He shall hear of "distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." This "certain man" denotes God. The new life is not lived. It was unprofitable, and so is every sinner that does not bring forth fruit unto God.2. "Why is it that this cumber-ground tree has not been cut down? it. Let him be as strong as the oak, as tall as the cedar, as straight as the pine-tree, as green and flourishing as the laurel or bay-tree; when age seizeth on him, his strength is weakened, his tallness abated, his straightness crooked, his greenness withered.3. Unless You Repent You Will All Likewise Perish. Admire and wonder at this longsuffering.4. No.IV. The sap of the ground which barren trees draw to them, of which they are yet nothing the better, might nourish fruitful trees. What could have been done for you that has not been done?II. The doctrine or notion which is contained under it, and is exhibited to us from it. How many such are in God's vineyard, whose mind is vain.3. There is no advantage to the owner from that part of the ground which they occupy. Rogers.Now briefly of the owner's peculiar interest and propriety therein. How AND IN WHAT RESPECTS DO THESE CUMBER THE GROUND.1. And you ask me "Why?" Perhaps Christ hath now some fair promises of fruits hereafter, "Let me first go bury my father, then" (Luke 9:61). They are sterile and barren in themselves, and in that respect cumbersome, and a burden to the earth.2. They must not only abound in some kind of fruit, but must bring forth fruits of all kinds.III. It is thou who hast a name and a place in His sanctuary, from Sabbath to Sabbath, where "thine eyes see thy teachers: and thy ears hear a voice behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left."II. 7). Rogers.That the Church is a spiritual vineyard is a truth that hath strong confirmation from Scripture. Not yet; morosity, pride, and avarice, are the three diseases of old age. It is, then, possible to weary out the patience of God Himself. 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? To such God says, "Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?" Now the decay of body should argue a decay of sin. Thus it is with man. As they do no good, and are cumbersome in that respect; so they do much harm, and so become unprofitable burdens, and that many ways. Here we see —1. Incentives for Faithful Stewardship, Part 1. Those who enjoy the means of fruitfulness, must grow more and more fruitful. 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). Withered trees. Even Ahab is not beyond His reach. THE REASON GIVEN FOR THE AWFUL SENTENCE; THE FIG-TREE WAS NOT ONLY UNPRODUCTIVE, BUT INJURIOUS; it "cumbereth the ground."1. The fig-tree is full of sap and moisture, it is the most juiceful of any tree, the root of it doth abundantly feed it; so doth Christ His Church, He is the Root of it, and on the Root depends the firm standing thereof, and the life of every branch; from this Root we have our radical moisture, from His fulness we derive grace, and grace for grace (John 1:16).2. But it had a more extensive sense of old, and the word here really means that it marred, poisoned, did mischief to the soil. many continue dead under quickening means, destitute of the Spirit and of faith. To these heads we may reduce those severals, whereby the Scriptures express to us what this fruit is.I. THE MISUSE OF GOSPEL PRIVILEGE AND OPPORTUNITY AS IT IS HERE DECLARED. And when apparently nothing more remains to be done, when even the energies of Divine love seem to have exhausted themselves in vain upon the hardness of a heart which is resolutely bent upon sin; even in that supreme moment, that crisis of the soul's destinies, when the cry goes forth from the Eternal Justice, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" 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. You are like a fig-tree planted in a vineyard. Let these and all such other be advised not to flatter themselves nor suffer themselves by vain pretences to be undone. Are mere nominal Christians much more than these wax figures? "They are altogether become filthy." HERE ARE SET FORTH THE CONDITIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF LIFE UNDER THE GOSPEL.1. I once heard an anecdote of a poor servant maid. Rogers.It was no ordinary nor trivial tree, but of a noble and generous kind (called upon by other trees to be king over them), and brought forth sweet and delicious fruit (Judges 9:10). It was made a kingdom of grace to begin with, that it might become a kingdom of righteousness to end with. Let there be a "fruit" in the Church — truer worship, more frequent use of ordinances, more sympathy and love shown to all the brethren. How many such are in God's vineyard, whose mind is vain. 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. The fig-tree is forward in putting forth; it foretells a summer, as our Saviour shows (Matthew 24:32). "Herein is My Father glorified, in that ye bear much fruit," says Christ Himself to His disciples (John 15:8). Unfruitful as it is, for some strange reason our master loves it, and so well does he love it that he will never remove it." (a) That speech, love, and affection, which they bear unto them. For CONTINUANCE. N. Norton, D. D.)Fruitless livesT. All other fruit that grows without this fence is but sour and bitter, seem it never so fair and glorious to the eye, yet it is but hedge fruit, or like unto the grapes of Sodom and clusters of Gomorrah (Deuteronomy 32:32).5. He hath chosen them from the rest of the world. The gospel grace proves in many instances to have been all in vain. 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. The unfruitfulness under the gospel prevailing in our land, forbodes a time of hewing and cutting down. Like wax, he is apt to receive any impression that shall be put upon him, and (as Pliny speaketh of the fir-tree) the nearer it is to the root, the more smooth it is, and less knotty. 7).5. Where that barren tree stands there might have been a tree loaded with fruit. A. So is the Church, her enemies are many that conspire against her (Psalm 83:2-13).(N. Shall God be always provoked? But why is it resembled to a vineyard, rather than to another thing? And it must be "fruit" in its season. And so is it in the Church, insomuch that Balaam himself could not but admire at it, and in a rapture cry out, "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israeli As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side," etc. Some are fruitful, others unfruitful. Rogers. If it bear fruit — well. 9. In the creation every seed and plant brought fruit after its kind; so it is in the regeneration, good trees bring forth fruit answerable to the stock wherein they are engrafted, and the sap they thence receive, and the profession that they make; but these men walk after the lusts of the Gentiles, and bring forth the fruits of the flesh (such as those mentioned, Galatians 5:19), no manner of way answering to the seed that hath been sown in them by the ministry of the Word, which they have heard, and the doctrine which they have been taught.2. But there are other reasons why "Cut it down" is most reasonable, when we consider the owner and the other trees. The gospel grace proves in many instances to have been all in vain. God, who gives us "this year also," has given us others before it; His sparing mercy is no novelty, His patience has already been taxed by our provocations.1. Let Balaam be numbered among the prophets, and Judas among the apostles; and the vineyard of the Lord shall find cause enough to say of such a fig-tree, that it cumbers the ground. Yes, there arrives a moment hidden in the eternal councils of the Most High, at which even the voice of the Great Intercessor ceases to plead, and acquiesces in the righteous judgment of God.(S. And as man grows thus in his youth, so he is drooping in his age. Vaughan, M. "No; he gives more than I shall have elsewhere; but they are so wicked, I can't bear their ways. Arnot. The unfruitfulness under the gospel prevailing in our land, forbodes a time of hewing and cutting down. They being still in their natural state, are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. He won't give up hope of it. This is the solemn voice, not of righteousness, but of the intercession itself.1. — To teach us-that judgment is His strange work — that He delighteth in mercy; that He waiteth to be gracious; that He is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.III. "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. Israel is the fig tree which God planted in his vineyard - a fig tree in a vineyard; there not by any natural right, but at the option and discretion of the Divine Owner; there "only so long as it served the purpose of him who planted it.". "Let it alone, till I shall dig about it, and dung it." It is that which he has just cause to look for.3. Lay no more weight upon external Church privileges than they will bear. "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. "Well." Yet it may be perceived by their soaking of the ground and drawing away nourishment from corn and plants that are near unto them. A vineyard is very subject to be annoyed and wasted by the beasts of the wood and foxes of the field, which love to burrow under it, and delight to be cropping and pilling of her plants, and eating of her grapes, as Solomon intimates (Song of Solomon 2:15). But there is an Advocate in heaven. 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. In the creation every seed and plant brought fruit after its kind; so it is in the regeneration, good trees bring forth fruit answerable to the stock wherein they are engrafted, and the sap they thence receive, and the profession that they make; but these men walk after the lusts of the Gentiles, and bring forth the fruits of the flesh (such as those mentioned, Galatians 5:19), no manner of way answering to the seed that hath been sown in them by the ministry of the Word, which they have heard, and the doctrine which they have been taught.2. It is right and reasonable to fell barren trees, and it is just as right and reasonable that you should be cut down.1. (1) To the soil whereon they grow, the very earth is the worse for a fruitless fig-tree. Rogers. 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.2. 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. President Garfield, when a boy, was wonderfully saved from drowning. " To such God says, "Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?" As the constituents of fruit, held in solution by air and water, cannot freely reach the plant whose roots lie under a long unbroken and indurated soil, so the grace of God contained in the preached gospel is kept at bay by a carnal mind and a seared conscience. )Judgment threatening, but mercy sparingC. There are several sorts and kinds of trees; some greater than others, and some taller; some straighter, some broader; some younger, some elder; some barren, some fruitful; so is it amongst men. It is that which he has just cause to look for.3. Why thus it is now with those who are ministers and pastors of the Church. M. 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