This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
HE pleased Ood.' -Hebrews xi. 5.
When any one has been devoutly impressed with the eonsideration that he owes his existence to the will and power of God, the question which naturally arises in his mind is, " What did the Almighty design by my formation? " To represent the Deity as having put forth so much of his power and wisdom in the construction of man's body and mind, without having any object in view, is as absurd as it is profane. It is impossible to conceive of an intelligent being applying himself to any work when he intends nothing by it. Here, then, is the searching question for us all, "Are we accomplishing that end for which the Creator made us ? " He must have designed something ; and could that something possibly be that the powers, and faculties, and affections with which He has endowed us, should be employed in the manner in which some of us are employing them ? Is it possible to conceive that the object which He proposed to Himself in our creation can be, that we should think and speak and act as some of us do ? Before we have closely considered his design, is it not generally obvious that there must have been a most perverse thwarting of his intentions — ^a disappoint-
ing Him, to speak humanly, in his proposed object ? To speak Scripturally, "Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and
my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it ? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?" Could any language express disappointment more strongly than is done here? I therefore charge ungodly men with having disappointed their Creator of his object. "And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard : I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up ; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down : and I will
lay it waste : it shall not be pruned, nor digged ; but there shall come up briers and thorns : I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it." Woe unto them who disappoint God !
The Westminster Divines, in answer to the question, " What is the chief end of man ? " have replied, " Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever." This representation is well conceived. But I shall attempt to simplify the matter a little by proposing the question in this form, "Wherefore did God make man?" yea, rather let me individualize it, and say to each person, " Wherefore did God make you ? " I answer, " It was that He might have pleasure in you ; that in looking down upon you from his throne. He might have delight and satisfaction in the works of his hands." It is impossible to conceive of any other purpose than this. When God proceeded to make man. He must have found in Himself the reason for so doing. To gratify Himself must have been his motive. No voluntary agent ever acts or can act otherwise. The more any one reflects on it, the more clearly will it appear. All creation is the result of the Eternal One devising and acting for his own pleasure. On his throne. He sits in the centre of the universe, and
PLEASING GOD. 107
looks around on the firmament of stars — his Godhead delighting in them as they all shine and revolve as He originally ordained — and looks down on the spot of earth where the lily blooms in the bosom of the Apennines ; and though man sees it not, it blooms not in vain : it ministers delight to its Creator, who beholds with divine complacency the beauty of his handiwork. What a revenue of delight it must be which the great God derives from the contemplation of all the grandeur and beauty and skill of his creation ! " Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion ! " With what rapture does not a devout mind which is filially afiected towards God unite in this exclamation !
And yet, alas, that there should be exception, and
exception so important, and that we are personally so deeply interested ! All is not well. There is one department of his works which, when the Creator turns his contemplation to it, yields Him no pleasure. What room is there for wonder that the Scripture should declare itself in terms of such strong abhorrence against sin ? Wherever God looks round and round the immensity of his works, all things else move and act as He designed they should, and all unite in one grand chorus to the Creator; it is only devils and men that disturb the harmony. Amid the otherwise universal allegiance of nature, earth and hell have banded together in conspiracy. Is it anything strange that in such circumstances the indignation felt and expressed should be peculiarly strong? We who dwell in the midst of the scene of rebellion, who cannot open our eyes without seeing its violence, nor listen with our ears without hearing the hoarse sounds of its blasphemy — we who have the disorder within our own hearts, and whose dearest friends are all infected with it —
how can we, with our blunted and perverted consciences, understand what horror there is in sin ? How differently it would appear if, placed on the steps of the throne of Qod, we looked forth on the shining universe, and saw all else so beautiful, so pure, so harmonious, so obedient, so pleasing to their Creator, and devils and men alone darkly defying his power !
All such general reflections, however, have but little practical efficacy. What, brethren, about ourselves ? About ourselves individually ? How does each of us feel when, withdrawing to meditate on his own character and conduct, he thus inquires, " Can my Creator be deriving any pleasure from me ? He made me that He might have delight in me. Am I answering His design ? Is there anything — if anything, how much — about me, which will yield Him complacency when looking at me ? " He says, " How well the work of my hands moves ! How beautifully it feels ! How beautifully it speaks ! How beautiful are its actions ! It is a beautiful creation. I am its God.
My divinity is glorified in it."
You walk forth at night and reflect how the steadfast stars, and the circling planets, and the faithful moon must all be affording gratification to their Creator. Is He deriving any gratification from you ? And when in summer you roam through the fields, amid the blooming flowers, and warbling birds, and sportive lambs — all a gratification to their Qod when He beholds them — do you increase the gratification when you present yourself among them ? Ah me ! there are many bad men who, when they betake themselves to these fields, are enough to make the Creator turn away from looking at his own sweet flowers, because they are there with their loathsomeness polluting the scene. And methinka
PLEASING GOD. 109
when some ungodly astronomer is engaged in his survey, it is enough to make the Creator turn away from looking at his own bright stara Brethren, is each of us such a person that God may take delight in looking at him, when He communes with Himself complacently and says, *' I am that man's Creator : He is an honour to Me his God "? But however much this question is calculated to humble us all, still it is of that general nature which wants point to make it sufficiently practically operative. I therefore proceed to deal with the subject still more particularly.
I. Observe, then, in the first place, that He who expended so much skill and power in the creation of man's body, and who has so beautified it with symmetry and grace, must continue to take delight in its health, activity, and sprightliness ; and woe to the man who, either by his licentiousness or criminal excess, renders it unsightly ; or, by his cruelty, in whatever form, whether by wounds or by excessive labour, or by abridgment of food, mutilates or disfigures or reduces to paleness and haggardness the body of another ! No earthly parent can delight more in the healthful bloom of his children than does God delight to behold the bloom and activity of his
family; and when He sends sickness to attenuate and bow them down, it is only when necessity is laid on Him through respect to the more refined beauty of the soul within. And even for all this present necessary unsightliness or deformity produced by sickness, privation, or death. He designs large compensation to Himself, in the delight with which He shall behold his redeemed family when, in the resurrection of the just, He shall invest them with bodies glorified like that of his Son. This, however, I at once admit, though a matter of great importance, is
the least important in which God finds delight in contemplating man.
II. I, therefore, observe, in the second place, that when we consider the manner in which the Creator has endowed us with powers of intelligence and reason., it becomes obvious that He must have designed much pleasure for Himself in contemplating our minds at the great work of acquiring knowledge, and (which is not to be overlooked) in exercising those powers of taste with which He has enriched them. As already stated, no earthly parent f^an be more delighted with the expertness of his family than God is with the intellectual manifestations of his children, when He beholds men of philosophic mind — provided they do not offend Him with their immoralities — meditating, pondering, arguing, investigating, calculating, experimenting, discovering, and inventing. Think you that the mental processes and elaborations of Newton, when he was constructing his " Principia," or of Milton, when he was weaving " Paradise Lost," or of Raphael, as he lighted up the vision of " The Transfiguration," or of Handel, when he modulated the harmonies of the Psalm of " The Messiah " — think j'ou that all this afforded no delight to their Father, when He witnessed the strivings and success of the genius of his children ? Where have you learned your ideas of God, and what sort of ideas are they, if you treat such speculations as being mere idle fancies ? Reflect, on the other hand, how offensive ignorance must be in the eyes of the Creator, when these
faculties, by the exercise of which He designed the soul should be radiant with light, are allowed to lie dormant, leaving the soul a dark unsightly mass, in consequence of the manner in which the flesh has engrossed the attention for its material interest.
PLEASING GOD. Ill
I have already vindicated the claims of the flesh to a portion of respect, but it must be content with its subordinate place, and not usurp the dominion. It is mental beauty in the observation of which the Creator especially delights. Observe, here, first, that He has properly no sympathy with material beauty. He Himself is purely spiritual — all thought ; and He waits for the delight of seeing his children thinking like Himself. Observe,
secondly, that He gains delight and glory for Himself in material beauty out of other objects — out of the stars and the flowers — and He turns to man for a display of beauty of mind. Think, thirdly, with what disappointment, yea, disgust and anger, He must be affected when, in turning from the contemplation of his stars and flowers for the enjoyment of this higher delight, He beholds those powers of intellect with which He has endowed the soul of man either submerged in the sensualities of the flesh, or all engrossed by scheming and calculations for securing bits of metal or paper rags. My God ! What a revulsion of mind it must occasion the Eternal One when, turning from the contemplation of his shining and circling stars, that He may be gratified with the sight of a still higher order of beauty in the shining and circling of thought in the intelligent soul of man, his eye lights upon a worldling with his whole mind engrossed in scraping among dust for the bits of metal or turning up dunghills in quest of the rags !
Can any more favourable representation than this be given of the character of multitudes, who yet claim that we should treat them with deference and respect, just because they have been successful in securing a few hundreds or thousands of the metal-bits and rags, when they are utterly destitute of all mental accomplishment ?
It] is diflScult enough for men of ingenuous minds to bear it ; but what must it be in the sight of that God who made the men with the design that He should find delight in them, and be glorified in them by a display of mental beauty! Ah worldling! who hast so materialised thy soul into a bit of dull copper, when the Creator made it for a display of ethereal thought, how nigh thou must be to cursing !
III. And yet, although we had gained intellectual manifestation in great brilliancy, it might be such that the Creator would turn away from it in anger, in consequence of his not finding it associated with what is still
more beautiful in his eyes — a loving heart, a liberal hand, a candid sympathetic tongue, and feet that are swift in running errands of mercy. How much God delights in scenes of love, and how much his design in making us is thwarted if in looking down on us from his sanctuary He find them not, may be conceived from these considerations —
First, That He Himself is characterised by love. He is all love. " God is love," is the great testimony of our faith : even the punishment of the wicked is ascribable to that love, which is so concerned about the maintenance of that law which was ordained for the production of happiness.
Consider, secondly. How capaciously He has formed our constitutions for loving. We have not all been gifted with powers which would carry us to a great height in knowledge ; but we have all been endowed with dispositions, which would carry us a great length in kindness, if we would permit our hearts scope, and not obstruct the outgoings of their love by pride, and envy, and selfishness. Even he who has most indurated his
PLEASING GOD. 113
heart by a long course of self-seeking, fast-holding, poordefying, missionary-defying, relative and friend-defying, avarice, still retains much that pleads within for offices of love. O strange delusion ! when many shall argue with themselves that this internal pleading for kindness is a good sign of themselves, notwithstanding their unwillingness to yield to a disposition which is generous and good. It is the worst sign possible ; it is worse than the Godgiven talent unimproved ; it is the constitution which God gave them resisted in its yearnings.
Consider, thirdly, How God must delight in a scene of kindness, because it is at once a benefiting of some child of his, who is the object of the kindness ; and because it is an honour to his family, that his children dwell in concord. By nothing is a father more delighted and honoured than
by a family characterised by mutual love; by nothing more grieved and dishonoured than by a family negligent of one another's happiness — not to speak of one in a state of discord.
Consider, fourthly. How God must be pleased with a scene of love, as evidenced by the urgency of his commandment to this end. On what does the New Testament insist more ? O delusion again ! that so many shall contrive to hope favourably of themselves when yet they are destitute of that on which God's Word insists so plainly, extensively, and emphatically, as absolutely necessary to his acceptance! There are many other things, in respect of which it is possible to have something like a rational doubt whether they be necessary to acceptance with the Lord ; but the man is self-blinded, devilblinded, and, morally, a maniac, who for one moment can entertain the thought of the possibility of his salvation, who shuts his heart against the appeal of the poor, the
appeal of the teacher of the destitute in the lanes of our cities, the appeal of the missionary to the heathen. I am but an erring man ; but in all love for you, for your warning, I give you my opinion, that unless you reform your ways, unless you leam to be kind, and keep less to yourself, and give more to others, you will not be permitted to die a happy death ; and, oh ! far less to dwell in eternity with the God of love.
And now to conclude: "Strait is the gate." There may be the loving heart for man when yet, in consequence of its being associated with the loveless heart for God, He turns away from it with displeasure. Be thy intellectual accomplishments shining as they may; be thy sympathies with human misery tender as they may, how can God delight in thee, if thou treatest Him with aversion and despite, and refusest to confess and acknowledge Him as thy well-beloved Father; adoring Him, taking counsel with Him for thy guidance, and confiding in his paternal bounty ; honouring Him by having no suspicions of Him,
but resigning thyself most implicitjy to his care ? Can you expect — can you possibly expect that God will take delight in you if you take no delight in Him ?
And yet another time: "Strait is the gate.*' There appears to be in some cases a sentimental feeling of trust in God, excited by circumstances, which is destitute of principle. The grand test is, "Do you love God's Son?" God delights in Him. " Do you ? "
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000