Chapter VI Praise

Implies Discriminating Appreciation.––If our dull souls are slow to thank, perhaps they are still slower to praise, because praise implies discriminating appreciation and reflection as well as thankfulness.

We know how the painter, the musician, writhe under the compliments of people who do not understand, while a word of discriminating praise sends them on their way rejoicing: they are honoured. This is the honour that the divine condescension seeks at our hands.

'We praise Thee, O God,' has ever been the voice of the Church. Prophets, confessors, the noble army of martyrs have, we know, praised God in their lives and by their deaths. To-day, there are those who devote themselves to lives of pain and peril for the honour of God and the service of man; and these too, we can understand, praise God. There are poets to whom it is given to utter some vital word, painters who present us with 'The Light of the World,' or, like the Russian painter, Ivan Kramskoi, with a vision of Christ seated in the wilderness. Such as these praise God, we know, but they are few and far between. So, too, do honest, simple souls who bear affliction willingly, or who live their appointed lives with the sense that they are appointed. All of these ways of giving praise we recognise and bow before; but the duty would seem to pass us by as incompetent persons. We are not angels, we carry no harps.

But the duty of praise is not for occasional or rare seasons; it waits at our doors every day. If we had not been told otherwise, we should have thought it presuming to believe that the great Artificer, like every loving craftsman, delights in the recognition by others of the beauty, perfection, and fitness of the work He turns out. It is so good to know this of our God; it draws Him near to us with the cords of a man. The Psalmist knew that "the merciful and gracious Lord hath so done His marvellous works that they ought to be had in remembrance." He was never weary of telling how, "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork," how, "He feedeth the young ravens when they call upon Him," how, "all the trees of the wood do clap their hands." We all see these things; but David not only saw them, but they gave voice in his heart to a continual hymn of praise. And he, who knew how to honour his God by giving praise, was, we are told, the man after God's own heart.

Discoverers give us Themes for Praise.––Every age would seem to have its prophets, be they painters, poets, or what else, whose function it is to lead in the praises of the choir. To-day, perhaps, scientific men are promoted to this high honour, and what multitudes of praises do they disclose to us! We call such men discoverers, and rightly so, because the thing discovered is there, they in no way produce it; but it is given to them to discover, to show to the rest of us. Every day there is still some new call upon us for wonder, admiration and praise, at the disclosure of some hitherto unknown and undiscovered great conception, mighty exhibition of the Power which every scientist to-day perceives to be behind all 'natural' operations.

Think of a ship in mid-Atlantic being able to communicate, without visible channel, with land a thousand miles away on either side; and that this possibility has been always hidden in the councils of the Almighty, and but now discovered to the man 'prepared'! What may there still be hidden in those councils, waiting till we are ready for disclosure? What amazing discoveries have been opened to us during the last few years! how the sense of the immanence of God presses upon us through all that which we call nature! "How excellent are Thy works, O Lord! in wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches." "He that giveth thanks and praise, he honoureth Me." Let us not neglect to lift, day by day, our offering of praise to our God.