Ephesians 5:20
There are three points in this exhortation to thanksgiving that arrest our attention, viz. the time, the objects, and the method.

I. THE TIME FOR THANKSGIVING. There is a time for everything. When, therefore, is thanksgiving seasonable? Always. As we should pray without ceasing by living in constant communication with God, so a spirit of gratitude should pervade our whole life and express itself by the brightness and color that it gives to every action (Psalm 34:1). If the context limits the application of St. Paul's words to public worship (ver. 17), the breadth of their incidence is still very significant. Every Christian assembly should be joyous with praise, in every prayer supplication should be mingled with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). There are times when this is difficult, e.g. in trouble and in moods of spiritual depression. But the difficulty would be diminished if we thought less of our own feelings and more of the gifts and deeds of God's goodness. Modern religion is too subjective, and therefore it fluctuates with our varying phases of experience. Thanksgiving should call us out of ourselves to contemplate and praise God. Under the darkest cloud a thankful heart will ace innumerable causes of gratitude. But let our thanksgiving be honest. If we do not feel grateful, do not let us try to force the expression of gratitude.

II. THE OBJECTS OF THANKSGIVING. "All things."

1. Personal blessings. While we thank God for common gifts to all mankind, our gratitude would be warmer and more genuine if we reflected on the special proofs of his goodness in our own lives.

2. Fresh blessings. If thanksgiving is to be perpetual it must constantly find new food for gratitude. This, of all parts of worship, should not be a mere repetition of old, worn thoughts. Our ideas on this point are too narrowed by conventionality. If we are careful to say grace before meat, why should we not be equally ready to thank God for a good book, a cheerful visit, or a refreshing walk?

3. Things that we cannot see to be blessings. Gratitude for troubles is difficult to realize. It is only possible through faith. But if we believe that God is blessing us in them we should thank him as one would thank a surgeon for even amputating a limb to save his patient's life.

III. THE METHOD OF THANKSGIVING,

1. It should be offered to God our Father. It is a direct speaking to God. As he is the Father of mercies, his fatherhood should be the attribute that is most in our thoughts when we praise him. We are not rendering adulation to a distant monarch who claims it as the condition of sparing our lives; we are expressing our love and genuine devotion to our Father. There should, therefore, be no cringing abjectness in our worship. It should be cheerful and confident.

2. The thanksgiving is to be given in the Name of Christ; i.e.

(1) in recognition that God's blessings come to us through Christ; and

(2) as receiving and appreciating them in the spirit of Christ. - W.F.A.







Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I. THE DUTY HERE ENJOINED is to give thanks. Thankfulness is such a sense of favours received from, and of obligations due to, a benefactor, as disposes us to make suitable acknowledgments and returns.

1. A grateful heart retains the impression of past mercies.

2. Gratitude sees a real value in God's blessings.

3. A sense of our unworthiness enters into the essence of thankfulness.

4. In the exercise of gratitude, we shall improve God's favours to the ends for which He bestows them.

5. Gratitude delights to express its feelings and sentiments.

6. Thankfulness studies a suitable return. God's goodness should lead us to repentance. When favour is shown us we should learn righteousness. His mercies should persuade us to present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. His disinterested love should awaken in us sentiments of benevolence to our fellow men.

II. CONSIDER THE CHARACTER OF THAT BEING TO WHOM OUR THANKS MUST BE SUPREMELY DIRECTED. God is the Father of the universe, and the Giver of all the blessings which we receive, and which we behold around us.

1. To Him we must give thanks; for all things are His.

2. To Him we must give thanks; for He has given us all things richly to enjoy.

3. To Him we must give thanks; for His goodness is free and disinterested.

III. WE ARE REQUIRED TO GIVE THANKS ALWAYS TO GOD.

1. We ought to be always in a habit of thankfulness, and in a readiness for actual thanksgiving, whenever providence calls us to it.

2. Thanksgiving should find a place in all our stated addresses to God.

3. All special favours should be distinctly observed and acknowledged.

4. We should be thankful in every condition.

5. We should never cease to give thanks.

IV. THE MATTERS FOR WHICH WE ARE TO GIVE THANKS. "All things." Personal blessings. The benefits of civil society, Religious privileges.

V. THE MEDIUM OF OUR ACCESS TO GOD IN THIS DUTY — "The name of Jesus Christ." God putteth no trust in His saints; the heavens are not clean in His sight. How much less man that is a worm; man that is a sinner! We are not worthy to speak to Him in praise for the benefits which we receive; much less to ask of Him farther benefits; least of all to receive the benefits which we ask. We are, therefore, directed not only to pray but also to give thanks in the name of Christ.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

There are few duties which the Bible enjoins in terms of so large a requirement as the duty of thanksgiving. It must be true that to the Christian the causes of gladness always exceed the causes of melancholy; so that, in times the darkest and most adverse, the Christian has greater cause to rejoice than to be downcast. In the first place we will examine our text as enjoining thanksgiving as a duty; in the second place, as proposing "all things," with no exception whatsoever, as the subject matter of that thanksgiving; "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

I. Now it cannot be necessary that we should speak at any great length on THE DUTY OF GIVING TEASES. It would seem to have been determined in every age and by every nation, that ingratitude is so execrable a thing, that to be unmindful of benefits demonstrates an unworthiness which disqualifies for all the intercourses of life. Yet, strange it is, we have the spectacle forced on us continually, of men who would blush to be thought ungrateful to their fellows, utterly unconscious that they owe anything to God, and untouched by the numberless benefits which they are every moment receiving at His hands. How are we to account for this? There are two reasons, we think, to be given for this phenomenon. The first is the practical atheism which loses sight of a first cause, and idolizes second causes; the second is the repugnance there is in our nature to the owning itself dependent.

II. But the duty of thanksgiving will be yet more evident when we have to consider, in the second place, THE SUBJECT MATTER OF GRATITUDE. We are directed by the apostle to give "thanks for all things"; and it were easy, and it would be a pleasing occupation, to bring before you a long and wide catalogue of benefits, and to summon you as each separate act of beneficence passed under review, to "praise the Lord, for His mercy endureth forever."

1. Look then, first, at the small or everyday mercies. If you would apply a microscope to an everyday mercy, you might discover in it, as in the atom or the water drop, the very same demonstration of the presence of the Omnipotent, as in the surprising interposition which has marked some great crisis in your life; and, therefore, you are only giving a melancholy proof of the feebleness and short-sightedness of your nature, if you so cast up benefits under the divisions of great and small, that you think any too trivial to claim the tribute of your thanksgiving. It costs God (if we may use such an expression) the same labour to build the world as the atom, the same love to give the moment's breath and the empire's dowry; and if it be for the love shown that we render thanks, we owe, therefore, the same amount, whether the instance of mercy be rare and almost unexampled, or whether it be of daily and even momentary occurrence. Besides, it ought to be evident, on the least reflection, that the common and daily benefits of life are usually the greatest and the most valuable in their nature. Oh! it is a cold and withered heart that lies in that man's breast, who requires a miracle before he will recognize a mercy. Life is one perpetual miracle. But you must, I hope, be satisfied that you owe God thanks for what men count small and everyday mercies; do you not also owe Him thanks for what they count evils? If not, then you would be grateful for food, but not for medicine. But the "giving thanks always for all things," this it is which we would specially press upon your attention. We have comparatively no fears of your not giving thanks on great occasions and for signal mercies; what we fear is a habit of overlooking little and everyday things, and not feeling them to be cause for praise. And then, observe the concluding words of our text, "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Our prayers and our praises must alike be presented in and through this all-prevailing name. In themselves they are weak and polluted, but purified with His merits they rise with acceptance and find favour with God. The Lord Jesus Christ is our argument in asking, and should be our incentive in thanking.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

I. Let us consider THE DUTY ENJOINED — thanksgiving — "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father." He is the object of all religious worship, and to Him all our thanks are supremely due. I say supremely, because it is not unlawful to give thanks to others. Children should be thankful to their parents; and the poor and the needy should be thankful to them that afford them relief. For though men are but instruments, they are instruments — and they are voluntary instruments. You never thank the ox and the horse for the behests you derive from them, because you know they are destitute of knowledge and design; but men are influenced by motives, and actuated by choice; yet we are to look above them to God, who is the fountain of all good and blessedness. For, who gave these instruments their capacity? Who placed them in our way and within our reach? Who endowed them with power to help us, and inspired them with inclinations to bless us? "He maketh His sun to shine on the evil and on the good," "and His paths drop fatness." Two things must here be observed: —

1. Thanksgiving is frequently confounded with praise; but they are distinguishable. We praise persons for excellency of character and conduct. We give thanks for favours received from them, and obligations we are under to them. The essence of praise is admiration; the essence of thanksgiving is gratitude.

2. And you must have observed that, when the apostle speaks of thanksgiving, he does not mean only the use of the words — "Words are but air." The verbal expression is nothing, unless corresponding views and feelings proceed, and corresponding actions follow it. You would not wish a man to thank you if he were senseless of his obligations. If he should commend and applaud you, and then do everything in his power to injure you and to offend you. And yet how much of this hypocrisy has God continually to meet with from His creatures, and even many professors of religion!

II. HOW THIS DUTY IS TO BE PERFORMED.

1. It is to be done in the name of Christ. It is His intercession on our behalf that renders our supplications accepted in the Beloved, and by His much incense which purifies our hearts. Thus, as Peter says, we "offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." And therefore, says the Apostle Paul, "Let us offer by Him the sacrifices of God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."

2. Again, as we are to do this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, so we are to do it always. What, then, does the apostle mean when he says, "We are to give thanks always for all things unto God and the Father." Thanksgiving should always be found in our addresses to God. You are not to adore and praise God in His house only, but also in your own. You are not only to worship Him on the Sabbath, but during the week: indeed, the week is to show in you what the Sabbath does for you. And it is a poor devotion indeed, that does not survive the sanctuary, and that is brushed out on Monday morning along with the dust of the place. It can intend, also, nothing less than perseverance; "Holding fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end"; not "growing weary in well-doing," and not becoming cold after your first fervours in religion.Now, in order that you may have this praying frame — this readiness for thanksgiving always — and feel these excitements to it, there are three things essentially necessary.

1. The first is, deep self-abasement. You will always find the proud ungrateful.

2. The second is — it will be necessary for you, if you would live in this praying frame of mind, to be careful to observe and mark the loving kindnesses of the Lord. According, as David says, "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even he shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord." And Mr. Flavel remarks, that "He who observes providences shall not want providences to observe."

3. The third is, to keep these things in remembrance; for, if they are forgotten, they can no longer sway or influence you; and therefore, says David, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." First pair. — You are to give thanks for natural and spiritual mercies. Second pair. — You are to thank Him for ordinary and extraordinary mercies. There are some remarkable instances of the Divine interposition in their favour, in a way of providence or of grace. These are like the red-letter days in the calendar of life. These may be considered as the masterpieces of providence, either in our protection or our deliverance: either in our support or our comfort. At the same time we must not forget that "His mercies are new every morning," and that "He daily loadeth us with his benefits." Third pair. — You are to thank God for positive and preventive mercies. From how many unknown evils as well as known, have you been preserved ever since you have had a being! Fourth pair. — You are to give thanks for public and private mercies. You are embarked in a vessel, the safety of which is your safety too. Fifth pair. — You are to bless God for personal and relative blessings. In how many lives, is your whole life bound up! There is the wife of your choice — there are the children of your love. Sixth pair. — You are to bless God for present and future mercies. The seventh and last pair. — You are to give thanks unto God for your sweet and for your bitter mercies.

(W. Jay.)

I. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE DUTY. — "To give thanks"; or, rather, "to be thankful."

1. It implies a right apprehension of, and consequently a considerate attention unto, benefits conferred. For he that is either wholly ignorant of his obligations, or mistakes them, or passes them over with a slight and superficial view, can nowise be grateful.

2. This duty requires a faithful retention of benefits in memory, and consequently frequent reflections on them. For he that is no longer affected with a benefit than it incurs the sense, and suffers not itself to be disregarded, is far from being grateful; nay, if we believe the philosopher, is ungrateful in the worst kind and highest degree. "He that falsely denies the reception of a benefit, and he that dissembles it, and he that doth not repay it, is ingrateful; but most ingrateful of all is he that forgets it."

3. This duty implies a due esteem and valuation of benefits; that the nature and quality, the measure and quantity, the circumstances and consequences of them be well expended; else the gratitude is like to be none, or very defective. For we commensurate our thankfulness, not so much to the intrinsic excellency of things, as to our peculiar estimations of them. In such manner ought we diligently to survey and judiciously to estimate the effects of Divine beneficence, examining every part, and descanting on every circumstance thereof: like those that contemplate some rare beauty, or some excellent picture; some commending the exact proportions, some the graceful features, some the lively colours discernible therein. There is not the least of the Divine favours, which, if we consider the condescensive tenderness, the clear intention, the undeserved frankness, the cheerful debonairity expressed therein, hath not dimensions larger than our comprehension, colours too fair, and lineaments too comely for our weak sight thoroughly to discern; requiring therefore our highest esteem and our utmost thanks. They are immense, innumerable, unconceivable, and unexpressible. But still —

4. "Giving thanks" imports that benefits be received with a willing mind, a hearty sense, a vehement affection.

5. This duty requires due acknowledgment of our obligation, significations of our notice, declarations of our esteem and good acceptance of favours conferred.

6. This duty requires endeavours of real compensation, and a satisfactory requital of benefits, according to the ability and opportunity of the receiver.

7. True gratitude for benefits is always attended with the esteem, veneration, and love of the benefactor.

II. THE OBJECT AND TERM TO WHICH IT IS TO BE DIRECTED. To this God, to this great, to this only Benefactor of ours, we owe this most natural and easy, this most just and equal, this most sweet and pleasant duty of giving thanks.

III. I proceed now to the third, THE CIRCUMSTANCE OF TIME ALLOTTED TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THIS DUTY, expressed by that universal and unlimited term, "always."

1. Hereby is required that we do often actually meditate on, be sensible of, confess and celebrate the Divine beneficence. If God incessantly demonstrates Himself gracious unto us, we are in all reason obliged frequently to confess ourselves grateful unto Him.

2. "Giving thanks always" may import our appointing and punctually observing certain convenient times of performing this duty; that is, of seriously meditating on, and affectionately acknowledging the Divine bounty. Instance of the Jewish sacrifice, rendered by the Greek translators, "the continual sacrifice." As that sacrifice, being offered constantly at a set time, was thence denominated continual, so perhaps may we, by constantly observing some fit returns of praise and thanksgiving, be said "always to give thanks."

3. But farther, "giving thanks always" may import a vigilant attendance on this duty, such as men bestow on their employments, of which, though the actual prosecution ceases, yet the design continually proceeds; just as we say, such an one is writing a book, or building a house, though he may at the present time be occupied by some other employment; because his design never sleeps, and his purpose continues uninterrupted. This term "always" necessarily implies a ready disposition or habitual inclination to give thanks, ever permanent in us; that our hearts, as David's was, be fixed always, that is, fittingly prepared and steadily resolved to thank and praise God.

5. Lastly: "giving thanks always" imports that we readily embrace every opportunity of actually expressing our thankfulness: for so in some places of Scripture, what is enjoined to be done continually, is in others only required to be done on all opportunities. It is true that no time is unfavourable: every moment we receive favours, and therefore every minute we owe thanks. We should be like those trees that bear fruit (more or less) continually; but then more kindly and more abundantly when more powerfully cherished by the heavenly warmth. When any fresh, any rare, any remarkable benefit happens to us; when prosperous success attends our honest endeavours; when unexpected favours fall as it were of their own accord into our bosoms.

IV. THE MATTER. — "For all things."

1. We are to give thanks, not only for great and notable benefits, but for the least and most ordinary favours of God: though indeed none of God's favours are in themselves small and inconsiderable. Men are wont to bless themselves, if they receive but a transient glance from a prince's eye; a smile from a great personage; any slender intimation of regard from him that is in capacity to do them good. What is it then to receive the least testimony of His goodwill, from whom alone every good thing can be expected.

2. We are to render thanks, not only for new and present benefits, but for all we have formerly, all that we may hereafter receive.

3. We should bless God, not only for new, rare, extraordinary accidents of providence, but for the common and daily benefits and indulgences thereof.

4. We should give thanks, not only for private and particular, but for public benefits also, and for such as befall others.

5. We are obliged to give thanks, not only for pleasant and prosperous occurrences of providence, but for those also which are adverse to our desire, and distasteful to our natural sense; for poverty, sickness, disgrace; for all the sorrows and troubles, the disasters and disappointments, that befall us. We are bound to pay thanks, not for our food only, but for our physic also (which, though ungrateful to our palate, is profitable for our health): we are obliged, in the school of providence, not only for the good instructions, but for the seasonable corrections also vouchsafed unto us (whereby, though our senses are offended, our manners are bettered).

6. Lastly, we are obliged to thank God, not only for corporeal and temporal benefits, but also (and that principally) for spiritual and eternal blessings. I should conclude with certain inducements persuasive to the practice of this duty.

I. First, therefore, we may consider that there is no disposition whatever more deeply radicated in the original constitution of all souls endued with any kind of perception or passion, than being sensible of benefits received; being kindly affected with love and respect toward them that exhibit them; being ready with suitable expressions to acknowledge them, and to endeavour competent recompenses for them. Even the worst of men retain something of this natural inclination, and the very brute creation gives evidence of it.

II. The second obligation to this duty is most just and equal; since we are in all reason indebted for what is freely given, as well as for what is lent to us: for the freeness of the giver, his not exacting security, nor expressing conditions of return, doth not diminish, but rather increase the debt: this enlarged on.

III. Thirdly, this is a most sweet and delightful duty: as the performance of it proceeds from good humour and a cheerful disposition of mind, so it feeds and foments them both. Prayer reminds us of our imperfections and wants; confession of our misdeeds and bad deserts; but thanksgiving includes nothing uneasy or unpleasant, nothing but the memory and sense of exceeding goodness. Other considerations may be briefly added: viz., that this duty is of all others most acceptable to God and profitable to us, inducing Him to bestow more, and qualifying us to receive it.

(I. Barrow, D. D.)

That thanksgiving to God is a great and necessary duty becoming all Christians.

I. To open the duty. Here is — First: The substance, or act of it — "Giving thanks." Praise relateth to God's excellencies, thanksgiving to God's benefits. There is a two-fold thanksgiving.(1) By way of celebration or commemoration, when we speak of God's mercies one to another.(2) By way of invocation, adoration, or worship, when we express them to God Himself. Secondly: The circumstances of the duty.

1. Of time. "Always." How is this possible?(1) We must always have a heart prepared and disposed to give thanks.(2) We must not omit the proper occasions, but must do it frequently and constantly.(3) "Always," i.e., in all conditions, both in adversity and prosperity.

2. The matter for which we are to give thanks — "For all things." The same extent of the matter we may see in a parallel place (1 Thessalonians 5:18), "In everything give thanks." This universal particle comprehendeth all kinds of mercies, spiritual and temporal mercies. He that is not thankful for the smaller mercies disposeth himself to a stupid carelessness and insensibility of the greatest mercies: "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" (Luke 16:11.) A suspected leaky vessel we try with water first, and then with wine. Besides, they all came from the same love, the greater and smaller mercies (Psalm 136:25). Ordinary mercies are our constant diet (Psalm 68:19). Extraordinary mercies are our cordials in a fainting fit (Psalm 77:10).(4) Positive mercies and privative mercies. Freedom from all the sins and dangers we might have fallen into. Did we know how busy the devil is to hurt us, were it not for the sense of God's providence round about us, we would be more thankful to God. We do not know how many dangers God hath prevented.(5) We are also to give thanks for others (2 Corinthians 1:11). God's children rejoice in one another's prosperity, and are interested in one another's mercies, as if they were their own (Philippians 2:27).(6) Mercies in hand and mercies in hope. That argueth a strong faith, affectionately to praise God for mercies in hope as well as mercies in hand (Psalm 31:19). Abraham, when he had not a foot in the land of Canaan, built an altar and offered thank offerings to God (Genesis 13:18); so God's children "rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2; 1 Peter 1:8).Though we do not simply give thanks for the evil, yet we may give thanks for the good that is mixed with them; that is to say —(1) For the mixture (Job 2:10). He taketh away opportunities of service, but it is a mercy that He continued them so long.(2) For the mitigation; it might have been worse (Ezra 9:13; Lamentations 3:39).(3) For the fruit and profit; if it be not good in itself, it turneth to good (Romans 8:28; Psalm 119:71).(4) For the final issue, that God may be glorified (1 Peter 4:14), and we rewarded (Matthew 5:12).

3. The object to whom this religious worship is to be tendered — "To God and the Father" (so Colossians 3:17).

4. The manner or means — "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Why must thanksgiving be made in Christ's name?(1) Because there is more of God discovered in Christ than elsewhere (2 Corinthians 4:6). In creation man was made like God, but in redemption God was made like man.(2) Christ is the only Mediator to convey blessings to us and our services to God; for He is our High Priest and Intercessor. As our High Priest He procured all our mercies for us by His oblation; and by His intercession He conveyeth them to us (Hebrews 8:2).(3) He hath required this duty from us (1 Thessalonians 5:18).(4) Because all our mercies come to us as the fruit of Christ's death, as wrapped in His bowels, as swimming in His blood, as the fruit of His purchase.

II. How necessary, profitable, and becoming Christians this duty is.

1. How necessary a duty it is appeareth —(1) By the light of nature. Ingratitude is counted an unnatural sin (2 Timothy 3:2, 3).(2) By His express will revealed in the Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

2. How necessary a duty it is appeareth by the great profit that cometh of it.(1) To keep us always in a remembrance of God, and that invisible hand that teacheth out all our supplies to us.(2) The observation and acknowledgment of His benefits breedeth in us a love to God (1 John 4:19).(3) It doth encourage our hope.

3. How necessary a duty it is appeareth because it prevents many sins.(1) Hardness of heart and security in enjoying the blessings of God's common providence.(2) It suppresseth murmuring, or that querulous, fretting, impatient humour which venteth itself even in our prayers and complaints, and soureth all our comforts.(3) It preventeth distrust and carking cares (Philippians 4:6).(4) it cureth spiritual pride when we consider who is to be praised for all the good that is in us. They that have more than others are more indebted to grace.Use 1. Is it such a duty? Then take heed of impediments and enemies to thankfulness.

(1)A proud heart.

(2)A fleshly mind.Use

2. Is our thanksgiving right?

(1)If the heart be brought near to God by every mercy we receive from Him (Psalm 96:8).

(2)If it breed a great delight in God (Psalm 37:4).

(3)If it be a cheerful, thankful obedience (Romans 12:1; John 14:15).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. In the first place, I would have you notice that St. Paul speaks of giving thanks "UNTO GOD AND THE FATHER." The person described under these two titles is of course one and the same, but the thoughts which belong to the two titles are very different; the name of God may be said chiefly to testify of power, that of Father chiefly of love; it is because God has allowed Himself to be addressed as "our Father," that we can draw nigh to Him with fall assurance of faith.

II. Next observe, THAT THANKS MUST BE GIVEN TO THE FATHER "IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST." This throws a remarkable light upon the nature of thanksgiving. Our natural feeling would (I think) be this, that if we came to ask any favour or mercy at the hands of God, we should rightly do so in the name of Him, through whom alone our petitions can be granted, but that the same thing would hardly hold good, if we came to pay the tribute of praise and thanksgiving to God; in asking we should feel that we needed a mediator, in giving (however small our gift might be) we should scarcely imagine that the same need existed. And yet, according to St. Paul, the need is the same in both cases; even our thanks must be offered up through Christ; we do not make God our debtor by such offerings; whether we ask or whether we pay tribute, it is we who are the gainers, and for both the one purpose and the other we need the righteousness of Christ, to make our approach to God's mercy seat acceptable.

III. But again; St. Paul in the text gives a very wide range to thanksgiving, when he speaks of "GIVING THANKS FOR ALL THINGS." All the dispensations of God should be regarded as the acts of a Father, and therefore as demanding our thanks. I know the difficulty of realizing this state of mind; a time may perhaps come, when we shall be able to look back from our place of rest upon the way by which God hath led us, and when we shall be able to see that in all its turns and twistings (so far as they were the result of God's leading, and not due to our own perversity), and in all its darker passages, in its roughest as well as its smoothest portions, it was indeed "the right way," and all demands our gratitude to Him, who led us by a way that we knew not.

IV. There is one other expression in the text which deserves notice, and to which a remark applies similar to that just now made upon the expression "all things." St. Paul says, "giving thanks ALWAYS"; the word "always" is sufficiently strong and comprehensive in itself, and becomes additionally so by being joined to the words "all things." "Giving thanks always for all things" is obviously as comprehensive a charge to give thanks as could possibly be devised; and I wish to remark that the peculiar force of the word "always" seems to be this, "under all circumstances." St. Paul is not intending (I think) so much to enjoin an unceasing course of thanksgiving, as to warn us against allowing our thankfulness to depend upon our own state of mind, or upon the prosperity or adversity of our outward condition.

(Bishop Harvey Goodwin.)

The first thanks of a redeemed creature will always be for Christ. But Christian thankfulness shows itself in joyous acknowledgment of all gifts, great and small. And it finds a new call to its exercise in the fact, that the lesser gifts have their origin in the love which gave us the greatest, and came to us through that greatest Himself. The range of Christian thankfulness becomes, in this way, very wide. "For all things" — for little mercies as well as great mercies — for the gospel first, but also for the humblest truth which enlarges the mind; for things in heaven and things on earth; for whatever is related to our growth and well-being; for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the fire which warms us, and the earth which is the bountiful food grower for us all. "All things." Showers and streams, flowers and trees, bird and beast and creeping things, the wide sea and the lofty hills, sunshine and starlight, light and darkness, clouds and rainbows, waxing and waning moons, seasons and days. "For all things." For things of discipline as well as things of nutriment, for toil and the hardness which toil works, for hunger and cold, for sickness and sorrow, for death itself, for mercy and also for judgment, for riches and also for poverty, for peaceful calm and also for purifying storm. "For all things." For friends and privileges and just laws and liberties; for our native land and our memories of heroic ancestors; for Christian principle and the Christian Church; for life and strength and reason; for our bodies fearfully and wonderfully made; for our place in society, our opportunities for good, our means of usefulness, our knowledge, insight, and growth; and for faith, hope, and charity in ourselves and others.

I. In a country like ours, we could make no selection of common mercies in which THE BLESSINGS OF EMPLOYMENT were left out. We are a nation of workers. In our offices, workshops, and studies; at our crafts, domestic duties, and professional tasks, we are all supposed to have some employment. Labour itself is a blessing. It is employment. And anyone who knows the misery of the state indicated by the words "out of employment," also knows the greatness of the blessing. In its results it is worse than bodily disease. It is the sure destruction of self-respect and courage. The joy of life perishes at the roots, and despair commences its evil reign. One of the directest blessings of labour is its healthiness. Other things being equal, it is the busy who are healthy. Idleness enfeebles both mind and body. Movement, activity, fulfilment of tasks — this is the law for every creature made by God. Neglect of this law is death. Another element in this blessing of work is its honourableness. Since work implies service, it is a beneficent endowment that it is honourable. And this is an attribute in all work, in work of the hand as well as work of the mind. When our Maker appointed us to labour, He made labour one of the dignities in His kingdom. A working man is one of God's noblemen. His queens are working women.

II. The last of the mercies I undertook to set before you is HOME. And I will begin by naming the homeliness of home. In my home I am at ease, and free to be myself. I am neither merchant, nor student, nor craftsman, nor politician. I am simply a member of the home circle, a citizen of "that country which every man loves." It is a world whose courtesies are those of love. It exacts no etiquette except that which expresses the heart. How entirely it surrounds us. We are born into it, we die in it. We frequent it day and night; we are in it from infancy to old age. We rise in the morning, and find it filled with friendly faces; we retire for the night from amidst a group of the dearest we have. Every way it is a comfort to us. It is our shelter from the weather, our banqueting house, our hospital and place of rest. Next to its homeliness, in matter for thankfulness, is the seclusion of home. Above my summer hut one year was a mountain stream, which I often visited. Rising far up in the marshy hollows of the mountains, it made its way by steep and frequent plunges to the sea. Sometimes it leapt from crag to crag, brawling in a confused way over the sudden breaks of rock in its march. Sometimes it flung its waters in a mass on a lower shelf with an angry clash. At one point it came trailing down the face of the glistening rock behind; at another it tumbled and splashed in fantastic pools within its bed. But here and there, in its descent, it came to solitary spots, quiet basins of stone, where all the hasting and furious turbulence was at an end. And the stream that leapt and churned higher up, lay still as a sleeping child. What those quiet pools were to the life of that mountain stream, home is to the ordinary life we lead. The one life wrestles and leaps onward in endless unrest, the other dwells in calmness and peace. Home is a blessing so common, and we have been all our days so familiar with it, that few realize the full riches of blessing which it is in our life. But there is a blessing in our homes greater than either its seclusion, or comfort. Some of the best discipline of life is there. Home has functions which point to eternity. It is a school to instruct us in the knowledge of God. A revelation of God older than the Bible shines in the home. The parables of the fireside are as Divine as those of Christ. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him." As we learn the secrets of that pity in the heart of our earthly father we become acquainted with God. A mother's love is a Jacob's ladder by which we ascend to the love of God. "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you." What surrounds us from our infancy is a vision and prophecy of God.

(N. Macleod, D. D.)

James Hervey, when Dr. Stonehouse saw him for the last time, about two hours before he expired, pressed upon the doctor in the most affectionate manner his everlasting concerns, telling him "here is no abiding place." Stonehouse, seeing the great difficulty and pain with which he spoke, desired that he would spare himself. "No," said he, "doctor, no. You tell me I have but a few moments to live. Oh let me spend them in adoring our great Redeemer..." He then expatiated in the most striking manner upon these words of St. Paul, "All things are yours." He then paused a little, and with great serenity in his countenance quoted those triumphant words, "'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.' There, doctor, is my cordial. What are all the cordials to the dying compared to the salvation of Christ?" In his last moments he exclaimed two or three times, "Precious salvation!" and then, leaning his head against the side of the easy chair in which he sat, he shut his eyes and fell asleep.

(Romaine.)

Praise is the believer's help in his trials, and his companion after trial. Jehoshaphat's army sang praises before the battle. David sang praises in the cave; Daniel, when the trap was set for his life, prayed and gave thanks three times a day as usual: and Jesus, when He would raise Lazarus, first lift up His heart in thanks to the Father; and before He went to supper, first sang a hymn. So is praise also our solace after trial. Music is sweetest when heard over rivers, where the echo thereof is best rebounded by the waters; and praise for pensiveness, thanks for tears, blessing God over the floods of affliction, makes the sweetest music in the ears of heaven.

(A. Fuller.)

A person being once cast upon a desolate island, spent a day in fasting and prayer for his deliverance, but no help came. It occurred to him then to keep a day of thanksgiving and praise, and he had no sooner done it than relief was brought to him. You see, as soon as he began to sing of mercy exercised, the exercise of mercy was renewed to him. The Lord heard the voice of his praise.

(C. Nevins.)

The psalmist speaks of singing to the name of the Lord, blessing, extolling, thanksgiving, exalting. Just as the stem which is full of sap throws out many branches, so the believer who is full of a spirit of praise will give vent to it in many different forms.

(P. B. Power.)

Every Christian life is like a psalm. Just as in those grand old Hebrew psalms you may hear different voices; as you may hear, now the broken voice of the broken and contrite heart as it sobs out its confession of sin, and now the soft cooing as of the infant falling asleep in perfect peace upon its mother's bosom; just as you may hear, now the dull groan of anguish wrung from the heart almost overburdened with sorrow, and now the peal of laughter, as of one who is bounding over the mountain side, breathing God's pure air, and rejoicing in God's glad sunshine; as you may hear, now the sharp cry of pain as of a soldier who has been hit by the archers, and now the shouts of triumph rising from the throats of those who have been victors in the fight; and yet in all the psalms, running like an accompaniment, you may detect the perpetual sense of God's nearness and of God's love: so we shall not fail to find many varied experiences in the Christian life, some joyful and some painful — many voices in one psalm; and yet, if that life is what it should be, the accompaniment of every experience will be the music of a thankful heart.

1. Thankfulness is the harmony of contentment and aspiration.

2. Thankfulness is the harmony between the deep sense of obligation, and the joy of perfect freedom.

(W. V. Robinson, B. A.)

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