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THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S
‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.’
If it be in truth God’s creation, God’s universe, it must be also the manifestation of God, and address itself ever to what is highest, divinest, most spiritual in us.
I. The world being recognised to be the work and manifestation of God, is necessarily thereby invested with a deep religious awe, a solemn religious significance.—It is impossible for a rightly constituted heart to feel the close connection of all things with the invisible and Almighty God and yet not look upon them as bound to be consecrated only to noble uses. The very thought changes at once the universe into a great temple for praise and worship of the Eternal, and all the bounties of nature into gifts to be laid upon His altar. This is surely no small matter, but the one all-important matter. It is just religion brought really into all that we do; it is just life made a long act of worship—the meanest things among which we move made sacred, so that the very stones of the street and the trees of the field witness to us about God.
II. The fact that the earth is the Lord’s is a source of pure and holy joy from which we may draw whenever we look upon anything in nature that is fair and well fitted to fulfil the end of its creation.—The religious man—the man who practically and abidingly realises the truth of my texts—sees in nature more than any other man. The knowledge that God is its Creator and Lord raises him far above itself; it makes the earth one great symbol of heaven—the visible of the invisible; it brings the human mind into contact with an infinitely higher and better world. The godless man, the religiously indifferent man, sees no more than half of what the godly man sees, and that half is certainly the lowest and least valuable half.
III. By thus sending men to nature as well as Scripture for their religion, our text tends to give breadth and freedom to the religious character.—This is what many sincerely good men sadly want. It is often impossible not to recognise their genuine earnestness and spirituality of mind when we are greatly repelled by their austerity and narrowness of view. They obviously breathe in the midst of a vitiated atmosphere. There is disease in their very goodness. Now, when we turn away from the biography of such a man, or from listening to his conversation, and read such a psalm as, say, the one hundred and fourth, we see into the whole mystery of the disease. There is a great and felt difference. You have come from the company of one who thinks religion is a denial of nature, into the company of one who thinks it elevates and perfects nature. You feel that here, where you are now, there beats a heart, pious and spiritual indeed, but also of a large and genial humanity, and delighting in all natural beauty and natural excellence. There is nothing artificial or exclusive, nothing making the life rigid and austere, unsociable and ungenial, in such piety, however deep or fervent it may be; whereas it is impossible to describe how much hardness and austerity and sickliness is given to the religious character by making the Bible alone, the Bible arbitrarily severed from nature and from life, the sole source of spiritual growth. I would, then, most emphatically that men would think of the gospel not less but of nature more. There can be no breadth, no geniality otherwise, no child-like simplicity, no proper readiness to receive Divine impression. The influences of nature are constantly needed to keep alive those feelings of admiration, hope, and love which enter so largely into the spiritual life.
IV. Only through realising our relation to nature as God’s creation, God’s work, can we realise our relation to God Himself.—Through realising its grandeur, for example, we have the feeling of our own insignificance forced upon us in a most impressive way, not only in relation to it, but also, and still more, in relation to its Author.
V. If we really accept what the text teaches us, then are we obviously bound to acknowledge that we owe all to Him, and can hold nothing as strictly and entirely our own.—We are not our own, we are the Lord’s. The law of our lives can be no other than His holy will, that will which we daily pray may be done in heaven and in earth.
Proper Psalm for Ascension Day ( Evening).
Psalms 24-26 = Day 5 ( Morning).
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Psalms 24". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Seventh Sunday after Easter