« AnteriorContinuar »
Jhould in every thing give thanks: because by Christ Jesus he hath bestowed so many signal favours upon us, and put us into such a blessed condition, that let our circumstances. in, this world be what they will, yet if we are faithful disciples of Christ, we cannot finally miscarry, but mail in the end be as happy as it is possible for us to be.
This may suffice to mew, that the expression of the apostle, that thanksgiving is the will of God in Christ jfesusy may be justified without his having given any positive precept for it, or made any verbal declaration of the will of God about xt.
I will employ the remaining part of this discourse in pressing you to the practice* of this duty of thank/giving^ by some other motives and considerations. But before I enter upon that, I will answer an objection that may be brought against it; viz. that it adds not unto the felicity of the divine being. He is exalted above all blejfing and praise-, happy in himself, and in the enjoyment of his own perfections; and can receive no additional pleasure or profit from the praises and commendations of his creatures.
It is granted that our praises make no addition to his felicity, nor give him such a fond pleasure as that which weak people have to hear themselves commended. A man cannot be profitable unto God, as be who is wife may be profitable unto himself. But because we cannot be profitable unto him, must we therefore be unjust? To withhold praise and thanksgiving from him is to be unjust to him; for never was any thing more due from one man to another, than praise is due from all men to God. And if it is a natural duty, it can never be a sufficient excuse for the neglect of it, that it doth not profit God. A poor creature that receives an alms, doth not profit his benefactor by acknowledging his kindness: yet no body will deny that it is fit and proper for him to make acknowledgment of it; and if he mould neglect it, he would be reputed guilty of a great indecency, and unworthy of any future favours. So it becomes us to render thanks unto God for the benefits which we receive from him; because we are profited by them, tho he cannot be profited by our acknowledgment of them. Besides, it ought to be
conconsidered, that the end of all religious worship is not to profit God, but ourselves: and how this particular part of religious worship, viz. praise and thanksgiving is profitable to ourselves, I shall shew hereafter.
I proceed now to exhort you to the practice of this duty by some other motives and considerations. And the first motive which I shall use is the fitness and decency of the thing.
1. Nature dictates to us to be thankful to our friends and benefactors. Now God is our best friend and most bountiful benefactor. From him we derive our beings, and all the comforts of our lives: our health, our reason, our estates, our friends, are all the gifts of God. And as he is the author of temporal mercies, so he is of spiritual. If our iniquities are forgiven, it is God who hath forgiven them : if we mortify the deeds of the body, it is through the Spirit of God that we mortify them: if we work out our own salvation, it is because God worketh in us to will and to do: if we are meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, it is God who hath made us meet. In short, every good gift and every perfeSi gift is
from from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights. Whither then should our praises ascend but unto God ?- He is the source and fountain of all happiness. Our fellow creatures may be, and often are the instruments of good to us ; but they could do nothing except it were given them of God. He is the original and first cause of all: therefore he deserves our highest praise and most thankful acknowledgments ; and if we neglect to give thanks to him for the mercies which we receive from him, we do in effect deny that we have received any such mercies; which is to be guilty of a lye, and to offer the greatest affront imaginable to our own understandings, because it is a disowning of that which we know in our consciences to be true.
2. The consideration of the noble and excellent nature of the duty itself, should excite us to the practice of it.
Praise is more noble than prayer; for it is the sign of a moce noble spirit. The meanest and most sordid spirits may pray ; for they are driven to that by their own wants and necessities: hut they are only great and generous minds who practise thanksgiving; for that depends upon gratitude and ingenuity. If we are thankful for the benefits we receive, we shall shew that we have some bravery and generosity in our tempers; forgraritude and generosity go together, and they who are most grateful for favours are most ready to bestow them. Of this king David is an instance. He was a, man of a very grateful spirits as appears by several passages in his life: e. g. his kindness to mephibosheth, for the sake of Jonathan, his father; the service that he did to Achish king of Gath, in return for his civility in entertaining him in his dominions whilst he was persecuted by Saul j and the friendly disposition of his mind towards Hanun king of the Ammonites, for the fake of the kindness which his father Nahash had shewed unto him. These are instances of his gratitude to men: and of his gratitude to God, the Plalms which he hath composed are a standing evidence. Of the generosity of his temper, his conduct towards Saul and Shimei are testimonies. The former was his most: inveterate enemy: twice he had it in his power to kill him, and was urged to it by those that were about him j yet