Psalm 92:8
But You, O LORD, are exalted forever.
Sermons
The Utmost [Or the HighestF. Platt, B.D.Psalm 92:8
Joyful WorshipC. Short Psalm 92:1-8
The Eye Salve of PraiseS. Conway Psalm 92:1-15
Spring as the grass. In Eastern countries, after a time of drought, the grass responds with marvellous suddenness to the refreshing rains. But the grass which grows so swiftly is as swiftly cut down by the blazing sunshine or the scorching wind. The sudden success of the ungodly was a surprise and distress to God's people, who looked on temporal success as a special sign of Divine approval. It seemed to them as if, after all, God was practically on the side of the wicked. In drearier moments they might even think that God made fair promises to the good, but gave the actual blessings to the ungodly. The relief which the saints of olden time found for this their distress is not just the relief which we should provide now. They, like Asaph, went into the sanctuary of God, and there they came to understand the end of the wicked. Really, their high places were slippery places; and in God's time they were "cast into destruction." There is a certain measure of comfort in the thought that things gained by unrighteousness are insecure. But it is a higher standpoint that enables us to see that no success is worth having that has no righteousness at the heart of it. God is the secret of all stability, and God is not in a thing, unless goodness is the characteristic of the thing. Goodness always tends to permanency. Bible history is full of illustrations of the instability of all success attained by the ungodly. If a man's gains are secure for his own life, they are squandered by his sons. In the north of England the uncertainty of sudden prosperity is enshrined in a popular saying, "The first generation buys the carriage; the second generation rides in the carnage; the third generation pawns the carriage." See the cases of Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Haman, Herod; and note also our Lord's parable of the "rich fool."

I. THE SUCCESS OF THE WICKED IS UNSTABLE IN THE NATURE OF THINGS.

1. They who overreach are always in danger of being overreached.

2. The wicked are always making enemies, who are quick to avenge themselves, if opportunity offers.

3. The wicked make mistakes which dissipate all their gains.

II. THE SUCCESS OF THE WICKED IS UNSTABLE BECAUSE, SOONER OR LATER, GOD IS SURE TO DEAL WITH IT. He tests foundations; if they are not found righteous, the grandest houses of attainment will surely fall. - R.T.







But Thou, Lord, art most high for evermore.
Mr. G. F. Watts, the spiritual seer amongst our modern masters of art, was asked by an enterprising editor to quote the motto which had been most influential in his artistic life. He replied, "I have invented a motto for myself, 'The Utmost for the Highest.'" There is a matchless inspiration for life, as for art, in Mr. Watts' characteristic message. The Divine election of youth is vision, and its grace is the passion for the highest. Longfellow recognizes it when he makes the typical climber a youth:

" A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,

A banner, with the strange device, Excelsior!"And one of the latest additions to the roll of climbers of the Matterhorn, the Alpine peak last to be conquered because most inaccessible, is a young French girl of seventeen, who, by a happy coincidence, rejoices in the name Felicite. it is the youngest of the modern nations to enter the concert of great world powers whose citizens urge their growing race to "hitch their wagon to a star." Economists have discussed of late the interesting phenomenon in business life that the most successful men are mostly young. The spectacle of millionaires under forty has perplexed them. The secret probably comes nearest to revealing itself in the suggestion that it is the ambition of youth for the highest, and the willingness, unfettered by maxims of prudence, to venture everything in its attainment that explains their success. Emerson penetrates the arcana of the same mystery with his saying, "The hero is one who takes risks." The excelsior spirit is by nature a prerogative of the young. They are in a peculiar sense "children of the highest." But the earliest of the grave perils that await the young is the danger and discouragement of disillusionment; the peril of seeing the highest and becoming content with less than the highest — of settling into inglorious ease with the best undone and the utmost untried. Less than the utmost is sacrilege in the sanctuary of the highest. "She hath done what she could" is the test of the service of duty as well as of the sacrifice of love. To do our best is the proof of talent in the ethical sphere, for the pursuit of the highest, and not its attainment alone, is the hallowing of work. This is the pursuit that Michael Angelo reverently expounds: "Nothing makes the soul so pure, so religious, as the endeavour to create something perfect; for God is perfection, and whosoever strives for it strives for something that is godlike." It is the strife for the best that matures and enriches character, whether the joy of triumph is added or withheld. It is not the song alone, but the spirit of the singer, that perfects the utmost for the highest. It is said of Jenny Lind that in conversation one day with Mr. John Addington Symonds, she said of her life-work, "I sing to God." There is a memorial brass in the chapel of Balliol College, Oxford, to the late Mr. Lewis Nettleship, who a few years ago was lost in an ascent of Mont Blanc, with an inscription that has been to many an abiding inspiration: "He loved great things and thought little of himself; desiring neither fame nor influence, he won the devotion of men, and was a power in their lives; and, seeking no disciples, he taught to many the greatness of the world and of man's mind." Life's greatness of privilege and of responsibility meets and mingles in the inscrutable sense that our "utmost" lives and moves in others. And lest we should imagine that the utmost for the highest is merely an artistic euphemism for the eager strife for fame and prestige, we need day by day to guard any noble ambition within us from depreciating into the pursuit of the paltry boons of self-seeking by holding it back from

"The longing for ignoble things,

The strife for triumph more than truth."To do this successfully we must watch also lest

"We wind ourselves too high

For mortal man below the sky."To remember the sanctity of common life, and that obedience to simple dues simply fulfilled are ladders on which we climb to our highest things, will be to most of us the way of enduring conquest over meaner modes of the soul. We cannot serve the lower within us and reach the higher beyond us. Weighted with self, the wings of the strongest weary. There is no gain except by loss. Perhaps a beautiful converse of Mr. Watts' motto might be found in Michael Angelo's suggestive saying, "As the marble wastes, the image grows." Waste and growth, how they correlate themselves in all progress towards the highest; their very correspondence, indeed, is life's law of progress.

(F. Platt, B.D.)

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