And now also the ax is laid to the root of the trees: every tree therefore which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down…
It seems to me a total mistake to apply the words of the Baptist, "And now also the axe," &c., to any work ordained for man. When the appointed time comes, God does indeed show forth His justice by sweeping away that which is utterly corrupt. Yet even the Son of God, in His human manifestation, came not to destroy, but to save. Assuredly this is the only part of His office which we are called to discharge. As His ministers, we are to be ministers of salvation, not of destruction. The evil in ourselves, indeed, we are to pluck up, branch and root; but in our dealings with others, unless we have a special office committed to us by the laws of family or national life, our task will mainly be to contend against evil by sowing the seeds of good, not by radical reforms, but by seminal. The satirist, the rhetorician, the moralist, will indeed try the former, and will therefore fail. The Christian has a higher power entrusted to him, the power of God's goodness and mercy, the gospel of redemption and salvation; not the woes of the Trojan prophetess, who could gain no credence, but the glad tidings of the kingdom of heaven. And if he relies on this power, he will succeed where others must needs fail.
(A. W. Hare, in "Guesses at Truth. ")
Parallel VersesKJV: And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.