Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.
want to find God, and his search will be fully responded to. God is revealed, God reveals himself, to moral moods, and not to mere intellectual research. Souls find God, not eyes or minds.
I. GOD'S WORKS ARE BEYOND THE REACH OF WISE INTELLECTS. Men by their science can find out things, and account for the forms of things. But they cannot explain the meanings of things, or the relations of things. Nothing in the world is more uncertain and untrustworthy than wise men's theorizings. The most humiliating book could be written on the 'History of Exploded and Worn-out Theories.' Illustrate by referring to "certain cruel and loathsome practices of the animal world - as, for example, those of apes, dogs, frogs, the barbarity of the cat to the mouse, the thefts of the eagle from the fish-hawk, the rapture of nests by stronger birds who turn out their original tenants to die of cold and slow starvation, the enslaving of the black ants by the red, and sundry other habits which shock our sense of justice or of decency." The intellect of man, without guidance from the sense of God, has never found the meaning of such things. The key to them is hid from the wise, who in fact blind themselves by refusing to carry to the consideration of such things those truths concerning God which are "spiritually discerned." Nature in only an open secret to the God-fearing man.
II. GOD'S WORKS ARE WITHIN THE REACH OF LOVING HEARTS. These only are prepared to think kind things, loving things, trustful things. When we have right apprehensions of the infinitely wise and gracious Doer, such apprehensions as enable us to set our love upon him, we simply refuse to accept explanations of nature-mysteries that are dishonorable to him. They cannot be true. We pass them by. There is something better to be "sought out." Our good will toward God will keep us from resting content with anything that is unworthy of him; and we search on, assured that mystery will yield at last to love. - R.T.
1. Consider —(1) The variety and multiplicity of the objects that constitute theearth and the creatures that dwell on it. How varied is the form of its surface! What an alternation of enormous ridges with summits of different heights, of hills and plains, of spacious, open fields, and of impassable, impenetrable forests, of continents and seas, rivers and lakes! What diversity and what riches in various kinds of precious gems, stones, ores, minerals, lie concealed in its bowels! What a world of wonders is enclosed in its fathomless abysses!(2) Their beauty — no less great and admirable than their variety; consider the outline, the form, the hues, the infinitely blending shades of colours, the delicate texture, the artificial structure, the arrangement and composition of the several parts of every herb, every flower, every leaf, every tree, every plant, every greater and smaller, visible, and invisible, animal.(3) The accurate and admirable connection that subsists between the several parts and creatures of the earth, causing them all to promote one grand design, the greatest possible welfare of the living.(4) The gradual progress of all things to higher perfection. See how the plant, the tree expands, grows, flourishes, arrives at maturity, bears fruit, propagates and multiplies, from a seed so small as to be indiscernible to thy naked eye; how the crawling maggot rises into a butterfly; how every animal gradually acquires and communicates to others his agility, his powers, his habitudes; how the infant grows into the stripling, the youth into the man, and the man into the citizen of another world.(5) The magnitude and inexhaustibility of the energies which animate and actuate all nature; those energies which operate so uniformly and silently, and yet so powerfully and irresistibly in all and through all; those energies which are in perpetual exertion through all successive evolutions, renovations, transformations of the whole innumerable host of creatures, and through all their efforts and effects, and in such various methods; those energies which, from what appears to be confusion and strife, produce the fairest harmony — from what we term death and destruction, incessant life and action.
I. IN NATURE. Every clod of earth teems with animation; every drop of water swarms with animalculae. Surely curiosity might induce us to seek out the works of God even if we had no other motive than mere inquisitiveness and curiosity. But we cannot examine these things as we ought without feelings of lively gratitude, that through the life-giving power of Jehovah everything ministers either to the necessities or to the convenience of man. But there is a still more familiar manifestation of the works of God which we should meditate upon. I wish you to turn your reflections upon yourselves. Contemplate the human body; observe the union of its several parts, and their fitness for the particular purpose for which they are designed; mark the composition and appearance of the whole; what incomparable workmanship is perceptible in the whole frame.
The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.Acts 15:18).
I. THE GREATNESS OF THE WORKS OF GOD.
1. Their immensity. What a wonderful incomprehensible work was it to produce the matter which forms our globe! Yet our planet is but a small part of the solar system: there are spheres many times larger than our world, revolving at immense distances round the same sun. The sun itself is but one among millions of suns, which in boundless space enlighten other worlds, and are the centres of other systems. We are at once lost in the vastness of creation, in the immensity of being God has called into existence; and are oppressed with an overpowering sense of the magnitude of His works.
2. Their variety. The water affects the land, the land affects the water, an endless diversity of influences of different substances on each other are perpetually producing specific and well-ascertained results. Beings possessed of life were created from inanimate substance: by the infinite power of God the sea and land brought forth abundantly, the vegetable and animal kingdoms were called into existence by the Creator's voice, and the tribes of land and ocean proclaim the magnitude of His work.
3. The preservation and government of the world. Cause and effect is not a necessary but an ordained connection; the energy that works is not that of the instrument but that of God; substances operate upon one another in a natural way, by which we mean an habitual, ordinary manner; but it is God who causes them so to operate; whatever is the instrument its efficacy is from God.
4. His moral government over voluntary and accountable beings. What a vast work must it be to educe order out of the chaotic workings of human minds; to maintain a system of operation and government over myriads of beings, who live as they list, preserving their own schemes of aggrandizement and gratification, without any reference to the will of God: and yet the mightiest of men can accomplish nothing but what God permits, and frequently they are working out, though contrary to their own intentions, the purposes of the Eternal Mind.
5. His greatest work is redemption. It unveils the whole character of God. In the natural world we behold manifestations of His power and wisdom; in His providential government we may learn something of His justice and goodness; but neither of these perfections is so gloriously exhibited as in the Gospel of His Son, where His love and mercy shine with unclouded lustre.
II. SUCCESSFUL INQUIRY IS IN PROPORTION TO THE DEEP INTEREST WE TAKE IN THE WORKS OF GOD. We must love truth, and justice, and mercy, before we can in any degree estimate the expression of Divine love and justice in saving sinners by the gift and death of the Son of God.
II. IN PRESERVATION.
III. IN GRACE. We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Since, then, all things are yours if ye are Christ's, whether the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come, let us call to mind that we have them as the subject matter of privilege; as the subject matter of improvement here, and as the subjects of praise throughout eternity.
(H. F. Fell, M.A.)
2. Having considered these things, ascend in thought to the original, eternal energy, from whence these powers are derived — to the original, eternal fount of life, from whence these several kinds of life and efficacy flow — to the Supreme Dispenser of all that joy which fills the capacity of thy soul — to that God who predisposed, accomplished, and called them into being, who bears, upholds, connects, enlivens, and rejoices all, who through them all reveals Himself to His intelligent creature — man — speaks to him by a thousand voices, appears to him in a thousand varied forms, and in all and by all as Author, Benefactor, Father.
(G. J. Zollikofer, D.D.)
II. THE UNIFORMITY AND VARIETY WHICH APPEAR IN THE WORKS OF CREATION. The heavens above, and the earth beneath, continue the same from age to age; yet afford a diversity of successive spectacles: the clouded, the clear, the parti-coloured sky; the nocturnal darkness, the meridian light. If we examine carefully the minuter productions of nature, the smallest insects, or the leaves, flowers, and fruits of plants, we find a wonderful mixture of the various and the uniform, that strikes the mind with a pleasing idea of order and beauty.
III. THE PERPETUAL CIRCULATIONS DISCERNIBLE IN THE WORLD. The sun, moon, and stars perform their appointed courses with a stated unerring motion. What is it that unholds and directs them? How come they to know their seasons and courses? What enables them to travel incessantly with the same unremitting force? Why they never fall to the earth? Or wander through the pathless desert of the sky? In a word, why they never err? — These questions will necessarily turn our attention to the unerring wisdom of the Creator.
IV. THE REGULAR PROPORTIONS OBSERVABLE IN THE SEVERAL PARTS OF THE WORLD, are a further evidence of creative wisdom in the structure of the whole. For as in the fabric of every plant and animal, the several parts bear a due proportion to each other and to the whole, so it is of the world in general: the parts were all formed by rule and measure, proportionate to each other and to the whole system.
V. THE MULTIPLICITY OF EFFECTS IN NATURE FLOWING FROM THE SAME CAUSE; AND THE COMBINATION OF A MULTITUDE OF CAUSES TO THE SAME EFFECT. The single principle of gravitation, pervading the universe, at the same time gives solidity to the land, stability to the mountains, and fluency to the rivers; binds the ocean to its bed, and the whole earth to its orbit; maintains the due distance of the heavenly bodies; and retains everything through universal nature in its proper situation. Similar to this is the single principle of benevolence in the moral world: which in like manner is diffused through human nature, and produces, according to its different modifications, various beneficial effects: hence parental care; relative union; combination of friends; public spirit; good government of superiors; fidelity of inferiors; and it is this which retains every individual in his proper sphere, cements human society, and contributes to all virtuous actions, honourable pursuits, and innocent delights. How should it excite the inquisitive understanding, and affect the religious temper, of every considerate person, to find the whole world framed and disposed, and all the elemental parts of it contending and co-operating in a perpetual motion, to please and benefit the human race!
(J. Slade, M. A.)
(John Hunter, D.D.)
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