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lutions of this difficulty, it will be more conformable to my present purpose, that is, more to your edification, convinced as we are of the fact, to consider the application which is to be made of it, according to our Saviour's intent in working the miracle; and then in what manner we are to draw instruction and improvement from it for ourselves.

But in the first place let it be observed, that it is not once to be imagined, that what our Saviour did to the fig-tree was any more than emblematical: for no one who deserves the name of a man, would be guilty of such a piece of foolish revenge, as to wreak his anger, on a senseless tree, or on any thing that is incapable of being faulty. The first intent of the miracle had respect to the Jews. It was at once an emblem of what CHRIST saw in them, and a prophecy of what should happen to them. He saw the semblances of piety, in the rigid manner of the Pharisees, but no real sanctity. He foretold the approaching destruction, which such hypocritical pretences would deserve and produce, intimating that as they were like that fig-tree which had leaves and no fruit; so their end would be similar to be dried up from the roots, to wither away from being a nation, and to fall

under a most remarkable and exemplary

curse*.

But not the Jews only, but men of all succeeding generations are concerned and included in this event, and are expected to derive instruction from it: for as the Jews who were a mere professing people, were to expect speedy destruction from CHRIST, on the supposition that they perished in their unfruitfulness; so also was the cursing of the fig-tree, that produced leaves and had no fruit on it, a most significant document unto all men, that their profession, which is answerable to bearing leaves, must be joined with a suitable practice, and be accompanied with fruit, or it will be nothing worth: and fruitless persons were taught by that emblem, what they must expect, if they continued so. It is very evident, that this curse was not designed to terminate in the tree, but that it was pronounced against it, only as it was an apt resemblance of a professor that is barren of good works. So that this miracle was certainly to be instructive to the speetators, and to all who should afterwards. hear or read the story of it.

*Benson's Life of Christ.

+ Fowler's Design of Christianity..

Let us then, my Brethren, while we cannot but see the fate of the Jews, in this emblem of the barren fig-tree, and condemn their strange blindness and malice, who, after having seen so many miracles wrought by CHRIST, and so many proofs which shewed that he was sent from GOD, still remained barren of good works, and afterwards were punished for their unfruitfulness; Let us, I say, remember, that for us and for our children were these awful admonitions recorded, that we may give all diligence to add unto our faith virtue*, and to be prepared unto, and fruitful in every good work, and to be careful, while we outwardly profess to know GOD, that we do not in our works deny him.

There is one reflection to be made on this story, of which, although I have already dwelt long on it, I cannot but remind you; and that is, How merciful a thing it was in the Son of GOD, and how suitable to the Gospel which he preached, for him to show his power of punishment, upon a tree, rather than upon a man. It was then, and is at any time as easy for him to punish his revilers, as it was to curse the tree, or as it

*11 Peter i. 5. + 11 Tim. i. 21. Tit. i. 16,

can be for them to revile him, though they be never so ready at it. But to manifest himself to be the Saviour, not the destroyer of mankind, he cured all manner of diseases, and raised the dead; but never took away the life of any man, nor inflicted any disease. He spared his worst enemies, the scribes and Pharisees, and punished their hypocrisy in the emblem only of a fig-tree flourishing in leaves, and thereby promising very much and early fruit, yet having none: it made a show, but had nothing to answer so fair an appearance. Such is the miracle of the fig-tree represented in fact, which we find represented in words in Luke iii. 6, and which denoted the destruction of Jerusalem, whither our Saviour was then going, for its unfruitfulness and hypocrisy*.

The surprise and astonishment of the disciples of JESUS, when they observed the next time they passed that way, that the fig-tree was withered away, falls under the occurrences of the following day; the consideration of the effect of this surprise will therefore, according to my plan, make part of our meditations to-morrow evening: I shall now proceed briefly to

* Jenkin's Reasonableness of the Christian Religion,

state what happened on this day, after our Saviour had denounced this curse on the barren tree.

And here we find, that as soon as JESUS and his disciples were come to Jerusalem, he again went into the temple*, in which, notwithstanding he had the day before. cast out the buyers and sellers, yet he observed that the same profanation of it was repeated, and the same abuses again prevailed. With a zeal therefore to restore the sacredness of the temple, and to preserve inviolate a place dedicated entirely to the service of GOD, he instantly renewed his testimony against them, and began to drive out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and also the seats of them that sold doves: nor would he suffer that any man, for the sake of shortening his way should carry any burden, or any kind of vessel through the courts of the temple; but strictly insisted on a due reverence to it, as a place which was entirely set apart

*It is not expressly affirmed by the evangelists, that he went into the temple on both days. But the reasonableness of the thing, confirmed (as it is) by a comparison of the narratives of St. Matthew and St. Mark, makes it most probable that he did so.---See Doddridge on the Passages.

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