"As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth."
Children, have you ever heard of the language of flowers? Now, of course, we know that flowers cannot speak as we can. I wish they could. I think they would say such sweet things. But in one way flowers do talk to us. When you give them some water, or when God sends a shower of rain upon them, they give forth a sweet smell; I think that the flowers are speaking then, I think that they are saying, "thank you." Let us listen to the preaching of the flowers to-day. What do they say to us? Well, some say one thing, some another; but there is one thing which all of them say -- "trust God." God takes care of the flowers, and sends them dew, and rain, and sunshine, and fresh air, and they tell us that the same God who cares for the flowers cares also for us. And next, I think, all the flowers say to us, "thank God." See how the daisies in the meadow seem to look up thankfully to God. Someone says that God smiles on the earth, and that the earth smiles back again with its flowers. Is not that a pretty thought, children, that the flowers are the smiles of the grateful earth? Next, the flowers say to us, "be contented." They are quite satisfied to grow, and smell sweet, and look pretty, in the place where God puts them. Now, just as God plants the flowers in a certain place, some up high on the hills, others down low in the valley; some in the Queen's greenhouse, others in the cottager's garden, so He puts you children in your right place. Be quite sure, my children, that the best place for us is where God puts us. Have you ever noticed the sweet-scented wall flowers growing on an old stone wall? They have scarcely any earth for their roots, only a little bit between the stones, yet they make the old wall beautiful, and no flower smells sweeter. They teach us to be contented. They seem to say, we have no grand place to grow in, no carefully-prepared bed, only a bit of old wall for our home, but we are quite satisfied, and we mean to make home as bright and sweet as we can. Let us learn the lesson of the wall flower. Let us try to make home bright and happy, and sweet, no matter how poor it is. Another thing which all the flowers tell us is this, "remember that you must die." When the Autumn and Winter come we say the flowers are dead because we cannot see them. But the flowers are not really dead. They are sleeping in the earth till the Spring comes again. God has put them to bed in the warm ground, and when the proper time comes they will waken up. Just what God does to the flowers He does to us. One day He will send us to sleep, and take our soul to a safe place in Paradise, whilst our body is put to bed in the earth beneath the soft and pleasant grass. People will say that we are dead, just as they say the flowers are dead. One day the resurrection morning will come, it will be our spring-time, and God, who raised Jesus Christ from the grave, will raise us up again.
So you see, children, the flowers tell us not only that we must die, but that we must rise again. What else do the flowers say to us? I think they say, "keep in the sunshine, be happy." You always find that flowers are on the sunny side of things. So ought we to be. A plant cannot grow, and blossom, in a dark cellar. It must have sunshine. So if you want to be God's children, that is, good children, you must have sunshine in your hearts, sunshine in your faces. Look at the face of an innocent child, one who is gentle, obedient, loving, pure. You will see the face full of sunshine. But look at the face of a child who has done something wrong; who has told a lie, or done some cruel, mean, or dishonest act. There is no sunshine on that face. There is nothing but a dark heavy cloud. The ill-tempered child has no sunshine on his face. He lives down in a dark cellar. The discontented child has no sunshine on his face. He lives down in a black dungeon with Giant Despair. My children, ask God to keep you innocent; or if you have done wrong, ask God to forgive you for Jesus Christ's sake, then you will have sunshine, you will be happy.
There is another thing which the flowers say to us -- "Be sweet." There is nothing so delicious as to go into a flower garden after a warm shower, and to smell the sweet scents. Well, God has sent you into the garden of this world to be sweet like the flowers. How can you be sweet? You can be sweet-tempered, sweet-mannered, sweet-spoken. Sometimes you hear people say that someone has a sweet face. Now that need not mean a pretty face; a person may be pretty, and yet not sweet. Those who are sweet-tempered show it in their faces. You know how a bunch of flowers in a room makes it sweet and wholesome. Now every good child in a home, or a school, is like a nosegay of blossoms, making the place sweet and wholesome; and every bad, vicious, unruly, child is like the smell which comes from poisoned water. When I used to visit the sailors in their ships to talk to them about God, I used to say to them, "Now I want one of you men to be a little pinch of salt in this ship, I want you to keep things sweet. Who will be the little pinch of salt?" You understand what I mean, children? I wanted a good man, who prayed, and read his Bible, to help the others, to try and stop bad talking, to keep things sweet, as salt does. Well, I want each of you children to be God's sweet flower, and to try to make your home sweet by your gentleness, your good temper, your love. Some children are regular stinging nettles in a home, or a school. They always make people uncomfortable. They sting with their tongues, and they sting with their looks and their tempers. Make up your minds, dear little ones, to be, by God's help, sweet flowers, not stinging nettles.
And now, before I leave you, let us think what one special flower teaches us. I told you that there is such a thing as the language of flowers, that is, that each flower has its special meaning. Well, what does the rose say? Surely the rose says, "love one another!" Do you know who it is who loves us best, and who has done most for us? Our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, and it is for that reason, I think, that He is called in the Bible a Rose, -- the Rose of Sharon. Whenever you see a rose, think of Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, and remember what He says to you, "Little children, love one another." I will tell you a story about a rose. A little brother and sister lived in a crowded court in a great city. It was a wretched, dirty, ugly, place, where scarcely any sunshine ever came, and where the people were often rough and wicked. Little Willie and his sister knew nothing about green fields spotted with daisies, they had never seen a flower. One day a kind friend took all the poor children living in the court for a drive into the country. I cannot tell you how happy Willie and his sister were when they saw the trees and hedges, which were all new and strange to them. Presently they passed a garden in which were growing some sweet-smelling red flowers. Willie had never seen anything half so lovely, and he was anxious to know what the flowers were called, so they told him that they were roses. Well, after a time, when the Winter came, little Willie fell ill. Day after day his sister sat beside him, holding his thin white hand in hers. Often they talked about that wonderful day in the country, where they had seen the roses. Often, too, they talked about Jesus, and the still more beautiful country where He lived. The children were very ignorant, but they had been to Sunday School, and learnt something about the dear Lord who loves children. One cold, dark day, little Willie was much worse, and he said to his sister -- "Oh! I wish I could see a rose once more. I wish you would go and get me one of those roses we saw that day!" So the little sister, who loved him dearly, set out to walk to the place where they had seen the flowers. After a long and weary journey, she came to the field where they had played, and the garden where the roses grew. But the field and the garden were white with snow, and there were no roses there. The little girl was worn out with hunger and fatigue, and she dropped on her knees in the snow, and prayed, and this was her prayer -- "Dear Jesus, send me one rose, only one, for little Willie." Just then a carriage came along the road, and the lady who rode in it had a beautiful red rose in her hand, which had grown in a greenhouse. She dropped it from the window, I suppose, by accident, but when the little girl saw it lying on the snow, she thought that Jesus had sent it to her, and took it up lovingly to carry to her brother. But she had no more strength to struggle through the cold night, and when the morning came they found her dead upon the white snow, with the red rose in her hand. That night little Willie, lying alone in the cold, dark, garret, also died. And the writer of this story thinks that when the brother and sister met in the Paradise of God, the sister, who gave her life for love, carried a beautiful flower in her hand, and said, "Willie, here's your rose." So thinks the writer, and I think so too.