Saturday, November 6, 2010
every hour a deliverance...
It is, of course, the month of Thanksgiving and I will be excerpting "Thanksgiving Sermons" now and again during the next few weeks. Today, Nathaniael Frothingham, the "Boston Unitarian" who inspired the name of this space, and his sermon, "The Wonderful Works of God's Goodness"
"O THAT MEN WOULD PRAISE THE LORD FOR HIS GOODNESS, AND FOR HIS WONDERFUL WORKS TO THE CHILDREN OF MEN ! Psalm cvii. 8, 15, 21, 31.
The earnestness with which the Psalmist repeats again and again this benevolent wish, — as devout as it is benevolent, and expressive of the gratitude that it invokes, — implies that men are remiss in paying their thanks to the Supreme Benefactor, and that they have need to be urged to the performance of that cheering duty...[Frothingham goes on the list reasons we are deficient in thankfulness, including the following]
" his wonderful works to the children of men" are not rehearsed as they should be, because we do not recognize them where they are most really displayed. We mistake their nature; and so when they are present we do not observe them; and when nothing is present but the feeding of a full sense, or the triumph of a proud will, or the preponderance of brute power, we inaugurate our selfishness; we make priestesses of our passions; we confound our greediness or ambition or revenge with a true thank-offering to Heaven...We still imagine often that we are giving thanks, when we are only blessing ourselves for success or indulgence. Our rejoicing is not in the Eternal Providence. Our returns are not to Him. We set our regards in the wrong direction. We put our passing interests, and the gratification of our immediate wish, in the place of the most that God can do for us. We exalt our conceit and presumption, and call it gratitude. We praise accidents, and fancy that we are praising the Most High. We will see his wonders only in striking results and unfrequent occurrences. Our hearts are not open, till a stranger is before their doors. We can be grateful but on occasions of distant interval, while our whole being is one unbroken occasion, and the universe shines round us a perpetual miracle, and the varied love of the General Father is every moment as unceasing as it is every moment unlike. We are moved more by the merest chances of time, than by the permanent laws that have been established for our wellbeing and the steady provisions of an infinite bounty. We stand awaiting some, signal rescue or munificence, when every hour is a deliverance from the adversaries of our life, and every day is a crown of opportunities. We are demanding something great enough to excite our thankful attention, when, behold ! the smallest boon is more than we could establish a claim for, and the smallest objects of our contemplation infold gracious mysteries, and reflect a whole circle of love and wisdom. The reason that we have no more gratitude is that we have no more fidelity; — that we are no more true to our powers of discernment, means of improvement, and sources of joy; to the capacities of every upright heart, and the privileges of the meanest condition."
Posted by slt at 5:46 AM