THE BARREN TREE. A Sermon Preached at Pauls Crosse October 26. 1623.


LONDON, Printed by AVG: MATHEVVES for IOHN GRISMAND, and are to be sold at his Shop in Pauls Alley, at the signe of the Gunne. 1623.

TO THE REVE­rend and learned, Doctor DONNE, Deane of St. Pauls, toge­ther with the Prebend-Residentiaries of the same Church, my very good Patrons.


NOt out of any o­pinion of this Sermons worth, to which I dare not inuite your Iudicious eyes. Nor, any am­bition to merit of my Patrons, whom I read stiled, Petty cre­ators. But in humble acknow­ledgement [Page]of your fauours, I present this small Rent of Thankefulnesse; the poore fruit of that tree, which growes on your owne ground, and hath not from the world any other sustenance. Vouchsafe, I beseech you, your Patronage to the child, who haue made the Father of it,

Your VVors. deuoted Homager THO: ADAMS.

To the Reader.

I Neither affect those Rheumaticke Pennes, that are still dropping vpon the Presse: nor those Phlegmaticke spirits, that will scarse bee coniur'd into the orbe of employment. But if modest forwardnesse be a fault, I cannot excuse my selfe.

It pleased God Almighty, to make a fearefull Comment on this his owne Text, the very same day it was preached by his vnworthiest seruant. The argument was but audible in the morning, before night it was visible. His holy Pen had long since written it with inke, now his hand of Iustice expounded it in the Characters of bloud, There, was onely a conditionall menace, So it shall be: here a terrible remonstrance, So it is. Sure! He did not meane it for a nine daies won­der. Their sudden departure out of the World, must not so suddenly depart from the memorie of the World. Woe to that soule that shall take so slight a notice of so extraordinary a Iudge­ment. We doe not say, They perished: Chari­tie forbid it. But this wee say, It is a signe of Gods fauour, when hee giues a man Law. Wee [Page]passe no sentence vpon them, yet let vs take war­ning by them. The Remarkablenesse would not be neglected; for the Time, the Place, the Per­sons, the Number, the Maner. Yet still wee conclude not, This was for the transgression of the dead: but this we are sure of, It is meant for the admonition of the liuing.

Such is our Blessed Sauiours conclusion, vpon a paralel instance: Except ye repent, YE shal all LIKEWISE perish. There is no place safe enough for offenders: but when the Lord is once vp in armes, happy man that can make his owne peace! otherwise, in vaine we hope to runne from the Plague, while we carry the Sinne along with vs. Yet will not our wilfull and bewitched Recu­sants, from these legible Characters, spell Gods plaine meaning. No impression can bee made in those hearts, that are ordained to perish. For their malicious, causelesse, and vnchristian censures of vs, God forgiue them: our requitall be onely pitie and prayers for them. Howsoeuer they giue out, (and I will not here examine) that their piety is more then ours: Impudence it selfe cannot de­nie, but our Charitie is greater then theirs. Now the holy feare of God keepe vs in the wayes of Faith and Obedience; that the properation of Death may neuer preuent our preparation to die. And yet still, after our best endeauour; From sudden death good Lord deliuer vs all. Amen.

T. A.


LVKE. Cap. 13. Vers. 7.

Then said hee to the Dresser of his Vine­yard; Behold, these three yeares I come seeking fruit on this Fig-tree, and find none: cut it downe, why cumbreth it the ground?

NEwes is brought to Christ, of a certaine Iudgement, which was not more Pilates, then Gods, vpon some Gali­leans; who, while they were sacrificing, were sacrificed; their blood being mingled with the blood of the beasts, [Page 2]on the same altar. Lest this should be whol­ly attributed to Pilates crueltie, without due respect had of the omnipotent Iustice, hee samples it with another; of eighteene men miscarrying by the fall of a Tower. No Pi­late threw downe this, here was no humane Executioner: the matter of their death was morter and stones; these bad no purpose to kill them. This therefore, must bee an inui­sible hand, working by an insensible creature: the Iustrument may bee diuers, the Iudge is the same.

Now, Poena paucorum, terror omnium: as an exhalation drawne from the earth, fired and sent backe againe to the earth, smites onely one place, but terrifieth the whole countrey. So their ruines should be our ter­rours; let them teach vs, that they may not touch vs. They are hitherto but like Moses his Rodde turned into a Serpent: not into a Beare or Lyon, lest it should haue deuoured Pharaoh: but into a Serpent, that hee might be more afraid then hurt. It is Gods speciall fauour to vs, that others bee made examples for vs, and not wee made examples for o­thers. Nothing could teach them, let them teach vs.

Of these fearefull Instances our Sauiour makes this vse; setting downe a peremptory conclusion: Vel poenitendum, vel pereundum: Except yee repent, yee shall all likewise perish. [Page 3]Such vengeance is no way to bee auoyded, but by repentance. But here the Iewes might flatter themselues; If wee be greater sinners then they, how comes it to passe that wee speed better then they? To this silent obie­ction, Christ makes an Apologicall answere, verse 6. You are not spared because you are more righteous, but because God to you is more gracious. You deserue such or sorer Iudgements; and the reason of this impu­nitie is not to bee looked for in your inno­cence, but in the Lordes patience: nor be­cause you are not worse to him, but be­cause hee is better to you: who offers you space and grace to amend, if (at least) at last you will bring foorth the fruites of Repen­tance.

There be some termes in the Text; (as that the Vineyard is the Church, euery Christian a Fig-tree, God the Owner, euery Pastor a Dresser:) wherein your vnderstandings may well preuent my discourse: these known and familiar things I take as granted of all hands.

It is a Parable, therefore not to bee forced euery way, nor made to warrant a conclusion which the Author neuer meant. This were, when it offers vs the company a myle, to compell it to goe with vs twaine: or to make Christes Messenger speake our errand. Such is the trade of Rome; what their owne policie hath made necessarie, they will teach God [Page 4]to make good: this is to picke darknesse out of the Sunne. No. Verificatur in sensu suo. like a good creature, it does onely that it was made for. A Parable is not like a Looking-glasse, to represent all formes and faces: but a well drawne Picture, to remonstrate that person whereof it is a counterfeit. It is like a knife, with the haft it cutts not, with the backe it cuts not, it cuts with the edge. A Candle is made to light vs, not to heate vs: a Stoue is made to heate vs, not to light vs: if this Parable, like the Sunne, may giue both light and heate; the more profitable, the more acceptable.

Then sayd hee to the Dresser, The Distri­bution. &c. That part of it, to which I limit my present Dis­course, deliuers it selfe to vs in these foure passages.


  • Consultation; Then sayd hee to the Dresser of his Vineyard.
  • Complaint. Behold, these three yeeres I come seeking fruit on this Fig-tree, and find none.
  • Sentence; Cut it downe.
  • Reason; Why cumbers it the ground?

The Consultation. Then said he vnto, &c.

1 Dixit, non percussit: hee spake, hee stroke not: hee might haue spared words, and be­gunne [Page 5]with wounds. The Tree had rather deserued the Axe and Fire, then a Consulta­tion of recouery. How easily would man haue reiected his hopelesse brother? as when a piece of clay will not worke to his minde, the Potter throwes it away: or wee cast fouie ragges to the dung-hill, little thinking that they may become white paper. But with God, Verba antecedunt verbera; hee will bee heard before hee bee felt. Our first Parents, when they had sinned, Vocem andiuerunt, Heard the voyce of God: Genes. 3.8. Hee reasoned with them, before he condemned them. If the fa­thers word can correct the child, hee will let the rod alone. Wicked men vse the sudden Arguments of steele and yron; as Ioah dis­coursed with Amasa, in the fift ribbe, 2 Sam. 20.10. 1 Kings 22.24. they speake Daggers poynts. So Zedekiah dispu­ted with the Prophet, a word and a blow; yea, a blow without a word: he strucke him first, and spoke to him afterwards. God deales otherwise; Behold, I stand at the doore, Reuel. 3.20. and knocke: hee knockes at the doore, does not presently breake it open. Hee giues vs warning of his Iudgements, that gaue him no warning of our sinnes. Why doeth hee thus? That wee might see our miserable e­state, and fall to timely deprecation: that so punishing our selues, wee might saue him a labour.

2 Dixit, non destinauit: as if the Lord would [Page 6]double and repeat his thoughts, before hee decreed it to irreuocable ruine. A diuine president of moderation! If he that cannot transgresse in his wrath, nor exceed in his Iu­stice, will yet Consulere amicum, aduise with his friend: how ought fraile man to suspend his furious purposes to mature deliberation? It is too common with vs, to attempt dange­rous and desperate actions, without further counsell then our owne greene thoughts. So Anger is made a Solicitor, Passion a Iudge, and Rashnesse an Executioner. The wise man first considers, then speakes or does: the mad man first speakes or does, and then consi­ders. Which driues him on necessitie to play the after-game; with shame and sorrow to recouer his former estate, or giue it lost for euer. O holy deliberation, whither art thou fled? Dauids Harpe did cast the euill spirit out, this would keepe him from euer com­ming in. It is a Porter at the Gate of Gods spirituall Temple, Man; that would be as sure to keepe out his enemies, as Dauid would haue bin ready to let in his friends. How ma­ny desperate precipices of sin would be pre­uented, were this Rule remembred; Consule Cultorem? For matter of estate, we are coun­selled by the Lawyer: for health of body, aduised by the Physician: we trust the Pilot to steere our course by Sea, the Suruey or to mete out our Land: but for the soule let it be [Page 7]as barren as this Fig-tree, we take no counsell of the Gardiner. Doe worldlings consult the Preacher, concerning their vsurious trade before they vndertake it? Doe Gallants ad­uise with him, before they meet in Aceldama, the field of blood? O that they would admit an answere from such a friend, before they giue an answere to such an enemy.

3 Dixit Vinitori. Such is the honour God doth his Ministers, to acquaint them with his owne purposes. Surely, Amos 3.7. the Lord will do no­thing, but he first reuealeth it to his seruants, the Prophets. Nothing; which may conduce to the office of their Ministery, and the good of his Church. Luke 8.10. To you it is giuen to know the my­steries of the kingdome of Heauen. To you, not to the world, they haue no such reuelation. It is giuen, it's none of your inheritance, you were not borne to it. To knowe Mysteries, Sapere alta, not common things. Of the king­dome (not secular; such mysteries are for the knowledge of Statizing Iesuites; but) of hea­uen. Gen. 18.17. Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I mean to do? The matter concerned Sodome, not Abraham: yet was it reuealed to Abra­ham, not to Sodome. But doth God need any mans counsell? Rom. 11.34. Who hath at any time beene his Counseller? Will the Potter take aduice of his pots? No; when Christ asked Philip where supply of bread might bee had for the multitude; This hee said to prooue him: Iohn 6.6. for he [Page 8]himselfe knew what he would doe. His questions are not his, but our satisfactions. Thus doth hee credit his owne Ordinance, teaching the world how to esteeme of them whom him­selfe so singularly honors. How poore a place soeuer they finde in mens thoughts, the King of heauen and earth cals them to his counsel. Priest, Numb. 17. was a title whereof the Princes of Is­rael were ambitious: they would not, euery man haue written his name on his rod, but in hope that this Dignitie might fall to his lot. Now, is the Ministery of the Gospell inferi­our to that of the Lawe? Was the seruice of death more glorious then the seruice of life, and saluation? If the Euangelicall Couenant bee better, is the Ministration worse? The Sonnes of the great thinke scorne of such an imployment: what they held an honor, these count a disparagement: In one and the same subiect meets their ambition and our scorne. It is ill when the Figge-tree shall despise the Dresser, but it would bee farre worse if the Dresser should despise the Fig-tree.

4 To the Dresser. This is the whole Con­gregation of his Ministers, to whom he hath committed the culture of his Vineyard: all which, by an Enallage numeri, are summ'd vp in one Dresser. Actes 4.32. 1. Quia Cor vnum, be­cause they haue all one heart. Ephes. 4.12. 2. Quia offi­cium vnum; all their labours meet in that one common terme; the edification of the Body of [Page 9]Christ. 3. It is vsuall to name one proceteris, for all the rest. Peter sayes, Though I should die with thee, I will not denie thee. Math. 26.35. Did Peter onely promise this? No, but So sayd likewise the rest of the Disciples. Had not this been a Parable, I neuer found a place of more probable co­lour for the high Priest of Rome to chalenge his vniuersall Supremacy by. But surely, he will neuer dresse Christes Vineyard, as it ought, vnlesse in a Parable. Nay, would his Instruments forbeare to sowe it with bram­bles, to manure it with blood, and to cast Na­baoth out of his own vineyard, it were some­what. But let them passe! When the Spirit wrote to a whole Church, he inscribes his E­pistle vnder one particular name, Reuel. 2. & 3. Angelo Eccle­siae, to the Angell of the Church.

5 To the Dresser. Dressing implies labour and heedfulneesse. I might here touch vpon the Ministers diligence, that Christs Vineyard neuer lie rude and vnpolishd through his de­fault. But this age will looke to that well e­nough: neuer did the Egyptians call so fast vpon the Israelites for making of Brickes, as the people call on vs for making of Sermons: & our allowance of materials is much alike. They think it recompense bountifull enough to praise our paines; as if wee could liue like Camelions, vpon the subtill ayre of Com­mendations. So they serue vs as Carriers do their Horses; lay heauy burdens vpon their [Page 8] [...] [Page 9] [...] [Page 10]backes, and then hang belles at their eares to make them musicke. But be our reward little or much, God forbid we should slacke dres­sing the Vineyard of Iesus Christ.

6 To the Dresser. Why to him? Vt interce­deret that he might pleade for the Tree. So vnwilling is God to destroy, that hee would haue vs manacle his hands with our prayers: he would bee intreated to forbeare. Exod. 32.7. Goe thy wayes downe, for the people which thou broughtest out of Egypt, haue corrupted them­selues. Why this to Moses? That hee might pray for them. He that meant to spare them in mercy, meant withall that Moses should bee beholden to him for that mercie. And Moses indeed chargeth the Lord, sets vpon him with so holy a violence, that as if his prayers could vincere inuincibilem, he heares, Let me alone. O that euery Vine-dresser were full of this gracious affection to the trees vn­der his charge: yea, who feares God, and in some measure hath it not? The people forgot Moses, Moses remembers the people: they could be merry and happy without him, he would not be happy without them. Men robbe vs of our meanes, lode vs with repro­ches: all our reuenge is to solicite heauen for them by our supplications: they sue vs, wee sue for them: they impouerish our tem­porall condition, wee pray for their eternall saluation. Wee could neuer hope for good [Page 11]to our selues, if wee should not returne them this good for their euill.

Corah had drawne a multitude to rebell against Moses and Aaron, Numb. 16.22. Moses and Aaron pray for their rebels. They were worthy of death, and they had it; yet would these mer­cifull Leaders haue preuented it: refusing to buy their owne peace with the losse of such enemies. Yea, they are so farre from caruing their owne iust reuenge, that they would not haue the Lord to reuenge for them. Let vs fill our hearts with this great Example: the people rise vp against their Pastors, the Pa­stors fall on their faces for the people. Cer­tainly, if God had not meant to heare vs, he would neuer inuite vs to pray. But as it plea­seth Him to make vs His mouth to you; so also, your mouth to Him: both to tell you what He doth say, and to returne Him what you should say; to preach against your sinns; to pray for your soules. Doe you heare vs pleade for Christ, for Christ heares vs plead for you. Indeed, wee are men of polluted lippes and liues: but as Gods power is not straitned through our weaknesse, so, nor is his mercy lessened through our vnworthi­nesse. Therefore as Paul had his, Vae mihi si non praedicauero; Woe vnto mee, if I Preach not: So Moses, in effect, had his Vae mihi, si non intercessero, woe vnto me, if I pray not: God forbid I should cease praying for you. But as all [Page 12]our Preaching can work no good vpon you, but through the holy Ghost: so all our Pray­ing can bring no good to you, but through Iesus Christ. Wee pray for you, forget not you to pray for vs. Indeed, weake ones pray with vs, malicious ones pray against vs, co­uetous ones prey vpon vs, fewe pray for vs. We intreat for you, do you intreat for vs; and that onely Mediator betwixt God and man plead for vs all.

The Complaint. Behold I come, &c.

This hath in it two passages.


  • Accesse. Behold, these three yeares, &c.
  • Successe. I find none.

First, the Accesse.

1 Behold. Ecce is here a note of complaint. Hee that can thunder downe sinne with ven­geance, raines on it showres of complaint. Be­hold the Tree; he might in a moment haue put it past beholding, by throwing it into the in­fernall furnace. Why doth he complain, that can compell? Habet in manu potentiam, in cor­de patientiam: there is power in his hand, but patience in his heart. To do Iustice, we (after a sort) constraine him: but his delight is to be mercifull.

He complaines. All complain of lost labors: the Shepheard after all his vigilance, com­plaines of stragling Lambes: the Gardiner after all his diligence, of withering Plants: the Husbandman after all his toyle, of leane [Page 13]Fields, and thin Haruests: Merchants after many aduentures, of Wrackes and Pyracies: Tradesmen of bad debtors, and scarcitie of monies: Lawyers complaine of few Clients, and Diuines of fewer Conuerts. Thus wee complaine one of another: but God hath iust cause to complaine of vs all.

Well, if the Lord complaine of Sinne, let not vs make our selues merry with it. Like Sampson, it may make vs sport for a while, but will at last pull downe the house vpon our heads. Cant. 2.12. The voyce of the Turtle is (not) heard in our Land. Vox Turturis, vox gemen­tis. True penitents bee more rare then Tur­tles. The voyce of the Sparrow wee heare, chirping lust: of the Night-bird, buzzing ig­norance: the voyce of the Scriech-owle, croaking blasphemy: of the Popiniay, gaw­dy pride: the voyce of the Kite and Cormo­rant, couetousnesse and oppression: these, and other Birdes of that wing bee common. But, Non audita est vox Turturis: who mournes for the sinne of the time, and longs to bee freed from the time of sinne? It was an vnhappy spectacle in Israel, to see at once, Lachrymantem Dominum, and ridentem popu­lum: a weeping Sauiour, and deriding sin­ners. We complaine of our crosses and losses, wee complaine of our maladies, of our iniu­ries, enemies, miseries: the Lord open our eyes, and soften our hearts, to see and feele [Page 14]the cause of all, and to complaine of our sinnes.

I come. The Lord had often sent before, now he came himselfe; euen by his personall presence, accepting our nature. The Sonne of God that made vs the Sonnes of men, be­came the Sonne of man, to make vs the Sons of God. Hee came voluntarily: we come in­to the world, not by our owne wills, but by the will of our parents; Christ came by his owne will. He came not for his owne benefit, but ours. What profit doth the Sunne re­ceiue by our looking on him? Wee are the better for his light, not hee for our sight. A shower of raine that waters the earth, gets nothing to it selfe; the earth fares the bet­ter for it. He came for our fruites: these can­not enrich him: Psalm. 16. Lord, our well-doing exten­deth not to thee.

Neuer came such an Inhabitant to our Countrey, as Iesus. Had God graunted men the libertie to beg of him what they would, and haue it; they durst not haue beene so bold as to aske his onely Sonne. When the King giues a free concession to his subiect, to make choise of his owne sute, without deni­all; he will not bee so impudent as to beg the Prince. Let vs entertaine him well, wee fare the better for him: the profit of our redemp­tion blesseth all the rest vnto vs. Farre bee it from vs to welcome him with scandals, with [Page 15]blasphemies, and neglect. Hee may then re­ply, as Absolon to Hushai, 2 Sam. 16.17. Is this thy kindnes to thy friend? No, you say, we make much of him, hold him in the highest regard, trust him with our whole saluation. But knowe, Christ fares not the better for thy Faith, but for thy Charity. Faith is a beggerly receiuer, Charitie is a rich giuer. Thy Faith is a hand that takes something from him, to enrich thy selfe: thy Charitie is a hand that giues some thing to him, in his distressed members. In­deed Christ is the subiect of all tongues, but he is not the obiect of all hearts. The Schoole disputes of him, the Pulpit preaches of him, Profession talks of him, Profane men sweare by him, few loue him, few serue him. He is come, let him bee made welcome, by setting our best cheere, and choycest fruites before him. Whom should we entertaine, if not our Sauiour?

3 Seeking. But, did not Hee know before? What need hee seeke, that hath found? Hee that vnderstands our thoughts long before they are borne, cannot be nescious of our workes when they are done. My answere shall bee short: the Lords Quaerit, is a Requirit: hee doth not seeke a thing that is hid from him, but requires a debt that is due vnto him.

4 Seeking. This is no rare, but a continued act. It is not Veni, I came: Hee came vnto his owne, &c. Nor a Venturus sum; Iohn 1.11. Yet a little [Page 16]while, Reuel. 22. and I will come. But [...]: as Re­uel. 3.20. S to pulsans, I stand knocking: so here, Venio querens, I come seeking. Hee seekes conti­nually: will you heare how long?

5 These three yeares: Much time hath beene spent about the Interpretation of this time; how it is appliable to the Iewish Synagogue, to whom it was immediatly referred. I find no great difference among Expositors, sauing onely in their tearmes. Some by the first yeare vnderstand the time before the Cap­tiuitie; by the second, their returne to Iury; by the last, the comming of Christ. Some by the first yeare, conceiue the Lawe giuen by Moses: By the second, the Propheticall at­testations: by the third, the grace of our Lord Iesus. Some resolue it thus; the first yeare was the time of Circumcision, from A­braham to Moses: the next, the Leuitical Law from Moses to Christ: the last is the yeare of Saluation by the Messias. Others vnder­stand the first yeare to bee of the Patriarchs, the middle yeare of the Iudges, the third of the Kings. After all this hee was intreated to forbeare it a fourth yeare, till it was instru­cted by the Apostles: and then being found fruitlesse, it was cut downe by the Romanes. But I rather take a definite number to be put for an indefinite: three yeares is time long e­nough to wait for the proofe of a tree: such a proportionable expectation had the Lord [Page 17]for that Church. If literally you would haue it, I take this to bee the probablest ex­position. These three yeares were the very three yeares of his Preaching, healing dis­eases, casting out Deuils, working Miracles before their faces. The other yeare which he added, was the time while the Apostles offer'd them the Gospel of saluation. Where­of the refusers were cut downe, the accepters were saued.

6 He hath likewise waited for the Church of Christianity three yeares; that is, three re­uolutions of Ages, thrice fiue hundred yeres. Or he hath tarried the leasure of the whole world three yeares: the first yeare, vnder na­ture: the second, vnder the Law: the third, vnder Grace: the fourth is now a passing, and who knowes how farre it is spent?

7 Or to apply it to our selues, these three yeares of our visitation, hath beene so many scores of yeares. Conceiue the formost to be in the dayes of King Edward 6. who pur­ged the gold from the rust and drosse of Su­perstition, Ignorance, and Cussenage, which it had contracted. The Sunne beganne to shine out in his bright lustre: the Lord came seeking our fruits; but not finding them an­swerable to his expectation, nor worthy of the glorious Gospell: hee drewe another cloud ouer our Sunne: teaching vs better to value that heauenly Manna, wherewith [Page 18]we were so suddenly growne wanton. The second yeare, vnder Queene Elizabeth, of so blessed memory: that Royall nurse, vpon whose Bosome the Church of God leaned to take her rest. Shee did againe vindicate this Vineyard, which had so long lyen a­mong Fryars and Monkes, that it had all-most quite forgotten the language of Cana­an: Shee taught it a new to speake the Dia­lect of the Holy Ghost. When that Graci­ous Queene was taken from a Crowne of gold to a Diadem of glory, then began our third yeare; wherein our present Soueraigne was sent; Dignissimus Regno, si non natus ad Regnum: vnder whom we know not, whe­ther our Truth or Peace bee more. Onely let vs blesse him, and blesse God for him, that we may all be blessed in him. Thus farre we may say of our Land, as Syluius did of Rhodes; Semper in Sole sita est: the bright reflection of the Gospell compasseth vs round about. Now he comes this third yeare seeking our fruites: which when we consider, wee can say no more but Miserere Deus; Lord bee mercifull to vs: for neuer were such bles­sings requited with such vnthankefulnesse. We condemne the Iewes for abusing Christs patience: God grant they rise not vp at the last day to condemne vs.

8 He comes to a particular man three yeeres. 1. In Youth. I haue planted thee in my [Page 19]Vineyard, giuen thee the influence of my mercies; where is thy fruitfulnesse? Alas, the young man sends him away, with a Non­dum tempus ficorum: it is too earely for me to fall to Mortification; would you put me to pennance, before I haue had the leasure and pleasure to offend? He is ready to send Christ away in the Language of that foule Spirit; Math. 8.29. Art thou come to torment mee be­fore my time? But whose charge is it to Remember thy Creator, Diebus Iunentutis? Then the conquest is most glorious, because then it is most difficult. You say, It is neuer too late; but I am sure, It is neuer too soone, to be gracious and holy. The Deuill is a false Sexton, and sets backe the clocke of Time in prosperitie: in the day of trouble, hee will make it run fast enough. 2. In middle age; and now the buying of Farmes, and trying of Beasts; the pleasures of Matrimony, the cares for posteritie. take vp all the roomes of the soule. Men rather busie themselues to ga­ther the fruites of earth, then to yeeld the fruites of heauen. Heere is strength of na­ture, and fulnesse of stature; but still a defect of grace. Perhaps, Christ hath now some faire promises, of fruits heereafter: Luke. 9 61 Let mee first go bury my Father, then. But (a thousand to one) he finds something in Domo, left by his father, that keepes him a Domino, from following his Master. To preuent this, it is [Page 20]his caution to the entertained seruant; For­get thine owne people, Psal. 45.10. and thy fathers house: ra­ther forgoe and forget thy fathers house, then thy Makers seruice. 3. In old age: now the decay of body should argue a decay of sinne. The taste finds no relish in ryot, the eares cannot distinguish Musicke, the eies are dimme to pleasing obiects, very Desire failes: now all things promise mortification. Hee that cannot stirre abroad in the world, what should he doe but recollect himselfe, and set­tle his thoughts on the world to come? Now fruites, or neuer. Not yet: Morositie, Pride, and Auarice, are the three diseases of olde age: men couet most, when they haue time to spend least: as cheating Tradesmen then get vp most commodities into their hands, when they meane to breake. Still hee comes seeking fruite, and is returned with a Non Inuentus.

9 If yet it weare but as the Prophets signe to Hezekiah; This yeare yee shall eate such as grow­eth of it selfe: and the second yeare such spring­eth of the same: and in the third yeare yee shall sowe and reape, &c. the third yeare might af­ford him somewhat. But doth hee forbeare all trees thus long? No, some are snatch'd away in the flower and pride of their life: yea, they bee not fewe, that will not allow themselues to liue; but with ryot and intem­perance hasten their owne endes, before they [Page 21]haue well begun or learned what life is: like bad Schollers, that slubber out their bookes before they haue learned their lessons. That in stead of, Non est fructus, wee may say, Non est ficus, the tree it selfe is gone. And that goodly person, which like a faire ship hath bene long a building: and was but yesterday put to sea, is to day sunke in the Maine. We doe not eate, drinke, and sleepe, and take such refections of nature, vt non moriamur, that wee might not die; that is impossible: but that wee should not dye barren, but beare some fruits vp with vs to him that made the Tree.

10 Seeking. It is fit wee should offer our fruits to God, and not put him to seeke for his owne. We should be like those ripe-figs, Nath 3.12. that fall into the mouth of the eater. The best li­quours are they that drop from their cells, of their owne accord, without pressing. The most acceptable of all oblations, be the Free-will-offerings. Howsoeuer, let vs bee sure not to disappoynt the Lord when he seekes.

11 On this Fig-tree. It is fit, that hee that plants a Vineyard, should taste of the Wine: good reason, Prou. 27.18. his owne tree should yeeld him some fruite, considering what hee hath done for it he may well challenge it.

1 He hath planted vs: wee spring not vp naturally; as the Oake growes from an A­corne, the Peach from a stone: but a gracious [Page 22]hand hath set vs. We are not borne of flesh, nor of the will of blood, Iohn 1.1 [...]. or of man, but of God.

2. Hee hath planted vs in his Vineyard within the enclosed Garden of the Church. Had he left vs to the vnregarded wildernes, without any Dresser to looke to vs, there might haue been some excuse of our barren­nesse. The ground that is left to it selfe, is (in a manner) blamelesse, though it be fruit­lesse. But in Vineasua, which he hath fenced in with his prouidence, blessed with his fa­uing influence, husbanded with his Dressers diligence, forwarded with the beames of mercy, and showres more precious then the deawes of Hermon that fell vpon the hill of Sion. Where wee participate the fatnesse of the ground, are fed with vnperishing Manna, compassed about with Songs of deliuerance, and haue seene our desires vpon (his and) our enemies. Where Righteousnesse is our walls, and Peace our bulwarkes, and the wayes bee milke where we set our feet.

3 Wee are Figtrees: not brambles, no man expects Grapes from thornes. Math. 7.16. Not Okes or Cedars, to be a dwelling for the Storkes: But Figtrees, apt for fruit, for pleasant fruit. If the rest be fruitlesse, they serue for other purposes: but what shall become of the bar­ren Figtree?

4. Hee is our Lord, and Querit suum, he seekes but his owne. If our owne Kine giue [Page 23]vs no milke, our owne sheepe afford vs no wooll, our owne land returne vs no encrease, we are displeased: whereas these be reason­lesse creatures; but we haue sense aboue com­mon nature, reason aboue sense, grace aboue reason: We are but tennants of these, Christ is Lord of vs: our sinnes bring the curse of barrennesse vpon them, but there is no fault in God, if we be vnfruitfull.

5. He comes seeking: not threatning, ra­ging, wounding, not felling downe the tree, nor stocking it vp by the rootes; but seeking. Dignatur expectare fructus, cui licet eradicare Infructuosos. Man is a loser by the barrenesse of his garden-tree: were there not a tree left, God is neuer the poorer.

Now lay all these together: a Lord that owes vs, wee are his trees: to come into his Vineyard, where he may be confident; wee liue on his ground: to looke vpon a Figtree, made of an apt disposition to good fruit; such a one as himselfe hath planted, not ca­sually grown vp: a tree not neglected, but whereon hee hath bestowed great care and cost; wayting, not destroying: what can we plead for it, if it be fruitlesse? God is our Lord and Proprietary, England is his Vineyard, euery one of vs his Fig-tree, thus planted, watered, blessed by his gracious mercy: Hee comes to vs with patience, that should run to him with penitence: seeking [Page 24]our fruites, that should make tender of them vnsought; waiting, that might command: now, feare, obedience, and thankefulnesse, keepe vs from sending him backe with a Non inuenio, I finde none.

12 Fruit. This is that inseparable effect that God expects from euery Tree planted in his Garden. Rom. 7.4. We are married to Christ: to what ende? That we should bring forth fruits vn­to God. Hee seekes not for leaues, buds, or blossomes, but fruites. Could leaues content him, wee would not leaue him vnsatisfied: he should haue an Arbour large enough to reach to the Worlds ende. Psalm. 19.4 Our tongues runne apace, not seldome faster then our wittes. Wee are Gods debters, and if hee will take our words, so: that's all hee is like to haue. Might buds please him, or blossomes: wee haue intentions to good, certaine offers and shewes of obedience: which we weare like a cloake, or some loose garment, that when Lust calls, wee may quickly slip off. But when he seekes for workes, all our Conso­nants be turned into Mutes, we are speach­lesse. O would he aske vs for any thing but fruites: Matth. 22.12 but what should be expected from the Figtree, but Figges?

Of euery soule here hee seekes for fruites. Of the Magistrate, that he bring foorth the fruites of Iustice; determining causes with sinceritie of decision, and conuenience of [Page 25]expedition: being so far as equitie permits, a husband to the widdow, and a father to the fatherlesse. Of the Minister, that hee bring forth the fruits of knowledge. Aarons Rod was his Pastorall staffe: in one and the same night it brought forth buds, and blossomes, and fruit. Fruitfulnesse is the best argument that God hath called vs: there is not a plant of his setting, but the very branches there­of shall flourish. I doe not say, our paynes shall alwayes conuert many Soules; that is Gods fruite, not ours: Hee chargeth vs to bee industrious in Preaching, let Himselfe a­lone with the worke of sauing. Of the pri­uate man, he expects the fruit of his calling: to bee idle, is to bee barren of good; and to bee barren of good, is to bee pregnant of all euill. Bella gerant alij, Protesilaus edit: but let vs that are called to worke, worke in our cal­ling; otherwise at last, wee shall make but a sorry answere to that Question, Vbi fructus? Let vs all produce the fruits of Charity: rich men doe good turnes to themselues; as they play at Tennisse, tossing the Ball to him that will tosse it to them againe: seldome to the poore, for they are not able to bandy it backe. Pride cuts, and Ryot shuffles, but betwixt them both, they deale the poore but a bad game. The fruite of Christianitie is Mercie; when the rich, like full eares of Corne, humble themselues to the poore [Page 26]earth in Charitie. Feed him, that feeds you: giue him part of your Temporalls, from whom you expect Eternalls: you cloathe Christ with your blackes on earth, hee will clothe you with his glorious whites in hea­uen. Our mercie to others, is the Fruite of Gods mercy to vs.

13 Fruite. Nothing is created for it selfe, but so placed by the most wise prouidence, that it may conferre something to the publique good; though it be but as the Widowes two Mites to the Treasurie. The poorest crea­ture yeelds some Fruit, wherein it doth imi­tate the goodnesse of the Maker. We know not readily, what good Serpents and Ver­mine may doe; yet certainly, they haue their fruit; both in sucking vp that poyson of the earth, which would be contagious to man; in setting off the beautie of the better pieces of creation: Aug. (for though the same hand made both the Angels in heauen, and the wormes on earth; yet the Angels appeare the more glorious being so compared) besides their hidden vertues abstracted from our know­ledge. Of stones they make yron, rubbish serues to raise Bulwarks, the small pebble for the sling, wormes and flyes are bayts for Fi­shes: euery thing is enabled with some gift for the vnniuersall benefit, and to produce those fruits is their naturall worke.

The Sunne comes foorth of his Chamber [Page 27]like a Bridegrome, fresh and liuely; and re­ioyceth as a Gyant, to runne his diurnall course, to lighten vs with his refulgent beames, to generate, cheere, and mature things with his parentall heate: this is his fruite. In his absence the Moone and Starres adorne the Canopie of Heauen, reflecting their operatiue influence to quicken the lo­wer world: this is their fruites. The curled cloudes, those bottles of raine, thinne as the liquour they containe, flye vp and downe on the wings of the winde, deliuering their moyst burdens vpon the earth, teats where­on the hungry fields and pastures doe sucke; yet they expect no haruest from vs: this is their fruites. The subtill winds come puffing out of their cauernes, to make artificiall mo­tions, wholesome ayres, and nauigable seas; yet neither earth, ayre, nor sea returne them recompence: this is their fruits. The earth, in a thankefull imitation of the Heauens, lockes not vp her treasures within her owne Coffers; but without respect of her priuate benefit, is liberall of her allowance, yeelding her fatnesse and riches to innumerable crea­tures, that hang on her breasts, and depend vpon her as their common mother for main­tenance. Of the beasts that feed vpon her, Kine giue vs their milke, Sheepe their wooll: euery one payes a tribute to man, their vsu­fructuary Lord: this is their fruites. Fruit [Page 28]bearing Trees spend not all their sappe and moisture vpon themselues, or the increase of their owne magnitudes: but the principall and purer part of it is concocted into some pleasant Fruites; whereof they nor their young Springs euer come to taste; but they proffer it vs, and when it is ripe, they vo­luntarily let it fall at their Masters feete. Neuer did the Oliue annoynt it selfe with the owne Oyle, nor the Vine make it selfe drunke with the owne Grapes, nor the Tree in my Text, deuoure the owne Figges: yet they all striue to abound with Fruites.

Let me raise your Meditations from earth to heauen: the holy Angels there are called Ministring Spirits: those royall Armies fight for vs against our enemies: like Nurses, they beare vs vp in their armes, and (though vn­seene) doe glorious Offices for vs: this is part of their fruit. Iohn 5.17. The blessed Trinitie is alwayes working: Hitherto my Father wor­keth, and I worke. The Father by his pro­uidence and protection, the Sonne by his mercy and mediation, the Holy Ghost by his grace and sanctification: all diuiding the streames of their goodnesse, for the best be­hoofe of the world. The more any thing furthers the common good, the more noble is the Nature, and more resembling the Creator.

The Earth is fruitfull, the Sea, the Ayre, the Heauens are fruitfull; and shall not man bring foorth fruites, for whom all these are fruitfull? While all the Armies of Heauen and Earth are busied in fructifying; shall Man, of more singular graces and faculties, be idle, a burden to the world and himselfe? Both the Church of God for the propaga­tion of pietie, and the world it selfe for the vpholding of his estate, requires our Fruites. If Happinesse consisted in doing nothing, God that meant Adam so happy, would ne­uer haue set him about businesse: but as Pa­radise was his Store-house, so also his work­house: his pleasure was his taske. There is no state of man that can priuiledge a folded hand: Our life is, Vita pulueris, non puluina­ris. Landes, Meanes, and Moneyes, men make the protections of Idlenesse: where­as Adam commaunded the whole earth, yet worke expected him. In Paradise all things did labour for man, now man must labour for all things. Adam did worke because he was happy, wee his children must worke, that wee may bee happy. Heauen is for ioyes, Hell for paines, Earth for labour. God hath three houses; this is his Worke-house, that aboue is his Ware-house. O then let vs bee fruitfull; that others benefit may bee ours, our benefit theirs; and the glory of all, the Lords. If Magistrates yeeld not the Fruits [Page 30]of Iustice, Ministers the fruits of knowledge, priuate men the fruits of Charitie and Obe­dience; it is as vnnaturall, as if the Sunne should forget to shine, or the earth to fructi­fie. God made all these for man, hee made man for himselfe: of vs he lookes for Fruit, of vs let him finde it, from vs accept it, in vs increase it, and to vs reward it, through Him, in whome alone wee expect mercie, Iesus Christ.

The Successe followes. Non inuenio.

We haue brought the Lord into his Vine­yard, heard him calling for the Dresser, shew­ing him a Tree, telling him of a three yeares expectation: now, if after all this we inquire for the euent; himselfe certifies vs, [...], I finde none.

None? Peraduenture he came before the season; Nondum tempus erat Ficorum. When should a Tree bring forth fruits, but Tempore suo? This is the praise of the good Tree, that it brings foorth the fruit in due season. Psalm. 1.3. If the Figge-tree could haue obiected to the Owner, 2 Kings 5.26 as Elisha to his seruant; Hoccine tem­pus; Is this a time to plant Vineyards, or gather fruit? Or as the man replyed to his neigh­bour, Luke 11.7. that came to borrowe loaues at mid­night; Is this a time to lend Bread, when my selfe and family are in bed? The Spring is the season of fructifying, the Autumne of [Page 31]gathering. Cant. 2.12. Iob 38.38. When the time of the singing of Birds is come, Then the Figtree puts foorth her greene Figges. But Cum fermento perfundatur puluis, when the dust is leauened with myre, and the bands of Orion haue lock'd vp the in­fluence of Heauen. Who seeks fruit in Win­ter; hee must be content with Winter fruit. There is the Winter of an afflicted Consci­ence; no maruell then if neither ripe Figges, nor so much as greene leaues appeare: when all the Sappe is retyred to the Roote, as in extreame cold the bloud runnes to the heart to succour it. When the Babylonians re­quired of their captiue Israelites some He­brewe Songs, they could soone answere; How shall wee sing the Lordes Song in a strange Land? Is this a time or place to be merry? Psal. 137.4. But did the Lord come out of season? No, hee required it not the first day, or mo­neth, but wayted the full time, expecting fruit in the Autumne or Vintage season. Gloss. Non ante tempus querit, qui per triennium venit. Hee came not with a Trienniall Visitation, as Episcopall Fathers vse to visite, once in three yeeres; but euery yeare, euery moneth in the yeare, weeke of the moneth, day of the weeke. Of another Figge-tree it is said, Marke 11.13. that The time of Figges was not yet, yet hee cursed it: Heere the time was three yeares past without fruit, yet he cursed it not. But looke to it; If thou wilt not fructifie Tempore tuo, [Page 32]thou shalt be cut down tempore non tuo, Eccles. 7.17. perish before thy time. There is not a day in the yeare, wherein hee forbeares seeking our fruit; yet Venio, non inuenio; I find none.

2 None? Nunquid quia male quaesiuit Domi­nus? Was there any errour in his search? Men often seeke Bona, good things, non bene, not in a good manner. Either they faile in their Quando, as Ioseph sought Christ after a dayes iourney; whereas hee is too precious to bee missed one houre: Psal. 32.6. They shall seeke thee Tempore inveniendi, when thou mayest be found. Or in the right Vbi: as Mary sought her Son in Cognatione Carnis, among her kinred; who was in Domo Patris, Iohn 2.39. in the Temple. So the Papists seeke now him in Pictures, who pro­mised to bee found in the Scriptures. Or in their Quomodo, as they that seeke aliud pro il­lo, aliud prae illo, another instead of him, an­other besides him, another with him, ano­ther before him, which they doe not seeke for him. All these seeke and misse, because they seeke amisse. The world is commonly mistaken in their search: Quaerunt bona locis non suis, they seeke for things out of their proper orbes. Men seeke Honour in Pride, whereas Honour is to bee found in Humi­litie. They seeke reputation in bloodie re­uenge; alas, that is to bee found in Patience: It is the glory of a man to passe by an offence. They seeke content in Riches, which is as if [Page 33]one should seeke for fresh water in the midst of the Sea. But in none of these circumstan­ces did this Seeker faile: not in the Vbi, for he sought in the Vineyard: not in the Quan­do, for he came in the Vintage: not in the Quomodo, for he sought fruit on that Figtree, about which hee had bene at so great char­ges; yet I finde none.

3 None? Haply not so thicke with fruites as the Vines of Engedi: euery Land is not a Caanan, to flowe with Milke and Honey. But yet some competent measure, enough to pay the Land-lord rent for the ground it stands on; no, None. If there bee none to spare, whereof the owner may make mo­ney; yet, Sufficiat ad vsum suum, ad esum suum, that hee may eate the labours of his owne hands; no, None. Rom. 9.27. Esay 6.13 If the number bee not as the Sand, yet let there bee a Remnant. If there cannot bee a whole haruest, yet let there bee a Tenth. If not a Tenth, yet let there bee some gleanings; Mich 7.1 and that is a woefull scarcitie: if the gleanings bee not allowed, yet let there bee heere and there a Figge, a Grape, a Berry, Esay 17. [...]. on the outmost branches; that the Planter may haue a taste: It is too defectiue, when Non florebit ficus, Hab 3.17. the Tree doth not flourish: but Quando non erit Vua in vitibus, non ficus in ficulneis: Ierem. 8.13 when there shall not bee a Grape on the Vine, nor a Figge on the Tree; this is a [Page 34]miserable sterilitie. Some thing hath some sauour, but None is good for nothing. In­deede all Trees are not equally loaden: there is the measure of a hundred, of sixtie, of thirtie; an Omer, and an Ephah: but the Sacred deawes of Heauen, the graces of the Gospell, blesse vs from hauing None. I finde none.

4 None? Peraduenture none such as hee lookes for, no Fruites delicate enough for the Almighties taste. Indeed, our best fruits are neuer perfect and kindly ripened; still they rellish sowre and earthly, and sauour of the Stocke from which they were taken. They are heauenly Plants, but growe in a foraigue and colde Climate, not well con­cocted, nor worthy the charges and care bestowed vpon vs. Set Orenge or Figge­trees in this our cold Countrey, the fruit will not quit the cost of the planting and maintaining. But the complaint is not here of the imperfection or paucitie of fruites, but of the nullitie; None. Some reading that Text with idle eyes; that after all our fruites, Luke 17.10. wee are still vnprofitable Trees: be­cause they can finde no validitie of merite in their workes, throwe the Plough in the hedge, and make holyday. But shall not the Seruant doe his Masters businesse; be­cause hee cannot earne his Masters Inheri­tance? Shall the Mason say, I will share [Page 35]with my Soueraigne in his Kingdome, or I will not lay a stone in his building? Yet good fruits haue their reward; though not by the merit of the doer, yet by the mercy of the accepter. Sowre they bee of them­selues, but in Christ they haue their sweet­ning: and the meanest fruite, which that great Angell of the Conenant shall present to his Father, R [...]. 8.4 with the addition of his owne precious Incense, are both receiued and rewar­ded. In their owne nature they may bee cor­rupt; but being dyed in the bloud of Christ, they are made pleasing to God. Yea, also profitable to the Church, and vsefull to men, seeme they neuer so poore. Euen a troubled Spring doth often quench a distressed Soul­diersthirst: a smal Candle doth good, where the greater Lights bee absent: and the mea­nest fruite of holy Charity, euen a cuppe (though it be not of the iuyce of the grapes out of the Vineyard, Math. 10.42. but) of cold water out of the tankard, in the name of Christ, shall haue the recompence. But heere the com­plaint is not of the meannes, or fewnesse, but of the Barennesse; None at all.

3 None? Euery Tree is knowne by the fruits, it is Christs euerlasting rule. Howsoeuer the tree liues by the sappe, and not by the fruits: yet it is knowne to liue by the fruits, and not by the sappe; for this is hidden. The iust man liues by his faith, not by his workes: but he is [Page 36]knowne to liue by his works, not by his inui­sible faith. Neither doth the fruit make good the tree, but the tree makes good the fruit. Opera bona non faciunt iustum, Iustus facit bona opera. Good works make not a man righte­ous, but the righteous man doth good works. Our persons are iustified before our actions; as of necessitie the tree must be good, before it can beare good fruit. But how shall that tree be discerned, that hath no fruit? I finde none.

6 None? Why this to vs? Why such a Text in such a time? Wee abound with fruites: which way can you looke, and not haue your eye full of our workes? They before, in such places, haue successiuely commended our fruits. Bee it so: yet Euripides being question'd why he alwaies made women bad in his Playes, whereas Sophocles euer made them good, in his: answered, Sophocles makes them such as they ought to bee, but I make them such as indeed they are. Their former commendation haue told vs what we should be; but this Embleme, I feare, tels vs truely what wee are. Not all of vs; God forbid: here is but one Fig-tree in a whole Vineyard thus taxed, and farre be it from vs to taxe a whole Vineyard for one barren Fig-tree.

7 None? Yes, enough of some fruites, but the Prophet calls them Ficos valde mal [...]s, so bad that they cannot be eaten. Iea. 24.8. As the fruite of [Page 37]the Vine is commended for Quicknesse, the fruit of the Oliue for Fatnesse, so the fruit of the Fig-tree for Sweetnesse; in Iothams Para­ble. Ephes. 5.11. But if it beare not Fructum natiuitatis suae, the fruit of the owne kinde, but bitter figges; here had better be none at all. What an vncomfortable sight is this to Him, whose heart is set on his Orchard; after the cost of so deare bloud to purchase it, after such in­dulgent care to cheerish it, and the charges of so many workemen to dresse it; yea, af­ter so much patience to expect it (say the Fig-tree does not beare so soone as it is plan­ted; in our insancie we can doe nothing, in our minoritie we will doe little, in Gods ser­uice: but now it is growne fructifiable) Iam non gustare fructus, not to haue so much as a taste? Yea, were this all; did barrennesse onely vsurpe it: but there is worse then a meere orbitie or absence of goodnesse; a po­sition of bitter fruits: Quaesiui Vuas, Esay 5.3 inveni [...] Labruscas: I find wild Grapes, luxurient fruits. Instead of the hearty effects, which Wine produceth, I am answered with the melan­choly preuarications of malice.

Behold the wonder and spectacle of vn­thankefulnesse; among all Gods Creatures, Man; and among men the barren Christian. Though Israel play the Harlot, Hosea 4.15. yet let not Iudah transgresse. What may be expected from the wild Forrest of Paganisme, when the Gar­den [Page 38]of Eden yeelds such fruites? The sweet fruit of the Spirituall Fig-tree is mercie: our God is the God of Loue, our Sauiour is the Prince of Loue, the Church is knit together in Loue: our Roote is Loue, our Sappe is Loue, our Ligaments Loue: now if we shall sucke the bloud one of another, violate the relations of peace, concoct all our moysture into malice; here is worse then, Invenio fru­ctum nullum, I finde none: for Invenio fru­ctum malum, I finde cursed fruits. Wee are growne vnnaturall; the hand scratcheth the eye, the mouth biteth the hand: thornes and bryers entwine and embrace one ano­ther, Math. 13.27. while (against all nature) Fig-trees de­noure one another. Lord, thou didst sow good seed in thy field, whence then hath it Tares? Here is more fruit then God would haue; but for that he expects, I finde none.

8 When wee are filled with his blessings, Christ lookes for our prayses; when wee haue caten and are fat, Psal. 22, 29. 1 Cor. 10.7. that wee should wor­ship him. What fruit finds he? We sit downe to eat and drinke, and rise vp to play: for pray­ing, playing. When wee are scourged, hee looks for our humiliation and penance; Sure, in their affliction they will seeke me. Esay 26.16. What fruit finds hee? Ier. 2.3. Lord, thou hast smitten them, but they haue not sorrowed; an insensible desperat­nesse. In this case let vs pray; Lord, lesse of the fruits wee haue, and more of them wee [Page 39]should haue. Instead of righteousnesse, a crye: Esay. 5.7. a cry indeed; a roaring cry of the oppressors, and a mourning cry of the oppressed. Haec non sunt placido suscipienda sinu.

Our Bells ring, our Chimneis smoake, our Fields reioyce, our Children dance, our selus sing and play; Iouis omnia plena. But when Righteousnesse, hath sowne, and comes to reape; here is no haruest; [...], I finde none. And as there was neuer lesse wisdome in Greece, then in time of the Seuen Wise men: so neuer lesse pietie among vs, then now, when vpon good cause most is expe­cted. When the Sunne is brightest the Stars be darkest: so the cleerer our light, the more gloomy our life with the deeds of darkenes. The Cimerians, that liue in a perpetuall mist, though they deny a Sunne, are not condem­ned of impietie, but of ignorance: but Ana­xogoras; that saw the Sunne, and yet denied it, is not condemned of ignorance, but of impi­etie. Former times were like Leah, bleare­eyed, but fruitfull: the present, like Rachel, faire, but barren. We giue such acclamation to the Gospell, that we quite forget to ob­serue the Law. As vpon some solemne Festi­uall, the Bells are rung in all steeples, but then the Clockes are tyed vp: there is a great vntun'd confusion and clangor, but no man knowes how the time passeth, So in this vni­uersall allowance of libertie by the Gospell, [Page 40]which indeed reioyceth our hearts, had we the grace of sober vsage) the Clocks that tel vs how the time passes; Truth and Consci­ence, that shew the bounded vse, and decent forme of things, are tyed vp, and cannot be heard. Still Fructum non inuenio, I finde no fruits. I am sorry to passe the Figtree in this plight: but as I finde it, so I must leaue it, till the Lord mend it. So I come to

The Sentence. Cut it downe.

1 A heauy doome! Alas, will nothing else expiate the fault? May not the lopping off some superfluities recouer it? Take from the Sinner, the obiect of his vicious error: deface the Harlots beautie, that bewitcheth the Lasciuious: pull the cuppe from the mouth of the Drunkard: Nauseate the stomach of the Ryotous: strip the Popin­iay of her pyed Feathers: rust the Gold, va­nish the riches of the Couetous: take away Macah's gods, perhaps he will make him no more. If this will not doe, cut off some of the armes & branches: weaken his strength, sicken his body, lay him groaning and blee­ding on the bed of sufferance: griue his heart-strings with the sense and sorrow of his sinnes: any thing rather then Cut it down: alas no fruit can grow on it then, but sad de­spaire. A mans house is foule, or a little de­cayed; wil he pul it down or rather repaire it? [Page 41] There is hope of a Tree though the roote waxe olde in the earth, and the stock die in the ground; Iob 14 [...]. yet the springs of water may put new life into it: but once cut downe, all hope is cut down with it. When a man hath taken delight in a Tree, conueniently planted in his garden; what varietie of experiments will he vse, be­fore he cuts it downe? Alas, thus poore silly men, we reason: we measure things that be vnmeasurable, by things that be measurable, by things that be miserable. What wee in a foolish pitty would doe, we thinke God in his mercifull wisdome should doe. Yet which of vs wold endure a dead Tree three yeeres together in his Orchard? We would say, If it will not beare fruit, to cheere vs; it shall make a fire to warme vs. But the Lord hath bene fixe and thirtie Moones gracious in his forbearance, giue him now leaue to bee iust in his vengeance. If so much indulgence cannot recouer it, there is little hope of it: Cut it downe.

2 Cut it downe. Who must doe this? The dresser. An vnpleasing office to him, that hath bestowed so much labour vpon it, esteemed it so precious, hoped for some reward at his Masters hand for his diligence about it; now to giue the fatall blow, to Cut it downe? And if it must fall, let it be Manu aliena, non sua, let anothers hand doe it. Hagar will not be­hold her dying Sonne; dye he must, she was [Page 42]perswaded; Genes. 21. Modo non videam, Let me not see the death of the Childe. But hee must obey; Arbor non est Cul [...]oris, Cris. sed Parris familias: the Tree is not the Dressers, but the Lords; and his owne is at his owne disposing: Cut it downe.

3 Cut it downe. But how? How can the Mi­nister be said to cut downe a barren soule? Some may conceiue here a reference to Ex­communication: Whether the Greater, which depriues a man of all benefit by the Churches publike Prayers, and the Societie of Christians. 1 Cor. 5. Which St. Paul calls, Tradere Satana, to deliuer vnto Satan: so himselfe Ex­communicated Hymencus and Alexander, 1. Tim. 1.20. de­liuering them vnto Satan: a miserable condi­tion, to be subiected to a slaue, to a dogge, a drudge; but then especially fearefull, when God grants vnto Satan a Writ or facultie, Pro excommunicato cap [...]endo. The ignominy of ignominy; besides the perill: For as Christ protecteth all the Trees in his Vine­yard; so if any be transplanted to the wilde desart, they are vnder the god of this world. Or the Lesse; which is indeed, no other pro­perly, then an Act of the Churches Disci­pline, whereby she corrects her vnruly chil­dren: that smarting with the absence of wonted comforts, they may be humbled by repentance, and so recouer their pristine state. This censure may bee either too cruell, [Page 43]or to triuial. Approued by the Counc. of Trent. Sess 26. The Church of Rome grants Excommunications for things lost: a man hath lost his horse, he may haue an Excom­munication against him that detaines him: so the Father may hap to Excommunicate his owne Sonne, and for the body of a Iade, hazard the soule of his Child. Yea, which is worse, they publish Excommunications for sinnes not yet committed: The Lord of a Mannor hath set a rowe of young Elmes, he may haue an Excommunication against all those that shall do them any harme. This is to hang a man, before he hath done the fact that deferues it. These in rite, forcelesse, bug­beare Excommunications, the ridiculous af­fordments of a mercenary Power, are not vn­like those old night spels, which blind people had from mungrel Witches, to set about their Orchards and Houses, antidotes and charmes against theeuing; wherein distrusting the prouidence of God, they made themselues beholding to the Diuell for safetie. Credi­tors, that would bee paid in their moneys, may procure an Excommunication against their Debtors, if they pay not by such a day. This were an excellent proiect for you Citi­zens, a rounder course then arrests and tedi­ous trialls at Law. But it is to bee doubted, that your Debtors would feare the Popes Parchment lesse then the Scriueners, and an [Page 44]Excommunication farre lesse then an Out­lary. Ther's but foure things exempted from the power of their Excommunication, as Nauarrus notes: a Locust, an Infidel, the Deuill, and the Pope: so he hath marched them, so let them goe together. For the Ex­communicate must be a man, a Christian, mortall, and an Inferiour: now the Locust is not a man, the Infidell is not a Christian, the Deuill is not mortall, and the Pope hath no Superior. But too much of that; this is a Parable, and heere is no foundation for such a building.

4 Cut it downe. How? with an Axe of martiall yron? This were an exposition fit for Doway, or the Gunpowder-Enginers: that by Cutting it downe, vnderstood, Blow it vp: turning their Axe to a Petarre. Had God said to them, Cut it downe; the axe had bin instantly heaued vp: yea, they did it, when God said no such thing. Rather then faile of cutting it downe, they would haue stockd it vp, roote and all: this is their mercie. But the Spirituall Axe is to cut downe, Cul­pas, non Animas: when we reade of cutting downe, remember it is meant of mens sinnes, not of their soules. Preachers indeed doe wound; but it is Gladio oris, not ore gladij. with the Sword of the Spirit, not a Rouillac's Knife. If God had ment such a cutting downe, [Page 45]Nero had bene a fitter instrument then Paul. Psal. 19 We read, that their sound went through the World: but that their Sword went through the World, we neuer read,

5 Cut it downe. How then? Succide, that is, Succidendam minare; threaten that I will cut it downe. Cast them out of my sight; Eijce, Iere. 15.1. that is, Eijciendos pronuncia; say that I will reiect them. Quod moritur, moriatur: Zach. 11.9. Quod succi­dendum est, succidatur, That which dyeth, let it die. God sometimes sends such farewels and defiances to sinners that will not repent. Ephraim is ioyned to Idols, let him alone. Reuel. 22.11 If they will not be perswaded to returne, let them go on to their ruine, let them alone. If any man will be vniust, let him be vniust: He that will be filthy, let him be filthy still; let them perish. Abeat, pereat, profundat, perdat.

6 Cut it downe. This was, Sententia eris, the sentence of the mouth: but it may be this was not Consilium cordis, the purpose of his heart. Saepe Deo minante quod peccans meretur, peccanti non fit quod Deus minatur. Nor can this tax God of leuitie: for he that speakes with condition of repentance, may change his word without suspition of lightnesse. Tu muto sententiam tuam, Deus mutabit suam. Thus was Niniueh cut downe: Aug, euersa estin ma­lo, vt aedificaretur in bono: the subuersion was menaced, the conuersion was intended. The Father shuts his rebellions Sonne out of [Page 46]doores, will not allow him a lodging, not so much as among his seruants: yet hee does not meane to let him perish with hunger and cold in the streetes: but when he hath well smarted for his disobedience, vpon his hum­ble submission he is re-entertained. The ve­ry mercies of the wicked are cruell, but the ve­ry iudgements of God are sweet. This Cut­ting downe, is Medicinale, not mortale: Disci­plinans, non eradicans: for restitution, not de­stitution; for remidie not for ruine. In­deed, if all this denuntiation and threatning cannot perswade them to returne, then comes their finall predition: when they haue cut off themselues impenitently, God will cut them off impartially. But if we turne to deprecation and repentance, he will turne to commiseration and forgiuenesse. The Tree is barren, and the Lord saies, Cut it downe: the Tree fructifies, and he will say Let it stand. O then let vs humble our selues, and with seasonable repentance Cut downe our sinnes, that this terrible Sentence may neuer Cut downe our soules.

The Reason. Why cumbreth it the ground?

1 God is an vndependant Lord, and needes not giue a reason of his doings: for who can call him to account, Rom. 9.20. Curita facis? His Iudgements are not alwaies manifest, they [Page 47]are alwaies iust: nor doth he things because they are good, but they are therefore good because hee doth them. Should hee make short worke on the earth, and dispatch all barren Trees in a moment: yet thou continu­est holy, O thou worship of Israel. If he strickes vs, we are not wronged; it is our desert, and his Iustice. If he spares vs, we haue not merited; It is his mercie. Huic fit misere­cordia, tibi non fit iniuria: that man receiues mercie, thou hast no iniurie. Yet that hee might bee iustified, and the mouth of all wickednesse stopped, he is content to giue a reason of this sentence. Thinke not I deale hardly with this Fg-tree; let vs conferre to­gether, and heare one another with pati­ence. I will shew thee sufficient reason of cutting it downe: doe thou shew me some cause why it should stand. My reason is, It cumbers the ground. Terram reddit otiosam, in­utilem. It is not onely barren Formaliter, but Effectiue. In a word. 1. It does no good. 2. It doth much harme.

2 First, It does no good, therefore it is vn­worthy of the nourishment. Terra bona, and Gens mala; are an ill match: an opulent Land, and a pestilent People. Aug. Peccator non est dignus pane quo vescitur. The wicked man is not worthy of the bread bee eates, of the water he drinkes, of the ayre he breathes, of the ground hee goes on. The rich thinkes [Page 48]himselfe worthy of delicate viands, costly garments: dutifull attendance, Quia-Diuts, because he is rich: yet he may not be worthy of a crumme, a rag, a respect, Quia malus, be­cause he is euill. It will one day grieue such fruitles Nabals, when they must receiue a mul­tiplicitie of torments, according to the num­ber of their abused benefits, and they wil wish that they had not fared so well vpon earth, that they might fare lesse ill in Hell. They liue in the Vineyard, eate the fat, and drinke the sweet; turning all this iuyce, not into fruitfull clusters, for the behoofe of Gods seruants; but into their owne armes and bran­ches: raysing their Houses out of the ruines of Gods House. What good doe they? Cut them downe, Eccles. 2.26. Why cumber they the ground? It is fit, that the Riches of the sinner should bee laid vp for the righteous: dentur dignioribus.

3 But if God should at once cut down all the barren Trees among vs, there neuer was such a cry in Egypt, as there would be about Lon­don. What innumerable swarmes of nothing does beleaguer this Citie? men and women, whose whole imployment is, to goe from their beds to the Tap-house, then to the Play-house, where they make a match for the Brothel-house, and from thence to bed againe. To omit those ambulatory Christi­ans, that weare out the Pauement of this great Temple with their feet, but scarse euer [Page 49]touch stone of it with their knees; that are neuer further from God, then when they are neerest the Church. To omit that rabble of begging and pilfring vagabonds, that like beasts, know no other end of their creation, but recreation; but to eate, and drinke, and sleepe. What an armie of these might bee mustred out of our Suburbs? But that Idle­nesse hath disabled them to any seruice: they are neither fit for God nor man. Did they yet but like wormes and insects, spend vp the corruption of the Land, and leaue vs the lesse, it were somewhat. But they are worse, euen diseases and vnwholsome ayres, to breed infection among vs. Let Authority looke to their castigation, or answere for their mis­chiefes: so farre as they deserue, let them not be spared; Cut them downe, Why com­ber they the Ground?

4 The barren Tree doth no good you see; but that is not all: It doth much hurt, and that in two respects.

1 It occupies the roome where a better Tree might grow. The Kingdome of God shall be taken from you, Math. 21.4 [...] and giuen to a Nation that will bring forth the Fruites thereof. A fruit­full Nation would bee content with such a dwelling. Christ foretels this mutation. Paul shewes it accomplished. They are broken off, Rom. 11.19 that we (in their places) might be graffed on. Friend, how cammest thou in hither, Math. 22.12. not hauing [Page 50]on a wedding garment? Why dost thou vsurp the [...]ea [...]e, where a worthy guest might sit? Thus Dauid vsed to purge his Court; Psal. 101.8. admit­ting the righteous into the offices of the vn­righteous. As in case of calamitie, the godly are deliuered out of trouble, and the wicked come [...] in his roome: so in case of felicitie, the vngodly shall bee turned out of their happi­nesse, and the reighteous shall come in their stead.

A Iudge is corrupt; he is girded with Iu­stice, but the girdle saggs to that side where the purse hangeth; God will cut him down; here is roome for a good man, that will doe equitie. A Magistrate is partiall, and drawes the Sword of Iustice in his owne quarrell; which he puts vp in the cause of Christ: he must be cut downe, here is roome for one that will loue and adhere to the truth. An office is abused by him that holds it; hee bought deare and hee cannot sell cheape: it is time he were cut downe; this place will main­taine a man, that will maintaine the place, with vprightnesse. A Minister is barren, hath no milke in his breasts: Ministerium eius accipiat alter; Acts 1.20. Let another take his office; here is roome for one that will feed the peo­ple. A prophane Patron will let none into the Lords Vineyard, but at the Non-licet-Gate; by which good men will neuer enter: his Clarke shall be Simon, himselfe will bee [Page 51] Magus: vengeance shall cut him downe; heere is roome for one that will freely put faithfull Labourers into the Viueyard. There growes an Oppressor, sculking in a corner; the nedy cannot finde him, or if they doe, they find no fruit from him; Cut him down, here is roome for one that will pitie the poore. The Lord will roote out such bastard Plants, and replenish his Garden with fruit­full Trees.

6 2 It drawes away nourishment from bet­ter Plants, that would beare vs fruits. For this Christ denounced a woe to those Iewish Clarkes, that keeping the Keies of heauen would neither enter themselues, Matth. 23.13 nor suffer o­thers. What should become of them, that wil neither do good, nor suffer good to be done, but cutting downe? A great Oake pines all the vnderwood neere it, yea spoiles the grasse that should feed the cattell. Esay 5. [...]. A great Oppres­sor engrosseth all round about him, till there bee no place left for a fertile Tree. Meane while, himselfe hath onely some leaues, to shaddow his Sychophants; but no fruit, vn­lesse Bramble-berries, and such as the Hogs will scarce eate.

7 All couet to be great Trees, fewe to bee good. The Bryar would grow vp to the big­nesse of the Maple, the Maple would be as tall as the Cedar, the Cedar as strong as the Oake: and these so spread their rootes, till [Page 52]they starue the rest by an insensible foaking. When mother earth, the Church, would deriue her sap to some young hopefull Plant, these intercept it. There is maintenance due to the Minister, but the barren Impropriator stands in his way, & sucks it al from him: per­haps he leaues him some few drops, to coole his temples, but not enough to preserue life.

8 But the famished tree cries against him that drawes the life from it, & yeelds no fruit; and God will heare it, Abscinde, cut it downe. How charitable would Lazarus haue bene, had he bene owner of Diues his estate? How would Mordecai haue promoted the good of Israel, had he bene as great a fauorite as Haman was? How freely would the conscionable man giue spiritual preferments, were he a Pa­tron? He that feares God, would iustly ren­der the Church her dues, did he driue such trades, and dwell in such houses, as you do. But that God, who disposeth all as it plea­seth him, mend all when it pleaseth him, euen for his owne mercies sake.

Thus from a plaine Text I haue deriued you familiar perswasions: for I came not hi­ther to satisfie the curious head, but the ho­nest heart. Admit but two considerations more, and I haue done.

9 First the Lord hath shewed vs the way to be fruitful, by his owne example. He owes vs nothing: if he withold good things, we can­not [Page 53]chalenge him: if he sends vs good things, we are bound to thanke him. The last yeare, how generall was the complaint all ouer this Kingdome? The Mower could not fill his sythe, nor the binder vp of sheues his bo­some. The beasts perished for want of fodder, yea, children dyed in the street with hunger: the poore Father not being able with all his weekes labour to buy them (onely) bread. The fields were thin, and the barnes thinner: little in many places there was to gather, and the vnseasonable weather preuented the ga­thering of that little. The emptines of their bowels did iustly fill our bowels with com­passion: Famine is a sore plague. Wee then cryed vnto the Lord for fruits, and he heard vs: Loe in how plentifull a haruest hee hath answered our desires, to his owne praise, and our comfort! Yea, he concluded all with songs and triumphs, a ioyfull haruest-home; the best sheafe of our Wheat, the best grape of the Vintage, the best flower of our gar­land, the best fruit of that royall Tree, the safe returne of our gracious Prince. These be the fruits of his mercie to vs, where be the fruits of our thankefulnesse to him?

10 Secondly, the barren Fig-tree is of all most miserable, and so much the more, as it is bar­ren in the Vineyard. The Vine fruitlesse, Ezech. 15.3 is of all trees most vselesse. It is compared to noble and worthy things: to the good wo­man, [Page 54] Vxor tua sicut vitis: Psal. 128.3. Iohn 15.1. Iudg. 9.13. to the best man, I am the true vine: it checres the heart of God and man. But if barren it is good for nothing, not so much as to make a pinne to hang a bat on. Oakes and Cedars are good for building, Popplars for Pales, very bushes for hedging, doted wood for firing: but the fruitlesse Vine is good for nothing. Matth. 5.13. Salt keepes other things from putrefying, but if it selfe be putrefyed, what shall season it? A sweet Singer delights vs all; but Quis medebitur cantatori a Serpente percusso? If a Serpent hath stung him, who shall recouer his voice? If the eye be blind, what shall looke to the eye?

Ad nihilum valet, quod non valet ad finem suum. It is good for nothing, that is not good for the end it was made. If a knife bee not good to cut, we say it is good for nothing: yet may some other vse be inuented for it. If a Plough be not good to breake the ground, we say it is good for nothing; yet it may stop a gap. If a hound be not good to hunt, we say he is good for nothing, yet may he in the night giue warning of a theefe. But if a Fig-tree, a Professor be not good for fruit, he is indeed, good for nothing. The refuse of other things haue their vses: sowre Wine will make Vi­neger, olde Rags make Paper, Lees are for Dyers, Soile is good to fat the Land, Pot­sheards and broken tiles to mend high waies; all good for somewhat: yea, they offer to sel [Page 55]the combings of haires; Ladies and Gentle­women know whether they be good for any purpose or no. But the fruitlesse vine, the sa­uourlesse Salt, the lightlesse Lampe, the Fig­lesse Figge-tree, the gracelesse Christian, is good for nothing.

We all haue our Stations in the Vineyard, to bring foorth fruits, but what bee those fruits? It was a smart Inuention of him, that hauing placed the Emperour, and the Pope, reconciled, in their Maiestick Thrones, he brought the States of the world before them. First comes a Counseller of State, with this Motto, I Aduise you two: then a Courtier I Flatter you three: then a Hus­bandman, I Feed you foure, then a Mer­chant, I Coussen you fiue: then a Lawyer, I Robbe you sixe: then a Souldier, I Fight for you seuen: then a Physician, I Kill you eight: Lastly a Priest, I absolue you all nine: This was his Satyre. But in the feare of God, as our Soueraigne doth gouerne vs in Truth and Peace; So let the Counseller ad­uise, the Iudge censure, the Husbandman la­bour, Merchant trafficke, the Lawyer plead, the Souldier beare armes, the Diuine preach; all bring forth the fruites of righteousnesse: that this Kingdome may flourish, and bee an exemplary encouragement to our neigh­bours: that our Children may bee blessed after vs, our Enemies conuinced, Aliens [Page 56]conuerted, Satan confounded, the Gospell honoured, the Lord glorified, and our owne soules eternally saued. Which grace, the happy fruit of the Gospell; and glory, the happie fruit of Grace; God the Father grant vs all for his mercies sake, God the Sonne for his merits sake, God the Holy Ghost for his Names sake: to whom three Persons, and one most glorious God he rendred all honour and obedience, now and for euer. Amen.


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