Psalm 104:24
This psalm has been called a poetic version of Genesis 1, "a panorama of the universe viewed by the eye of devotion." It is connected with Psalm 103., which reviews God's dealings in the realm of grace. That psalm comes first, because only through our personal knowledge of God do we gain the true understanding of the God of nature. From nature alone man gains ideas of power, and even of malice; so he makes many gods, and they are chiefly gods to fear. The good man, through his faith in God, finds good in seemingly evil things, and fears nothing. But this psalm represents the poet's observation of nature, not that of the scientific man. Sentiment, not minutely described fact, is befitting to a Psalmist. Science must always be for the few among us; pious-toned observation is for all of us. In this verse we have the impression produced by religious meditation, which dwells not on the things, but on God's relation to the things.

I. THE WISDOM OF GOD SEEN IN HIS WORKS. Marvellous is the development of a few laws, and the harmonious interaction of these laws; they work into each other so that the order of the universe is never really broken. Then every individual thing is adjusted to its mission and its sphere. There is a strange and wonderful power of repair and recovery everywhere. Things do not really fail or die; they do but pass from one form of service to another.

II. THE RIGHTS OF GOD RECOGNIZED IN ALL HIS WORKS. "Thy possessions." Then our so called "rights" are only "trusts." We have nothing. Possession belongs only to God. We are the children born of a Father who owns a large estate. We enjoy, we use, we serve our Father in the use. But we can never enter into any sort of separate and individual "possession" while our Father lives. Are we, then, sensitive as a pious poet is in the midst of mighty and beautiful nature? Are we only interested, in a scientific sort of way, in things? or do we know how to enter into the very heart of things, and let them do their true work - make God precious to us? - R.T.







O Lord, how manifold are Thy works.
I. THE DIVINE EXISTENCE SHOULD CONSTITUTE THE CENTRAL FACT IN ALL CONTEMPLATIONS OF THE UNIVERSE. This reflection serves —

1. To disprove the speculations of Pantheism.

2. To annihilate the materialistic theory. Materialism recognizes no mind in the universe.

3. To invest the universe with a mystic sanctity. It is His handiwork. The grand and the simple, the sublime and the beautiful, will awaken corresponding emotions in the heart of the true worshipper.

II. THE PRINCIPLE OF DEPENDENCE IS EVERYWHERE DEVELOPED IN THE UNIVERSE. "These wait all upon Thee." From this we infer —

1. That there exists an absolutely self-existent Power. We cannot comprehend the modus existendi, but there is the fact.

2. That each part of the universe has its own mission. God made nothing in vain.

3. That profound humility becomes every intelligent agent. "What hast thou that thou hast not received?"

III. AN INTELLIGENT CONTEMPLATION OF THE UNIVERSE IS CALCULATED TO INCREASE MAN'S HATRED OF SIN. "Let the sinners be consumed," etc.

1. Because sin mars the harmony of law. Unity is broken.

2. Because God, in having made so wondrous a universe, has proved Himself too good a Being to be disobeyed. Sin is not only a violation of law, but an insult to Goodness. What is the voice of this psalm to my heart?(1) God must occupy the supreme place in thought.(2) That I sustain intimate relationships to God. There is one relationship I must sustain; that of a dependant. But mere animals do so. The worm beneath my foot is a dependant. Am I not a son?(3) This beneficent Creator has also revealed Himself as man's Saviour. Do I love the Saviour?(4) The extinction of sin should form a prominent object in the life of the good. The greatest benefactor is he who does most to purify spiritual life, by the means which the Lord Jesus has appointed.

(J. Parker, D.D.)

I. AS THE PLATFORM OR THEATRE FOR THE DISPLAY OF THE DIVINE GLORY. It is evident that God Himself so designed it see how the account of creation closes (Genesis 1:31). But good for what? Why, good for the display of His own glory; good for the making His name illustrious to the highest orders of created intelligence; good for the satisfying of those beneficent and joy-diffusing agencies which seem to be the very necessity of the Divine nature. We cannot conceive of God but as an energy, nor yet of His operations but as directed to one end, and that end must be the one by which His own glory is illustrated, by which He will attract to Himself the homage of every responsible spirit, by which angels, and principalities, and thrones, and powers shall both partake of His happiness, and as they stand within the circling radiance of the everlasting throne, exclaim (Revelation 15:3).

II. THROUGHOUT CREATION GOD HAS PRESERVED A CLEAR AND LEGIBLE INSCRIPTION TO HIS ETERNAL POWER AND GODHEAD. The Almighty foresaw that His Word would not have free course in the earth — some would hide it under a bushel, some would overlay it with human traditions, some would confine it to their own shores. And since its diffusion was to rest upon these human agencies, more than half the population of the globe would for centuries walk on still in darkness, and man's faithlessness and neglect might seem to put a stop to the work of God. Still, not utterly was it thus (Acts 14:17). The world is so constructed that it must be accepted as the product of supreme and all-directing intelligence. The ear of the untutored savage, as he is startled by the roaring thunder, fails not to recognize an emblem of the mighty power of God; the thoughtless mariner, as he plies his business on the great waters, sees a Providence in his safety, and the presence of God in the storm. Observe, too, that it is a first instinct with us to connect God and goodness. The mind's normal type of the ruling Divinity is beneficence. Evil, of whatever kind, is always an extraneous accident, its origin unsearchable, its agents unknown, its toleration the problem of all time; but, certainly, is not God, nor yet of God.

III. Our admiration of this created system was to be called forth by the contemplation of MAN HIMSELF, WITH ALL THE ABOUNDING PROVISIONS MADE FOR HIS COMFORT AND HAPPINESS. The earth is full of provisions for man's material comforts. If our world were made for angels to admire, it seems also to have been made for men to enjoy. Man found himself placed, as it were, on the throne of this lower world. Every element in nature ministered to his wants; every department of creation was commanded to do him service. He could not touch or look upon a single object around him, of which the design was not to minister to his happiness, — to refresh the body with food, to regale the sense with beauty, to fill the mind with pure imaginings, to draw forth from the heart the same daily song of praise, "O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all." "All," — without execptions; — and yet one work is there in which, more than all this wisdom of the great Creator has ever been conspicuous. And that work is man, in his creation, preservation, moral history, mighty endowments, in his lifting up from the lowest abyss of being, and in his designation to endless life. Mystery of mysteries is he in his creation. Contemplate him as a thing of reason and intelligence — a being that can reflect upon himself and his actions, — and to what a pitch of elevation have you raised him above the manifold works of God. Or contemplate him, again, in his moral relations; in his participation of the Divine nature; in his possession of that, which, by its resemblance to God, and by its community of mental character, connects him with an Infinite Mind; qualifies him to become an object of the Divine regard; fits him to discourse and hold thoughts with God.

(D. Moore, M.A.)

It is our privilege and duty to meditate upon the works of God.

1. Our privilege: as we alone of all the mundane creation are able to do this. To us alone the universe as such exists. God who makes everything beautiful in its season, takes pleasure in His works, and in that pleasure we may suppose the angels join. And we are also permitted to join, if we will, and thus become sharers with the angels in the Divine happiness.

2. Our duty: for the possession of the power carries with it responsibility for its exercise: we who are men ought not to be thoughtless as the brutes.(1) It is a duty which we owe to ourselves, for though it will not feed the body, it stimulates and feeds our higher nature.(2) It is a duty which we owe to God; he who slights the works, slights the Worker. In meditating upon the works of God, notice —

I. HOW MANIFOLD THEY ARE, even if like the psalmist we keep to man's world.

1. The earth itself, with its mighty mountain ranges and ocean depths, its lakes and rivers, its ancient garment of rock strata, rent and folded, worn and renewed, recording in its present condition the history of its experiences in ages past, its rich stores of metals and minerals, furnishes a theme for lifelong meditation.

2. How pleasing and varied are the forms of vegetable life which adorn its surface from the humble lichen which discolours yet adorns the face of the rock to the lofty fir tree which overhangs it.

3. How infinitely manifold are the manifestations of animal life from the mere dot of living albumen to the specialist in biology who is investigating its chemical and vital characteristics!

4. If with the telescope we search the heavens, or with the microscope pry into the marvels of minute structures, we shall find further illustrations of the wonderful unity joined with endless diversity manifested in the works of God.

II. THE WISDOM MANIFESTED IN THEM ALL.

1. This wisdom is apparent not only in the contrivance, formation, and management of the whole, but in the adaptation of each to its element and to its place in the scale of being. The fish is perfectly adapted for the water, and the swallow for the air. The marvellous instincts of the bee and ant are out of all proportion to the development of their nervous system, but are essential to them in the struggle for existence. The strength of the horse makes him a useful servant to us, but if he excelled us as much in intellect as he does in strength, he would be our servant no longer!

2. This wisdom is further manifest in the perfection of workmanship, finish and colouring even in the most minute of the works of God. The microscope shows that the wing of the moth is as perfectly feathered as that of the bird, that the joints of an insect's limbs are as perfect as those of the horse, that the sting of the bee is pointed with a smoothness impossible to the art of man.

III. THEY ARE ALL THE WORKS OF GOD. "My Father made them all." Cowper well says, "Nature is but the name for an effect whose cause is God." If the scientific theory of evolution were proved completely true, which at present it is very far from being, it would only unveil to us the process by which in the ages of the past our Father wrought so as by degrees to bring about the present condition of things; and the power possessed by many creatures to adapt themselves within certain limits to changes in their surroundings, only places in clearer light the wisdom of God in imparting to those creatures a power without which they must soon fall out of the ranks of the living. It was our Father's mind that planned, and His the hand that wrought. Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of His glory.

IV. THEY ALL BELONG, TO HIM. "The earth is full of Thy riches." Divine ownership is not like human, acquired by inheritance, conquest, or purchase. It is original and essential, grounded upon the absolute dependence of all things upon the great First Cause. Without Him there had been no universe, and without His continued support and providential care all things would sink into their primitive nothingness. His ownership is absolute and eternal grounded in the nature of things, they must ever be dependent. He must ever be the Fountain of good to all His works.

(C. O. Eldridge, B.A.)

This psalm has well been called "the Hymn of Creation." It is, indeed, an anthem of praise inspired by Genesis 1; for the writer, whoever he was, must have had that birth of the history of the world before him, and he follows it throughout. It suggests to him his adoring thoughts of the wisdom, the majesty, the beneficence of God. This is his chief conviction, his overwhelming impression, that justifies his song of praise to God. In the succession of the seasons, in the springs that rise in the hills and course through the valleys, in the showers that make the grass to grow for the cattle and herb for the service of man, even in the fierce instincts and the struggle of the weaker creatures who roar after their prey and seek their meat from God, in the teeming life of the great deep, in the sails that stud its bosom, in the whole order of man's existence, in his daily round of labour, even in the mysterious successions of life, in the periodical convulsions which sweep the earth and prepare it for other tenants, the psalmist sees the work of one and the same mind bestowing or revoking at will the wondrous gift of Being. And not only is the world, in the psalmist's eyes, the handiwork of a Divine Creator, but of a Creator who never ceases to work. He who made, renews the face of the earth, in Him we live, and move, and have our being. He not only has given, but He never ceases to give. From day to day, from hour to hour, He presides over all existence. He giveth to all life and breath and all things. Now, there are two opposite extremes into which our conceptions on this point may fall. We may merge God in nature, or we may isolate nature from God. I say, first of all, we may merge God in nature. And this is what a great many people continually do. They personify nature, they speak of it as if it originated its own processes, as if it aimed at certain things, as if it were conscious of its own plan. Nature, men say, does this or does that. It is not wise to allow ourselves to drop into this current laxity of language. It may easily lead us astray, and vitiate our own belief, and from a poetical personification it is easy to go on to a virtual deification of the physical universe. One corrective lies in this spiritual idea of creation as an act of will on the part of One who is outside all material being. Philosophy traces all phenomena to the action of a living will. By no mental effort can we conceive it otherwise. The attributes and personality of the Person whose will has determined that nature should be what it is demand that He must be a Person who is not Himself included in His work; He must be outside of, and above, His own creation. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." On the other hand, we may fall into the error of isolating the workmanship from the worker, of looking at nature apart from God. This is what men do when they conceive of the universe and treat it as though it taught us nothing of God, as though it were a succession of changes without meaning, or a machine supplied with a certain storage of force to keep it going, or as if it had no spiritual purpose, no one far off end towards which it was always moving, and separate the Worker from the work. But this confusion is hardly scientific, and it is most certainly irreligious. "The heavens declare," not only perfect processes of mechanism, but "the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork." We know that the word of a person has two functions. It is the organ of command conveying an act of will; it is also an organ of expression, it reveals the nature of the speaker. Now, in the creation of the universe the Word of the Lord exercises both these functions. It is absolutely inconceivable to our faculties, this genesis of matter without a Divine act of creation. Yet in this account of it there is that which accords with the experience of our own human consciousness. For I know that within the little spheres in which I too am an originator, a sort of creator, it is in my will that the primary force resides. And so that sublime succession of edicts, "Let there be light," "Let the earth bring forth," etc. And, on the other hand, the word of a speaker, while it utters his will, must at the same time reveal his mind, it must reflect more or less consciously his inner self, his real nature. Words are the medium through which we convey to another our feelings and our thoughts, and the Word of God must be a manifestation of His nature. If He breaks silence it is to make Himself known; He cannot speak without unveiling what He is, He cannot speak but truth and beauty and goodness must be expressed. But now this revelation of God through the things that are made, great and glorious as it is, does not suffice to accomplish the grand purpose towards man — man the crowning work of His hands, the being whom He has endowed with that sublime mysterious faculty of knowing and loving and imitating Him. It is not enough to draw man into communion with Him. And this is what God seeks. He can be satisfied with nothing less. Over and above the great advertisement of deity in nature, a moral revelation was required, and a moral revelation has been given. And it is of surpassing interest to note how, up to a certain point, the new revelation proceeds upon the lines of the old. First of all, that absolute unity of plan of which science is continually perfecting the demonstration — a unity which is now known to extend as far as the planets in their spheres — bears witness that the Creator is one. More and more clearly we are learning to read the action of one and the same mind through the whole range of created things. Is not this truth in complete accordance with the voice of Scripture? The Bible proceeds from its first utterance to its last on the unity of God. Again, throughout all nature, we find a will at work whose method is to bind itself by an orderly plan of fixed law. Now, what is the revelation of the Divine will in the Bible? It is the revelation of a law and its chief end is the redemption of moral anarchy and deviation from moral order. In the God of the Decalogue, in the God of the Sermon on the Mount, we recognize the God of law intolerant of all that is arbitrary, eccentric, lawless, the God of system and obedience. And, once more, we are daily learning how patiently, and through what a long process the physical universe has been built up, as though to this eternal work a thousand years were not of any more account than a single day so long as the results are achieved by method and evolution rather than by sudden shocks and intervention. Look at the structure of our own dwelling-place. Sir Charles Lyell has even estimated the time at two hundred millions of years. The mind faints in the effort to take in these stupendous figures. But do we not find that He works in the realm of grace as in the realm of nature with equal tenacity and patience? Through long millenniums He has kept in hand the same task. He has carried on His moral creation. The education of the race has been spread over ages. By divers manners God has imparted to man the knowledge of His will, and shown him his own destiny as the heir of immortality. And yet, again, the God of nature vindicates the sacredness of the physical law by penalty for transgression of it on the part of a sentient creature. God does not interpose in nature between the cause and its consequence, and the Bible pictures God to us as equally intolerant of any breach of His moral order. He cannot connive at disobedience. "He will by no means clear the guilty." "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." "He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done, and there is no respect of persons." Thus far it may be said that the two revelations walk abreast and proclaim one and the same message. But, thanks be to God, the second revelation goes on while the first stops. God commendeth His love to us His erring, rebellious, fallen creatures, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us; when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son. In this marvellous revelation of redeeming love we clearly mount a great step above nature, we are lifted to a new and loftier plane of thought, we are passed behind the veil, we enter the inner circumference of the Divine nature. Nature does indeed declare the glory of God. But here is the more excellent glory, here the display of a higher tribute than nature can interpret. What tidings so joyful as that of the new creation, the new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness?

(Canon Duckworth.)

When we read such psalms as this, we connot help seeing a great difference between them and any hymns or religious poetry which are commonly written or read in these days. The hymns which are most liked now, and the psalms which people most willingly choose out of the Bible, are those which speak, or seem to speak, about God's dealings with people's own souls, while such psalms as this are overlooked. David looked on the earth as God's earth; we look on it as man's earth, or nobody's earth. We know that we are here, with trees and grass, and beasts and birds, round us. And we know that we did not put them here; and that, after we are dead and gone, they will go on just as they went on before we were born, — each tree, and flower, and animal, after its kind: but we know nothing more. The earth is here, and we on it; but who put it there, and why it is there, and why we are on it, instead of being anywhere else, few ever think. But to David the earth looked very different; it had quite another meaning; it spoke to him of God who made it. By seeing what this earth is like, he saw what God who made it is like: and we see no such thing. The earth? — we can eat the corn and cattle on it, we can earn money by farming it, and ploughing and digging it; and that is all most men know about it. But David knew something more — something which made him feel himself very weak, and yet very safe; very ignorant and stupid, and yet honoured with glorious knowledge from God, — something which made him feel that he belonged to this world, and must not forget it or neglect it; namely, that this earth was his lesson-book — this earth was his work-field; and yet those same thoughts which showed him how he was made for the land round him, and the land round him was made for him, showed him also that he belonged to another world — a spirit-world; showed him that when this world passed away, he should live for ever; showed him that though his home and business were here on earth, yet that, for that very reason, his home and business were in heaven, with God who made the earth, with that blessed One of whom he said, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth," etc. Think, when you are at your work, how all things may put you in mind of God, if you do but choose. The trees which shelter you from the wind, God planted them there for your sakes, in His love. The birds which you drive off the corn — who gave them the sense to keep together and profit by each other's wit and keen eyesight? Who but God, who feeds the young birds when they call on Him? The sheep whom you follow — who ordered the warm wool to grow on them, from which your clothes are made? Who but the Spirit of God above, who clothes the grass of the field, and the silly sheep, and who clothes you, too, and thinks of you when you do not think of yourselves? The feeble lambs in spring, they ought to remind you surely of the Lamb of God, who died for you upon the cruel cross, who was led as a lamb to the slaughter; and like a sheep that lies dumb and patient under the shearer's hand, so He opened not His mouth. Oh, that I could make you see God in everything, and everything in God.

(C. Kingsley, M.A.)

In wisdom hast Thou made them all
(with Isaiah 6:3): — Every mental quality is subordinate and inferior to wisdom, in the same sense as the mason who lays the bricks and stones in a building is inferior to the architect who drew the plan and superintends the work. Wisdom should determine when we are to act and when to cease; when to disclose a matter and when to hide it; when to give and when to receive; and to provide the means to be pursued in every deliberate course of action. The wisdom which essentially and necessarily belongs to an eternal and self-existent Being, differs as to its character and extent from what He gives to man. The essential differences are as to extent, certitude, and the Divine power associated with them in the eternal God. We can perceive, both by our organs of vision and by our minds, what we specially turn our attention to; but God is everywhere, sees and knows all things everywhere, every atom of matter, every movement of mind, and hence of His knowledge and wisdom we say they are infinite, and without limit. Man has the power of reasoning upon means to an end; the reasoning may be wise or foolish; and he has the power of aiming at an end by the means he can command; but he has neither sufficient wisdom nor power to command the end he desires. The absolute and perfect knowledge of God, of all causes, and of all effects, is necessarily associated with His wisdom and power in creation, and development of all His wonderful works. To arrange and fit together the many parts of a vast and comprehensive design, so that they shall accomplish the contemplated end, is an operation demanding much wisdom; and when we apply this remark to the wide range of all God's works, comprehended by us under the term Universe, surely, if anywhere we can find proofs of perfect, of infinite wisdom, it must be here. The infinite mind knows how to combine perfect wisdom with intricacy of execution, while the marvellous range of objects in the seas, on the dry land, in the stellar system, the ruling of the day by the sun, and of the night by the moon, exhibit to man what is nothing less than wisdom without limit. I take but one illustration, and it is of a practical character, and intimately connected with our comfort at this season of cold and rain. Our means of warmth, our coal: we throw it on the fire and burn it, but bow little de we think of it! It is the produce of the destruction of plants preserved from former worlds long anterior to the existence of man. It is the result of mortality. Primarily it is the product of a fecundity exceeding all the other uses which animals could have derived from it; and, we may safely infer, directed to the end for which it is now employed. Peat and coal are the most striking cases, independently of food, for our uses derived from the fecundity and mortality of plants. Even the globe itself, with others that in the progress of ages may succeed it, has been ordained to depend in part in its very structure and materials on the succession and destruction of animal and vegetable lives, as its surface has been committed to the labour of man, chiefly for its modification and improvement. The beauty and glory of man, of woman, and their marvellous adaptation for the happiness of one another, when their moral natures are educated and controlled, and their daily will is to promote each other's happiness, is worthy of the infinite wisdom of God; thus blessing one of the races of His creatures with a happiness which to a large extent He has put within their own power. Of the holiness of God who can speak with sufficient diffidence and reverence? we learn nothing of it from His works. It has been a necessary conclusion in the minds even of Pagans, that an intelligent Creator must be good, pure, and holy. The Scriptures everywhere proclaim it. It is to us a consolatory thought that the God we worship is holy, just, merciful, of longsuffering and compassion, and full of pity and love to the children of men.

(R. Ainslie.)

I. THE PRODUCTION AND PRESERVATION OF LIFE. Wherever there is a proper receptacle or habitation, there we find suitable inhabitants; and in many states and conditions, in which we should think it impossible for living creatures to subsist, did we not find them actually subsisting. These all draw their support from the world around them, fill up their place and time, till others succeed in their room.

II. THE PLEASURE AND FELICITY OF HIS CREATURES IN THE ENJOYMENT OF THAT LIFE. Even the lowest creatures have their enjoyments, and show more symptoms of ease and delight, than of pain and trouble.

III. THE ACQUISITION OF KNOWLEDGE.

IV. THE ATTAINMENT OF VIRTUE AND RELIGION.

(S. Bourn.)

The ordinary daisy of the field is not the simple thing it at first appears. Seen under a powerful microscope it is really a small bouquet of flowers, each petal being a separate bloom, whilst the yellow eye is another posy massed together in the centre. God has touched with His own perfect skill and finish this homely blossom.

(H. O. Mackey.)

Think of a wisdom that was able to form, without any suggestion or any model to work by, the eye, the ear, the hand, the foot, the vocal organs. No wonder that Galen, the most celebrated of medical authors among the ancients, fell on his knees at the overwhelming wisdom of God in the constitution of the human frame. Our libraries are filled with the wisdom of the great thinkers of all time. Have you considered the far superior wisdom which fashioned the brain for all those thoughts, of the Infinite Mind that built those intellects? But it is only the millionth part of that wisdom that has come to mortal appreciation. Close next to every discovery is a wonder that has not been discovered. We see only one specimen among ten thousand specimens. What we know is overwhelmed by what we do not know. What the botanist knows about the flower is not more wonderful than the things he does not know about the flower. What the geologist knows about the rocks is not more amazing than the things which he does not know about them. The worlds that have been counted are only a small regiment of the armies of light, the Hosts of Heaven, which have never passed in review before mortal vision.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

The works of God everywhere show perfect wisdom in their Author. Take the air for example. If this were a few miles less in height than it is, men would soon be suffocated; if it were a few miles more, it would be unendurably hot wherever the sun's rays penetrated. Take land and water for another example. If the land were harder or softer than it is, it could not be cultivated; if softer, nothing could be made firm on the surface. If the water of the sea were heavier, the fishes would rise to the surface, and could not swim; if it were lighter, the fish would sink to the bottom, and die. Another example is the proportionate size and weight of man and the globe. If a man were conveyed to the moon, he would weigh five times less than on the earth: he might bound up like a grasshopper, and would be easily upset. If the earth were as large as Jupiter, and otherwise as now, our weight would be increased eleven times, and none of us could walk or stand upright.

(L. Gaussen.)

The earth is full of Thy riches
Homiletic Review.
The earth is God's treasure-house assigned supply the temporal needs of man.

1. This treasure-house is full. God is not stingy in the bestowment of His gifts. His supplies are immeasurably greater than the necessities of the human population can possibly require.

2. This treasure-house is filled with varied gifts. There is something to gratify every taste and meet every want. They stream from the heavens, flow in the atmosphere, abound in the land, burrow in the mountains, sparkle in the river. These gifts show the versatility of God's power and the wisdom of God's mind.

3. These riches are all God's property. Man is only the beneficiary, the recipient, the steward. All God's riches, of which the earth is full, should be used only as God designed they should. All abuse and waste of these riches by man is a spoiling and robbing of God. God will one day say to all guilty of malfeasance, "Give an account of thy stewardship."

(Homiletic Review.)

To those who have eyes to see, the works of God are instinct with delicate and intensest beauty, and the subtlest blasphemy against high Heaven is that which speaks of God's world as "a waste howling wilderness." Whether it be in the infinitely great or the infinitely little, this is one of the outstanding characteristics of nature, this the one thing that puts an arrest upon human thought and challenges human admiration. Before the gorgeous splendour of midnight stars, and the fastidious delicacy of a pencilled butterfly's wing, before the majesty of a planet's orbit and the graceful curve of a sea-gull's flight, before the infinite grandeur of tumultuous waters and the rare grace of a sensitive flower, the mind of man, with a stoop which is uplifting, bows as in the presence of beauty, whose face is unveiled and whose glory is discovered. That is the one arrestive splendour, that the continually insistent note. And our conception of this beauty is enhanced and its profound suggestiveness increased by a consideration of its manifoldness, the almost bewildering variety of its fascinating forms. Nowhere in the wide realm of beauty is this infinite variety more obvious, more pleasing, more full of subtle power than among the flowers. There is a beauty in the pomp of crowded rose-bush, as well as in the snowdrop, the first frail prophecy of coming spring. Sweet violets, fit symbols of virtues that are not noisy and aggressive, touch our hearts with the same power as the opulent wealth of the "laburnum's dropping gold." Delicate daffodils, bending like sweet nuns in breathless adoration, hold our hearts with the same magic strength as stately lilies robed in a glory which surpasses that of kings. Beauty is everywhere, but it is beauty wrought into infinite diversity of lovely forms, and by its very manifoldness widening and deepening its appeal, giving to its voice a deeper note, and to its splendour a more ravishing charm. And this great fact not only holds rare suggestions for character, but is full of vast implications — it is instinct with noble teachings for life. In the world of soul God is not a God of uniformity. Each man has his own temperament and tastes and dispositions, each has had his own cross and temptation and conflict, each has his own grace and combination of graces, and every true man is himself, and no other. In all that there is a profound suggestion of individuality. Every good man, by the tender grace of God, is to develop his life into the beauty of Jesus, according to its kind. Let not the violet quarrel with the rose, nor the rich peony mock the whiteness of the narcissus: each has its own grace, its own power, and its own appeal.

(G. B. Austin.)

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