The Rose , the Lily, and the Vine
by John Kay
"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys."
- Sol. Song ii. 1.
"I am the vine, ye are the branches." -
John xv. 5.
First. "The rose." And O what mouth can utter
the sweetness of the thought, that as the sweetest of the flowers, the rose
and the lily are, (when fresh and in fairest bloom,) so the crimson blood
of Christ is, in the forgiveness of sins! The guilty alone know the swots
of pardon! The sensibly guilty, through the curse of the law, and the bitter
reproofs of the Spirit alone, know the sweet-smelling and charming gale
that breathes perfumed with any hope or faith supernaturally, drawn from
the virtues of the rose of Sharon, the Lord Jesus Christ. Sweet and very
pleasant, yea, very sweet indeed is the hearty counsel of that friend, the
Lord Jesus, that sticketh closer than a brother, to any one to whom be supernaturally
says, " My son, be of good cheer." " And it shall come to
pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills
shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters,
and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord." (Joel iii.
18.) " For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty!"
(Zech. ix. 17.) "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter
rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain,
to every one grass in the Held." (Zech. x. 1.) "More base than
mire, and more worthless than dust," in and of myself, my guilty soul
feels the renovating, reviving, assuaging, soothing, and alluring odours
of the balmy, sweet, and sight-delighting Rose of Sharon! Through him, "
as a root out of a dry ground," to my hell-deserving sbul, the wilderness
of my feelings blossoms! Yea, the wilderness and the solitary place, (through
apprehensions of wrath,) are, in the soul, through the breezy delights,
from "the wind that bloweth where it listeth," even from the Spirit
taking of the things of Jesus, and showing them to the soul, made to look
gay, blooming, sweet, and as pleasantly odorous as the rose! O may my soul
be enabled to wish to be more knitted and tied, as the leaves to the flower,
to the Lord Jesus Christ! On him, as the sacred stalk, may I grow! From
him draw sweetness, life, beauty, ravishing scents, pleasant appearance,
and acceptable qualities. (Sol. Song iv. 9.) The thistles and nettles of
free-will and licentiousness be kept out of this garden of my soul, where
this precious Sharon's rose and lily of the valleys of humility and
love do grow! What are riches, what is earthly beauty, but faint and dim
beams shadowing out the perfect beauty, and the true riches, put on the
soul regenerated from the fountain of loveliness, and the universal treasure-house,
(as Christ is,) of all that is great, good, desirable, strengthening, and
gladdening! " Honour and majesty are before him; strength and beauty
are in his sanctuary." (Ps. xcvi. 8.) And what sanctuary so sweet,
what landscape so covered with charms, as (to the regenerate mind) the new
man of the heart? Amaranthine flowers, unfailing sweets, and immortal gracefulness
deck that heavenly groundwork, where is laid out, as it were, and fixed,
the supernatural garden of God, in each one elected by him, out of the human
race. O may my soul know more of the heavenly gardener and husbandman in
my soul! (John xv; Luke xiii. 6.) May I be enabled so to do, and to wish
so to do. For, alas! (such is our poverty,) grapes, roses, or blooming flowers
thus, spiritually, are neither gladdening, nor in fragrance delicious, in
the regenerate soul, except under the perpetual culture of the Holy Spirit,
experienced in the soul. Wild grapes and hedge roses grow and flower
away in the cursed regions of Arminianism and letter Calvinism; but all
roses and vines of religion, that do not grow on inward, experimental ground
in the soul, burnt up first, all to pieces, through the fire of hell in
the law, felt unto death, and, secondly, rendered fruitful, drinking the
rains of heaven in the gospel, felt also; all Christianity, whether vine-branches
or rose leaves, not after this fashion, will assuredly be the prey of the
devourer at the last. "All go to their own place."
Secondly. A The lily." The pale lily, cool and moist,
in the valleys of humility, is set in opposition to that fire-flower, (growing
on the gardens of hell,) called "pride." Retiridg, shaded, and
modestly out of sight, (though thus bleached and rendered fair, under the
washings of heaven's favour,) the humble Christian, predestinated to
be conformed unto the image of Christ, lily-like, is forgotten and passed
over, in the midst of the heated and blazing pride of this world. But, what
is pride, with its monkey-face? Hollowness, deceit, like the paint on a
harlot's face; "Though thou rentest thy face with painting, in
vain shalt thou make thyself fair." (Jer. iv. 30.) Pride, whether naturally,
in well-mannered self-conceit, or religiously, under the daub of Arminianism,
or intellectual Calvinism, shall not impose on God. For even also as every
rich man, so also shall every proud man vanish and come to nothing. "Because
as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner
risen with a burning heat, than it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof
falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perishes; so also (it is much
worse with the proud) shall the rich man fade away in his ways." (Mark
that word, "shall.") (James i. 10, 11.) Yea, while I have been
writing a few of the past lines, I saw, "at the window of the house
where I am living, I looked through the casement, and beheld" a parson-magistrate,
and a swearing man of fortune; and the fawning respect of the parson, and
the deathly hollowness of the smiles of the man of rank disgusted me. Like
the harlot, seen by Solomon, so it is exactly true of pride, "She is
loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house; now is she without,
now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner." (Prov. vii.
12.) How different to the mild, unostentatious, and unassuming appearance
of the flower we are speaking of; the whiteness of the flower, compared
with the rouge of this world's fashions; the paleness of the floweret
of the valleys, compared with the fuming wands of this world's painted,
tempting, hollow, and varnishing baubles! " For the fashion of this
world passeth away." (1 Cor. vii. 31.) Simplicity, as the lily, is
unvarnished; as also, are godly sincerity, and an absence of fleshly wisdom.
And however much the fashions of this world may be admired, the absence
of them is, in my eye, still more admirable; as much so more, as heaven
is higher than earth, or the unleavened bread of truth is more acceptable
to an unsophistical palate, than the• swelling largeness of falseness, grimace,
earth-taught customs, in mere show. For, as the lily would suffer in its
charms, from the brocading touch of the most master artist in paint; so,
I would ask, what master of ceremonies, what " usher of the black rod"
of gentlemanly manners, can touch with additional streaks of beauty or of
grace, the subdued colouring, pale alluringness, and gentleness, and delicacy
of heavenly simplicity and sincerity, as a lily in the soul? Paint and varnish
do better for wood than for the human skin! Whoever beard of paint and varnish
being put on gold or silver, or precious stones? But, my friends, in this
world, (in this wooden world, and sapless, through the withering curse of
God on it,) there is nothing else scarce than paint and varnish. Happy is
he who is not of this world, even as Christ was not of this world. Happy
is he who (at all thus as pale as a lily,) is not conformed to the world's
rouged attractions, assumption, airs, emptiness, whims, fancies, and glare!
When pride lifts up its awful head,
And rears its baneful crest;
(As oft it does,) like
I sink amid the west.
My hopes then die, for who can
His head to Christ mid pride
Like burying snows all o'er
Pride thus all grace does hide.
Blest be the Lamb! if his
Melts down my self-conceit!
Blest, since for pride's
mad redd'ning race,
I'm lamed in both my feet!
Religiously to man, this flower, a lily, may, first,
be an emblem of the absence of creature-righteousness; the vermilion blush
of creature-righteousness must be left to Wesleyans and other Arminians;
but, alas! they are past shame. May the paleness of a lily be ever the fair
mark on me of an absence of the red paint of creature-righteousness. An
imputed righteousness is mine; for I have stood, spiritually, as pale as
death, under the certainty, experienced in my soul, that all who have not
the imputed righteousness, are damned, be they who they may. (Rom. xi. 6.)
This felt, makes the elect soul step off the hill of pride quickly, into
the valleys of humility, where the pale beauty of a supernatural righteousness,
(to us imputed,) does grow. O sweet absence of every florid look of haughtiness
and loftiness! Or, secondly, this flower may beautifully set forth the water
which ran out of Christ's wounded side. By that water I am sanctified. "Having
our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb. x. 22.) I leave all other
co-working sanctification to those painted rebels, the Arminians and Methodists.
Lastly, "The vine." Bread, the staff of life,
that strengtheneth man's heart; and water, the universal allayer and
assuager to the fiery sense of thirst in man; (with various other typifying
excellencies;) these embalm, to the realizing eye of a supernatural faith,
the Lord Jesus Christ, in scripture.
And as the eastern sages spread forth " gold, frankincense,
and myrrh," opening their treasures thus, and worshipping before the
mysterious stranger, born King of the Jews, as the elect are, (Rom. ii.
28,.29,) when ushered into this world, under the hymning carols of angels'
songs in the sky, (a multitude of the heavenly host there praising God,)
when the adorable babe, the God-Man, was born in the stable, and laid in
the manger; as I say, the magi, worshipping the illustrious stranger, spread
forth gold, frankincense, and myrrh, emblematic of the riches of all this
fallen world, wherein we live; so have I, at the head of this poor paper,
styled Jesus of Nazareth, my God, " the rose, lily, and vine,"
according to scripture. But the fragrancy of the rose, the charms of the
lily, and the gladdening grape, are, as figures, lost like rushlights, amid
the transporting dawn, the twinkling brilliancy of the eastern star, (seen
by the wise men,) 'Burning my faith's vista, as regards the adorable
As regards Christ being called a vine, what poor dead
stuff will our various religionists "hammer out on that anvil!"
One will hammer out one thing, and another of them will hammer out another
thing out of it. But, alas! the hammerers hammer it all out of their heads.
For their writing evidently bewrays to me that their hearts never felt the
indenting hammer of God's grace yet. All nearly that I shall say here
concerning almost all writers on Christ, as a vine., is this; namely, "Good
Lord, deliver me from their vine, and the wine they make of it too, in their
mongrel religion." Alas! what writing we have about religion! One might
think we were the most pious nation that ever was, to judge from the quantity
of religious writing! a judgment that will do very well for those who like
to make soup of bones, without any marrow in!
The anointed bramble, and the finger-pricking thorns, may
have, (for any thing I care,) the gift of the tongue, in speaking concerning
Christ, as a vine. (Judges ix.) But they will all know one ,day, that it
is not talking concerning the elect vine of the chosen Israel, that will
save either their souls or mine. No. But, alas! nearly all the vines of
religion, that I meet with, are rather the vines of Sibmah, (Moabitish,)
than growing as the pleasant plant, savouring of electing love, redeeming
grace, and quickening love, from the ever-blessed Trinity; (Jer. xlviii.
30, 32;) that I acknowledge, instead of getting edification, I only gather
weariness from off the vintage of well nigh nearly all men's writings
and profession of religion. Happy is he who has the kernel, and not merely
the shell; the juice, and not merely the skin of Christianity!