Judith Sargent Murray Society
JSM's dates: 1751-1820
The Repository. No. V.
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This essay appeared in the January 1793 edition of the Massachusetts Magazine under the name "Constantia."

The Repository. No. V.
"I AM THE VINE, YE ARE THE BRANCHES." Thus saith the condescending Redeemer -- Consolatory figure -- Let me for a moment consider its import. In a spot the most dry and barren -- replete with marks of sterility, the vine is known to flourish in a surprising manner -- It unfolds a multitude of clusters, which swell with delicate and sprightly juice, for the accommodation of man. There is no plant, it is said, which appears so unlovely and deformed -- It is absolutely necessary that this plant be united to a prop, hence, mingling with the elm, as Virgil observes, its multiplied clusters o'ertop the verdant head of that tree. There are three enemies of a peculiar sort, to which the vine is subjected -- these enemies infest its branches, by millions, and are particularly inveterate against the young shoots, with their buds, and fruits, but at the close of the year the vine dresser industriously seeks out the contorted leaves, not the branches, and burns them at the foot of the tree, by which means those legions of malevolent despoilers are rendered incapable of further mischief. How extremely obvious is every part of this expressive metaphor -- I am the vine, says the lord of life -- true -- and he is planted in the barren soil of human nature -- sterile and unfruitful in every perfect work, the experience of ages will pronounce it. If the branches bring forth fruit it is by being grafted to the vine -- from me saith Emmanuel -- God with us -- thy fruit is found. The divine nature is united to the human -- the father appears in the character of the Son, thus the contact betwixt the elm, and vine, becomes divinely emblematic.

Yet, in an exhibition of Deity so mysterious, there is, to mortal view, no comeliness for which he should be desired -- sin, that deforming invader, continues to harass the branches. The world presents its fascinating charms -- a treacherous heart is teeming with allusive suggestions, and the grand author of confusion pursues indefatigably, his scheme of destruction. But the day hastens when the great husbandman shall arise -- he will dress his vine, will shake from the branches the contorted leaves -- the specious covering, the waning foliage of human righteousness, with the latent principle which stimulates to evil -- and, consuming them at the foot of the tree, shall give the branches to flourish with immortal beauty.



2007 © Bonnie Hurd Smith

Independent scholar and author Bonnie Hurd Smith is the president and CEO of History Smiths, a marketing company that works with businesses to incorporate history -- their own and their community's -- into their branding, marketing, and community outreach to attract customers, boost customer loyalty, and secure a high status reputation in the communities they serve.