The Barren Fig-Tree

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Melody -
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John Newton, 1779, from Olney Hymns, vol. 1, hymn 103

The church a garden is
In which believers stand,
Like ornamental trees
Planted by God's own hand:
His Spirit waters all their roots,
And every branch abounds with fruits.

2. But other trees there are,
In this enclosure grow;
Which, though they promise fair,
Have only leaves to show:
No fruits of grace are on them found,
They stand but cumb'rers of the ground.

3. The under gard'ner grieves,
In vain his strength he spends,
For heaps of useless leaves,
Afford him small amends:
He hears the Lord his will make known,
To cut the barren fig-trees down.

4. How difficult his post,
What pangs his bowels move,
To find his wishes crossed,
His labors useless prove!
His last relief is earnest prayer,
Lord, spare them yet another year.

5. Spare them, and let me try
What farther means may do;
I'll fresh manure apply,
My digging I'll renew
Who knows but yet they fruit may yield!
If not - 'tis just, they must be felled.

6. If under means of grace,
No gracious fruits appear;
It is a dreadful case,
Though God may long forbear:
At length he'll strike the threatened blow,
And lay the barren fig-tree low.

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