This is a guest post by the Prince of Preachers, C.H. Spurgeon. I would say it’s my favorite excerpt from his sermons, but that’s not entirely accurate, as it’s the only Spurgeon excerpt I’ve ever read. Still, I can’t imagine finding one I like more than this.
I must confess that I think it a most right and excellent thing that you and I should rejoice in the natural creation of God. I do not think that any man is altogether beyond hope who can take delight in the nightly heavens as he watches the stars, and feel joy as he treads the meadows all bedecked with kingcups and daisies. He is not lost to better things who, on the waves, rejoices in the creeping things innumerable drawn up from the vasty deep, or who, in the woods, is charmed with the sweet carols of the feathered minstrels.
The man who is altogether bad seldom delights in nature, but gets away into the artificial and the sensual. He cares little enough for the fields except he can hunt over them, little enough for lands unless he can raise rent from them, little enough for living things except for slaughter or for sale. He welcomes night only for the indulgence of his sins, but the stars are not one half so bright to him as the lights that men have kindled: for him indeed the constellations shine in vain.
One of the purest and most innocent of joys, apart from spiritual things, in which a man can indulge, is a joy in the works of God. I confess I have no sympathy with the good man, who, when he went down the Rhine, dived into the cabin that he might not see the river and the mountains lest he should be absorbed in them, and forget his Savior. I like to see my Savior on the hills, and by the shores of the sea. I hear my Father’s voice in the thunder, and listen to the whispers of his love in the cadence of the sunlit waves. These are my Father’s works, and therefore I admire them, and I seem all the nearer to him when I am among them. If I were a great artist, I should think it a very small compliment if my son came into my house, and said he would not notice the pictures I had painted, because he only wanted to think of me. He therein would condemn my paintings, for if they were good for anything, he would be rejoiced to see my hand in them.
Oh, but surely, everything that comes from the hand of such a Master-artist as God has something in it of himself! The Lord doth rejoice in his works, and shall not his people do so? He said of what he had made, “It is very good;” and he cannot be very good himself who thinks that which God makes is not very good. In this he contradicts his God. It is a beautiful world we live in:
“Every prospect pleases,
And only man is vile.”
There are lovely spots on this fair globe which ought to make even a blasphemer devout. I have said, among the mountains, “He who sees no God here is mad.” There are things that God has made which overwhelm with a sense of his Omnipotence: how can men see them, and doubt the existence of the Deity? Whether you consider the anatomy of the body, or the conformation of the mighty heavens, you wonder that the scorner does not bow his head—at least in silence—and own the infinite supremacy of God.
Well, now, if there be—and I am sure there is—something pure and elevating in joy in God as the Creator of ordinary things—as the Maker of all this first creation—much more is there something bright, and pure, and spiritually exhilarating, in rejoicing in God’s higher works, in God’s spiritual works, in God’s new creation. Methinks, if a man feels within him a new heart, and rejoices in his new birth; if he sees in others new and holier lives, and rejoices in them; if he listens to the preaching of the gospel, and discovers in it now and better principles, such as the old worn-out world could never have discovered—why, that man is a gracious man. The eye that can see the new nature is an eye that grace has given, and newly opened to new light. The heart that can rejoice in the new creation is a heart that is itself renewed, or else it would not comprehend spiritual things, and could not rejoice in them. I invite you, therefore, dear friends—you that see, and know, and somewhat appreciate the new creation in its beginnings—to joy, and to rejoice in it to-night.
It is a delightful thing that God should make a tree, and bid it come forth in the springtide with all its budding verdure. It is a far better thing that God should take a poor thorny heart like yours and mine, and transform it till it becomes like the fir-tree or the pine-tree to his praise. It is a charming sight when bulbs, that have slept under ground through the winter, hold up their golden cups to be filled with the glory of the returning sun. But how much better that hearts that have lain dead in trespasses and sins should be moved by the secret touch of the Spirit of God to welcome the Sun of righteousness, and to rejoice in him! How glorious to see a slum become a sanctuary, a den of thieves a house of God! This is even more wonderful than for darkness to become light, and chaos yield to order.
Source: A Sermon (No. 2211) Intended for Reading on Lord’s-day, July 5th, 1891, Delivered by C. H. SPURGEON, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/2211.htm