Genesis 1:11
Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth vegetation, seed-bearing plants and fruit trees, each bearing fruit with seed according to its kind." And it was so.
All Nature is EmblematicProfessor Gaussen.Genesis 1:11-13
An Inimitable WorkProfessor Gaussen.Genesis 1:11-13
Genesis of the PlantsG. D. Boardman.Genesis 1:11-13
Lessons from Leaves, Flowers, and GrassH. W. Morris, D. D.Genesis 1:11-13
Plant LifeProfessor Gaussen.Genesis 1:11-13
Reflections on the Vegetable CreationH. W. Morris, D. D.Genesis 1:11-13
SeedProfessor Gaussen.Genesis 1:11-13
The Beauty of the GrassGenesis 1:11-13
The First VegetableThe ProtoplastGenesis 1:11-13
The GrassHomiletic ReviewGenesis 1:11-13
The Growth of PlantsS. Turner.Genesis 1:11-13
The Law of Food ProductionGenesis 1:11-13
The Miracle of ReproductionProfessor Gaussen.Genesis 1:11-13
The Vegetable CreationH. W. Morris, D. D.Genesis 1:11-13
VegetationJ. S. Exell, M. A.Genesis 1:11-13
Genesis 1:1-5. A true and firm foundation of revelation and faith must be laid in a Divine doctrine of "Genesis," the beginnings out of which have come both the world of nature and the world of grace. In this book we are taught what is the order by which all things must be tried. Coming forth from Elohim, from the Infinite Personality; flowing in his appointed course. The genesis of heaven and earth becomes the genesis of the human family. Out of the natural chaos is brought forth the Eden of rest and beauty. Out of the moral waste of a fallen humanity is formed, by the gracious work of a Divine Spirit, through a covenant of infinite wisdom and loves a seed of redeemed and sanctified human beings, a family of God. The genesis of the material creation leads on to the genesis of the invisible creation. The lower is the type and symbol of the higher. The first day is the true beginning of days. See what is placed by the sacred writer between that evening and morning.

I. THE COMING FORTH OF THE EVERLASTING, UNSEARCHABLE SECRET OF THE DIVINE NATURE INTO MANIFESTATION. "God created." The word employed denotes more than the bare summoning of existence out of nothingness. The analogy of human workmanship ("cutting," "carving," "framing") suggests the relation between creation and the God of creation. The heaven and the earth reflect their Maker. Works embody the mind, the spirit, the will, the nature of the workman. Although the name Elohim, in the plural form, cannot be taken as an equivalent of the Trinity, it points to the great fundamental fact of all revelation, the Divine Unity coming forth out of the infinite solitude of eternity, and declaring, in the manifold revelations of the visible and invisible worlds, all that the creature can know of his fathomless mystery.

II. HERE IS A GLIMPSE INTO GOD'S ORDER AND METHOD. "In the beginning," the immeasurable fullness of creative power and goodness. Formless void, darkness on the face of the deeps apparent confusion and emptiness, within a limited sphere, the earth; at a certain epoch, in preparation for an appointed future. Chaos is not the first beginning of things; it is a stage in their history. The evening of the first day preceded the morning in the recorded annals of the earth. That evening was itself a veiling of the light. Science itself leads back the thoughts from all chaotic periods to previous developments of power. Order precedes disorder. Disorder is itself permitted only as a temporary state. It is itself part of the genesis of that which shall be ultimately "very good."

III. THE GREAT VITAL FACT OF THE WORLD'S ORDER IS THE INTIMATE UNION BETWEEN THE SPIRIT OF GOD AND THAT WHICH IS COVERED WITH DARKNESS UNTIL HE MAKES IT LIGHT. The moving of the Spirit upon the face of the waters represents the brooding, cherishing, vitalizing presence of God in his creatures, over them, around them, at once the source and protection of their life. "Breath;" "wind," the word literally means, perhaps as a symbol at once of life, or living energy, and freedom, and with an immediate reference to the creative word, which is henceforth the breath of God in the world. Surely no candid mind can fail to feel the force of such a witness in the opening sentences of revelation to the triune God.

IV. TO US THE BEGINNING OF ALL THINGS IS LIGHT. The word of God "commands the light to shine out of darkness." "God said, Let there be light," or, Let light be. The going forth of God's word upon the universe very well represents the twofold fact,

(1) that it is the outcome of his will and nature; and

(2) that it is his language - the expression of himself.

Hence all through this Mosaic cosmogony God is represented as speaking to creation, that we may understand that he speaks in creation, as he is also said to look at that which comes forth from himself to behold it, to approve it, to name it, to appoint its order and use. Such intimate blending of the personal with the impersonal is the teaching of Scripture as distinguished from all mere human wisdom. God is in creation and yet above it. Man is thus invited to seek the personal presence as that which is higher than nature, which his own personal life requires, that it may not be oppressed with nature's greatness, that it may be light, and not darkness. There is darkness in creation, darkness in the deep waters of the world's history, darkness in the human soul itself, until God speaks and man hears. Light is not, physically, the first thing created; but it is the first fact of the Divine days - that is, the beginning of the new order. For what we have to do with, is not the. infinite, secret of creation, but the "manifestation of the visible world God manifest. The first day m the history of the earth, as man can read it, must be the day when God removes the covering of darkness and says, Let there be light." The veil uplifted is itself a commencement. God said that it was good. His own appointment confirmed the abiding distinction between light and darkness, between day and night; in other words, the unfolding, progressive interchange of work and rest, of revelation and concealment, the true beginning of the world's week of labor, which leads on to the everlasting sabbath. How appropriately this first day of the week of creation stands at the threshold of God's word of grace! The light which he makes to shine in our hearts, which divides our existence into the true order, the good and the evil separated from one another, which commences our life; and the Spirit is the light of, his own word, the light which shines from the face of him who was "the Word,' "in the beginning with God," "without whom nothing was made that was made." - R.

Let the earth bring forth grass.

1. There was the Divine agency. It was the power of God that gave seed and life to the earth. For it is very certain that the earth could not have produced grass, and herb, and tree of itself.

2. There was the instrumentality of the earth. "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass," etc. So when called by God the most barren instrumentalities become life-giving and verdant. When the Divine Being is about to enrich men, He gives them the power to help themselves.

II. IT IS GERMINAL IN THE CONDITION OF ITS GROWTH. "Seed." Fertility never comes all at once. God does not give man blade of grass or tree in full growth, but the seeds from which they are to spring. Germs are a Divine gift. God does not give man a great enterprise, but the first hint of it. The cultivation of germs is the grandest employment in which men can be engaged.


1. Life must not always remain germinal. The seed must not alway remain seed. It must expand, develop. The world is full of men who have great thoughts and enterprises in the germ, but they never come to perfection.The fruit must be —

1. Abundant.

2. Rich.

3. Beautiful.

4. Refreshing.

IV. IT IS DISTINCTIVE IN ITS SPECIES AND DEVELOPMENT. "Fruit after his kind." The growth will always be of the same kind as the seed. There may be variation in the direction and expression of the germinal life, but its original species is unchanged. This is true in the garden of the soul. Every seed produces fruit after its kind.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Homiletic Review.
1. Consider the grass for

(1)its beauty;

(2)its utility;

(3)the characteristic virtues of the grass of the fields:

(a)its humility;

(b)its cheerfulness;

(c)as an emblem of human life.

2. Consider it, particularly, in the places where your dead are lying. What Golgoth as would be our cemeteries did not the grass grow there more green and more abundant, if possible, than almost anywhere beside!

(Homiletic Review.)

What is there in it of beauty or of strength? Let Ruskin answer: "A very little strength, and a very little tallness, and a few delicate long lines meeting in a point — not a perfect point either, but blunt and unfinished, by no means a creditable or apparently much-cared-for example of Nature's workmanship; made, as it seems, only to be trodden on today, and tomorrow to be cast into the oven; and a little pale and hollow stalk, feeble and flaccid, leading down to the dull brown fibres of its roots." That is all. "And yet," he adds, "think of it well, and judge whether of all the gorgeous flowers that beam in summer air, and of all strong and goodly trees, pleasant to the eyes and good for food — stately palm and pine, strong ash and oak, scented citron, burdened vine — there be any by man so deeply loved, by God so highly graced, as that narrow point of feeble green."


1. Panorama of the emerging plants. On all sides spring up, as though by magic, the floating algae, the circling lichens, the luxuriant mosses, the branching ferns, the waving grasses, the graceful palms, the kingly cedars, the iris-hued flowers. And a blessed vision it is: this grateful exchange of dull uniformity and barren nakedness for vegetable colours — for carpets of emerald, and tapestries of white and azure and crimson and orange and purple. Even the God of beauty Himself feels that it is good.

2. The birth of life.

3. The soil the matrix of the plant.

4. Fruit after its kind. Here the Sacred Chronicle virtually asserts the invariability of what we call "Species."

5. Ministry of vegetation.(1) Plants are the source of all our food: directly as in vegetable diet — e.g., bread, which we call the "Staff of Life"; and indirectly, as in animal diet — these animals themselves having been fed on the vegetable world. Annihilate plants, and where is food? Annihilate food, and where is man?(2) Vegetation is the grand means of atmospheric purification.(3) The vegetable world is a never-ending source of aesthetic delight. The two great occasions and conditions of physical beauty are figure and colour. The plants, in their infinitely varied range from diatom to cedar, illustrate every conceivable line of figure, every conceivable hue of colour. Their ravishing song ranges through the whole scale of possible figures, through the whole gamut of possible hues. They are not only ministrants to a transient pleasure, they are also witnesses to an eternal beauty.


1. The plant is a beautiful emblem, or, rather, a prophetic type of man himself.

2. The birth of powers.

(1)The parable of germination.

(2)The parable of evolution.

(3)The parable of fructification.This then is the lesson of the hour: The birth of powers to issue in heavenly fruitage. Be not content then with the mere sense of individuality and of duty, mechanically taking your allotted place with the grouping lands and seas (Genesis 1:9, 10); actually put forth in living exercise your latent powers. Yes, happy the day when the Lord of seeds and of souls says to thee: "Let the earth put forth shoots, and the fruit tree yield its fruits!" Thrice happy the day when thou obeyest, thy life becoming arborescent, the leaves of thy tree spirally arranged so as to take in the most thou canst of God's air and sunshine, yielding the fruits of a Christian character.

(G. D. Boardman.)

Notice the general parts and functions of trees and plants.

I. THE ROOTS. Two important and special purposes.

1. To attach the plant or tree to the soil, and support it there in its proper position.

2. To select and draw suitable juices from the soil, for nourishment.

II. THE LEAVES. The principal organ of every plant. The seed in which the plant originates, when carefully examined, is found to be composed of a leaf rolled tightly, and altered in tissue and contents, so as to suit its new requirements. The bud also consists of leaves folded in a peculiar manner, and covered with hardened scales to protect them from the winter cold. And the flowers, the glory of the vegetable world, are merely leaves arranged so as to protect the vital organs within them, and coloured so as to attract insects to scatter the fertilizing pollen, and to reflect or absorb the light and heat of the sun for ripening the seed. If we pursue our study of leaves still further, and contemplate their chemical functions, we shall find each a marvel and a mystery in itself. Every leaf is an individual, gifted with peculiar powers; its stomata and other organs constitute a complete laboratory; it absorbs air, and exhales moisture; it elects the carbon, and sends forth as useless the excess of oxygen, it extracts from the sunbeam its chlorophyll, and with it adorns itself in the charms of verdancy. In a word, it embodies in its thin and distended form one of the most wonderful examples of organic chemistry. It is at once full of science and full of poetry.

III. THE FLOWERS. They are the most beautiful productions of the vegetable kingdom; and, as to the delicacy of their forms, the beauty of their colouring, and the sweetness of their odour, seem preeminently designed for the pleasure of man, for he alone of all the living tenants of the earth is capable of appreciating them. They also perform several important functions in connection with the reproduction of the species. Flowers exhibit many powers and properties which the science of man has never been able to explain. Some will instantly close upon the slightest touch. Some will flutter as if in alarm, upon sudden exposure to intense light. Some seem possessed of limited powers of locomotion; a certain species of wild oats, when placed upon a table, will spontaneously move; pea blossoms always turn their backs upon the wind; the heliotrope always faces the sun; the tulip opens its petals when the weather is fine, but closes them during rain and darkness. The pond lily closes its pure white leaves at night, as it lies on its watery bed, but unfolds them again in the morning. On the other hand, some flowers open only at night; that splendid flower, the night-blooming cereus, is of this kind; it opens but once, and that in the night, for a few hours only, then wilts and dies without ever admitting the light of day into its bosom. Some open and shut at certain hours, and that so regularly as to indicate the time of day, like the sindrimal of Hindostan, which opens at four in the evening and closes at four in the morning. Dr. Good, in his "Book of Nature," describes a water plant, valisneria spiralis, which, at a certain season, detaches itself from its stem, and, like a gallant suitor, sails complacently over the waters in pursuit of a mate, till he finds her. Other flowers there are, as the nepenthes, that will adroitly catch flies and devour them. Others again possess a most extraordinary luminous property; the nasturtium, if plucked during sunshine, and carried into a dark room, will there show itself by its own light; a plant that abounds in the jungles of Madura illumines the ground to a distance all around; and many species of lichens, creeping along the roofs of caverns, lend to them an air of enchantment, by the soft and clear light they diffuse. Who can explain to us these phenomena of flowers? Who but must see that the hand and counsel of Infinite Wisdom are concerned in the production of these vegetable wonders! I add but one fact more respecting flowers, and that is, the power which each flower has to regulate for itself the heat of the sun.


1. Look at the admirable contrivance of the vessels, or capsules, in which the various seeds are lodged and protected while they mature. These are so many, so diverse, and often so complicated in their forms and materials, that it would seem as if they had been adopted only for the sake of demonstrating the inexhaustible resources of the Divine invention. Some are invested in close tunicles, some are surrounded with hard shells, some are elaborately folded in leaves, some are deposited in rows within parchment pods, some are in cases lined with softest velvet, some are wrapped in wool, some are held as in blown bladders, some are placed between hard scales, some are defended by pointed thorns, some are housed as beneath a roof, some are within slits made in the edge of the ]eaves, some are buried in the heart of the fruit, and some in various other manners.

2. The fecundity of plants, or their capacity for producing seeds, presents us with another remarkable fact. The common cereals often yield from sixty to a hundred fold. One castor oil plant will produce 1,500, one sunflower 4,000, and one thistle 24,000 seeds in a single season.

3. Another interesting fact connected with seeds is the arrangement made for their dispersion. Sometimes the pericarp, or vessel containing the seed, opens elastically, as with a mechanical spring, and discharges the seeds contained in its cavity to a considerable distance. Some seeds, as those of the dandelion and thistle, are provided with a beautiful stellate down, which serves as wings, and by means of which they often travel many miles. Other seeds, as the burdock, are furnished with little hooks, by means of which they cling to men and beasts as they pass by, and are thus scattered far and wide. Birds, also, are important agents in this great work. Many of the heavier seeds, such as acorns, are gathered and buried by mice, squirrels, etc., of which, while part are consumed, many are left in the ground to germinate. Rains, and rivers, also, often carry seeds hundreds and even thousands of miles from where they were produced; and the ocean not unfrequently bears them to the shores of other continents, or wafts them upon the coral islands just risen from its bosom, and thus soon covers them with vegetation.

4. The seed having been dispersed and dropped in the soil, the next process to be noticed is its germination. To this certain conditions are necessary. A certain degree of heat must be had; at a temperature below freezing point, seed will not germinate, and if the temperature be up to, or very near, the boiling point of water, it will not germinate, but die. The most suitable temperature for each particular plant varies between these limits according to the nature of the plant. Again, if seeds have the necessary warmth and moisture, yet if exposed to bright light, they will not germinate; shade is always, absolute darkness sometimes, necessary for the success of the germinating process. If the seed enjoys all the required conditions of shade, water, air, and heat, it will grow and flourish. When a seed, a grain of wheat, say, is cast into the ground, from one end of it issues a plumule, or tender sprout; from the other a number of fibrous threads; the plumule immediately tends upward, and works for the air and light, and becomes a plant; the fibres also at once struggle downwards, and become the roots. "Now, what is a little remarkable," says Paley, "the parts issuing from the seed take their respective directions, into whatever position the seed itself happens to be cast. If the seed be thrown into the wrongest possible position, that is, if the ends in the ground point the reverse of what they ought to do, everything, nevertheless, goes on right. The sprout, after being pushed out a little way, makes a bend and turns upwards; the fibres, on the contrary, after shooting at first upward, turn down." This fact is not more wonderful than it is important; for, how unprofitable would be the labours of the husbandman, if only the grains that happened to be right end up would prove productive, for scarce one seed out of a hundred would be found in this position. Or, how endless would be his toil, if he had with care to place each particular seed in the ground with plumule end up. But for the present wise and happy constitution of the seed, by which each part proceeds in its right direction, and to fulfil its appointed office, where would be our daily bread? How manifest both the wisdom and goodness of God in this thing.

5. The longevity of seeds, or the power which they possess for retaining the vital principle for lengthy periods of time, is another remarkable fact to be noticed here. This is an important provision, as it supplies a safeguard against the extinction of the species under unfavourable circumstances, which may often occur. "In the time of the Emperor Hadrian, a man died soon after he had eaten plentifully of raspberries. He was buried at Dorchester. About thirty years ago the remains of this man, together with coins of the Roman Emperor, were discovered in a coffin at the bottom of a barrow, thirty feet under the surface. The man had thus lain undisturbed for some one thousand seven hundred years. But the most curious circumstance connected with the case was, that the raspberry seeds were recovered from the stomach, and sown in the garden of the Horticultural Society, where they germinated and grew into healthy bushes." What a wondrous creation, then, have we in a grain of seed! What a mystery is its life, that can thus well nigh immortalize its tiny and delicate organism, preserving it uninjured and unchanged through the lapse of hundreds and thousands of years!

V. THE EDIBLE AND OTHER USEFUL PRODUCTIONS OF PLANTS is another subject that demands our grateful consideration. He might have made all these of the same, or nearly the same, taste; but so far from this was His Divine generosity, that we have almost an interminable variety of fragrance and flavour, of sweetness and acid, of mellowness and pungency: and all so wonderfully suited to gratify our taste, to stimulate our appetite, and to yield us every required and desirable nutriment in health and in sickness. Then, too, plants not only feed, but clothe us.

(H. W. Morris, D. D.)

In vegetation we have the productions of Divine chemistry! Out of the same elements we here behold the utmost diversity of results. Ten thousand species of herbs, plants, and trees, springing from the same soil, watered by the same showers, surrounded by the same atmosphere, and warmed by the same sun — yet how different in their qualities! Some are acid and some are tasteless, some offering the richest nourishment and others the rankest poison, some are exhilarating and some stupefying, a few are as sweet as honey, and many as bitter as the waters of Marsh, some secreting oil while others are exuding gum, some sending forth odours that delight and some that sicken and offend — yet all these are constituted of the same four or five primary elements, the diversity arising simply from the different proportions in which Infinite skill has combined them. And herein is chemistry which man, astonishing as his progress has been in this science, can neither imitate nor approach. Man, indeed, can take a plant and separate these its elements, and ascertain their exact proportions, but he can never recombine them so as to restore the plant. This is God's prerogative. "What a thought that was, when God thought of a tree!" exclaimed a philosopher. Yes, a tree, a single tree, originating in an atom seed, deriving its vitality from heaven, drawing its juices from the earth, feeding upon the air, eliciting its colouring from the sunbeam, and elaborating its several parts by the mysterious power of its own vitality — presents a concourse of contrivances and properties and functions such as would never have entered the mind of man, or perhaps of any other intelligence, had not God set it in living form before him. What conceptions, then, shall we form, and what sentiments entertain of that Mind, who, with unerring foresight, contrived a thousand, yea a hundred thousand differing trees and plants — differing in their size from the invisible lichen of the naked rock to the expanded banian tree of India, which proffers beneath its shade ample room for an army — differing in form from the creeping vine to the cedar of Libanus — differing in their age and duration from the ephemeral "flower of the grass" to the mighty adonsonia, hoary with the mosses of more than twenty centuries — differing in their juices from the nourishing grape to the pohon upas in their deadly valleys — differing in their aspect from the serpent cactus to the stately pine — differing in their habitations from the climbing lianas of the Guinea forests to the confervae of the silent pool — differing in the structure of their roots, in the form of their leaves, and in the texture of their stems — differing in their flowers, and seeds, and fruits — differing in the rapidity of their growth, and circulation, and decay — differing in their qualities for absorbing and reflecting the heat of the sun — and differing in a multitude of other particulars! In the vegetable kingdom we behold a diversity all but endless. In their creation, then, what countless ends to be secured. What an infinitude of influences, properties, and agencies to be determined. And what an infinitude, too, of weights, and measures, and proportions to be calculated. Yet in the Divine mind, as in a vast storehouse of glorious ideas and designs, the plans of all were perfect and complete ere ever the omnipotent word to clothe the earth with verdure had gone forth. In that plan nothing was forgotten, nothing overlooked. No unforeseen difficulty arose, no part of the Divine purpose failed, no tree or plant or blade of grass came short of its designed perfection.

(H. W. Morris, D. D.)

We need not seek for rare or out-of-the-way productions to gather lessons — every green thing that springs out of the ground is a preacher to us, if we would but listen to its voice. All the leaves of the forest join in one general murmur to repeat in our ears the prophet's warning, "We all do fade as a leaf." And as we are so prone to thrust this truth out of mind, as comes on every fading fall of the year, God spreads before us on plain and hillside a great parable, in which our own decay and death are pictorially represented in such a vivid and impressive manner, that he who runs may read, and he who reads must reflect and profit. With the leaves join the beauteous flowers, like whispering angels, to impress the same needful admonition upon the heart and mind of man. "As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth." And each flower along his path seems to look up and address him in language of its own, and say —Child of the dust, like me you spring,
A bright but evanescent thing;
Like me may be cut down today,
And cast a worthless weed away.The grass also has its speech. It spreads itself before us like a living allegory, in which we may see our image and our end. It says, "All flesh is grass; in the morning it flourisheth and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down and withered." And when its beauties and benefits, and teachings all can avail man no more, the green grass reverently spreads itself as a robe over his slumbering form, and forsakes not even that upon which all others have turned their back — his grave — remaining there, in each bright blade, a perpetual type of a coming glorious resurrection!

(H. W. Morris, D. D.)

The creation of vegetables is placed by Moses subsequent to the production of light and of the atmosphere; immediately after the waters had receded from the land, and just before the creation and arrangement of the solar system. This position of vegetables in the series of creation exactly answers the demands of our present knowledge. Instead of requiring the suns light to germinate, seeds and plants, in order to do so, must be sowed and placed in darkness before they begin to vegetate (solar light is unfriendly to first germination). A small heat and moisture first cause their living principle to begin its operations, but they cannot flower and fruit until they receive the solar beams; nor could they grow without light, air, and moisture. A portion of oxygen air is essential to vegetation. Hence the previous atmosphere, which contains in its composition that portion, was indispensable, as was also some water on the soil where they were to grow. This exact placing of the vegetable formation and first germination is another test of the authenticity of the Hebrew cosmogony, which random fiction could not have stood.

(S. Turner.)

This was not a mere transformation; it was a new creation, a miracle, or rather sixty thousand miracles in one. A chemist can form rocks, and even precious stones, by combining silicium, lime, carbon, etc.; but could any chemist form a tree, a blade of grass, a bit of moss, or the smallest living plant? Look at the flowers, the trees, the seeds, the fruits, and all the wonders of vegetable life! Oh, what a collection of miracles! but the miracle of miracles is, that each has "its seed in itself." A watch, which is one of the most admirable works of man, is very inferior in its workmanship even to the smallest plant, which we can scarcely see without the help of a microscope; but what would you think of a watch which could produce watches, which in their turn could produce other watches, and so on from generation to generation, from age to age?

(Professor Gaussen.)

Have you ever thought what life is? for it was then that life appeared for the first time upon the earth. The air, the winds, and the tempests have no life; the sea, the dry land, the mountains, the valleys, the rocks, the volcanoes and their flowing lavas, have no life — a gas has no life. But a tree and a plant have life, although they have not thought or feeling. Consider how the plant is born and grows: it springs from its seed as the bird springs from the egg; it pierces the soil; it grows up; it is fed by the juices of the earth through the hundred mouths of its roots; it drinks through its leaves the air and the dew of heaven; and it faithfully gives out in return its delicious odours. We know that it even breathes — it inhales and exhales the air; it sleeps in the night, and is revived to new beauty and vigour in the day. A life-giving juice circulates through all its vessels, as the blood circulates in our veins. Every year it gives birth to numerous children, which resemble the mother plant, and live, and grow, and breathe, and bring forth other plants in their turn.

(Professor Gaussen.)

Scientific men such as Sir James Hall and others, have succeeded in imitating some of the natural rocks in their laboratories. By taking chalk, silicium, vegetable matter, and other things, and subjecting them to strong heat and powerful pressure, they have been able to manufacture, in small quantities, marble like that of our mountains, coal such as we burn in our fires, crystallized silicates like the granites of the Alps, and even a few small fragments of precious stones. But do you suppose that any chemist could succeed in making a living plant, even a blade of grass, a sprig of hyssop, a morsel of the humble moss that grows on the wall, a strawberry plant, a blue-hell, or a field daisy? All the greatest triumphs of human art and skill have been lately collected in the Exhibitions of London and Paris; but if all the mechanics who made these, and all the learned men in the world were united, and if they were to work together for a thousand years, they could not form one living grain of corn, one seed of a living poppy, one seed of any kind, containing within it, infolded in the germ, ten thousand plants of corn, or one hundred thousand plants of poppies, proceeding from and succeeding each other from this time till the end of the world.

(Professor Gaussen.)

Have you ever considered how wonderful a thing the seed of a plant is? It is the miracle of miracles. God said, Let there be plants "yielding seed"; and it is further added, each one "after his kind." The great naturalist, Cuvier, thought that the germs of all past, present, and future generations of seeds were contained one within the other, as if packed in a succession of boxes. Other learned men have explained this mystery in a different way. Let them explain it as they will, the wonder remains the same, and we must still look upon the reproduction of the seed as a continual miracle. Consider first, their number. A noted botanist counted sixty thousand, then eighty thousand, and he supposed it possible that the number might even amount to one hundred thousand. Well, let me ask you, Have these one hundred thousand kinds of plants ever failed to bear the right seed? Have they ever deceived us? Has a seed of wheat ever yielded barley, or a seed of a poppy grown up into a sunflower? Has a sycamore tree ever sprung from an acorn, or a beech tree from a chestnut? A little bird may carry away the small seed of a sycamore in its beak to feed its nestlings, and on the way may drop it on the ground. The tiny seed may spring up and grow where it fell, unnoticed, and sixty years after it may become a magnificent tree, under which the flocks of the valleys and their shepherds may rest in the shade. Consider next the wonderful power of life and resurrection bestowed on the seeds of plants, so that they may be preserved from year to year, and even from century to century. Some years ago a vase hermetically sealed was found in a mummy pit in Egypt, by the English traveller Wilkinson, who sent it to the British Museum. The librarian there having unfortunately broken it, discovered in it a few grains of wheat and one or two peas, old, wrinkled, and as hard as stone. The peas were planted carefully under glass on the 4th of June 1844, and at the end of thirty days these old seeds were seen to spring up into new life. They had been buried probably about three thousand years ago, perhaps in the time of Moses, and had slept all that long time, apparently dead, yet still living in the dust of the tomb. Lastly, consider the almost incredible fruitfulness of these marvellous seeds. I have heard it said that a very well-known traveller, who returned from America to Europe between two and three hundred years ago, having admired in the New World this beautiful tree, then unknown in Europe, had put two or three chestnuts in the pocket of his coat. After his arrival in Paris, having put on the same coat again, he found a single chestnut still remaining in the pocket, and he took a fancy to plant it in the court of his house. The following spring a young chestnut tree appeared, which grew and flourished, and became the parent, not only of all the chestnuts in France, but of all the magnificent trees of this kind under which the people of France, Germany, and Italy assemble on their days of festival. These all sprang from the solitary chestnut brought from America in that traveller's pocket. But what do you think of the wonderful reproducing power of seeds, when I tell you that from a single poppy seed, not larger than a grain of gunpowder, there may spring in four years, poppies enough to cover all the habitable earth, that is to say, one-fourth of the surface of the globe, or about fifty million square miles? If each seed should produce as much as Ray calculates, I have reckoned it would amount in four years to a million of millions of millions of seed; which may be estimated at 660,000 bushels (or 82,500 quarters), and would be more than enough to cover the five continents of the earth. All this immense multitude of seeds might spring in so short a time from a single little seed, not nearly so large as a grain of oats. Now, let us try to calculate the productive power of a grain of corn. All historians tell us that in old times the harvests in Egypt and Syria returned a hundredfold for one, and in Babylonia two hundred fold for one. Well, suppose that I were to sow my grain in a soil as fertile as that of Egypt is said to have been in old times, my first harvest would be 100 grains; these 100 grains would produce 100 times as much for my second harvest, or 10,000 grains; my third harvest would be 100 times 10,000, or 1,000,000 grains; and my fourth, 100,000,000 grains. It has been reckoned that there are about 820,000 grains in a bushel. At this rate, my fourth harvest would yield about 122 bushels of grain; and four years after, it would be 100,000,000 as much, or 12,200,000,000 bushels, or 1,525,000,000 quarters. This is scarcely one-sixth less than twice the 900,000,000 quarters which we reckoned would be necessary to supply the whole human race for a year. Thus in eight years as much corn might spring from one seed as to supply all mankind with bread for more than a year and a half. Remark, also, my friends, that God has not given the reproductive power of plants to their seeds alone. The life of vegetables exists in many parts of them separately, and each of these parts alone, separated from all the others, can reproduce the whole plant.

(Professor Gaussen.)

The Protoplast.
We come now to the consideration of the highest form of pure matter, unconnected with an immaterial principle; viz., that which is invested with organic power. Before the creation of the vegetable, the state of matter had been inorganic; but at the commandment of God, a portion of it became invested with altogether new properties and new powers. It assumed, at once, and in obedience to the will of Him that spake, that extraordinary form of existence, which we call organized structure: and became, in that change, subject to new forces, regulated by new laws. The great difference which strikes us at once, as existing between an inorganic and organic structure is, that in the former, each particle acts as it were separately, and for itself; and in the latter, each particle acts as a part of a whole, for a certain end to be brought about in the whole structure; but then this effect is the beautiful resultant of certain fixed though unknown laws of combination. Professor Faraday has divided the powers of matter into two great classes — instant and waiting. Gravitation, for instance, he calls instant, because its action is unceasing, under all circumstances. Electricity, on the other hand, he calls waiting, because it is only called forth under certain circumstances, and, so to speak, waits for them.

1. Organic powers are eminently waiting forces; they are manifested under certain circumstances, and so we find that a seed will remain for thousands of years without germinating, if deprived of the influences of heat and light.

2. Again: These powers seem to be communicable. As the particles of the inorganic world are drawn into the organic fabric, they become themselves organic; they receive a communication of power, and act as invested with it, until they are again thrown off.

3. These powers seem also to be exhaustible. I feel the extent of the difficulty that lies in this admission, and yet I must acknowledge that there does appear to be a kind of exhaustion of power in an organized structure. We find that in a certain time, these powers cease to act, and the plant, according to common language, dies. This is the stronghold of those who believe the functions of the vegetable arise from, and are governed by, an immaterial principle. For, they say, upon the removal of this principle, the whole material frame becomes powerless, and the plant dies. The great answer to this is, that the whole organic fabric does not always lose its power, or as it is called die, at once, but very often, both in the plant and in the animal, one portion of it ceases to manifest organic power before the rest; and this fact overthrows the whole argument. I feel strongly inclined to believe that, after all, there is no real exhaustion of organic power, any more than there is of physical power, but that when, in the appointed time, the whole fabric of the plant (or animal) goes to decay, these powers lie dormant in the particles of matter, till, in the wondrous revolution of the wheel of natural providence, they became incorporated with organic structure again, and put forth their manifested actions. In fact, that organic powers are powers of circumstance and not of essence; they are always present in matter, but always waiting. They are, what an ancient writer called so long ago, "moveable powers"; and they are governed, ruled, and regulated by Him who first said, "Let the earth bring forth grass," etc. Let us now consider especially the words, "Whose seed is in itself." Of all the manifestations of power, there is none so wonderful as that of reproduction. Even when we come to the consideration of the material portion of the complex nature of the animal, although we shall find other forms of power, such as contractibility, as in the case of muscle; vibration, as in the case of the fibres of the brain, receiving the impressions of light and sound; yet shall we discover none more extraordinary than this of reproduction. And yet, strange and striking as this power is, when we reflect upon it, it is not perhaps more so than certain physical powers. It is almost as wonderful that matter should attract matter, as that matter should produce matter; for both actions are alike dependent on the Creator's will. Strictly and philosophically speaking, there is no further creation of matter in the case, but a gathering in of surrounding matter, to form the germ of the future plant. We know that the most complex structure of any plant or animal (man included) is but the elaboration of the simple cell: this cell draws from the world around the materials which compose other cells, and these new cells develop themselves into the different parts which compose their future fabric, root, leaves, buds, etc.; perhaps according to their different reception of the influences of heat, light, and electricity: but this is all wrapt in mystery. There is a limit to all the investigations of man, a point beyond which he cannot go; when, like one of old, he "looks up unto the heavens, and bewails his ignorance;" but the Christian, amidst all these wonders, has a sure resting place whereon to stand, for he knows by whom all these things consist. "He upholdeth all things by the word of His power," is the true solution to all our difficulties; and if we rested on this there would not be that unquietness which we so often feel in the pursuit of natural science. We are too apt to speak as if we thought that God having created the universe left it to itself. He is the governor of the material world, as He is of the spiritual world. God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit," etc.; "and it was so."

(The Protoplast.)

When the Incarnate Jehovah preached upon this earth that He had made, He took the whole of creation as His text. The waving corn in the fields through which He walked with His disciples, the wild flowers, the trees which overshadowed Him, all served as symbols of heavenly things. "Consider," He said, "the lilies of the field." While we walk in a world where beauty still lingers, for it is "though spoiled by sin, in ruin fair," we may read a lesson in every leaf, and bud, and blossom. If we are anxious and distrustful as to God's provision of our wants in this life, even the very herb of the field rebukes us, for God has clothed it; the wild flowers raise their heads, bright with His workmanship, and they speak to us, saying, "Hath God so decked us, and shall He not rather clothe you, O ye of little faith?" And then how many lessons do we learn from the sowing of the seed. Christ said, "Hear ye the parable of the sower." Have we heard it? Again, Christ said in another parable, "So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how." It is just so with the servant of God, scattering the seed in preaching the word of life; it springs up, he knows not how; he obeys the command of God. Another lesson Christ drew from natural vegetation was given in these words: "The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." Christ cast the little seed of His Church into the world: neglected, despised, unnurtured, it sank into the ground, and man trod it under foot; but when it is grown to its full height and established in its millennial glory upon earth, all nations shall flow into it, — "the birds shall come and lodge in the branches thereof." Once more, the Apostle Paul preaches from the same text in the book of creation, the resurrection from the dead. When we see the seed sown, and remember how unlike it is to the perfect fabric of the future plant, let us reflect that just so little will the sin-bearing, suffering, decaying body we now wear resemble that which shall be raised in perfect beauty.

(Professor Gaussen.)

God has given to every seed and living plant the tendency to develop itself, or grow under certain conditions. These conditions are an adequate supply of moisture, heat, light, air, and the all-essential requisite of a suitable soil. This law operates mainly through the principle of capillary attraction. Every blade, leaf, or stalk has in it a number of very small tubes, each with a bore as small as a hair, which has the singular power of drawing up the sap from the soil into the plant or stalk, so making it grow. This sap when drawn up lengthens and enlarges the blade or stalk, and continues to do so from day to day until it reaches an ultimate point fixed by the Creator, when it issues in blossom and fruit. That point being reached, the process stops, when man steps in and gathers the fruit which God has provided for him. These tubes act like so many mouths, which are endowed with a sort of instinct for selecting from the soil such nourishment as suits the age or species of the plant or vegetable to which they belong. The sap itself consists of water mixed with saline, sulphurous, or oily materials, and is prepared in such a manner as to suit the various seeds that are put into the ground.

I. THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS LAW in supplying food.

1. It gives continual freshness to our food. Had the food of the world been all provided on the day when God made men and the cattle, and the supply been made large enough to last till the end of the world, it must long ere this time have become corrupt.

2. It supplies abundance. Every seed is endowed with both a power of self. development and also a power of self-multiplication.

3. It secures variety of food. This is as important as abundance. Had there been only one species of food we should almost have died from having the same constantly served up at our tables.

4. It saves space on the world's surface. Had the whole supply of the world's food been provided on the first day the world itself could not have furnished accommodation.

5. This law secures a permanent supply of food to the end of time.

6. This law impressively teaches man's continual dependence on God.

7. Never does anything get out of order. There is nothing to repair, everything works with the most perfect order and regularity.

8. Far greater skill and beauty lie beneath the surface than upon it. This is the characteristic of all God's works as compared with man's.


1. In the simplicity of its operation.

2. In its efficiency.

3. In its beautiful adaptations. Processes of the most consummate skill are set a-going in every part of nature in order to furnish man with food. Take the case of plants. The bark which covers them defends them from the extremes of heat and cold, and also opens up a free entrance for sap and air to reach them. The leaves which clothe them assist in bringing food from all parts within reach. They are furnished with the power of sucking nourishment for them; they protect them in their tender state, and carry off by perspiration the redundant fluids which would otherwise stagnate and turn rancid. They are the lungs of the plant.

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