That God that dwells in heaven above,
Whose glory none can tell:
He condescends, in matchless love,
With worthless man to dwell.
A vineyard he has here below,
Which is his constant care;
‘Tis watered, and ’tis fenced too,
That it might grow and bear.
But after all, in it are found
Some barren fruitless trees;
Who are cumberers of the ground,
Whose fruit is only leaves.
When the all-searching eye of God
Beholds such fruitless men,
Reluctantly, the awful word
Is given to cut them down.
Before the ax is laid to the tree,
The dresser begs reprieve:
Lord, spare it yet a year, and see
If dung can’t make it thrive.
Then justice lays its sentence by,
When Jesus begs a stay:
And lengthened patience lets him try
If it will fruitful be.
But if the tree is fruitless found
When dug about and dunged,
Such useless cumberers of the ground
Will surely then be burned.
Unattributed. Published in The Gospel Magazine, September 1766.