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lation subsisting between them. In childhood, a rattle, or a straw, or any trifle, is more thought of than their heavenly Father: in riper years, their vain pleasures and secular pursuits command more of their affections than their divine original and only happiness.
Compare your natural temper towards your heavenly Father, and towards your earthly parents, and how wide is the difference! Nature works strong in your hearts towards them, but towards him all the filial passions are dull and dead; and why? alas ! the reason is, you are dead in trespasses and sins. But this relation of a Father is not the only relation our God sustains to you; he is your supreme King, to whom you owe allegiance ; your Lawgiver, whose will is the rule of your conduct; and your Judge, who will call you to an account, and reward or punish you according to your works; but how unnatural is it to men to revere the most high God under these august characters! Where is there a king upon earth, however weak or tyrannical, but is more regarded by his subjects than the King of heaven by the generality of men ? Were ever such excellent laws contemned and violated? Did ever criminals treat their judge with so much neglect and contempt? And are these souls alive to God who thus treat him? No. Alas ! they are dead in trespasses and sins ;" however lively they are towards other things, yet in this respect they are seized with a deadly stupor.
God is also our Guardian and Deliverer; and from how many dangers has he preserved us! from how many calamities has he delivered us ! Dangers, distresses, and deaths crowd upon us, and surround us in every age and every place : the air, the earth, the sea, and every element, are pregnant with numberless principles of pain and death ready to seize and destroy us: sickness and death swarm around us : nay, they lie in ambush in our own constitution, and are perpetually undermining our lives, and yet our divine Guardian preserves us for months and years unhurt, untouched ; or, if he suffers the calamity to fall, or death to threaten, he flies to our deliverance; and how many salvations of this kind has he wrought for us; salvations from accidents, from sicknesses, from pain, from sorrows, from death; salvations from dangers seen and unseen ; salvations in infancy, in youth, and in maturer years!
These things we cannot deny without the most stupid ignorance, and an atheistical disbelief of divine Provi. dence. Now, such repeated, such long-continued, such unmerited favors as these would not pass for nothing between man and man. We have hearts to feel such obligations; nay, the ten thousandth, the millionth part of such gracious care and goodness would be gratefully received, and thankfully acknowledged. Indeed it is impossible we should receive even this small, this very small proportion of favors from men in comparison of what we receive from God; and even when they are the instruments of our deliverance, he is the original Author. But after all, is there a natural aptitude in the hearts of men to think of their gracious guardian and Savior ? Does the principle of gratitude naturally lead them to love him, and to make thankful acknowledgments to him ? Alas! no. They may indeed feel some transient, superficial workings of gratitude when under the fresh sense of some remarkable deliverance ; but these impressions soon wear off, and they become as thoughtless and stupid as ever. But let a man, like yourselves, save you from some great distress, you will always gratefully remember him, think of him often with pleasure, and take all opportunities of returning his kindness, especially if your deliverer was much your superior, and independent upon you ; if you had forfeited his favor, provoked him, and incurred his displeasure : great favors from such an one would make impressions upon the most obdurate heart.
But though God be infinitely superior to us, and it is nothing to him what becomes of us, though we have rebelled against him, and deserve his vengeance, yet ten thousand deliverances from his hands have little or no effect upon the hearts of men : all these cannot bring them to think of him, or love him as much as they do a friend, or a common benefactor of their own species; and does such stupid ingratitude discover any spiritual life in them? No: they are dead in this respect, though they are all alive to those passions that terminate upon created objects. Farther, God is the Benefactor of mankind, not only in delivering them from dangers and calamities, but in bestowing unnumbered positive blessings upon them. Here I cannot pretend to be particu- .
lar, for the list of blessings is endless; and it will be the happy employment of an eternity to recollect and enumerate them. What an extensive and well-furnished world has our God formed for our accommodation ! For us he has enriched the sun with light and heat, and the earth with fruitfulness. The numerous inhabitants of every element, the plants, minerals, and beasts of the earth, the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the air, are all rendering their service to man; some afford him food, and others work for him : the winds and seas, fire and water, stones and trees, all conspire to be useful to him. Our divine Benefactor crowns us with the blessings of liberty, of society, of friendship, and the most endearing relations: he preserves our bealth, gives us “rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, and fills our hearts with food and gladness." In short, he gives us life, and
. breath, and all things; every day, every hour, every moment has arrived to us richly freighted with blessings; blessings have resided with us at home, and attended us abroad; blessings presented themselves ready for our enjoyment as soon as we entered into the world ; then God provided hands to receive us, knees to support us, breasts to suckle us, and parents to guard and cherish us; blessings have grown up with us, and given such constant attendance, that they are become familiar to us, and are the inseparable companions of our lives. It is no new or useful thing to us to see an illustrious sun rising to give us the day, to enjoy repose in the night, to rise refreshed and vigorous in the morning, to see our tables spread with plenty, the trees covered with fruit, the fields with grain, and various forms of animals growing up for our support or service. These are such familiar blessings to us, that they too often seem things of course, or necessary appendages of our being. What a crowd of blessings have crowned the present morning! You and yours are alive and well, you have not come hither ghastly and pining with hunger, or agonizing with pain. How many refreshing draughts of air have you drawn this morning! how many sprightly and regular pulses have beat through your frame ! how many easy motions have you performed with hands, feet, eyes, tongue, and other members of your body! and are not all these favors from God? Yes, undoubt
edly; and thus has he gone on blessing you all your days, without any interruption at all in many of these particulars of kindness, and with but very little in the rest. Sinful and miserable as this world is, it is a treasury rich in blessings, a storehouse full of provisions, a dwelling well furnished for the accommodation of mortals, and all by the care, and at the expense of that gracious God who first made and still preserves it what it is. “ Lord, whence is it then that the inhabitants forget and neglect thee, as though they were not at all obliged to thee? O! whence is it that they love thy gifts, and yet disregard the Giver ! that they think less of thee than an earthly father or friend, or a human benefactor; that there should be so little gratitude towards thee, that of all benefactors thou shouldst be the least acknowledged ; that the benefactors of nations, and even of private persons, in instances unworthy to be mentioned with those of thy goodness, should be celebrated, and even adored, while thou art neglected, thine agency overlooked, and thy goodness forgotten? O! whence is this strange phenomenon, this unaccountable, unprecedented stupidity and ingratitude in reasonable creatures ? Surely, if they had any life, any sensation in this respect, they would not be capable of such a conduct; but they are dead, dead to all the generous sensations of gratitude to God; and as a dead corpse feels no gratitude to those that perform the last friendly office, and cover it with earth, so a dead soul stands unmoved under all the profusion of blessings which Heaven pours upon it.
The blessings I have mentioned, which are confined to the present state, are great, and deserve our wonder and thanksgiving ; especially, considering that they are bestowed upon a race of rebellious, ungrateful creatures, who deserve the severest vengeance; but there is a set of blessings yet unmentioned, of infinitely greater importance, in which all others are swallowed up, by the glory of which they are obscured, like the stars of night by the rising sun. To some of our race God has given crowns and kingdoms. For Israel Jehovah wrought the most astonishing miracles ; seas and rivers opened to make way for them; rocks burst into springs of water to quench their thirst; the clouds poured down manna,
and fed them with bread from heaven; their God delivered Daniel from the jaws of hungry lions, and his three companions from the burning fiery furnace. He has restored health to the sick, sight to the blind, and life to the dead. These blessings and deliverances have something majestic and striking in them: and had we been the subjects of them, we could not but have regarded them as great and singular ; but what are these in comparison of God's gift of his Son, and the blessings he has purchased! his Son, who is of greater value, and dearer to him than ten thousand worlds; his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased ; him has he given for us, given up to three-and-thirty years of the most mortifying abasement, and an incessant conflict with the severest trials ; given up to death, and all the ignominy and agonies of crucifixion. Thus has God loved our world! and never was there such a display of love in heaven or on earth. You can no more find love equal to this among creatures, than you can find among them the infinite power that formed the universe out of nothing. This will stand upon record to all eternity, as the unprecedented, unparalleled, inimitable love of God. And it appears the more illustrious when we consider that this unspeakable gift was given to sinners, to rebels, to enemies, that were so far from deserving it, that, on the other hand, it is a miracle of mercy that they are not all groaning for ever under the tremendous weight of his justice. O ! that I could say something becoming this love ; something that might do honor to it! but, alas ! the language of mortals was formed for lower subjects. This love passes all description and all knowledge. Consider also what rich blessings Christ has purchased for us; purchased not with such corruptible things as silver and gold, but with his own precious blood; the price recommends and endears the blessings, though they are so great in themselves, as to need no such recommendation! What can be greater or more suitable blessings to persons in our circumstances, than pardon for the guilty, redemption for slaves, righteousness and justification for the condemned, sanctification for the unholy, rest for the weary, comfort for mourners, the favor of God for rebels and exiles, strength for the impotent, protection for the helpless, everlasting happiness