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HERBS AND FLOWERS.
Rest not therefore till thou canst say with Job, “The root of the matter is found in me,” Job xix. 28. Let thy ends and motives be sound, or otherwise thy profession will prove worthless. Expect sufferings, and prepare to bear them, or else never set up thy trade of Christianity. heaven be not worth having at the greatest rate, and Christ at the dearest price, never meddle with these commodities : if they are, break not for price; the pearl in the gospel is worth all that thou hast. If religion be not good, never profess it ; if it be, never forsake it; sit down first and reckon the charges with the wise builder, and whatsoever thou canst find others have paid for it, expect the like may be required of thee. And if upon these terms the bargain will not suit thy taste, meddle not with it. Thou mayest read, Jeremiah was in derision daily, every one mocked him; David was the drunkard's song; the very abjects derided Job; the apostles were made the off-scouring of all things. Some, for their religion's sake were forsaken by their friends, as Christ by his brethren ; this may be thy condition. Some have lost their estates, and been exposed to hardship; and who knows but that it may be required of thee? Canst thou break through these difficulties? If not, never set a step further in profession; if heaven will not make thee amends for earth, and God for the creature, and eternal life for the loss of temporal life.
O my God, without thy support, I shall never be able to hold out; but through thee I can do all things. I know there is more excellency in
UPON WITHERING HERBS AND FLOWERS.
thee than the world can afford; and if I lose my God, my soul, my heaven, and happiness, to preserve my estate, my life or liberty, it will be a Iosing bargain. These things I can want, Christ I cannot want. Lord, give me him, though upon the hardest terms; let me have strong apprehensions of my love to thee, and thine to me. Then shall I never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Let not the glory of the world so dazzle my sight that I cannot behold thee in glory,
Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth : and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched ; and because they had no root, they withered away.-He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while : for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended, Matt. xiii. 5, 6, 20, 21.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches : He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth och fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered ; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned, John xv. 446.
XXI.-UPON THE SPRINGING OF HERBS
After a sharp winter, when the spring approached, and the sun began to look more cheerfully upon the earth, and
to shine upon it with a more direct ray, I observed that the herbs and flowers which before seemed dead and withered, began now to germinate and bud, and to spring forth, and to look lively, lovely, and amiable; the grass waxed green, and the face of the earth was changed from what it was a few weeks ago ; trees resumed their foliage, and all seemed to rejoice at the sun's approach, and to answer the springing showers which kindly fell upon them. Even those flowers that just before hid their heads, and were buried in the earth, now crept out of their cells, and in their kind returned praise to their great Benefactor; and the winter, which seemed to have killed them, did but prepare them for their future increase. This made me consider, If it be thus with vegetables, surely it should be so with the soul, when it comes from under the clouds of affliction, and when the sun of righteousness ariseth with healing in his wings. This made me consider my own condition, whether 1 had answered the pains and cost which God had bestowed upon me, whether which God had laid upon me, the sharp winter
U PON THE SPRINGING OF
that I had undergone, and the sharp showers I had felt, had wrought such an effect upon me, as the winter and the influences of heaven had done upon these vegetables, namely, made my graces germinate and bloom, and bring forth fruit; for I saw wherever life is in the root, it will show forth itself in the branches.
O my soul, thou hast had a long and sharp winter; what effect has it wrought in thee? Thou hast lain in the furnace of affliction ; is thy dross consumed, or is it not? Thou hast been, under pining sickness, brought to the gates of death ; yet hath God said to thee, Live. Thou hast been threatened with pinching wants, yet more alarmed than injured; and when stripped of all, God let thee see, that he could make provision, and could furnish a table in the wilderness : “ the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail,” 1 Kings xvii. 16. God blessed a little, and it sufficed. When thou wast driven from friends and relations, he raised thee up friends more true than many of thy relations, and in due, time he said to thee, as sometime to Jacob, “Re.. turn unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee,” Gen. xxxii. 9. Sometimes thou hast been under a cloud, and then again the cloud has been scattered, and the sun has broken out again : many have been the dispensations of providence thou hast been under. O my soul, how dost thou answer God's expectations in these providences ? Affliction springs not out of the dust, neither does trouble rise out of the ground; is there evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it? Job v. 6; Amos
HERBS AFTER WINTER.
iii. 6. Whoever is the instrument, God has a hand in the work; whoever be the rod, it is he that lays it on. It has a voice, and we should hear it; an end, and that is thy reformation. Dost thou answer his end? The winter now is past, and the singing of birds is come; the earth, and all things therein, look lovely; and each vegetable in which life is, discovers it. Is it only winter with thee; and does no fruit appear? If
God justly may say to thee, as of the fruitless fig-tree, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever,” Matt. xxi. 19. If all his ploughing, sowing, and manuring, prove in vain, he will say of thee, as sometimes of his vineyard, “ What could I have done more for him than I have done? wherefore then, when I expected fruit, doth he bring forth wild grapes ? Many a time the sun has shone with a favourable aspect upon thee, and many a time the dew of heaven has been showered down; many a faithful, skilful husbandman has been sent to dress thee and manure thee; and must Christ, when he seeks fruit, still meet with disappointments ?” Art thou so hard and rocky, that no furnace will melt thee, nor hammer break thee, or bring thee into form meet for his building ? O my God, this is my condition by nature, but thou canst change my nature; thou hast a furnace that will melt me, and bring me to any form; thou hast a hammer that can break me, and fit me for thy work; thou canst soften me, and make me pliable ; thou canst take away the stony heart, and give me a heart of flesh. Lord, is it not thy promise? Make it good to me; blow upon my