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to lighten the Gentiles; and on them the rain of grace also fell as at first upon the Jewish disciples,' who were astonished when they found that on the Gentiles also was poured out, as rain from the clouds of Heaven, the gift of the Holy Ghost. Thus did God, in an evangelical sense, make his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sent rain on the just and on the unjust.
X. By these means, and by these only, the flowers alluded to by the prophet in this sacred song, were made to grow. Several things are to be observed, wherein they as nearly resemble the children of God, as in the manner of their generation from the · earth. First and chiefly in their attire and outward appearance. They are adorned with all the colours of the Sun's light, either simple or compounded in a thousand various mixtures; and these colours, like those in the High-priest's garments, are for glory and for beauty. The priestly garments of gold (that is yellow) and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine white linen, prefigured that brightness and perfection with which Christ, our true High-priest, should be clothed: and the colouring of a flower is given it for a like
purpose, as a figure of those garments of salva
grace and beauty of holiness wherewith the saints are invested through the power of the christian faith. This will explain what is said by Isaiah the prophet on the conversion of the heathens-The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing : the glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon, all of them mountains remarkable for flowers : then follows the cause of this alteration—They shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. barren Gentiles, by seeing the glory and excellency of Christ, were themselves to put on the glory of Lebanon, and the excellency of Carmel and Sharon; at the sight of their Saviour, they were to be changed into his image, and partake of his perfections, who calls himself the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the vallies--and says of his disciples ---The glory which thou gavest me I have given unto them". Thus we find it in nature: for flowers of all kinds resemble, both in shape and colour, the light that shines upon and gives them their
John xvii. 22.
birth. They are divided into rays or points, like the beams that proceed from the heavenly luminaries; so that the earth covered with flowers makes the same kind of appearance as the Firmament bespangled with stars; and for their number and their glory, both I think have an equal claim to represent the children of Abraham.
There is one very considerable circumstance, common to the clothing of a flower and to thb righteousness signified by it—that both are equally the work or gift of God. It is God that clothes the grass of the field with such beauty; and it is God that giveth to his people the far more lasting ornaments of grace and sanctification: Man, with his utmost skill, can never weave such delicate embroidery as we find in one single leaf of any ordinary flower : and no works or merits of man, with all his toil and spinning, can compose that Robe of righteousness without which we must not hope to appear in the presence of God. As Solomon in all his glory, which
Upon the flow'rs of heav'n we gaze;
(was (was the work of man) was not arrayed like a lily (the work of God ;) so the righteousness of human wisdom, commonly called morality, is not only inferior in degree, but essentially different in kind, from that righteousness which is the work of the gospel, as it would be easy enough to shew: It is but as filthy rags compared to fine linen, clean and bright; or as a ragged thistle to the glory of a rose and the whiteness of a lily. Therefore, thanks to our merciful Saviour, that we have full encouragement to expect a better raiment than any with which we are able to furnish ourselves. For if God so clothe the grass of the field, how much more will he clothe those that believe on him?
Righteousness, as well as the glory of a lily, being the gift of God, they who trust not in God for it will be left destitute.The Jews, who sought it not by Faith, but, as it were, by the works of the law, going about to establish their own righteousness, have reduced themselves to a miserable condition. Instead of the glory of a flower, they have nothing but the roughness and deformity of thorns and briars. Their Sharon, as the prophet foretold, is turned into a wilderness; and while the wilderness of the Gentiles is enB B 2
couraged to rejoice and blossom as the rose, the case with them is the very reverse-Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people
for the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them, thorns shall be in their tabernacles. From this difference between the Jew and Gentile, it is said of the christian church, when compared with such unbelievers, As the lily among thorns, so is
XI. Another thing to be observed in the flowers that appear on the earth—is their variety as to shape, size, and colour; like the children of God, who are endued with different graces and with different degrees of grace. For as one flower, like one star, differeth from another in glory, so also do the spiritual plants of the church; some of which have a larger portion of illumination and grace than others; and some have gifts in which others are deficient: for, saith the Apostle-Every man hath his proper gift of God; as flowers after their kind, have that size and colour which God hath been pleased to bestow upon them. No christian is to be blamed for wanting what God hath not given him; as no
• Cant. chap. ii. 2.