VINES OF SAMARIA.

BY SAMUEL RICHARD FULLER

Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountams oF Samaria. ~- Jer. xzxi. 5.

This is the sure hope, the calm, steadfast optimism, the confident belief rooted in the depths of reason, bound fast by the very fibres of a soul that has seen God face to face : " Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria," and the vines stand for sustenance, nourishment, cheer, prosperity, for the soul's welfare. It is the hope, the reasonable hope, the firm conviction of Jeremiah, both for himself and for his people, that the soul's prosperity is sure with God. The soul's vine may not appear to be growing ; its roots may be covered from sight, planted out in the dark valleys where little of sunlight and possible development can come to it. For every man knows that upon the hillsides the vines grow best, yet the time
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shall come (as I hope we may yet say, must come), when on the hilltops ** shalt

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thou yet plant vines." It is the hope, the calm deliberate conviction, of every soul that has seen God. It rests in the knowledge of God.

The husbandman rests the hope of his harvest upon the knowledge of seedtime and harvest ; it is no guess. The parent rests the future of his child on the know2

ledge whence the gift, or the knowledge of the growth, of the increased strength and health of the child, and makes his plans for the child's future accordingly. The physician knows, not guesses, that all nature tends toward recovery, and on this knowledge rests his hope, his calm deliberate hope, of returning health, strength, and vigor. When this knowledge has come to souls, it has come sometimes as a light from heaven, striking the hidden genius of God which lies dormant in every human being ; striking forth its latent fire till it illuminates the individual spiritual nature, and, in some instances, sets ablaze the world with the molten gold, the glory of holiness, as in such souls as those of Moses, Isaiah, and this prophet Jeremiah, and John the Evangelist, and St. Paul, and our blessed Lord, and in countless saints, con-

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fessors, martyrs in all centuries, even to this present moment, where in humble cot and rude cabin, nay, in king's palace, and in the abode of the rich, there are souls whose genius for good has been touched by this knowledge of God, till they are illuminated with the confidence of their souFs progress in him, that all is well with them, that their vine shall yet be planted on the mountain hilltops of Samaria.

Such men have seen God face to face ; they are never the same again.

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You cannot take away from them this vision ; it has burned itself into their souls. They are as full of God as the red blossomed tulip is of fire. No arguments can rob them of it. No metaphysical subtleties can deprive them of this reality; as who shall say, " We will withdraw from the sunlight until we have examined the theories of colors and prismatic hues." Having seen God, they know in whom they have believed. You are never again the same after this coming into the presence of God and seeing him face to face. The warp and woof of your soul's history is being woven constantly, and you may not

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pull out this thread of rich red glory, this vision of God ; it is a part of your souFs life.

This knowledge of God is the knowledge of the God whom Christ hath revealed. Christ declares him as a God of love, of life, of personality, of all that is positive as implied in these terms, and -not negative. It is absolute unreason to think of God in his infinity as including evil as well as good, hate as well as love, the negative as well as the positive, death as well as life. So I firmly believe. Language must always bear its own limitations. I may not express, by any terms I am able to employ, the accurate story of my soul, of my life ; nor may I say all that is true of God when I try to describe him in terms of love, of life, of personality; but I only say that
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what is positive rests in God and the negative has no place in him, and while I may delude myself with all sorts of intellectual vagaries, I realize the unreason of it all when I make him a God of confusion, not of order, of death and not of life. God reveals himself, he declares himself to me, to my soul, to my reason, to all my faculties, as life, positive, full, and complete.

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I speak to God from my soul as to a person realizing all the time the limitations of
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the term, and yet I say " person '* because it describes the highest expression of life with which I am familiar. I do not say it describes the highest expression of life yet to be declared, for of this I know nothing, and whenever that higher expression is made clear to me I shall take the higher term to describe it ; but till then, " person" describes the highest expression of life.

God lives, and because he is life there is association. There cannot be life without association. Solitariness is of death. The very awfulness of sin is that it separates, isolates, cuts off, leaves standing alone, and because alone "the wages of sin is death." Solitariness is death. Life carries with it the necessary thought of association, and because of this association my soul must live. It is unreason to think even of God as alone. He needs your soul. God cannot live without your soul. He cannot live alone ; it is a contradiction in terms. The
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very thought of God without human life is impossible, and my hope, my sure, calm hope, my conviction of the prosperity of

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my soul, rests in the very being of the life of God, in the very thought of association. I cannot take him out of the universe, nor can I take my soul out of the world. And because my soul is in the universe, as are the planets as they swing in their courses, — nay, for a greater reason than can touch the stars, because I am in the universe as a
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soul, and because God is life, and because life implies association, — the one cannot and will not live without the other. Though I may be dwelling in the valleys, buried from sight, yet as God lives, so my soul cannot be taken out of this universe of association and life. It must, one day or other, creep up the sides of the mountains and blossom on the hilltop. My soul must prosper ; bask in the sunshine of his life. I must say to my soul, " Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria." Thus the ultimate thought of God is life, and there cannot be life without association. Why, it is the very cardinal principle of Christianity — fellowship, association, life with life. Your soul is in the world, that is, in the universe, and it cannot be taken out. You may not pull down the sun from his throne, and no man

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may tear my soul from God, and the hour must come when the soul shall prosper, shall live, shall glorify itself, and so glorify its Maker.

As this is the revelation of the revealer ; as it is the discovery of the discoverer ; as it is the unfolding of the unfolder, the utterance of him who is the spoken, the eternal Word, the manifestation of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God ; as it is the Word made flesh ; as this is the truth that flashes from the face of the soul of him who is the Sun of Righteousness, — so it is the truth that binds our souls to life eternal,
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for this is life eternal to know thee, God, and no man can take this life from us.

This manifestation of God in Christ shows us who God is, in whom we believe, and it shows us who man is. Inferentially, we have already discovered in this revelation of God somewhat of tho nature of man. We have seen how man's soul is essentially a part of God, of the essence of God. We have seen that this soul of man cannot be taken from God. Every manifestation of truth in the individual is a manifestation of God. Whenever we read the book of any great life, do we not sometimes

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feel, as we are told of the achievement of this great man and that, as i£ we ourselves could triumph like Job, or like Moses free a people ? It is the divine that is welling up in you, the oneness you have with all human life, the participation you experience in all truth. And when you come to Christ, you feel that what he is, is possible for you also. The genius of spirituality is within every human soul, and when the moment comes and the eyes are opened and the man awakes to see who and what he is, behold, he is touched by God, and all things become possible to him. So all men are born to be parts of God, to be like Christ. Every man has within him this genius of spirituality that is to seize the divine fire of God, and in that fire to see God's face bright and clear in his own soul, and thus he himself is to illuminate man13

kind.

As Jesus is the life-giving vine, so may I plant my vines on the mountains of Samaria, so may I, by living, give to others, and in thus giving receive life. Thus our whole attitude toward God and man is changed. Our first thought now is not as to what we are receiving or may receive

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from God ; all notion of receiving is crowded out by the larger truth of giving, till we look
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to our fellow-men as to those to whom we may give, and take no thought of receiving. The vine lives to give, and in giving receives life abundantly. So as I first bear fruit I become like him who is the vine, and in the very life-giving and fruit-bearing I receive life and receive it abundantly. " I am come that ye may have life." How.? By giving life, by becoming the fruitful vine on the wall, whose branches hang over and kiss the limpid stream below, and whose fruit refreshes the weary traveler. This is the imagery of the Hebrew prophet, the imagery of divine truth, of one who is first the vine, giving life, cheer, sustenance to others, and thus in the very giving receives life from the eternal source of life itself.

So, when any soul takes hold of truth, he takes hold of God. It matters not whether it is a hod carrier in whom a drop of generosity quickens the lifeblood as he gives the cup of cold water, whether it is
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the clerk behind the desk, the book-keeper at his ledger, the business man in his counting-room, the carpenter at his plane ;

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wherever there is the taking hold of truth, there is the taking hold of God, and once having received the touch of God, he is never the same man again. If I am told that if I am touched by sin I am never the same man again, why may I not be told the greater truth, that when I am touched with holiness, when I touch truth, when
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once I see God face to face, I am never the same man again ? The cup of cold water, the struggle after righteousness, the acquisition of mastery, the earnest desire after holiness however insignificant it may be, — all have become a part of my personal history, and I can never be again the man I was before the glory of God's righteousness fired my heart.

How stimulating is this thought ! I am not going to appeal to the sting of sin. Sin is negative ; it has nothing to do with God. I rather call your thought to this truth, that where you have taken hold once of righteousness you are not the same you were before, and never again can be. It is an eternal fact. No man can tear that cup of cold water from your history, however base and mean and despicable you may have been at some time in your life. Wher-

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ever you have been noble, stretched the lame hand of faith and touched but the hem of the garment of the Sun of Righteousness, you have become what you never were before, and can never again be the same. It has entered into your personal history, and you are the richer for it. You are not the same man you were ten years ago. Oh, how you have struggled to overcome that habit ! It matters not what octopus it was which threatened your very life, the mastery you have gained is a fact, it is a taking hold of God, and that fact can never be eradicated from your being.
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Because God has been with you through all these struggles, through all this contest ; been with you in the hour of partial victory and somewhat of conquest, the hour of attainment ; because he has been with you as, with painful fingers, you have scraped away the leaves and mould, pulled away the stone and rock, taken off the pressure of some great obstacle that was preventing your soul from springing up ; because he has been with you in those dark moments in the chill valley of your soul's history, experience, and development, have you not the sure hope that he

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will be with you yet again ? Do you not know it to be true ? The worst is over ; it matters not now what may come to your soul. It may be nail-prints, a cross, it cannot be so bad as what has gone before, because now you have more of God than ever, because you are not the same man you were, because your soul is not the same, and strength now is yours you had not then. You are the soul that dared to pluck its life from the burning and fly with it to God. This touch of genius must be well pleasing to your heavenly Father, well pleasing to behold in the son, in his child, in you, as he sees you dare to grasp your soul, and carry it to him to plant, to prune, to nurture, that it may grow and bud and bear fruit on the mountains of Samaria.

I long to have every soul feel that the
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best is yet to be ; that nothing can separate us from the love of God, as it cannot from the life of Christ ; that in every human soul there is a genius of spirituality ; that every human life has within it the possibility of oneness with God ; that this calm assurance rests in the very life, the very being of God. Oh, in that confidence, what courage you are going to feel in tak-

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ing, planting, nurturing, caring for the vine of your soul ! How strong you are going to
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be as you face all experiences and conditions ; with what spontaneity this new life, now awakened, grows ! How it laughs and sings in the dew and sunlight ; nay, also, when the wind and storm sweep over it, still it is safe, chants praises to its heavenly Father, who is in that cloud and storm now as he was in the past, and from that cloud and storm pours out his life in love, his strength in pity, and sustains the soul through all experiences that await it ere it enters the eternal presence of the great husbandman who planted the vine, Christ Jesus, the stem of Jesse, who planted human souls to grow as branches of the one vine.

O my soul, wait thou still upon God, for thou shalt yet plant thyself on the sunlit sides of the mountains of Samaria.

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