"If it bear fruit, well"; or, secondly, of further incorrigibleness; and, "if not, then," &c. First, to speak of the former; to wit, the supposition of future fruitfulness. Skilfulness and ability to do this work that he is called unto. But we quickly discover from Mark's Gospel that before we can get on with it there is one piece of essential business that must be taken care of first. (1) Because He died for them. PROLONGED LIFE IS MAINLY VALUABLE FOR THE ENLARGEMENT OF SPIRITUAL OPPORTUNITY.II. PROLONGED LIFE IS MAINLY VALUABLE FOR THE ENLARGEMENT OF SPIRITUAL OPPORTUNITY.II. All care and pains will have been well bestowed, if, after all, the sinner bear fruit to God. Then follows death-like insensibility — a fearful apathy to all spiritual things, or, it may be, a daily growth in all iniquity, till at length the sinner's cup is full.(E. It must not be like the apple of Sodom, which has nothing to commend it, but only a fair outside. The Israelites in their conquests were forbidden to lift up an axe against any tree that bare fruit (Deuteronomy 20:19, 20). Rogers. Just so, the Holy Ghost, flowing from the eternal love of the Father, through the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, makes His way to every grafted member in the mystical body, and goes out into every, the weakest, the minutest, part of man — each feeling, each thought, each word, each motion, making holiness. But who is intended by the fig-tree? When a sheep is ready to be swallowed up, who should sooner interpose than the shepherd? THE INTERCESSION OF JESUS — ITS SPECIAL END. It must not be like the apple of Sodom, which has nothing to commend it, but only a fair outside. "Let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it; and if it bear fruit next year, well; and if not, thou shalt cut it down."(A. But here the complaint is not of the meanness or fewness, but of the barrenness — none at all.(T. The dresser of the vineyard was not for the first time aware of the fig-tree's failure, neither had the owner come for the first time seeking figs in vain. He engages to use additional means to produce fertility — "Till I dig about it, and dung it." But the complaint is not here of the imperfection or paucity of fruits, but of the nullity: "none." A fulness of fruit. So they are not only not profitable, but hurtful.III. Keywords. 1. (a) That speech, love, and affection, which they bear unto them. )God's forbearance of the barren fig-treeThomas Herren, D. D.I. Well might justice say, "Cut it down." (1) First of all, here is a tree which brings forth no fruit whatever, and therefore is of no service. "They are altogether become filthy." So the Pharisees made long prayers, and under that pretence "devoured up widows' houses" (Matthew 23:14), and such is the fruit of all hypocrites. Such will certainly be ruined. And by His own patience and forbearance of such persons, God will leave them His ministers to a spirit of patience and forbearance in themselves, in conformity to God's own example. Why thus it is now with those who are ministers and pastors of the Church. Who can tell of the secret drawings of love, the hidden inspirations, the discipline of sorrow, the lessons of chastisement, which are brought to bear upon us one by one? Natt, Posthumous Sermons, p. 384; Preacher's Monthly, vol. If there be none to spare, whereof the owner may make money, yet sufficiat ad usum suum, ad esum suum — that he may eat the labours of his own hands; no, "none." It is an injury to the place where they stand. They only are good and fruitful ground, who persevere and hold out in bearing fruit.3. He is said to come and seek fruit (vers. In his absence, the moon and stars adorn the canopy of heaven, reflecting their operative influence to quicken the lower world: this is their fruits. Rogers. The covetous worldling prefers the ash to all other trees; he loves to bear the keys, and delights in being the jailer of his wealth. Rogers.)TreesN. And this is rendered as the reason why Hezekiah returned not to God according to that he bad received — "His heart was lifted up in him" (2 Chronicles 32:25).4. That is barren ground, which brings forth less, after all care and culture, than that which has less tillage.3. "Well." Because God is patient long suffering, merciful, and He would have thee repent.IV. For one of the brothers, life went from bad to worse. "The Lord's portion is His people, Jacob is the lot of His inheritance," saith Moses (Deuteronomy 32:9); they are His peculiar ones (Exodus 19:5, 6); His glory (Isaiah 46:13); His ornament (Ezekiel 7:20); His throne (Jeremiah 4:21); His diadem (Isaiah 62:3); His Hephzibah (Isaiah 62:4); His only delight is in her.1. (2) This implies a further desire of continued patience and forbearance; which proceeds upon these grounds. Forward to every good work that God requires to be done (Galatians 1:16; 2 Corinthians 8:10, and 2 Corinthians 9:2). (2) God is slow to anger, unwilling immediately to cut down unfruitful professors.9. Bereavements and trials of various kinds strike and rend; but these cannot by themselves renew and sanctify. Adam was worse in his breeches than he was before; so is it with his sinful posterity. A. More particularly, in reference to the synagogue of the Jews, and that state, the fig-tree, above other trees, did best set forth their condition. So we think of these goodly and tall trees (but fruitless in grace), if honour comes, wealth comes, beauty comes, &c., This is the anointed of the Lord; this must be he. To show that He does not take pleasure or delight in the death of sinners, as He hath sometimes told us. We do not eat, drink, and sleep, and take such refections of nature, ut non moriamur, that we might not die — that is impossible — but that we should not die barren, but bear some fruits up with us to Him that made the tree.(T. Neither does it imply any withholding of any single gracious or Divine element necessary to the result. "If not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." This is clear in the words, and indeed in every part of this parable.1. A. 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. Saul was a tall tree, "higher than others by the head and shoulders." O, awful state I when the Saviour Himself withdraws; when His Spirit, grieved, resisted, quenched, finally quits the stony heart. So God's dealings with men are means to move the heart. "The whole earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; the round world, and they that dwell therein," saith the Psalmist (Psalm 24:1), and yet in regard of the affection that He bears unto the Church, He doth in a manner count Himself owner of nothing but this. First, in youth. 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. Providence thinks it worth while saving my life," he said to himself, when he stood panting and dripping on the deck of the canal boat, and the fire of noble resolve then began to burn within him. Rogers. A kingdom of God must be a kingdom of righteousness, and if Jesus presented it to view as a kingdom of grace, it was because He believed that was the most direct way of reaching the ideal. And it must be "fruit" in its season. GOD EXPECTS FRUIT FROM US. There are, therefore, probabilities of side influences producing such changes in men's condition, so as to leave with us possibilities that the truths of the gospel will in the end produce the greater changes unto life.III. Our second most solemn work is to remind thee, O impenitent sinner, that FOR GOD TO HAVE SPARED YOU SO LONG IS A VERY WONDERFUL THING. "(1) This implies that He had for some time let it alone already (see Genesis 6:3; 2 Chronicles 36:15, 16). When a sheep is ready to be swallowed up, who should sooner interpose than the shepherd? So man in his childhood and infancy is flexible, easily inclining to virtue or vice, as he is taught and instructed. Thank you for visiting our sermon page of St. Ann's Episcopal Church in Amsterdam, NY. So the Pharisees made long prayers, and under that pretence "devoured up widows' houses" (Matthew 23:14), and such is the fruit of all hypocrites. The phrase or expression.2. For CONTINUANCE. He hath purchased His inheritance with a great price; the whole world cost Him not so much as His Church did, it was bought with blood. Divers workmen and labourers are ordained to be employed about it, for the perfection of it, even after it is planted.3. The uninterrupted course of wickedness leads to inevitable destruction.2. The like in the New (Matthew 20:1, 2, and Matthew 21:28,33; Mark 12:1; Luke 20:10). But also it drew to itself the fatness of the soil, the nourishment which other trees needed, and impoverished both them and it.III. Observe the patience and forbearance of God in His conduct towards the barren fig-tree, the barren and unprofitable professor. We may here take notice of the nature and condition of a minister's work and employment; which, because it is expressed to us by digging and dunging, is hereby signified to be a very difficult and laborious service. )God's forbearance of the barren fig-treeThomas Herren, D. D.I. The Word of God, the sacraments are yours; to you is the gospel preached. THE VINE-DRESSER'S PETITION AND REQUEST.1. Righteousness, meekness, fidelity — in a word, moral excellence springing from our faith in Christ, and our devotion to Him — that is the fruit which God expects to find in us as the occupants of His vineyard.III. )A fig-tree planted in his vineyardN. Now fruits, or never. Which words, "after that," seem to carry a double reference and respect with them. No vineyard is in its perfect glory so soon as it is taken in. An emphasis of prediction "Thou shalt cut it down," that is, thou wilt cut it down: there is nobody that can hinder thee. Of each of these briefly, and in order.(N. First, an emphasis of prediction; and secondly, an emphasis of permission. In this work mercy and judgment meet; and saved sinners, on earth and in heaven, put both together in their song of praise (Psalm 101:1).(W. Yet it may be perceived by their soaking of the ground and drawing away nourishment from corn and plants that are near unto them. One barren and unfruitful fig-tree may spoil a whole set and row of trees besides. Rogers. Or as the ocean-sea is but one in itself, yet running by divers countries and coasts, hath the name according to the coast it runs by; as the English Sea, the Irish Sea, the German Sea, &c., yet all but one sea. The Church is fertile of children; there are multitudes of them that believe. He likeneth Himself to man, and speaks after the manner of men unto us. Secondly, We ought to have a special regard to the credit of the gospel, which is the doctrine of God's grace, and teacheth men to be fruitful, "in denying all ungodly lusts, and in living soberly, righteously, and godly in this evil world" (Titus 2:11, 12). He sees the heart and inmost thoughts. Both the Church of God for the propagation of piety, and the world itself for the upholding of His state, require our fruits. It bears much fruit, and fruit of the best kind. (2) But there is a worse consideration, namely, that all this while you have been filling up a space which somebody might have been filling to the glory of God. The new life is not lived. Begin at once. They are fathers, they are shepherds, they are spiritual watchmen, and what not to work them, and to engage them hereunto. (3) Give him up to his own heart's lust. (b) There is ground for this desire and request of ministers in the behalf of their people, from that hope which they are willing to conceive of their amendment and reformation. Alas! This it first of all shows us, how that ministers not only serve to instruct God's people, but to protect them; not only to show them their duty, but to keep off their ruin.2. That dying boy, that carter, was like a fig-tree growing on the road-side. A vineyard is a place separated and enclosed from other grounds. To be fruitless is a greater calamity than befell those slain by Pilate at the altar, or buried under the tower of Siloam; it is the only real calamity; for it is to be an eternal failure.(J. More particularly, in reference to the synagogue of the Jews, and that state, the fig-tree, above other trees, did best set forth their condition. III. So they cannot bring forth the fruits of holiness, they can do nothing that is truly good, more than a dead man can move and act.2. So man in his childhood and infancy is flexible, easily inclining to virtue or vice, as he is taught and instructed. They take up room, precious room, that might be better occupied.2. It bears much fruit, and fruit of the best kind. To these heads we may reduce those severals, whereby the Scriptures express to us what this fruit is.I. Well for the vineyard; it will be adorned, enriched, and replenished. Rogers.Barren professors are cumbersome; unprofitable burdens they are to the vineyard of the Lord.1. Divine forbearance, though long continued, will finally have an end. "how are they fallen?" The character here intended is a man placed in the external and visible Church, and enjoying all the privileges of such a favoured situation. The sap flowing from the root through the stem, runs into the branches, and there diffusing itself to every tendril, makes a deposit, and so forms fruit. "(1) This implies that He had for some time let it alone already (see Genesis 6:3; 2 Chronicles 36:15, 16). Now that this use may be the more profitable, I shall acquaint you with three particulars.1. 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. The heaven, the earth, the sea, and all therein, are fruitful in their kind; and shall man be barren and fruitless, for whom all these are fruitful?(N. Robins, M. He that cannot stir abroad in the world, what should he do but recollect himself, and settle his thoughts on the world to come? When a child is in any danger, who should sooner speak for it than the father? Why? He must draw it from "the earth, but it assumes a character different, not its own. A vineyard is a place separated and enclosed from other grounds. The keeper of the vineyard had planted the fig-tree, and watched its growth. What, then, was the reason? "For men do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles." Ministers sow the seed, Christ Himself will look after the fruit, and will notice who bring forth the fruit of a preached gospel, and who cumber the ground.(T. Men rather busy themselves to gather the fruits of earth than to yield the fruits of heaven. If a man will be unprofitable, let him be unprofitable out of the Church. Death shall enter his family, and smite a connection by his side. This it first of all shows us, how that ministers not only serve to instruct God's people, but to protect them; not only to show them their duty, but to keep off their ruin.2. "Let it alone this year also." )The fruitless fig-treeJ. Many poets speak of trees as having life, as thinking, feeling companions, for whom they cherish an almost human attachment. After I had perceived vast multitudes of the human race appearing before the throne of Christ, some being approved, and others rejected, I at length beheld my beloved father and mother, and several of the family. We exhaust all possible reasons, and have to come back to one, and one only — human wilfulness. Their aims and ends in all their devotions is self.4. There is no comfort to the vine-dressers from that part of the ground such occupy, though otherwise much might arise from it, if it was planted with other trees. What is the use of keeping it? "(1) Barren souls are spared through Christ's prayer and intercession. The young gallant is for the double-coloured poplar, all for form and compliment. 5. Many poets speak of trees as having life, as thinking, feeling companions, for whom they cherish an almost human attachment. "Well," that is, well for thee. Wells, M. A.I. Let us never forget that responsibility is proportional to privilege.II. Once the sap was thrown into its proper channel the tree continued to bear. The prospective efficacy of the plea lies in what the Saviour has done for the sinner. Then the conquest is most glorious, because then it is most difficult. Well might justice say, "Cut it down." It is thus with many an unprofitable and barren Christian, he is a soaker, and that in respect both of things that concern this life and a better; and so cumbersome. To CONSIDER THE IMPORT OF CUTTING DOWN. And why is He so desirous of sparing the sinner a little longer in this world? "Well," all health, all joyous health for the soul, "well." Envy, that is the daughter of pride, and will wait upon her mother; where the one is the other will be; we grudge no men the praise of their kindness but whom we envy and hate. 2. He hath entered into a league and covenant with His Church, to become their God, and take them for His people, and so He hath not with the world besides (Hosea 2:13; 1 Peter 2:10). Then "the axe will be laid at the root," and you will go up to your bed, and you will begin to decline and fade away. The procrastinator who has put off the messenger of heaven with his delays and half promises, ought he not to wonder that he is allowed to see "this year also"? Even when Jesus is the pleader, the request of mercy has its bounds and times. The flattering courtier likes well the clasping ivy, which yet is an enemy to all trees and plants, it undermineth walls, and is good only to harbour serpents and venomous creatures, insomuch that Pliny wonders it should be honoured by any, or counted of any worth; and yet heathen emperors have used to make them garlands of it, and wear them on their heads. And that goodly person, which like a fair ship hath been long a-building, and was but yesterday put to sea, is to-day sunk in the main. And so it is here; when a people prove fruitful, God Himself is so much the better for it. He pleads for the suspension of the stroke. There may, there will come a time, when mercy shall cease to plead, and leave room for judgment only; when Christ Himself will give up His intercession. For exhortation. Adam was worse in his breeches than he was before; so is it with his sinful posterity. Secondly, He seeks for it. The subtle winds come puffing out of their caverns, to make artificial motions, wholesome airs, and navigable seas; yet, neither earth, air, nor sea return them recompense: this is their fruits. (a) Out of His nobleness, and royalty, and generosity of mind, as we may so express it. "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). Secondly, He seeks for it. The earth, in a thankful imitation of the heavens, locks not up her treasures within her own coffers; but without respect of her private benefit, is liberal of her allowance, yielding her fatness and riches to innumerable creatures that hang on her breasts, and depend upon her as their common mother for maintenance. The taste finds no relish in riot, the ears cannot distinguish music, the eyes are dim to pleasing objects, very " desire fails": now all things promise mortification. Luk 13:9 And if it bears fruit, well; and if not, then after that you shall cut it down. It is that He may show yet richer goodness; that He may try more abundant means. That the barren tree is to be cast into the fire.Uses.1. "After that"; that is, after that thou hast let it alone for one year longer, as I desire of thee; if after that it shall still prove unfruitful, then do thus and thus with. Let not this that hath been said be passed over without some useful application.(N. Lastly, they hinder the fruitfulness of other trees in the vineyard; drawing the sap from them. The Jews are one example of this; the seven Churches in Asia are another. God's patience is most wonderful, it goes far beyond all our thoughts and dreams, but it has limits. "Oh," said she, "I will go to no such house as this again; for, while master and mistress pretend to be very pious when they are out, they are devils at home. )This year alsoC. All care and pains will have been well bestowed, if, after all, the sinner bear fruit to God. It is His vineyard. If the number be not "as the sand," yet let there be "a remnant" (Romans 9:27). So they are not only not profitable, but hurtful.III. 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. The ground of the plea is in Himself. THERE IS A SPECIAL TIME OF GRACE, WITH A CERTAIN CATASTROPHE IF IT BE NOT IMPROVED TO GOOD PURPOSE.1. We are yet spared; and to what end hath Christ Jesus been thus long-suffering? So is it in the vineyard of the Lord. The fig-tree is fruitful above other trees. He hath purchased His inheritance with a great price; the whole world cost Him not so much as His Church did, it was bought with blood. The longer they stand in the vineyard, and continue under the means of grace, the more fruit they should bear. Rogers.Others there are that bring forth fruit as well as buds and leaves, and yet their fruit shall not be accepted.1. Unto whom the graces and blessed influences of the Holy Spirit are freely imparted. "He said, Lord, let it alone this year also," etc. Oh! The quiver of judgment is full of sharp arrows. Let there be more "fruit" in our own closet, in more real communion with God in private. And so it is well for the vineyard. Ask yourselves, then, brethren, do you bear fruit answering to your profession of repentance? 1. Talmage. Her beauty and glory is much blemished by the growth of such plants in it. Men rather busy themselves to gather the fruits of earth than to yield the fruits of heaven. So we think of these goodly and tall trees (but fruitless in grace), if honour comes, wealth comes, beauty comes, &c., This is the anointed of the Lord; this must be he. To be fruitless is a greater calamity than befell those slain by Pilate at the altar, or buried under the tower of Siloam; it is the only real calamity; for it is to be an eternal failure.(J. But God is not, cannot be mocked; it is He that comes to seek fruit, and it is not the fairest shows will satisfy Him, it must be real. The character here intended is a man placed in the external and visible Church, and enjoying all the privileges of such a favoured situation. He must draw it from "the earth, but it assumes a character different, not its own. THE VINE-DRESSER'S PETITION AND REQUEST.1. (James Foote, M. Well for the owner (John 15:8). Even in this sense the godly may be said to be Primitive Dei, the first-fruits of God. 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