenant which,
under the Prince of Peace, should restore the order
and harmony of the world, and terminate the evil
and confusion which sin had made in human hearts
and lives.

i. Let us look at the profound, far-reaching sig-
nificance of the green leaf in the mouth of the dove, as
the first production of a new and regenerated world.
In the first place, the green leaf is the great purifier of
nature. This is one of the most important offices which
it was created to fulfil. In the early ages of the earth,
long before man came upon the scene, the atmosphere
was foul with carbonic acid gases, so poisonous that a
few inspirations of them would be sufficient to destroy
life. These formed a dense covering which kept in the
steaming warmth of the earth, and nourished a rank and
luxuriant vegetation. Gigantic ferns, tree-mosses, and
reeds grew with extraordinary rapidity and absorbed
these noxious gases into their own structures, consoli-
dating them into leaves, stems, and branches, which in
the course of long ages grew and decayed, and by subtle
chemical processes and mechanical arrangements were



THE OLIVE LEAF.



changed into coal-beds under the earth. In this
wonderful way two great results were accomplished at
the same time and by the same means ; the atmosphere
was purified and made fit for the breathing of man, and
animals useful to man, and vast stores of fuel were pre-
pared to enable future generations to subdue the earth
and spread over it the blessings of civilization. And
what the green leaves of the early geological forests did
for the primeval atmosphere of the world, the green
leaves of our woods and fields are continually doing for
our atmosphere still. They absorb the foul air caused
by the processes of decay and combustion going on over
the earth, and by the breathing of men and animals, and
convert this noxious element into the useful and beauti-
ful products of the vegetable kingdom. They preserve
the air in a condition fit for human breathing. Without
them, carbonic acid gas would soon accumulate to such
an extent that animal life would be impossible. There
would be no gaily- coloured blossoms to delight our
senses and stimulate the poetical side of our nature ; for
flowers are as pure breathers as man himself, and can-
not exist in a foul atmosphere. We little think when we
inhale the fresh air that its purity and healthfulness come
to us by the beautiful mission of the green leaf. Nor
have we only the green leaves of our own fields and woods
to thank for this blessing; the air that we breathe has
been purified for us, thousands of miles away, by the palms
of the south and the pines of the north, by the birches
of America, and the gum-trees of Australia. Nothing is
more wonderful in nature than the balance which is



THE OLIVE LEAF. CHAP.



constantly kept up between the animals that contaminate
the air and the plants that purify it ; the refuse of the
one kingdom being the food of the other. Were even
so small a proportion as ten per cent, of carbonic acid
gas allowed to accumulate in the atmosphere, it would
destroy every living animal that breathed it. And yet
out of a much smaller proportion of this noxious sub-
stance in the atmosphere, the green leaf builds up all
the immense and varied mass of the vegetation that
covers the surface of the earth ; while by the very same
act it restores to man and the other animals the atmos-
phere in healthy purity.

These considerations will show us how significant it
was, that the first object of the new world that was
about to emerge from the flood should be a green leaf.
It was a symbol, a token to Noah that the world would
be purified from the pollution of those unnatural sins
which had brought death and destruction upon it, and
would once more be fitted to be the home of a peculiar
people zealous of good works. What the green leaf is
in nature, the leaves of the tree of life are in the spiritual
sphere. The gospel of Jesus Christ which the Heavenly
Dove carries to the homes and the hearts of men, is the
great purifier of the world. The moral atmosphere is
being constantly contaminated by the noxious exhal-
ations of human sins and follies. Blessings are abused,
and in their abuse turn into evils. It was necessary
therefore that some counteraction should be provided.
And He who has so wonderfully balanced the natural
world by the ministry of the green leaf has also balanced,



THE OLIVE LEAF.



in a more wonderful way still, the moral world by the
ministry of Him upon whom the dove descended at His
baptism, and who bore our sins in His own body on the
tree, and in so doing brought in an everlasting right-
eousness. And not only does His salvation balance
the evil of the world, convert baneful and noxious things
to good and noble uses, change sinners into saints, and
cause all things to work together for good to them that
love God ; it does far more than produce a moral
equilibrium. It is a victorious principle, and is destined
in the end to overcome all the evils of the world, and to
make of this sin-ruined creation a new heaven and a
new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

2. In the second place, the green leaf is the source of
all the life of the world. It is by its agency alone that
inert inorganic matter is changed into organic matter,
which furnishes the starting-point of all life. Nowhere
else on the face of the earth does this most important
process take place. Everything else consumes and
destroys. The green leaf alone conserves and creates.
It is the mediator between the world of death and the
world of life. The crust of the earth was once
like a burnt cinder ; and the reason why it has not
continued so, why, unlike the moon which revolves
round the earth a great lifeless desert of solid
lava, it has been peopled with all kinds of living things,
is owing to the ministry of the green leaf. It is because
of this ministry that in a world once burnt up is found
an abundant supply of combustible materials for all our
wants. During the long geological periods the silent



6 THE OLIVE LEAF. CHAP.

agency of the leaf has been slowly recovering combus-
tible materials from the wrecks of the first conflagration
that should enter anew into the great vortex of life and
use and beauty. The quiet sunbeams, working by
means of the most delicate of all structures, the cellu-
lar tissue of the green leaf, and by a process the most
subtle and wonderful in the whole range of chemistry,
have partly undone the work of the fire ; and whatever
now exists on the earth unburnt wood, coal, animal
and vegetable tissue, the wondrous body of man him-
self we owe to that simple agent, the green leaf.
There is a mighty conflagration still going on con-
tinually all over the earth, not with the roar and fury
of a great fire consuming an extensive building, in
which the elements rush into combination with an
appalling force which no human power can resist ;
but unseen, unheard, unknown to us, except when in
the end we see the dreary results, reducing all things
to decay, corruption, dust and ashes, burning every-
thing that can be burnt, and converting the earth into
a uniform lifeless desert. But there is a mightier force
ceaselessly at work undoing all the destruction, giving
beauty for ashes, and the rich variety of life for the
dreary uniformity of death ; working not amid the con-
vulsions of nature and the crash of the elements, but
quietly, unseen, unknown, except when in the end we
see the results of its beneficent labours ; and that force
is the green leaf. Methinks the little leaf is the most
wonderful thing in nature. I am not surprised that
God should have chosen it in the burning bush as



THE OLIVE LEAF.



the medium of His revelation to Moses, or in the
Cross of Calvary as the instrument of the salvation
of the world. I never see a green leaf without ever-
increasing wonder and admiration ; amazed at the
apparent inefficiency of the means and the stupendous
magnitude of the result

In this light how suitable it was that an olive leaf
freshly plucked should have been the first object brought
to Noah in the ark ! For just as the green leaf is the
means in the natural world of counteracting all the
destructive forces that are reducing its objects to dust
and ashes, and clothing its surface with vegetable and
animal life, so the olive leaf in the mouth of the dove
spoke to Noah of the undoing of the work of destruction
caused by the flood, and of the raising up of a new and
fairer creation out of the universal wreck. That olive
leaf was the earnest of a mighty redemption, of the
restitution of all things. It foretold the destruction of
the death which had already destroyed the world, and
the opening up of a new world beyond the wide drear
wilderness and the floods of time, in which Eden itself
would be forgotten in the transporting joy of heaven,
and the tree of life would be restored in a grander
multiplied form. And just as all this beautiful world of
life and joy is the product of the work of the green leaf,
so all that mankind has achieved and enjoyed since the
flood the great results of civilization, and the still greater
results of redemption arose out of the work of grace
whose dawning the green leaf intimated, and whose
operation it typified. For sin and grace are in constant



8 THE OLIVE LEAF. CHAP.

antagonism like the force of the fire that burns every-
thing to ashes, and the force of the green leaf that builds
up life and beauty out of the ashes; and God has
suffered sin to continue because He knows that grace
can conquer it, strip its spoils, and convert its ruins into
higher and nobler forms of life.

3. In the third place, the green leaf is the best con-
ductor of electricity that most powerful and destruc-
tive of all the forces of the earth. To guard our homes
and public buildings from its destructive action we erect
our lightning-rods whose sharp points quietly drain the
clouds, or, failing to do this, receive the discharge and
bear it harmlessly to the earth. But ages before Frank-
lin pointed the first lightning-rod to the storm, God has
surrounded the dwellings of man with a protection far
more effectual than this; for since the creation of
organic life every pointed leaf and blade of grass have
been silently disarming the clouds of their destructive
weapon. A twig covered with leaves, sharpened by
nature's exquisite workmanship, is said to be three
times as effectual as the metallic points of the best
constructed rod. And when we reflect how many
thousands of these vegetable points every large tree
directs to the sky, and consider what must be the
efficacy of a single forest with its innumerable leaves,
or of a single meadow with its countless blades of grass,
we see how abundant the protection from the storm is,
and with what care Providence has guarded us from the
destructive force. And was not that green leaf which
came to Noah in the ark God's lightning conductor?



THE OLIVE LEAF.



Did it not bear down harmlessly the destructive power
of heaven ? Did it not assure Noah that the wrath of
God was appeased, that the storm was over, and that
peace and safety could once more be enjoyed upon the
earth? And is not He to whose salvation that leaf
pointed who is Himself the "Branch" God's light-
ning conductor to us? He bore the full force of the
Father's wrath due to sin ; He endured the penalty
which we deserved, and having smitten the shepherd,
.the sheep for whom He laid down His life are scathless
and unharmed. He is now our refuge from the storm ;
and under His shadow we are safe from all evil.

4. In the fourth place, the green leaf is' the source of
all the streams and rivers in the world. It is by the
agency of the leaf that water circulates as the life-blood
of the globe. In a leafless world there would be no
rains and no streams. Destroy the woods, and you
destroy the balance of nature ; you prevent the forma-
tion of clouds, you dry up the rivers, and you produce
an arid desert. Whereas, on the other hand, foster the
growth of leaves, and they will alter the nature of the
climate, and change the wilderness into a fruitful field.
And how appropriately in this light did the green leaf
come to Noah as the earnest and the instrument of the
re-arrangement of a world which had been reduced to
a desert by the punishment of man's sin ! That leaf
assured him that the old rivers would flow again ; that
the former fields would smile anew; that the forests
would, as in previous times, cover the earth with their
shadow; and that all the conditions of seed-time and



io THE OLIVE LEAF. CHAP.

harvest, and of a pleasant and useful home for man,
would be present as of yore. And is not the Heavenly
Dove bringing to us in the ark of our salvation a leaf of
the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the
nations, as a token that beyond the destructive floods
of earth, beyond the final conflagration in which all
things shall be burned up, the river of life will flow
again ; and amid the green fields of the paradise
restored, the Lamb shall lead us to living fountains of
waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from our
eyes ? The chaos of this weary and disordered earth
will be re-arranged and moulded into fairer forms and
brighter hues, as a fit home for renewed and glorified
humanity, by Him who will do what Noah failed to do ;
comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands,
because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.

5. In the fifth place, the green leaf is the type upon
which the forms of all life are moulded. All the parts
of a plant are but modifications of the leaf. The stem
is a leaf rolled up tight; the blossom is a leaf trans-
figured for a higher purpose ; the fruit is a leaf changed
into a receptacle for the seed; and the seed itself is
a leaf packed together in a case to protect it from
unfavourable weather, and furnished with a sufficient
amount of food for its unfolding and growth into a new
plant in more favourable circumstances. Take a pea
or a bean, and if you strip off its envelope or skin,
you find that it consists of a short joint and a pair
of leaves; as it grows in the ground, another joint with
its pair of leaves is formed ; as it still grows in the



I. THE OLIVE LEAF. TI

air and sunshine, another joint with its pair of leaves
is formed ; and then another joint with its pair of
leaves is formed, and so on. The whole stem con-
sists of a mere repetition of these single elements
joints and leaves. And as all the vegetable kingdom is
thus built up of leaves, so the animal kingdom is con-
structed on the same model. All organisms, whether
animal or vegetable, are similar in their elementary
structure and form ; and the most complicated results
are attained by the simplest conceivable means, and
that without the slightest violation of the original plan
of nature. The palm of the human hand and the back-
bone of the human form are both constructed upon the
model of the leaf. Thoreau has said that the whole
earth is but a gigantic leaf, in which the rivers and
streams resemble the veins, and the mountains and
plains the green parts. And did not He who sent the
dove with the olive leaf to Noah, thereby assure him
that out of that leaf would be evolved the whole fair
world of vegetable and animal life, which for a while had
perished beneath the waters of the flood ; that it would
be reconstructed upon the old type and developed
according to the old pattern ? And did not He who
developed this great world of life out of the single
leaf, develop all the great scheme of grace, all the
wondrous history of redemption, out of the first simple
promise to our first parents after their fall ? Amid all
the varying dispensations of His providence, He has
been without variableness or shadow of turning, unfold-
ing more and more the germinating fulness of the same



I2 THE OLIVE LEAF. CHAP.

glorious plan of grace. The kingdom of heaven, which
was first small as a grain of mustard seed, has become
a great tree filling the earth with its shadow, and satis-
fying mankind with its fruit; and from first to last it
is but the evolution of one great idea. And He has
assured us that the things of the new heavens and
the new earth will be the things of the old, only
purified, and ennobled, and removed for ever beyond
all risk of change and death.

Of all the green leaves of the earth it was most fitting
that the olive leaf should have been selected as the first
product of the new restored world. The olive tree
spreads over a large area of the earth ; it combines in
itself the flora of the hills and the plains. It clothes
with shade and beauty arid slopes where no other
vegetation would grow. It extracts by a vegetable
miracle nourishment and fatness from the driest air
and the barest rock ; on it may be seen at the same
time opening and full-blown blossoms, and green and
perfectly ripe fruit. Each bough is laden with a wealth
of promise and fulfilment ; beauty for the eye and
bounty for the palate. No tree displays such a rich
profusion and succession of flowers and fruits. It is
the very picture of prosperity and abundance. Its
very gleanings are more plentiful than the whole
harvest of other trees. It strikingly illustrates, there-
fore, the overflowing goodness of the Lord to whom
belong the earth and the fulness thereof. While the
twisted and distorted passion of its trunk and branches,
like a vegetable Laocoon writhing in agony, strikingly



THE OLIVE LEAF.



pictures the labour and the groaning, and travailing
together in pain of the earth, through which all its
fair births and bright promises of abundance are pro-
duced, it has also been universally regarded as an
emblem of peace ; and when the dove was divinely
guided to come with it in its bill to Noah when the
waters were subsiding, God wished it to be understood
as a token of peace and goodwill on earth.

What the olive leaf began in Noah's case, was
consummated under the olive trees of Gethsemane.
He who destroyed the antediluvian sinners by the
flood, endured the contradiction of greater and more
aggravated sinners against Himself. He who sent the
flood as a punishment of sin, now suffered it Him-
self in a more terrible form as an atonement for sin.
The olive leaf of Noah's dove showed that God's
strange work was done, and that He had returned
to the essential element of His nature, and love shone
forth again. The olive leaves of Gethsemane that
thrilled with the fear of the great agony that took
place beneath them, tell us that God so loved the
world that He gave His only begotten Son, that who-
soever believeth in Him should not perish but have
everlasting life. What sweeter message, what dearer
hope could come to us in our sins and sorrows than this !

We read in classic authors that men used to study
the flight of birds across the sky, and draw good or
bad omens from the manner of their flight ; hence one
of our English words, auspicious, means literally, be-
holding the favourable flight of a bird. And another



I4 THE OLIVE LEAF. CHAP. i.

word, temple, meant originally a portion of the sky
marked out by the rod of the diviners or augurs, in
which the flight of birds was to be particularly
observed. All this superstition is, perhaps, only a
relic or survival of Noah's sending out the raven and
the dove for indications of the state of the flood. Let
us practise a higher divination. God has brought us
into His temple and bade us consider the Heavenly
Dove that has come on the auspicious errand of our
salvation. Let us take Him in, and may the olive
leaf of the gospel which He brings heal all the wounds
and evils which sin has inflicted upon us, and impart
to us the hope which maketh not ashamed of the
inheritance, incorruptible and undenled, and that fadeth
not away.



CHAPTER II.
THE ONENESS OF THE TABERNACLE.

"And it shall be one tabernacle." EXODUS xxvi. 6.

BEING a work, the tabernacle must, like every
other work, have been designed as well as
executed. Scripture presents to us this twofold view
of it ; shows it to us in plan and in progress. We are
taken up with Moses to the Mount, and there we see
unfolded before us the pattern as it existed in the
Divine mind. This architectural plan is a grand whole.
Notwithstanding the many separate parts of which it
is composed, it exhibits the most complete structural
harmony the most perfect mutual consistency. It is
to be one tabernacle not in the sense of singleness
and uniqueness, as if God had forbidden more than
one tabernacle to be constructed for His service but
in the sense of a real and profound unity. By the
golden taches or clasps binding together the curtains
which covered it, the whole structure was made one
tent or tabernacle, and all its parts and objects were
united. Unity is the hall-mark which God stamps
15



j6 THE OLIVE LEAF. CHAP.

upon all His works. It is His autograph written in
the stars of heaven and in the flowers of the field,
attesting that they all proceed from the same Mind.
The universe is a great kaleidoscope which He is
perpetually turning round, in which a few simple ele-
ments are exhibited in endless diversity ; in which the
variety is not more wonderful than the unity.

i. In unfolding this sublime lesson, let us look, in
the first place, at the illustration of it which the taber-
nacle itself afforded. This remarkable structure was
one in regard to its parts. It was divided into two
rooms, the holy place and the most holy, by a veil
that hung between them. Only one man was permitted
to enter the inner apartment viz., the high priest;



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