Considering that this earth, and the atmosphere that surrounds it, are the very sediment of the universe, it concerns us to enquire after those considerations that may be of use to reconcile us to our place in it; and I know none more likely than this (next to the visit which the Son of God once made to it), that even in this world, dark and as bad as it is, God is praised: Praise you the Lord from the earth, Ps. 148:7. As the rays of the sun, which are darted directly from heaven, reflect back (though more weakly) from the earth, so should the praises of God, with which this cold and infected world should be warmed and perfumed.
I. Even those creatures that are not dignified with the powers of reason are summoned into this concert, because God may be glorified in them, Ps. 148:7-10. Let the dragons or whales, that sport themselves in the mighty waters (Ps. 104:26), dance before the Lord, to his glory, who largely proves his own omnipotence by his dominion over the leviathan or whale, Ps. 41:1 All deeps, and their inhabitants, praise God—the sea, and the animals there—the bowels of the earth, and the animals there. Out of the depths God may be praised as well as prayed unto. If we look up into the atmosphere we meet with a great variety of meteors, which, being a king of new productions (and some of them unaccountable), do in a special manner magnify the power of the great Creator. There are fiery meteors; lightning is fire, and there are other blazes sometimes kindled which may be so called. There are watery meteors, hail, and snow, and the vapours of which they are gendered. There are airy meteors, stormy winds; we know not whence they come nor whither they go, whence their mighty force comes nor how it is spent; but this we know, that, be they ever so strong, so stormy, they fulfil God’s word, and do that, and no more than that, which he appoints them; and by this Christ showed himself to have a divine power, that he commanded even the winds and the seas, and they obeyed him. Those that will not fulfil God’s word, but rise up in rebellion against it, show themselves to be more violent and headstrong than even the stormy winds, for they fulfil it. Take a view of the surface of the earth (Ps. 148:9), and there are presented to our view the exalted grounds, mountains and all hills, from the barren tops of some of which, and the fruitful tops of others, we may fetch matter for praise; there are the exalted plants, some that are exalted by their usefulness, as the fruitful trees of various kinds, for the fruits of which God is to be praised, others by their stateliness, as all cedars, those trees of the Lord, Ps. 104:16. Cedars, the high trees, are not the fruitful trees, yet they had their use even in God’s temple. Pass we next to the animal kingdom, and there we find God glorified, even by the beasts that run wild, and all cattle that are tame and in the service of man, Ps. 148:10. Nay, even the creeping things have not sunk so low, nor do the flying fowl soar so high, as not to be called upon to praise the Lord. Much of the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Creator appears in the several capacities and instincts of the creatures, in the provision made for them and the use made of them. When we see all so very strange, and all so very good, surely we cannot but acknowledge God with wonder and thankfulness.
II. Much more those creatures that are dignified with the powers of reason ought to employ them in praising God: Kings of the earth and all people, Ps. 148:11, 12. 1. God is to be glorified in and for these, as in and for the inferior creatures, for their hearts are in the hand of the Lord and he makes what use he pleases of them. God is to be praised in the order and constitution of kingdoms, the pars imperans—the part that commands, and the pars subdita—the part that is subject: Kings of the earth and all people. It is by him that kings reign, and people are subject to them; the princes and judges of the earth have their wisdom and their commission from him, and we, to whom they are blessings, ought to bless God for them. God is to be praised also in the constitution of families, for he is the founder of them; and for all the comfort of relations, the comfort that parents and children, brothers and sisters, have in each other, God is to be praised. 2. God is to be glorified by these. Let all manner of persons praise God. (1.) Those of each rank, high and low. The praises of kings, and princes, and judges, are demanded; those on whom God has put honour must honour him with it, and the power they are entrusted with, and the figure they make in the world, put them in a capacity of bringing more glory to God and doing him more service than others. Yet the praises of the people are expected also, and God will graciously accept of them; Christ despised not the hosannas of the multitude. (2.) Those of each sex, young men and maidens, who are accustomed to make merry together; let them turn their mirth into this channel; let it be sacred, that it may be pure. (3.) Those of each age. Old men must still bring forth this fruit in old age, and not think that either the gravity or the infirmity of their age will excuse them from it; and children too must begin betimes to praise God; even out of the mouth of babes and sucklings this good work is perfected. A good reason is given (Ps. 148:13) why all these should praise the name of the Lord, because his name alone is excellent and worthy to be praised; it is a name above every name, no name, no nature, but his, has in it all excellency. His glory is above both the earth and the heaven, and let all inhabitants both of earth and heaven praise him and yet acknowledge his name to be exalted far above all blessing and praise.
III. Most of all his own people, who are dignified with peculiar privileges, must in a peculiar manner give glory to him, Ps. 148:14. Observe, 1. The dignity God has put upon his people, even the children of Israel, typical of the honour reserved for all true believers, who are God’s spiritual Israel. He exalts their horn, their brightness, their plenty, their power. The people of Israel were, in many respects, honoured above any other nation, for to them pertained the adoption, the glory, and the covenants, Rom. 9:4. It was their own honour that they were a people near unto God, his Segulla, his peculiar treasure; they were admitted into his courts, when a stranger that came nigh must be put to death. They had him nigh to them in all that which they called upon him for. This blessing has not come upon the Gentiles, through Christ, for those that were afar off are by his blood made nigh, Eph. 2:13. It is the greatest honour that can be put upon a man to be brought near to god, the nearer the better; and it will be best of all when nearest of all in the kingdom of glory. 2. The duty God expects from them in consideration of this. Let those whom God honours honour him: Praise you the Lord. Let him be the praise of all his saints, the object of their praise; for he is a praise to them. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, Deut. 10:21. Some by the horn of his people understand David, as a type of Christ, whom God has exalted to be a prince and a Saviour, who is indeed the praise of all his saints and will be so for ever; for it is through him that they are a people near to God.