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The Gardener And the Rose-Tree by Samuel Pearce

The apostle John was known both as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and the “apostle of love” for the emphasis on Christian love that he placed in his writings. For these same reasons, Samuel Pearce (1766–1799), an 18th-century English Baptist pastor in Birmingham, was often compared by his friends to the apostle John, being known both for his love and for being loved by Christ. According to Andrew Fuller (1754–1815):

The governing principle in Mr. Pearce, beyond all doubt, was holy love… His religion was that of the heart… Almost everything he saw, or heard, or read, or studied, was converted to the feeding of this divine flame. [1]

Pearce was a man of holy love from the heart. Every moment of his life was seen as an opportunity to serve the risen Christ, and to point his fellow sinners to trust in and savour him. One way this holy love was displayed was in his tender pastoral care towards those God placed in his life. His care for the flock was an overflow of his love for Christ.

The following poem, “The Gardener and Rose Tree,” was written by Pearce to one of his hurting friends who had experienced the devastating death of her beloved child. If you have experienced the loss of a child, I hope Pearce’s words to his bereaved friend might bring you strength, encouragement, and hope in the True Gardener to which this poem points, and turns your sorrow, in due time, into a means of deeper devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. May every pastor seek to embody the intentional, holy, and tender pastoral care that Samuel Pearce so well displayed.


Affectionately addressed to Mrs. J. H, on the death of her child, by her truly sympathizing friend, S. P. March 12, 1798.


In a sweet spot which wisdom chose,

Grew a unique and lovely Rose;

A flow’r so fair was seldom borne—

A Rose almost without a thorn.

Each passing stranger stopp’d to view,

A plant possessing charms so new,


“Sweet Flow’r!” each lip, was heard to say—

Nor less the Owner pleas’d than they:

Rear’d by his hand with constant care,

And planted in his choice parterre,

Of all his garden this the pride,

No flow’r so much admir’d beside.


Nor did the Rose unconscious bloom,

Nor feel ungrateful for the boon;

Oft as her Guardian came that way,

Whether at dawn or eve of day,

Expanded wide—her form unyeil’d,

She double fragrance then exhal’d.


As months roll’d on, the spring appear’d,

Its genial rays the Rose matur’d;

Forth from its root a shoot extends

The parent Rose-tree downward bends,

And with a joy unknown before,

Contemplates the yet embryo flow’r.


“Offspring most dear,” she fondly said,

“Part of myself! beneath my shade

Safe shalt thou rise, whilst happy I,

Transported with maternal joy,

Shall see thy little buds appear,

Unfold, and bloom in beauty here.

What though the Lily or Jonquil,

Or Hyacinth no longer fill

The space around me—all shall be

Abundantly made up in thee.


What though my present charms decay,

And passing strangers no more say

Of me, “Sweet flow’r!” Yet thou shalt raise

Thy blooming head and gain the praise;

And this reverberated pleasure,

Shall be to me a world of treasure;

Cheerful I part with former merit,

That it my darling may inherit.

Haste then the hours which bid thee bloom,

And fill the zephyrs with perfume!”


Thus had the Rose-tree scarcely spoken,

Ere the sweet cup of bliss was broken.

The Gard’ner came, and with one stroke

He from the root the offspring took;

Took from the soil wherein it grew,

And hid It from the parent’s view.


Judge ye who know a mother’s cares

For the dear tender babe she bears,

The parent’s anguish, ye alone

Such sad vicissitudes have known.


Deep was the wound, nor slight the pain,

Which made the Rose-tree thus complain:


Dear little darling! art thou gone,

Thy charms scarce to thy mother known!

Remov’d so soon! So suddenly

Snatch’d from my fond maternal eye!

What hast thou done I dear offspring! say,

So early to be snatch’d away!

What, gone forever! seen no more!

Forever I thy loss deplore!


Ye dews descend, with tears supply

My now forever tearful eye;

Or, rather, come some northern blast,

Dislodge my yielding roots in haste.

Whirlwinds arise, my branches tear,

And to some distant region bear,

Far from this spot, a wretched mother,

Whose fruit and joys are gone together!”


As thus the anguish’d Rose-tree cry’d,

Her Owner near her she espy’d;

Who, in these gentle terms reprov’d

A plant, though mur’’ring, still belov’d:


Cease, beauteous flow’r, these useless cries,

And let my lessons make thee wise.

Art thou not mine? Did not my hand

Transplant thee from the barren sand,

Where once, a mean, unsightly plant,

Exposed to injury and want,

Unknown and unadrair’d, I found

And brought thee to this fertile ground;

With studious art improv’d thy form,

Secur’d thee from th’ inclement storm,

And through the seasons of the year,

Made thee my unabating care?

Hast thou not blest thy happy lot,

In such an Owner—such a spot?

But now, because thy shoot I’ve taken,

Thy best of friends must be forsaken!

Know, flow’r belov’d, e’en this affliction,

Shall prove to thee a benediction;

Had I not the young plant remov’d,

So fondly by thy heart belov’d,

Of me thy heart would scarce have thought,

With gratitude no more be fraught:

Yea, thy own beauty be at stake,

Surrender’d for thy offspring’s sake.

Nor think that, hidden from thine eyes,

The infant plant neglected lies;

No, I’ve another garden, where In richer soil and purer air

It’s now transplanted, there to shine

In beauties fairer far than thine.


Nor shalt thou always be apart

From the dear darling of thy heart;

For ‘tis my purpose thee to bear

In future time, and plant thee there,

Where thy now absent off-set grows,

And blossoms a celestial Rose.


“Be patient then, till that set hour shall come

When thou and thine shall in new beauties bloom:

No more its absence shalt thou then deplore,

Together grow, and ne’er be parted more.”


These words to silence hush’d the plaintive Rose,

With deeper blushes redd’ning now she glows,

Submissive bows her unrepining head,

Again her wonted, grateful fragrance shed:

Cry’d, “Thou hast taken only what’s thy own,

Therefore thy will, my Lord, not mine, be done.”


[1] Andrew Fuller, The Life of Samuel Pearce (Peterborough: H&E Publishing, 2019), 144.