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and empty professors under the gospel; and the resemblance clearly holds in these following particulars:
1. The tree that is to be hewn down for the fire, stands in the orchard among other flourishing trees, where it hath enjoyed the benefit of a good foil, a strong fence, and much culture; but being barren, these privileges secure it not from the fire. It is not our standing in the visible church by a powerless profession among real saints with whom we have been associated, and enjoyed the rich and excellent waterings of ordinances, that can secure us from the wrath of God, Matth. iii. 8, 9. "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance, and "think not to fay within yourselves, we have Abraham to our fa"ther." Neither Abraham, nor Abraham's God, will acknowledge such degenerate children; if Abraham's faith be not in your hearts, it will be no advantage that Abraham's blood runs in your veins. It will be a poor plea for Judas, when he (hall stand before Christ in judgment, to fay, Lord, I was one of thy family, I preached for thee; I did eat and drink in thy presence. Let these scriptures be consulted, Matth. vii. 22. Matth. xxv. it, 12. Rom. ii. 17, and 25.
2. The husbandman doth not presently cut down the tree because it puts not forth as soon as other trees do; but waits as long as there is any hope, and then cuts it down. Thus doth Gr><? wait upon barren dead-hearted persons, from sabbath to sabbath, and from year to year: for the Lord is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, 2 Pet. iii. 9.' Thus the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah upon those dry trees, who are now smoking and flaming in hell, 1 Pet. iii. 29. He waits long on sinners, but keeps exact accounts of every year and day of his patience, Luke xiii. 7. " These three years." And Jer. xxv. 3. these twenty-three years.
3. When the time is come to cut it down, the dead tree cannot possibly resist the stroke of the ax; but receives the blow, and falls Iwfbre it. No more can the stoutest sinner resist the fatal stroke by death, by which the Lord hews him down; Eccl. viii. 8. "There is "no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; nei"ther hath he power in the day of death; and there is no discharge "in that war." When the pale horse comes, away you must into the land of darkness. Though thou cry with Adrian, O my poor foul! whither art thou going? Die thou must, thou barren professor; though it were better for thee to do any thing else than to die. What a dreadful shriek will thy conscience give when it sees the ax at thy root, and fay to thee, as it is Ezek. vii. 6. "An end is come, the "end is come; it watcheth for thee; behold it is come." Oh! faith Henry Beauford, (that rich and wretched cardinal, bishop of Winchester, and chancellor of England, when he perceived whereun© he must go) wherefore must I die? Is the whole realm would save
Vol. V. X
my life, I am able either by policy to get it, or by riches to buy it. Fie (quoth he) will not death be hired ? Will riches do nothing ? No, neither riches nor policy can then avail.
4. The side to which the tree leaned most while it stood, that way it will fall when it is cut down; and as it falls, so it lies, whether to the south or north, Eccl. si. 3. So it fares with these m y fl ical trees, I mean fruillels professors: Had their hearts and affections inclined and bended heaven-ward whilst they lived, that way, no doubt, they had fallen at their death; but as their hearts inclined to sin, and even bended to the world, so when God gives the fatal stroke, they must fall hell-ward and wrath-ward: And, how dreadful will such a fall be!
5. When the dead tree is carried out of the orchard, it (hall never be among the living trees of the orchard any more ; many years it grew among them, but now it shall never have a place there again. And when the barren professor is carried out of the world by death, he shall never be associated with the saints any more: He may then fay, farewel all ye faints, among whom I lived, and with whom I so often heard, fasted, and prayed: I shrili never see your face more; Matth. viii. 11, 12. << I say unto you, that many shall come from the "east, and west, and north, and south, and shall sit down with "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the "children of the kingdom shall be cast forth into outer darkness; «' there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth."
6. When the dead tree is carried out of the orchard, the husband- Eian cuts off its branches, and rives it asunder with his wedges. This also is the lot of barren professors: "The Lord of that servant will '« come in a day when he looketh not for him, and will cut him "asunder;" he shall be dissected, or cut abroad, Luke xii. 46.
Now therefore "consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear (or "rend) you in pieces," Psalm 1. 22. O direful day! when the same hand that planted, pruned, and watered thee so long, and so tenderly, shall now strike mortal strokes at thee, and that without pity! *' For, he that made them, will not have mercy on them; and he *' that formed them, will shew them no savour," Isa. xxvii. 11. For the day of mercy is over; and the day of his wrath is fully come.
7. When this tree is cleaved abroad, then its rotten, hollow inside appears, which was the cause of its barrenness; it looked like a fair and sound-bodied tree, but now all may fee how rotten it is at the heart; so will God in that day, when he shall dissect the barren professor, discover the rottenness of his heart, and tmsoundness ot his principles and ends: Then they who never suspected him before, shall see what a hollow and rotten-hearted professor he was.
8. Lastly; The fruitless tree is cast into the fire. This also is the end and fad issue of formality, John xv. 6. " He is cast forth as a branch, «« and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the
fire; and they are burned." This is an undoubted truth, that
there is no plant in God's vineyard, but he will have glory from it, by bearing fruit; or glory on it, by burning in the fire. In this fire shall they lie "gnashing their teeth," Luke xiii. 38. and that both in indignation against the saints, whom they shall see in glory ; and against Jesus Christ, who would not save them; anu against themselves, for losing so foolishly the opportunities of salvation. Do you behold, when you sit by the fire, the froth that boils out of those flaming logs? O think of that foam and rage of thole undone creatures, foaming, and gnashing their teeth in that fire which is not quenched ! Mark ix. 14. 1
æ .a o f How often have I passed by such barren tree,
f 1 h'" t a w'fk a more Darren heart, as little thinking such jo ypoc 1 . a free to |je t^e tmf)[em 0j myfeiff as Nebuchad
nezznr did, when he saw that tree in a dream, which represented himself, and shadowed forth to him his ensuing misery, Dan. iv. 13. But, O my conscience! my drowsy, sleepy conscience! wert thou but tender, and faithful to me, thou wouldst make as round and terrible an application of such a spectacle to me, as the faithful prophet did to him, ver. 22. And thus wouldst thou, O my foul, bemoan thy condition.
Poor wretch! here I grow, for a little time, among the trees of righteousness, the plants of renown, but I am none cf them ; I was never planted a right feed; some green and flourishing leaves of profeffion, indeed, I have, which deceive others, but God cannot be deceived; he fees I am fruitless and rotten at the heart. Poor soul! what will thine end be but burning? Behold, the ax lieth by thy root? and wonder it is, that there it should lie so long, and I yet standing! Still mercy pleads for a fruitless creature: Lord, spare it one year longer. Alas! he need strike no great blow to ruin me; his very breath blows to destruction, Job iv. 9. A frown of his face can blast and ruin me, Psalm lxxx. 6. He is daily solicited by his justice to hew me down, and yet I stand. Lord, cure my barrenness! I know thou hadst rather fee fruit than fire upon me.
IF, after pains and patience, you can fee
Think on it sadly, lay it close to heart,
This is the cafe in which thou wast, or art.
If so thou wast, but now dost live and grow,
And bring forth fruit, what praise and thanks dost owe
To that wife husbandman that made thee so?
O think, when justice lifted up its hand,
How mercy did then interceding stand!
How pity did on thy behalf appear,
To beg reprieval for another year.
.Stop, Lord! forbear him: all hope is not past;
He can but be for fire at the last.
Though many sermons, many a gracious call
He hath resisted like a brazen wall,
The next may win him; when thy grace shall raise
Unto itself a monument of praise.
How should this meditation thaw and melt *
The heart of him that hath such mercy felt?
But, if thou still remain a barren tree,
Then here, as in a mirror, thou may'st fee
Thy wretched stats, when justice, at a blow,
Requites God's patience in thine overthrow.
And canst thou bear it? Can thy heart endure
To think of everlasting burnings? Sure,
This must thy lot, thy fearful portion be,
If thou continue still a barren tree.
, To the Third Part of
NOW, from the pleasant orchard let us walk
Upon the Husbandman's Care for his Cattle.
More care for horse and oxen many take,
MANY husbandmen are excessively careful about their cattle, rising themselves early, or causing their servants to rife betimes to provinder and dress them. Much time is spent in some countries, in trimming and adorning their horses with curious trappings and plumes of feathers; and if at any time their beasts be sick, what care is taken to recover and heal them : you will be sure they shall want nothing that is necessary for them; yea, many will chuse rather to want themselves, than suffer their horses so to do; and take a great deal of comfort to see them thrive and prosper under their hands:
WHAT one said of bloody Herod, who flew so many children at Bethlehem, That it were better to be his swing than his son, may truly enough be applied to some parents and masters, who take less care for the saving the souls of their children and servants, than they do for the bodies of those beasts which daily feed at their stalls and cribs. Many there be who do in reference to their fouls, as Jacob did with respect to the preservation of their bodies, when he put all the herds of cattle before, and his wives and little ones behind, as he went to meet his brother Esau. It is a weighty saying of a grave * author; « It is vile ingratitude to rejoice when cattle multiply, 'and repine when children increase; it is heathenish distrustfulness 'to fear that he who provides for your beasts, will not provide for 'your children ; and it is no less than unnatural cruelty, to be careful 'of the bodies of beasts, and careless of the fouls of children.' Let us but a little compare your care and diligence in both respects, and fee, in a few particulars, whether you do indeed value your own, or your children and servant's fouls, as you do the life and health of a beast.
1. Your care for your very horses is expressed early, whilst they are but colts, and not come to do you any service; you are willing to be at pains and cost, to have them broken and brought to their way. This is more than ever many of them did for their children; they can fee them wild and profane, naturally taking a stroke or way of wickedness, but yet never were at any pains or cost to break them; these must be fondled and cockered up in the natural way of their own cor
* J cut. on Jude, part 1. p. 170.