T H E
'Who being dead, yet speaketh.'–Hebrews 11:4
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
L O N D O N,
Printed for J. Robinson, at the Golden Lion,
in St. Paul's Churchyard, 1688.
This title page was printed with a wide black border.
TO THE READER.
I have written to thee now about the Barren Fig-tree, or how it will fare with the fruitless professor that standeth in the vineyard of God. Of what complexion thou art I cannot certainly divine; but the parable tells thee that the cumber- ground must be cut down. A cumber-ground professor is not only a provocation to God, a stumbling-block to the world, and a blemish to religion, but a snare to his own soul also. 'Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet he shall perish for ever, like his own dung; they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?' (Job 20:6,7).
Now 'they count it pleasure to riot in the daytime.' But what will they do when the axe is fetched out? (2 Peter 2:13,14).
The tree whose fruit withereth is reckoned a tree without fruit, a tree twice dead, one that must be 'plucked up by the roots' (Jude 12).
O thou cumber-ground, God expects fruit, God will come seeking fruit shortly.
My exhortation, therefore, is to professors that they look to it, that they take heed.
The barren fig-tree in the vineyard, and the bramble in the wood, are both prepared for the fire.
Profession is not a covert to hide from the eye of God; nor will it palliate the revengeful threatening of his justice; he will command to cut it down shortly.
The church, and a profession, are the best of places for the upright, but the worst in the world for the cumber-ground. He must be cast, as profane, out of the mount of God: cast, I say, over the wall of the vineyard, there to wither; thence to be gathered and burned. 'It had ben better for them not to have known the way of righteousness' (2 Peter 2:21). And yet if they had not, they had been damned; but it is better to go to hell without, than in, or from under a profession. These 'shall receive greater damnation' (Luke 20:47).
If thou be a professor, read and tremble: if thou be profane, do so likewise. For if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinners appear? Cumber- ground, take heed of the axe! Barren fig-tree, beware of the fire!
But I will keep thee no longer out of the book. Christ Jesus, the dresser of the vineyard, take care of thee, dig about thee, and dung thee, that thou mayest bear fruit; that when the Lord of the vineyard cometh with his axe to seek for fruit, or pronounce the sentence of damnation on the barren fig-tree, thou mayest escape that judgment. The cumber- ground must to the wood-pile, and thence to the fire. Farewell.
Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus in sincerity. Amen.