Imágenes de páginas

and enipty 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 soil, a strong fence, and much culture; but being barren, these privileges secure it not from the fire. It is not our itanding 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 fecure us from the wrath of God, Matth. iii. 8, 9. « Bring forth fruits meet for repentance, and " think not to say 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 shall stand before Christ in judgment, to say, 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. II, 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 God wait upon barren dead-hearted persons, from fibbath to fabbath, and from year to year : for the Lord is long-suffering to us-warı, not willing that any Thould periin, 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 finoking and flaming in hell, i Pet. iii. 29. He waits long on finners, but keeps exact accounts of every year and day of his patience, Luke xiii. 7. “ These thr'e years.” And Jer. xxv. 3. these twenty-three years.

3. When the time is come to cut it down, the dead tree cannot poflibly relift the stroke of the ax; but receives the blow, and falls before it. No more can the stouteit funer relift the fatal Itroke by death, by which the Lord kews 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 foui! whither art thou going? Die ihou must, thou barren profeilor; though it were better for thee to do any thing else than to ciie. What a dreadful thriek will thy conscience give when it sees the ax at thy root, and say 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 whereunto he must go) wherefore muit I die? If the whole realm would fave

Vol. V.

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 fide to which the tree leaned most while it ftood, that way it will fall when it is cut down; and as it falls, so it lies, whether to the south or north, Eccl. xi. 3. So it fares with these nyfiical trees, I mean fruillels profeffors : Had their hearts and affections inclined and bended heaven-ward whilit they lived, that way, no doubt, they had fallen at their death ; but as their hearts inclined to fin, and even bended to the world, fo when God gives the fatal stroke, they must fall hell-ward and wrath-ward : Aud, how dreadful will such a fall be !

5. When the dead tree is carried out of the orchard, it shall never be among the living trces of the orchard any more; many years it grew among them, but now it fhall never bave a place there again. And when the barren professor is carried out of the world by death, he shall never be affociated with the faints any more: He may then say, farewel all ye faints, among whoin I lived, and with whom I so often heard, fasted, and prayed : I shåll 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 fouth, and thall fit down with « Abraham, Ilaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven ; but the 6 children of the kingdom fall be cast forth into outer darkness; “ there thalt be weeping, and wailing, and grathing of teeth.”

6. When the dead tree is carried out of the orchard, the husbandman 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 o alunder ;" he shall be diffected, or cut abroad, Luke xii. 46.

Now therefore “confider this, ye that forget God, left I tear (or « rend) you in pieces,” Psalm l. 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 thiew them no favour,” Ifa. 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 barrenncfs; it looked like a fair and sound-bodied tree, but now all may see how rotten it is at the heart; so will God in that day, when he shall diffect the barren profeffor, discover the rottenncis of his heart, and unsoundness of his principles and ends : Then they who never suspected him before, shall fee what a hollow and rotien-liearted professor he was.

8. Lastly; The fruitless tree is caft into the fire. This also is the end and fad issue of formality, John xv. 6. “ He is cast forth as a branch, 66 and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the 6 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 thall they lie “gnathing their teeth,” Luke xiii. 38. and that both in indignation againt the faints, whom they shall see in giory; and against Jesus Christ, who would not fave them; and againit themselves, for Joging fo fooli lnly the opportunities of faivation. Do you behold, when you fit by the fire, the froth that boiis out of those faming logs? O think of that foam and rage of those undone creatures, foaming, and gnashing their teeth in that fire which is not quenched ! Mark ix. 14.


How often have I paffed by such barren trees, A reflection for a

a with a more barren heart, as little thinking such format pypocrite. a tree to be the emblem of myself, as Nebuchadnezzar did, when he faw that tree in a dream, which represented himself, and shadowed forth to him his ensuing misery, Dan. iv. 13. But, O my conscience! niy drowsy, sleepy conscience! wert thou but tender, and faithful to me, thou woullst 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 soul, bemoan thy condition.

Peor wretch ! here I grow, for a little time, among the trees of righteousness, the plants of renown, but I am none of them ; I was never planted a right feed; fome green and flourishing leaves of profeffion, indeed, I have, which deceive others, but God cannot be deceived; he sees I am fruitless and rotten at the heart. Poor foul! 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, fpare 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 folicited by his justice to hew me down, and yet I stand. Lord, cure my barrenness! I know thou hadît rather see fruit than fire upon me.

TF, after pains and patience, you can see
I No hopes of fruit, down goes the barren tree.
You will not suffer trees that are unfound,
And barren too, to cumber useful ground.
The fatal ax is laid unto the root:
'Tis fit for fire, when unfit for fruit.
But, though this be a dead and barren tree, .
Reader, I would not have it fo to thee :
May it to thee this serious thought suggest,
In all the orchard this dead tree's the best,

Think on it sadly, lay it close to heart,
| This is the case in which thou waft, or art.

If so thou wast, but now doft live and grow,
And bring forth fruit, what praise and thanks doft owe
To that wise husbandman that made thee fo ?
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 hin: all hope is not past;
He can but be for fire at the last.
Though many lermons, many a gracious cail
He hath resisted like a brazen wall,
The next may win him; when thy grace shall raita
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 itill remain a barren tree,
Then here, as in a mirror, thou may'st fee
Thy wretched state, when justice, at a blow,
Requites God's patience in thine overthrow.
And canst thou bear it ? Can thy heart enduro
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

--Gess PEN --
TATOW, from the pleasant orchard let us walk

A turn i'th' fields, and there converse and talk
With cows and horses; they can teach us some
Choice lesions, though irrational and dumb.
My reader's weary ; yet I do not fçar

To be forfaken by one reader here:
He'll doubtlets stay to hear what quellions I
Propouod to beafts, and how they make reply:
The latted ox, and pamper'd horse you ride;
Their Careless matter for his care thus chide.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Upon the Husbandman's Care for his Cattle.

More care for horse and oxen many take,
Than for their fouls, or dearest children's sake.

AT ANY husbandmen are excessively careful about their cattle,

W rising themselves early, or causing their servants to rise be1 times to provinder and dress them. Much time is spent in some | countries, in trimming and adorning their horses with curious trap

pings and plumes of feathers; and if at any time their beasts be fick, what care is taken to recover and heal them : you will be fure they shall want nothing that is necessary for them; yea, many will chufe rather to want themselves, than fuffir their horses so to do; and take a great deal of comfort to see them thrive and prosper under their hands:

APPLICATION. W HAT one said of bloody Herod, who slew so many children at

VV Bethlehem, That it were better to be his swine than his son, may truly enough be applied to some parents and masters, who take lefs care for the saving the souls of their children and fervants, 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 Efau. 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 souls of children.' Let us but a little compare your care and diligence in both respects, and lee, in a few particulars, whether you do indeed value your own, or your children and servant's souls, as you do the life and health of a bealt.

1. Your care for your very horses is expressed early, whilst they are bust 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 tee 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 Dialt be fondled and cockered up in the natural way of their own cor

* Jenk. on Jude, part 2. p. 170.

« AnteriorContinuar »