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ONSIDER the lilies, and learn, 1. to enjoy the beauties
of nature. Christ did so, and we may share His joy in this. Why has God made flowers so
beautiful, but that they may minister to us pleasures as pure as they are sweet? And has He not filled the world to overflowing with objects of loveliness? There are lowers in richest variety for gardens and fields, already mantled in green, woods and streams for landscapes, clouds lined with silver and flushed with gold for the beautiful blue sky. What artist would not be disappointed if, after lavishing care and genius in producing a beautiful painting, no one cared to look at it? And will God be pleased if after filling the world with beauty, we despise it ? God has also given us for our enjoyment delightful sounds, delicious perfumes, and food pleasant to the taste.
2. Learn to enjoy them with the mind. Many are satisfied with the enjoyment they afford to the senses only. They are like him to whom
“A primrose by the river's brim
And it was nothing more." But the lily was far more to Christ. He considered it. He looked earnestly at it and thought about it. And as He looked He thought of its beauty as a robe. And as a robe it was matchless. It was unapproachable in beauty of colour and fineness of texture. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Human loom never produced anything so perfect. Thus by thought and comparison were His admiration and enjoyment heightened. Thus, following our Lord, may we transform and heighten all natural pleasures into mental.
3. Learn to see the Divine hand in them. Jesus saw it. He saw God clothing the grass of the field. He saw His hand weaving the robes of the lilies. This is the highest glory of man.
He can not only see and enjoy the beauties of nature, he can not only heighten his admiration and enjoyment by thought, he can see in them the glory of the hand that made them. An old tradition tells how Abraham was engaged one day in the worship of the sun: suddenly a hand covered and eclipsed it, plunging him in total darkness. After a little the hand itself shone with a brilliancy far above that of the sun, and a voice came to him saying, “Worship not the sun, but the hand that created it.” Those who have enlightened eyes can see in the sun a light a thousand times brighter and more beautiful than its own-can see the same light in the moon and stars, on the earth, on hill and sea and shore, in every drop of dew, every blade of grass —can see every common bush afire with God.
That wondrous light is all around us in beams and floods. We are bathed in it. We are steeped in it. It is the light of a mind of exquisite perfection and inexhaustible fertility in devising forms of creation, of a hand of infinite power in bringing them into being, of a Divine kindness in making them pleasant to man. The beauties of nature speak especially of the kindness of the Lord, of His desire for the happiness of His creatures. Every flower is a cup of pleasure for us to drink. Every flower as it shines in the brightness of its colours looks up to us as a bright smile from God.
It is a kind word from Him, not only wishing us happiness but imparting it. And if we consider not only the flowers of the field, but the sweetness and grandeur of music, the delightfulness of odours, the pleasantness of food—if we consider the world filled to overflowing with creations of delight, we shall see the loving-kindness of the Lord shining with heavenly glory.
4. Learn a lesson of Divine care. The lilies toil not, neither do they spin. They are to-day, and to-morrow are cast into the oven. They have only a lowly and temporary form of life. Yet God does not despise nor neglect them. He is not content to weave for them any kind of raiment. He is not satisfied with expending on them the least possible
He expends on them the greatest possible care. He weaves for them the most charming robes. And to His people He has given a life of eternal excellency. Shall He not, then, much more clothe you? Be assured also that the whole form and colouring of God's dealings with you are more perfect and beautiful than those of the lilies. There is in them far more of the light of the Divine mindfar more of the light of Divine love.
“With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
Were lustred with His love.
I'll bless the heart that planned,
In Immanuel's land.”
5. Learn wherein our pre-eminence consists. It is not in dress. We cannot in it equal the flowers of the field. Solomon in all his glory could not. The flowers have but a lowly form of life, and that life naturally spends itself in beauty of form and colour. They fulfil their mission when they bloom in loveliness. But man has a higher life; he has a spiritual nature. He must have a higher than any merely outward beauty. He must be clothed with garments of righteousness, with the beauties of holiness.
6. See in the lily an image of Christ. He is the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley. He lived the life of man in its highest perfection, in its loveliest beauty. The Son of God entered into all the conditions of human life and in them became obedient unto death, even the death of the
He clothed Himself in Creation with power and wisdom, righteousness and goodness. They shine in the sun with a light far above the brightness of His own. But in Redemption He put on new and more wondrous robes; He clothed Himself with infinite spiritual power, with a wisdom that contended with deepest darkness and dispelled it with the light as of a thousand suns, with a love that introduced a new era into the very heaven of heavens. Out of His heart of hearts he wove a web of life divinely fine, rich in its texture. In comparison with it the robe of the lily is coarseness itself. And from this web of life He clothes His people. He clothes them with robes such as king never wore, such as Solomon could not find. He clothes them with the robes of sons, of the royal family of heaven, robes of imperial splendour and whiteness. And to every sinful man Christ offers such a robe without money and without price. No one can pay for it. It is above all price. But He will give it to any sinner who will only accept it. Who can refuse to be so wondrously clothed? In it you will be fit to draw near to God and live before Him as His son in the brightest sunshine of His favour and love.
And May's soft bloom is in the air,
With thoughts of thee, good Adam Blair.
Kind Adam, no schoolmate wert thou
When first I knew thee; grave and worn,
I wondered whence men's care was born.
An honoured kinsman of the home
Thou wert, and I a happy boy,
Companions sharing mutual joy.
The morning psalm was sung, we took
The staff and basket, forth we went:
I gazed and read in wonderment.
How fair, between the elms, the hill,
The sloping woodland, mile on mile;
The green lane leading to the stile !
The grove, and in its heart the dell,
With statelier beeches, fenced and crowned ; The deep and ferny crystal well,
The river with its pools profound. We tracked the streamlet to its source,
We found the haunt of hidden flowers, And marked in simple things the force
Of nature's elemental powers. The lichen crimson on the stone,
The silken seed afloat in air, The little white cloud, all alone,
That made the sapphire sky more fair. The noontide brought us to the tree
And dinner hour; thou saidst the grace ; And, Adam, often did I see
A silent tear upon thy face. We rested, reading in the shade
Some favourite book-a pictured page : What battles Milton's angels made,
What Hopeful met in pilgrimage. And sometimes, in an altered tone,
Tender and low, with reverent pause, How One the wine-press trode alone,
And, suffering, honoured righteous laws. And how He died for love of man,
A sacrifice for sinners made ; I wondered at the mighty plan,
And hoped my sins were on Him laid. The westering light lay on the land,
We rose, and took our homeward way;
He hummed a simple melody.
That I must hear thee never more !
Led thee to seek another shore ? The ship set forth, the tempest sped :
Alas! for me what doom was there? Among the record of the dead
I saw the name of Adam Blair.