Friday, 26 December 2008

Consider the birds of the air...

How's this for meditating on Christ in all of creation..

a couple of quotes from John Flavel - 1650s England


When I saw how hardly the poor bird was put to it to save herself from her enemy, who hovered just over the bush in which she was fluttering and squeaking, i could not but hasten to relieve her, pity and succour being a debt due to the distressed, which., when I had done, the bird would not depart from the bush, though her enemy was gone. This act of kindness was abundantly repaid by this meditation, with which I returned to my walk. My soul, like this bird, was once distressed, pursued, yea, seized by Satan, who had certainly made a prey of it, had not Jesus Christ been a sanctuary to it in'that hour of danger. How ready did I find him to receive my poor soul into his protection ! Then did he make good that sweet promise to my experience, :' Those that come unto me, I will in no wise cast out." It called to mind that pretty and pertinent story of the philosopher, who walking in the fields, a bird, pursued by a hawk, flew into his bosom ; he took her out and said, " Poor bird, I will neither wrong thee, nor expose thee to thine enemy, since thou eamest to me for refuge." So tender, and more than so, is the Lord Jesus to distressed souls that come unto him. Blessed Jesus ! how should I love and praise thee, glorify and admire thee, for that great salvation thou hast wrought for me ? If this bird had fallen into the claws of her enemy, she had been torn to pieces, indeed, and devoured, but then a few minutes had dispatched her, and ended all her pain and misery ; but had my soul f;illen into the hand of Satan, there had been no end to my misery.

Would not this scared bird be flushed out of the bush that secured her, though I had chased away her enemy ? And wilt thou, O my soul, ever be enticed or scared from Christ thy refuge ? O let this for ever engage thee to keep close to Christ, and make me say, with Ezra, "And now, O Lord, since thou hast given me such a deliverance as this, should I again break thy commandments!"


Methinks these birds do fitly resemble the gaudy courtiers, and the plain peasants ; how spruce and richly adorned with shining and various colored feathers (like scarlet richly laid with gold and silver lace) are those ? How plainly clad in a homespun country ruffet are these I Fine feathers, saith our proverb, make proud birds; and yet the feathers of the sparrow are as useful and beneficial, both for warmth and flight, though not so gay and ornamental, as the others : and if both were stript out of their feathers, the sparrow would prove the better bird of the two ; by which I see that the greatest worth doth not always lie under the finest clothes ; and besides, God can make mean and homely garments as useful and beneficial to poor and despised Christians, as the ruffling and shining garments of wanton gallants are to them; and when God shall strip men out of ill external excellencies, these will be found to excel their glittering neighbors in true worth and excellency.
Little would a man think such rich treasures of grace, wisdom, humility, &c. lay under some russet coats.

Sæpe sub attrita latitat sapientia veste. Under poor garments more true worth may be than under silks that whistle—who but he.

'Whilst, on the side, the heart of the wicked, as Solomon hath observed, is little worth, how much soever his clothes be worth. Alas ! it falls out too frequently among us, as it doth with men in the Indies, who walk over the rich veins of gold and silver ore, which lie hid under a ragged and barren surface and know it not. For my own part, I desire not to value any man by what is extrinsical and wordly, but by that true internal excellency of grace, which makes the face to shine in the eyes of God and good men : I would contemn a vile person, though never so glorious in the eye of the world, but honor such as fear the Lord, how sordid and despicable soever to appearance.

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