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A MEDITATION ON
2 COR. IX. 15.
Thanks be unto God
for his unspeakable Gift.
CHRISTIANS, you need not be told what this Gift is. But those who had not heard of it before, never could have conjectured what it meant; for who could have thought that God should so love the world, as to give his only begotten Son? What a scene of wonders here opens upon us! Whether we consider the Giver, the Gift, or the Receiver, it is all astonishing.
The Giver is God the Father: and here we are astonished, that when he had bestowed so much already, and his favours had been so much abused, he should think of giving any thing more to creatures so vile and ungrateful. He made the world, and gave it them. He furnished it with every thing for use or convenience, and then put them in possession of it. “Take it,” said the all bounteous Parent, “ Take it all. The whole world is your own, except this one tree, which I reserve to myself; and which, upon pain of my highest displeasure, I forbid you to taste or to touch.” Yet, in defiance of his prohibition, they plucked and ate of that very forbidden fruit, God presently charged them with it; and resented it,
as he had told them that he would.“ So he drove out the man;" and banished the guilty pair from his presence. Any one would naturally suppose, that now there would have been an end of all friendly intercourse between God and human creatures for ever; for is it common for the persons offended, to send gifts, and those valuable too, to those by whom they have been insulted? Who ever heard of such a thing among men? When one person has offended another, especially if it be a superior, how does he stoop and cringe, and endeavour, by presents, to buy off his displeasure, and work himself into favour again! This is the manner of men towards one another; and this is the method which awakened sinners generally take with God. When he enters into judgment with them, when he reproves them, and sets their sins in order before them, they endeavour to appease him with their Gifts. They produce their reading, their hearing, their prayers, and their alms. They offer these to God, and expect his favour in return. This is the manner of men ; but this is not God's method of acting. Instead of looking for gifts from us, he bestows a Gift upon us; and declares that our acceptance of it is what he requires.
This is a gift which comprehends every other. It has pleased the Father, that in him all fulness should dwell, answerable to ourvarious wants and infirmities. Is there a fulness of pardon in Christ, it shows that there is much guilt in us, to need so much forgiveness. This is true of the best of us; for though we may be kept by restraining grace, from grosser sins, yet there are so many defects in the performance of the duties. of every day, that they require daily pardon, and a
fulness of pardon. Is there a fulness of power in Christ for his people, it implies, that there is much weakness in us. Let us but attend to any spiritual duty, and endeavour to perform it in a suitable manner, and we shall soon be conscious of our weakness. Let us but meet with a temptation that is pleasing to corrupt nature, let us try to improve a mercy or an affliction, and we shall soon feel our insufficiency; and see what a mercy it is, that we can be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Is there a fullness of wisdom in Christ, it proves that there is much folly and ignorance in us. We should soon fall into the most destructive errors in judgment and practice, if we were left to ourselves. Is there a fulness of compassion in Christ, it shows that there is much provocation or infirmity in us : and is there a fulness of righteousness in him, it implies that there is nothing in us to recommend us to God, and procure eternal salvation.
Christians, have we seen ourselves guilty, polluted, ignorant, weak, and wretched creatures, and have we perceived a sufficiency in Christ for all our spiritual necessities; and is it from such a conviction, that we are now come hither for mercy and grace? Then let us think of that promise, “Blessed are ye that hunger now; for ye shall be filled.” But why are there só few to partake of the rich provisions which infinite goodness has provided? Why are Christ and the unspeakable blessings of his gospel, so generally slighted ? Earthly benefits are not so disregarded. If there were a chest of medicines, of sovereign and never failing efficacy in all bodily distempers, set open, what a flocking would there be from every
quarter! But the great Physician, who is ready to healthose diseases which will ruin both soul and body in hell, continues neglected. If earthly treasures were freely offered, what multitudes would crowd to receive them! But now, when the. unsearchable riches of Christ are set forth, and the choicest dainties of Heaven may be had, without money, and without price, O! what indifference, what backwardness appears ! Sinners must be invited, must be entreated, must be compelled to come in ; though, as they receive or reject the invitation, they will be blessed or miserable for ever. We read in the parable of the supper, that when the king sent out his servants to call the guests together, they made light of it, and went their way; one to his farm, and another to his merchandize. If it be otherwise with us, it is the same grace that bestows the gift, which has opened our hand and heart to receive it; and which enables us, by fresh acts of faith, from time to time, to partake of its numerous benefits.
Christ is a gift, the value of which we shall never kno w,till w see and enjoy him in heaven. If, therefore, we have received him, we may cry out with grateful astonishment, as David on another occasion, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my Father's house, that thou hast brought me hitherto;" that such a precious, precious gift should be bestowed on such worthless and insignificant objects! The reception of such a mercy should make us look backward and forward. We should think of the date of God's love towards us; and that disinterested compassion, which was the fountain from which all the mercy shown to us was derived.
“ According to thine own heart,
(says David,) hast thou done all these things for thy servant.” That is the spring of every blessing. If we can hope that God has appeared for us, in subduing our depravity, in delivering us from temptations, in supporting us under heavy afflictions, in fulfilling promises on which we have rested in the midst of great discouragements; if he has been pleased to reveal his Son in us, and enabled us with full assurance of faith, to say, “ My Lord, and my God,"we should look back with gratitude and wonder. On such a review, we may naturally exclaim, “Whence is all this grace and goodness towards so unworthy a creature; towards a wretch so deserving of ruin? Whence can it be, but from the free and gracious purpose of God ? To this, and this alone, be the praise." We should look forward too, as David in the words just now mentioned ; “ And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O Lord God; for thou hast spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come.” Or as the Apostle said, “ He that spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how shall he not, with him also, freely give us all things !” Christians, if you have received any mercy, which you can hope to be a fruit of God's special love, whatever it be, look upon it as an earnest and pledge of better blessings in future. The Lord has spoken concerning you, for many years, for many ages, yea, for an eternity to come. He has assured you, that then you shall dwell in his immediate presence; that then you shall enjoy the nearest and most transporting communion with him! that then you shall be ever free from sin and sorrow; that then you shall see Jesus, and be with him, and be like him; and