And if it bear fruit, well
If hereby barren professors, as the Jews, become fruitful, it is well, a good thing is done; it is well for themselves, they shall eat the fruit of their doings; it is well for the churches where they are, for good works are profitable to men; and it is well for the owner of the vineyard, and the dresser of it too, for when Christ has his fruit from his churches, his ministers have theirs also:
and if not,
"for the time to come", as the Vulgate Latin; or "year following", as the Persic version renders it:
thou shall cut it down;
do with it as thou pleasest, nothing more will be said or pleaded in its behalf; full consent shall be given, and no more intercession used: any trees might not be cut down, only barren ones; there is a law in ( Deuteronomy 20:19 Deuteronomy 20:20 ) about cutting down trees, and which the Jews explain thus F13;
``they may not cut down trees for meat without the city, nor withhold from them the course of water, that so they may become dry; as it is said, "thou shall not destroy the trees"; and whoever cuts any down is to be beaten, and not in a siege only, but in any place: whoever cuts down a tree for meat, by way of destroying it, is to be beaten; but they may cut it down if it hurts other trees, or because it hurts in the field others, or because its price is dear; the law does not forbid, but by way of destroying. Every barren tree it is lawful to cut down, even though a man hath no need of it; and so a tree for meat, which does hurt, and does not produce but little fruit, and it is not worth while to labour about it, it is lawful to cut it down: and how much may an olive tree produce, and it may not be cut down? the fourth part of a "Kab" of olives; and a palm tree which yields a "Kab" of dates, may not be cut down.''Much such a parable as this is formed by the Jews, upon Moses's intercession for the people of Israel F14
``Says R. Abin, in the name of R. Simeon ben Josedech, a parable, to what is it like? to a king that hath an uncultivated field; he says to his gardener, go and manure it, and make it a vineyard: the gardener went and manured that field, and planted it a vineyard; the vineyard grew, and produced wine, and it turned to vinegar; when the king saw that the wine turned to vinegar, he said to the gardener, go, (htwa Uwqw) , "and cut it down", why should I seek after a vineyard that brings forth that which is sour? the gardener replied, my lord, the king, what expense hast thou been at with this vineyard before it was raised? and now thou seekest to cut it down; and shouldst thou say because its wine turns sour; the reason is, because it is young, therefore its wine turns sour, and it does not produce good wine: so when Israel did that work (of the golden calf), the holy blessed God sought to consume them; said Moses, Lord of the world, hast thou not brought them out of Egypt from a place of idolatry, and now they are young, or children, as it is said, ( Hosea 11:1 ) wait a little for them, and go with them, and they will do good works in thy presence.''
F13 Maimon. Hilch. Melacim, c. 6. sect. 8, 9.
F14 Shemot Rabba, sect. 43. fol. 141. 2.