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giveth songs in the night:" let us depend upon him, cleave to him, live in him.
On what else can we rely that will not, instead of settling the mind, discompose it the more? Is it honour? What so precarious and variable as the praise of man! Is it affluence? “ The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as a high wall in his own conceit.
But does not every day's observation as well as scripture cry, “ Trust not in uncertain riches, but in the living God.” Is it moral philosophy; a strength of reasoning ? There are circumstances in which the calmest reflections, and the noblest resolutions will be only as chaff before the wind. In the time of trial all other supports will fail : the storm increasing, will drive us from our holdings. There is only
“anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast." It is a scriptural hope in God. This will prepare a man for all the vicissitudes of time ; this will help him to go on his way rejoicing through all the troubles of life ; and this will finally enable him to look the king of terrors out of countenance, and to exult with the apostle, “ Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Thou renewest the face of the earth.—Psalm civ. 30.
“ All nature is a book, and the various parts of it are so many multiplied pages in which we may read and consider the wonderful works of God." The seasons of the year are every way interesting. They are necessary for the production of our food, and the preservation of our health. Their succession adds to the beauty of creation. Their revolutions furnish us with subjects of reflection, and lessons of importance.
The season has arrived in which we behold the renovation of nature. Let us endeavour to render it profitable to our minds.
I. David was an attentive observer of the works of creation. Many a fine evening did he employ in “ considering the heavens, the works of God's finger, the moon and the stars which he has ordained.” He rose early, and beheld the “ as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race.” He looked abroad in winter, and exclaimed, “He sendeth abroad his ice like morsels, who can stand before his cold ?” He rejoiced when more favourable weather encouraged him to walk abroad: he “observed the birds building their nests, the springs running among the valleys, the grass growing for the cattle, and herbs for the service of man.” And, hailing the revival of a
faded world, lifted up his eyes and said, " Thou renewest the face of the earth.”
There are few real lovers of nature : there are few who so behold its scenes as to pause and admire, till they have imbibed a sympathy with them ; till they feel themselves at home in them ; till they are detached from everything human, and little, and debasing. Let us go forth into the field to meditate: meditation is often better than books. Our own thoughts will do us much more good than the opinions of others. Wisdom and truth are shy in the world, but here they are easily discovered and secured. Danger often attends our perusal of the works of men, but there is no hazard in pursuing knowledge among the works of God. People complain of the world, and confess whenever they return from its companies and diversions, that “all is vanity and vexation of spirit:”—why will they not come forth and refresh themselves here? Why will they not leave the wilderness and enter this garden of the Lord ? Here I live in a world of my own-here I feel my independence and my freedom-here I can learn how I have been overcome, and where I must place a watch and a guard-here the good thoughts which were scattered and weak before, are collected into a powerful motive, and bear down all opposition to duty-what was wavering before is now decided—what was timid grows courageous. When I go into the field, I enter my closet, I shut the door about me; I admit what company I please; I exclude the vicious who would pollute, and the trifling who would interrupt; I hear not the folly of the vain, or the slander of the malicious, that world of iniquity which drops from the tongue : I pray to my Father,
which is in secret ;--mine eye poureth out tears unto God;" I have an emblem of final repose“ here the wicked cease from troubling, and here the weary are at rest."
“ God made the country, and man made the town.” Nevertheless, how many are there who leave the works of the Creator to bury themselves among those of the creature ; and, while professing to admire the beautiful and the marvellous, disregard the wonders that are perpetually springing up around them. They will go any distance, incur any expense to see a piece of mechanism, sculpture, or painting ; while they pass by productions infinitely more curious and finished, in the way. They are struck with a fine robe, but never contemplate a lily; “ and yet I say unto you, that Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these." When a man of fame announces a design to perform anything, thousands flock around him ; while God, working day by day the most astonishing effects, is unnoticed; and no one is drawn forth to attend to him, though "he has said, I will that men magnify my works which they behold.”
II. It becomes us not only to observe nature, but to observe it devotionally, and as Christians. There is a difference between viewing and improving these things: there is a difference between our studying them as mere admirers and philosophers, and applying them as men formed by divine grace for a life of communion with God. It is the command of the apostle : 66 Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ; giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
See a Christian among the works of nature. He looks after God in all, for he needs him in all : and he is enabled to find him. Though familiar with the effect, he does not disregard the cause: with him common instrumentality does not conceal divine agency. He maintains in his mind a connexion between the author and the work, and the one reminds him of the other. He walks with him in the ways of his providence, as well as in his goings in the sanctuary, adores him in the field as well as in the temple, and acknowledges him in the ordinary course of nature, as well as in the extraordinary displays of his power and wisdom, and goodness.
He also makes them images to remind him of better things. The rising sun brings to his thoughts" the sun of righteousness arising with healing under his wings :” a flowing spring, the influence of the Holy Ghost: the rain and the dew, the doctrine of the gospel. Thus, by a holy chemistry, he extracts heaven from earth.
From these scenes he also derives motives to devotion, and encouragements to confidence. For instance: does he view a proof of divine wisdom? he cries, “o how able is this God to teach me, to manage all my concerns ! how wonderful in counsel ! how excellent in working !” Does he contemplate a display of divine power ?
6. How able is this God to preserve, sustain, deliver
“ Is anything too hard for the Lord ?” Does he observe instances of his bounty ? He asks, “ Can he who hears the ravens that cry, refuse supplies to his children?"
Nor does he partake of the bounties of nature like a brute, only concerned to gratify his animal appetite, and entirely regardless of Him from whom every indulgence comes. VOL. I.