“Lord! let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.”—Luke 13:8-9
Do I not behold the Lord Jesus here represented in his glorious office of our High Priest and Intercessor? And is it thus that he so mercifully pleads for the awakened and unprofitable among his people? Pause, my soul! Was it not from the effects of his intercession, that the world itself was spared from instant destruction, when Adam first brake through the fence of God’s law? Is it not now by the same rich grace that thousands are spared from year to year in Christ Jesus, before that they are called to the knowledge of Christ Jesus? Nay my soul! pause once more, over the view of this wonderful subject, and ask thyself was it not from the same almighty interposition that thou was kept from going down to the pit during the long, long period of thy unregeneracy, while thou wert wholly unconscious of it? And was it from thy gracious intercession, blessed Jesus, that I then lived, that I am now spared, and, after all my barrenness, that another year of grace is opening before me? Oh, precious, Precious Jesus! suffer me to be no longer unfruitful in thy garden! Do, Lord, as thou hast said. Dig about me, and pour upon me all the sweet influences of thy Holy Spirit, which, like the rain, and the sun, and the dew of heaven, may cause me to bring forth fruit unto God. And, Lord, if so unworthy a creature may drop a petition at thy mercy seat for others, let the coming year be productive of the same blessings to all thy redeemed; even to my poor unawakened relations among them; and to thousands of those who are yet in nature’s darkness. Oh that this may be to them the acceptable year of the Lord!
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."