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ON THINKING IMPERIALLY
For Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy work; I will triumph in the works of Thy hands. O Lord, how great are Thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.-Ps. xcii. 4-6.
HE psalmist indulges in grand conceptions
and celebrations, which fill him with delight;
he is enraptured with thoughts of God's works and government. The brutish man and the fool are incapable of these boundless and delightful speculations; they are wholly occupied with narrow, frivolous, sordid interests.
There is the larger thought that arises from the contemplation of God's works. This rapturous passage must contain a reference to the greatness and glory of creation. The psalmist is alive to the beauty of the earth, the wildness of the sea, the magnificence of the heavens, and these appreciations enlarge his heart and fill it with pure enthusiasm. Contemplating the divine grandeurs of nature, he becomes oblivious to the petty thoughts and cares of human life, and bathes his soul in the infinite.
Never was there more pressing need of the larger thought than to-day. Our age is specially materialistic,
industrial, mechanical, commercial, and we are steeped in belittling, coarsening influences. The conditions of modern life seem to forbid that a grain of poetry should be left in our brain, a spark of noble passion in our heart. The ugly, the hard, the vulgar, and the vile are the shades of our prison-house. What, then, is the special antidote and compensation that heaven has provided against this threatening deluge of materialism and meanness? The age of secularism is also the age of science. “God hath even made the one side by side with the other.” Side by side with the demoralizing and dwarfing influence of intense material care and passion are discovered sublime things and exquisite things hidden from former generations. Lest an age of tools should make us brutish, and an age of gilded toys make us fools, God has reserved to us the telescope, the spectroscope, the microscope, and other rare instruments to keep us face to face with the splendour and mystery of the world.
Do we duly avail ourselves of the gift of natural knowledge vouchsafed to our generation? A few do, and live in great thoughts; the majority do not, and their brain and heart are choked with rubbish. Naturalists bewail the forlorn lot of the captive bird; but the far worse tragedy is that man himself is caged, his humanity thrust into the narrowest intellectual and sentimental range. It is sad to think how little this glorious world means to the mass of us! Weary and sickened with ephemeral things, absurd ambitions and pleasures, irritating trifles, disheartening commonplaces of scene and experience, let us cultivate more the observant, adoring mood of the psalmist, and at once we