You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
daily bread. Every "table" needs preparation. There is the material food, which may have come from far; and there are the kind hands that have made it ready. But besides this, there is love of God. We recognize that God has to do with our "daily bread." It is a matter between him and us. "Thou" and "me." How greatly is every blessing enhanced, when it is taken as from the hand of God! Then circumstances may give a special significance to our commonest mercies; difficulties are overcome, and wants are supplied, in a way that surprises us, and that leads us to confess with grateful hearts the loving-kindness of the Lord. Again, we may apply this to our social pleasures. We are not made to live alone. We crave fellowship. How graciously does God provide for our needs! We have not only the joys of home, but the pleasures of society. There are some who forget God amidst the stir an& the seductions of life. They conduct their business and enjoy their pleasures "without God" (Isaiah 5:8-12). But it is not so with the righteous. They desire to set the Lord always before them, and especially to acknowledge his goodness and mercy in the manifold social blessings which they enjoy. But chiefly should we apply the text to our religious privileges. The Word of God is as a "table" prepared for us. Think how much had to be done and suffered before we could have the Bible as a book free to every one of us! Think also how much there is in this blessed book to refresh and bless our souls! - a "feast of fat things." Public worship is another "table" spread for us. When the Lord's day comes round, what multitudes come together, and there is bread enough and to spare for them all! More particularly it may be said that the Lord's Supper is a "table" prepared by God for his people. Here we see his wise forethought. He saw what was needful, and designed this feast for the good of his people. Here we see his loving care. His hand is seen in everything from first to last. The table is the Lord's table. The "bread" is his "body;" the wine is "his blood;" the voice that says, "Come, eat," is his voice. There is not only preparation of the table, but of the guests. When we think of what we were and what we are; of what we deserved and of what we have received, - it is with wonder, love, and praise that we say, "Thou preparest a table before me." We have "enemies," but they have not prevailed. We can think of them with pity, and forgive them; we can even pray for them, that they may be converted into friends, and, should they continue alienated and hostile, we can face them without fear, because "greater is he that is with us, than all they that are against us." The future is for us bright with hope. The dark valley is behind, and the power of God before. The table below is the earnest of the table above. - W.F.
1. That the malicious envy of evil men hath not been able to hinder blessings from descending upon the godly.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
1. The sin of yesterday. I cannot get away from it.
2. The temptation of today. Sometimes he approaches me in deceptive deliberateness; sometimes his advance is so stealthy that in a moment I am caught in his snare.
3. The death that awaits me tomorrow. Man seeks to banish that presence from his conscience, but he pathetically fails. Whither can we turn? On the whole vast plain is there one tabernacle whose tent ropes we may touch, and in whose circle of hospitality we may find food, refuge, and rest? In the Lord our God is the fugitive's refuge. In the Lord our God we are secured against the destructiveness of our yesterdays, the menaces of today, and the darkening fears of the morrow. We are the Lord's guests, and our sanctuary is inviolable. And what shall I find in the tent? The enemies frown at the open door, while the Psalmist calmly sits down to a feast with his Lord. We shall find a sure defence, refreshing repose, and abundant provision.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
2. That it hath not been able to tear off the blessings which have descended.
3. That upon their greater fretting and contriving God yet hath added more blessings upon His servants. God doth not at all depend up, on wicked men in the benediction of His servants.
(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)
Homilist.1. He provides for His guests a feast in the midst of their enemies. "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies."(1) The life of the true is a feast. The figure implies three things. A variety in the pleasant. Variety is ever the characteristic and the charm of banquets. How boundlessly varied the blessings which heaven has spread out for the enjoyment of the good on this earth. There are the sensuous, the intellectual, the social, and the religious. The figure implies an abundance in the pleasant. It is almost essential to a feast that the provision should be ample. Meagreness and scarcity are carefully avoided at banquets. How immeasurable are the blessings provided for the good. The figure implies a social participation in the pleasant. A feast is not for one but for many, and generally for those of such kindred sentiment as will heighten the enjoyment. Life is social.(2) The life of the tree is a feast prepared by God. "Thou preparest." Not only does He prepare the feast for His guests, but He prepares His guests for the feast. The banquet, however sumptuous and varied in its provisions, is worthless to all but those who are inclined to participate, and who have the necessary appetite. But the point here is that the feast is spread out in the "presence of enemies." A good man has ever had enemies, and ever will. David had them.They now surrounded him as he was feasting at the table of God's providence. There is something gratifying to a man in feasting before enemies.(1) There is a gratification of the feeling of independence. Enjoying a banquet with the eye of an enemy on you, you seem to dare him to do his worst. You have the happy feeling that unrighteous malice cannot injure you.(2) There is a gratification of the feeling of benevolence. Sitting down, enjoying a banquet sufficient for all your enemies, and to which they were invited but would not enter, you feel that as they look on there is a splendid opportunity for them to learn their folly, relent, and attend the entertainment.(3) There is a gratification of our religious feeling. You feel, as you enjoy the rich banquet provided for you, that you have an opportunity of showing your enemies the wonderful bountihood of the Master of the feast. You give Him the praise. As a Host.
2. He follows His guests constantly with His goodness. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
3. He entertains His guests forever in His house. "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." What a house is His. How vast, how grand, how infinitely numerous and elegant its apartments! The universe is His house. "In my Father's house are many mansions," etc. To dwell in this house forever, no longer a prodigal in a far country, no longer a wearied pilgrim in the desert, but a son settled down for ever in the mansions of the Father.
I. THE WEALTH, COMPLETENESS, FULNESS OF IT. It is something worth possessing. A new science has been developed of late — the science of being miserable. Side by side with this there is a mistaken and exaggerated pietism, which, in the name of religion, takes hold of everything by the wrong end. Things are what you make them to be. Life is what you make it. Take the man who has a personal hold of God. See in him the wealth, completeness, fulness of life. Full provision is made for all the necessities of man's nature. Life is a feast: "Thou preparest a table for me." I will tell you how life looks to me.
1. I am — personal existence is mine. I have a being, the integrity, the sanctity of which even God respects, the boundaries of which even my Maker does not trench upon.
2. The world is mine. The heavens and the earth are mine.
3. Then there is the world of ideas, which come greeting you like troops of angels, from the books of gifted souls, from the mystic recesses of your own heart.
4. Friendship has been yours. The joy of serving, the joy of charity, the joy of dispensing sympathy, of bearing burdens which are not your own.
5. The happiness and ennoblement of benefiting the world.
II. HERE IS THE SENSE OF PERFECT SECURITY, OF ABSOLUTE FREEDOM FROM ALL ANXIETY. "Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." What a load would be lifted off some minds if they could only say that, and be sure of it. Many are spoiling their life through the dread of what may be somewhere in the future.
III. YOU HAVE THE RECORD HERE OF DELIVERANCES, RESTORATIONS. "He restoreth my soul." The Psalm does not give an altogether rose-coloured view of life. Perils, fears are implied, if not plainly stated. They are the background of the Psalm, but that only brings out the Psalm into brighter relief Take the dark side first. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." That is not the valley of death. It is the valley of doubt. It is the sorrow into which you can put no meaning. It is the agony of remorse. But from these things God restores us. Very graphic is this language. Engulfed, overwhelmed in these things, He giveth back my soul to me. Shall I speak of forgiveness, or of sorrow, or of doubt?
IV. A DETERMINATION ARISING FROM THIS EXPERIENCE OF GOD. "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." It means, I will live in free intercourse, in frank fellowship, in unbroken friendship with God. That is the first meaning; but it does mean the material house also, — the temple of the Lord, where we meet to renew our vows, and to remind ourselves in concert of the God who is the inspiration of our life.
(J. Morlais Jones.)
I. THE ENEMIES IN WHOSE PRESENCE OUR TABLE IS PREPARED. In ancient Greek fable we are told about the Harpies, monstrous creatures with the bodies and wings and long claws of birds, and the faces of maidens pale with hunger. They were sent by the gods to torment the blind prophet Phineus, who had offended then by his misdeeds. Whenever a meal was placed before the unfortunate man the Harpies darted down from the air and carried it off, and either devoured the food themselves or rendered it unfit to be eaten. It was with the utmost difficulty that he was delivered from these frightful enemies, by the prowess of two of the Argonauts who had come thither in search of the golden fleece. Like all classic fables, this one has a profound moral. Here man is represented as a tiller of the ground, upon whom the Divine curse has been pronounced because of his sins, that in the sweat of his face he should eat bread; wise by insight and experience in regard to the common operations of agriculture, but blind as to the issues and results of these operations, and ignorant of what may be the increase of his sowing and the harvest of his toil, if any. In the Harpies we see represented the various enemies that are connected with the growth and supply of our food that are constantly on the watch to prevent us reaping the fruit of our labours, and rendering it unprofitable and unpalatable when it is reaped. Since sin came into the world God has ordained that man should encounter in full force the unkindly elements of nature. Nothing is more precarious than the growth of the corn upon which we depend for our daily bread. It is surrounded continually by innumerable enemies. There is —
1. Unsuitable soil and climate. It is within a comparatively small area of the earth's surface that we can grow our corn. Beyond that area it is too cold or too hot.
2. The growth of our corn has many enemies of the animal and vegetable world to encounter. It has to contend with its own kind. Weeds, thorns, and thistles cumber the ground, and in their growth endeavour to choke and starve the corn and gain sole possession of the soil for themselves. There are birds that eat the seed as soon as it is sown in the field. There are caterpillars and insects that prey upon the tender blade. And worst of all, there are rusts and mildews that grow with its growth, and appear only when the full corn is in the ear, and turn the nutritious grain into black dust and ashes. And there are human enemies as well as natural. Competitions and rights restrict the cultivation of the soil; and commercial interests cause unequal distribution of its produce. The farmer has to encounter the difficulties of the market. Man, in having thus to grow his food amid a continual struggle with hostile forces, is taught in the most impressive way the solemn lesson of his dependence on God.
II. THE TABLE WHICH IS THUS PREPARED FOR US. It is wisely adapted to our necessities as human beings. What a table is thus spread every year. On the table of the wilderness is spread spontaneously a plentiful feast of grass, wild fruits, and herbs for the sustenance of the dumb, helpless creatures that can neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns. On the table of the cultivated haunts of men are spread, year after year, the golden cornfields which witness to human industry, prudence, and foresight. What sacred memories gather round the table thus so richly furnished!
III. WHO IT IS THAT HAS PREPARED THIS TABLE FOR US. The harvest is the subject of a Divine covenant engagement. Our table is prepared by God's own hand. The common event hides from us the Divine hand. In reality, in every human operation man's part is utterly trifling compared with God's. When we ask God to give us day by day our daily bread we simply ask that God would enable us to live from hand to mouth during all our life. To the use of one day's supply the laws of providence restrict the rich and the poor alike.
(H. Macmillan, D. D.)
I. THAT DAVID CONSIDERED HIMSELF AS PROVIDED FOR AND DISTINGUISHED BY GOD. All in prosperous circumstances should adopt the language of the text. Would that they did. Then they would recognise in all the good things they enjoy so many provisions of a feast prepared by His abounding love. But not alone will this thought reveal your privileges, it will impress your obligations. It was accounted, of old, an awful thing to violate the understood obligations of hospitality. The eating together bound together. "He who did eat of my bread hath lifted up the heel against me" was the pathetic complaint of the Psalmist. Does not this show, in a striking light, the conduct of those who receive good at the hand of God, to return evil? They are guests, entertained with bountiful kindness, and breaking all the laws of such entertainment; they dishonour the author of their weal and their welcome, and add treachery to transgression. But if the description of the text applies to the blessing of our outward and temporal estate, much more does it apply to the state of grace in which believers in Christ Jesus stand. The provisions and enjoyments of the Gospel excel all others. What table, however richly spread, is to be compared to that to which Christ unites us?
II. AND ALL THIS WAS AND IS "IN THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES." David reached the throne of Israel through such opposition that it made him a type of Him who, before He sat down at the right hand of God, "endured the Cross and despised the shame." The associations of things wonderfully augment and diminish their importance; and the association of witnesses is one of the most potent of all. Disgrace and punishment would lose the greatest part of their evil if they lost all their publicity; and honour and reward are rendered infinitely more sweet by being conferred before our fellows. It was not the confinement so much as the exposure of the pillory that made it terrible as a mode of chastisement; and where would be the heroes of this world if there were no despatches and no histories? The best of us live far more in other men than we are willing to acknowledge; we are the meek servants of social opinion. And as social opinion is a motive, so is it a recompense. The censure of the world may be a great chastisement, when there are no other pains and penalties; and its praise a sufficient guerdon, without riches and honours. In David's case there was everything that could make the presence of spectators significant and important. He rose to dignity and plenty in spite of fierce opponents. Many beheld him thus exalted who would fain have kept him down; and the elevation was more delightful on this account. If we may so say, it cost God more to put him there than it would have done otherwise. To be on the throne, then, in spite of opposition, enemies numerous and strong, after many toils and tears, not only as a dignity but a triumph — this was a far greater and more blessed thing than if there had been little or no difficulty at all. Men do delight, and ever have delighted, in the overthrow of the wicked. There is no man, however good, who is not pleased that thieves and liars and murderers are found out and punished. Whatever commiseration we may have for their sufferings as men, we feel complacency in the fact that they do suffer. It is possible to cherish revenge, which is wrong; but it is also possible to rejoice without cherishing it, which is right. The sentiment is natural, whether the object on which it feeds be present or prospective. Let us not take a narrow view of this feeling. It is not rejoicing in suffering as such, but as suffering on particular accounts. Suffering in defence of right we honour. But suffering and shame brought on those who have trampled on all righteousness and goodness we rejoice in, and are right to do so. It is not a pitiful vengeance, but a right healthy moral sentiment. David's feast in the presence of his enemies is a type of many feasts. But things worth having involve trouble and expense in the getting. You can attain to honour and joy only in "the presence of enemies." "Faith" is "a good fight" and Christian enterprise is a "wrestling with spiritual wickedness." Wherefore "anoint the shield," "take the sword of the Spirit," that ye "may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all to stand."
(A. J. Morris.)
(John M'Neill.)I. First, THERE ARE TEMPTATIONS, commonly so called, which can be a trouble even when they have ceased to be a dread. Just when all is peace and glory there comes the ribald murmur of an evil thought, the haunting disquiet of some evil imagination. Or doubts, again, rise up at the most solemn moments, at some turning point in our path. "This steep road cannot be right. The higher path of duty is a mistake. The view of uninterrupted splendour which I have promised myself will never come! The path leads nowhither; it is but a sheep track, beaten by the tramp of unenquiring generations. I am the slave of an imposture, the victim of a cunningly devised fable." Doubts are certainly among those that trouble us. And then there is the constant weakness, the weariness of the road, the faintness which makes us stumble, the distaste for prayer, the distractions which perplex us. He does not concern Himself with them; He is busying Himself about me. The way lies through obstacles more and even greater than these. It is not His care to remove temptation, but to strengthen the tempted. He never promised to remove trouble; but He has promised to make anxiety out of the question. He never promised to remove pain; but He has promised to elevate it into a bearing, supporting cross. "He prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies."
II. AND WHAT IS THIS TABLE, so strange, so unexpected, prepared in the presence of enemies thirsting for my life? Preeminently it speaks to a Christian of the blessed Sacrament of the Lord's Body and Blood. In a wider meaning it is our Holy Religion. It represents all those different ways and means of grace in which God strengthens us against temptation. If, then, we are to push our way through these obstacles, He would seem to say that above all things it is necessary that religion should preoccupy the soul; it is the empty soul that is so mercilessly tormented. A man that has no principle, no settled religious beliefs, no settled religious obligations, who depends on his surroundings and companions, it is he who is so mercilessly tormented. And no less in "the table" do we trace a provision of strength. Over and over again Holy Scripture appeals to us with warning voice, "Be strong." God knows the strain which we have to undergo, the unhealthy atmosphere, the miasmatic plain, the poisonous swamps and jungles through which the path winds, and therefore He prepares a table of strength. What strength we might have if we made use of this table of religion! We should find ourselves a source of strength to all around us. And yet again, the table is a feast of good things. There is the intense interest of religious life and religions work. Worldly men cannot understand it, simply because they have not thrown themselves into it. It would seem to be a fact that our enjoyment of everything is in direct proportion to the interest which we bestow upon it, and to the extent in which we devote ourselves to it. Even the very games and recreations of life are insipid when we cannot play them, or neglect to enter into them. "The joy of the Lord is your strength." See how joyful, how bright God is all around us in His marvellous works. Do not let us despise enthusiasms; they carry us on. They are a table of delight prepared in the presence of our enemies.
III. And as the angels came and ministered to Christ after His temptation, so THE ANOINTED HEAD AND THE REPLENISHED CUP SPEAK OF THE JOY AND GLADNESS WHICH WAIT ON THOSE WHO OVERCOME. There is the oil of joy and grace poured over our heads, which makes us prophets, priests, and kings of God to all those with whom we are brought into contact. And at the end there comes the full cup. Everything contributes to the store of wealth, and all things work together for good, because we love God. Life in all its changes, health, prosperity, affliction, all add to the great store of blessing, and God's mercy fills the cup of happiness to overflowing.
(W. C. E. Newbolt, M. A.)
Thou anointest my head with oil.I. DAVID HAD BEEN ANOINTED TO KINGSHIP. All Christians are kings, even as all Christians are priests; but kings only anointed not crowned, as they are priests ordained, not yet admitted to celestial ministries; and though the ordination to priestly service be now the more prominent honour, it is not such as to distrust or overshadow the kingly name and destiny.
II. DAVID HAD BEEN ANOINTED FROM ON HIGH. David's crown was a sure one, and surer than that already worn by Saul; and so is every Christian's. God's purposes in providence and grace are sure as the seasons and the sun. The kingship of every believer rests not on his own might or wisdom, not on the counsels and plans of his fellow men, but on the irreversible and sovereign grace of God.
III. DAVID HAD BEEN ANOINTED TO PRESENT RULE, AS WELL AS FUTURE HONOUR. He had forthwith to rule himself as a preparation for ruling others.
IV. DAVID WAS ANOINTED OF THE SPIRIT. With the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
V. DAVID WAS ANOINTED IN SECRET. The anointing of David was not a public act.
VI. DAVID WAS ANOINTED WITH THE OIL OF JOY. Oil was a symbol of joy. "And oil to make his face to shine." Of Messiah it is said, "Thy God hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows."
(John Stoughton, D. D.)
My cup runneth over.
I. OUR CUP OF NATURAL BLESSING IS NOT SIMPLY SUFFICING BUT REDUNDANT. We see this —
1. In the beauty of creation as opposed to mere utility. The sad philosopher of antiquity confessed, "He hath made everything beautiful in his, time": and the poet of today rejoices, "All things have more than barren use.' Some modern cynics have roundly abused nature, and tried hard to show the seamy side of the rainbow; but the loveliness and grandeur of things are too much for them, and the poet's vocation is not yet gone.
2. In the abundance of creation as opposed to mere sufficiency. "Thou preparest a table before me." And how richly is that table furnished. We have a school of political economists tormented by the dread of population outstripping the means of subsistence, and which is ever warning society against the awful peril. But how foolish are such fears, seeing we dwell in a world so rich and elastic. Let man be wise and good, and however thronged "the habitable part of the earth, there shall be" no complaining. The legend tells us that in olden times the ear of wheat extended the whole length of the straw, and it was through the sin of man that the ears of corn spring as we see them now. Truly this legend reflects the truth at all times, that the exuberance of God has been marred by the folly of man.
II. THE SUPERABUNDANCE OF OUR CUP OF SOCIAL BLESSING. Think of home, and all that means; and friendship; and philanthropy. And art, science, literature. Commerce is a whole vine in itself, and we gaze at its embarrassing lavishment with amazed delight. Surely, when the nations return to wisdom and virtue they shall no more be an hungered, but find the world their Father's house, with bread enough and to spare. And in those days, too, it shall no more be felt that the individual is impoverished by society. Now, we too often feel that the multitude is the enemy of the individual; that the increase of the number makes the struggle all the more bitter for each member. But really, society is the instrument of God for multiplying the world's riches and joy, and in the day when the human brotherhood shall dwell together in knowledge and love each shall serve all, and all each, until in the sublime reciprocity the land overflows with milk and honey.
III. THE MUNIFICENCE OF GOD IS REVEALED TO THE UTTERMOST IN THE CUP OF SPIRITUAL BLESSING. The cup of salvation runs over. It was not the study of God just to save us, but to save us fully, overflowingly. We see this —
1. In the pardoning of sin. God does not forgive sin with measure and constraint, but graciously multiplies pardons. The overflowing cup is the sign of a grand welcome, of a cordial friendship, of a most hearty love.
2. In the sanctification of the soul. We are not merely saved by Christ from ruin, but into a surpassing perfection of life. The Psalmist prayed, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." What is whiter than snow? We have white clouds, flowers, foam, shells; but in the whole realm of nature know nothing whiter than snow. But the human spirit aspires to a truthfulness, purity, and beauty beyond that of the physical universe, it pants to be whiter than snow; and this sublimest aspiration of our being is destined to attainment in Jesus Christ. "They are without fault before the throne of God." Here, at least, the actual reaches the ideal. How full and rich the Almighty grace! "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."
3. Our last illustration of the boundless love is the provision for the soul's satisfaction in Christ Jesus. History tells that an ancient king granted pardon to some criminals under sentence of death, but when these discharged malefactors applied for relief at the palace gates the king refused them, protesting, "I granted you life, but did not promise you bread." This is not the theory of the Gospel; Christ not only saves from destruction, but opens to the soul sources of rich strengthening and endless satisfaction. Annually when the ice breaks up in Russia the Czar goes in state to drink of the River Neva, and having drunk, it was long the custom for the Czar to return the cup to his attendants full of gold, but year by year the cup became so much larger that at length a stipulated sum was paid instead of the old largesse. But however large the vessel we bring to God, and however much it increases in capacity with the discipline of years, God shall still make it to overflow with that peace and love and joy which is better than rubies and much fine gold.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
I. THANKSGIVING IN THE HOUSE. I just want to look around and see what God has been doing for you in your home. "Oh," you say, "our house is not so large now as the one we used to have." I answer, what of that? It is a great deal of trouble to keep a large house clean. Besides that, a small house is so cosy. Besides that, it is a bad thing for children to have a luxuriant starting. But I step into your parlour, and I find there the evidences of refinement, and culture, and friendship. I go on to the next room and step into your nursery, and I am greeted with the shout and laughter of your children. They romp; they hide; they clap their hands. Busy all day, without fatigues, they fall asleep chattering and wake up singing. And the little baby has its realm, waving its sceptre over the parental heart, and you look down in its wondering eyes and see whole worlds of promise there, and think to yourself, "those little hands will smooth my locks when they get grey, and those little feet will run for me when I am sick, and those eyes will weep for me when I am gone." Thank God today that upon your home has come the brightness of childhood, and drop a tear of grief for those who weep over a despoiled cradle and toys that never will be caught up again by little hands now still, alas! forever. And I go into the dining room, and I find you have bread enough and to spare; and into your library, and you have books to read, many of them, and of the best sort. Thank God for books — plenty of them — books to make you study, books to waft you into reverie, books to make you weep, books to make you laugh; books of travel, of anecdote, of memoir, of legend; books about insects, about birds, about shells, about everything. Books for the young, books for the old. "Oh," says someone, "I have not all these luxuries; I have not all these comforts of the parlour, of the nursery, of the dining hall, of the library." But certainly you know something of the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of that sweet, tender, joyous, triumphant word "home"! "Oh, give thanks unto the. Lord; for He is good; for. His mercy endureth forever"; and let each one clap his hands, and say for himself, My cup runneth over.
II. I pass on now to look at THANKSGIVING IN THE HOVELS OF THE POOR. No banquet smoking on their table. Oh, it is hard to be hungry in a world with ripe orchards and luxuriant harvests and herds of cattle driven to the slaughter. You rich, remember these poor today, and help them to join in the thanksgiving of us all.
III. THANKSGIVING IN THE CHURCH. I know there are those who think the Church is a museum of antediluvian fossils. They think it did very well once, but it is behind the times. That is not your opinion. You love, first, your home, and next, your church. O ye descendants of the men who were hounded amid the Highlands of Scotland, and who fell at Bothwell Bridge; O ye sons and daughters of the men who came across wintry seas to build their log churches in the American wilderness; O ye sons and daughters of those who stood in the awful siege of Leyden, and shouted the martyrs' triumph in the horrors of the Brussels marketplace; O ye descendants of the men whose garments were dyed in the wine press of Saint Bartholomew Massacre; ye sons and daughters of the fire, what do you think today of a quiet Church, and a free pulpit, and a Gospel winged with mercy and salvation? What imperial edict forbids our convocation? What sword thirsts for our blood? What fires are kindled for our torture? None. Defended by the law, invited by the Gospel, baptized by the Spirit, we are here today free men of the state, free men of God. Let us give thanks. And let there be —
IV. THANKSGIVING IN THE CITY — for good laws, just judges, quiet Sabbaths, noble churches, etc.
V. THANKSGIVING IN THE NATION — for peace and prosperity, etc.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
I. SOME MEN'S CUPS NEVER RUN OVER. Because taken to the wrong source. Such are the cups held beneath the drippings of the world's leaky cisterns. Some cups are never filled, because the bearers of them suffer from the grievous disease of natural discontent. The heart is like the slough of despond, into which thousands of waggon loads of material were cast, and yet the slough did swallow up all, and was none the better. Some cups never run over, because their owners are envious. The green dragon is a very dangerous guest in any man's home. And unbelief is sure to prevent a man's cup running over.
II. WHY DOES THE CUP RUN OVER? Because, being believers in Christ, we have in Him all things. Between here and heaven there is nothing we shall want but what God has supplied. Because the infinite God is ours. When do we feel this? In the answer of our prayers and expectations. The Lord has given you more than imagination pictured. When Henry the Eighth was proposing to marry Anne of Cleves, Holbein was sent to paint her picture, with which Henry was charmed. But when he saw the original his judgment was very different, and he expressed disgust instead of affection. The painter had deceived him. No such flatteries can ever be paid to the Lord Jesus Christ. So beyond all conception of mind and heart is He. Sometimes the text is true of the Christian's joy.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)
2. Vanity. They are abused when they are made serviceable and occasional unto any iniquity. I will give you some special instances for this —(1) When we make our plenty the ground of an idle and unprofitable life; to live without any calling and employment, as if Divine goodness in any kind were a discharge from all industry.(2) When we consecrate, nay, that word is not fit, when we embezzle, God's bounty and mercies to luxury and drunkenness.
3. A third sin is loftiness.
4. A fourth sin unto which God's plenty may be and is abused is carnal confidence.
5. A fifth sin is covetousness and love of the world. But I proceed to the second way wherein men do abuse the plenty of God's goodness to them, namely, to vanity; and that is two fold, either of —
(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)
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