The Vision of Amos -- By: John B. Whitford
BSac 70:277 (Jan 1913) p. 109
The Vision of Amos
One perfect day in autumn I walked with a Southern gentleman, bearing a high and honorable name, over his plantation. In passing along he made bright and breezy comments on trees, plants, and flowers, for the natural sciences appealed to him as they did to Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Soon we came to a woodland so magnificently colored that it would have shamed the gorgeous robes of Solomon and made dull the brilliant dyes of ancient Tyre and Babylon. But in the midst of the grove stood a tree iris-hued. It surpassed anything I had ever seen before. I had seen reflections from costly windows on the pavements of historic cathedrals. I had seen the glories of the Yosemite and the Yellowstone. I had seen that vivid rainbow like unto emerald, arching Niagara’s awful plunge. I had seen visions above the clouds from the lofty altitudes of the Rocky Mountains. But the tree before me seemed the coronation of all shades and colors. It burned and blazed as though on fire. While looking in a state of transport, my host the naturalist, ex-governor, and world-wide traveler said: “Did you ever see so beautiful a sight? “The response was sudden: “I never did.” “I have brought you here,” he continued, “to study this tree, and to moralize a little. Do you notice anything peculiar about it?” “I observe that it is strikingly peculiar,” I ventured to say. “Its uniqueness is as great, and its isolation as splendid, as is Dante in literature, Beethoven
BSac 70:277 (Jan 1913) p. 110
in music, and Newton in science. It is the phenomenon of the woodland.” “But are you aware,” said he, “that all the prodigal pomp with which that tree is clothed is the herald of decay? What you see is the hectic flush of death. The tree is doomed. Its glory is an illusive and deceptive show. ‘Ichabod’ is written all over it. It is yielding to the ravages of consumption, and its thatch of brilliant leaves will fall, leaving it a skeleton. And that is the way nations, churches, individuals, go.”
The Northern Kingdom in the time of Amos was decaying at the center, although in outward dress it resembled the dying tree. But its leaders mistook the hectic hue of decay for the blush of returning youth. With the expansion of trade and wealth came the loss of fine ideals, the lowering of ethical standards, and the obliteration of moral distinctions. And in these the poet-prophet, Amos, saw the signature of the nation’s death-warrant. He saw on every hand the infallible signs of desolation. He saw that fair and goodly land fast becoming an abandoned and owl-haunted ruin. And as Isaiah, in after years, gave Babylon over to the moles and bats, Nineveh to the briers, Tyre to ashes, and Jerusalem to night, so Am...
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