nection with the Jewish ceremonial : at the budding of the Fig the Passover took place, and at the ripening of the fruit was Pentecost. The one typifying the death of the Lamb, the beginning of the budding of life to a guilty world; the other, the out pouring of the Spirit, the perfecting of those fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

The Fig tree has a remarkable peculiarity which distinguishes it from other trees, in that its fruit and its leaves grow together: and here again it is peculiarly qualified to instruct us in the character of the christian. We cannot see the budding forth of the leaf without a corresponding putting forth of the fruit. As the leaf grows the fruit grows. The leaf is the appointed emblem in scripture for doctrine, the fruit being the result of these doctrines : and we cannot with heaven-taught eyes look upon the Fig tree in this point of view without having indeed a deep lesson of heavenly instruction. From the first moment that a christian doctrine is put forth by any believer, at that same moment a corresponding fruit should be seen, and as the leaf does not put forth its perfection at once, and as the fruit does not put forth its perfection at once, but both grow together, so we have a right to expect from nim who has the beginning of a christian doctrine, to have also the beginning of a christian fruit, and that both may grow together : so that in this also we may learn a parable of the Fig tree.

We find the Fig tree also occupying a prominent place in the last weeks of our blessed Saviour's life on earth. He was going into Jerusalem; he had spent his night at the Mount of Olives ; there was a multitude of Fig-trees in the way, and he saw one tree that had


leaves; it was at a distance, and he could not therefore discern whether there was any fruit upon it or not, he saw the appearance of leaves upon the tree, and went to it, but found no fruit, and he cursed that Fig tree as a warning voice to the nation among whom he was. We could not understand that action of our blessed Saviour's, if we did not know that the leaf and the fruit should always grow together in the Fig tree. Christ did not wither the other trees, because we are told that the time of fruit was not yet. He did not expect it, but where he found the leaf there he expected the fruit. And was not this exactly the way in which the Lord dealt with the world. He came down from heaven to earth, and there was one appointed antitype, of the Jewish people, the Fig tree.

They had abundantly the leaf of profession of divine truth, but when Christ came to them he found no fruit, their grapes were grapes of Sodom, and their clusters were clusters of Gomorrah : and because they had the leaf of profession without the fruit of the spirit, He said, let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever. He did not do so to the Gentile nations, their time of fruit had not then come. That one nation only 'stood out amongst the rest of the nations of the world as that one tree stood out amongst the rest. In this then we have another occasion of learning a parable of the Fig tree.

If from these of our Lord we turn to the ancient prophets, we have in the 24th chap. of Jeremiah, the Fig-tree brought before us as God's appointed emblem of the Jewish people until their final restoration. We read there in the 1st and 2nd verses, The Lord shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of Figs were set before the temple


of the Lord, after that Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim, King of Judah, and the Princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. One basket had very good Figs, even like the Figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very naughty Figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.” We have the explanation of these two baskets of Figs, in the 5th verse,

Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Like these good Figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down, and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart."

And as there was in our Saviour's days the blasted Fig tree to manifest the awful condition of the same nation, so is it here in the 8th the 10th verses, “And as the evil figs which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the Lord, So will I give Zedekiah the King of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt; And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all the places whither I shall drive them. And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers." It was therefore no new figure when our

[ocr errors]

Lord addressed his disciples on the Mount of Olives, and said, “Now learn a parable of the Fig tree:" as if he had said, If you would know the impending judgment and the distant blessings that belong to your people, look to the Fig tree, and look to the prophets that speak of it, and you shall obtain heavenly instruction.

Perhaps the most beautiful example of the application of the visible things of nature to the prophetic unfolding of the working of divine grace to be found in the bible, is in the 2nd chap. of the Canticles, from the 8th to the 13th verses, where we have the signs of the times brought before us under these natural figures and emblems.

The voice of my beloved ! behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart, behold he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows shewing himself through the lattice. My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my and come away.

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The Fig tree putteth forth her green Figs, and the Vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away." Here we have the bride hearing her beloved's voice, and she knows that voice, and rejoices in it, and exclaims, It is the voice of my beloved, behold he cometh ! It is not the first coming of Christ when he was to be as a lamb slain, crucified for our sakes : but it is his second coming when he was to be like the roe and the young hart, the Hebrew word tzebee, a roe is used for glory and beauty, for strength, and fertility, and blessings. It is in this point of view that the Bride is represented as saying,

fair one,


Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, and skipping upon the hills: see the king in his beauty, in that garment of glory and beauty', coming, not like a lamb for sacrifice, but like a young hart for strength: for he shall come in the glory of his Father: and of his own glory and shall bring his holy angels with him. And while he is seen thus in the beauty and glory of his com ing, his voice is heard speaking unto the heart : hear my beloved as he saith, rise up and come away : and before he had thus spoken he shewed himself through the lattice, he exhibited himself through, as these Hebrew words signify, the air holes, the passages for the Spirit that sends down the Saviour's voice from heaven to us, and lets the brightness of the Saviour's image be seen from earth to heaven: he looked forth at the windows, flourishing or making himself visible through the lattice. Christ first shows himself to the believing soul in Heaven, at the right hand of God, and then makes himself heard from heaven calling upon those who hear him, and saying, Rise up and remain not in the degradation, the corruption of earth, for thou art beloved by me, thou art sanctified by me, rise up my love, my fair one, and come away for the time is come. The signs of the times are seen, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, that desolated state of the Fig tree is gone by, when the winter season was upon it, when all its leaves were off and all its fruit was gone : and that desolate flood spoken of by Daniel the prophet is gone by, which was determined to be poured out upon the dessolate: and now the flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing is come, those flowers of which we read in the 27th chap. of the Prophet Isaiah, where, speaking of the restoration of the Jews to their own land

« ElőzőTovább »