Fourthly, "It shall be unto us according to our fruit" (Jeremiah 17:10).. We read that Xerxes adorned the plane-tree, and hung it with many rich and precious jewels, because He delighted in the shade thereof; much more will God adorn fruitful trees, for that He delights in the fruit thereof. Though He bears long, He will not bear always. THERE IS A SPECIAL TIME OF GRACE, WITH A CERTAIN CATASTROPHE IF IT BE NOT IMPROVED TO GOOD PURPOSE.1. The ancient Greeks used to quote the proverb that "The feet of the avenging deities are shod with wool," intimating thereby the noiseless and unexpected manner in which they approach their victims. In short, some choose for beauty, some for sweetness, some for greatness, some for greenness, but where is he or she that makes Minerva's choice, to choose for fruitfulness? THIS FIG-TREE WAS FRUITLESS, THOUGH SO FAVOURED.III. He is ready to send Christ away in the language of that foul spirit, "Art Thou come to torment me before my time?" Trees are not without their diseases, as Pliny showeth, nor is man without his. 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. Zaccheus was a low tree, lower than the people by head and shoulders. )Pleading for a respiteHerbert Mends. 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. Rogers. What is the use of keeping it? Let a barren and unprofitable fig-tree have his standing, wheresoever the ground shall be the worse and not the better for him. The lad's attention was arrested by a pleasant-looking man, in gaudy dress, and he inquired of his father who it could be. No possession, said Cato, requires more pains about it than a vineyard cloth. Adam was worse in his breeches than he was before; so is it with his sinful posterity. "Their hearts were exalted," saith God of ungrateful Ephraim, " therefore have they forgotten Me" (Hosea 13:6). M. Taylor, D. D.The principles underlying this parable are, briefly, these: That much will be required of those to whom much has been given; that, if those to whom much has been given fail to meet that which is required of them, sentence of destruction will be pronounced against them; and that, though the execution of this sentence may be deferred at the intercession of Christ, it will certainly be carried out if there be no repentance and amendment manifested.I. The sap of the ground which barren trees draw to them, of which they are yet nothing the better, might nourish fruitful trees. It is his own, and he has a longing, lingering feeling for it. If a man take more pains, and be at more charge in opening the roots of a tree, and dunging it, and pruning it, in fencing and watering it, and it bring forth less or no more fruit than another that has no such care and pains taken with it, it will scarce pass for a good, a fruitful tree. 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. What is the use of keeping it? Let there be a "fruit" in the world, in something taken up and done definitely for the Lord Jesus Christ. And by experience we have found that true, which Tacitus saith of extraordinary favours, which, lighting upon ill minds, cause hatred instead of love.5. Luke 8:8 And other fell on good ground The Syriac version reads, "on good and beautiful ground"; and so the Cambridge copy of Beza's; ground which both looked well, and proved well; and signifies such hearers who have good and honest hearts, made so by the Spirit of God; who receive the word in the love of it, have a spiritual understanding, and real experience of it; )The secret orderings of the soul's lifeS. They are heavenly plants, but grow in a foreign and cold climate; not well concocted, not worthy the charges and care bestowed upon us. But why is it resembled to a vineyard, rather than to another thing? 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. With a smile, which tranquillized my spirits, the Lord replied, 'Go, then, and improve the time given thee.' They take up room, precious room, that might be better occupied.2. Now, Secondly: For the thing itself, or notion. 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. That impenitent sinners may be wholly inexcusable. With the means that must be used for the producing of fruit so qualified.3. The fruit of the fig-tree is a most delicious fruit: "Shall I leave my sweetness?" Well for the owner (John 15:8). How many such are in God's vineyard, whose mind is vain. He answered her, Ne videamur fructu honore vendere, that we may not be thought to chaffer our honour away for fruit. The sun comes forth of his chamber like a bridegroom, fresh and lively; and rejoiceth as a giant, to run his diurnal course, to lighten us with his refulgent beams, to generate, cheer, and mature things with his parental heat: this is his fruit. You are not like a little dying boy, who said to the Christian friend visiting him, "O sir, do ye think I would hae ony chance wi' God? To a vineyard the Church may be compared, in respect of the imbecility and weakness of it. ward profession, crying out, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord," drawing near with their lips when their hearts were far off. And so is our fruit, if the inward temper and motions of the heart be not correspondent to the outward actions and expressions.II. 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. Secondly, in middle age; and now the "buying of farms," and "trying of beasts," the pleasures of matrimony, the cares for posterity, take up all the rooms of the soul. But, full of grace though He be, He neither expects nor desires an indefinite extension of Israel's day of grace. )Fruitfulness the gauge of valueC. He engages to use additional means to produce fertility — "Till I dig about it, and dung it." how often are they split with the weight and greatness of their own boughs?5. The blessed Trinity is always working: "Hitherto my Father worketh, and I work" (John 5:17). The Lord has but to will it, and your soul is required of you. Adams. 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. Whether it is Satan and the demonic realm or the religious leaders or even at times, His own followers His ministry has been opposed. Is He the owner and possessor of no more but that? 3. Secondly, He seeks for it. Those whom the Lord employs to use all means for their improvement, have nothing left them in the issue, but occasion of sad complaint, that they have laboured in vain, spent their strength for nought (Isaiah 49:4).7. Now give me leave to discover unto you the vileness of this vice, ingratitude, that we may shun it and hate it; and the rather, because we have been foretold that it is one of those sins that renders these times perilous. The quiver of judgment is full of sharp arrows. Are you living no more to yourselves, but to Him who died for you?3. Those that enjoy the means, must not only bring forth fruit, but be fruitful; should bear abundance. Where there are two things observable of us.1. Unprolific trees have been started, some by a very hard winter, others by a very warm summer, to yield fruit. He sees the heart and inmost thoughts. Thanks to God's tender forbearance, He always gives us timely warning before the fatal blow is struck. We pray that these sermons will be inspiring and beneficial to you. That they who derive no benefit from the means of grace are detrimental.2. III. 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. Why does He bear with it to the end of the third? The dead tree is neither use nor ornament; it can yield no service and afford no pleasure. The destructiveness of it.6. His observation.2. I have known a wood spoiled, because the proprietress would not permit the cutting down of trees which she regarded as the friends of her girlhood. With the motives that may stir us up to the bringing forth of such fruit. Their fruit must not only be much of some sort, but of every sort. It is a marvel, it is a wonder that these God-provoking sins have so long been borne with, and that you are not yet cut down.III. He looks for fruit, and good fruit too, from every fig-tree, and at your hands He will require it. A. 1. (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. (4) A fig-tree bears choice fruit. I heard, the other day, of a servant, a godly person, who wished to change her place. The gospel is the means of life to a dead world, called therefore the word of life (Philippians 2:16). 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. Talmage. In elections and choices fruitful trees are least of all regarded. All the truly regenerate are fruitful. "Their hearts were exalted," saith God of ungrateful Ephraim, " therefore have they forgotten Me" (Hosea 13:6). Let a barren and unprofitable fig-tree have his standing, wheresoever the ground shall be the worse and not the better for him. To show that He does not take pleasure or delight in the death of sinners, as He hath sometimes told us. 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. He endures with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.2. Divers workmen and labourers are ordained to be employed about it, for the perfection of it, even after it is planted.3. Yes, my brethren, all of you are included, who, while you attend in this house of God; while you bend the knee before Him; while, sabbath after sabbath, you hear the gospel-sound, listen to its warnings, its invitations, its free and gracious promises; to whom, monthly, are offered the sacramental pledges of redeeming love: still continue far from the kingdom of God; by your life and conversation show, that you are none the better for the opportunities you enjoy; still live in indulged sin, or, at least, bring forth no fruit to the glory of God; are still careless, irreligious, worldly, vain.II. B. Bruce, D. D.However legal or usual the presence of a fig-tree in a vineyard may be, it is not, as in the case of a vine, a matter of course, and Christ must have had a reason for introducing it, and the reason can only be found in the didactic significance of the emblem. After that, thou wilt cut it down; it is a word of prediction or commination. God's mercy will be magnified; His grace exalted.V. Their fruit is not lasting; it holds good for the summer season of prosperity, but when the winter of adversity and persecution comes, it fails (Luke 8:13). If it bear fruit — well. Now this resultlessness of the ministry of the Word does not imply any necessary defect in its human presentation, especially where barrenness is seen side by side with growing strength and abundant fruitfulness. how often are they split with the weight and greatness of their own boughs?5. Those who have most tenderness for such, can have no ground to seek a long forbearance of this barrenness. The minister shall be particular in describing his case, in alarming his fears. Because ministers are middle persons, as it were betwixt God and the people: they mediate and deal betwixt both; as it is declared expressly of Moses (Exodus 19:1). The roots are at fault; the sinner's heart must be changed.1. It gives this call to us without exception, and especially if any of us have been spared in the time of great danger, restored from severe sickness.4. This it makes for it also. Still He comes seeking fruit, and is returned with a Non invents. "(Herbert Mends. (4) Leave him to delusions. And such is the fruit of the temporary believer and time-serving Christian; his fruit lasts not all the year, not during term of life, when, as a good fig-tree is never without some figs hanging on the tender boughs, winter nor summer, a good Christian, like the palm-tree spoken of, Psalm 92:12, grows fat and flourishing even in old age. )A warning to useless livesB. B. Bruce, D. D.The restriction of the intercession of the vinedresser for a prolongation of the experiment to a single year indicates Christ's own sympathy with this Divine rigour. Years of great mercy.2. Vaughan, M. It is when afflictions rend the heart, as a ploughshare tears up the ground, that the elements of life long offered are at length received. 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. All commended her choice, and were ashamed at their own folly. Shall mercy be preached to you for ever in vain? Corn comes up and grows alone of itself, without the husbandman's care (Mark 4:17). THE COMPLAINT OF THE PROPRIETOR.1. (1) Because He died for them. The Lord "hath chosen Zion, He hath desired it for His habitation" saith David (Psalm 132:13, 14). H. Spurgeon.The interceding vine-dresser pleaded for the fruitless fig-tree, "let it alone this year also," dating, as it were, a year from the time wherein he spoke. He denies not the allegations of the owner. A fruitful Christian carries a heaven in his heart, joy and comfort (Song of Solomon 7:17), a happy and blessed communion that is between Christ and him; and hereafter there is a blessing abides him for ever (Hebrews 7:8). THE FIG-TREE WAS FAVOURED. Observe the patience and forbearance of God in His conduct towards the barren fig-tree, the barren and unprofitable professor. Thirdly, God will have a special care of us. But doth He forbear all trees thus long? It was unprofitable, and so is every sinner that does not bring forth fruit unto God.2. Lay no more weight upon external Church privileges than they will bear. 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