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If it bear fruit, well; thou shalt cut it down."
and if not, then after that Such is the parable of
the barren fig-tree: and the application of it to our own condition has already been made. I will only, in conclusion, shortly repeat the chief lessons which it teaches us, namely these:
I. What I alluded to at the beginning, that the barren fig-tree cannot remain in God's vineyard; that God expects from every Christian,-every one who" has a name to live,"—the fruit of a Christian life.
II. That on this account He waits long and is kind; does not cut us off in the midst of our sins; spares us when we deserve punishment, and in His wrath thinketh upon mercy.
And lastly, That even the patient forbearance of our Heavenly Father may be wearied out that the time will come when He will "lop the bough with terror" on which no fruit can be found: that for those who persist in opposing His will; who in spite of better knowledge, and abundant opportunities, continue unfruitful, "dead in trespasses and sins," there remaineth a certain fearful expectation of judgment: that the end of the ungodly,-and by the ungodly I would understand not the absolutely vicious, but all who are not godly, all who are living for themselves, and not unto God-the end of such is that they shall "be rooted out at the last."" The earth," writes the
apostle in the epistle to the Hebrews, "which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned."
These, my brethren, are all solemn and certain truths of Holy Scripture. May God bless them to our improvement. May He touch our hearts with such a deep sense of the mercies many and great that we have received at His hands,—and this, not the least, that we are alive at the present hour,
as shall stir us up to serve Him henceforth more sincerely, with our hearts as well as with our lips. May the year which through His mercy is now opening upon us, be to us all, the commencement of a stricter and more willing obedience than as yet we have rendered to the laws and precepts of the Gospel, and to all the ordinances of our holy religion; so that at the close of it, if He will that we remain till then, we may appear no more barren and unfruitful, but rather show like that tree described in the first Psalm," as planted by the water side; that bringeth forth his fruit in his season," and whose leaf doth not wither; bearing fruit like it, fruit which, as the product of His Holy Spirit, shall redound to God's Glory, and to our salvation through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hartley Wespall, Jan. 2, 1848.
GENESIS XV. 6.-" And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
THE great person to whom these words refer, was the patriarch Abraham; the illustrious ancestor of the Israelites, of whom we hear so much in the book of Genesis; the Father of the Faithful, and the Friend of God. His indeed is a character, the study of which must at all times afford us benefit and instruction; but it seems peculiarly forced upon our attention at present by the selection of the first lessons at this season of the year. (Quinquagesima Sunday.) Let me, then, invite you, my brethren, to follow me while I attempt to set forth for our admiration and humble imitation, some of the most prominent points in the history of this holy man: es
pecially such points as serve best to exhibit and illustrate the truth of what is said of him in the text, that unshaken reliance upon God's promises which obtained for him so large a blessing; the faith which was counted to him for righteousness.
Now, the first notice we have of Abraham in the Scripture, is given at the end of the eleventh, and beginning of the twelfth chapter of Genesis; from whence we learn that while living with his father Terah, in the Land of Mesopotamia, he received a call from God to quit his kindred, and his country, and go in search of a new land which God would show him. That new land was Canaan, the future home of the Jewish people; a land lying at a vast distance from the place where Abraham dwelt; a land at that time inhabited by fierce and warlike tribes, jealous of their own rights, and inaccessible to strangers; besides which, the country that lay between Mesopotamia and Canaan was wild, and barren, without roads or any means of support for travellers. But these discouraging obstacles had no weight in Abraham's breast against the direct bidding of the Almighty. "He believed in God;" he believed that the Lord who had called him would also keep him alive, and conduct him in safety to his destined habitation. And so at once and without hesitation he obeyed; he went out, as St. Paul tells us in simple and affecting language,—" he went
out, not knowing whither he went." The first halt that he made on his long journey was at Charran or Haran, and there, till the death of his aged father, he remained long enough to have formed a liking for the spot; long enough to have made further wandering irksome to him; for he was now, as we read at the fourth verse of the twelfth chapter, seventy-five years old. But his faith, as before, would not suffer him to rest while as yet God's purpose towards him was unfulfilled. So he removed in his old age from Haran, with "Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance and all that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came."
But here another trial was prepared for faithful Abraham. The Almighty, when He called him at the first, had promised to make of him a great nation: a nation in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed;-a promise which admits of a twofold interpretation, and which has since been, in a great measure, fulfilled. But how little prospect was there of its accomplishment, when Abraham, after his long journeyings, first entered into Canaan. Instead of possessing the land for an inheritance, he had not so much as a foot's breadth that he could call his own. He was a stranger and among strangers; obliged to be continually on the move either