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bers, congregation, or possessors at the time, may be represented by any of the kinds of trees, which whether usually planted in vineyards or not, are yet capable of growing there, and are actually sometinies found to be planted there, in conjunction with the vine. Now this is the case with the fig-treek. The principle of analogy, in fact, renders it but consistent that the sense of the metaphor should admit of being extended to this species of reclaimed or domestic trees; though it is ordinarily restricted to the vine. If the vine is commonly selected as the most appropriate of trees to adumbrate the people of God, and by its relation to a vineyard and its owner, to express that of the people of God to his church and to its head, it was doubtless because of its superior excellence and utility, above all the trees of the garden. Next to the vine in such intrinsic worth and excellence, and consequently next to the vine in dignity and estimation, we must rank the fig-tree. Such at least is the place assigned to it in the beautiful parable of Jotham', and such also is the equality of dignity even as compared with the vine itself, which is implied of the fig-tree, in that familiar idiom of the language of scripture, to describe a state of public and private security, and the undisturbed enjoyment of general peace and plenty; when every man is spoken of as sitting under his own vine and his own fig-treem.

k See the note, at the end of the explanation of the material circumstances, already given.

1 Judges ix. 7—20.

m This description occurs of the state of things in the reign of Solomon, 1 Kings iv. 25: of the peace and plenty promised to the subjects of Hezekiah, by Rabshakeh, in the name of his Now, when communities in their relative capacity of the congregation of the church of God, are denoted by the metaphor of trees, planted in a garden or a vineyard, the moral effects of that relation are depicted by the fruits of these trees; as the conduct of those who stand in that relation is good, they are represented by fruits which are genuine, or by the productiveness of the tree, in proportion to the advantages of its situation; as it is bad, and inconsistent with the duties of their relation, they are described by fruits which are base and degenerate, or by the barrenness of a tree, whose situation should have rendered it fertile. The causes too of such moral effects, the dispositions by which they are produced or on which they depend, are similarly personated

master Sennacherib, 2 Kings xviii. 31. Isaiah xxxvi. 16: of the peace and security, promised to all nations in the latter days, Micah iv. 4: of the same happy period in the days of the Branch, Zechar. iii. 10: and of the temporal happiness and prosperity of the Jews under the reign of Simon Maccabæus, 1 Macc. xiv. 12.

The reason, however, why the fig-tree and not the vine, was the metaphor selected in the parable to describe the people of the Jews, for the time being, in their proper relation to God and his church, may have been purely special in this instance, and subservient to the end of the parabolic allegory generally, which is concealment. With the metaphor of the vine as so employed, the Jews were more familiar, than they were likely to be with that of the fig-tree. It is possible too, that in delivering this allegory at present, our Saviour had an eye to the act of cursing the barren fig-tree hereafter; and therefore purposely accommodated the language of this representation to the matter of fact in reference to that transaction : speaking of the Jews under the image of the fig-tree here, because the malediction was to be pronounced upon the fig-tree in the same capacity, at the proper period afterwards.

by the natural qualities or tendencies of the trees, into which the goodness or badness of their fruits, the productiveness or sterility which they exhibit, whether according or contrary to what might be expected from their situation, and the advantages they enjoy, must be resolved.

This being the case, as the metaphorical designation borrowed from the properties of trees, or from those of their fruits, may be employed to describe any kind of conduct, supposed to characterise any kind of moral agents, under corresponding circumstances of action; the import of the metaphor in a given instance, that is, the duties whose performance or non-performance is intended by the presence or absence of the fruits, by the fertility or barrenness of the trees in question, as well as the subjects of whom they require to be understood, may be different; and must be determined by the nature of the case. Referred to the specific business of the mission of the Messiah, and the ministry of Jesus Christmas the personal subjects, denoted by the trees, expected to bear such and such fruits, will be the Jews, so the particular duties, the performance or non-performance of which on the part of the Jews, is intended by the presence or absence of the proper fruits, expected from such trees, will be those duties and those personal qualifications, which would be most requisite to give effect to the ministry of the Messiah, besides being the natural consequences of the relation of those among whom it was discharged, as that of the people of God; viz. the duties of repentance and amendment of life; the qualifications of faith and righteousness.

The relation and office of the dresser of the vine

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yard, in the present instance, are simply those of the dresser of the fig-tree; because, of the whole charge of the vineyard, which might otherwise be supposed committed to him, nothing is specified but the care and cultivation of this one tree. Now the relation and office of the dresser even of the fig-tree, are those of one, who by means of the usual pains and labour bestowed upon trees, has the charge of bringing into action and fostering their vegetative powers; and so far as they require external aid, or depend on human skill and industry for the result, is instrumental also in raising and maturing their fruits. Hence, if the fig-tree as such denotes the Jewish community in the abstract, and if the productiveness of the tree, whether requiring to be assisted, or capable of being facilitated in its proper effects, by external pains and attention, stands for a corresponding moral disposition in the Jews at large, the natural result of which should be a certain practical consequence, exhibited in their conduct and demeanour; the pains and labour bestowed upon the tree, which are the instrumental means from without, of bringing its productiveness into effect, and constitute the proper business of one who has the charge of the tree, will describe the part of any minister of God, by whose labours the Jewish community at large, might be wrought upon to the possession of the disposition in question, and to the production of its natural effects.

If, then, the owner of the vineyard may be considered to represent the Lord and Master of the visible church as at present existing among the Jews, in the abstract—whether it be the Father, or the Son, in his divine capacity—of each of whom such a relation to that church would equally hold good—the character, relation, and office of the kuitedovpy's, or dresser of the vineyard, who stands to the owner in the stead of his servant, and to the vineyard and the trees within it, in the relation of their keeper, superintendent, and cultivator, considered in the abstract also, would be capable of denoting the character, relation, and office of any divinely commissioned teacher, or messenger from God, the purpose of whose mission should be for the sake of the Jews, and the duties of whose ministry should be discharged among the Jews.

These are an office and character, therefore, which at all periods of the Jewish history, subsequent to the institution of the prophetical order, would have suited to the relation and ministry of any prophet of the old dispensation, whose office it was to preach repentance and a change of life, to those to whom he was sent; (which is in fact, a correct description of the office of the prophets in general;) and to recall the people from the open disregard of their original covenant, to a better observance of it, and a more faithful compliance with the will of God, for the future. And if the office of our Lord himself, during the continuance of his personal ministry, was analogous to that of the prophets of the ancient dispensation, and was directed to similar purposes in general ; the same kind of description which would have been accommodated to the nature and functions of their ministry, would be equally well adapted to those of his.

Nor, supposing even this to be the case, should it appear extraordinary that our Lord, who uniformly speaks of himself as sent by the Father ; as having

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