Christians should be the most cheerful and happy people that live. They may have the consciousness that God is their father, and their everlasting friend. But many professed Christians do not correctly represent the Christian religion. They appear gloomy, as if under a cloud. They often speak of the great sacrifices they have made to become Christians. They appeal to those who have not accepted Christ, representing by their own example and conversation that they must give up everything which would make life pleasant and joyful. They throw a pall of darkness over the blessed Christian hope. The impression is given that God’s requirements are a burden even to the willing soul, and that everything that would give pleasure, or that would delight the taste, must be sacrificed.
We do not hesitate to say that this class of professed Christians have not the genuine article. God is love. Whoso dwelleth in God, dwelleth in love. All who have indeed become acquainted, by experimental knowledge, with the love and tender compassion of our Heavenly Father will impart light and joy wherever they may be. Their presence and influence will be to their associates as the fragrance of sweet flowers, because they are linked to God and Heaven, and the purity and exalted loveliness of Heaven are communicated through them to all that are brought within their influence. This constitutes them the light of the world, the salt of the earth. They are indeed savors of life unto life, but not of death unto death.
It is the privilege and duty of Christians to seek to refresh their spirits and invigorate their bodies by innocent recreation, with the purpose of using their physical and mental powers to the glory of God. Our recreations should not be scenes of senseless mirth, taking the form of the nonsensical. We can conduct them in such a manner as will benefit and elevate those with whom we associate, and better qualify us and them to more successfully attend to the duties devolving upon us as Christians. We cannot be excusable in the sight of God if we engage in amusements which have a tendency to unfit us for the faithful performance of the ordinary duties of life, and thus lessen our relish for the contemplation of God and heavenly things. The religion of Christ is cheering and elevating in its influence. It is above everything like foolish jesting and joking, vain and frivolous chit-chat. In all our seasons of recreation we may gather from the Divine Source of strength fresh courage and power, that we may the more successfully elevate our lives to purity, true goodness, and holiness.
Even the great God is a lover of the beautiful. He has given us unmistakable evidence of this in the work of his hands. He planted for our first parents a beautiful garden in Eden. Stately trees were caused to grow out of the ground, of every description, for usefulness and ornament. The beautiful flowers are formed, of rare loveliness, of every tint and hue, perfuming the air. The merry songsters, of varied plumage, caroled forth their joyous songs to the praise of their Creator. It was the design of God that man should find happiness in the employment of tending the things he had created, and that his wants should be met with the fruits of the trees of the garden.
God, who made the Eden home of our first parents so surpassingly lovely, has also given the noble trees, the beautiful flowers, and everything lovely in nature, for our happiness. He has given us these tokens of his love, that we may have correct views of his character. He has implanted in the hearts of his children the love of the beautiful. But by many this love has been perverted. The benefits and beauties which God has bestowed upon us have been worshiped; while the glorious Giver has been forgotten. This is stupid ingratitude. We should acknowledge the love of God to us in all his creative works, and our heart should respond to these evidences of his love by giving him the heart’s best and holiest affections.
God has surrounded us with nature’s beautiful scenery to attract and interest the mind. It is his design that we should associate the glories of nature with his character. If we faithfully study the book of nature, we shall find it a fruitful source for contemplating the infinite love and power of God.
Many extol artistic skill which will produce lovely paintings upon canvas. All the powers of the being are by many devoted to art, yet how far short do these come of the natural. Art can never attain to the perfection seen in nature. Many professed Christians will go into ecstacies over the painting of an evening sunset. They worship the skill of the artist; but they pass by with indifference the actual glorious sunset which it is their privilege to look upon every cloudless evening. Where does the artist obtain his design? From nature. But the great Master Artist has painted upon heaven’s shifting, changing canvas the glories of the setting sun. He has tinted and gilded the heavens with gold, silver, and crimson, as though the portals of high Heaven were thrown open, that we might view its gleamings, and our imagination take hold of the glory within. Many turn carelessly from this heavenly wrought picture. They fail to trace the infinite love and power of God in the surpassing beauties seen in the heavens, but are almost entranced as they view and worship the imperfect paintings, in imitation of the Master Artist.
The Redeemer of the world generally chose the open air in which to give his lessons of instruction, rather than to be inclosed in walls. He could make his teachings more impressive when surrounded with the beauties of nature. He chose the groves and the sea-side, where he could have a commanding view of landscape and varied scenery, that he might illustrate important truths of the kingdom of God, by the works of God in nature. He made use of the birds, caroling forth their songs without a care, and the lilies of the valley in their beauty, outrivaling Solomon in all his glory, and the lily, emblem of purity, reposing upon the bosom of the lake, the lofty trees, the cultivated lands, the waving grain, the barren soil, the tree that bore no fruit, the everlasting hills, the bubbling stream, the setting sun, tinting and gilding the heavens, to impress his hearers with divine truth.
He connected the works of God’s fingers in the heavens and upon the earth, with the words of life he wished to impress upon their minds, that as they should look upon the wonderful works of God in nature, his lessons would be fresh in their memories. He could extol the wisdom of God in his creative works, and could bind up his sacred lessons by directing their minds through nature up to nature’s God. The landscape, the trees, the birds, the flowers of the valley, the hills, the lake, and the beautiful heavens, were associated in their minds with sacred truths, which would make them hallowed in memory, as they should look upon them after Christ’s ascension to Heaven.
As we are attracted to the beautiful in nature, and associate the things which God has created for the happiness of man with his character, we will regard God as a tender, loving Father, rather than merely as a stern judge. As the character of God thus bears the aspect of love, benevolence, beauty and attraction, the mind is drawn to him. The heart is quickened, and throbs with new and deeper love, mingled with awe and reverence, as we contemplate God in nature.
It is for our health and happiness to go out of our houses, and spend as much of our time as possible in the open air. The mind of the invalid should be withdrawn from self, to the beautiful scenes in nature. We can but be cheerful as we listen to the music of the happy birds, and feast our eyes upon flourishing fields and gardens. We should invite our minds to be interested in all the glorious things God has provided for us with a liberal hand. And in reflecting upon these rich tokens of his love and care, we may forget infirmities, be cheerful, and make melody in our hearts unto the Lord.1White, E. G. (1871, July 25). Christian Recreation. The Review and Herald.
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|1.||↑||White, E. G. (1871, July 25). Christian Recreation. The Review and Herald.|