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SERMON XXIX.

CHRISTIAN THANKFULNESS.

II CORINTHIANS IV. 1.

As we have received mercy, we faint not.

THIS is the true Christian's motto. As we have received mercy from God, we are encouraged to labour in his service from love and gratitude; God's mercy ever coming first, not to reward work done, but exciting us to work to come. And this is so in the great matter of our whole lives; we are forgiven freely, and then are called upon to live as those who are forgiven, as children whom God loves: and it is true also of many particular points and events in our lives, where God's mercies wholly undeserved are poured upon us, to quicken us to love him in return. We know this indeed, and have all heard it many times over, but the state of the world clearly shows that we do

not feel it; or in Scripture language, do not really believe it. It is impossible when we look at society, however hastily, to conceive of it as living in thankfulness to God, as having received great mercies at his hands, and as owing him its most grateful service in return. We cannot so conceive of society and if we look to that which concerns us most nearly, if we look into our own hearts and lives, can we more easily conceive it of ourselves?

I cannot pretend to say any thing new on this matter, either to your consciences or to mine. I cannot speak of any mercies that we do not know of, and have not received, without going away from the question; and to speak of mercies that we have received must be only to say what we know already. So it is, and yet knowing it or not it may be well to repeat it to ourselves again; for it is the truth; and if we do not receive it and love it now, it will notwithstanding condemn us hereafter.

"We have received mercy," it is true, of every human being; but how unusually true of us who are here assembled! How unusually true, how awfully true! For let us go to no greater distance than to the parish church of this very town, and let us repeat the words there, and though they are still very true, yet

what a difference between their truth as spoken to that mixed congregation, and as spoken to us. Speak them there, and though all certainly have experienced God's mercies, (I am speaking now of earthly mercies,) yet how many have experienced, and are experiencing his chastenings also. How many are there, whose greatest earthly happiness is passed away, who have tasted life's utmost sweets, and to whom the remainder of their cup, as far as earth is concerned, is only not bitter! This comes inevitably with the course of years; for depend on it there are wounds which here cannot be fully repaired; there are losses, after which we know with the utmost certainty, that let life last as long as it will, its brightness will return no more. Nor is this the case only after actual losses, it happens by the mere passing away of time. There are those in every mixed congregation, who, if their happiness has never been cut short by any sudden stroke, must yet feel that it is ebbing; that although they may possess the same outward sources of enjoyment, they have no longer the same power to enjoy them. Can you conceive what it is, not only to look at your bodies and know that their strength and power of resisting disease is daily decaying,

but to feel the sense of your minds diminishing also; the memory becoming less retentive, the imagination less lively; and that sovereign reason, which in your vigour had swayed so evenly over the various and powerful faculties of your nature, now gradually losing its control, and the balance of its once well ordered reign disturbed by the impatience of some of its subject powers, and the weakness of

others?

Again, go to the parish church in this town, and there preach on the text of God's mercies, and will there not be many who, while gratefully feeling that He is merciful, yet know it more from his inward dealings with their souls, than from what he has done to their outward condition? Will there not be many who, daily labouring, some perhaps, it is to be feared, labouring with more than healthful labour, yet return home in the evening to see their families in a state of hardship at least, if not of positive suffering? No, we do not know, not even those who have seen most of it, we do not fully know what it is to be in poverty. We do not know what it is to be wholly without the luxuries of life, to be in a degree without its comforts also; we do not know what it is, instead of having scarcely a wish ungratified,

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to have scarcely a wish which we are not obliged to restrain. Look to every outward enjoyment which we possess, from the commonest gratification to the highest; food, clothing, lodging, furniture, leisure, quiet, books, amusements, society; and then think how largely poverty deprives us of them all. I am afraid that there must be some among us so entirely dependent on these things, and yet so little thankful for them, that if they were to be deprived of them by any sudden stroke of fortune, they would think life not worth the living for.

Yet once again, speak to a mixed congregation of God's mercies, and how many are there to whom there is denied one of the highest, the power of cultivating their minds, and increasing their knowledge! Want of time, want of early preparation, want of able and intelligent instructors or companions, want of books, and of mixing freely in the world, keeps down many a mind whose native powers, if favoured by circumstances, would have raised it to no mean proficiency. Least of all, perhaps, can you conceive what it is to have devoured eagerly every particle of knowledge which was ever put within your reach; to have an appetite for improvement which

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