‘This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.’ Isaiah 28:29
Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 35:30–36:2
We are to ascribe the thoughtful, inventive mind, and the dexterous, clever hand, to him who is the great Instructor of man. We trace directly to God the marvellous philosophy of Newton, and the skill of Watt and Stephenson, because the very slightest consideration shows us that there was originally a peculiarity in the constitution and formation of such minds as theirs. The most of us could have done nothing of the kind if we had tried all our days. There may be men of inventive genius here, but I suppose that nine out of ten of us can make no pretence to the possession of anything of the sort, and therefore we are led to ask, where did the faculty come from? Surely the fertile brain of invention must be the Creator’s gift. An after providence has also a hand in the business, for many men whose minds would naturally have gone in the direction of invention, are turned into quite another course by the force of circumstances. It was surely God’s providence which in other cases found a channel for the natural passion, and allowed the soul to flow as it willed. And how often, too, some of the greatest inventions have been due to the simplest accidents! The puffing of steam from a kettle, or the falling of an apple from a tree have led thoughtful minds to discover great and important truths, and who shall attribute these circumstances to any but to ‘him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,’ and who gives wisdom to the wisest of the sons of men? Let us adore the mighty God, not only as we read our Bibles, but as we traverse the halls of art and science, and visit the exhibitions which in these days of ours are being reared on every side. Let us make man’s skill speak to us of God’s glory.
For meditation: 1 Corinthians 4:7. Our ‘natural’ abilities are God-given, whether they are practical (Exodus 36:1–2) or academic (Daniel 1:17). It is our responsibility to use our gifts for their proper purpose and we are the only ones to blame if they are misused.
Sermon no. 711
16 September (1866)