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radise, 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, Ps. xc. 5, and the place which once knew him, knoweth him again no more : “Man that is born of a woman is of few 5 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 drieth 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.” Psalm xxxix. 5.
How solemn was that cryk 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. 6. 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 sensations 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.
And what is the cause of all this astonishing insensibility ? It is owing to fallen nature ; for the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; (for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,) 1 Cor. ii. 14, till once the Spirit enlighten their minds: then it is only, that with the spouse they see Christ to be white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. Cant. v. 10. 16.
But where is now the delightful plant that charmed me so much but a little time
? I cannot observe it. Surprising ! what can have become of it? Ah ! I now perceive it laid low; its stem broken, its variegated cup all shattered, and partly súnk in the mould !
What can have produced such a sudden change? The field is deprived of its comely form, beauty, and fragrance, all in a moment. Gentle flower ! thy gaiety is past ; no doubt the foot of one of those clumsy cattle has trodden thee down.
From thy fate I learn that of many mortals; and, for ought I know, may soon be mý
How many, flourishing in all the gaiety of life, health of body, and vigour of youth, long ere ever the wintry blast of age foils beauty on the cheek, or begins to wither the features, are cut down like a flower, Job,
xiv. 2, by some fatal disease or unseen accident, and all their earthly glory laid low in
The sight of thee, O hapless flower! in a short time will rather create disgust than pleasure. But far, nay, very far more so would the sight of the fairest face of the most celebrated beauty, prove loathsome to that eye that once could delight in nothing so much as gazing upon its charms, if the covering of the tomb were removed, and the putrid carcase exposed. The lover who once with rapture beheld and praised its form and beauties, and thought himself happy no where else but in her presence, all aghast would turn from beholding so disagreable a spectacle ! Follow him to the tomb, my soul, and learn the truth of what the wise man saith, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain.” Prov. xxxi. 30.
It is only grace and virtue that will outlive the ravages of the grave. Not despising the rose on the cheek, the flower of grace in the