And he spoke to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;…
It is something to startle us, and make us ask ourselves, if indeed such things can be; whether He is in earnest who says so, and whether the world which practises upon us by its looks as though it were eternal, is indeed such an imposter, and we who believe it, so foolish and so ignorant! Yet so it is. Now, it seems to some of you, I dare say, as to most men, that this is a great deal more astonishing than that anything so inconsiderable, materially considered, as a man, should pass away, as you see happen every day by death. It seems a pity to break to pieces so goodly a machine as heaven and earth, and uproot its adamantine basis. But if so, I think you are wrong. It seems to me nothing at all astonishing, that anything for which we have no longer a use should finally be thrown aside, or broken up, and the old materials put to some other purpose, be it an ordinary implement, or be it a world. It seems to me very reasonable and very likely in itself, that, in the infinite wisdom and power of God, one world should be ripened, so to say, out of another, as you see the fruit come out of the flower, and the flower out of the bud, so that the first shall decay before the higher one can be perfected. It is very reasonable that, as a mere manifestation of power, in order to show to his creatures the strength of His right hand, and the absolute independency of His will, God should dash in pieces, from time to time, or consume by the breath of His nostrils, what was made by His word, and stood only by His sufferance. Besides, in the elements out of which heaven and earth are made, there is no thought or feeling; they are brute, dead things; and are capable neither of pain nor pleasure. Whether they abide or not in the forms into which God has thrown them, it is the same to them; no harm is inflicted on them; they are as unconscious of change as they are impotent to feel or will. But, if heaven and earth must pass away, another consequence will follow, which is to every one of us of awful importance. If the earth, such as it now is, shall be utterly destroyed, manifest it is, that our present life, and cares, and pleasures, and occupations, all that men make their happiness of, will likewise he brought to an end. And this brings me to another point — and a reason for the passing away of the present world, which I have not yet mentioned, though it might easily occur to any thoughtful mind. It is a condemned world; sentence is passed upon it! And it is condemned, because it is guilty, and all over polluted! And do not wonder at this, for you know with what feelings we regard a chamber or a house in which a murder, or some abominable crime, has been committed; how we shrink from it and abhor it, and hate the sight of it, and should think it the greatest misery in the world, if we have any feelings worthy of man, to be compelled to take up our abode within it. A sort of guilt, as well as involuntary pollution, seems to attach to the very floors and senseless walls which have witnessed the crime, and have not fallen down or opened upon the wicked in the midst of their wickedness. And we should rejoice at seeing them pulled down to the ground, and the last memorial of the crime removed from our eyes! Well, so it is exactly in regard to the world in which we live, with all its majestic mechanism, its living forces, and all the ornaments which God's hand has thrown round about it. It is stained with six thousand years of sin. And this brings us to another portion of the question. If heaven and earth shall pass away, shall anything succeed into their room, or shall that space which they occupied be utterly blank and desolate? The answer is, no. So to say, there shall rise two new worlds, or such a change as comes to the same thing, out of the ruins of it; even as out of the earth destroyed by the flood there sprung forth that in which we now dwell. There shall be the new heavens and new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness, and the face of God's countenance shineth for evermore — the habitation of those who have lived and died in the Lord. And on the other hand, the world, where the light is darkness, and the life is death, and the good is evil, and weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth are the voice thereof — even the habitation of the ungodly for ever and ever. And this gives you the true reason, dear brethren, why the judgment is now suspended, and sun and moon are shining, and night and day, and spring and harvest, come and go, and all things remain as at the beginning. It is that God's last dispensation upon earth may have full room and time to display itself in all its combinations with human good and evil, before the voice from the throne shall proclaim that it is finished. It is that, in the sight of all His creatures, the patience and long-suffering of God, which leadeth to repentance, might have full space and opportunity in which to show themselves, and vindicate to the uttermost the exceeding forbearance of our heavenly Father even towards them that perish I It is that, year after year, His saints may be gathered in till, in the fulness of time, the flock which he has given to Christ shall have been called out of all nations and languages, and the Saviour be satisfied in the sight of His soul's travail.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;