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the grass of the field, so fading and transient, he will never leave you unprovided who are made for eternity.” The accidents to which plants are expored in their growth, afford matter for the beautiful and instructive parable of the sower, which conveys as much in a few plain words, as a volume could do in any other form *The sced of God's word, when it is sown by a preacher, may fall into an honest and good heart, as the sced of the sower into a happy, fruitful soil; or it may light among the thorns of worldly cares, and the rank weeds of worldly pleasures, which, springing up with it, will choke it, and render it unfruitful; or it may fall into an hasty, impatient mind, like seed upon a shallow, rocky soil, where it hath no depth of earth, and so cannot endure when the heat of the sun dries it. Other minds are open to the ways of the world in public or fashionable life, and unguarded against the dangers of sin; so are exposed to the depredations of evil spirits, which rob them of what they had heard; as birds of the air pick up without fear or molestation the seeds which are scattered by the side of a public road. The transient nature of plants and flowers has given occasion to many striking representations of the brewity and vanity of this mortal life. “As the leaves “ wither and fall away from the trees, and others suc“ ceed, so,” saith an ancient poet, “are the gene“ rations of men f.” * Matt. xiii. 3, &c. + On weg (pwaxwo yeyen, rown?, was avows.
Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
How sublime and affecting is that reflection in the book of Job—" Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery; he cometh up like a flower, and is cut down*:" In the same figurative language doth the Psalmist speak of the flourishing state of man in youth, and his decay in the time of age: "In the morning they are like the grass which groweth up, in the morning it flourisheth and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down and withered." To cure us of our confidence in the wealth and prosperity of this world, and make way for the serious temper of the Gospel, nothing can be more expressive and rhetorical than that sentence of St. James: "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted; but the rich in that he is made low; because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away: for the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth; so shall the rich man fade away in his ways:" that is he shall decay in his prosperity, as the flower fades the sooner for the enjoyment of the sun-shine.
The reviving of seeds and roots buried in the earth, though so common a fact, is yet so wonderful, that it is more than a figure, it is a pledge and assurance that the dead shall rise again. In every spring nature presents us with a general resurrection in the vegetable world, after a .temporary death and burial in the winter. The root that lies dormant under the ground is a prisoner of hope, and waits for the return of the vernal sun. If it could speak, it might repeat (and to the ear of faith it does repeat) those words of the apostle:—O gr^ve zql/ere is thy victory? So plainly doth vegetable nature, preach this doctrine of the- resurrec- • • Job. xiv»2.
tion, that the man is supposed to be senseless, who does not make this use of it—thou fool, it is not quickened, except it die.
I would now only observe, after what hath been said, that a right use of our present subject in all its parts, must contribute to the dignity, and to the happiness of man. How innocently, and how pleasantly is he entertained, who in cultivating the various productions of the earth, hath the elements working with him, and assisting him to perfect his flowers and fruits, and raise a Paradise around him! What a rational and noble employment it is, to trace the effects of divine wisdom in a survey of the vegetable kingdom; in the beautiful forms of plants, their endless variety, the configuration of their organs, the distinction of their characters; the places of their inhabitation, by land, by sea, in rivers and in lakes, on rocks and mountains, in the fields, the pastures, and the woods: with their successions from the spring to the summer, from the summer to the autumn : their appearances by day and by night I
How proper is it to use them for health and for temperance, as the wise have done, and as the Creator, ever mindful of the sum of our happiness, hath appointed! What a respectable benefactor is he to mankind, who discovers their virtues in medicine, and applies them to the relief of the miserable; an office ever grateful to a benevolent mind!
But happiest of all is he, who having cultivated herbs and trees, and studied their virtues, and applied them for his own, and for the common benefit, rises from thence to a contemplation of the great Parent of good, whom he sees and adores in these his glorious works. The world can shew us a more exalted character than that of a truly religious philosopher, who delights to turn all things to the glory of God: who from the objects of his sight derives improvement to his mind, and in the glass of things temporal sees the image of things eternal. Let a man have all the world can give him; he is still miserable, if he has a groveling, unlettered, indevout mind: let him have his gardens, his fields, his woods, and his lawns, for grandeur, ornament, plenty and gratification; while at the same time God is not in all bis thoughts. And let another have neither field nor garden; let him only look at nature with an enlightened mind; a mind which can see and adore the Creator in his works • can consider them as demonstrations of his power, his wisdom, his goodness, his truth: this man is greater as well as happier, in his poverty, than the other in his riches. The one is but little higher than a beast, the other but little lower than an angel.
We ought therefore to praise those who in their life-time made this use of the natural world, and gratefully to remember that piety which directed our minds to an annual commemoration of God's wisdom in the works of the vegetable creation; a great subject- in discoursing on which, I have only scattered some seeds, to be opened and perfected by your future meditation: in which may the grace of God assist us all through Jesus Christ our Lord, &c.
AND cop MADE THE BEAST of THE EARTH AFTER 111s R IN D, AND CATT LF. A FTER THEIR K IND, A N D. Ev ERY Til ING THAT CREEPETH UPON THE EARTH AFTER 11 is ki N D : AND GOD SAW THAT IT W As Goo D. GEN. I. 25.
WHEN the works of God were finished, his eye surveyed them, and saw that they were good; that they were perfect in their construction, and capable of answering all the ends to which they were appointed. As far as man can observe this goodness in the works of nature, and see the mind of the Creator in the creature, so far he sees things as God sees them, and becomes partaker of a divine pleasure.
On a former occasion, I endeavoured to point out Roume of that goodness which is found in the vegetable kingdom"; from whence I shall now proceed to the animal, with a desire to trace the same goodness in the structure, qualities, and oeconomy of living creatures: but confining myself chiefly to those spoken of in the text, beasts and cattle.
When vegetable and animal life are compared, difserent things are to be admired, but nothing is to be preserred; for the wisdom of the Creator, being infiwilt, is every where equal to itself: to its works no
• Hee the preceding Sermon on the Religious Use of Botanical railwp//, /