Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

his life from destruction, and crowneth him with loving-kindness and tender mercies.

There is no sentiment which is universally acknowledged as more amiable and noble than that which prompts us thankfully to acknowledge the favours which we have received, and to bless the benefactor whose disinterested exertions have been devoted to our service; and shall we generously and promptly acknowledge the favours which we have received from our fellow-men-shall we bestow veneration and gratitude on the earthly parent, whose painful watchings, whose assiduous exertions and unwearied care protected us from danger, soothed us in sickness, and surrounded us with comforts-shall we delight to blend with the emotions of affection, the feelings of gratitude to the friend of our bosoms, whose generous devotion to us has been paid at the sacrifice of his own comfort? Surely we cannot exercise these feelings towards our earthly benefactors, our earthly parents and friends, and withhold the tribute of gratitude from that heavenly Benefactor who surrounds us with good, that heavenly Parent who is the Preserver of our lives and the Father of our spirits, that Almighty Friend who sticketh closer than a brother, who will never leave us nor forsake us, not though we pass through the valley of the shadow of death.

The discharge of the duty of praise engages all the noble and amiable affections-admiration, esteem, gratitude, love, in their highest fervour, are excited; no feelings are awakened but those of delight, no affections are in exercise but those which animate the praises of angels, and constitute their ineffable bliss. Prayer humbles us under

the mortifying sense of our dependence; intercession reminds us of the wants and weakness of those dear to us; confession casts us in the dust as condemned sinners, and overwhelms us with shame and sorrow; but in the sacred exercise of praise, no emotions are excited but those of pleasure: the soul forgets her distance from the throne of God, she raises herself from the dust where her sins had prostrated her, she mounts to the throne of the Eternal, and enjoys while she celebrates his infinite love.

And praise is an exercise which will never cease. The beatified spirit, satisfied with the fulness of God, has no longer need to supplicate his bounty. In those celestial courts where happiness flows to all, there can be no call upon her to intercede for others. Transformed into the divine image, and placed beyond the possibility of sinning, she has no transgressions to lament and confess. Her only employment will be praise.

The duty of praise, then, is enforced by the dictates of reason and the feelings of nature. It is a duty noble and exalted in its character and tendency, constituting the endless joy of the blessed in heaven. It is a duty also enforced by the command of God-"Whoso offereth me praise," saith the High and Holy One, "he honoureth me." "Ascribe then unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, ascribe unto the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe unto the Lord the honour due unto his name; bring presents, and come into his courts." "Offer unto God thanksgiving."

The dispositions which enter into the duty of praise should constantly animate our hearts; we should praise our God alway; "his loving-kindness

we should set forth in the day-time, and his faithfulness in the night season. For it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely."

It is proper, however, that there should be stated seasons for the more solemn discharge of this duty, for the more particular review of the mercies of our heavenly Benefactor, and for a serious consideration of the returns that are due to him.

And, my brethren, we are called at this time to the discharge of this duty under circumstances particularly interesting. The propriety of an annual day of thanksgiving to Almighty God for the fruits of the earth and the other blessings of his merciful providence, has been always recognised by our church, which has prescribed a particular service for this solemnity; but it has been difficult to induce, among Episcopalians, a general observance of a day not regarded by the rest of the community. The people of the state, however, now come forward, in obedience to the voice of their chief magistrate, and exhibit the edifying and interesting spectacle of a Christian community pouring forth their united homage and praise to Almighty God.

Let us on this occasion, then, review the general and the particular mercies of God that demand the tribute of praise.

1. The offering of praise should be rendered to God for his mercies as they shine forth in the works of creation.

"The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament showeth forth his handy work." The order, the harmony, and the beauty that reign through the universe, proclaim the glory of him who in

wisdom hath made all his works. The earth is full of his mercy: and "man was put into this temple of God as the priest of nature, to offer up the incense of thanks and praise for the mute and the insensible part of the creation."* Man alone, of all the creatures of this world, is gifted with understanding, with sensibility, with imagination, and with speech, that, thus elevated in the scale of being, he might feel his weightier obligations to praise and magnify that God who thus made him after his own divine and glorious image; and man was thus distinguished, that he might give utterance to the tribute of praise from the works of nature, and bear its silent but affecting homage to the Lord of all. Man, the favoured creature of heaven, alone on this earth bearing the image of the Almighty-all his works fulfilling in unvarying harmony their respective destinations, and shedding forth glory and beauty, proclaim their Maker's praise-be not thou silent, thou on earth the noblest of thy Maker's works-thou whose soul can ascend to heaven, and know, and love, and serve the divine Author of thy beingthou whose spirit, thousands of ages after this world is swept from the face of creation, will be infinitely distant from its highest perfection and happiness -nature calls to thee to lend her thy voice to praise her glorious Maker: take her tribute of homage, mingle it with thine own offering of praise, praise kindled at thy soul, which, knowing best the goodness of thy Maker, can best declare it, and let the incense of adoration ascend to the throne of him whose goodness is over all his works.

Atterbury.

"O then give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the Lord of lords for his mercy endureth for ever." "Praise ye the Lord for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely."

II. The mercies of God, as exhibited in the plan of redemption, demand also the offering of praise.

The creation of the world displayed the infinite power and glory of the Maker and Lord of all things: the redemption of a fallen world, the renovation of man, dead in trespasses and sins, was a work of equal power and glory, and more illustriously exhibited the mercy of the Lord of the universe. Loud was the song of the sons of God, when, on the morn of creation, the Almighty Maker had finished his work and pronounced it good more enrapturing that chorus of the heavenly host which proclaimed-" Unto man a child is born, unto man a son is given: the Prince of Peace; a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord." " Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth, and good will to men."

The blessings of Providence, that extend only to our perishing bodies, and are confined within this narrow period of our existence, afford a display of the goodness of the Lord that demands the tribute of gratitude and praise. What lively emotions of gratitude, what ardent aspirations of praise should be rendered to him, for his inestimable love in the redemption of the world by his Son VOL. II.

42

« AnteriorContinua »