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The Gifts of Nature.

The Gifts of Nature.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
By ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, D.D.


PREACHED IN THE ENCAMPMENT UNDER THE TEMPLE OF BAALBEC,
ON MAY 4, THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.



In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which cometh forth as a
bridegroom out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a giant to run his
course. It goeth fortli from the uttermost part of the heaven, and run-
neth about unto the end of it again: and there is nothing hid from the
heat thereof ù Psalm xix. 4-6
By ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, D.D.


PREACHED IN THE ENCAMPMENT UNDER THE TEMPLE OF BAALBEC,
ON MAY 4, THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.



In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which cometh forth as a
bridegroom out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a giant to run his
course. It goeth fortli from the uttermost part of the heaven, and run-
neth about unto the end of it again: and there is nothing hid from the
heat thereof ù Psalm xix. 4-6

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Mar 16, 2013
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THE GIFTS OF NATURE.By ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, D.D.
PREACHED IN THE ENCAMPMENT UNDER THE TEMPLE OF BAALBEC,ON MAY 4, THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which cometh forth as abridegroom out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a giant to run hiscourse. It goeth fortli from the uttermost part of the heaven, and run-neth about unto the end of it again: and there is nothing hid from theheat thereof ù Psalm xix. 4-6THERE was once a time, in the history of theworld, when it was the strongest possible tempta-tion to mankind to Avorship the great objects of nature,but especially those in heaven, and of these especiallythe Sun. In these countries more particularly, wherethe Sun is so bright, so powerful, so omnipresentthroughout the year, the temptation Avas stronger thananywhere else. Wherever in the Old Testament wehear of the worship of Baal, it is the worship of theSun ; and of all the temples so dedicated, this is themost splendid ; and the ancient city was called fromthis worship " Baalbec," or " the City of the Sun."We know from the Bible, we know also from thehistory of this very Temple, that this worship wascorrupted into the most shameful sensuality ; so that,to the Israelites first, and to Christians afterwards, itbecame a duty to put it down altogether. And this88 SERMOXS IN SYRIA. [Serm. IX.corniption is in itself instructive, as teaching us thatthe highest love of art and the keenest appreciation of ªwhat is beautiful, if left to itself, without some purerand higher principles, may and will degenerate intomere bnital self-indulgence and cruelty. But it isalways better, if Ave can, to see what was the goodelement which lies at the bottom of any character or'institution, ù what there was in the thoughts thatraised these solid foundations and these towering;columns, which we also may imitate for ourselves,without falling into those dai'k errors and sins withwhich they were once connected.For this purpose, we could hardly find a more fittingtext than the Psalm read in this morning's Service." In them Itath he set a tabernacle for the suyi^ ivhichCometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, andrejoiceth as a giant to run his course. It goeth forthfrom the uttermost part of the heaven, and runneth about
 
unto the end of it again : and there is nothing hid fromthe heat thereof" These Avords, so expressive of thegenial life-giving power of the great Light of day, ùof the glory of his rising, ù of the sti'ength of his rays,ù of the regularity of his course, ù of the penetratingforce of his heat, ù spring from a feeling common tothe Hebrew Psalmist and to those who raised thisheathen Temple. Biit Avhat are the points whereinthey diverge from each other? ù or rather what Averethe good points in that ancient belief, Avliich the TrueReligion has adopted for its OAvn, and sifted from thesurrounding evil ? This Tem])le itself is connectedAvith the history and traditions both of the Avisest andgreatest thoughts of ancient times, and Avith the basestand most foolish. Its earliest foundations are said toSeem. IX.] THE GIFTS OF NATURE. 89go back to the days of Solomon, the wisest of men.In its latest times it had for its High Priest the mostinfamous and effeminate of all the Roman Emperors,ù the miserable Helioo-abalus. Between the two therewas at first sight but httle in common. Little, indeed,there is ; but it is that httle which it is so useful toremember. What then, I repeat, are the points inconnection with the reverence for the Sun and forthe works of nature, which this Psalm brings beforeus ?I. There are two points especially, ù one at thebeginning, the other at the end of the Psalm. Thefirst is a deep sense of thankfulness for those gifts of Nature, as the heathens thought them, of God, as weknow them to be. " The heavens declare the glory of God ; and the firmament sheweth his handy-worh. Dayunto day uttereth speech, and night utito night shewethknowledge. There is no speech nor language where theirvoice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all theearth, and their words to the end of the world.'''' So thePsalmist spoke ; and so we may still feel. Thoseglorious gifts, which we all enjoy, but never morethan when we are travelling;, ù the delight of a beau-tiful day, ù the lights and shades of sunrise and sun-set, ù the warmth and brightness which succeed torain and storm, ù the starlit and the moonlit night, ùthe sight of mountains and rushing streams, ù all thesemay still be to us, as to the Jewish Psalmist, a sourcenot merely of most innocent pleasure, but of religiousthankfulness to their Almighty Giver. In the wordsI have just read, the Psalmist tells of the voice whichspeaks in these dumb glories of Creation. That voiceis surely one which speaks to us with double force90 SERMONS IN SYRIA. [Serm. IX.
 
now. Now, if ever, we are bound to lift up our heartsin gratitude to the Giver of all good things. For fiveweeks Ave have been enjoying His natural gifts of beautiful scenes and glorious weather, and, above all,that inestimable gift of health, of which we think solittle till we lose it. One only of our large numberhas been struck with serious illness, and he has beenmercifully restored to us. Let us all join, as we nowapproach the end of our journey, in a humble andhearty thanksgiving to Him who has thus given us allthings freely to enjoy. Those who hved in old timeexpressed, as we see, their gratitude and reverence forthe gifts of nature by this magnificent Temple. Letus express our gratitude and reverence in the offeringof pure hearts and good lives to Him who has thusgraciously guided us so nearly to the close of ourpilgrimage.II. And this brings me to the second tnith whichthe contemplation of the natural world, ù of the sunin his strength, ù of the stars as they move in theheavens, ù suggested to the Psalmist. He could notlook at them without thinking of that characteristic of the works of Creation, Avhich modern science has moreand more strongly brought out ; the order, the regu-larity, the Imv of their operations. And this Lawimmediately recalled his mind to the highest exampleof all law, ù tlie unchangeable moral Law of God.A great moderii ])liilosopher has jmt the two subjectstogether in the same connection, probably withoutthinking that he had been anticipated by the Psalmistof old. " There are two things of which it may besaid that, the more we think of them, the more theyfill the soul with awe and wonder, ù the stariy hea-Serm. IX.] THE GIFTS OF NATURE. 91vens above and the moral law within." Tliis para-mount elevation of the Moral law is what the Psalmist,according to one of the chief peculiarities of the DivineInspiration of the Bible, urges through the remainderof the Psalm. He tells us how the Law of God (therevealed law of goodness, the natural law of con-science,) is not only what we are boimd to follow asour duty, but is the surest som-ce both of our wisdomand our happiness. Not only does he speak of thelaw as " perfect, converting the soul," " pure," " clean,""true and righteous," ù such, perhaps, we all acknowl-edge it to be, ù but it is more than this, "it givethwisdom unto the simple, it enlightens the eyes." Mosttrue. Many and many a time in life do we see a goodand honest conscience supplying a man, young or old,with that common sense, with that discernment, withthat calm and impartial judgment, which is often notto be got even from the greatest abilities, or learning,

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