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ever blessed be his name, that he is not compared to a flower in the garden, where few have liberty to come, but to the rose of Sharon, and lily of the vallies, to which all have free access who will.
This flower, here, growing in obscurity, scatters its odours around, and displays its charms in vain with respect to human beholders : it springs up, blows, flourishes, decays, and dies in this waste, without perhaps ever being seen or admired by any, unless it be some transient wanderer : which brings to my recollection those beautiful lines of the celebrated Mr Gray :
And is there not many a bright genius obscured by a low situation in life, which, if otherwise cultivated by a liberal education, and introduced by friends or fortune into public view, might do honour to the state, or be highly useful in the church; and add as much, if not more, benefit to society,
as this wild flower might contribute to the ornament of a flower-bed in some nobleman's garden?
Was I just now admiring those lines in Mr Gray, which are at once delightful and striking? And shall I not much more those of the man according to God's own heart, the sweet singer of Israel, which are transcendently more beautiful and striking, while they are truly applicable to all ? “ As for “ man, his days are as grass : as a flower of “ the field, so he flourisheth; for the wind “ passeth over it, and it is gone ; and the “ place thereof shall know it no more," Ps. ciii. 15, 16.
Man was once indeed as a flower in a garden ; but ever since he was cast out of paradise, he hath been as a flower in a field, exposed to numberless accidents, dangers, diseases, and deaths; the winds of adversity continually passing over him, and from one generation to another, that of mortality ; so that he is gone away, or carried away, as with a flood, Psal. xc. 5. and the place which once knew him, knoweth him again no more : “ Man that is born of a woman is
« of few days and full of trouble ; he cometh “ forth like a flower, and is cut down; he “ fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth “ not,” Job xiy. 2.
Man in infancy flourisheth like a flower, springeth up in childhood, blossometh and buddeth in youth, withereth and dieth in old age. But is the flower always permitted to stand till it wither and decay? No; it is often cropt in the bud, in the blossom, or when flourishing in all the gaiety of foliage, when its charms most attract the gazer's eye: And so is man in infancy, childhood, and youth : “ Verily, every man, at his best “ state, is altogether vanity,” Psal. xxxix. 5.
How solemn was that cry which the prophet Isaiah was called upon to utter, and how little regarded ! “ All flesh is grass, and “ all the goodliness thereof is as the flower “ of the field,” Isa. xl. 0. O that men would consider this aright! It would keep them humble in prosperity ;'and what followeth in the same beautiful passage would support
them in adversity, namely, that “ the word .“ of our God shall stand for ever,” ver. 8. Though men change, fade away, and die like the grass of the field, so that no trust is to be put even in the greatest of them, Psal. cxlvi. 3, 4. God is unchangeable, and of his years there is no end; his promises are faithfulness and truth : He will not change the thing that is gone out of his lips ; his word abideth for ever, Mal. iii, 6. Psal. cii. 24. 27. lxxxix. 33, 34. Isa. xxv. 1. 1 Pet. i. 23. 25. . .
These oxen which are grazing, are not at all charmed with the fragrancy or beauties of this delightful flower: they feed carelessly around it, without paying any respect to it; to them it flourishes unregarded. And what is the reason? It is because their natures are incapable of receiving any pleasant sensation from it. Yet these oxen serve to reprove many of us for our ingratitude to God our benefactor : “ For the ox knoweth “ his owner, and the ass his master's crib,” Isa. i. 3.; and are there not, alas !- too many in the world who pay (how shall I utter it!) as little respect and regard to the flower which sprang from the roots of Jesse, that plant of renown, Ezek. xxxiv. 29., as those beasts do to this flower of the earth? To such men Christ is as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; they see no beauty in him that they should desire him, Isa. liii. 2.