Consider how the lilies grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these.
and rest; believe in God, and be at peace; recognize the power and the love of your heavenly Father, and do not be 'greatly moved' by temporal necessities." And he reasons with us on the subject; he desires to prove to us the needlessness of anxiety in the presence of such a God and Father as is he whom we worship. He argues this-
1. FROM GOD'S GREATER KINDNESS TO OURSELVES. (Ver. 23.) Any one of our friends who would do us a very great kindness would certainly be prepared to render us a very small favor. To one who has done us a valuable service we should look with perfect confidence to do some slight office for us. The love which is equal to the one will be more than equal to the other. Now, God has given us life, and has been sustaining us in being by his constant visitation; he has given us our wonderfully constituted body, and he has been preserving it in health and strength for years. Will he who has conferred these great boons upon us withhold from us blessings so simple and so slight as food and raiment? "Is not the life more than meat [food], and the body than raiment?" Will he who grants the greater refuse the less?
II. FROM GOD'S CARE OF THINGS THAT ARE OF LESS ACCOUNT THAN WE ARE. (Vers. 24, 27, 28.) "Consider the ravens" - birds of the air, creatures that are interesting in their degree, but unintelligent, unaccountable, perishable: God feeds them. "Consider the lilies, how they grow;" they do nothing for their clothing; and not only are they unintelligent and irresponsible like the birds, but they are unconscious, insentient things; yet they are exquisitely fair: God clothes them. If he takes thought for such creatures and for such things as these; if he concerns himself with that which is so much lower in the scale than are we, his own beloved children, created in his image and formed to share his own immortality, how certain it is that he will provide for us! The Divine wisdom that expends so much upon the lower will not neglect the higher.
III. THE COMPLETENESS OF OUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD. (Ver. 25.) So completely are we in the hands of our Creator that we cannot, by any amount of thinking, "add one cubit to our stature." Do what we may, try what we can, we are still absolutely dependent on God. It rests with him to decide what shall be the length of our days, what shadow or sunshine shall fall on our path, whether our cup shall be sweet or bitter. We are in his Divine hands; let us be his servants; let us ask his guidance and blessing; and then let us trust ourselves to his power and his love. And this the more that we should remember -
IV. THE UNWORTHINESS OF GREAT CONCERN FOR SUCH TEMPORALITIES. To be greatly troubled about what we shall eat, or what we shall wear, or in what house we shall live, - this is pagan, but it is not Christian; leave that to "the nations of the world" (ver. 30).
V. THE RELATION IN WHICH GOD STANDS TO US. (Ver. 30.) This is that of an all-wise Father. "Our Father knows." We are in the power of One who is perfectly acquainted with our circumstances and with ourselves; he will not deny us anything are need because he is ignorant of our necessity.; he will not give us anything that would be hurtful, for his fatherly love will constrain him to withhold it. We are immeasurably safer in his hands than we should be in those of the kindest of our human friends, or than we should be if it rested with our own will to shape our path, to fill our cup. - C.
Consider the lilies.
I. FLOWERS ARE NOT ONLY BEAUTIFUL, BUT THEY ALWAYS SEEM CONTENTED AND GLAD, Did you ever think how little they have to make them so? They live on other people's leavings. The air gives them only what finer folks reject and call poison. When the birds and the beasts have taken from the atmosphere all they want, the flowers, like poor Lazarus, desire what is left, the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table. Then, too, if there is any dreadful filth from the sewers or the barnyard, of which men do not know how else to be rid, they give it to the flowers; just as I have seen certain children send ragged clothes and broken toys to the Christmas poor-box. But the flowers are grateful, and though they cannot talk they blush with gratitude, pink or blue or yellow or white, according to the colour of their blood. Then the poor flower-folk, out of these odds and ends which nobody else will have, make for themselves such splendid clothes as King Solomon could not get, though he had first choice of everything, and all the weavers and tailors and jewellers in the world to dress him. So our first lesson from the flowers is to get all the good out of the things you have, before you wish for more things.
II. FLOWERS HAVE NO WINGS AND NO FEET. They must stay in one place. Therefore they never do anything which they cannot do at home. If a boy will stick to that, he will grow up like a flower into a noble and beautiful man. When the Lord Jesus was asked to do wrong, He said: "I and My Father are one." It was His way of saying, "That is not as they do at home; therefore I cannot do so here." If boys use their feet to get away from home, they are worse off than the flowers, which have no feet. But if they use them to carry their homes wherever they go, they are far more blessed then the fairest flowers.
III. THE FLOWERS HAVE NO TONGUES. I do not mean that you must not talk. God has given us tongues, and means us to use them. But let the silent beauty of the flowers teach us to do all the good we can and make no fuss about it. Never be in a hurry to tell people you are Christians, but act so that they cannot help finding it out. Did you ever watch beans grow? They come out of the ground as if they had been planted upside down. Each appears carrying the seed on top of his stalk, as if they were afraid folks would not know they were beans unless they immediately told them. But most flowers wait patiently and humbly to be known by their fruits. Sometimes boys get laughed at because they think they must tell everybody that they are Christians. They talk about their piety, and never show it in any other way. But no boy gets laughed at for being a Christian; for being true and brave and kind and humble and pure, like the Lord Jesus.
(W. B. Wright.)
(M. F. Sadler.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
I. LILY-LIFE AND GROWTH TEACH US FREEDOM FROM CARE. The lily builds itself up from within. Like the primrose and crocus, the flower springs directly from the root. The sweet lily of the valley, which is, perhaps, the best known plant that bears the name of lily, pushes its way up step by step from the creeping root-stock. The leaves open out, and from their sheath the slender stalk rises. Tiny knots of pale green fibre form round its head; they droop; the stem arches itself, and the little knots open into white and regularly formed bells, brimming with richest fragrance. The wonder is how so much fragrance can be compressed within so small a thing. Watch how it grew. It made no fuss. It never paused as if in uncertainty. It was never divided in its plant-mind whether it should go on trying to be a lily, or whether it should try to be something else. It just went on as it had started from the root, growing, being itself, without hurry, and presently the bells formed, the sweetness and beauty came. It was that which God intended it to be — a lily. Consider it. Ours is to be the pure lily life. The one thing we have to do is to persevere in being what we are — Christians.
1. We suffer from temptation. It harasses and baffles us, Is not the simple solution for all temptations, great or small, to go back to the very root of our life? "I am Christ's. I cannot do this thing. My Master gave up ease, comfort, and life also, on the Cross. I can give up my desires and likings for Him. He would not do this thing. He would not argue or parley. 'Get thee behind me, Satan,' would be His word. It must be my word also." Temptations lodge themselves in our fancy. They haunt our imagination. Well, though they do, go on with life's true work just the same. The lily pauses for no fancy. It goes on growing. So, in spite of fancies and imaginings, go on being, and living, and doing as Christ would were He in your place. Go back to the root. Be Christ's, in spite of your state of mind, your inclinations and fancies.
2. Disappointments and sorrows hinder us. They lodge in our fancy. They people our brain with vague fears. I think if we went to a lily and plucked off one of its tiny bells, or tore away the leaf that sheathes the stem, the lily would still struggle bravely, and rear its head as proudly as it could. It would strive still to fulfil its life, because it grows from the root, and the root is not gone. Shall we be stripped of something we hold dear — wealth, bodily vigour, the friends we love tenderly — and therefore cease to grow? Christians cannot give up.
II. THE LILY GROWS EVERYWHERE. And so do Christians. God has planted some of us in bare desolate places. We are not happy and contented. We believe we should lead a more useful and a nobler life if our environment were changed. It is impossible to say what any of us might do or become if we were in different positions from those we occupy. Let me remind you, however, of one great fact. For the present you are in one particular spot, and no other; working at this particular calling and no other; possessed of just this particular amount of education and knowledge, and no more. And this being the case, God requires of you to reverence and reveal Him, to witness for Him, in the particular place in which He has at present established you; and to use there the talents, the opportunities and grace He has given you. Try and brighten life where you are. In the norrowest sphere, as a subordinate or a servant, be true to your Christian nature. Perform the lily's part. Let one little corner of the world, at any rate, be more pleasant and heavenly because you are in it.
III. THE SPECIAL UTILITY OF THE LILY. Many of the larger varieties of the lily can exist where herbage at first cannot. The soil is very dry, and grass would be scanty were it not for the function discharged by the lily. There is no continuous greensward in Palestine, such as is seen in the parks and around the homesteads of our native land. The lily, however, can exist in the dry soil, for it carries in its bulbous root its own store of nourishment. Fixed in the ground, but sustaining itself in large measure from the bulb, it grows into the perfect flower. As vegetation always attracts moisture, the lilies draw from even that dry atmosphere the humid particles it contains. Their broad opaque leaves screen from the sun plants that come to nestle under their shade. The lilies create the conditions under which herbage can exist and thrive. The flocks of the shepherd always wend their way to the spot abounding with lilies. The gazelle and other wild deer are found grazing there, not cropping the slender flowers, but luxuriating in the succulent grass which grows beside them — a scene of which the inspired poet in the Canticles has availed himself: the bride comparing her spouse to a roe or young hart feeding among the lilies. "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine; he feedeth among the lilies." Consider the lilies!" How useful they are! We are to be like them in this. We are to make it more possible for others, by our influence and example, to live a holy and a spiritual life.
IV. THE LILY IS BEAUTIFUL. Its adornment is most rich and sumptuous. Its colours — white, scarlet, and gold, glow in splendour over the whole landscape. And yet it simply grows; it attends to its life, not to its raiment. Why take thought for raiment? Yet many people are vain enough and unwise enough to perplex and trouble their whole lives simply and mainly about dress and furniture — about the adornment of their persons, the garniture of their houses. The law the Saviour gives us is most plain. Live first. Think most about life. And He means soul-life, the life in God, the life of a child of God, which is the only real and worthy human life. Be earnest about purity, holiness, spirituality of character.
(A. J. Griffith.)Matthew 6:30). The inspired writers are in the way of employing all the objects in nature with which we are familiar, in order to illustrate spiritual truths. Solomon sends the slothful man to the ant: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard." Isaiah makes the ox arid ass rebuke the ingratitude of the professing people of God: "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." All this exercised a most beneficent influence on pious men in ancient Israel. Living as they did," much in the open air, and in perpetual view of the wondrous works of God in earth and sky, nature was seen by them to be full of God. The grass sprang, the flowers bloomed, the wheat and barley yielded their increase, and the vine and the fig and the olive-trees their rich fruit, all in obedience to God's command; and as they did so they showed forth the glory of God as well as furnished nourishment to His creatures. Would that the example set by Hebrew shepherds and husbandmen as they tended their flocks or pruned their vineyards would induce those who live much among the works of nature to take like elevated views. The plant in particular has been much employed by the inspired writers to convey spiritual lessons. The life of the plant seemed to them like the spiritual life in the soul; the rain and dew that nourished it reminded them of the grace which comes down from heaven; the flowers which adorned it taught them that the soul should be adorned with heavenly graces; and the fruit which it yielded admonished them that they too must bring forth fruit unto God.
I. WE ARE TO CONSIDER THE WORKS OF GOD, AND IN PARTICULAR THE PLANTS, THE LILIES, AND THE GRASS OF THE FIELD. "Consider," says he, "the lilies of the field." There are many who do not consider them. Some of these persons are fond of seeing or possessing fine specimens of human workmanship in dress or furniture or houses or paintings, but they "regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operations of His hands." "And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." We are to mark them; we are to mark how they grow. We need no scientific knowledge, no learned terms, to enable us to do this. All persons who have eyes to see may see it with or without book learning, whether they have or have not been at schools or colleges. They may in particular observe two things.
1. Every part of the plant is made to serve an end. "They toil not, neither do they spin"; yet every organ of the plant has its use. Look at the swelling tree that overshadows us, or at this graceful lily at our feet. Consider it, It has roots which serve a purpose. These roots penetrate into the soil and draw nourishment from it. These spread out downwards as the trunk and branches mount upwards, and enable the tree, the oak for example, to stand the storms of a hundred winters. The form of the bole of a tree, and the manner in which it fixes itself in the ground, is said to have yielded some suggestions to a celebrated engineer in the construction of a famous light-house (Eddystone). You may remark how the tree springs up from the ground as a stem or trunk, on which hang all the branches and flowers and seed and fruit. This trunk, as it mounts upwards, spreads out all around into the air as branches and branchlets. These are covered with leaves rejoicing in the sunshine, and the moisture of dew and rain, and drawing in nourishment from the atmosphere. Upon these, at the proper season, you may look for and find flowers to delight the eye, and seed wherewith to propagate other plants after their kind, and fruit for the sustenance of God's creatures. It is obvious to every reflecting mind that in this Divine workmanship every part has its use and its end. The architect of a famous palace (Sydenham) confesses that he derived some of the ideas embodied in that structure from observing the wonderful provision made for bearing up the very bread leaf of one of the most beautiful of lilies. But there is another principle to be observed in the plant.
2. There is visible in the plant an order, an ornament, a beauty. Special reference is made to this by Him who made them, and who now uses them to teach us lessons. God is said not only to have made, but to have clothed the grass of the field. While every part of the plant has its use, it has also a clothing; it is clothed with beauty to minister to our delight and manifest the Divine glory. It can be shown that every plant and every organ of the plant is, as it were, constructed upon a model or pattern in the Divine mind. Look at the full-formed tree growing apart from all other trees, and you see at once that it is made to grow up into a particular form, and this form is beautiful to look upon. It can be shown that every tree takes its own peculiar form — a form after its kind; and if not interfered with, that form is lovely. Look, too, at the flower of the lily, or any other plant, and in every part of it — its stalk, its petals, and inner organs, in their forms, and in the way in which they are placed — there are obvious order and ornament to call forth our admiration and our praise. Then, what richness of colouring in the flower. First of all, every colour is beautiful in itself; and then, colours which are accordant are placed alongside of one another in pleasing melody or exciting harmony. It needs science to explain all this, to show how it arises, and point out the causes of it; but it needs no science to enable us to observe it or enjoy it; the eye perceives it spontaneously, and drinks in the beauty, and it needs only piety to enable us to turn all this into an anthem of praise. This clothing of the plant meets us everywhere. Take the commonest plant — the furze that grows on the common, the seaweed that cleaves to the rocks washed by the ocean, or the fern that springs up in the mountain glen — and you may observe in its structure, in its leaves, and all its pendicles, a wonderful correspondence of side to side, and a counterbalancing of one part by another. Let the eye travel over nature, as we walk among the cultivated fields, or on the grassy slopes and valleys of our upland districts, or among the thick woods where the winds have sown the seeds, and bush and tree of every kind spring up, each eager to maintain its place and show its separate form and beauty, and we discover an order and a grace in every branch and blade and leaf and colour. Pluck the leaf and flower and consider it, and observe how one edge has the same number of notches in it as the other edge, and what nice balancings and counterpoises there are, and how nicely the lines and dots and shadings suit one another, and recur each at its proper place, as if all had been done by the most exact measurement and under the most skilful and tasteful eye. Enter the rich arbour or the cultivated garden, and observe how the flowers have been enlarged or improved by the care which has been taken of them; and in this gayer colour and in that fuller expanse and more flowing drapery and richer fragrance mark how God, who rewards us for opening our eyes and looking abroad upon His works, holds out a still greater reward to those who in love to Him, or in love to them, take pains with them and bestow labour upon them. Now, all this fitness and all this order and beauty testify of the wisdom and goodness of God. All these objects point upward to their God and to our God. But these works of God can also serve other religious ends. They may be used as lesson-books; they are thus used by Christ to instruct us in great spiritual truths. Nature may thus be sanctified, and be made to teach us the very same lessons as the inspired Word.
II. SECONDLY, WE ARE TO CONSIDER THE GROUNDS WHICH WE HAVE FOR TRUSTING IN GOD THAT HE WILL PROVIDE FOR OUR TEMPORAL WANTS. "Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, much more shall He clothe you." This is a specimen of Bible reasoning. The Bible speaks as "unto wise men," and calls on us to "judge" what "it says." Its reasonings are all brief, all very conclusive, but at the same time easily followed. Take, as an example, "If God spared not His own Son, but gave Him freely to the death for us," — here is the premise, and the inference follows — "how will He not with Him also freely give us all things?" The argument is irresistible. The lesson comes home at once to us. Every bird we hear carolling its song, for the very pleasure of it, on the tree or in the air; every flower that we see expanding its petals in the fields or garden, is rebuking our want of faith and confidence in God, and, as it were, saying, "If God take such care of me, will He not much more take care of you?" "Ye are of more value than many sparrows," of more value than all the grass of the field. Ye have a body that is fearfully and wonderfully made, made with even a more amazing skill than the lilies of the field. The lilies are arrayed in greater splendour than Solomon ever was; and Solomon's body and every man's frame is more wondrously made than ,the loveliest plant that ever adorned meadow or mountain. Surely the God who made that goodly frame will also feed and clothe it. We are warned against a spirit of unbelief; we are exhorted to cherish a spirit of confidence. Christ would deliver us from a spirit of anxiety. The fowls of the air gather their food, but they have no feeling of anxiety while they do so.
III. THIRDLY, WE ARE TO CONSIDER THAT IF GOD SO CLOTHE THE GRASS OF THE FIELD, THAT IF HE SO CLOTHE THE BODIES OF HIS PEOPLE, MUCH MORE WILL HE CLOTHE THEIR SOULS. This is not the direct lesson taught in the text, but it arises very directly out of it. If God does thus clothe the bodies of His people, much more will He clothe their souls with heavenly graces. And ah, these souls of ours need to be clothed! The plant once of a graceful form and clothed with the richest hues, but now bent, broken by the wind, bemired in the dust — this is the emblem of the soul, once in the very image of God, and arrayed with a brighter glory than the lily, but now fallen from its first estate, broken and torn and polluted by sin! Ah, how like is that soul to the grass which has been cut down, and which is about to be cast into the oven! That soul has been cut off from its God, the source of all spiritual life; already has the life ceased to circulate in it, and it is ready to be cast into the fire that is not quenched. Can it indeed be that this soul is to grow and to flourish once more upon its stalk? Christ's work when on earth was a work of salvation. They brought to Him the sick, the maimed, and the blind, and He healed them all. Not only is the soul once dead made alive in this work — it is beautified and adorned. Yes, if you have faith but as a grain of mustard-seed, you will, by the vital power which is imparted, be clothed with graces of many a hue, each lovely in itself, and lovely in the place which it has to occupy: there will be the brighter colours, the blue, the pink, and the orange of faith and confidence and hope, mingling with the darker but not less lovely colours — with the red, the purple, and the olive of penitence, humility, and patience; and the whole lightened and brightened by what is, after all, the pure beam of heaven, by the pure white light of love, coming direct and unbroken from Him who is light and love. Yes, brethren, our souls need to be beautified. They need not only to be renewed, they need to be adorned. There are some Christian men and women who are under the influence of true faith and steady principle, but they are not amiable. They are cross or peevish or violent or stubborn. Such persons need to be clothed, that they become not only good, but lovely — as the lily is lovely. My friends, this world of ours is but a nursery, a place of nurture, where we are to be reared and then transplanted — transplanted into the paradise above. These flowers around us have their beauty but for a day; but it is different with the souls which are being adorned by the spirit of God. They are to bloom for ever in a better land, where are no winds to blight, no storms to destroy.
(J. McCosh, D. D.)1. The great characteristic of spring plants is the production of their blossoms direct from the root, and not, as in the plants of summer and autumn, from the sides and extremities of leaf-covered shoots. And is not what is thus true in the physical world true also in the world of human nature? All the spring-growths of human life come direct from the root of our being. The blossoms of faith, hope, and love that are fairest and freshest are impulses and intuitions of the heart, and not slow growths elaborated by the foliage of experience. First thoughts, that seem to come like inspirations directly from the Source of all good, are better than second thoughts that result from careful calculations and long processes of balancing of reasons. The summer and the autumn of life teach us caution and reserve, and we produce our blossoms half concealed among the cloud of leaves that have nourished them. But the spring gives confidence and openness, and loves to display its beauties with a charming candour and simplicity. Happy are we if — when the snows of those dreary winter trials that have blighted our life have passed away — our souls have been so restored — made so fresh and young in the new spring life that has come upon us from on high, as that we shall put forth the beauties of holiness and the fruits of righteousness directly from hearts that are rooted and grounded in the love that passeth knowledge.
2. While sitting one day in a musing mood on the summit of a lofty mountain, I noticed growing in the crevices of the rock beside me a few plants, which are usually found only in the thick grassy sward of cultivated fields. In that bare, bleak spot they were removed from the competition and pressure of their fellows, and had to struggle only with the elements for existence. But instead of becoming more luxuriant in consequence, they were dwarfed and stunted, and miserable looking in comparison with their lowland brethren. So is it, I thought, with human beings. We all long at times to escape from the cares and fierce competition of our complicated social life, and to find our happiness in the primitive simplicity of nature. But the evils of the wilderness are in reality worse than those of the crowd. Better far the struggle for existence among our fellows, which helps to make us patient and self-denying, and fruitful in every good word and work, than the struggle with the loneliness and monotony of the hermitage, which makes the mind morbid, and leaves so much of our nature undeveloped.
3. To the plant growing in the dry, parched land, the cloudless sun is a foe that blasts and destroys. But let its thirsty root have access to water in the irrigating channel, and immediately the withering sun is converted into the best of friends. The scorching rays that formerly caused the leaves to droop and languish now fill them with strong and vigorous life. So the fierce rays of the world blight and wither the soul that has no counteracting and restorative principle of faith. But let the root of our being reach the river that maketh glad the city of our God — let it drink from the heavenly well-springs — and immediately the blighting power of the world is overcome; the afflictions which are not joyous but grievous, help us to bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness; and all things minister to our faith and growth in grace.
4. In the midst of the everlasting snows of Mont Blanc — surrounded on every side by glaciers, and elevated many thousands of feet above the valley — there is a solitary projecting rock, where the scanty soil is covered in July with rare Alpine plants. The rays of the sun, reflected by the snow and ice around, shine with double power upon this favoured spot, and create a warm, genial climate, in which the flowers bloom with unexampled beauty and luxuriance; while the frozen peaks shelter them from all the storms as in a kind of natural conservatory. Thus the very inhospitable forces of nature minister to the welfare of these flowers. When first I saw this summer garden in the midst of eternal winter, my heart was touched with the peculiar pathos of the sight. It was an emblem to me of the blessedness to be found even in the midst of a sorrow that blights and chills the whole life. The things that seem to be against us are in reality working together for our good.
5. After the creamy blossoms of the mountain-ash or rowan have passed away, a time succeeds in which the tree has no special beauty or brightness. It lingers during the summer months in dull, cold, uniform greenness. But all through this dormant season it is silently and unmarkedly preparing for the rich crop of scarlet berries with which it is crowned in autumn. So the mind has periods of dullness, which usually occur after periods of much fertility and creative power. It sheds its intellectual blossoms, and sinks into a state of langour and inaction. But this dreary time is the herald of renewed activity and increased brightness to come.
6. Leaves work for the whole tree; no part of it is independent of them, or could exist without them. Blossoms, on the other hand, have a higher and more special function to perform. They elaborate honey, and perfume, and sweet juices not derivable from the leaves, and having special relation to the fruit. So is it with the human tree. Our existence and welfare depend upon those who till the soil and reap the fields. Our whole social economy is based upon the labour of their hands. They produce the food and work for the maintenance of the whole community. But poets and artists have higher functions assigned to them. They are the blossoms of humanity, whose creations impart colour and fragrance, light and sweetness to our life. To them we owe the most precious and enduring fruits of our civilization.
7. The seeds of a begonia taken from the same pod will germinate, some in a few days, some at the end of a year, and some at various intermediate times, even when they are all placed in the same external circumstances and exposed to the same conditions of growth. Similar differences of mental development and moral character are often exhibited by members of the same family, brought up around one mother's knee, and trained and educated in the same loving school of home.
8. Every one knows the beautiful downy head that succeeds the gaudy yellow of the common dandelion. It is composed of the delicate feather-winged seeds which the wind carries from place to place, so as to spread the plant as widely as possible in situations suitable for its growth. To country children it often serves as a rustic clock. They blow away the little feathery seeds in order to find out the time of day from the number of the ones that remain behind on the cushioned summit of the stem. Let us take heed, lest while we are only amusing ourselves, we should be scattering ignorantly the seed of evil influences, which may take root in other hearts, and lead to their undoing. The idle breath that blows away some airy trifle, merely to mark and pass the time, may have results as wide as the world, and as lasting as eternity.
9. Wet places generally produce fragrant plants. The sweet-gale, or Dutch-myrtle, grows in myriads among the moorland bogs; and the Eucalyptus, or gum-tree of Australia, thrives best in marshy soil. These, and such-like plants, exhale an agreeable balsamic odour, which has a most salubrious effect upon the moist atmosphere, and neutralizes the miasma of the swamps by its antiseptic qualities. When such aromatic plants predominate, the climate becomes healthy, and intermittent fever is unknown. There are similar compensations and counteractives in the moral world. There are Christians whose lives exhale the flagrance of holiness, and neutralize the noxious influence of the ungodly around them.
10. The favourite flower of the late French emperor, the third Napoleon, was the violet. Bouquets of it were always in his private chambers, and wreaths of it decked his bier and tomb. We should have fancied that a man so full of ambition, whose whole public life was one of much pomp and display, would have selected some prouder and gaudier flower. Perhaps it was the sense of contrast that led him to set his affections on a lowly plant, which has always been regarded as the emblem of humility; that made it refreshing for him to turn his eye, wearied with the glare and the loud-asserting grandeur of life, on this meek dweller in the shade, creeping over the mossy ground, and hiding its modest purple head among its own green leaves. Or was it because there was something of the violet-nature in the man's own character — because something in the heart of the great man corresponded to something in the nature of the lowly flower? Did he find a sympathy in this-mute creature of God for a part of his being which was unknown to his fellow-creatures? The witness of the heart is not always written in the living epistle of the life, known and read of all men. A man is known as a hard, dry, logical writer, in whose works not a trace of sentiment or of feeling is seen; and yet this man in his secret heart has a passion for poetry, and in his private moments it forms his favourite reading. The great metaphysician, Sir William Hamilton, had a special delight in the fairy literature of little children, and returned to it with relief after the loftiest flights into the rare regions of abstruse philosophy, as the lark returns to its nest in the meadow from the blue fields of heaven. Probably more of the real man is told us by Napoleon's unexpected love of a little lowly flower, than we learn from all the grand successes and mournful reverses of his wonderfully chequered life.
11. In tropical countries the aspect of the vegetation is drooping, hanging down; in temperate countries it is upright, self-supporting. How characteristic of the difference between the inhabitants of the tropics, and those of the northern zones — the langour of the one and the energy of the other!
12. A beautiful little daisy grows by the side of a path in the outskirts of a large city. It follows with its golden eye all day the march of the sun through the heavens. Like a miniature sun it expands its white luminous petals — and revolves in its little orbit on earth — as its great prototype revolves in its magnificent orbit on high. When the sun sets, the daisy closes its little eye and sinks into sleep. That daisy read me a lesson, which it would be my highest happiness to learn and practise. What it does will-lessly and unconsciously, I should do willingly and consciously, "Whom have I in the heavens but Thee, O God, and there is none upon the earth whom I desire beside Thee." God alone is co-natural with my spirit; all influences that own Him not are foreign and uncongenial; they have no true relation to my higher being. The True Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, is alone the element of life.(H. Macmillan, D. D.)
1. The lilies of the field, as God's workmanship, reveal the fountain of life and being. Flowers taken alone cannot make manliest to us the depth and breadth of that fountain, but they may show us its quality. A cup of bright and sparkling water brought to us from a well tells us nothing of the quantity of water in that well, and nothing concerning the force of the spring or springs constituting the well; but even a cup of cold and pure water may demonstrate that the well is pure. In like manner, flowers show nothing of boundless might and of high wisdom, but they do reveal the calm beauteousness of the source whence all living things flow. It is often said that there cannot be gross vice in a man who, delighting in flowers, cultivates them. May we not, in harmony with this remark, observe that there can be nothing harsh or hard or repulsive in the God who has made the lilies of the field?
2. The lilies of the field embody and express Divine conceptions — thoughts and ideas of God. The image of every flower was in the mind of the Creator before creation. He designed the lilies of the field and the glorious company of their kindred. If this be accident, and if so-called accident can produce this, then verily accident is God. Not more certainly have paintings and sculpture been preconceived by the artists, and buildings of renown designed by architects, than flowers have been in the first instance mental creations by God.
3. The lilies of the field are God's workmanship. In the fine arts the conceiver is the worker. In other departments one designs and plans, and others execute. Flowers are the work of God's fingers. The first of every kind is a distinct creation, with seed in itself, and the rest the offspring of this seed. The seed is the second cause. God is the first cause. The laws of life and growth are God's mode of working, but in these laws there is a strong, skilful, living hand. There are rules of working in every handicraft, but no man denies the existence of the craftsman, because his productions are made by the established and recognized laws of his craft, and by tools adapted to the materials upon which he works, and to the object which he has before him.
4. The lilies of the field are God's care. This is not manifest to the eye of the body. And sometimes things happen which tend to exclude the idea and sense of God's care. The scythe of the mower cuts down the flowers. The wind passes over the flower and it is gone, and the place thereof knoweth it no more. The flower is consumed by some animal. A careless foot treads it down. Some hand — perhaps a wanton hand — plucks it. The flower has not grown without human culture. And thus, that which has reared the flower, and that which has cut short its day, alike hide the care of God. But care does not involve perpetual existence, or freedom even from that kind of injury which terminates being. In the providential sense there are no wild flowers. There are children without father and mother, or with evil fathers and mothers, who are destitute of human care; but there are no flowers without Divine care. And the proof of Divine care is in their perfection.
5. The lilies of the field exhibit God's bountifulness. All flowers alike of the field and of the garden render some ordinary service — are of some use. They furnish food, medicine, clothing, shelter, to innumerable living things. And they render in part this service to man. God does not provide for us according to the rigid rule of that which is necessary. He adds to that which is necessary that which is pleasant to the senses and agreeable to the soul. The cup of supply is not only filled, it runs over.
6. The lilies of the field are propagated and developed by the working of various natural laws. There is a tendency in some minds to look only on the hard and rigorous side of law. But law is good. It secures many and great advantages. And we may transfer our remark to moral law. The law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. The morning dawns, the sun shines, spring takes the place of winter, the earth is fruitful, flowers bloom, and the lilies of the field grow, according to law. Some men magnify natural laws into a god, and others degrade moral laws into an irksome and unrighteous yoke. The moral law of God obeyed will bring forth nothing but love. To speak evil of any laws which God has made is to speak evil of God.
7. The lilies of the field are parts of a perfect whole. They sustain a relation with the whole earth, and with all that therein is, and they are in harmony with the entire creation. Their life, their growth, their form, their colour, are all in concord. There is nothing which they contradict, nothing with which they clash. The key-note of creation is in the flowers, a note neither too high nor too low for us men, but adapted to allure into singing the heart of every human child of God who has been reconciled unto his Father.
8. The lilies of the field show us a sense of beauty in the nature of God, and a satisfaction in its expression. To God, objects which are capable of being beautiful would not be "very good" unless they were clad in beauty. This is one reason of sin being so hateful to God. It is moral deformity, spiritual hideousness and ugliness. There is a beauty in holiness which is one of the Divine attractions to it.
9. The lilies of the field are what they are through various affinities and relationships. They are the children of the sun. His beams travel more than ninety millions of miles to cherish and to colour them. They are the children of the earth, and are brought up on her lap, and are nourished at her bosom. They are the children of the rain and of the dew and of the air. The flowers have several subordinate parents, each of which hath its service, and performs its part. In this condition of floral life we see one of the conditions of our own existence. We have a Divine Father, and we have human parents — mother and father. We have intercourse with heaven, and are resident on earth. We have to do with things spiritual and material, temporal and eternal. We are moved from within, and we are influenced from without. Various agencies and influences work together to array the lilies of the field, and several forces are ever working upon our human nature. A true Christian is a pilgrim on earth with citizenship in heaven, a child of God while a son of man, the workmanship of God, though instructed and comforted and helped by his fellows. As sun and earth and rain and dew work together to produce the lilies of the field, so all things work together for good to them that love God.
10. The lilies of the field are supposed to find in the nature of man that which will respond to their attractiveness. They are made, in part at least, for man's eye and for man's soul. If we were that which we ought to be, we should need no voice to bid us "consider the lilies." Discipleship to Jesus Christ does not shut our eyes to the earth, or close our hearts to the material works of God.
11. The lilies of the field may teach us freedom from care, and from morbid self-consciousness. That which God has to do for us He does perfectly, without our thought and care. Let us not direct our mind to that which belongs to God's thought. Let us not try to touch with our hands that which is the exclusive work of God's fingers. Anxiety can do nothing that is good, but it may effect much mischief. It cannot produce anything that is good. "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?" It cannot beneficially alter anything. "Thou canst not make one hair white or black." It is not in itself a power of good. It is not power to pray. It is not power to work. It is not power to think. It is not power to judge. It is not power to discriminate and determine. But it is power for much mischief. It blinds the eye, so that there is no seeing of God, nor is there any vision of heaven. It makes the ear deaf, so that the voice of God's promises, and the voice of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, cannot be heard. It palsies the tongue in the direction of praise. It destroys all taste and relish for the abundant provisions of God's mercy. It spoils all present blessings. It wastes the passing moment. It encumbers to-day with that which belongs to the morrow. It forms unwise projects, and begets scaring dreams. It is as foolish as though the lilies were to begin to spin. O, ye anxious ones, consider the lilies.
(S. Martin.)I. Consider, HOW MIRACULOUSLY they grow. How wonderful, is it not? to meditate upon it a little; that wonderful process by which the hard, inorganic soil and rock are absorbed and assimilated, so that they become converted into organic forms; yet the germ was there, otherwise no organization could have been developed. Surely nowhere is God more visible, I say, than in the flower. If the spirit of adoration does not descend upon a man by a bed of flowers, or by a single flower, it will descend nowhere; Why, "Consider the lilies — how they grow." Is not this a miracle? Is not this a mystery? Consider who originated the beautiful type, and who perpetuates the beautiful race, and who adjusted the root to the soft and to the stem, and who broke open the seed, and bade the imprisoned spirit spring forth.
II. Consider, WITH WHAT BEAUTY AND LOVELINESS they grow. Children of fashion and vanity, "consider how they grow!" They do not seek to deck themselves with gay and gaudy attire from without all their adornment and ornament are from within; this is beauty, not of the silken robe, nor the cataract of the diamond; nor the sparkling jewel; this is beauty, and it resembles that " whose adornment is not of the plaiting of hair, nor the putting. on of apparel; but even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." That is how they grow; they show the obviousness of inner beauty; they have no fawning fashions; it is all very calm, and sweet, and quiet, and all from within; indeed, we know that all flowers are alike in this; the gaudy tulip and the flaunting hollyhock; their life, too, is from within; they all attract to themselves essences and helps from the whole earth; but they must be in harmony with the proper spirit of the plant. Pride assimilates to itself pride; and chastity, chastity. "Consider how they grow." "Yes, look to us," they seem to say, "we are as God clothed us; we are but grass of the field; but God clothed us; He gave us these white bridal vestments, and placed us in this conservatory of vivid green. You, children of men, run to and fro in search of the draperies you call your own; you heap adornment on adornment; until adornment becomes deformity; you are not clothed like the lily, and you never will be until your soul and your clothing shall have the same visible unity; a pure mind is seen even in the pattern and the fashion of its attire, and how can the lily-vestments suit you, whose souls are so soiled? But when you shall be pure within, then shall you be even as the angels, and then shall be given to you the garments pure and white, "which are the righteousness of the saints"; and then the Church, the "King's daughter, all glorious within," shall be like unto us; and the graces of the inner nature shall exhibit themselves in a life holy, harmless, and renewed.
III. Consider, BY WHAT IMPROBABLE AUXILIARIES they grow; by what a hidden life they grow. Is it not strange that such purity should spring from the black earth? — strange that such whiteness should shoot up from the soiled ground? It is a mighty miracle, and it is ever going on. Thus God is constantly transforming mineral darkness into floral light; thus He is constantly taking up the very miry clay itself, and moulding it and perfecting it into forms of beauty; and that which He is able to do in nature, shall I dare to think He cannot do in grace?
IV. Consider, HOW YIELDINGLY AND COMPLYINGLY they grow. "Blossoms," says Pliny, the Latin naturalist, "are the joy of trees"; and wherever these beautiful vegetative creatures are found, they seem to say to us poor care-worn creatures: "Yes, be joyful too. The darkness of thy lot is only the avenue through which thou art passing. God, who is good to the flower and to the blossom of the tree, will not forget thee."
V. Consider, TO WHAT DIVINE USES they grow. Legible lessons of Almighty wisdom, love, and power.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
(E. Paxton Hood.)
(E. Paxton Hood.)
"There was a lily once, most purely white,
We watched it daily, 'twas so fair a sight,
For she was purer than a driven flake
Of snow; and in her grace most excellent,
The loveliest flower that death did ever take,
The tale — for tale there is — of this white stone,
Are these fair letters. While she lived she shone."
May it be ours, like the lily, while we live, to shine and brighten the world with heavenly beauty and heavenly blessing.
(A. J. Griffith.)Kuh, and Schaf Alpen, the pasturages of the cows and sheep, are kept in check by a predominance of carnivorous insects. Were the herbivorous insects allowed to multiply to their full extent, in such favourable circumstances as the warmth of the air and the verdure of the earth in Switzerland produce, the rich pastures which now yield abundant food for upwards of a million and a hall of cattle would speedily become bare and leafless deserts. Not only in their power of growing without cultivation, but also in the peculiarities of their structure, the mountain grasses proclaim the band of God. Many of them are viviparous. Instead of producing flowers and seeds, as the grasses in the tranquil valleys do, the young plants spring from them perfectly formed. They cling round the stem and form a kind of blossom. In this state they remain until the patens stalk wishers and falls prostrate on the ground, when they immediately strike root and form independent grasses. This is a remarkable adaptation to circumstances; for it is manifest that, were seeds instead of living plants developed in the ears of the mountain grasses, they would be useless in the stormy regions where they grow. They would be blown away far from the places they were intended to clothe, to spots foreign to their nature and habits, and thus the species would speedily perish. The more we think of it, the more we are struck with the wise foresight which suggested the creative Fiat, "Let the earth bring forth grass." It is the most abundant and the most generally diffused of all vegetation. It suits almost every soil and climate. It forms pastoral landscapes under the weeping skies of Europe; it forms bamboo forests and cane-brakes under the glowing skies of the tropics. It ministers to the food of man in mild climates; it ministers to the luxuries of man in hot climates. It may, however, be said to cover with a uniform green mantle the whole surface of the globe. And this mantle is not only ornamental, but eminently useful. It protects the roots of trees and flowers from the scorching effects of the summer's sun and the blight of the winter's frost. I began this paper with the assertion that man lives, both directly and indirectly, upon grass; I close it with the inevitable antithesis, that grass lives upon man. The melancholy words of Scripture, "All flesh is grass," are equally true whether we read them backwards or forwards. Strange mysterious circle of relations within which all organized nature is contained, and in which man himself, in common with the beast and herb of the field, has to perform his part and exchange offices and duties l The particles which circulate through his system must be again reduced to the inorganic state, out of which they were first formed, and restored to the tissues of the grass from which he derived them. The debt of nature must be paid; the obligations which for threescore years and ten had been accumulating must be discharged at last. The body, that had been sustained in life by the yearly produce of the fields, must return again to the dust to fertilize and enrich the produce of future fields, and keep the great vortex of life continually in motion. Grass forms the beautiful and appropriate covering of the grave. As it is the earth's first blessing, so it is her last legacy to man,
"Whose part in all the pomp that fills
The circuit of the summer hills
Is — that his grave is green."
The body that it fed when living, it reverently covers when dead with a garment richer than the robe of a king. When all other kindness in food, and clothing, and emblematic teaching is over, it takes up its silent Rizpah-watch beside the tombstone, and forsakes not what all else has forsaken. Gently does it wrap up the ashes of the loved and lost, wreathing like a laurel crown the cold damp brow with its interlacing roots, drawing down to the darkness and the solitude the warm bright sunshine and the soft dews of heaven.
(H. Macmillan, D. D.)
(A. Whyte, D. D.)
LinksLuke 12:27 NIV
Luke 12:27 NLT
Luke 12:27 ESV
Luke 12:27 NASB
Luke 12:27 KJV
Luke 12:27 Bible Apps
Luke 12:27 Parallel
Luke 12:27 Biblia Paralela
Luke 12:27 Chinese Bible
Luke 12:27 French Bible
Luke 12:27 German Bible
Luke 12:27 Commentaries