A Song Concerning Lovingkindness
“I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.” — Isaiah lxiii. 7.
THE chapter opens with a declaration of our glorious Lord, as to his ultimate overthrow of his foes. He declares that he will tread down all the enemies of his people, as grapes are trodden in the wine press. The chapter, as you know, begins with that remarkable exclamation, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?” The prophet having beheld the glorious vision, and heard the proclamation of the victorious hero, felt his soul stirred within him. It is usual for saints’ hearts to burn within them when Christ is near. The glowing flames of his heart unloosed the bonds of his tongue; he could not but speak, and the theme which suggested itself to him was the lovingkindness of the Lord. He was ravished with what he saw coming in the future, with the future triumphs of Emmanuel and the overthrow of Israel’s foes; but he felt that he must not forget the glorious victories of the bygone ages, and the triumphs of the days that were; and so with determination he declares, “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.” There were some in the prophets’ days whose business it was to make mention of the Lord. Do you not remember how he says, “Ye that make mention of the Lord keep not silence?” Those were persons who publicly spoke of him— “they that feared the Lord spake often one to another.” They were also persons who spoke to him, who kept the Lord in remembrance, and made mention of his mercies to them, as it is written: “Ye that make mention of the Lord keep not silence, and give him no rest till he establish and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” It was in both senses that Isaiah resolved to mention the lovingkindnesses of Jehovah; to the people that they might love God, and to God that he might not forget his people, but might continue to smile upon them in the days to come, as he had done in days of yore.
This morning we have the same task as that which was set before the prophet; may the same Spirit rest upon us as rested upon him.
And, first, we shall have to give you a delightful catalogue of the mercies to be mentioned; then, as time serves us, we shall call your attention to the special points in these mercies which are to be mentioned; and we will close by noticing the practical good results of mentioning the lovingkindnesses of Jehovah.
I. First, then, we have to give you a list of THE MERCIES TO BE MENTIONED. A complete summary we cannot give, for who can count the sands of the sea or the stars of the sky? Let him, when he has accomplished that task, attempt to count the mercies of the Lord. I have no need, my brethren, to make a catalogue of my own, for I have one before me made to hand, and written by an inspired pen, in the verses which follow the text.
The list commences with special electing love. In the Hebrew the eighth verse runs thus, “For he said, they only are my people.” He had chosen them alone of all the nations of the earth to be his portion and the lot of his inheritance; as he said also in another place, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” He had chosen Israel to be a people near unto him. Though they were a small nation and insignificant among the kingdoms, yet he set them apart tor himself. He chose their father, Abraham, and called him from an idolatrous family, even from Ur of the Chaldees, that he might dwell alone in the land of promise. Having chosen the patriarch, he bound himself by covenant to favour his seed after him, not because of any goodness in them, but of his own sovereign will and good pleasure. This, therefore, the Jewish prophet dwells upon as a first instance of love, and when we are mentioning the lovingkindnesses of the Lord it is well to begin at the beginning, or rather to magnify that favour which had no beginning. Praise the stream but forget not the wellhead. He loved his people from everlasting.
“Long ere the sun’s refulgent ray
Primeval shades of darkness drove,
They on his sacred bosom lay
Loved with an everlasting love.”
How ravishing is the thought of eternal love! Try to drink it in: if you are a believer in Christ you were loved before time began its cycles; in that old eternity, or e’er the earth was born, you were beloved of the Lord. You were dear to Jehovah’s heart when this great world, the sun, the moon, the stars, slept in the mind of God like unborn forests in an acorn-cup. He loved you with an everlasting and infinite love. Rejoice in this and let your souls be glad. Never forget that election is the source of every favour, for the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.
Pass on to the next sweet token of divine lovingkindness which is found in the fatherly confidence which the Lord has manifested towards his people. Read the verse again. “He said, surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.” This has sometimes been thought to represent, after the manner of men, a mistaken confidence which God placed in his people, but I think it is not so. It is not intended to set forth what the Lord secretly thought and knew concerning us, but it is the apparent language of his dealings towards them. It represents the trustful manner in which the Lord actually treats his people. There can hardly be much love where there is no confidence, and confidence is often a great token of affection: when, for instance, the wife reposes her entire reliance upon her husband, it is because she loves him with all her heart. She proves her love by her restfulness in him. When a father loves his child he may sec many imperfections and much of fickleness, but he does not look on his child with suspicion and mistrust, but in many ways treats him with confidence. Now the Lord trusted his ancient people Israel. Did he not commit to them the law, and the revelation of his will? Whose were the oracles? To no other nation did he give the truth concerning himself to lay up as a precious deposit; all the prophecies concerning Christ, and the types which betoken him, were placed in their custody, and he said, “They are children that will not lie.” Yes, and how sweetly God hath trusted us, also, for he has put us in trust with the gospel, he has trusted us with influence over other men’s souls, he has trusted some of us with little ones whose immortality will feel our influence, he has trusted us with his name and honour, for according as we live in holiness will he be honoured among the sons of men. He has placed wondrous confidence in us. Often docs it humble me in the dust when I think that “unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” It is a wonderful instance of affection that God should pitch upon a poor fallible being, and say to him, “I have made thee a chosen vessel to bear my name unto the Gentiles.” All believers are in their measure trusted in this way: such honour have all the saints. You have all some charge to keep; some talent is entrusted to your stewardship, some jewel is placed in your custody, and the Lord saith of you in loving trustfulness, “Surely they will not lie.” Alas! how unworthy have we been of the trust reposed in us! He knew what we should be, yet he has acted towards us as trustfully as if we had been truth itself. Some of us feel the tears in our eyes as we remember how the Lord has honoured us with great responsibilities, and how far we have fallen short! The Holy Spirit has put us into positions which in our youth we could not have dreamed of occupying, and he has said to us, “Be my servant and be faithful,” and so has given us a sweet proof of his lovingkindness and tender mercies. Think that over, beloved. I know that there are here present many Christian people who arc trusted with the teaching and training of young minds; look upon it as a special favour that you are used of the Lord to shape the immortality of precious souls. If you be indeed his people you will see much love in this, and this will make you the more anxious to be found faithful.
But the prophet goes on to notice another sweet instance of divine love, namely, his great sympathy with us. There has been much dispute about the interpretation of the first clause of the ninth verse, but I hope our authorized version is the right one, and I feel sure it must be; it is such a divine sentence, it must be inspired. “In all their affliction he was afflicted.” Was there ever anything more worthy of being mentioned as a part of the lovingkindness of Jehovah than this, that he deeply sympathizes with all his tried and afflicted people. He does not merely sympathize as one man with another, but as if his people were one with him, as indeed is the case, so that he suffers when they suffer. In “all their affliction,” not in some of their trials, but in all they have to bear, whether little or great, “he was afflicted.” There is never a cross upon a believing shoulder but what the Lord Jesus carries one end of it; there is never a cup put upon a saint’s table but what the Lord Jesus sips at it, and sweetens it by his divine fellowship. “I am with thee, Israel, passing through the fire; if nowhere else, I am with thee; I will be with thee in the furnace, and when the coals glow seven times hotter, there will I, the Son of God, tread the coals with thee, and give thee strength through my presence.” Was ever love like this! Beloved, you are poor worms of the dust, and you never could have dreamed of having fellowship with God, and yet he deigns to be afflicted in your affliction. Are you not glad? Will you not bless his name? or are your hearts turned to stone? Nay, we will make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, because he knows our sorrows, and pities us in our griefs.
The next mercy mentioned is his intimate intercourse with us, for the text adds, “The angel of his presence saved them.” The children of Israel in the wilderness were led and guided by the Messiah himself. Invisible to them, he was none the less present. The schekinah which blazed between the cherubim was the type of the presence of redeeming love in the midst of the people. The messenger of God’s presence saved them: who could that have been but him of whom it is written, he “is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Who but lie is the “messenger of the covenant whom we delight in,” anointed of the Lord to come forth as the Saviour of men? Now, beloved, think of this, that Jesus the Son of God abides with us spiritually even unto this day. He has been here in body; “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father.” He is here in spirit still; yea, we are in him, for we are “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Our fellowship with this “angel of his presence” is very near and very dear; he does not make himself strange unto his own flesh: he manifests himself to us as he does not unto the world. Have you never seen him, have you never felt his shadow falling upon you when alone? Did you never look up into his face and see him regarding you with deepest tenderness? Have you never walked with him in the cool of the day? Have you never taken his arm in the rough places of your pilgrimage, that you might come up from the wilderness leaning upon your beloved? Oh, I know you have, and of all the delightful tokens of love which you have received, the presence of the covenant angel of God has been the most consoling.
But we can only say a little upon each, we cannot dwell long upon any one. Next the prophet records the gracious interpositions of God on the behalf of his people— “In his love and in his pity he redeemed them.” Brethren, we have been saved; those of us who believe in Jesus do not only expect to be saved at the last, but we rejoice that we are saved already. Already we have come up out of Egypt, and our sins are drowned in the Red Sea; we shall see them no more for ever. Christ has for ever put away our sin, so that if it be sought for it shall not be found, yea, it shall not be, saith the Lord. What a wonderful deliverance ours has been! Forget not, beloved, the destroying angel, and how he passed us by! Forget not the paschal lamb, and the sprinkling of the precious blood! Forget not the deep sea through which you passed when you were baptized unto the Lord in the blood of his great atoning sacrifice; yourself saved while all your sins were drowned like Pharaoh in the flood. Forget not all these wonders, I pray you. Many other deliverances have you experienced since then. Which of us could not tell of choice and crowning mercies? Some of us have newly come up from the sick bed, where we thought we should see men no more in the land of the living, and yet we are still living to praise God. Perhaps you have come up from the deeps of poverty, where you thought surely you should famish, but you have known no lack; the Lord has set your feet in a large room, and given you bread enough and to spare. Or, it may be, you have come up from soul conflict, wherein you were thrown down by the enemy, so that he put his foot upon you, but you had grace to say, “Rejoice not over me, O mine adversary; though I fall, yet shall I rise again,” and you have risen again, and this morning you are remembering the lovingkindnesses of the Lord. Sing ye, then, of the hill Mizar and the Hermons. Anoint anew those ancient Ebenezers, when you said, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped me”— I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord. Have you not many to mention? Cannot you also
“Arise and tell
The wonders of Immanuel.
He plucked your feet from the miry clay,
And set you upon the King’s highway.”
I know you can thus speak: take care that you do, and often make mention of the great goodness of the Lord to his people.
This is not all, however; let us go back to our catalogue. The prophet tells you God provided for, led, protected, and upheld his people by a wondrous special providence while they were in the wilderness. “He bare them and carried them all the days of old.” Like a nurse who carries her little child; it cannot walk, it can only take a few tottering footsteps, and she carries it; or like an eagle, which is said to take its young upon its back and fly aloft, bearing the eaglets towards the sun; even so did God carry his people in the wilderness, and in like fashion has he carried us. Unto this day what have ye lacked, O believers? Ye fretful people of God, what cause have you had for murmuring? Has he not given his angels charge concerning you, to bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone? Has he not been your refuge hitherto? Has he not covered you with his feathers, and made his wings to be your shelter? Have you not received daily bread and water? Has not your raiment been given you? Have you not been housed? To this hour wherein hath the Lord failed you? Has he been a wilderness unto you, has he broken one of his promises? I challenge you to prove a single instance in which he has been untrue. My own witness is that, “Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life.” This is the verdict of all the saints. They can tell of the great goodness of the Lord, and record his lovingkindnesses. Let us join with them. If these blessings were to cease for a moment, where should we be? What if the Lord were no longer to be the God of providence? What if he would no longer uphold us? What if he shut up the granaries of his grace? What if his tender mercies should be removed, and the bowels of his compassion should be changed into wrath — where should we be? But as it is not so, and never shall be so, let us make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord.
Nor is this all. The prophet further goes on to mention the Lord’s chastening, for I do verily believe he puts it down as a thing for which to bless him. It is to be sorrowed over that we need chastening, but God is to be praised that he does not withhold it from us. “But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.” Yes, but he loved them even then, blessed be his name. The mother gives her child a pat, but she loves it still. It often grieves her more that her child should be chastened than it can ever grieve the child; and this is one way in which in all our afflictions the Lord is afflicted, because he “doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” He does not take delight in the sorrows of his people, but his heart relents towards them when he sees their tears and hears their cries. I bless God this day with all my heart that I have not been left unchastened; and every child of God in looking back upon his life will say the same. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word.” O, my brethren, how much we owe to the hammer and the anvil and the file and the fire. Thanks be to God for the little crosses of every day, ay, and for the heavy crosses which he sends us at certain seasons. He does not gather the twigs of his rod on the mountains of wrath, but he plucks them in the garden of love, and though lie sometimes makes blue marks upon us as he smites us heavily, yet
“His strokes are fewer than our crimes
And lighter than our guilt.”
Love bathes all the wounds which it makes and kisses away the smart. Blessed be a chastening God! Set down your chastenings among your choicest mercies and mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.
Notice that the next thing the prophet sings about is God’s faithfulness, for though he did smite his people, yet in a very short time we find that “he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, “Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his Holy Spirit within him? That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name? That led them through the deep as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble?” He recollected what lie had done, and he resolved to do the like again. He was smiting them, but it came to his thoughts, “I have loved them of old, I have aforetime blessed them, I have kept them, I have delivered them for my name’s sake, and therefore will I do it again.” If God reasons thus with himself, well may we say—
“And can he have taught me
To trust in his name,
And thus far have brought me
To put me to shame?”
If he had meant to destroy me, would he have done so much for me?
“His love in time past
Forbids me to think,
He’ll leave me at last
In trouble to sink:
Each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review,
Confirms his good pleasure
To help me quite through.”
We will close this catalogue with one more choice mercy, for the prophet tells of God’s giving his people rest after all. He describes him first as leading them through the deeps like a horse in the wilderness, where the horse would not stumble. A horse on our stony streets or on rugged roads may stumble, but a horse out on the smooth expanse of desert sand is quite another creature, and he flies like the wind in ecstasy of freedom, fearing no fall. Thus the Lord has made his people to enjoy liberty and safe standing in an even place. The prophet next uses another figure: he says, “As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest.” This is an exceedingly delightful metaphor. As the cattle descend into the vales to feed under the shady trees, by the flowing brooks, so God makes his people to rest. Have you never seen the cattle and horses make their way to the stream in the heat of the day, and stand there knee deep in the water, merrily swinging their tails to chase away the flies, looking, as they lick their foals or calves, or drink long draughts of the pure liquid, so perfectly content with all around them that we may well conclude that they there find all the heaven which cattle can desire? Even so we that have believed, when we trust our God, when we rest in Jesus, leave the sun’s heat and find the cool brooks of the Spirit’s gracious influences, wherein we bathe ourselves, and rest in sweet content, for we that have believed do enter into rest. Jesus is our peace, and he hath given to us the peace of God which passeth all understanding, which doth keep our heart and mind through Jesus Christ.
What a catalogue have I laid before you. If you begin to sing according to this music score, when will you get to the end of it? Oh, prepare your voices, get your harps ready, let every string be well tuned. Here is noble music for you; music which will last you till you get to heaven, and then methinks you may go over it again, for what sweeter, nobler work shall you require than to make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord?
II. But now we must turn to the second head. Isaiah calls out particular attention to CERTAIN POINTS WORTHY OF SPECIAL MENTION.
And, first, in the text he directs our thoughts to the fact that whatever has been bestowed upon us by God reveals his lovingkindness, his goodness, his mercy, his compassion. In fact, all that we have received has come to us by the way of free grace. Do we need to be told this? I fear we do, but if our sense of our own unworthiness be clear, if we know what worse than nothings we are, what a mass of sin and corruption we are by nature, we shall never think that we receive anything from God by the way of merit. Still our proud hearts need to be told over and over again that all the blessings we enjoy come to us by the free and sovereign grace of God. Hence the prophet heaps up words. Notice them: “The lovingkindnesses of the Lord;” “the great goodness of the Lord” the “mercies” of the Lord. O believer, nothing of all this goodness is deserved by thee. The bread on thy table is flavoured with grace; thy meat has mercy for its sauce. Every drop of water which cools thy tongue tastes of mercy. Charity clothes thee; infinite love feeds thee; and as for thy spiritual blessings, where are thy streams found, whence do they gush but from the inexhaustible fountain of eternal love? Let others boast, if they dare, of what they have done for themselves; let others talk of the dignity of human nature, let them glory in the worthiness of their own actions; God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the love which shone from that cross to such poor, unworthy ones as we are. Those are charming bells indeed, free grace and dying love. Through the ivory gate of grace all mercies come to sinners. Through this window of agates, this gate of carbuncles, every good gift is handed out to men. That is the first noticeable thing.
The next is the consequent praise which is due to God on account of this. Does he not say, “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord.” O praise the Lord, praise him for every mercy you possess. We ought to keep count of God’s goodness, keep account, I say, by rendering new notes of praise for each new favour; if we did this we should never leave off singing. We should never have time for complaining if we gave to God due praise for every mercy received. Oh for a praising heart; for a praising heart is a happy heart. The occupation of heaven should be the occupation of heavenly men, even while they are here. God help us to keep to this.
“I will praise thee every day
Now thine anger’s turned away.”
I will magnify thy name as long as I live, for as long as I live thy mercies magnify me.
The third thing to be noticed is the uniform nature of all God’s dealings with us. Observe, “according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us.” We are to praise God in all and for all. “In everything give thanks” is a Christian precept. I do not like, when I am looking back on my past life, to consider exclusively two or three remarkable mercies, and say, “I will bless the Lord for these.” No, I will bless him for my whole career. Did he take away my comforts? Did he send me that which I judged to be evil? Shall we pick and choose the subjects for our praise? Shall we bless the Lord who gives and not the Lord who takes? “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away,” said Job, “and blessed be the name of the Lord.” Mention his providences altogether, for all things work for good. No man knows which is the best part of his life; perhaps that portion which we think to be the worst has been of the most service to us. God knows what is best for us. Let us praise him according to all that the Lord hath bestowed upon us, blessing him for bitters and sweets, for blacks and whites, for storms and calms, blessing him alike for all. That should be a special note in our song.
The next notable point is the grandeur of the goodness which is shown in every mercy. Observe the words, “the great goodness toward the house of Israel,” as if we had received no little goodness, but all was great goodness. Is there a favour that we enjoy from God which we can dare to despise? Ingratitude makes little of much, but gratitude sees much in little. Whatever comes to us is great goodness. But oh, beloved, we need not continue to talk about it, for surely upon the very surface we can see the great goodness of electing love, the great goodness of redeeming love, the great goodness of converting love, the great goodness of pardoning love, the great goodness of upholding love, the great goodness of sanctifying love, the great goodness which has sent a Saviour to prepare heaven for us, and the great goodness which is preparing us that we may enter into the heaven. God’s goodness is all great; nothing little comes from our gracious God. O great sinner, is there not a gleam of hope for you in this? A great God full of great mercies for a great sinner. Why, that is the very God you want. Fly to him by the way of the great Saviour!
Yet again, we ought to take peculiar note in our song of the condescending tenderness and pity of God, for such is the force of the next expression, “which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies,” — a clearer rendering would be “according to his compassion.” You know a man may be very good to another, but he may not be tender. There is a way of pitching a shilling to a beggar in the street just as if he were a dog; God never gives his mercies to us in that way. A doctor may cure us, but be so rough about it that we may be glad to get rid of him, but the Lord heals lovingly and tenderly. I have often said in this place, and I venture to repeat it, that I do not know any word in any language which can be compared with that word “lovingkindness.” Thank God, we are Anglo-Saxons, and therefore can say— “lovinghindness.” Unrivalled word! It is marrow and fatness. Lovingkindness! What a mouthful it is! How it seems to sweeten the soul as it goes down. The Lord has always dealt graciously with us. He has been as tender as a nurse with her child. He has given us the mercy suitable to our condition. When he has been teaching us he has not taught us too much at once, but little by little as we have been able to bear it, for he knows our frame. He screens off strong light from weak eyes, he feeds the famished with food convenient. We received the gospel at first not in the glory of its sublime doctrines but in the simplicity of the plainer truths. With tenderness did God instruct us, and in every other part of his dealing towards us the like tenderness is seen wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence. For this we extol him.
One other special note demands to be heard, and that is the multitudinous displays of his love. “According to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses,” of all shapes, and at all times, and in all ways, and from all points of the compass. “The multitude of his lovingkindnesses.” Now I am lost. I cannot call in the arithmetician, it is not possible for him to calculate here. Sometimes we have before us a long line of figures which must be multiplied, and the brain aches in the very attempt, but you shall never calculate the multitude of the Lord’s tender mercies — this is an endless task. Look over the fields in spring when they are covered with the yellow kingcups and white daisies, and green grass in abundance till the meadows look as though God had spread a field of the cloth of gold for a celestial coronation. Count these flowers if you can, tell their petals, and their leaves, and the blades of the green grass, and the drops of dew which hang upon them; then look upwards to the trees, count the myriad leaves which make the forest; detain the dust which stirs in the summer’s gale, count all the grains which make the mountains, all the sands which form the sea-shore, and all the drops which compose the sea; have you done? Ah, then, you have but begun to estimate the multitude of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord. O, my soul, bless thou the Lord! Why be silent?
“Why should the mercies he has wrought
Be lost in silence and forgot?
Break forth, my spirit, break forth my whole nature; all that is within me be stirred up to magnify and bless his holy name; for he is God, and his mercies are unsearchable, past finding out are his favours. Glory be unto his name!
III. We close after occupying two or three minutes in hinting at the PRACTICAL REASONS WHY WE SHOULD THUS MENTION THE LOVINGKINDNESSES OF THE LORD.
First, we should do this that we may have pleas in prayer. This is the best way of praying. “Lord, thou hast done this for thy servant, thou hast done that for thy servant, therefore I beseech thee do more.” This is not after the manner of men, for when we once relieve a man’s necessities we say to him, “Do not come again;” but every gift which God gives is an invitation to come again, and the best way in which we can show our gratitude is to seek for further gifts.
“The best return for one like me,
So wretched and so poor,
Is from his gifts to draw a plea,
And ask him still for more.”
You will pray well when you can mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.
Next, these memories will act as stays to your faith. When you grow doubting and troubled, and I suppose you do sometimes, then you can remember the Lord’s former favours; and since he cannot change, you will be confident that he will do the like again. Oh, rest ye in him; of what he has been to you he will be to the end. As long as the world standeth trust ye him, and he will bring your desires to pass.
Then, next, these remembered mercies will minister to your present happiness and comfort. The thought of what God has done for us is enough to make us happy now. If the Lord were not to give me another mercy, I am bound to praise him for what he has given me already. Blessed be his name, since first I stood a beggar at his door, and he stayed my soul’s hunger with himself, and gave me his own flesh to eat, and blood to drink, the sacred nutriment of my hungry spirit, I scarce have been able to ask for anything before it has come to me. O Lord, thou dost daily load us with benefits till we sink under the burden of obligation, and yet we are so happy.
The thought of all this, dear brethren, would have the other practical influence of making us love God more, and obey him better. Duty becomes pleasure when gratitude rules the hour.
“’Tis love that makes our willing feet
In swift obedience move.”
Has he done so much for me; then what is there that I could not do for him if his grace would help me?
To mention the Lord’s goodness enables us, dear friends, to cheer others, for when we make mention of the lovingkindnesses of God to ourselves we do not know who may be standing by. There may be some mourner there for whom the gates of consolation have been closed for long, but when he hears what God has done for one of his people, he plucks up heart and says, “I will even see whether he would not do the like for me.” Tell of God’s lovingkindness, be not slow in speech about these things, this will render your conversation such as becomes an heir of heaven. Do you not use much idle talk? I am afraid we all do. Do you not often complain when there is nothing to complain of? Do you not murmur? Are you not far too ready to break forth in words of lamentation? Waste not your breath on such base uses, but consecrate it all to praise. Tell what his hand hath given, what his lip hath spoken. Tell how he has blessed you with countless mercies, and it will make the daughters of despondency rejoice, and the sons of mourning lift up their heads.
Last of all, make mention of the lovingkindnesses of God, because it will glorify him, and this should always be your master motive. The Christian lives to honour his God. Oh tell what the Lord has done, that men may praise him. The sons of men are apt enough to forget him; keep them in remembrance of him. They are apt enough to speak hard things concerning him; tell them of his lovingkindnesses, and make them know what a good master he is whom you serve. Din it into their ears, make them hear it, tell them again and again and again of the great goodness of the Lord to you. Can you give me any reason why you should not mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord? Can you tell me any company in which you ought to be in which you could not mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord? I know some persons who ride hobbies, and you cannot be long with them before they will introduce them. They may be very inappropriate but somehow or other they bring the conversation round to their favourite theme. I would have you ride this hobby without fear. Rather I would have you take this noble steed and ride it through all companies; make them feel that it is your manner and habit to tell of God’s goodness, and that you cannot help it. Bring it in somehow. Methinks you never need be short of reasons for praise. Tell men of his goodness in sending the cool wind in this hot summer, or tell them of his goodness in sending the heat to ripen the harvest; tell them of his mercy which sends the rain that the grass may spring up again, or of his love which withholds the rain till the reapers’ work is done. If all this congregation went out to-day to tell of the lovingkindness of the Lord towards his people, we should have such gospel preaching throughout all London as was never known before. The Lord rinse your mouths out, brethren, if you have a bitter way of talking about other people, or about his providence, and lead you henceforth to glory in his holy name. Amen and Amen.