James Smith, 1860
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." Hebrews 12:28
Who has greater reason to be thankful than I have! Where can I look, and not see reason to praise the Lord. But it occurs to my mind, that thirty-four years ago, these words came home to my mind, attended with sweet soul-softening power. How glorious did grace appear to me then! How precious was Jesus to my soul that morning. O that I could feel now — just as I felt then! I have even greater cause to be thankful now, than I had then. As much as I had received then — I have received more since; and as highly as the Lord had honored me then — he has honored me more since. Let me try and turn back my thoughts into the channel in which they so sweetly ran on the morning of August, 13th, 1825. Then I was led to consider the reasons I had to be thankful, in four particulars.
First, that the Lord should ever call such a vile, base, and insignificant creature as I was — to know himself and his blessed truth. And that, notwithstanding all the opposition of my carnal nature, and my proneness to backslide from him — he had by his almighty, invincible grace, carried on his work, and kept it alive in my soul. That with a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, with Satan and the world opposed to me — he nevertheless enabled me to hold out, and hold on. That he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, and made me useful to many, many souls. O how thankful I should be!
How many professed Christ about the time I did — who turned aside, and dishonored that worthy name whereby they were called; yet I have been kept on the straight and narrow way. How few that were called by grace when I was, were called to the ministry, or made useful to souls. If ever the sovereignty of divine grace shone forth conspicuously, or with peculiar splendor — it was in my conversion, and introduction to the ministry of the gospel.
Second, that God should have fixed his eternal love upon me — choosing me in Christ, and predestinating me to be one of his adopted children.
That the Son of God should have so loved me, as to become Surety for me, and have engaged in the everlasting covenant to pay my debts, redeem my soul, and present me before his Father's face in spotless holiness, and perfect beauty!
That the Holy Spirit, out of pure love to me, should have undertaken to call me, win my wayward heart, bring me into union with Jesus, and keep me by his almighty power through faith unto salvation.
O wondrous love, of the holy and ever blessed Trinity — to one of the vilest, weakest, and most unworthy of Adam's fallen race! Well may I be thankful, for no saint can have greater reason, no angel can have so great reason, to be thankful as I have!
Third, that God in the everlasting covenant should have made provision for all my needs, ordered all my steps, and anticipated all the circumstances of my life on earth.
Then the plan was drawn,
then the arrangements were made,
then my salvation and eternal glory were secured.
Then the Most High identified his own glory, with my best interests and well being; and so ordered and settled all things that should occur in time, as to secure my welfare, and his own eternal praise. Blessed covenant of grace — it is all my salvation, and all my desire! Blessed covenant God, to you I owe myself, my all — O that I could but praise you as I ought, and worthily magnify your holy name!
Fourth, that I am enabled to look forward to Heaven as my home, and anticipate an eternal weight of glory reserved in Heaven for me. O the prospect that opens before me! O the glory that will be revealed in me! O the happiness that will be enjoyed by me! Amidst all my ingratitude, which is enough to make even Satan blush — I feel as if I could not be satisfied to receive so much from the Lord, if there was not an eternity set before me, in which I shall be enabled to bless and praise his holy name!
Yes, I trace all my blessings, which are neither few nor small, both temporal and spiritual — to the most free, infinite, and eternal love of my covenant God! And as all flows from him; so all comes to me — through the glorious person and finished work of the dear Lord Jesus. His suretyship engagements in eternity, and his obedience and death in time, form the channel in which every good gift, and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights to me. Nor am I less indebted to the Holy and eternal Spirit, who from the Father, through the Son, conveys every blessing to me. Glory, glory, glory be unto Jehovah, the Father; Jehovah, the Son; and Jehovah, the Holy Spirit forever!
Lord, make me truly grateful, and to that end make me very humble; for I find that humility is the root of gratitude. May I often be led by the Holy Spirit, to look back to what I was by nature — and by grace; to the time, means, and manner of God's calling me by his grace. May I look back further, and see that in eternity all was decreed, settled, and arranged, and that time only reveals and makes known God's eternal purposes of love and mercy toward me. And may I frequently look forward to the completion of God's plan, even my perfect and eternal glorification. Then shall I see more clearly than I do now, that my salvation, my usefulness, my holiness, and my happiness — are all of grace from first to last.
What, O, what will Heaven be! What, O, what will the sight of God produce! O, how I long to see Jesus, to be with Jesus, to be like Jesus, and to praise Jesus forever!