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XIII.-UPON THE GORGEOUS DRESS OF FLOWERS.

When I carefully observed the various dresses, and the curious colours of the herbs and flowers which diapered the garden, and had taken some delight to consider the power of God in them, and how far he condescended to please our fancies and delight our senses; when I saw how gorgeously they were attired, and how beautiful they appeared, it led me up to the fountain-head, even to God, who is beauty and comeliness itself; and the greatest beauty that the world can boast of, is but a spark to this fire, a ray to this sun, and a drop to this ocean.

If the creature can be so beautiful, what is the Creator ! and if earth be so pleasant, what is heaven! But when I considered also the transitory, fading nature of these short-lived flowers; how soon, when they were in their prime, they withered away and perished; this put me in mind of the vanity of man, who is compared to a flower,

which comes up,

and is ere long cut down, and never continues in one stay: and not only he, but all earthly enjoyments are short-lived, and soon perish. But when I considered their beauty with their fading nature, I was further reminded by them of our Saviour's words, “Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and

UPON THE GORGEOUS

40 yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the

grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe

of little faith?” Matt. vi. 28-30. He sends us in the former verses to the sparrows, which, though they neither plough, nor reap, nor gather into barns, are yet fed by Divine providence; so here he sends us to the grass and flowers, which, though frail, vanishing things, are gorgeously attired by him; and all is to lead us to depend upon our Father's providence. For the force of the argument is thus: If God feed these little sparrows, and not one falls to the ground without his providence, and so clothe the withering grass, doubtless he will not suffer his sons and servants to want necessary food and raiment, which as they are better, so are a thousand times dearer to him than the fowls or flowers. There is in every man, by nature, a conceit of self-sufficiency, as if by our own diligence we could provide for ourselves, and are ready to undertake God's part of the work. Now this self-confidence is the daughter of unbelief, as one saith, and the mother of distracting care and anxiety. Our Saviour here, by many arguments, dissuades us from these. There is a care of the head, not only lawful but commendable; but there is a distracting, distrustful, diffident care of the heart here condemned, as when a man hath done his utmost endeavour in the use of lawful means, yet harasses himself about the event, saying, “ What if this or that follow? I fear I shall die a beggar,” etc. “One day," saith

you,

0 ye

DRESS OF FLOWERS.

41

David, “I shall perish by the hand of Saul,” 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. Because God will not let us know how we shall be provided for, therefore we are ready with Israel to question, “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness ?Psa. lxxviii. 19.

O my soul, how justly art thou reproved, and sent to these inferior creatures to school? Hast thou not had distracting thoughts and distrustful fears? Hast thou not often been questioning, What shall I eat ? or, What shall I drink? or, Wherewithall shall I be clothed ? Matt. vi. 31. “What shall become of my wife and children when I am dead ?” etc. even contrary to the express command of the great God; as if thou hadst had no Father to provide for thee, or no God to depend upon, or no promise to uphold thee. And though God hath ofttimes silenced thy fears, and hushed thy cares by an unexpected providence, yet, upon the apprehension of new danger, new fears arise; just as murmuring Israel, though they had seen God's wonders in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in feeding them with manna, yet cry out, “Can he furnish a table for us in the wilderness?” Psa. lxxviii. 19. Yea, though thou hast never wanted food, nor raiment, nor any thing truly necessary, and hast a promise that thou shalt never want any thing that is good; and though God has said, “ Leave thy fatherless children ; and let thy widows trust in me,” Jer. xlix. 11; yet how hard is it to commit wife and children to him, if there be no visible means for their subsistence, or to trust him when means are out of sight. What if thy food be not so dainty, nor thy clothes so fine; if the one nourish thee, and the other keep

42 UPON THE GORGEOUS DRESS OF FLOWERS.

thee warm, it matters not. If thou do not fare deliciously every day, nor go in purple and fine linen, thy betters have fared harder, and gone more meanly clad : read Heb. xi. 36–38, and be ashamed of murmuring; “ Others had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword : they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afAlicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy :) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." What if thou hast no certain dwelling-house, thy dear Redeemer had not where to lay his head, and those worthies were worse circumstanced than ever thou wast.

O my God, charge not upon me those distrustful thoughts, but strengthen my faith in thy promises. Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,” Mark ix. 24; and let not this sin have dominion over me. Enable me to say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him," Job xiii. 15; and with Eli, " It is the Lord : let him do what seemeth him good," 1 Sam. iii. 18; and with Paul, “ I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus," Acts xxi. 13.

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee : he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved, Psa. lv. 22.

Casting all your care upon him ; for he careth for you,

1 Peter v. 7.

XIV.-UPON A

GARDEN

SPOILED TIIROUGH

NEGLECT OF THE FENCE.

THROUGH neglect of the fence, my garden was much spoiled, and laid waste by cattle; some plucking off the heads of tender buds and plants, some tearing up both root and branch; and also by their treading of it, much defacing its beauty; so that, not without much labour and care, I secured the fence, and made up the breaches; but could not at present, with all my pains, bring it to its former state and pristine beauty. The injury sustained in my garden was somewhat requited by the following meditation.

If a garden, a small plot of ground, cannot be preserved from danger, without care and painstaking, without a good fence about it, and a watchful eye upon it, because it has so many enemies; how then can the soul, a more curious garden, which is in a thousand times greater danger, be kept safe without a fence and watchful guard ? Here are more choice herbs and flowers than the other has; of greater worth, beauty, and virtue; more subject to injury, spoil, and rapine ; and which have greater, more subtle, and more malicious enemies, who seek their destruction. The devil, who, we are informed, goes about like

a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, 2 Pet. v. 8, if he find the fence down, or the

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