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Hence it is not surprising that we retain so slight a recollection of the benefits which God has bestowed on us. Other dispositions coincide with the one which we have mentioned, to erase them from our memories. We lose sight of God, amid the natural causes, which he employs as the ministers of his will. We regard our blessings as the fruit of our own skill and industry; or as the result of the ordinary course of things. If our minds ascend at all to the Great Giver of every good and perfect gift, we seldom feel our unworthiness so strongly, as to excite gratitude for his mercy.
How pertinent, then, is the exhortation of the Psalmist :- Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction ; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.* How fit it is, that we should remember the benefits which God has so bountifully bestowed on us, and praise him with grateful hearts. It is especially proper that at this moment, standing as each reader does, near that interesting point, which divides the old year from that which has just commenced, we should pause, and for a while "talk with our past hours ;" recal to mind the great benefits which we have received ; mourn over the sins which we have committed ; and call on our souls, and all that is within us, to bless his holy name.
The Psalmist enumerates, in the Psalm which we have just quoted, several particulars, among the causes for gratitude.
1. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities.
David considered the pardon of his sins as the highest cause for gratitude. He placed it, in the list of mercies, before the preservation of his life, esteeming it as a stronger proof of the mercy of God, and as a far more valuable blessing. It is a stronger proof of the mercy of God, because life and all the blessings which pertain to the present world, cost Jehovah nothing, if we may be allowed so to speak. He is the fountain of life, and he can, with a word, create millions of worlds like ours. He opens his hand, and supplies the want of every living thing. The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. In the gift of temporal benefits, there is nothing to limit his power. Ile regards these things as of inferior value, and bestows them on his enemies, as well as on his friends. But the pardon of sin cost the blood of his Son. It was bought at an infinite price. The honor of God, too, is outraged by sin, and pardon requires the exercise on his part, of the same compassion which gave his only begotten Son, to enable him to pardon us, in a way consistent with his character. God, then, performs no act, more important in its consequences, and in which his own honor, and the welfare of his dominions, are more concerned, than the pardon of a sinner. It is, too, the most valuable gift which he can bestow ; for it is connected with the enjoyment
* Psalm ciii. 1-4.
of his favor, and with the attainment of everlasting felicity. Well, then, might David exclaim, Blessed is he, whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Well might he esteem the favor of God as life, and his loving kindness as better than life. This blessing gives tenfold value to every other. , How unavailing are all the benefits which we enjoy, to make us truly and permanently happy, without the pardon of our sins, and the hope of future felicity. It supplies, too, the absence of almost every other blessing. Lazarus was a happier man, while he lived, than the rich man, at whose gate he sat as a mendicant; for in the midst of his poverty he had peace of mind, and the hope of a future repose in Abraham's bosom. But the rich man was either wholly thoughtless of his own character, or was tormented, before the time, by the fear of that hell, in which he was soon to lift up his eyes.
Have we the hope that God has forgiven us all our iniquities? Let us call upon our souls, and all that is within us to bless his holy
Alas! how many sins have we committed against him the last
many, that we can remember-how many, that we have forgotten. God has seen them all, and if we have sincerely repented of them, he has forgiven them. O for this inestimable benefit, how ought we to praise him. But when we add to this, the innumerable spiritual mercies which have flowed from his hand, how can we adequately express the gratitude and joy which ought to fill our hearts.
There are some, it is probable, among our readers, who, during the past year, have received the pardon of their iniquities, and an adoption into the family of God. He brought you to a sense of your condition, and you wept over your sins. In his infinite mercy he forgave you ; he spake peace to your souls. The name of Jesus became precious to your hearts. You rejoiced with joy unspeakable. What ought to be your gratitude ! How should you strive to walk worthy of the Lord, in faith, in love, in dutiful obedience, in works of charity! O forget not his benefits. Let the recollection of his goodness be a constraining motive to live not unto yourselves, but unto him who died for you, and rose again. Cherish a strong desire for holiness.
Make the Redeemer your pattern, and ask of him daily the grace which you need to keep you from falling, and bring you to his heavenly kingdom.
But there are others, it may be feared, who have no reason to hope, that their iniquities have been forgiven. This is not among the benefits which you have received from God. You have, perhaps, never asked him to forgive you. How awful is the thought ! Every day of the past year you have sinned against God. He has been angry with you every day. When you have lain down to rest at night, his wrath bas hung over you. In the morning, when you arose, it hung over you still. At night, you lay down again, with a heavier weight of condemnation upon your soul. You have arrived at the commencement another year, and your sins are unforgiven. that you might not forget your iniquities. God has remembered them. They are all recorded in his book. At the judgment day, they will all be brought forward, unless the
precious blood of Christ shall be sprinkled on the book, and shall blot them out forever.
2. Who healeth all thy diseases-Who redeemeth thy life from destruction. A second benefit, recorded by the Psalmist, as
a cause for devout gratitude, is, that God had healed all his diseases. He may, perhaps, allude to the diseases of his soul; but the more direct reference no doubt is, to the bodily diseases from which God had relieved him.
A large portion of the misery which is suffered by mankind arises from sickness. Our bodies are mortal, and long before death completes his victory over them, disease impairs their strength, defaces their beauty, and racks them with pain. The cure of diseases, therefore, has always been an object of great importance. Medical science has been cultivated, in some degree, among the rudest nations, and divine honors have been awarded by heathens, to eminent physicians. God has often, by special miracles, cured diseases; and our Saviour and his Apostles spent a large portion of their time in healing the sick.
In former times, when medical skill was less common and thorough than at present, recovery from sickness was less frequent than it is now. The Psalmist, therefore, felt a more lively gratitude, inasınuch as the direct interposition of God was more manifest.
But such a recovery is, at any time, a proof of his goodness, and ought to awaken gratitude. Some of you have been sick during the past year. You lay helpless on your beds. Your friends surrounded you with affectionate assiduity. Your physician exerted his skill for your relief. Perhaps then you thought of God; and it may be, you resolved that if you should recover, you would live no longer in neglect of religion. You have recovered. You are grateful to your friends and to your physician. But what could they do for you, without the blessing of God! It is his high prerogative, to kill and to make alive. Will you then forget him ? Where are the vows which some of you may have made him? Why did he spare you, while you were without repentance for your sins, or gratitude for his kindness ?
Have you been preserved in health ? How much greater cause for thankfulness! The power and the goodness of God are more displayed in preserving from sickness, than in removing it. What a standing miracle it is, that with bodies so frail, and while ten thousand causes of disease are lurking around us, we continue to enjoy so large a measure of health. How fearfully and wonderfully are we made! It is a remark of a lively French writer, quoted by Dr. Paley, that if we could look within ourselves, and see our hearts beating at the rate of four thousand strokes an hour ; lungs playing, the blood circulating, the tendons pulling, and all the rest of this complicated machinery in steady operation, we should be afraid to move. Yet how freely do we move and act, and how long does this harp of a thousand strings keep in perfect tune! It is the Lord's doing, and it is wondrous in our eyes. To him, then, be the praise. But let us not forget that we must all
die. These bodies are doomed to death; and we must all sleep in the grave. It is unavoidable. Prepared or unprepared, forgive en or unforgiven, these tabernacles of clay must mingle with the dust from which they were taken ; and our spirits must ascend to judgment. O that each reader might think now of his latter end; and, while time is bearing him onward so rapidly to the grave, flee to Jesus for pardon and eternal life.
Connected with the cure of his diseases, the Psalmist blesses the Lord for redeeming his life from destruction.
The method by which the lives of men are usually terminated, is disease. But death does not always wait for the slow progress of sickness. Innumerable causes may destroy life instantaneously. Iron handed war strikes down millions. David was a warrior, and often exposed to imminent perils. But wherever we may be, we are in danger. God is our only refuge. His arm defends us, and it is because he has preserved us, that we are alive. Death bas been busy around us the past year. Many of you has he clothed in mourning. You miss some who once mingled in your domestic circle. Why are you spared ? Before another year shall have closed, you too may die. Let us so number our days, as to apply our hearts unto wisdom. But the Psalmist mentions another blessing:
3. Who crowneth thee with loving kindness, and tender mercies. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
God has not merely given us life, but he has supplied our wants. The earth has yielded an abundant harvest. How vast an amount of provisions is requisite for the support of so many millions of human beings, without reckoning the countless myriads of other animals. But God satisfies the want of every living thing. But in addition to the necessaries of life, how
other mercies have been granted. You have had, and still have, affectionate friends; you have the means of intellectual and religious instruction ; you enjoy a complete freedom, under a benign government. Loving kindness and tender mercies crown your lives, and ought to excite your gratitude and lead you to repentance. What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me ? should be the inquiry of every heart; and the joyful reply should be, “ I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord; I will pay my vows unto the Lord now, in the presence of all his people." Gratitude for the mercies bestowed ought to make you liberal in your charities to the poor, especially at this inclement season, when so many suffer the accumulated evils of sickness, cold and hunger. A desire for the happiness of mankind should make us active in the promotion of all those plans which aim at the moral regeneration of the world.
But besides individual mercies, how many blessings have been vouchsafed to your families and friends! Your own happiness is intimately connected with theirs, and with the tribute of thanksgiving on your own behalf should ascend to God a mingled song of praise for the benefits wbich he has granted to your friends. Jan. 1830.
With so many, and so varied causes of gratitude, how ought we all, at the commencement of the New Year, to praise our great Benefactor, humble ourselves in his presence, for our numberless sins, and implore him to guide us by his counsel through the year on which we have entered. Whether any of us shall see its end, is known to God alone. Some eyes which read these lines will, it is probable, be closed in death before the year shall have fulfilled its course. Let each reader inquire, “ Is it I ?" Am I prepared ? Have I been reconciled to God by faith in his Son ? And am I a partaker of the glorious hope of the Gospel ?
MEMOIRS OF REV. JOSEPH COCKIN.
Mr. Editor, The following extracts are from the memoirs of my once highly esteemed and
beloved pastor, late preacher at Halifax, England. They give an abridged account of his Christian experience, and of the means which led to his entering on a course of Theological Studies, in a letter to his son. Hereafter, if requested, you shall have a narrative of his ministerial labors, which, it is believed, for talents, zeal, and success, have seldom been surpassed. S.
I was born on the 12th of March, 1755, at Honley, a considerable village in the parish of Almondbury, in the West Riding of the county of York.
My first religious impressions were when I was about thirteen years of age. The manner of the change was something remarkable, as I had never heard an evangelical sermon in my life. I had been one evening at the vain and sinful sports which were too coinnon among the boys in the neighborhood; my father's house being at some distance from the village, I felt, on my way home the most painful sensations of tormenting fear, and I fully thought there was but a step between me and death. I had the sentence of condemnation in my conscience; and I felt that it was an awful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. In great agitation of mind, I arrived at home, where I found my mother and another woman conversing about one of their acquaintance who was lately dead. The woman said, that it was a mercy for her that she was gone, for she had been very uncomfortable while here. To which my mother replied, that there was no reason to believe that any person could be happy in the world to come, who had not been born again in this world. This sentence stuck fast in my mind, and I pondered it very seriously.
In this state I retired to rest, or rather to bed, without saying a word, and passed such a night as I had never spent before, nor indeed have ever done since. My life with all its sins passed before my mind in awful review. I thought of God, and was troubled, and my spirit made diligent search. Heaven and hell, with all their realities of pleasure and pain, of joy and sorrow, were alternately felt, and my soul struggled under the interchangeable sensations of hope and fear. O Lord ! I remember these things with humiliation and gratitude, and bless that gracious hand which