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INSTRUCTIVE REFLECTIONS ON FLOWERS.
LUKE, xx. 27.
Consider the Lilies how they grow.
How admirably, how kindly has the hand of the great Creator adapted the frame and constitution of the various orders of sensitive beings to the situations in which they are placed! The earth, which is their common habitation, and the great storehouse from whence they draw their means of subsistence, in performing its annual revolution, subjects them to circumstances of great variety and strong contrast, yet their instincts and their habits undergo changes so perfectly correspondent, that the means of procuring and the disposition for enjoying happiness accompany them through every alteration of season and of temperature. The human faculties in particular, both mental and corporeal, are, by reason of this wise and suitable system, kept in agreeable and useful activity. Whatever be the pleasures or occupations of one season, we do not wish them to continue without variation; and whatever be its inconveniences, we look forward to that which is to succeed it
for their remedy or removal. Thus the opening bloom of spring, with all the agreeable sensations it inspires, would be of little account if we did not hope to see it succeeded by the more substantial products of summer. Under the fervors of a summer's sun we solace ourselves with the pleasing anticipation of milder skies and a more moderate atmosphere in autumn, and as autumn advances, we are expecting to soften the rigours of winter by the social joys of the domestic and friendly circle. Satisfied with these, we gladly mark the lengthening day, and feel the increasing warmth diffuse its influence through our framewe cheerfully bid farewel to the dreary inonths, when « dead the vegetable kingdom lay, and dumb the tuneful,"-we watch with eagerness the swelling bud and the opening blossom—the eye is cheered and refreshed by the deepening verdure, and the ear gratified by daily additions to the music of the woods-untired, we view again and again the lovely scene—the bosom expands with consentaneous feelings—the nerves of industry are braced-animated by the hope of pleasure and of profit, man resumes with new vigour and alacrity the labours of the field and of the garden.
But if the effects produced on man by the return of spring were to terminate liere, he could boast no mighty pre-eminence over the inferior ranks of animals. They too are sensible of the genial influence -they evince, by a thousand unequivocal signs, the joy it inspires; while all-powerful instinct prompts them to those actions by which life, order and enjoyment are to be perpetuated. Unconscious of the hand that regulates their respective movements, they look not beyond their appointed sphere of action, and the
connexion of effects with the causes and consequences of them, no farther occupies their attention than as it relates to the fulfilment of the immediate and subordinate purposes of their creation. The beast who ranges the pastures, tramples unconsciously upon the most curious or fragrant flower, or crops it as a part of his food. Not so with man!-He is capable of tracing the streams of beauty and happiness, which flow every where around him, to their source. He can " rise from nature up to nature's God.”. As a rational being he is able to do this-nor, when I can produce such an authority as my text contains, am I afraid to affirm, that as a Christian it is his duty to learn the lessons of wisdom from the objects presented to his view in the works of the Almighty hand. To embrace such occasions of conveying useful instruction, was not uncommon with him who “spake as never man spake;" and he here endeavours to fix the attention of his hearers on one of the most conspicuous of the flowery tribes, which were then probably growing in profusion around bim. 66 CONSIDER,” says he, “the lilies how they grow”-do not behold them with a careless or vacant gaze, but, while their beauty and fragrance delight your senses, make them, by sober reflection, the medium of edification to your minds.-Let us attend to the admonition.
66 Consider the lilies how they grow." Taken in one sense, the phrase implies a mystery, which, with all our consideration, we shall never be able to un-, ravel. By the aid of microscopes we can minutely distinguish their conformation-by that of chemistry we can obtain the analysis of their component partsbut how the embryo leaves and petals are first form
ed with a capacity of expanding into perfection-how the different juices, all extracted from the same source, are secreted in their respective vesicles, so as to impart the variegated tint and the fragrant scent-hoz the fecundative power acts upon the seed so as to give it the property of producing a future plant exactly like the parent-in a word, in what precise mode the principle of vegetative life operates in all its regular but wonderfully diversified efferts in any single instance, as far transcends human penetration and sagacity to comprehend, as it does human ingenuity to come up to so perfect a model of comely form and delicate texture. If, after contemplating any particular individual, we proceed to a more extended and general view of the floral order, what an amazing scene opens upon us! Independent of the rich variety which ornament our gardens and grow wild in our fields and woods, how many additions to the catalogue are continually made! and how many are yet « born to blush unseen” in the recesses of the desert! Together with an appropriate character of generic resemblance, what infinite diversity of external appearance! What gracefulness of disposure! What a rich and striking contrast of colouring! and how gratifying and well adapted the succession in which they present themselves, from the earliest breaking forth of spring to the latest period of autumn! Can we open our eyes upon these things without perceiving“ whose breath perfumes them and whose pencil paints !”—Yes! it is (and our Saviour tells us it is) God who thus clothes the grass of the field--who by causing the revolutions of the seasons, by visiting the earth and watering it, covers it with verdure and enamels it with beauty. What hand but that of Om
nipotence--what skill short of divine-what arrangement less than the result of infinite wisdom--what goodness but that which is without limits, could accomplish these things? Is there-o can there be a heart so insensible as to consider them, though ever so superficially, and yet be indifferent and unaffected!
But let us not overlook the immediate purpose for which our Lord pointed to the lilies of the field.-It was to illustrate the providential care of the Father of all over every part of his works-to give a proof of that constant attention with which he regards even the least and meanest of them, and from thence to authorise an encouraging conclusion. It is indeed an argument which must come home to the feelings and understanding of every being capable of reflection. If there be a God, there must be a Providence. If the external and internal structure of a diminutive flower be the result of such admirable design and contriv. ance if so much curious workmanship be employed in the growth and decoration of an inanimate vegetable that to-day flourishes in gay luxuriance and tomorrow may fall under the hand of the mower, is it supposable that beings of a nobler make should be less the objects of the divine regard ? From what follows in connexion with the words of the text, which are said to be addressed to the disciples, it may indeed be inferred that they might look for the immediate interposition of heaven in their favour, while employed in the work of preaching the gospel; but as we have no such extraordinary commission, it would be folly and presumption in us to expect any such preternatural assistance. However, when applied to the ordinary course of things, the position is perfectly relevant and proper. God has ordained that the ve