"What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits
to me?" Psalm 116:12
The Christian, as he journeys onwards in the pathway of
life, ought frequently to look back, and standing, as it were, on the
shadowy side of the hill, review the way by which God has led him. If we
would keep alive our gratitude--if we would have it to increase more and
more, until, like a holy flame, it burns within us--we must often, in
thought, retrace the varied turnings and windings of our earthly pilgrimage.
We are so prone, amid our daily duties and our converse with the world, to
forget and overlook the benefits received, that only by a careful and
frequent retrospect, can we continue, from day to day, cherishing a spirit
of true and ever-increasing thankfulness to God. But, the oftener we make
the review, the greater cause will we have for saying, with David, "Who am
I, O Lord God, and what is my father's house, that you have brought me
Christian! you cannot indeed reckon up all the benefits
you have received from the hand of God--for they are numerous as the stars
of heaven or the drops of the mighty ocean. Your common mercies--alas!
too lightly valued--the air you breathe--the return of the gladsome
sunlight--the succession of the seasons--and the quiet and gentle stillness
and repose of night--all these, with their unnumbered host of attendant
blessings, are scattered on your path. But, select a few of the benefits you
have received, if only to awaken fresh gratitude.
You have enjoyed, it may be, years of unbroken
HEALTH--or, if you have been visited by sickness, you have been, through
God's infinite mercy, restored. While others have been tossing for weary
months upon the bed of languishing, and many been hurried into eternity, as
in the suddenness of a moment, unprepared and impenitent--you are still in
the land of the living and the place of hope. Look into the full graves
around you--think of the myriad sick-beds, with their suffering tenants,
and, surely the language of the Psalmist is yours, "What shall I render unto
the Lord for all His benefits to me?"
Consider, too, your FAMILY MERCIES. To some who read
these pages, the past may have brought bereavement and sorrow. It must be
so, in this ever-changing world–
"The air is full of farewells to the dying,
And mournings for the dead."
But, there are others who have been spared such sorrows,
Reader! your wife, your children, are this day by your side--the family
hearth has been unbroken, the family circle undiminished--diseases, which
have thinned the ranks of other little groups, and darted the arrow into
other family bands, have passed by your door. Or, if some are absent from
you, having gone forth into the world to fight the battle of life, you have
reason to hope that they are well, and are prospering in that state of life
to which it has pleased God to call them, and, in thus preserving these
loved ones, have you not had cause to mark the good hand of an all-wise and
watchful Providence, secretly and wonderfully working for your happiness and
Reflect, too, on the manifold SPIRITUAL MERCIES you have
enjoyed--mercies, from so many withheld--the Word of God in your home--the
house of God to worship in--the means of grace--the hallowed rest of the
Sabbath--seasons of holy communion--times of refreshing from the presence of
the Lord. Think, too, of the communications of grace from above--comforting,
sustaining, preventing grace--grace for the family and the closet, the
church, and the world--and, will you not again say, "What shall I render
unto the Lord for all his benefits!"
Christian! let us help you to give an answer to the
question. If you are truly grateful, you will love the Lord. This is
the best return you can make for His innumerable blessings--His unmerited
favors--it is what He chiefly demands, without which, all other returns are
valueless and of no account. This is "the first and great commandment"--the
sum and substance of all religious and grateful obedience, that we "love the
Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our
strength, and with all our mind."
If you are truly grateful to God, you will honor
Him with your hope and trust--you will make Him the object of devout address
and prayer for time to come. In nothing does God declare Himself more
honored by His children, than in being regarded with firm trust and
confidence--and, not only is it true that the more we ask, the more we shall
receive--but the oftener we ask, the more readily and cheerfully will the
blessing be bestowed. Nothing is more pleasing and delightful to Him who is
the Fountain of all grace, than to have humble, trusting souls coming to His
footstool, and, by earnest prayers offered up in faith, drawing forth out of
the inexhaustible stores of His bounty, what they stand in need of, to
strengthen them for daily duty, or to support them under painful trial.
If you are truly grateful to God for His benefits, you
will strive to walk before Him in the land of the living. It will be
your effort to serve God in all the duties of a sincere and exemplary--of a
holy and grateful obedience. You will make the pious regularity of your
life, testify to your sincere gratitude. You will endeavor to maintain
always on your mind a lively sense of His abiding presence, in order that
you may make it your chief and constant care, to approve yourself in His
If you are truly grateful, you will be careful to pay
your vows unto the Lord. Such was the resolution of the Psalmist,
and, surely, it is an indispensable return for the countless benefits
received. Reader! here there is much room for heart-searching--the promise,
made upon a sick-bed, where is its fulfillment? the resolution, formed when
the star of hope again glimmered on your pathway, where is it now? the
secret purpose, awakened in the soul by some providential deliverance, has
it ever reached its accomplishment?
Finally, gratitude to God for His benefits, will tend to
increase your delight in His service. Your gratitude and obedience
are sure to rise and fall together. Gratitude to God for benefits received,
recommends us to His favor, and ensures the bestowal of others yet more
precious and soul-satisfying. Gratitude keeps His hand ever open--dispensing
His gifts yet more profusely. Christian! be this then your prayer–
"O God, endue me with a spirit of true and pious
gratitude for all Your benefits--temporal and spiritual; maintain and
increase the same in my heart. Grant me the blessing of a thankful spirit,
and dispose me ever to take delight in Your service."
"And will You now forget me, Lord?
Oh, no! it cannot be;
No earthly tongue can ever tell
What You have been to me.
"Through all the chequered scenes of life
Your love has sheltered me;
And will You now forsake Your child?
Oh, no! it cannot be.
"In life, or death, I take my stand,
Where I have ever stood,
Beneath the shelter of Your cross,
And trusting in Your blood.
"And then, when youth, and health, and strength,
And energy have fled,
The shades of evening peacefully
Shall close around my head."