Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?
I. THE CHRISTIAN SEES NATURE AS A SCIENTIST. As the Christian studies a flower he marks the secret intelligence which directs every part of it. The embryo in the seed knows which part of it must descend to the earth, and which part must be raised up to the heavens. The leaves place themselves at proper intervals, and follow out their cyclical order. The plant creeps or climbs or shoots upwards with an intelligent adaptation, and the flowers mix their colours and exhale their odours to allure the passing bee. A Christian watches all this intelligence in a flower, and with deeper reason than ever he can add, "God is the maker of that flower." The Christian, as he delights in spelling out the arithmetical principles on which the chemical elements unite, asks who taught them the laws of their combinations. Or as he takes his stand on the great orbit, and marvels as he sees planet after planet come up in sublime order, and roll on majestically in its marked and bounded path, he repeats with deeper conception his belief in the greatness and power of the Almighty. He can read, too, the records of the rocks, the story of the fire and water, of the grinding and building up of the earth's crust, of life that existed long before the advent of man. As a scientist he can do all this, but to him it is all the work of God, who is infinite in His power and duration, who works His great works by these methods, and in these marvellous ways which science discovers and unfolds.
II. THE CHRISTIAN SEES NATURE AS A POET. A flower is not a clever piece of machinery of subtle forces and delicate laws. Beautiful must have been the hands, and beautiful the thoughts of Him who could, out of gross earth, cause the primrose to make its petals or the wild briar its tinted flowers. The Christian looks at the flower, and to him it is a poem written by the hand of God. Even uncouth flowers and hideous creatures become transformed when looked at in this light, and suggest far-reaching thoughts of that wisdom which makes things useful as well as beautiful. It is delightful to have the poet's eye, and thus to look on God's nature. The spiked blade of grass, the curving stalk of corn, the uplifted bole of the pine, the waving autumn field, and the moving life of the spring, are the visible lines and measures of a great Divine poem. The crawling worm, the soaring bird, the chirp of the sparrow, and the melody of the lark, the cows in the field, and the snake in the grass, all repeat and increase the lines-Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God.
III. THE CHRISTIAN SEES NATURE AS A PANTHEIST. As scientific men, we open up our senses to impressions from the outer world. As they come in by this way, they spell out God, the Creator, the Architect, Infinite and Omnipotent. As we open other and deeper sensibilities, and the charm, the grace, the tenderness, the strength and life of nature flow in, they write out in measured form God the Ever Glorious and Wondrous.
(J. D. Watters, M. A.)
1. A providence is not seen and adored in dispensations which do not please us. When we do not distinctly see and adore providence in ordinary, we meet with intricate and thorny questions about it.
2. Though men, in their sins, presume to debate and question the matter of God's providence, yet they will not get it shifted nor denied.
3. When men turn atheists, and fall a questioning the providence of God, they ought to be sharply dealt with and refuted. It is the common interest of saints not to let the providence of God be denied in the faith whereof they are so often comforted in darkness. And zeal for God should cause them to abhor any thoughts prejudicial to His glory.
4. As God hath a dominion over all His creatures, particularly over living things, and man in special, so the study of this dominion will help to open our eyes to see Him and His providence, and to clear His providence in every particular.
5. As God's dominion over every living thing, so, particularly, His dominion over man is to be studied and improved. Therefore it is particularly instanced here that the breath of all mankind is in His hand.
6. God's dominion over man reacheth even to his life, and no less. The study of this invites us to stand in awe of God. To trust Him in difficulties. To look upon ourselves, not as made for ourselves, but to be subservient to His dominion. When we thus submit to and acknowledge His absolute dominion, we should be without anxiety, as knowing in whose hand we and our concernments are, and should leave it on Him to give a good account of everything He doeth, and believe that His actings will be like the worker, who is God, and our God, though we cannot discern it for the present.
I. THE PRESENT HAND OF GOD UPON EVERYTHING.
1. This is one of the doctrines which men believe, but are constantly forgetting.
2. This is a fact of universal force.
3. A truth worthy of perpetual remembrance.
II. OUR ABSOLUTE DEPENDENCE UPON A PRESENT GOD AT THIS VERY MOMENT.
1. Our life is entirely dependent upon God.
2. So are our comforts.
3. So is the power to enjoy those comforts. If this be true concerning temporals, how doubly true is it with regard to spiritual things. There is no Christian grace which has in it a particle of self-existence.
III. LESSONS FROM THIS SUBJECT. Child of God, see where thou art. Thou art completely in the hand of God. Thou art absolutely and entirely, and in every respect, placed at the will and disposal of Him who is thy God. Art thou grieved because of this? Does this doctrine trouble thee? Let your conversation be as becometh this doctrine. Speak of what thou wilt do, and of what will happen, always in respect to the fact that man proposes, but God disposes. To the sinner we say, Man, you are in the hand of God.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
II. A CONSCIOUSNESS OF OUR ABSOLUTE DEPENDENCE. II we are in God's hands, He can do with us as He will.
III. A MIGHTY INFLUENCE IN LIFE AND BEHAVIOUR. It impresses us with a feeling of —
1. Intense humility.
2. Great thankfulness.
3. Earnest effort. Effort to develop our moral nature.
IV. A READINESS TO ACQUIESCE IN ALL THE DISPENSATIONS OF SO GREAT A BEING.
(J. J. S. Bird.)
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