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Com of thy Neighbours, then thou mayejt pluck the Ears with thine Hand, but thou Jhalt not move a Sickle into thy Neighbours standing Corni This Law the "Jewish Doctors extended (as indeed the Reason of the Law extends itself) not only to Grapes and Com, but to Olives, Figs, Dates, and all other common eatable Fruits; and Jojephus tells us, r That the Benefit of this Indulgence reached not only to Jews, but to all travellers upon the Highway in Judea, whether, they were Natives or not. So that had our Saviour found Figs on the Tree, and eat never so plentifully of them, he could have done no Injury to any Proprietor, because he only made use of the Privilege, which the common Law of the Country gave him. Nor pas- But, supposing this Tree to have no sianate. Proprietor, and as it was in itself a barren Tree, useless and contemptible even to a Proverb, I see no Reason, why it might not (without Offence to any Man) be blafted as well as cut down, since it , was a manifest Incumbrance to the Ground, and capable of occasioning the farther Delusion of other Travellers, by the Spaciousness of its Leaves. Nor can I conceive, why our Saviout should be deem'd to be in a Passion, when he did
'Antics. Jttd. L. 4* C. & ■ •
this, any more than a Farmer may be thought to be so, when he orders his Servants to cut down a barren and useless Tree. But then, if our Saviour had an higher View in doing this, and, * if the blasting of this Tree served so great an End, as to be a Type of the ap- Buthigh
. proaching Destruction of the Jewish l^fru' Nation, on Supposition of their want
, of Repentance, and persisting in their wicked Design to destroy Jejus himself (and that this was our Saviour's Intent in doing it, the two severe Parables which he spake to the Jews about that Time, and which, both St. Matthew and St. Mark adjoin to the Account of this Action, are a plain Indication) if the Destruction of the Tree, I fay, answered this Purpose, it was justly sacrific'd to the publick Good, as a warning to the Jews to avoid the like Fats, by the Malediction of God, and his holy Prophet Jesus. a When, therefore the warning given, by this Action to the whole Nation of the Jews, was so very charitable and kind, it is mere Perverseness to cavil at the Miracle, because it was a dejtruffive to one Tree.
1 Bp. Smalllroh'i Vind. p. 419. 'Dr. ttarce,' *ait 3. p. 19.
Andtiuly The number of Christ's Miracles* fowTai- wnicn are °f a vinditTme Kind, are but on. three ; his driving the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple, his permitting the Devils to enter into the Herd of Swine* and, here, his destroying the Tree, that had nothing on it but Leaves* the rest of his Works (in great Variety) are all of a beneficial Nature: But why should, these be thought clearer and more incontestible Miracles, than the other, when they are both equally supernatural Acts, and require an Almighty Agent to effect them? Instead of drying up a flourishing Tree then, we will suppose* that «our Saviour had made a dry and dead one revive and flourish; yetb might not Jews and' Infidels with the same Colour pretend, that a Tree, which is supposed to revive and flourish, was never really dead, but retained a latent 1 Principle of Life, which afterwards, on some incidental Occasion, exerted itself? Or might not a boundless Scepticism suggest, that a living Tree was artificially iubstituted in the room of the dead one? In short, if our Saviour's other Miracles of a benign Nature, such as curing, with a Word, the most desperate Diseases, healing the Impotent, and reviving the very dead themselves, could not then,*
* Bp. Smalll/roke's Vind. p. 4*7
and cannot now overcome the unreasonable Prejudices of Infidels, the miraculous flourishing of a dead Tree would no more have been consider'd, as a Jupernataral Act, than the causing of a flourishing Tree to wither immediately, and die> with one omnipotent Word. For when Men have once imbib'd strong Prejudices, and are obstinately bent against Conviction, whether the Work, designed for their Cure, be of a merciful, or vindictive Nature, it makes very little Alteration in the Case; since the miraculous BloJJbms and Fruit of Aarons Rod (to use a Comparison suitable to our present Subject) did no more prevent the Murmurings and Disobedience of the Israelites, than the miraculous Hail and fire, which smote the Vines and Fig-Trees of the Egyptians, cured ■%hem and their "King of their hardness as Heart.
And now, to take a Review of what A sum of has been said on this Subject. Since our th« blessed Saviour, who * took not on him Ans^r, the Nature of Angels, but the Seed of Abraham, was, in all Things, made like unto his Brethren, and subject to the innocent Infirmities of humane Nature, which he, neverthelels, thought not proper, by any miraculous means, tore-" T medy,
* Heb, ii. 16, 17.
medy, or to exert his Divinity upon every little Occurrence of Life: Since, beyond Dispute it has been prov'd, that there were in "Judea Fig-Trees, of a very early kind, which had Fruit in full Maturity before the time of the Passover, or at the time, when our Saviour, in his Return to Bethany, went to find Fruit on this; nor are the Words of St. Mark incompatible with this Circumstance: Since this Tree, barren as it was, was nevertheless intended to be the Subject of a Miracle, and by its hasty withering away, at our Saviour's Execration, a Type and Figure of the ipeedy Destruction of the Jewish Nation: Since, had it born Fruit, its standing in the Way made it of common Right, or, had it been enclosed, a particular Law, provided for that purpose, submitted it to the Use of every Traveller, r!hat was minded to gather of it: And, lastly, since a Miracle of this kind, served to such excellent Uses, was at this time more necessary, and in all respects as convincing, as if it had been of a merciful andc beneficial Nature; there is certainly no Appearance either of Folly, or Ignorance, or Injustice, or Passion, or 111-nature, in our Saviour's doing it, as is pretended: And that he could not possibly impose on
r Bp. SmaUbroke's Viud. p. *5o.