May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in His works.
I. IN HIS WORKS IN THE NATURAL WORLD.
1. How beautiful they are! They clearly show the Divine love of beauty. The vision of beauty delights us; and the lavish bestowment of it shows that it delights God.
2. How innumerable! All powers of computation utterly break down when we try to enumerate the works of God. The psalm tells of many, but how far many more are left unnamed? God cannot turn his gaze in any direction but he will behold the works of his hand.
3. And how varied! "Lord, how manifold are thy works!" not many only.
4. And how successful! "In wisdom hast thou made them all." What joy a human inventor has, when, after long study and toil, he at length has discovered how to secure the successful working of that which he has made! The old story of the ancient philosopher rushing from his bath, and crying "Eureka!" because he had hit upon the solution of some knotty problem which had long perplexed him, is an illustration of the inventor's joy. And the observation of the smooth, successful working of his Divine plans cannot but be a further element of joy, even to him.
5. Yet more because so beneficent. His creatures are "filled with good" by what he has done. While they delight us they also delight him.
II. IN PROVIDENCE.
1. Here, perhaps, we pause. We think of the darker side of life - of the unspeakable suffering, of the bitter sorrows, of the dread problem of evil. And of not a little of this we are compelled to say, "It is the Lord's doing." The beautiful other side of life - happy homes, successful work, health, love, strength, and all the rest; we can see how fruitful of joy to both giver and receiver it must be; but this dark side, what of that? How can the Lord rejoice in that?
2. Well, remember, God sees the whole of life; we only a mere fragment of it. The shipbuilder enters his yard. Dust, din, clatter, intolerable noise, and dirt and disorder meet him on every hand. The gaunt ribs of some ship on the stocks are the occasion of all this. But the shipbuilder looks quite pleased. Why is this? Because he has in his mind the vision of the completed ship, when fair, graceful, strong, she spreads her sails, and, laden with rich cargo, she sails the ocean like a thing of life. He sees her in all her future glory, to which all that now is leads the way. The application is easy. We believe, with the poet -
"That nothing walks with aimless feet; III. IN HIS SPIRITUAL WORKS. Forgiveness, peace, purity, power, eternal life. Do we cooperate with him in these? - S.C.
III. IN HIS SPIRITUAL WORKS. Forgiveness, peace, purity, power, eternal life. Do we cooperate with him in these? - S.C.
The Lord shall rejoice in His works
I. CONSIDER THEN THESE "WORKS OF THE LORD" WHICH REJOICE HIM. Some of them rejoice us, when we see their use, their beauty, their perfectness. There is a treasure of satisfaction in some of the commonest works of God: they need little interpreting, they speak their own and their Maker's praise. How they transcend in perfectness all the exactness of art; how orderly are all their encircling movements, rebuking the waywardness of our fickle endeavours; how unselfish is their aim; how lavish their bounty. Nothing purposeless, however incomprehensible to us; nothing without some special mission to accomplish; all depending upon the one loving Will by which they were called into being.
II. BUT NATURE'S GLORY AND MEANING NEED INTERPRETING. It may be said that this is the poet's office. Not quite so, although we justly celebrate our Hebrew bards. Theirs was a real inspiration. The creations of the poet differ in character from the visions of the spiritual seer. And it is not alone to the gifted that this insight comes. Not as the songs written out of the soul of the age do I regard the various rhapsodies of inspired penmen. There must be some deep underlying basis of authority for the pledges their words give us. We are charged by them to believe that the works of God are all tending to some grand issues; that God has given to man to be nature's lord, so that we must take into our thought what God is doing for him, to read rightly the purpose of all creation. And, to know the secret of nature, we must know the mystery of human life and its apparent failures. The groans of creation await the glory to be revealed in the sons of God. As the ages revolve, they bring all created life nearer to its goal. The throes of the past and the present need to be read in conjunction with the final development and harmony, when the many "works" shall be as one grand work of the Divine Artificer. Faith is not only a struggle against appearances; faith is also a broad generalization, which looks to the ultimate end of all things, and can sing in sympathy with the spirit of the psalmist: "The Lord shall rejoice in His works." Must we not look to manhood if we would understand infancy?
III. WHAT ABOUT THE GLORY AND THE JOY OF GOD IN RELATION TO THOSE WORKS AND WAYS WHICH IT IS THE SPECIAL FUNCTION OF THE CHRISTIAN TEACHER TO UNFOLD AND ILLUSTRATE? Before His presence shall stand dove-like peace, gentle charity, chaste innocence, meek faith, and patient hope, in all the lovely forms they have assumed; here, in maiden modesty and sweetness; there, in martyred truth and righteousness; here, in youthful consecration caught up with its dews flesh upon it; there, in mature devoutness sprinkled over with the snows of venerable age; here, childlike lives, mere buds of moral loveliness taken to blossom amid winterless scenes; there, lives of quiet beauty, readily passed by amid the loud cry for sensational piety. All these form but part of His manifold works, over which, as treasures safely gathered, He will breathe the eternal spirit of unutterable peace; and in which, discerning His reflected image, He will rejoice. Fruits these of His redeeming grace, trophies of His all-conquering mercy, for eternal rejoicing.
(G. J. Proctor.)
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