GRATITUDE "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 hitherto?" 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 comfort? 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 sight. 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." --MacDuff

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