Section 1
LIFE -- the first glance would hardly find it on this African hillside in the summertime. The hot wind of the desert has passed over it, and the spring beauty of iris and orchid, asphodel and marigold, has vanished. Nothing is to be seen but the mellow golden-brown of the grass, broken by blue-green aloe leaves, and here and there a deep madder head of dried-up fennel.

Yet life is reigning, not death, all the while; it is there, in infinitely greater abundance than when the field was green -- life enough to clothe a score of fields next year.

Stoop down and look into that withered grass, and a whole new world of God's handiwork will come into view in the burnt-up tangle. For of all the growing things out here, the seed-vessels are among the most wonderful. Even little insignificant plants that would hardly catch your eye when in flower, develop forms of quaint beauty as the capsules ripen. And now that all is finished, they lie stored with vitality in the midst of the seeming loss around.

Do you see the parable? We will trace it out step by step.

Back we must go, to the days of early spring. The annuals that clothed the field had each but one life then; a perishing life, though it looked so strong in its young vigour. Left to itself, it stood "condemned already."

But the critical moment came, changing its whole destiny, when a new birth took place: the vitalizing pollen was received by the pistil, and set up the reign of a fresh undying creation. All that had gone before in the plant's history was a preparation for this moment: all that followed was a working out to its fruition.

"Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." Every soul carries like the flower a possible life, other than that of its first birth; more than that, to every soul within reach of the Gospel there comes probably a moment when the Life of God draws near and could be received if it were willing. There is a crisis like that which the flower reaches, when all things are ready. If that crisis is not seized, nothing lies before the plant but useless, irrevocable decay; the power to receive withers and vanishes; and nothing can renew it.

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again." "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." Are you letting pass the moment on which all eternity hangs?

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