May 18—Morning Devotion
“The flower of the field.”—Psalm 103:15
Do I not behold Jesus here pre-eminently set forth above his fellows? Yes, dear Lord, thy people, planted by thy hand, do indeed flourish as a flower of the field; but never any like thee. Indeed all their loveliness, fragrancy, value, all are only so, as derived from thee. Never did God our Father plant so lovely a flower, so sweet, so fragrant a flower in the field of his garden, in the heavenly paradise, or the earthly Eden, as when he planted thee. Sweet plant of renown! aid my meditations this morning to contemplate thee under this interesting view, as the flower of the field. And first, let me behold thee as truly the flower of the field, because thou art altogether of God’s right hand planting, and not of man’s. The flower of the field hath no father but God, and no mother but the virgin earth. Precious Jesus! thou wert conceived in thy human nature wholly by the overshadowing of God the Spirit, when thou condescendest, for our salvation, to be born of the virgin’s womb. And let me look at thee, Oh Lord, under another beautiful illustration of thy nature, as the flower of the field, when I consider the humbleness and lowliness in which thou didst appear. Was there ever a sweet flower of the field more hid, more obscured, and when brought forward to view, less regarded, than Jesus, of whom it was truly said, “He was despised and rejected of men; without form or comeliness, and having no beauty that we should desire him?” And is there not another thought which ariseth to the mind in the contemplation of Jesus as the flower of the field? Yes, methinks I behold in the exposure of the flower of the field to the merciless treading of the foot of the passenger, and to the plucking up or destroying by wild beasts, a striking representation of Jesus, who, in the days of his flesh, was encompassed by beasts of prey, and trodden down of men. Alas, how many even now in the present hour despise thy person, live regardless of thy righteousness, have trodden under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing. But, precious Jesus! give me to behold thee as the sweet flower of the field, open to the view of every traveller, and shedding the richness of thy fragrancy, under all the influences of thy Spirit, both in the north wind, and the south wind of thy power. Ye travellers to Zion, come, see this lovely flower in the open field of his word, his church, his ordinances. Behold the freeness of his bloom, his beauty, and odour. He sheds his influences, not in a garden enclosed that ye cannot approach, but in the open field. Here he stands, as the plant of renown, which God hath raised up. Oh come to him as the balm of Gilead, and the Physician there, that the hurt of the daughter of his people may be healed.
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."