GOD ALL SATISFYING
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength
of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26
Every theory of human happiness, as we have more than
once noted in the preceding pages, is defective and incomplete, which falls
short of the aspirations of natures born for the infinite. No satellite,
with its borrowed light, will compensate for the loss of the sun. You may
tempt a man, as he is hurrying on his immortal way with the world's
portions; you may hold out to him the golden sheaves of riches, you may
seek to detain him amid the sunny glades of pleasure, or on the hilltops of
fame (and he may be but too willing for a while to linger); but satisfy
him, they cannot!
When his nobler nature acquires its ascendancy, he will
spurn them all. Brushing each one in succession away, as the stag does the
dewy drops of the morning, he will say, 'All are insufficient, I wish them
not. I have been mocked by their failure, I have found that each has a lie
in its right hand. It is a poor counterfeit, a shadowy figure of the true. I
need the Infinite of Knowledge, Goodness, Truth, Love!' "In the Lord I take
refuge. How then can you say to me: 'Flee like a bird to your mountain'"?
The fact is, it is the very grandeur of the soul which
leads it thus to pant after God. Small things satisfy a small capacity, but
what is made receptive of the vast and glorious can only be satisfied with
great things. The mind of the child is satisfied with the toy or the
trinket; the mind of the untutored savage with bits of painted glass or
tinsel; but the grown man, the sage, the philosopher, desire higher
possessions, purer knowledge, nobler themes of thought and objects of
ambition. Some insects are born for an hour, and are satisfied with it. A
summer afternoon is the duration of existence allotted to myriads of tiny
ephemera. In their case, youth and old-age are crowded into a few
passing minutes. The descending sun witnesses both their birth and death;
the lifetime of other animals would be to them an immortality.
The soul, being unlimited in its capacities, has
correspondingly lofty aspirations. Vain would be the attempt to fill up a
yawning gulf by throwing into it a few grains of sand. But not more vain or
ineffectual than trying to answer the deep yearnings of the human spirit by
the seen and the temporal. Men go sighing on—drinking their
rivers of pleasure, and climbing their mountains of vanity. They feel
all the while some undefined, inarticulate, nameless longing after something
nobler; but it is a miserable travesty to say that it has been found, or can
be found, in anything here on earth. "Who will show us any good?" will still
be the quest of the groping seeker, until he has learned to say, "Let the
light of Your face shine upon us, O Lord."
You may have seen in our mountain glens, in the grey
twilight, birds winging their way to their nests. There may be bowers and
gardens of fragrance and beauty close by, inviting to sweetest melody,
nature's consecrated haunts of song. But they tempt them not. Their homes
are in the distant rock, and there they speed. So with the immortal spirit.
The perches of this world will not satisfy it. There is no stable repose in
these for its weary wing and wailing cry. It goes singing up and home to
God—it has its nest in the crevices of the Rock of Ages. When detained in
the nether valley, often is the warbling note heard, "Oh that I had wings
like a dove, for then would I flee away, and be at rest." And when the
flight has been made from the perishable to the imperishable, from the lower
valleys of sense, to the hills of faith, from the creature
to the Creator, from man to God—as we see it folding
its buoyant pinion and sinking into the eternal clefts, we listen to the
song—"Return unto your rest, O my soul!"
O God! All mighty, All wise, All good—You are, in
Yourself, all I need, all I require; in sickness and health, in joy and in
sorrow, in life and in death, in time and through eternity. The
snow-clad hills may cease to feed the brooks; that sun may cease to shine,
or nature grow weary of his loving beams; that moon may cease on her silver
lyre, night by night, to discourse to "the listening earth;" the birds may
become mute at the voice of the morning; flowers may droop, instead of
ringing their thousand bells at the jubilant advance of summer; the gasping
pilgrim may rush from palm-grove and stream, and prefer the fiery
furnace-glow of the desert sands—but "this God shall be my God
forever and ever." And when death is sealing my eyes, and the rush of
darkness is coming over my spirit—even then will I take up the old exile's
strain—the great sigh of weary humanity—and blend its notes with the song of
heaven—"My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God." "I shall be satisfied
when I awake with Your likeness!"
"You know, Lord, the weariness and sorrow
Of the lonely heart that comes to You for rest,
Cares of today, and burdens for tomorrow,
Blessings implored, and sins to be confest.
"You know all the future—gleams of gladness
By stormy clouds too quickly overcast,
Hours of sweet fellowship, and parting sadness,
And the dark river to be crossed at last.
"Therefore I come, Your gentle call obeying,
And lay my sins and sorrows at Your feet;
On everlasting strength my weakness staying,
Clothed in Your robe of righteousness complete."
"I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I
will wait for Him.'"