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standing and position of the Jews, the present responsibilities of the Gentiles. If the Lord made the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts, the house of Israel, and the men of Judah, his pleasant plant, and if the blasted, withered Fig tree was an awful warning to the Jews of God's impending judgments, assuredly we have no reason to expect that there shall be a less holy, a less righteous dealing with nations much more favored. We have not a yoke put upon us such as was put on them. We have a larger outpouring of the Spirit given to us than was given to them.
We have means of grace more full and refreshing than theirs. We have opportunities of instruction, more teaching, more responsibilities than theirs. We have therefore on the one side a greater opportunity of blessing, and on the other side we have a greater condemnation of judgment. Let us remember the warning with which our Lord closes those very admonitions which he derives from the parable of the Fig tree.
Let our loins be girt about, our lights burning, ourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord. “Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing." “ Take heed lest your hearts be at any time overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." The Jewish Fig tree has began to bud and the Gentile times are beginning to come to their close.
The decay of the one, the revival of the other appears to be at our doors. It becomes us solemnly to learn of the parable of the Fig tree, and examine our hearts, and try our thoughts, and test our characters, to search and see whether we have not only the leaf of profession but the fruit of righteousness; whether God's holy Spirit has wrought in our hearts that faith in the cross of his Son, that Spirit of the blessed Son of God which is producing in us those fruits which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. If we be found fruitless trees when Christ comes we shall be found also blasted trees. If we be found bearing fruit when Christ comes we shall hear those words “ Come ye blessed children of my Father inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." “ He that hath ears to hear let him hear."
THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM,
THE FIG TREE.
St. MATTHEW xxiv., 32 to 34 v.—Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily, I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.”
These memorable words of Christ were, as we have seen this morning, spoken upon the Mount of Olives in a private discourse with the apostles, after our blessed Saviour had taken his leave of that ill-fated nation and resigned his public ministry amongst them. We have already seen how the Scriptures, as with one consent, bring the fig-tree before us as the appointed emblem of the Jewish nation, and our Saviour took it here in illustration of all the things which he was unfolding to them of the mind and counsels of God respecting the fate and fortunes of his Church from the time when he was then sitting with them on the Mount of Olives, down to that hour when he should come again in his glory and restore peace, and blessedness, and harmony to that world which had been ruined by Adam's sin. The prediction which he here delivered is recorded by three of the evangelists -in the 24th chap. of St. Matthew, in the 13th chap. of St. Mark, and in the 21st chap. of St. Luke. They just possess such variations in the statements as mutually illustrate each other, and from a combined view of the whole we have a very clear view of the great outline of the intended dealings of God with his people and his Church
I propose this evening to examine our Saviour's prophecy, as illustrated by the parable of the fig-tree, under the six great subjects which he himself brings before us:
I. The preaching of the gospel accompanied by persecution.
II. The fall of Jerusalem with its accompanying signs and wonders.
III. The times of the Gentiles and their analogies and signs.
IV. The fall of the nations and its accompaniments. V. The budding towards the summer : and
VI. and lastly, The coming of the Son of man in his glory.
It is to teach us all these that our blessed Saviour says, “ Now learn a parable of the fig-tree." He had many fig-trees in sight at that moment; the disciples could have looked at them, for they were approaching the time of the passover, and could see the very thing taking place in nature—the branch yet tender and the leaf budding forth, and in this the indication that the summer was nigh.
I. We have first then our Saviour referring here to the preaching of the Gospel among all nations, accompanied by persecution, and his declaration that when that took place, then should the end come.
There is a principle of two-fold fulfilment–indeed, perhaps we might say a manifold fulfilment of our blessed Saviour's words: but, especially there is a remarkable two-fold fulfilment, one part being their application to the end of that dispensation in which we now are, the other to the end of the Jewish dispensation. Christ says, this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached among all nations, and then shall the end come. Now that did take place as a witness to all nations before the fall of Jerusalem came, for we have Scriptural indications and historic testimony that the apostles took the Gospel to every part of the known world, at least to what was then known as the world—that St. Paul especially preached the Gospel 'to the furthest west of Europe, and that others carried it to the furthest known parts of Asia before the fall of the holy city Jerusalem : so that it was before the close of that dispensation that the Gospel of the kingdom was preached among all nations. Not that all nations were evangelized in the sense that all nations had become nominally christians, but that it was offered to the whole world, and more especially was it offered to every synagogue of Judaism, for we find the apostles, as recorded in the book of Acts, going first to the synagogues, wherever they went, according to the Saviour's commission, beginning at Jerusalem.
Now that which took place before the fall of Jerusalem, -the offering of the kingdom-of Messiah's kingdomto Judaism in order to its final rejection, is the very same thing that is represented in the 14th chap. of the Book of Revelations, as being the same thing which should take place before the end of our dispensation should come. Whatever might be done by the Christian Church in the long, and in many respects, dreary period of her history, with regard to the preaching of the Gospel among