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that thundered their warnings; and the bards that sung of “the good things to come.” The tree was not left in a good soil without any attendants :—it had every attention.
Thirdly : It had a sufficiency of time. “ Three years he came seeking fruit,” &c. It is said that the Jew gave up the tree as barren, if it did not bear fruit in three years ;-sufficient time therefore was allowed it. How long did God bear with the Jewish nation? He came to them year after year, century after century, until they filled up the measure of their iniquities, and their case became hopeless. He came to them in three ways : by Moses, their great lawgiver ; by the prophets; and by Christ. The unfruitfulness of the Jewish nation therefore was most unreasonable. God had a right to expect fruit from them. But how much more so with you Britons, seeing the good position you are placed in for fruitfulness! A land of light and liberty, of temples, ministers, and Bibles; a land filled with the stirring memories of millions of sainted souls. What cultivating agencies are brought to bear on you every day, and how long have you been allowed to continue on trial! How much more than three years! Ten-twenty-thirty-forty -fifty-sixty and seventy-years. God expects fruit from you;—fruit: not talk, not profession. But, fruit, the organic produce of a holy inward life. How unreasonable is your fruitless life!
II. THE THREATENED DOOM OF A FRUITLESS LIFE. it down, why cumbereth the ground ?” But why cut it down?
First: Because it occupies the position which others might occupy with greater advantage. Look at that tree in your garden; year after year it remains fruitless :-it occupies a position in which another tree might produce abundant fruit. So with a fruitless man. Were other men in your position, how holy and useful they might be ;-you are in the way-you are cumberers of the ground. Had your children some one else to guide them, your servants some one else to employ them, your minister some one else to preach to, what good might be accomplished! You are in the way.
Secondly: Because it appropriates blessing which might be better used by others. Not only does the barren tree occupy a position which a fruitful one might occupy with greater advantage, but it drinks up the nourishment from the soil which would go to support the fruit-bearing tree. How useful might the business you conduct be in other hands! What good the money you are expending might do were it in the hands of others! and the books that you are monopolising were they in the possession of others! You are an injury ;-you must be cut down.
Thirdly: Because it prevents the genial influences of Heaven falling on other life. See the barren tree in the garden ; its wide branches, covered perhaps with luxuriant foliage, catch the dew, and prevent it from falling on the plants below, and shade them from the quickening sun. It throws a chilling shadow over all beneath it;-it is so with you. Divine light falls on you but
do not reflect it ; you spread a moral shadow over all within your reach. It is just therefore you should be cut down. You are an injury to the universe ; you are like
6. The noisome weeds that without profit suck
III. THE INTERPOSITION OF
“Lord let it alone this year also ; till I shall dig about it and dung it and if it bear fruit, well; and after that then thou shalt cut it down." Here is a picture of redeeming mercy.
First : Here is a picture of redeeming mercy interceding for its continuation. Mercy interceded through Abraham for Sodom; mercy interceded through Moses for the Israelites in the wilderness ; mercy intercedes through the prayer of the Church for the wicked. But Christ is the great organ of interceding mercy ;—“He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” Because of His intercession wicked men are allowed to live on this earth ; He wards off the blow of justice. “The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are resolved, I bear up the pillars of it.”
Secondly: Here is a picture of redeeming mercy, resolving on special efforts for improvement. “I shall dig about it and dung it;"—put forth special efforts for its improvement. Mercy made special efforts for the Antediluvians by the preaching of Noah ; special efforts for Sodom and Gomorrah by the warning of angels ; special efforts for Jerusalem by the ministry of Christ and His apostles, before its final overthrow. And now, in England, there are special efforts made for the conversion of sinners.
Thirdly : Here is a picture of redeeming mercy, agreeing to yield it up to justice, in case of a failure.
" If it bear fruit, well.” Well for it, it shall continue to enjoy the blessings of nature; well for the owner,--he shall realize his expectations ; well for me,-it shall gratify my heart; well, for the universe, it shall be an instrument of good. “But if not, then thou shalt cut it down.” Then let thy blow descend ; then remove it from the garden as a cumberer of the ground; then consign it to the flames. When the year is up, and no improvement has taken place, mercy bids a reluctant adieu, and leaves the fruitless life to justice.
you are fruitless, so far as good works are concerned ! “What have you done ?” &c. Let me urge you to consider your ways. Life is passing away. The end of your existence, and all the means and blessings therewith, is usefulness.
“Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
Human Exaltation and Humiliation Sources of
“ Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low."-James i. 9, 10.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Eighteenth.
CHRISTIANITY is the true educator of humanity. It breathes the truest and sublimest philanthropy. In its light man feels that humanity is
Through its sanctifying influence it connects man with all that is noble, good, and great! In its radiance poverty and riches are nothing. Moral character, principles, life, conduct, are everything.
This Scripture suggests to us the following things :
DEGREE IS MAN STILL.
I. CHRISTIANITY TEACHES, THAT MAN HOWEVER LOW IN
“Let the brother of low degree," &c. The too frequent error of the sons of poverty and toil is, that they are not men. The millions are not aware of the greatness of their nature. Depression, excessive toil, passion, animalism, and ignorance, eclipse their essence. To them its greatness is scarcely discovered. The conduct and language of the million are,—“I care for nobody, and nobody cares for me." It is possible to banter down human nature,—to speak of it as a thing so degraded and mean that it stinks in the nostrils of Heaven-as a thing past recovery ! The tendency of much, which we hear from the pulpit, is to add to the weight of the sinner's already conscious guilt and burden. There is no propriety, much less piety, in such declamation. The Bible describes humanity's moral deformity ; but, it takes care to stretch out the helping hand, to raise it from depravity and death! But man though fallen is still man. He has lost his Edenic manliness and glory—the image of God, but not his humanity. He still possesses intelligence, conscience, moral sensibility, and power to will. Though he is shorn of his Edenic strength and beauty, there is more divinity in the soul than there is outward force in the material universe. The fact that man is under a redemptive scheme shows this. Redemption comes to him as an angel of light, and proposes to take the wanderer by the hand, and conduct him to the Great Father, -to glory, and perfection !
IN POSITION IS
II. CHRISTIANITY TEACHES, THAT MAN HOWEVER EXALTED
“ But the rich," &c. It is as great an error in the rich to think too highly of themselves, as it is for the poor to think too meanly of themselves. The spirit of many is, that pence make shillings, shillings make pounds, and pounds make men. How common! but how erroneous this ! Man is but man. He is not a demiGod; not an angel. He cannot be anything but human. It is our honor to be men ;-to be anything less is our disgrace.
Be men-be Christian men. The Pharaohs, Alexanders, Neroes, Napoleons, and Popes of our world, have often acted as if they were superhuman; but Jehovah has rebuked them in His anger, and taught them that they were but
Christianity gives us the true idea of humanity. Only let its light enter the mind, then the poor, the degraded, the rude barbarian, the privileged Jew, the philosophic Greek, and the cultivated European, will feel that they are men, and but men. The one is exalted, the other is made low.
III. CHRISTIANITY TEACHES THAT ALL MEN, INDEPENDENT OF CIRCUMSTANCES, ARE EQUAL.
The brother of low degree and the rich are one in everything which constitutes man. They are one physically. Gen, iii. 20; x. 32; Acts xvii. 26. Amongst all tribes we find reason and speech ; the same internal feelings, appetites, aversions, convictions; the same laws of health, sickness, enjoyments, disappointments, and death.
“ Pierce my vein,