Some that grow in the Lord’s garden are like the flowers which are brilliant and showy in colour, but not sweet.
You see them afar off, and they attract the world’s eye,
and their tints are beautiful, but you can say no more.
These are frequently the public Christians,–the popular preachers,–the speakers on platforms,–the lions of listening companies,–the people talked of, and pointed at, and run after. Such persons are the tulips, and sunflowers, and peonies, and dahlias of the Lord’s garden–wonderful, gaudy, bright and glorious in their way, but not sweet.
Some are like those flowers which make no show at all and yet they are the sweetest.
These are the Christians whom the world never hears of; they rather shrink from public observation. They hold on the even tenor of their way, and pass silently on towards home; but they sweeten all around them. These are they that are rare and hard to find: but the better they are known, the more they are loved. Ask their true character in their own homes, and in their families,–ask husbands, wives, children, servants, their character, and you will soon discover that not a tenth part of their beauty and excellence is known by the world. The nearer you go, the more perfume will these dwellers in the Lord’s garden give out. These are the Lord’s violets, valued by only a few, but to those who know them, oh, how sweet!
Some in the Lord’s garden are like those flowers which cannot live in cold weather.
These are the Christians who have but a little strength, who faint in the day of adversity, who only flourish when everything around them is smooth and warm. A cold wind of trial, and unexpected frost of affliction, nips them and cuts them down. But the Lord Jesus is very merciful; He will not suffer them to be tempted above what they can endure. He plants them in sheltered and sunny places of His garden. He protects them and hedges them round by strong plants, to break the cold. Let no man despise them. They are the Lord’s flowers, beautiful in their place in and in their way.
Some in the Lord’s garden are like those hardy flowers which flower even in winter.
These are those rough Christians who never seem to feel any trials; whom nothing, either of opposition or affliction, appears to move. Doubtless there is not that softness and sweetness about them that we admire in others. We miss that lovable delicacy which in some people is such an unexplainable charm. They chill us sometimes by their rudeness and want of sympathy when compared to many we know. And yet let no man despise them. They are the crocuses in the garden of the Lord, beautiful in their place and way, and valuable in their own season.
Some in the Lord’s garden are never so sweet as after rain.
These are the Christians who show most grace under trial and affliction. In the day of sunshine and prosperity they become careless: they need the shower of some sorrow to come down
on them to make their full excellency appear. There is more beauty of holiness about their tears than about their smiles:
they are more like Jesus when they weep than when they laugh. These are the roses of the Lord’s garden: lovely and sweet and beautiful at all times, but never so much so as after rain.
Some in the Lord’s garden are never so sweet as at night.
These are the believers who need constant trial to keep them close to the throne of grace. They cannot bear the sunshine of prosperity: they become careless in prayer, sleepy about the Word, listless about heaven, too fond of nestling with some Benjamin in the corner of this world. Such persons the Lord Jesus often keeps under a cloud, to preserve them in right frame. He sends wave after wave, trouble after trouble, to make them sit like Mary at His feet and be near the cross. It is the very darkness they are obliged to walk in which makes them so sweet.
Some in the Lord’s garden are never so sweet as when crushed.
These are the Christians whose reality comes out most under some tremendous and uncommon judgment. The winds and storms of heavy affliction roll over them, and then, to the astonishment of the world, the spices flow out. I once saw a young woman who had lain on a bed six years in a garret, with a spinal complaint, helpless, motionless, cut off from everything that could make this world enjoyable, but she belonged to the garden of Jesus: she was not alone, for He was with her. You would have thought she would have been gloomy; she was all brightness. You would have expected her to be sorrowful, she was ever rejoicing. You would suppose she was weak and needed comfort; she was strong and felt dark; she seemed to me all light. You would imagine her countenance was grave; it was full of calm smiles, and the gushings forth of inward peace. You would have pardoned her almost if she had murmured; she breathed of nothing but perfect happiness and content. The crushed flowers in the Lord’s garden are sometimes exceeding sweet!
Some of the flowers in the Lord’s garden are never valued till they are dead.
These are those humble believers who, like Dorcas, are full of good works and active love towards others. These are those unostentatious ones who dislike profession and publicity, and love to go about, like their Lord and Master, doing good to souls,–visiting the fatherless and the widows, pouring balm on wounds which this heartless world neither knows nor cares for, ministering to the friendless, helping the destitute, preaching the gospel not to silk and velvet, but to the poor. These are not noticed by this generation: but the Lord Jesus knows them, and His Father also. When they are dead and gone, their work and labour of love all comes out. It is written with a diamond on the hearts of those they have assisted: it cannot be hid. They speak being dead, though they were silent when living. We know their worth when gone, if we did not while we had them with us. The tears of those who have been fed in soul or body by their hand tell forth to the wondering world that some have gone home whose place cannot easily be supplied, and that a gap is made which it will be hard to fill up. These shall never have that wretched epitaph, “Departed without being desired.” These are the lavender in the Lord’s garden, never so much appreciated and admired as when cut off and dead.
(To be continued. . .)