Thursday, November 23, 2006

What Thanksgiving Really is All About

What better way to start the day then reading a Puritan on a subject that today has lost most, if not all, of its meaning for many today (and the idea of every day being one of thanks is even more foreign to modern ears). They do not realize that all that we have comes from God, and that, He being our Creator and we His finite creatures, means that we are dependent on Him for everything. We must not presume upon God, for we are unworthy sinners. It is, as Jonathan Edwards wrote so long ago:

How greatly are the generality of men to blame, that they reflect so little upon the daily goodness of God to 'em. If God shows so much power and exercises so much wisdom in so plentifully, variously and continually providing for us, as we have now heard, how stupid are we, that we have no more thought about it. How seldom does it come into our thoughts when we look abroad in the world, and see the light of the sun and see the trees and fields, that these things are what God has taken care to provide for the benefit of mankind? When we see the variety that there is upon the face of the earth of different sorts of good things suitable to our different needs, how seldom does such a reflection as this come across us? What care has God taken of mankind, that they should not want anything that [is] for their convenience.

And when we gather in the fruits of the earth, and when we eat and drink, how insensible are [we]. How seldom do we think on't that it was God's wisdom that contrived this for our comfort? Yea, are there not some that breath and walk and eat and drink like beasts, and don't think seriously of its being God's goodness that they live upon not once in a week?

If a king should take a poor man from the street that had nothing to eat or wear, and should build a stately house for him with everything convenient for his necessity and comfort within doors and without, and should every day, as duly as the day came, send him provision and everything he needed, and so as long as he lived: would it not be a stupid thing in the man if he never or seldom reflected upon it, that it was this king's gracious kindness that he lived upon?

The very cattle and dogs and other brute creatures seem to be more sensible of man's kindness to 'em, than some men do of the kindness of God. Isaiah 1:3, "The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but doth not know, my people doth not consider.

'Tis true 'tis a general custom for men to return thanks after they have set down to meat, and 'tis the custom of the country to have a day of thanksgiving once a year; but how little does it signify if it be nothing but a mere formality, and done with as little reflection of mind and motion of heart about the goodness [of God] as a harp or flute, or something that makes a sound without life?

Jonathan Edwards, "God’s All-Sufficiency for the Supply of Our Wants" (Psalms 65:9), 1729, p. 8-9. Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, eds. Harry S. Stout, Kenneth P. Minkema, Caleb J.D. Maskell, 2005-.

May the Lord see fit to fan the flames of love and gratitude in the hearts of His people, that we would ever increasingly be thankful to Him who not only satisfies our daily needs but also has brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light, so that we would be His children and He our loving Father. May the thankfulness and reverence we have before God then be made known to those who are without Christ, so that they would see we are a changed people who don't take God lightly but instead seek to fear and honor Him above all worldy pleasures and powers.

Original Trinity Hymnal #51

When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I'm lost
In wonder, love, and praise.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Thy tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart conceived
From whom those comforts flowed.

When worn with sickness, oft hast thou
With health renewed my face;
And, when in sins and sorrows sunk,
Revived my soul with grace.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the least a cheerful heart
That tastes those gifts with joy.

Through every period of my life
Thy goodness I'll pursue;
And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.

Through all eternity to thee
A joyful song I'll raise;
For O, eternity's too short
To utter all thy praise.

Trinity Hymnal, ©1961 by the Committee on Christian Education, Inc., the Orthodox Presbyterian Church; published by Great Commission Publications, 3640 Windsor Park Drive, Suite 100, Suwanee, GA 30174-1800.


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