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:…
Two doctrines naturally arise from this text —
I. THAT MAN AND HIS GLORY ARE FADING AND WITHERING. All flesh is grass.
1. It is weak, and low, and little as grass. Mankind is indeed numerous as the grass of the field, multiplies, replenishes, and covereth the earth; but like grass, it is of the earth, earthy, mean, and of small account. Alas, the kingdoms of men which make so great a noise, so great a figure, in this lower world, are but as so many fields of grass compared with the bright and glorious constellations of stars, made up of the holy and blessed inhabitants of the upper regions. Proud men think themselves like the strong and stately cedars, oaks, or pines, but they soon find themselves as the grass of the field, liable to be nipped with every frost, trampled on by every foot, continually insulted by common calamities.
2. It is withering, and fading, and dying as grass; having both its rise and maintenance out of the earth, it hastens to the earth, and retires to its root and foundation in the dust. In the morning, perhaps, it is green and growing up, its aspect pleasing, its prospect promising; but when we come to look upon it in our evening work we find it cut down and withered. If it be not cut down by disease or disaster, it will soon wither of itself; it has in it the principles of its own corruption. Is all flesh grass? All, without exception of the noble or the fair, the young or the strong, the well-born or well-built, the well-fed or well-bred? Is all grass, weak and withering?
(1) Then let us see ourselves to be grass, and humble and deny ourselves. Is the body grass? Then be not proud, be not presumptuous, be not confident of a long continuance here; forget not that the foot may crush thee. Grass falls; let me not be such a fool as to lay up my treasure in it. Is the body grass? Then let us not indulge it too much, nor bestow too much time and care and pains about it, as many do, to the neglect of the better and immortal part. After all, we cannot keep it from withering, when its day shall come to fall.
(2) Let us see others also to be as grass, and cease from man, because he is no more than thus to be accounted of. We are now to consider, not common men, but men of distinction, and to see them withering and falling.
3. Let us inquire, What is the glory of man in this world? There is indeed a glory of man which is counterfeit, and mistaken for glory. Solomon says, "For men to search their own glory is not glory" (Proverbs 25:27). The glory men commonly pursue and search for is no glory at all. Is beauty and comeliness of body the glory of man? So they pass with some who judge by the sight of the eye; but at the best they are only the goodliness of grass; they are a flower which death will certainly cut down; or the end of time will change the countenance; either wrinkled age, or pale death. We should therefore make sure the beauty of grace, the hidden man of the heart, which neither age nor death will sully. Is wealth the glory of man? Laban's sons thought so when they said concerning Jacob. Of that which was our father's hath he gotten all this glory (Genesis 31:1). But this also is a fading flower, Is pomp and grandeur the glory of a man? That also withers away. Great names and titles of honour are written in the dust. Give me leave to show you some instances of the glory of a man.
(1) Is a large capacity of mind the glory of a man?
(2) Is learning to be reckoned the glory of a man?
(3) Is tenderness and humility, modesty and sweetness of temper, the glory of a man?
(4) Is the faithful discharge of the ministry of the gospel the glory of a man?
(5) Is great usefulness the glory of a man, and a delight in doing good? Well, here is the glory of man; let us be ambitious of this glory, and not of vain glory. See true honour in the paths of wisdom and virtue, and seek it there. This is honour that comes from God, and is in His sight of great price.
4. Having seen this flower flourishing, we are now to see it withering. As to himself, this glory is not lost, is not stained, by death; it is not like worldly honour, laid in the dust, and buried in the grave; no, this flower is transplanted from the garden on earth to the paradise in heaven, where it shall never fade. The works of good men follow them, but they forsake us, and we are deprived of the benefit of them.
II. Though man and glory are fading and withering, YET GOD AND HIS WORD ARE EVERLIVING AND EVERLASTING. The glory of the law was done away, but that of the gospel remains. The glory of ministers falls away, but not the glory of the Word they are ministers of. The prophets, indeed, do not live forever, but the words which God commanded them did, and will take hold, as words quick and powerful.
1. There is in the Word of the Lord an everlasting rule of faith and practice for us to be ruled by.
(1) It is our comfort that Christianity shall not die with our ministers, nor that light be buried in their graves.
(2) It is our duty not to let our Christianity die with our ministers, hut let the word of Christ contained in the Scriptures still dwell in us richly.
2. There is in the Word of the Lord an everlasting fountain of comfort and consolation for us to be refreshed and encouraged by, and to draw water from with joy, and an everlasting foundation on which to build our hopes.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: