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Saviour make this equally true and awful declaration? It was in reference to those unfortunate individuals who had been instantaneously and unexpectedly hurried out of this world into the next, by means of an assault directed by Pontius Pilate, and and by the unexpected fall of the tower in Siloam.

While engaged in the celebration of one of their religious rites, a number of individuals, consisting in all probability of some hundreds, were surprised and slain by the soldiers of the Roman governor; previous to which occurrence, eighteen persons had been hurried from time into eternity by the sudden fall of one of the towers belonging to the fortifications of the city of Jerusalem! And by a reference to these two casualties, of a description with which human life is but too intimately acquainted, did our Saviour assure his hearers, that what we are accustomed to term accidents are neither more nor less than visitations from above, sent indeed as punishments on the actual sufferers, but rather, in some cases and to some extent, as a warning to those who survive; lest, in consequence of perseverance in sin, they be equally and in a similar manner the objects of divine wrath. And recollect, brethren, that the exhortations of the Son of God, which were addressed to his personal attendants and companions, are equally applicable to the case of all the inhabitants of the earth; without reference to the period of their abode in the world. To you, therefore, who are here assembled, does the Saviour, the "Word" of the Eternal himself, address the same

language and the same exhortation as he addressed to your fellow mortals who lived nearly two thousand years ago, and who beheld him personally visible in the flesh. These words I have already once repeated, and for your edification and my own I again repeat them, and say unto you, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

But, subsequently to the foregoing exhortations, our Lord explained his meaning still farther to his disciples, by the invention and recital of one of those familiar though allegorical stories, which were so peculiarly his own, and to which he so frequently resorted as an easy and a ready means of conveying to his hearers those great and important truths which concerned their spiritual and immortal destiny; in the language of the Evangelist, “He also spake this parable." The parable, forming as it does the greater portion of our text, has already been recited, and I again recite it to you, as its importance, and the due arrangement of our discourse, here seems to demand it: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of the vineyard, Behold these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none; cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."

You perceive, therefore, or do you not now per

ceive, you will soon I conceive do so, that the foregoing parable is nothing more nor less than an enlargement of those truths which our Saviour had been laying down in his preceding discourse. Bestow your attention, therefore, for a few moments, while I present to your notice certain remarks in elucidation of its import, and of the allusions which are contained in it.

In this parable, the first object which demands our attention is the vineyard. A vineyard, therefore, I beg to inform you, is a word which signifies the Church of God. It is, indeed, an allegorical or figurative, and not a literal expression. A vineyard literally means a garden or an inclosure set apart for the cultivation of vines, just as an orchard means a portion of ground appropriated to the growth of apple trees, and was much more familiar to the Jews than the orchard is to us. And as the vineyard was so common in the Holy Land, and so familiar to the Jews, it was adopted by our Saviour in his frequent conversations with his countrymen, as it had likewise been previously used by certain prophets and writers of the Old Testament, to represent the Church of God.

I have before explained, that the Church means all those inhabitants of the world who, having been selected and called out of heathen darkness, are collected together for the purpose of rendering homage to the one true God, as He has been revealed to us in the writings of the Old and New Testaments. Now when we consider that a vineyard,

like an orchard, is inclosed and set apart for a peculiar purpose, and that in this vineyard a number of vines are placed and nurtured and cultivated, it is easy to perceive the typical resemblance which such an object bears to the Holy Catholic Church. Of such a vineyard, Isaiah says, "he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein." And, afterwards, in explanation of his meaning, the prophet continues: "the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel." And in the same way as this vineyard once meant the house of Israel, now does it mean the Church of Christ; by which, as every Christian knows, the house of Israel, that is, the Jewish Church, has been replaced, and which, as the house of Israel formerly was, is now, like a choice vineyard, guarded and protected and encouraged by the care of the Holy Spirit of God.


The second object in the parable before us which strikes the view of the beholder, is the fig tree. Now why our Lord, when speaking of a vineyard, selected a fig tree as the object of his remarks, rather than a vine, is a question which cannot be answered with any degree of certainty. Such an object may perhaps have contained an allusion more easily understood at the period of our Saviour's address than it is at the present moment. Inasmuch, however, as the fig tree in the vineyard must have been an object of itself different and distinct from Isaiah, v. 2. 7.


the multitude of vines in the midst of which it was placed, it may not inaptly be regarded as calculated to direct the attention to any forlorn and unhappy individual, who though planted in the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts, and as a child of God and a joint heir with Christ fostered and encouraged like a choice vine, that is, like a faithful disciple of Christ, nevertheless is not a branch of the true vine, inasmuch as he neglects these advantages, and, in spite of the efforts and anxiety of God's Holy Spirit in his behalf, brings forth no fruit meet for repentance, but voluntarily and unresistingly yields to the temptations of the evil one.

In the warm country of Palestine, the fig tree usually, perhaps, remained in a wild and uncultivated state, and frequently, as we may suppose, either produced no fruit, or fruit of an inferior description. When, therefore, the fig tree was transplanted into a vineyard, as our Lord supposes a certain man to have done, his care must have been bestowed on it for the purpose of manuring, and pruning, and otherwise cultivating it; and thereby rendering it more productive, both in respect of the quantity and quality of its fruit. And thus is it in respect of every individual who, from the wide waste of the world, has been transplanted within the precincts of Christ's Church. He has been placed there that, like a true vine, he in his kind might bring forth fruit better and more abundantly than when no care had been bestowed upon him.

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