Autumn: Life's Contrast
1 Peter 1:24-25
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass wither, and the flower thereof falls away:…

The form of thought here used illustrates a common principle in the operation of the human mind — that principle of contrast by which one thing suggests its opposite. Life is made up of contrasts. The secret of this influence of contrast lies in man's twofold nature, allied on the one side to the frail and perishing, on the other to the stable and enduring; one hand grasping dust and ashes, the other seizing upon the very throne of God; the outward eye seeing only what fades and passes away, the inward eye beholding glories which nothing can destroy or dim. There is something beyond the reach of change and decay and mortality — God's truth, as it has been revealed to man; God's promise, which by His Son He has made — this cannot fail. It will outlast all the forms of outward life, and all the splendours of nature; and, though heaven and earth pass away, it shall not pass away. The connection of the text makes it more emphatic. The apostle had been speaking of Christ's resurrection, and of the faith and hope which this fact excites; and he alludes to the wasting away of all material things, so as to fix attention more joyfully on the soul's undying nature. He leaps from the vessel that is sinking with all earth's treasure in the sea of time, to the firm shore of immortality. Let the grass then wither, and the glory of man fade away. God willing, we would not have the present scene to be our permanent dwelling. The transient and the abiding in the nature and experience of man this is, indeed, a contrast which it well becomes us to consider. The great mistake that human beings make is in regarding perishable things as though they were imperishable, and so fastening on them the feelings and expectations which belong only to the imperishable. Christianity does not forbid us to have any regard for what is perishable and passing away. Jesus Christ brought no ascetic religion into the world. He does not bid us dig a cave, and hide ourselves from all that is bright and gladsome around us, fleeting though it be. But what He and His apostles insist on is, that we shall graduate and proportion our interest in all things according to their worth. To put in its right light the contrast, I would bring out, suppose some inhabitant of that upper world — as it is thought departed spirits may — to lift the curtain, and look in upon these scenes in which we mingle. To one whose eye looks from his high station, how small and obscure this lower world, the dim, narrow entrance way to the more glorious mansions of the Father's house! He knows that authentic tidings of the great region He dwells in, have reached the ears of that crowd of mortals who move along through this entry of the spiritual world. As the sickly generations of creatures advance, the angel spectator scans the occupations in which they engage. What a thrill of amazement shoots through his breast to observe such multitudes living as though these narrow earthly steps to the great temple beyond were themselves the whole universe, studiously averting their eyes from the gate that leads to the immense splendours of the inner sanctuary. One is wholly absorbed in giving free scope to sense and appetite and superficial fancy. Another seems taken up entirely with swelling his pile of gold. He bends steadily down over it, and, as he stoops, gives up the lustre of heaven for its glitter. But yet another sight that angelic witness as surely beholds, and oh, there is not a pleasanter sight beneath the sun than that of a rich man for this world and for the world to come; yea, of a man who rejoices more than an old alchemist over the supposed discovery of the philosopher's stone, at the opportunity to transmute his temporary into everlasting treasure. Here surely the principle is illustrated aright in a contrast just and holy. This, then, without further illustration, is the lesson of our text. Be not deceived in your estimate. Distinguish the things that differ. Observe the contrasts that God has established. Is the New Testament true? Shall these great scenes of judgment and doom, according to the deeds of the flesh, be soon ushered in? Make not, then, the enormous miscalculation of leaving so vast an element out of your account. Even in this life, the contrast between things earthly and things heavenly sometimes demonstrates itself in striking results. The distinct consequences of diverse characters are especially marked, as men advance in life towards old age; and the rewards and retributions already bestowed seem to anticipate the judgment day. As I walked through the lanes of yonder growing forest, on our beautiful common, the dry leaves crushing under my feet, and the sinking sun taking his last look at the bare boughs of the trees, I met a man on whom the blow of grief had descended as sorely as upon any, and with oft-repeated stroke. A new sorrow had just fallen on his grey head and long-diseased, emaciated frame. He spoke of faith. He spoke of loyalty to God and duty. He spoke of heaven as though it were near. He said nothing of being hardly dealt with, nor hinted aught about not understanding why he should be selected for such trials, but seemed to think there was nothing but God's mercy and kindness in the world. But he seemed to me, as I looked upon him, to have an inward stay that would hold him up when all earthly props had fallen to the ground. For once, the contrast between earth and heaven was revealed to my mind; and the dissolving emblems of mortality under my feet, and the cold, shifting mists over my head, were transformed from sad tokens into symbols of hope and joy.

(C. A. Bartol.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

WEB: For, "All flesh is like grass, and all of man's glory like the flower in the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls;

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