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SERMON VI.

THE FIG-TREE SPARED; OR,

ANOTHER YEAR OF GRACE.

LUKE 13. 8.

Lord, let it alone this

year

also.”

(PREACHED ON THE FIRST SUNDAY IN THE YEAR.)

The first Sunday in a new year should be a very solemn and thoughtful day with us all. It is a kind of mile-stone in our journey onward. It is a loud call to us to reflect on the past, to look back on the years that are gone by, and to ponder well

if we

are travelling in that path, which will bring us to heaven.

I think that I could hardly choose a more fitting portion of God's word for my new year's sermon, than that which I have read to you. It forms a part of a very interesting parable, which our Lord spoke in the hearing of the Jews.

Let us closely examine each part of the Parable, and try to gather from it all the instruction we can.

And may He who spoke it, enable us to understand it !

In the sixth verse we read, that a certain man had a Fig-tree planted in his vineyard, and he came, and sought fruit thereon,

fruit thereon, and found none." In countries where vines are grown, greater care is taken of the vineyard than any other part of the

farm. So that we may suppose the fig-tree in question was a very choice plant. It was placed in the most favourable spot, and probably no pains were spared in rearing it. Time after time, however, the owner passes by, and looks upon it, but finds it fruitless. The tree was there with its spreading branches, and its large green leaves, but no fruit.

What is to be done? Why, the owner says to the dresser of his vineyard, “ Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none; cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground ?” This was just what one might expect. All the care that had been taken with the tree was thrown away upon it. It was only an incumbrance to the soil, and fit to be rooted up and burnt.

Let us stop here, my brethren, and learn a lesson. That fig-tree reminds us of our favoured condition. How is it, that we were not born in a heathen country? How is it, that we have lived hitherto in a land, where the light of Christian truth shines so brightly? Is it chance that our lot was cast here? Oh no, it is the great mercy of God, that has chosen for us so favoured a spot in his vineyard.

And what, think you, does he expect of us? 66 To whom much is given, of him will much be required.” The mere leaves of an outward profession will not satisfy Him. Mere blossoms will not do, beginning well, and promising fair. He looks deeper. He “comes seeking fruit." Aye, and his eye in an instant detects if it be real, genuine, ripening fruit. We sometimes see upon a fig-tree, hundreds of little stunted figs, which

we

make a fair show, but they come to nothing. The gardener knows well that they will never ripen.

Brethren, how is it with you? When God comes seeking fruit, does he find any? Each one of us has some special work to do. We were sent here, not merely to pass quietly through this world. We were sent here to be useful, to fulfil some important end.

If masters, are Christian masters? If parents, are we anxiously endeavouring to bring up our children for heaven? vants, are we honest, obedient, faithful, serving for Christ's sake? If poor, are we rich in faith? Depend upon it, there is a work for each one of us to do. Are we doing it? Are we letting our light shine before men? Is it plain to all that we are Christ's servants ? Are we living to God?

If ser

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