Page images
PDF
EPUB

her, Beer-lahai-roi, the well of him that liveth and looketh upon me, Gen. xvi. 13, 14.

They have stamped the mercies upon the days in whịch they received them. Thus the Jews called those days in which God wrought their deliverance, Purim, after the name Pur, signifying the lot Haman had cast for their lives ; Esther ix. 26. Yea, they bave called their mercies upon their children, 1 Sam. i. 20. Thus thankful fouls have striven to recognize their mercies, that God might not lose the praise, nor themselves the comfort of them.

Fiftbly, The thankful person must be fuitably affected with the mercies he receives. It is not a speculative, but an affectionate rememibrance that becomes us : then God hath his glory, when the sense of his mercies melts our hearts into holy joy, love, and admiration. Thus David fits down before the Lord like a man astonished at his goodness to him ; 2 Sam. vii. 20. “ And what can David say more? « for thou Lord knowest thy servant.” The mercies of God have made the faints hearts leap for joy within them: Psal. xcii. 4. « Thou, Lord, haft made me glad through thy works; therefore “ will I triumph in the works of thy hands." Mercies are not mer. cies, deliverances are not deliverances to us, if we that receive them are not glad of them.

Sixthly, The thankful person must order his conversation suitably to the engagements that his mercies have put him under. When we have faid all, it is the life of the thankful, that is the very life of thankfulness. Obedience and service are the only real manifestations of gratitude. “He that offereth praise, glorifieth me: and to « him that ordereth his conversation aright, will I shew the falvation « of God,”. Pfal. l. 23. Set down this for an everlasting truth, That God was never praised and honoured by an abused mercy. God took it ill from Hezekiah, “ That he rendered not again ac“cording to the benefit done unto him," 2 Chron. xxxii. 25. He that is truly thankful will say as David, Psal. cxvi. 12. “What shall “ I render to the Lord for all.his benefits?” We then glorify God with his mercies when we employ them to right ends, when we thankfully take our own share of comfort from them, receiving them with thanksgiving, as from the hand of a father. Mr Swinnock* tells of a young man, who, lying upon his fick-bed, was always calling for meat, but as soon as it was brought him, he shook and trembled dreadfully at the fight of it, and so continued till it was taken away; and before his death, acknowledged God's justice, so that in his health he ordinarily received his meat without thanksgiving.

Use all God's mercies with thankfulness; God will remember them in fury, who forget him in his favours.

And think not what God bestows upon you is wholly for your own use : but honour God with your mercies by clothing the naked and

• Swinpock's Cbriftian Man's Calling, page 409

feeding the hungry, especially such as are godly. This is a due ima provement of your eítates; thus you may make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness. Ah, how little do we consider what praise, what glory we may occasion this way, from others, to the name of God! It is stories of * Dionyfius the Syracufian tyrant, that when he saw what heaps of gold and silver his son horded up in his closet, he asked him what he meant to let it lie there, and not to make friends with it, to get the kingdom after his death? O fon (faid he) thou haft not a spirit capable of a kingdom. Thus honour the Lorá with your substance; look upon all you have as your Master's talents, for which you must give an account: and to use and employ them for God, that you may give up your account with joy; and then you will shew yourselves thankful indeed. Thus you see what is included in real thankfulness. O, it is another matter than we take it to be.

2. Next I promised to give you the grounds and reasons of this duty; why you are obliged after the reception of mercies to such a thankful return of praises. And, among many, I will only single out thefe three, and briefly open them.

First, God requires and expects it. It is fo fpecial and peculiar a part of his glory, as he will never part with it. As great landlords oblige their tenants to a homage and service, when they make over their estates to them, and reserve a quit-rent to themselves, which they value at a high rate; fo God, when he bestows deliverances of mercies upon us, still reserves an acknowledgment to himself: and this is dear to him, he will not endure to be defrauded of it; much less that it be given to another. You find this reservation of praise expressly made by him in Psal. l. 15. “Call upon me in the day of in trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Where you have the request, the grant, and the reservation in the grant, 9. d. When I have granted thee thy desire, see thou do not defraid me of my glory. There be three things in every mercy, the matter of it, the comfort of it, and the glory of it. The two first God makes over freely to us, he gives the mercies themselves, he allows us to fuck out all the lawful pleasure and delight that is in them, but the third he reserves to himself, and will never part with it to any other. If an Hezekiah himself render not to God due acknowledgments, as well as God loves him, there shall be great wrath upon him and Judah for the default, 2 Chron. xxxii. 26.

Secondly, You are under manifold engagements to render it to the Lord.

(1.) Common ingenuity obliges to a due acknowledgment of favours freely received ; and unthankfulness on that score is the odium of mankind. Ingratum fi dicas, omnia dixeris.. You cannot give a VOL. V.

3 G

Fußin, lib. 51.

man a more odious character among men, than to say, He is an ungrateful man.

(2.) The examples of the very heathens will condemn you. They praised their gods, which yet were no gods, when they received any deliverance, Judges xvi. 24. Shall idols, dung-bill deities, receive their facrifices and praises, whilst the true God is forgotten?

Nay, (3.) Many of you have formally and expressly obliged your souls to it, by folemn vows and promises in the day of your distress : and yet will you deal perfidiously with God? Will you not pay the vows which your lips have uttered ? Certainly you can never free your souls from the guilt of perfidiousness against God, whilft you give him not the glory due to his name.

3. Lastly, Your ingratitude is the ready way to deprive you of the mercies you have, and to with-hold from you the mercies you might have in your future distresses and wants. He that is ungrateful for mercies received, provokes God to remove them. Thus it fell out with ungrateful Israel, Hosea ii. 5, 8, 9. “She did not know, (i. e. « she did not with confideration and thanks duly acknowledge) " that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil. Therefore will I return, " and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the “ season thereof; and will recover my wool and my flax." Thus they suffered their mercies to lapse into the Lord's hand for non-payment of their duties. If you are weary of your mercies, and willing to be rid of them, you cannot take a more effectual course than to forget from whom you had them, and with-hold his praise for them.

And then, for future mercies and deliverances, you have no ground to expect any more from God, whom you have thus requited for former favours. He that gives no thanks for one mercy, hath little ground to expect another. It was a sad word which God spake upon this very provocation, Judg. X. 11, 12, 13, when a new distress befel Israel by the Ammonites, and they cried to the Lord for help, he tells them that he had many times delivered them from their enemies : “ Yet (saith he) have you forsaken me, and served other gods. • Wherefore I will deliver you no more; go and cry to the gods " which ye have chosen, and let them deliver you in the time of

your tribulation.” Q. d. With what face can you come to me for new mercies and deliverances, when yourselves know, how former mercies have been abused! Think ye that I am weary of my mercies to cast them away upon such unthankful wretches ? No, expect no more mercies from nie, “ I will deliver you no more.” One of the fathers calls ingratitude, Obex infernalis, An hellish ftop, which interrupts the course and current of all God's mercies. Mercy is not only a precious thing, too good to be cast away, but it is a very tender thing, and God deeply resents the abuses of it. Thus you see the grounds and reasons of your duty; it now remains that we apply it.

1

Use 1. Is it your unquestionable duty to return praises upon every receipt of mercies? Then, in the first place, bear your shame and just reproof for your manifest unthankfulness. You dare not deny but you have received many fignal and eminent mercies from the hands of God. If you should deny that, I need go no farther to prove you prodigiously ungrateful. But it is too manifest to be denied: you have found God a very present help in trouble : his mercy hath often rescued you out of the jaws of death. Some of you have been in dangers in the deeps; in deaths oft: you have been put to your wit's end; all visible hope and help failed. You might have said with the Pfalmift, Psal. cxiii. 4. “ I looked upon my right « hand, and there was none; and upon the left, but refuge failed.” You have seen your companions intombed before your eyes in the feas, and concluded in your own thoughts your turn was next.

You have been in danger by barbarous enemie, that have chased you upon the sea to make you a prey: yea, it may be you have been a prey to them, and never thought to have seen the land of your nativity, your houses, wives, and children, any more. You have languished under dangerous diseases, and that remote from friends and necessary accommodations ; you have lost

your estates, and been reduced to a low ebb, and never thought to have seen a day of prosperity any more: yet hath the Lord delivered you out of all your troubles. He hath provided unexpected means of preservation, when the proud waters were ready to go over your souls. And though others went down before your eyes, you were marked out for deliverance, God fpake to the raging waves, saying, Touch not this man, I will not deliver him up, though I have done so by others. When cruel enemies chased you, he delivered you, causing the darkness of the night to interpofe seasonably betwixt you and them; as the dark side of the cloud Ahadowed Ifrael from the Egyptians that purfued them, Exod. xiv. 20. sometimes giving you a favourable gale, which blew mercy and deliverance to you: sometimes by strengthening you to resist their furious attacks, and delivering you from their rage: or if he delivered you into their hands, yet there he preserved you, enabling you to endure their feverities, or causing the enemy to treat you well; and finding out a way which you knew not, to bring you at last out of the house of bondage.

He pitied you under your dangerous diseases; and though neceffary accommodations and means inight be wanting, he was your physician, and healed you ; he recovered you immediately without means, or bleffed weak and small means to your good. When you were reduced by lofses and captivities to a low ebb, so that you might say as the church, Lam. iii. 17. I forgat prosperity; he hath not only recruited thy strength, but thy estate alfo: and when both thy body and estate, like an old leaky fhip, have been ready to fink, he hath stopped the leaks in both, careened, repaired, and launched thee into the world again, as whole, as sound, and as strong as ever.

And now,reader, fuffer me to account and expoftulate a little with thy confcience ; what hath the fruit of all these mercies been to thee? And how hast thou carried it since those days, towards the God of thy mercies? Hast thou indeed been melted by the sense of all this kindness, into love, thankfulness, and new obedience? Have these favours engaged thee to more strictness in thy duties, and greater watchfulness against fin ? Hast thou said, with that good man, Ezra ix, 13, 14. “ And now my God, seeing thou haft punished me less “ than mine iniquities deserve, and hast given me such deliverances as o these, thould I again break thy commandments ?" If it be fo, furely n.ercy and goodness shall follow thee all the days of thy life. The Lord then reckons all these mercies well bestowed, and will never repent that he hath done thee good.

But I fear this is not thy case. Sure I am, there are some among you that have quickly forgotten the God that delivered you. Some that have abused him to his face, by ascribing his mercies to good luck, chance, and fortune; not once owning him as your deliverer some that have made his mercies weapons of fin, to wound him withal, wasting your eftates by prodigality, which were given to refresh your families, and God's poor ; yea, abusing them to drunkenness and luxury. And is this the thanks you return him ? For which of all my good works (faith Christ to the Jews) do you stone me? So say I, for which of all God's kindnesses to you, do you thus dishonour, and abuse him? O let shame cover your faces this day! Go, reader, fold down this leaf, and get thee to thy knees, and say, I am the man to whom this reproof is fent. I have abused the God of my mercies, I have turned his grace into wantonness. Smite with Ephraim upon thy thigh, and say, What have I done? Mourn heartily for thy unkindness to thy best friend, « The God that hath done thee good all • thy life long, and deserves other returns from thee than these.”

Use 2. Lastly, It calls upon you all to be thankful for your mercies. Chryfoftom once withed for a voice like thunder, that all men might hear him. O that I could fo call you to this duty, that some of you might effectually hear God's call in this exliortation !

Will you own the hand that delivers you, that feeds, clothes, and heals you? Will you resolve to live the life of praise, and render to the Lord according to the benefits you have received? Will you indeed walk humbly, and thankfully, under all your deliverances, and successes, and glorify God by that wherewith he hath comforted and refreshed you? If there be any saving knowledge of God, and spiritual sense of his love in your souls, methinks I should prevail with you; for do but weigh these following arguments feriously, and they will engage you to it.

Argument 1. How freely have all your mercies streamed to you from the fountain of grace? There was nothing in you to engage it,

The very notion of mercy includes frecness; they are all bestowed upon us, not only as we are immerentes, but male merentes, undeserving,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »