THE UNSPEAKABLE GIFT
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only
Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
There is nothing in this world which is not a gift of
God. Every palm-tree in the grove of created comforts and
blessings—every morsel of the bread which perishes; the sunlight which
gladdens us; the atmospheric air which sustains us; the fuel garnered deep
down in earth's storehouses to warm us; the succession of seasons; the
living streams which fertilize our fields; the waving harvests which crown
the year with their plenty; the thousand tints of loveliness and beauty in
garden, and dell, and forest; far more, the blessings which rejoice and
consecrate social life—the Elim-palms and Elim-springs of gladness in our
domestic circles; these are severally and collectively "gifts of God."
"Every good and perfect gift is from above." And they are gifts and pledges,
too, of love.
"God's world has one great echo;
Whether calm blue mists are curled,
Or lingering dewdrops quiver,
Or red storms are unfurled;
The same deep love is throbbing
Through the great heart of God's world."
But what are these to the blessing here pre-eminently
spoken of—the Gift of gifts, "the Tree of Life in the midst of the
garden"? a blessing whose magnitude transcends all thought and
illustration—the Son of the Highest to become 'of human virgin born,' the
Babe of Bethlehem's lowly cradle; the God of Eternity condescending to be a
pilgrim on life's highway—the great Leader of His spiritual Israel, with the
rod of grace and power in His hand, with which to open living streams for
the lost and perishing? "God so loved the world (and who can fathom
or exhaust the meaning of that 'so'?) that He gave His one and only Son."
God's "Gift"—it was, unpurchasable by money—the unmerited
benefaction of Heaven—free as the desert palm to the fainting
pilgrim, who has only to repair under it for shade—free as the desert pool
to the thirsty wayfarer, who has only to stoop at its brim and drink!
And this greatest and mightiest Gift, moreover,
consecrates and sanctifies each minor one. As the sun glorifies with his
radiance the tamest landscape, and transforms the barren rock into a pyramid
of gold; so are all earthly blessings glorified, beautified, sublimated, by
the beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Christ has been aptly compared to the
numeral, which, put before the unmeaning ciphers, gives them peerless and
The very outer world of nature wears a new aspect when
seen through eyes spiritually enlightened. Earthly discipline has a new
meaning; and when subordinate comforts are blighted, or diminished, or
withdrawn, there is ever the imperishable Gift remaining, beyond the reach
of change; so that we can say, "Though the fig tree does not bud, and there
are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields
produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the
stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."
While feelingly alive to God's goodness in His various
other mercies, can we heartily join in the transcendent estimate of the
Apostle—"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift!" Truly, with
this Gift, "having nothing," we "possess all things." In Christ's glorified
person, as the God-Man Mediator, "all fullness dwells." No other
earthly blessing, no other trees in the palm-grove, can compensate for the
lack of this. But under the shade of these sheltering fronds, whatever else
may be denied us, we can say in the words of the Sacred Minstrel, "Because
Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You!"
"Bounteous Giver! to befriend me
None I have compared with Thee,
None so able to defend me;
You are all in all to me.
"What is life? a scene of troubles,
Following swiftly, one by one;
Phantom visions—airy bubbles,
Which appear, and then are gone.
"What at best the world's vain fashion?
Quickly it must pass away,
Vexing care and whirlwind passion
Surging like the angry spray.
"Friends may fail, and bonds may sever,
Cherished refuges may fall,
But Thy friendship is for ever—
It survives the wreck of all."
"He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us
all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"