He has made every thing beautiful in his time: also he has set the world in their heart…
How rich are the traits and manifestations of man's creative genius! Think of the vast number and diversity of gorgeous and attractive forms, with which descriptive and imaginative talent has enriched the literature of all ages. And the fruits of mental toil in all times, from the rude lyric of the savage to the rounded and polished productions of the most advanced culture, how redolent of beauty, — how thickly studded with gems of the purest lustre and transcending magnificence! Art, too, how endlessly varied in its embodiments of all that is fair, and grand, and glorious! How numberless, also, are the combinations of blended or interchanging majesty and beauty which rise and are yet to rise in the simple and the complex, the lowly and the lofty forms of architecture — in column, tower, and dome — in cottage, temple, and cathedral! But whence this power in man? What are his creations but copies of the thoughts of God? That they are nothing else is implied in the fundamental canons of literature, art, and taste. Truth to nature is the sole test of beauty. Do we admire the partial copies that man has made? Do we bow down to the genius that can see and hear a little portion of the Divine idea? Shall not, then, our thoughts go up with unspeakably loftier reverence and more fervent adoration to Him who "has made everything beautiful"? Reflect for a moment on beauty as an attribute of the Supreme Intelligence. Reflect on God as the Originator of all that delights the eye and charms the fancy. What an inconceivable wealth of beauty must reside in the mind, which, without a copy, first called forth these numberless hues and shades that relieve each other and melt into each other in the vast whole of nature, — which devised these countless forms of vegetable life, from the wayside flower that blooms to-day and withers to-morrow, to the forest giant that outlasts the rise and fall of nations and of empires, — which meted out the heavens, measured the courses and arranged the harmonies of the stars, spread the ocean, poured the river, torrent, and waterfall! What an infinity of resources do we behold in the alternate phases of the outward universe, each of which seems too beautiful to be replaced by one of equal loveliness, and yet yields at once its fancied pre-eminence to its successor! The depths of the Divine Intelligence we indeed cannot fathom; but there are some views of practical interest to be derived from these thoughts.
1. First, they suggest one mode of worship, which must always make us better, — that of the devout contemplation of the visible works of God. "To enjoy is to adore." There can be no full and true enjoyment of nature, except by those who see the hand and hear the voice of the Eternal in His works. To enter into the heart of nature is to talk face to face with its Author.
2. The thoughts which I have suggested lend, also, a motive to our conversance with the monuments of human art, taste, and genius. The genuine poet or artist stands between us and God's world of beauty, in the same relation in which the seer or the evangelist stands between us and his realm of truth. But most of all does the devout mind love to commune with truth and beauty in those forms of literature, in which they have been blended by Divine inspiration. It finds no poetry so sublime as that of psalmist, prophet, and apostle, — that which connects the image of the heavenly Shepherd with the green pastures and still waters, draws lessons of a paternal Providence from the courses of Orion and Arcturus, names for the rain and for the drops of dew their Father, and resorts to every kingdom of nature, and gathers in materials from every portion of the visible universe, to portray the New Jerusalem, the golden city of our God, the gates within which the sun goes not down, for "the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
3. Again, beauty, though distinct from love, is the minister of love. Its every ray is edged and fringed with mercy. Its every form bears the inscription, "God is love." When it beams upon us from the heavens, it reveals His benignity. When it glows on the earth, or gleams from the ocean, it reflects His smile. When it stretches its many-coloured bow on the cloud or the water
fall, it utters His thoughts of peace. Have not all these scenes a voice of tender sympathy and consolation for the grief-stricken? In a world thus full of beauty, thus suffused by the smile of the Universal Father, there can be no sorrow sent as sorrow. It can be only those whom God loves that he chastens. Not to blight the harvest of human hope and joy, but to bring forth in fresh luxuriance every plant of our Heavenly Father's planting, do the rains descend and the floods come upon the afflicted heart. Not to destroy or hopelessly bow down the soul, but to dispel the suffocating mist of worldliness, to open a clearer, higher range of vision for the inward eye, to make the upper heavens look serene and beautiful, falls the bolt that sends alarm and agony to our homes and hearts. Let us, then, in our sorrows, welcome the revelation of Divine love, with which the heavens are dropping and the earth teeming, which day utters to day and night rehearses to night.
(A. P. Peabody.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.