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common aud ordinary Season for Figs. wa9 not come. "Some Trees, 'tis true, "might have Fruit at that Time, and "the Tree, which our Saviour saw at a "Distance, by the shew of jts Leaves, *' promised no leis. Iu the early kind, <e he knew Leaves came later than the "Fruit, and therefore Leaves, at this * Time, he took for a good Sign of its rt being one of those; but a strong "and vigorous Plant (though it was ." of the later Sort) might ibmetimes "put out its Leaves, before it had <( Fruit: And therefore he came, not "with Assurance, but with some De-r u gree of Poubtfulnels, if haply he *' might find any thing thereon \ and, '.' when he came to it, he perceived, ** that, it being of the later Sort, had "nothing but Leaves, for the common "and ordinary Season, for such Trees, *' to bear Fruit, was not yet come. His . Thus, whether the Paslage in St. Mark
Wo''^s be understood by Way of Negation, or
consistent x . ',' . *? cr>
^ith Interrogation; or whether the %mey Christ's mentioned therein, relates to the Time "pep , of ripening, ox gathering the Figs, there ° *'' can be no Folly or Absurdity in our Saviour's expecting Fruit on the Tree, he saw in the Way , since it is evident, from so many Testimonies, that in Judea there were certain Fig-Trees, which,
at at this very Season of the Year, bore ripe Fruit, though the particular Tree, which our Saviour went to at this Time, might not happen to be of that Speciesx
It is to be remembered however, that Christ's this Tree (of what kind soever it was) jJJ^f' stood u by the Way, u d w was a Tree Tree neiof common Right, which grew in a com- the.r ?a m6n Field, and was distinct from such,wnjH* as were planted in Gardens andOrchards, and had their proper Owners j so that the Fruit, which our Saviour expected to have had from it, would have been no other, than that of an uncultivated Tree, in a mere Hedge-Row, usually as common, and as plentiful, as Apples growing by the Highway in Herefordshire. But, even if the Tree had stood in enclos'd Ground, and been never so much the Property of any one Man, yet had our Saviour a right, and a legal right too, both to pull and eat of the Fruit of it, even in Virtue of the Law, that he then liv'd under: For thus we read, x When thou comest into thy Neighlours Vineyard, then thou mayefl eat Graf es to thy fill, at thine own Pleasure; but thou Jhalt not put any in thy Vessel: dnd when thou comejl into the Jlanding
* Matt. xxi. 19. * Bp. Smallbroh's Vind. p. 418. * Dmt. xxiii. 24, 25.
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
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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.
Andtruly The number of Christ's Miracles* towASi- which are of a vindictive 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 3ry 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 Principle of Life, which afterwards, on some incidental Occasion, exerted itself? Or might not a boundless Scepticism suggest, that a living Tree was artificially substituted in the room of the dead one? In short, if our Saviour's other Miracles of a benign Nature, liich as curing, with a Word, the most desperate Diseases, healing the Impotent, and reviving the Yery dead themselves, could not then,'
* Bp. Smalll/rike's Viad. p. 427.