In Everything Give Thanks

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in 
Christ Jesus for you. — 1 Thess. 5: 18.
WHAT trait of character is more beautiful than 
gratitude? "What baser than ingratitude? 

**Blow, blow, thou winter wind, 
Thou art not so unkind 
As man's ingratitude; 
Thy tooth is not so keen, 
Because thou art not seen, 
Although thy breath be made." 

Ingratitude means unthankfulness. 
I. If unthankfulness to man is so despicable, what 
shall we say of unthankfulness to God? 

1. This, Paul says (Rom. 1:21), is the greatest sin 
of the heathen world. He tells how God revealed 
Himself to the heathen, even His everlasting power 
and divinity, so that they are without excuse, because 
that knowing God they glorified Him not as God, 
neither gave thanks. The climax of this wickedness 
was unthankfulness. Ingratitude is heathenish. 

2. From the heathen world God took out a people 
for his own possession. He revealed Himself to them 
as He had not done to other peoples. With a mighty 
hand He delivered them from their oppressors. For 
forty years He manifested Himself to them in the 
pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, 

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300 SPECIAL SERMONS 

while He fed them with angels' food. He led them on 
with increasing blessings. Recounting those blessings 
in his farewell address, Moses said: 

^ * The Lord alone did lead them, 
And there "was no strange God wi*th them. 
He made them to ride on the high places of the earth 
And they did eat the increase of the field: 
He made them to suck honey out of the rock 
And oil out of the flinty rock: 
Butter of kine and milk of sheep. 
With fat of lambs^ 

And rams of the breed of Bashan and goats, 
With the fat of kidneys of wheat; 
And of the blood of the grape did they drink wine." 

Now they are about to enter the land promised to their 
fathers, ''a good land, a land of brooks of water, of 
fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and 
hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig- 
trees, and pomegranates ; a land of oil olive, and honey ; 
a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarce- 
ness, and thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land 
whose stones were iron, and out of whose hills thou 
may est dig brass. '^ Having enjoyed such wonderful 
blessing in the past, and now about to enter into the 
enjoyment of blessings still more wonderful, one would 
think the hearts of those people would have overflowed 
with gratitude, but as Moses looked upon them, he said : 

'^Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked. 
They waxed fat, they grew thick, they became sleek, 
They forsook God who made them. 
And lightly esteemed the Rock of their salvation." 

As I read those words I imagine I can hear the 
old man who for forty years had patiently borne with 
the unbelief and the ingratitude of the people whom 



IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS 301 

he addressed. He compared them to fat bulls that bad 
been pampered and had grown sleek, and never thought 
of the hand that fed them and groomed them and 
gave them a place where they could lie down in safe- 
ty. "What scorn there must have been in his voice as 
he uttered those words! Who was it that had thus 
grown fat and sleek? Jeshurun. Who was Jeshurun? 
Jeshurun means righteous. They were not a heathen 
people, but a people who professed to know God, and 
to worship and to serve him. But they were un- 
grateful. 

Still God led these people, who did not thank Him, 
into the land of Canaan. He kept His covenant with 
them. There they inhabited cities that they builded 
not, dwelt in houses filled with all good things that 
they filled not, drank of cisterns which they digged 
not, ate of trees and vineyards which they planted 
not — ^yet they forgot God. And he said through Isaiah, 
''The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master's 
crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not 
consider.'' And through Hosea He said, ''She did 
not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and 
multiplied her silver and her gold, which she pre- 
pared for Baal." The blessings that God bestowed, de- 
voted to that beastly heathen god! What a prostitu- 
tion of noble gifts! Is it not repeated in Christian 
lands? 

But all did not bow the knee to Baal. In contrast 
with the words of condemnation uttered through 
prophetic lips, the Psalmist exultingly sings: "0 give 
thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name; make 
known his deeds among the people. Remember his 
marvelous works that he hath done; his wonders, and 
the judgments of his mouth." 



302 SPECIAL SERMONS 

II. If men were called upon to thank God for His 
gifts in former dispensations, how much more should 
we call upon our souls and all that is within us to bless 
and magnify His holy name in these times and in 
this land where God is pouring out upon us blessings 
in such rich profusion! "We sing -^^ Count your bless- 
ings, name them one by one," but that is impossible. 
They are innumerable. Some of them are so rare 
and wonderful, and we are so dull and stupid, that 
we can not recognize them. But let us think of those 
that we can number. Truly God has not dealt with 
any people as he has with us. 

Think of this good land which He prepared for us. 
In the ages past, He lifted up a great chain of moun- 
tains as a backbone for our continent from which 
slopes half the arable land of the world, then He traced 
mighty river systems and scooped out broad lakes till 
He had made a way for five-sixths of the fresh water 
of the globe, then He laid away under this soil un- 
paralleled wealth of oil and gas and coal and iron 
and precious metals. Through uncounted millenniums 
the great Architect toiled to prepare a fit place for 
our nation. 

Then He prepared a people to compose this nation. 
Who were they? The men and women from whom 
sprang those who were worthy to lift the torch of 
liberty to enlighten the world. They came from 
among men and women who had felt the thrill of 
that new life which was born from the revival of 
learning and the Protestant Reformation. From these 
people God picked the sturdy Pilgrim Fathers to 
found the New England colonies. From brave, liberty- 
loving Holland He brought men that were needed to 
found New Amsterdam; Quakers and the choicest 



IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS 303 

souls of Germany He brought to cultivate the fertile 
fields of Pennsylvania; high-born Loyalists with their 
chivalry and culture He brought to be the great 
planters of Virginia; the noblest hearts of France, 
longing for religious toleration and the right to think 
for themselves and to act as their consciences dictated, 
He brought to people the Carolinas. From the off- 
spring of these varied types assembled the first Con- 
gress to decide the great principles for which this 
nation was to stand. Some one has said, '^That Con- 
gress was composed of the finest body of men ever 
gathered in the history of the world." 

From the day on which that Congress adjourned, 
the mighty hand of infinite wisdom and goodness has 
been over this nation in divine benediction. Our land 
has had its days of adversity; at times it seemed as if 
the nation would be torn asunder because of policies 
that seemed irreconcilable. But out of these conflicts 
God led us into times of peace and prosperity. 

To-day safe investments are available; conscien- 
tious labor is rewarded; luxuries are possible to the 
many, while few are without the necessities of life; 
the unfortunates are provided for in wisely managed 
institutions sustained by the generosity of a philan- 
thropic people; education from the common schools to 
the university is accessible to all. More is being done 
to-day in this land of ours for the physical, intellec- 
tual and moral good of the people than ever before. 
We have driven out the diabolical liquor traffic, never 
to return; by the enfranchisement of woman, we have 
put the ballot into the hand of the most moral, the 
most independent, and, some would say, the most intel- 
ligent element of our nation. Truly we can say, 
''God has not dealt so with any other people.'' 



304 SPECIAL SERMONS 

But there are blessings as far transcending those 
which we have enumerated as the heavens transcend 
the earth. We live in a land where the influence of 
the Bible is shed on every side; every individual feels 
it; every institution is affected by it; it is the chief 
cause of our prosperity and happiness, the bulwark 
of our liberty, the guaranty of our future national 
welfare, the foundation of our progress, the anchorage 
of our destiny. 

It is the Bible that makes God known to us as 
our Creator, Preserver and bountiful Benefactor; who 
watches over us as individuals so that not a hair of 
our head can fall to the ground without His knowl- 
edge; who has appointed the bounds of our nation, 
and who, if we permit Him, will preside over its 
councils so that we may know the meaning of that 
Old Testament beatitude, *' Happy is that people whose 
God is Jehovah.'^ 

Still more wonderfully does the Bible reveal God 
to us in Christ Jesus, our Saviour and our Lord, 
through whom so many enjoy the blessings of pardon 
and of adoption into the family of God, becoming 
heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to an in- 
heritance that is incorruptible, undefiled and that f adeth 
not away. In anticipation of this inheritance, the Holy 
Spirit is bestowed upon us; He is called in the Scrip- 
ture the earnest of our future possession; He takes 
our inarticulate groanings and presents them as inter- 
cessions at the throne of grace; He witnesses with our 
spirits that we are the children of God, and through 
Him we are able to bring forth those beautiful fruits 
of righteousness that adorn the Christian life. Lan- 
guage can not express the value of these spiritual bless- 
ings which God has bestowed upon us in Christ Jesus. 



IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS 305 

These blessings are general so far as God's children 
are concerned. They are enjoyed by all who have 
named the name of Christ. But every one has 
his own peculiar blessing, some special joy or de- 
liverance. Perhaps chief of all we should think of 
that help that came to us in time of trouble, or the 
good that we were conscious of receiving from what 
we thought at the time would break our hearts. Did 
it not prove to be one of the greatest blessings of our 
lives, when the thorn tormented us, to hear God's 
voice saying, ''My grace is sufficient for you, my 
strength is made perfect in your weakness''? And we 
learned how to cast our care upon God, knowing that 
He careth for us, and we came to know that all things 
work together for our good because we love Him, and 
are called according to His purpose. 

So among our blessings we give a prominent place 
to our afflictions because they wean our affections from 
the things that are seen to the things that are not 
seen, give us a fineness of character that can come 
in no other way, and lead us to that happy place 
where we shall hunger no more, neither thirst any 
more; where the sun shall not smite us, but where 
the Lamb shall lead us to living fountains of water, 
and God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. 

I have mentioned but a few of the blessings which 
the Father of lights has bestowed upon us, but sure- 
ly they are sufficient to cause us to acknowledge that 
it is ''a good thing to give thanks to Jehovah." 

III. How shall we give thanks to Jehovah? How 
shall we bless His name? 

1. In our worship. The Psalms that David wrote 
to be sung in the temple services were full of thanks- 
giving. How the hearts of the worshipers must have 

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306 SPECIAL SERMONS 

thrilled as they heard the full chorus singing with 
jubilant strains, ''Bless the Lord, my soul; and all 
that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the 
Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits/' 
Still more should our hearts be thrilled as we think 
of the blessings which God has bestowed upon us, 
far surpassing those enjoyed by Israel of old, and as 
we sing such songs as 

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

Our prayers should be made up largely of thanks- 
giving. The apostle says: ''In everything by prayer 
and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests 
be made known unto God." ''Continue in prayer, 
and watch in the same with thanksgiving.'' "In 
everything give thanks; for this is the will of God 
in Christ Jesus concerning you." Let us cry like 
suppliants at the throne of grace, but let us not fail 
to bring the sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of 
our lips, giving thanks to Him who is the giver of 
every good and every perfect gift. 

2. The Jews expressed their gratitude to God by 
a thank-offering. "We must do the same. The thank- 
offering of the Jew was a lamb slain and laid upon 
the altar. The thank-offering which we bring is far 
more precious than that of the Jew. The apostle says, 
"I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God" 
(then it is a thank-offering) "that you present your 
bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, 
which is your reasonable service." This means that 
the whole body is to be devoted to God — the head to 
devise plans for His honor, the heart to be aflame 



IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS 307 

with holy passion, the hands to do His will, the feet 
to run cheerfully in the way of obedience, so that, no 
matter what we do, it shall be for the glory of God! 
This is thanksliving, and what is thanksliving but 
practical thanksgiving? 

3. Again it is said, ''To do good and to communi- 
cate forget not, for with such sacrifice God is well 
pleased.'' So when v/e minister to the needy, when 
we visit the widow and the orphan in their affliction, 
we are presenting an acceptable sacrifice to the giver 
of every blessing, not a sin-offering, but a thank- 
offering, than which no offering is more acceptable. 

IV. What does this do for the individual who thus 
expresses his gratitude to God? 

1. It brings a blessing that can come in no other 
way. It means enlargement of soul. An ingrate can 
not be happy. Ten lepers came to Christ. They were 
all healed on their way to the priest. Only one re- 
turned to give glory to God; to give thanks to Him 
that had cleansed him of his loathsome disease. In 
his grateful heart he received a blessing greater than 
his cleansing. So it is with us when we thank God 
for the blessings that we receive. 

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

2. But ingratitude! How it debases! Read 
Romans 1 and learn the awful degradations into which 
men fell because of their ingratitude. They became 
vain in their reasonings. Professing themselves to be 
wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the 
incorruptible God for the likeness of corruptible man, 
and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and creeping 



308 SPECIAL SERMONS 

things. For which cause God gave them up in the lusts 
of their hearts to uncleanness, unto vile passions, so 
that they received in their hearts that recompense 
that was their due. 

We have an example of the fruits of ingratitude in 
Nebuchadnezzar. God gave him greatness and glory 
and majesty, but he was unthankful. Then he was 
driven from the sons of men; his heart was made like 
the beasts, his dwelling was with the wild asses, he was 
fed with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with 
the dew of heaven. What a picture! Just as graphic 
would be the picture of any man to-day who de- 
scends to the low and animal plane of ingratitude. 

What is hell? The abode of ungrateful souls. 
Paul's picture of those who did not give God thanks 
is of men going down, down, down, till they get lower 
than the beasts in their vile passions. You find what 
he says in Romans 1. In this sermon I have not 
quoted the worst. Read it for yourself. How awful 
is the revelation which the apostle makes! It teaches 
us that ungrateful souls slip down little by little till 
they find themselves in utter darkness, where there 
are weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Oh, 
friends, if we have been unthankful, let us repent, let 
us cry unto God for forgiveness, and let us resolve 
that we shall, as long as we live, continue to bring 
forth fruits meet for repentance. 

V. But what is the outcome of a grateful life? 
Listen! John says: '*I saw, and behold, a great multi- 
tude, which no man could number, out of every nation 
and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing be- 
fore the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white 
robes, and palms in their hands; and they cry with a 
great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sitteth on 



IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS 309 

the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels were 
standing round about the throne, and about the elders 
and the four living creatures; and they fell before 
the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, say- 
ing, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and 
thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, he 
unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And the 
four and twenty elders, who sit before God on their 
thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, 
saying. We give thee thanks, Lord God, the Al- 
mighty, who art and who wast; because thou hast 
taken thy great power, and didst reign." So heaven 
is a place of thanksgiving. There the redeemed, 
whose robes are washed white in the blood of the 
Lamb, who have come up out of great tribulation, who 
have laid aside the sword of conflict and have taken 
up the palm of victory, form an innumerable com- 
pany; each one of them has seized a harp of thanks- 
giving and they are all engaged in a sublime anthem 
of praise; while the angels, folding their wings in 
silence, listen to such a song as they have never learned 
to sing. The spirit of heaven is the spirit of thanks- 
giving, and he who has most thanksgiving in his heart 
has most of heaven in his life. 

by Mark Collis