While we have not located a specific sermon to go with this illustration, this illustration or one similar to it, may be alluded to in a sermon at the Portsmouth, Rhode Island Camp meeting of 1897. This camp meeting was founded by Seth Rees and was very close to where Greene was born and ministered, so it is likely to have been a major influence in his ministry in New England. In a sermon by Rev. Beverly Carradine on Saturday, August 7, 1897, he speaks on the idea that the Holiness Movement was splitting the Methodist Church in a brief aside,
“They say we are splitting the church, but we are not. The truth never splits the true church. God says the kingdom of heaven is like unto a mustard seed. If Colonel Buzzard and Judge Crow and Sister Woodpecker, President of the Ladies Aid Society, are the ‘fowls of the air’ who are in the branches, no doubt the double-barreled shot-gun of a full salvation minister will disturb them, but it will not hurt the tree.”
(Hallelujahs from Portsmouth, or, A Report of Portsmouth Campmeeting held at Portsmouth, R.I. July 23 to August 8, 1897, Christian Unity Publishing Co., Springfield, MA, 1897, page 151)
Large painted images like this one, would have been used as visual aids in sermons.
It is an interesting image and presents a lot of interesting possibilities. See if you can identify whom the birds might represent! What do you think the sermon would have been like?