Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say to you…
I. Consider, HOW MIRACULOUSLY they grow. How wonderful, is it not? to meditate upon it a little; that wonderful process by which the hard, inorganic soil and rock are absorbed and assimilated, so that they become converted into organic forms; yet the germ was there, otherwise no organization could have been developed. Surely nowhere is God more visible, I say, than in the flower. If the spirit of adoration does not descend upon a man by a bed of flowers, or by a single flower, it will descend nowhere; Why, "Consider the lilies — how they grow." Is not this a miracle? Is not this a mystery? Consider who originated the beautiful type, and who perpetuates the beautiful race, and who adjusted the root to the soft and to the stem, and who broke open the seed, and bade the imprisoned spirit spring forth.
II. Consider, WITH WHAT BEAUTY AND LOVELINESS they grow. Children of fashion and vanity, "consider how they grow!" They do not seek to deck themselves with gay and gaudy attire from without all their adornment and ornament are from within; this is beauty, not of the silken robe, nor the cataract of the diamond; nor the sparkling jewel; this is beauty, and it resembles that " whose adornment is not of the plaiting of hair, nor the putting. on of apparel; but even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." That is how they grow; they show the obviousness of inner beauty; they have no fawning fashions; it is all very calm, and sweet, and quiet, and all from within; indeed, we know that all flowers are alike in this; the gaudy tulip and the flaunting hollyhock; their life, too, is from within; they all attract to themselves essences and helps from the whole earth; but they must be in harmony with the proper spirit of the plant. Pride assimilates to itself pride; and chastity, chastity. "Consider how they grow." "Yes, look to us," they seem to say, "we are as God clothed us; we are but grass of the field; but God clothed us; He gave us these white bridal vestments, and placed us in this conservatory of vivid green. You, children of men, run to and fro in search of the draperies you call your own; you heap adornment on adornment; until adornment becomes deformity; you are not clothed like the lily, and you never will be until your soul and your clothing shall have the same visible unity; a pure mind is seen even in the pattern and the fashion of its attire, and how can the lily-vestments suit you, whose souls are so soiled? But when you shall be pure within, then shall you be even as the angels, and then shall be given to you the garments pure and white, "which are the righteousness of the saints"; and then the Church, the "King's daughter, all glorious within," shall be like unto us; and the graces of the inner nature shall exhibit themselves in a life holy, harmless, and renewed.
III. Consider, BY WHAT IMPROBABLE AUXILIARIES they grow; by what a hidden life they grow. Is it not strange that such purity should spring from the black earth? — strange that such whiteness should shoot up from the soiled ground? It is a mighty miracle, and it is ever going on. Thus God is constantly transforming mineral darkness into floral light; thus He is constantly taking up the very miry clay itself, and moulding it and perfecting it into forms of beauty; and that which He is able to do in nature, shall I dare to think He cannot do in grace?
IV. Consider, HOW YIELDINGLY AND COMPLYINGLY they grow. "Blossoms," says Pliny, the Latin naturalist, "are the joy of trees"; and wherever these beautiful vegetative creatures are found, they seem to say to us poor care-worn creatures: "Yes, be joyful too. The darkness of thy lot is only the avenue through which thou art passing. God, who is good to the flower and to the blossom of the tree, will not forget thee."
V. Consider, TO WHAT DIVINE USES they grow. Legible lessons of Almighty wisdom, love, and power.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.