The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His loving devotion.
Philippians 4:4. It is refreshing to the spirit to find that in the olden times there were pious and holy souls, receptive of the revelation which God had even then given of himself, and who could gather up their thoughts in grateful calm as they mused on the perfections of their ever-reigning Lord. In this psalm there are no historic considerations presented, nor is there any individual experience suggested at which we have to look in studying this amazing illustration of joy in God. It is the "itself by itself " - the pure thing, the uplifting of a soul from the cloudland of earth to the sunland of heaven. Here is -
I. AN ENRAPTURING VIEW OF THE GLORY OF OUR REVEALED GOD. We use this word "revealed," as indicated By this psalm, advisedly on two grounds. For
(1) the name "Jehovah" (ver. 1) is the name by which God revealed himself to Israel (Exodus 6:3). The name "I am that I am" at once removes the God of the Hebrews far above all anthropomorphism. Then
(2) in ver. 4 we are told, "The Word of the Lord is right;" so that, as the word is the expression of thought, and as expressed thought indicates will, it is here declared that God had made known his will (see Psalm 103:7; Hebrews 1:1). How far God's early disclosures of himself went, our Lord Jesus Christ tells us (Matthew 22:31, 32). And it is by the light from words of God that we read his natural works. Having, then, God revealed by name and by word, what are the contents of that revelation which are here pointed out?
1. Right. (Ver. 4.) The Word of God, as given under the Old Testament, was preeminently right. As being such, the whole of the hundred and nineteenth psalm extols it. And now no nobler ethical code does the world possess than that given to Moses and the prophets, and confirmed by Christ.
2. Truth. (Ver. 4.) I.e. faithfulness. As righteousness marks the Word, so fidelity to the Word marks the works of God.
3. Goodness. (ver. 5.) I.e. loving-kindness. The earth is full of it. The sound eye rejoices in the sunshine; and the pure heart reads the goodness of God everywhere.
4. Power. (Vers. 6, 7, 9.) We cannot rejoice in bare power; but when infinite power is in alliance with perfect goodness and with loving-kindness, then we can.
5. Wisdom. (Ver. 10.) There is not only a power that sways matter, but a wisdom which controls mind, so that among the nations there can never be any plotting which can frustrate or intercept his plans.
6. Omniscience. (Vers. 14, 15.) He espies from afar the hidden thought of every soul (Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 139.). He knows men's hearts, as having created them (ver. 15) "alike," i.e. altogether, in one. There are variations in mind, but yet all minds act responsively to some necessary laws of thought inlaid in their original structure.
7. Steadfast counsels. (Ver. 11.) This is true of the plans of providence; but it is most gloriously true of the hidden mysteries and triumphs of his grace (1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 3:9; Acts 15:18).
8. All his counsels are in alliance with a holiness which warrants and invites confidence. (Ver. 21.) He cannot do wrong; he cannot be unfaithful or unkind (Psalm 92:15).
9. On some he looks with special favour and love. (Vers. 18, 19; see Psalm 18:25, 26.) Those who trust God most fully and follow him most faithfully will find that their lot is as beautifully ordered for them as if God had no one else to occupy his care. They will be guarded in peril, supplied in need, and comforted in sorrow; the loving glances of a gracious eye and the cheering words from a loving heart will give to such many a song in the night. Let all these nine features of God's glory be put together and looked at in blended sweetness, and see if they will not raise to an ecstasy of delight.
II. THE JOY WHICH UPRIGHT SOULS HAVE IN SUCH A GOD IS UNBOUNDED. Yes.
1. The joy has uprightness for its condition. Upright souls! Only such. But this does not mean absolutely perfect men, but men who mourn over the wrong, who have confessed it before God, who have received his pardoning mercy, and who loyally conform their lives to God's holy will and Word, who would not knowingly harbour any sin or aught that would grieve their God - men who have gone, in fact, through the experiences of Psalm 32. (of which, indeed, this may possibly be a continuation).
2. This joy has grace for its resting-place. (Vers. 18, 22.) "Mercy." The joy would have no ground stable enough if it were settled on any other basis than God himself, nor unless that basis were "mercy." "O God, be merciful to me I" is the cry which goes up from the penitent's lips more and more pleadingly as he moves forward in the pardoned life.
3. This joy has all that God is, has, and does for its contents. So the whole psalm teaches us; for the pardoning mercy of God has brought us so near to him that we know there is for us such an outpouring of love Divine as makes us infinitely rich for time and eternity.
4. This joy has boundless hope for its outlook. (Ver. 22.) As Bishop Perowne well remarks, "hope" indicates the perpetual attitude of a trusting and waiting Church. Believers know that God will do exceeding abundantly for them above all they can ask or think. As the rich disclosures of God under the prophets have advanced to their unveiling in the unsearchable riches of Christ, so will the wonders of Christ in grace move forward to those of Christ in his glory. We yet seek a Fatherland. "God is not ashamed to be called our God, for he bath prepared for us a city."
5. This joy has prayer for its upward expression. (Ver. 22, "Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us," etc.) Not that this is its only form of expression (for see below), but it is a joy which must and will find outlet in prayer for the constant supply of that mercy which feeds and sustains it.
III. THE JOY IS SUCH THAT IT MAY WELL RIPEN INTO A HOLY FELLOWSHIP OF MUSIC AND SONG. Here in vers. 1-3 the psalmist calls on all upright souls to join him in sounding forth the praises of the Lord.
1. God having taken off all our burdens of guilt and care, the tongue is set free for praise.
2. A common joy in God may wall suggest a grand concert of song. Fellowship in trouble is soothing; fellowship in peril is uniting; fellowship in need touches common sympathy; fellowship in gladness creates a grand inspiration and a mighty burst of praise.
3. In giving vent to our joy musical instruments may be "skilfully made subservient thereto. (Ver. 3.) To plead against this verse that we live in another dispensation, is not in place; for musical instruments in the hands of sanctified men are the servants of the Spirit, and we do but utilize God's own world of harmony when we press them into the service of celebrating redeeming love.
4. The right use and ample enjoyment in hallowed mirth, as we celebrate the praises of the Lord, may be made a holy and blessed means of grace. It is of no mean importance to recruit the bodily powers for God by means of the enjoyment of sacred music and song. And if, indeed, Christian people of musical tastes would seek to sanctify their special powers for God and his Church, many an abuse of their talents might be prevented, and many a holy outlet for their use secured. Well might Frances R. Havergal write -
Take my voice, and let me sing 5. The largest scope for the noblest music is opened up by the wonders of redeeming love. Poetry, painting, sculpture, music, - all are grandest when inspired by the Cross. - C.
5. The largest scope for the noblest music is opened up by the wonders of redeeming love. Poetry, painting, sculpture, music, - all are grandest when inspired by the Cross. - C.
Seneca appealed to earth for something better than the vices of the sensualist, or the bloody fame of a conqueror, our little star heard their petition and covered them with gifts of mind and soul that will always surpass estimate. When Antonine the Pious asked our world if it had no power except that of wickedness, and no pleasure but vice, it answered him by bestowing upon him the crown of piety, and by filling him with the rapture of prayer. Pliny found this world large and beautiful. It was only too full of sublimity. All its truths lay before him as coloured shells upon the beach. In those days there was an illustrious company of mortals to whom earth was by no means small or unworthy. Looking back upon their lives, seeing their greatness of mind and of spirit, and recalling in what homes and in what libraries, and amid what poetry and eloquence and art they passed their days, we cannot but feel that the "goodness of God" lay all around them like a robe of joy and light. They may not have perceived nor felt deeply enough this infinite kindness, but if so that was not the first nor last time wherein the human heart has been happy without knowing from what fountain its joys have come. From these reflections may we not infer that there is in this world, so denounced and so mistrusted, a form of higher life — a life of honour, of education, of love, of Christianity — which may answer all who complain and who distrust, and may make our earth seem all full of the goodness of God? There may be gems hero for us all, only we are seeking for them upon the wrong shore. The past forms of human excellence indicate the fact that happiness cannot be found in things external to the soul. None of the glory of man to which we have alluded has come from property, or from fame, or from transient passions, but from the furniture of the mind and from the impulses and powers of the heart. From a survey of history, from an hour spent over the memory of all the illustrious ones in science and benevolence and religion, from a communion (even the briefest) with such a human-Divine being as Christ, the inference comes irresistibly that when earth is made the theatre of a conscientious and enlightened soul, struggling not toward riches but toward the useful and the good, then it suddenly beams out a star of the first magnitude. It no longer seems a burnt-up world, forsaken and forgotten of its Maker, but seems a chariot, with Christ standing beside the traveller, and with the wheels rolling across the open plain between time and eternity.
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.I. His GOODNESS TO THE IRRATIONAL CREATION. Although nature is out of joint, yet even in its disruption I am surprised to find the almost universal happiness of the animal creation. On a summer day, when the air and the grass are most populous with life, you will not hear a sound of distress unless, perchance, a heartless school-boy has robbed a bird's nest, or a hunter has broken a bird's wing, or a pasture has been robbed of a lamb, and there goes up a bleating from the flocks. The whole earth is filled with animal delights — joy feathered, and scaled, and horned, and hoofed. The bee hums it; the frog croaks it; the squirrel chatters it; the quail whistles it; the lark carols it; the whale spouts it. The snail, the rhinoceros, the grizzly bear, the toad, the wasp, the spider, the shellfish, have their homely delights — joy as great to them as our joy is to us. Goat climbing the rocks; anaconda crawling through the jungle; buffalo plunging across the prairie; crocodile basking in tropical sun; seal puffing on the ice; ostrich striding across the desert, are so many bundles of joy; they do not go moping or melancholy; they are not only half supplied. God says they are filled with good. Take up a drop of water under the microscope, and you will find that within it there are millions of creatures that swim in a hallelujah of gladness. The sounds in Nature that are repulsive to our ears are often only utterances of joy — the growl, the croak, the bark, the howl. God's hand feeds all these broods, and shepherds all these flocks, and tends all these herds. He sweetens the clover-top for the oxen's taste; and pours out crystalling waters, in mossed cups of rock, for the hind to drink out of on his way down the crags; and pours nectar into the cup of the honeysuckle to refresh the humming-bird; and spreads a banquet of a hundred fields of buck-wheat, and lets the honey-bee put his mouth to any cup in all the banquet; and tells the grasshopper to go anywhere he likes, and gives the flocks of heaven the choice of all grain fields. Why did God make all these, and why make them so happy? How account for all this singing and dancing, and frisking amid the irrational creation? Why this heaven for the animalcule in a dew drop? Why for the condor a throne on Chimborazo? Why the glitter of the phosphorus in the ship's wake on the sea, which is said to be only the frolic of millions of insects? Why the perpetual chanting of so many voices from the irrational creation in earth, and air? There is only one solution, one answer — God is good. "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord."
II. NOTICE THE ADAPTATION OF THE WORLD TO THE COMFORT AND HAPPINESS OF MAN. He was to be king in it. Heaven and earth are represented in his nature, his body from the earth, his soul from heaven. He is a strange commingling of dust and glory. The earth for his floor; heaven for his roof; God for his Father; eternity for his lifetime. Think of his body — "fearfully and wonderfully made." No embroidery so delicate or elaborate, no colour so exquisite, no mechanism so graceful, no handiwork so divine. And all working so quietly and mysteriously. Volumes have been written of the hand. Wondrous instrument! With it we give friendly recognition, and grasp the sword, and climb the rock, and write, and carve and build. It constructed the Pyramids, and hoisted' the Parthenon. It made the harp, and then struck out of it all the world's minstrelsy. Four fingers and a thumb. A hundred million dollars would not purchase for you a machine as exquisite and wonderful as your own hand. Mighty hand! In all its bones, and muscles, and joints, I learn that God is good. Behold one eye, which, in its Daguerrean gallery, in an instant catches the mountain and the sea. This perpetual telegraphing of the nerves; these joints, that are the only hinges that do not wear out; these bones and muscles of the body, with fourteen thousand different adaptations. If we could realize the wonders of our physical organization, we would be hypochondriacs, fearing every moment there must be a break. down somewhere. But from birth to old age all goes on without failure. Take a step higher and look at man's mental constitution. The powers of perception whereby we transport the outer world into our own mind; the law of association, one thought starting up a hundred and enabling us to draw a long train of thought through the mind with incredible velocity; memory, the sheaf binder that goes forth to gather in the harvest of the past. In reason and understanding man is alone. The ox surpasses him in strength, the antelope in speed, the hound in keenness of nostril, the eagle in far-reaching sight, the rabbit in quickness of hearing, the honey-bee in delicacy of tongue, the spider in fineness of touch. Man's power, therefore, consisteth not in what he can lift, or how fast he can run, or how strong a wrestler he can throw — for in these respects the ox, the ostrich, and the hyena are his superior — but by his reason he comes forth to rule all: through his ingenious contrivance to outrun, outlift, outwrestle, outsee, out-hear, outdo. I take a step higher, and look at man's moral nature. Made in the image of God. Vast capacity for enjoyment; capable at first of eternal joy, and though now disordered, still, through the recuperative force of heavenly grace, able to mount up to more than its original felicity. Thus has God adapted everything to our comfort and advantage. But for the soul still higher adaptation; a fountain in which it may wash; a ladder by which it may climb; a song of endless triumph that it may sing; a crown of unfading light that it may wear. Christ came to save it — came with a cross on His back; came when no one else would come, to do a work which no one else would do. See how suited to man's condition is what God has done for him! Man is a sinner; here is pardon. He has lost God's image; Christ retraces it. Jesus, I sing Thy grace! Cure of worst disease! Hammer to smite off heaviest chain! Light for thickest darkness! Grace Divine! Devils scoff at it, and men reject it, but heaven celebrates it! Then let us, as well we may, celebrate the mercies of the past year, and reviewing them all, confess, yea, "the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
(D. Swing, D. D.)
I. THE FORMATION OF THE EARTH SNOWS THE GOODNESS OF GOD. It is like a book, it contains geological leaves which proclaim its history. We read what it has been and what it might have been, as well as what it is. The various forms of life which have appeared upon it have just been introduced at those stages which were adapted to the structure of their being. We are created amid conditions that are just suited to our life, and fitted to make us happy. The light is just suited to the eye, the ear to the atmosphere.
II. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord, when we consider HOW FULL IT IS OF VARIOUS FORMS OF LIFE. Objects that we despise and trample beneath our feet, and forms of life that cannot be seen with the naked eye are all fearfully and wonderfully made. The microscope, which reveals to you the coarseness and the defects of man's finest works, only reveals to you more clearly and strikingly the wonderful delicacy, and harmony, and beauty of the works of God. And how many forms of life only come into existence during the sunny months or hours that are fitted to make life a luxury, and then depart when it would be a pain.
III. THE AMPLE PROVISION WHICH HE IS CONSTANTLY MAKING FOR ALL OUR WANTS, He daily spreads a feast before every living thing (Psalm 104:21; Psalm 145:15, 16). What goodness the seasons annually reveal to us. Food might have been provided to sustain the life of the body without imparting anything like pleasure in the use of it. But at every stage of its preparation and use it ministers to our enjoyment. There is the blade, the ear, and the waving corn, the leaves, the flowers, the pendent fruit, which harbinger its approach, and which are a beauty and a joy. Then there is the scent which greets the sense of Smell, and the pleasant taste which gives a relish to food; visions of beauty for the eye, and music for the ear.
IV. THE SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS WHICH HE HAS INSTITUTED, such as family and friendly ties. The instincts and passions, the love and moral emotions which crave these relationships, are of God. Human happiness chiefly springs from these relationships. Who can estimate the amount of happiness there is to-day, not only in the homes of the Christian and the civilized portion of the world, but also in the kraal of the Caffre, the wigwam of the Hottentot, and the hole of the Esquimaux? Even the savage and the wild boast are charmed and tamed and pleased by love for each other and family ties and social intercourse, oven though the home in which they are gathered is only a lair or a den.
V. THE WAY IN WHICH THIS LIFE IS MADE A SCHOOL AND A STATE OF DISCIPLINE FOR THE LIFE THAT IS TO COME. This is not our permanent home; it is only a place in which we are being prepared for a future state. School is good for a child, though the task is often a galling yoke; and so the discipline of suffering is good for man, though at the time it be net joyous hut grievous. There is much from which we shrink in all the trials and adversities and bereavements of life; but Job may be a much better man when he comes out of this furnace than he was when he entered into it.
VI. THE AMPLE PROVISION WHICH HE HAS MADE TO TAKE AWAY OUR SINS. Mercy is one of the sublimest forms of goodness. The earth is full of this goodness, because there is no nation, tribe, or individual excluded from it. Conclusion.
1. The goodness of God ought to be one of the strongest barriers that can be raised up against sin.
2. The goodness of God should lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
3. The goodness of God to us should lead us to be good to others.
4. The goodness of God to us in this world ought to inspire us with confidence in His goodness to us in the world to come. The nearer you are to God here the greater is your bliss. Then why should you not say and sing, even as you are passing through the dark valley to the land that is beyond: "In Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore"?
1. Think of the general arrangements of the natural system around us. We may well be impressed by that beauty which God has spread as a mantle over the face of Nature; the loveliness of fields, and trees, and flowers; the dark blue of the sky, as contrasted with the soft greenness of the objects more immediately around us, and which it solaces the eye to gaze upon. But there is also utility. Everything has its use, and is in subserviency to the ends of the system to which it belongs. Then, the productiveness of the earth. What a storehouse it is for all the necessities of the creatures. And the more we come to know in detail of the manner in which the provision is made, the more wondrous do creating wisdom, and providential goodness appear.
2. All this especially appears in what respects the human family. Each land and each district has its resources for sustenance in the different products of the earth, and the various tribes of animals created for the food of man. The vast diversity is a marvellous display of the wisdom and goodness of God. Fuel also is provided; and provided, in part, by processes which have been going on for ages and ages, apparently before man dwelt upon the earth. Mighty convulsions were all overruled as the means of furnishing us with the coal that warms us, and which maintains those schemes of manufacturing industry on which the prosperity of many lands, and emphatically of our own, so much depends. And where this is deficient, or altogether wanting, great accumulations of wood subserve the same end, the trees of the forest furnishing a perpetually renewed and probably inexhaustible supply. Where again this is too scarce or too costly, the mountaineer on the lofty hill-side, or on the upland moor, may be seen gathering in the peat or turf which warms his cottage home during winter's cold. Thus is provision made for the sustenance and, to a great extent, the comfort of men wherever their lot is cast. Over the face of the earth you see men loving their native land. Yet what a blessing, on the other hand, is the law of change! What vast benefit springs from it! When mind and body are wearied, what unspeakable refreshment comes from new scenes and associations, and the invigorating air of the hills or of the seal Thus the body rests, nervous energy is repaired, and the mind is re-invigorated for new effort or toil. Then, in God's institutions respecting domestic life, with the beautiful charities which arise out of them and adorn them, how Divine goodness further appears! Doubtless there is much of sorrow in the earth. It entered in the train of sin. Thorns and briars, storms and tempests, disease, bereavement etc. But the triumphs of Divine goodness are seen amidst these sources of sadness. It regulates and apportions them as to the measure in which they appear. It mitigates them, too, by compensating arrangements such as the compassion which it has implanted in the human bosom, and which teaches us to sympathize with and help one another, and markedly that law by whose operation time exerts a healing influence. Above all, it does so by making pain and grief subservient to moral improvement, so that "by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better."
II. HOW ANXIOUS WE SHOULD BE THAT THE WORLD, WHICH IS SO FULL OF GOD'S GOODNESS, SHOULD ALSO BE THE REGION OF HIS PRAISE! We see the material creation everywhere teeming with the manifestations of His care for us. What displays of this, too, have all had in their own personal history. If, then, God has made the world, which is the scene of our probation, so bright and beautiful, and if His interpositions in delivering from danger and from death have been so many and so gracious, shall not all our hearts be responsive to such goodness? All reason surely is with the psalmist (Psalm 119:64). And whilst this applies to the individual, how it applies also to the world generally, and to universal man! Away in many of the most beautiful parts of that earth which is "full of the goodness of the Lord," men wander in ignorance, superstition and sin. What a sphere for our sympathies and prayers!
(E. T. Prust.)I. THE INANIMATE PART OF GOD'S CREATION.
1. The light. How kind in the Creator to make it pleasant. Dwellers in polar regions, as their six months' night draws to an end, often put on their richest apparel and climb to the highest mountains, and salute with acclamations of joy the first rays of returning day. Let us be thankful for the sweet light.
2. The atmosphere which envelops us. How wise and how good that it should surround us on all sides, and yet not obstruct our sight; that it should press upon us with a weight of fifteen pounds to the square inch, and yet we be not crushed or burdened by it; that though softer than the finest down, it should yet waft the fleets of nations; that it both warms and cools the earth; that it both draws up the vapours and throws them down; that it breathes both in the north wind's blasts and in the gales of the sunny south; and that it" both receives the noxious exhalations everywhere emitted, and yet affords for our lungs the pure air which vivifies and warms our frames. Let us be thankful for this daily benefit.
3. Water. In the form of the ocean, it is at once the proud highway of nations, and the play-ground of leviathan: the storehouse of man's nourishment, and the great cooler and purifier of the dusty earth. And how good in God that He hath set its bounds so that it cannot pass. In the form of clouds it tempers the force of the fiery sun, and fills the reservoirs of the skies, and drapes the heavens with curtains of gorgeous hues. And how good in God to let it down gently, as from a watering-pot, instead of pouring it down all at once, to overwhelm and destroy.
4. Flowers. A little child, bounding forth one early spring morning, from a country cottage, cried out, "Look, pa, God has sent us three dandelions!" Was not that a beautiful and becoming thought?
5. The grasses of the hills and meadows. How different if the ground were everywhere dark and naked! The spires of grass are little things, and yet but for them we had not the blessed fields, with their walks in silent, scented paths, and the joy of herds and flocks, and the downy banks and knolls, and the emerald slopes that fringe the lakes and rivers, and the peaceful lawns where fall the sounds of loving voices.
6. The changes of the seasons. How monotonous if we had the same climate the year round! What diversity comes from these changes! Each season is lovely, and illustrative of the beneficence of the Preserver of man.
7. The succession of day and night. Each day we behold the rising of the sun. Aurora has never once failed, during so many ages, to announce his approach; and he knoweth his going down. Thus does he enlighten both sides of the globe, and shed his rays on all. Thus have we the day for toil — long enough to exhaust the physical energies, and call for repose; and then night comes, of sufficient length H recruit those energies. George Herbert sings of "dear night" as "the stop to busy fools," and as "care's check and curb." Think of the accelerating swiftness of care, and pleasure, and wickedness, going on without interruption. What would the mad and anxious world come to, if night did not put on the brake, and fetch things to a standstill?
8. The endless forms of beauty which we meet. It is said of Linnaeus, the great Swedish botanist, that on first seeing a certain plant, he fell on his knees and thanked God for thus beautifying the earth. How much beauty do we see around us every day, and yet for this how seldom are our hearts lifted in gratitude to Him who hath made all things lovely to behold.
II. THE ANIMATE BUT UNINTELLIGENT PART OF CREATION. What object could God have had in creating these innumerable ranks of sensitive existence, except that they might taste His bounty, and enjoy a happiness peculiar to their state? Because dead matter was incapable of delight, and because the eternal Sovereign would exercise His superabundant goodness, therefore hath lie stocked the world, and worlds upon worlds, with ten thousand times ten thousands of living creatures, that His table might be filled with millions of guests, whose mouths and whose hearts He might every hour and every moment fill with food and gladness. Moreover, how kind in God to care for every one of the millions upon millions of this great needy family of His; expending upon each one an equal care, so that the least insect, living but one brief hour, does not fail of his portion. And how kind to provide for all without their labour — for it is a just remark of Pierre, that there exists not a single animal but what is lodged, clothed, and fed by the hand of Providence — without care, and almost without labour. And yet, again, how kind and wise to cause each one to subserve some useful purpose to man; making even the little flies and all the winged insects to act as scavengers, by taking up and carrying off the surplus effete matter in the vegetable creation; and all the little ground-mice and earth-worms to act as Nature's ploughmen, or as sappers and miners boring in all directions into the stubborn soil, thus rendering it pervious to air and rain and the roots of plants!
III. THE INTELLIGENT WORLD — OURSELVES.
1. Our outfit, our endowments. A body, fearfully and wonderfully made; heart, muscles, ears, etc. The mind, with its subtle powers of consciousness, and reflection, and reasoning; and memory, and imagination — each faculty displaying the Divine goodness. And the same of the several senses — of sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. And what an endowment is the gift of speech, by which we may reciprocate thought and feeling, and become acquainted one with another!
2. How every thing is contrived and adjusted to secure our comfort and good. What a mercy that many functions of the body, such as breathing, digestion, the circulation of the blood, etc., are performed involuntarily; so that they go forward without our bidding or attention! And how merciful the provisions for gratifying the senses — eye, ear, etc. Another merciful provision is the social relations.
3. Think also of God's hourly deliverances. A man, riding down a steep hill, and reaching the bottom, said to one whom he met there, "I have had a wonderful deliverance." "What is it?" he asked. "Why, my horse stumbled on that hill, and I was thrown over his head and not harmed." "Indeed," said the man, "I have had many a greater deliverance on that hill than that." "And how? .... Why, I have ridden down that hill hundreds of times, and my horse has never so much as stumbled one!" The moral is plain — but how do we forget it!
(H. C. Fish, D. D.)1. The goodness of God is seen in the productiveness of Nature. It is so natural to see the bread on the table, that we do not think of the subtle agencies at work in the production of the corn; how light and heat, rain and dew, and the fruitful qualities of the soil, all helped on the final result. The hard rock has been pulverized, and mixed with the dead matter of former living things, to make a fruitful soil. The sea has given of its moisture, and the sun has drawn the vapour into the upper air. The atmosphere has balanced the pregnant clouds, winds have wafted them to thirsty lands, mountains and hills have condensed them into rain. The sun also has poured down a daily stream of warmth and light, and the evening has witnessed the gentle distilling of the dew.
2. Man himself is not more wonderfully made than is the earth adapted to be his dwelling-place. He can live almost anywhere, for go where he will, he nearly always finds Nature producing the wherewithal to supply his wants. And in this abundant provision God's goodness is shown, just as a parent's goodness is shown towards his child in his anxiety to meet his child's wants. It shows how provident and thoughtful, on our behalf, God has been.
3. God's goodness is manifest, also, in the beauty of natural things. He has made the world fair enough to be the dwelling-place of angels.
4. We see God's goodness manifested in the structure of human society. Man is compelled by the necessities of his nature to associate with his fellows. God has ordained it because in this way only could the highest joy possible to man be reached. He has made the law which governs His own life, to be the law which governs ours. Love is the law of God's life — to live for others that He may bless them — and it is when this law is well and cheerfully observed that man's life is most peaceful, most blessed, most akin to the life of God.
5. We behold the goodness of the Lord again in the sanctities of religion. He made our hearts capable of fellowship with His Spirit and has drawn near, so that we might receive helpful inspirations from His love. He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, that men may feel His tenderness and be won by His grace; and, by the Incarnation of the Son of God, He has lifted our nature immeasurably nearer His own.
1. The earth, its inhabitants; the atmosphere, and the ruling orbs of day and night; the construction of man and of all animals, and the provisions for their sustenance and safety.
2. The fixed laws by which they are all governed; the freedom of mind with which man was created and is still endowed; as entering essentially into the explanation of apparent difficulties in the Divine providence by which he is ruled.
3. The discoveries of men, scientific, moral, and philosophical, in the remotest ages, and the revelation of God and of His works which we have in the writers of the Old Testament; and especially the authoritative teaching of Jesus Christ. The testimony of our own consciences, and the trusty evidence of intelligent, thoughtful, and religious minds, competent to give information and opinion upon the subject.
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