"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden."
—Gen. ii. 8.
"God Almightie," says Lord Bacon, "first Planted a Garden; and it is the Purest of Humane pleasures." I pray that in my heart and life God Almighty may find a garden of His own planting, where He can talk with me in the cool of the day.
" I doe hold it," the essayist writes, " there ought to be Gardens for all the Moneths of the yeare;" and he travels from December to December, describing the growths of each season, till I can almost see the colours and feel the fragrance. Let my winter of adversity grow submissiveness and patience and prayer ; my spring of promise abound in hope ; my summer of attainment show the blossoms of thanksgiving and humility ; my autumn of fruit be dedicated to God's glory and praise.
" Nothing is more fit than to know what be the Flowers and Plants that doe best perfume the Aire "—violets, for instance, and musk-roses, and sweet-brier, and wall-flower, and pinks, and the three which, being trodden on and crushed, yield their odours, "Burnet, Wilde-Time, and Water-Mints." I would acquire skill in the horticulture of the heart, by keeping company with my Master's friends, by reading much in His Book, by communing with Himself, and by kissing His chastening rod.
" The Garden is best to be Square, incompassed, on all the Foure Sides, with a Stately Arched Hedge." And I must reverence God's hedges : the restraints of His providence, the monitions of His Word, the bounds imposed by an enlightened conscience, the forbiddings of the Holy Ghost. I must have no wish for the profane territory outside.
" For Fountaines, they are a great Beauty and Refreshment." But the main matter is " so to Convey the Water as it never Stay, either in the Bowles or in the Cesterne ; " for then it will be discoloured, or will gather mossiness and putrefaction. And if the garden of the soul is to maintain beauty and fragrance, must not the waters of my spiritual life be constantly renewed ? must I not return daily to the Weil-Head from which the living streams flow ever forth ?
In his garden Lord Bacon would have a "Heath, framed, as much as may be, to a Natural Wildernesse," where the flowers, low and sweet and sightly, are not set in precise and regular array. And there should be no primness in the garden of a regenerated life. The divine Husbandman does not desire me to be a martinet, a precisian, a Pharisee. May the Lord the Spirit fill me to overflowing, that my goodness may be spontaneous, enthusiastic, exuberant, not to be fettered and checked.
So I, too, shall have a Ver Perpetuum. I, too, even " when the Wind blows Sharpe," shall walk in peace and pleasantness; and in the garden God will talk with me.