"And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."


Chapter xiii. "He spake also this parable: A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

"Then said he unto 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?

"And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

"And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."

This parable seems to pertain to the four ages of man, three of which are represented by the three years which have passed away without any fruit having been derived from them; but the fourth year is emblematic of the fourth creation, and if the tree should still be barren, then it shall be cut down as worthless. The text preceding this parable seems to point to this view, for it says, "Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?" . . . "Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." From this it seems that although each of the creations perished in turn, it does not follow that they were sinners above those of the present race: for it is distinctly said, "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish;" therefore the condition of those present is precisely the same as those which have been swept away. But do the people repent? or will they repent? Dan. ii. 40 answers this question as follows: "And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise." Hence the fourth race also shall break in pieces, even as the others were broken.

What is the object of the parable? It is to call attention to the work of Zion. Man is likened unto a fig-tree planted in a vineyard. During three eras fruit was sought from it, but the tree was barren and bore no fruit. Cut it down, was the command. One, however, found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and he built an ark, and the tree was digged about and dunged, and, behold, the tree did bear fruit, and became an exceedingly great tree. But before yielding any fruit many branches were cut off, in which was concealed a wise purpose: for in the destruction of the nations "the measure" of the Amorites were fast filling up. The history of these eras, as seen by the angels, is undoubtedly remarkable beyond our conception; and the intelligences which then existed shall return and be judged; some of whom shall be restored to life eternal, and over some the waters of oblivion shall roll forever.

An example of the iniquity of the Amorites is given as follows: "And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.

"And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

"And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.

"And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

"And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

"The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doeth not each one of you on the sabbath day loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering.

"And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?"

Therefore from this it will be seen that such afflictions are the outgrowth of the kingdom of evil; that sickness, persecution, and death are adjuncts of the Adversary. The mission of the Messiah is to throw down, overwhelm, and completely destroy this kingdom, so that by no possibility can it ever rise again and rear its evil head among the nations. This power existed before man was created, and the plan for its overthrow was perfected before man was created; but through man as a field and "a weapon of war" this kingdom was cast to the ground. The work was laid down in Zion, and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the great battle-axe, as man overthrew the Adversary. If man had not been created, then the Saviour could not have come as man, and the kingdom of evil would still be unchecked, unless some other plan had emanated from the Most High for its destruction. It is evident that with much long-suffering the evil and fallen have been permitted to remain, but it follows that the innocent will not be delivered unto them forever. Their kingdom must cease, and, according to the Scriptures, the bounds of it are set by the limits of time. The honor which has come upon man, that he should be predestinated, and called, and chosen as an instrument and as a weapon in this work, is exceeding great, and he cannot in this world, if ever, realize its extent.