« PoprzedniaDalej »
posed, fashioned into man, and made the receptacle of a living soul? Why was it not formed into some insignificant insect or noxious reptile? And wherefore was I endowed with a capacity of knowing and enjoying Thee, my Creator, as my portion for ever?
I know that, as a sinner, I am “born to trouble as the sparks fly upward; yet, since Thy mercy has consecrated “ the
valley of Achor to be a door of hope;" and Thou hast assured me, that “ these light afflic“ tions, which are but for a moment, are working “ for me a far more exceeding and eternal “ weight of glory;" let every faculty of the immortal principle which Thou hast breathed into me, and every member of this earthly machine, which is so fearfully and wonderfully made, be devoted to Thy glory!
- Our Preservation” is equally a call for gratitude with « our Creation. For without the former, the latter would have proved a curse instead of a blessing. It is God who has preserved our souls in life, who has continued to us the use of reason, and who has restrained us from those evil things which would have issued in the eternal ruin both of body and soul in hell.
We comprise in our list of benefits “ all the “ blessings of this life,” which, being incapable of specification on account of their multitude, we are obliged to comprebend in a few words, lest our public service should be swelled to an immoderate length. As the catalogue is every moment increasing in dimensions, our obligations are continually rising to a greater height. But though the blessings of this life are in our public worship necessarily noticed in a cursory way, yet, as they from time to time occur, they
call for those grateful ejaculations by which genuine piety of heart will always manifest itself. * No circumstance of time or place will prevent the real member of our church from acknowledging that Divine hand from which all blessings flow.
From a consideration of the goodness of God as it respects the present life, we rise to those more stupendous proofs of His love which have respect to the world to come.
Here our tongues must faulter for expression, and, after our utmost efforts, we shall be constrained eternally to lie at the foot of the cross, lost in wonder, love, and praise.
“ The redemption of the world by our Lord « Jesus Christ" is " above all" God's other mercies, because it is the foundation of all: for even the temporal blessings which the wicked enjoy are effects of this redemption, without which our creation and preservation would finally become sources of infelicity. Nothing can make us truly thankful for the benefits of our creation and preservation, but an acquaintance with redemption. If we consider the nature of this unspeakable act of grace, and the circumstances that attend it, our wonder and gratitude will be heightened at every step. If we inquire into the evils from which we have been redeemed, the result will open to our view
* What an alarming proof of the impiety of the present age is the disuse of the practice of acknowledging God at our meals!
While many partake of the bounties of Providence like brute beasts that have no understanding, there are more whose irreverence in the act is nearly as reprehensible as the omission. " The ox knoweth his owner, and 56 the ass his master's crib.”--Isa. i. 3. 6. Shall I not visit “ for these things, saith the Lord; and shall not my soul be
avenged on such a nation as this?”—Jer. v. 9.
such a scene of misery as no tongue can describe, and no heart conceive. The present torments of a guilty conscience, and the slavery of carnal appetites, are of themselves sufficient to shew the greatness of the inestimable benefit. But this is no more than a diminutive part of those horrible mischiefs which sin has introduced. When the subject is further investigated with respect to the present and future blessings which this redemption has procured for us, though we know but in part, and read of " such things as
eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have o entered into the heart of man to conceive;" yet enough is perceptible to the believing soul to shew the propriety of the following phraseology of our church: “ But above all we bless “ Thee for the redemption of the world by our « Lord Jesus Christ." The addition of one consideration more, viz. the nature of the ransom, will constrain us to confess our total inability to make any adequate returns of love and duty; for “ we are bought with a price, not “ with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, “ but with the precious blood of Christ”-of Christ, “the only begotten of the Father; God “ manifest in the flesh.” When the Roman Proconsul T. Q. Flaminius, after the defeat of King Philip and the Macedonians, restored to Greece its liberty, laws, and privileges; so soon as the proclamation of the herald was distinctly heard, the shout which the delivered Greeks gave, in the transport of their joy, was so loud as to be audible even at the sea; and the birds which were fiying over their heads dropped down into the midst of the theatre, stunned with the noise of their acclamations. The people deserted their seats, no further regard was paid
to the instituted diversions, but all hastened to embrace and to address the preserver and protector of Greece. And if the Proconsul had not retired to a place of shelter, so soon as the assembly rose up, he must have been surrounded, and probably suffocated by so immense a multitude. * Shall the sons of men, who have been redeemed from everlasting destruction by the blood of the Son of God, be silent in His praise ?
The blessings of redemption, great and inestimable as they are, would be to us of no value, had not its gracious Author opened a way by which we might become partakers of them. On this account we proceed to thank Him“ for " the means of grace. The preaching of His Word and the administration of His Sacraments, together with reading, prayer, and devout meditation, are those precious channels through which His favour flows into our souls. These are the Divinely instituted means of grace, of regenerating, renewing, quickening, strengthening, comforting, and sanctifying grace. Reader, have you learned to prize them? Does your constant attendance on them prove that your use of this form of thanksgiving is the language of sincerity and truth? "If, by these means of grace, your soul has been quickened from that death in trespasses and sins in which it once lay, they are as necessary to your soul as food is to your body, and more valuable in proportion as you esteem the salvation of your soul above the life of your mortal body.
“ The hope of glory,” which “the redemp“ tion of our souls by our Lord Jesus Christ'i procured for us, and which “ the means of
* Langhorne's Plutarch, vol. ii. p. 374.
grace" excite in us, completes the list of our spiritual mercies. This sweetens the bitter cup of affliction--this sheds a ray of consolation on the darkest path we are called to tread. If death were indeed an eternal sleep“ if in this " life only we had hope in Christ, we should be “ of all men most miserable," because faith produces in the hearts of all who are possessed of it desires and expectations to which the worldling is an utter stranger. But “ blessed “ be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus " Christ, who, according to His abundant
mercy, hath begotten us again to a lively “ hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from • the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and “ undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved “ in heaven for you, who are kept by “ of God through faith unto salvation, ready “ to be revealed in the last time: wherein ye
greatly rejoice, though now for a season (if “ need be) ye are in heaviness through manifold
temptations: that the trial of your faith, being “ much more precious than of gold that perish“eth, though it be tried with fire, might be “ found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at “the appearing of Jesus Christ : whom having “ not seen ye love; in whom, though now ye “ see Him not, yet believing ye rejoice with
joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving " the end of your faith, even the salvation of
your souls."* Reader, is this the experience
your heart? Is “ the hope of glory” the anchor of your soul in the storm of life? And is your anchor cast on the rock of ages, Jesus