(b) The Lord does thus with many people, that thereby He may leave them so much the more inexcusable, and may be justified in His proceedings against them, when He comes to judgment indeed; that all men's mouths may be stopped, and that they may believe so much the more fully in God. The owner had deliberately planted this tree in his vineyard. You will be no more missed than one sere leaf is missed in a forest, or one dewdrop in a thousand leagues of grass. NO other fig-tree was so favoured. He is the vinedresser, and His ministry of grace and truth is the means whereby it is faintly hoped Israel may yet, at the eleventh hour, be made spiritually fruitful. Of which in three particulars.1. Lord Clive and Wallenstein, in boyhood, made some wonderful escapes, and burst forth into an exclamation that surely they were reserved for something great. ... (Revelation 13:8), so that Christ's blood in its virtue, and God's acceptation was of force for man's salvation long before He came personally into the world. (1) The first year may denote the beginning of the means of grace, which God affords to men. Jesus, Women, and Men. By "a certain man," is meant the great God. "How are the mighty overthrown" (said David in his epitaph for Saul). How many are bearing fruit unto the Lord in holy living, in devout intercession, in earnest efforts for soul winning, and in other methods by which fruit is brought forth unto the Lord? God requires, and has a right to expect, that those who are so highly favoured should bring forth fruits of a corresponding kind. Of which more hereafter.4. The resemblances are many; take we notice of some.1. Do not go on living a useless life. Rogers. A tree is first tender in the twig, then stiff in the stock; and lastly, withered and doating in the age of it.. So, when the fig-tree bears fruit, it is well for him that owns it (Proverbs 27:18). And in this chapter, Luke 13:34; Luke 19:41, 42. "Why is it that this cumber-ground tree has not been cut down? I heard them distinctly examined, and as distinctly heard the Judge say, 'Well done.' You say, It is never too late; but I am sure it is never too soon, to be gracious and holy. We have put in "well." Admire and wonder at this longsuffering. "Why cumbereth it the ground also?" Ingratitude doth not only pass by without notice-taking of good bestowed, but ascribes all to others. Mere size is no criterion; wealth is even a more deceiving measure, and rank and education are no better. It is not those things which some of us perhaps have now in our minds, the social and moral virtues, charity, honesty, and such like. The more anything furthers the common good, the more noble is its nature, and more resembling the Creator. That temporal judgments inflicted on some should excite others to fear God's Divine wrath and vengeance. Variety. In reference to the Christian Church under the New Testament, the fig-tree is named in respect of sundry properties, wherein it doth hold resemblance.1. FOR QUALITY. Many have had the same feeling.IV. "If it bear fruit, well; if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." N. Norton, D. D.A gentleman once entered a hall with his little son, when they saw a number of well-dressed people, some of them standing together in groups, while others sat at their ease. "These three years." The fruits of our graces are God's dainties (Song of Solomon 6:2).4. The fig-tree was injurious, as well as unprofitable; for it encumbered the ground, and occupied a place which might be filled to more advantage.(B. If we have so much more than others, we ought to be just so much better than they. The Church is called and separated from the world, both in life and conversation, as appears, Leviticus 20:24, 26; Numbers 23:9; Deuteronomy 14:2; John 15:19.2. The doctrine or notion which is contained under it, and is exhibited to us from it. Admire and wonder at this longsuffering.4. The leaf of the asp resembles the tongue, but the leaf of the fig-tree, man's hand. The suddenness of the stroke.5. Another reason makes the argument for judgment very powerful, namely, that sufficient space for repentance has already been given.3. Do something. It must have its own true, proper flavour. Oh! In respect of shape, a tree hath its root, trunk, or body, boughs, branches, and smaller twigs issuing from thence. bear with it a little longer. N. Norton, D. D.A gentleman once entered a hall with his little son, when they saw a number of well-dressed people, some of them standing together in groups, while others sat at their ease. The Egyptian fig-tree (saith Sclinus) bears fruit seven times in a year; pull off one fig, and another breaks forth in the place thereof very shortly after. "Only the Lord hath a delight in thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed "after them, even you above all people, as it is this day," said Moses to Israel (Deuteronomy 10:15). But, full of grace though He be, He neither expects nor desires an indefinite extension of Israel's day of grace. For the QUANTITY. The fruit they bear must continue, It must not wither and come to nothing before the Lord of the vineyard come to reap it.2. While all the armies of heaven and earth are busied in fructifying, shall man, of more singular graces and faculties, be idle, a burden to the world and himself? There is often great ground for lamentation and complaint, that those who are favoured by God, in point of privilege, fail in rendering Him homage. A tree is first tender in the twig, then stiff in the stock; and lastly, withered and doating in the age of it.. What is the use of its remaining longer, but to fill up room in that garden on which I have bestowed so much pains, to intercept the light of the sun from the other trees that are bearing fruit, to draw away the sap from them? The dead tree is neither use nor ornament; it can yield no service and afford no pleasure. You expect not much of a tree the first year; but after it is of standing to bear, you expect that it should every year increase in fruitfulness, and bring forth more and more. The privileges of the Jews were small in comparison with those which we enjoy. 3. It is better for a bramble to be in the wilderness than in an orchard; for a weed to be abroad, than in a garden, where it is sure to be weeded out, as the other to be cut down. But there are other reasons why "Cut it down" is most reasonable, when we consider the owner and the other trees. What is the use of keeping it? Afterwards, walking through the orchard, the friend saw where the trees had stood, and also the spot where, after being cut down, they had been burned. And can we wonder at this when we consider what a waste it is of time; what an abuse it is of privilege; what a contempt it is of the Divine goodness; what a disregard it is of the soul and eternity I Sin is to be estimated not by its grossness, but its guilt. Both the Church of God for the propagation of piety, and the world itself for the upholding of His state, require our fruits. Rogers. Beddome, M. A.I. On the other hand, when any are fruitful, and active, and zealous in goodness; their zeal, it provokes many others so much the more to piety. "how are they fallen?" What is the use of its remaining longer, but to fill up room in that garden on which I have bestowed so much pains, to intercept the light of the sun from the other trees that are bearing fruit, to draw away the sap from them?V. PROLONGED LIFE IS MAINLY VALUABLE FOR THE ENLARGEMENT OF SPIRITUAL OPPORTUNITY.II. Let there be some" fruit" seen — at home, in your temper, in your intercourse, in your daily conduct, in your own family. This word, "well," it is not expressed in the original text, but it is necessarily supplied here in our English translation, to make the sense complete. Let me raise your meditations from earth to heaven: the holy angels there are called "ministering spirits"; those royal armies fight for us against our enemies; like nurses, they bear us up in their arms, and, though unseen, do glorious offices for us: this is part of their fruit. And can he retain his ungodliness through such a year as this?3. Here we see —1. The Lord "hath chosen Zion, He hath desired it for His habitation" saith David (Psalm 132:13, 14). For to try if they will mend.2. Guilt after such forbearance, and against it, will be greater than before.(W. (c) They are troublesome and cumbersome to other plants by their unprofitable shade, over-topping and over-dripping them, and keeping the influence of heaven from them, so that they cannot enjoy the warm beams of the sun, which brings healing with it under its wings. The word "cumber" means now to occupy a place disadvantageously. A. The earth is fruitful; the sea, the air, the heavens are fruitful; and shall not man bring forth fruits, for whom all these are fruitful? Saul sat yet upon the throne, and David must be content to stay a while for that, till Saul be removed; and, that being done, then he shall be planter and seated in his room, in Hebron. Sure I am, there is no tree subject to so many diseases as the body of man is.6. Thirdly, Seeking implies mildness and gentleness, Thirdly, WE SHOULD BRING FORTH FRUIT, FOR THAT GOD HOLDS HIMSELF GLORIFIED BY IT. Their fruit must not only be much of some sort, but of every sort. Either, first, of future fruitfulness. 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