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looked, he coveted to call them his own. On his return home, he presented himself to the king, and gave an account of his shipwreck. He described his losses, concealing the kindness that had been shown to him; and then, destitute of all gratitude, he asked that the king would bestow upon him, as a recompense, the house with the lands near the spot where he had been cast on shore. Philip granted his request, without considering the act of injustice he would thereby commit against the owner. The officer quickly returned to his preserver, and repaid his kindness by driving him from his home and property. The man, stung by this act of vile ingratitude, instead of submitting to the injustice, resolved to seek redress. He wrote to the king, and presented his own wrong and the soldier's conduct in a lively and affecting manner. Philip, as he read the letter, was filled with anger, and ordered that justice should be done without delay. He caused the possessions to be at once restored to the man whose kindness had been so wretchedly repaid, and then directed the officer to be seized, and these words to be branded on his forehead, “ The UNGRATEFUL Guest.”.
As we read this account, we are ready to pour reproaches on the memory of such a man. Ingratitude is at all times hateful; and there are few vices we more condemn in others, and from which we are more anxious to clear ourselves. We think it is iinpossible that we could be guilty of conduct so base and unworthy. A faithful inquiry, however, will show that, in a very important sense, we are guilty of this very sin. For if to return evil for good; if to insult and wrong our Benefactor; if to disobey Him whom we are under the greatest obligation to serve-be ingratitude, then who that reads these lines can be cleared of the charge? Let us attend to the inquiry.
WE HAVE A BENEFACTOR. Who is he? He is the everblessed and glorious God—the King of kings and Lord of lords, who is rich in mercy and compassion, and delights in the happiness of his creatures. His gifts are bountiful, innumerable, and freely bestowed.
There are the blessings of creation. He made us what we are. Our wonderful bodies, our living souls, the senses we possess, the reason we enjoy, are his gifts : “ In him we live, and move, and have our being." It is on his earth we dwell; his sun enlightens and warms us; it is his air we breathe. Unnumbered things have been created and exist for our use and enjoyment. “ The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.”
There are the blessings of God's providence. If we may so speak, we are his guests. On him we depend for our daily support. Every comfort we enjoy comes from his bounty. He has fed, and clothed, and nourished us all our days. He who first gave THE UNGRATEFUL GUEST.
streams; the rain enriches the ground, and it yields its increase ; and for us seed-time and harvest duly return, and the year is crowned with his goodness.
There are the blessings of redemption. We have miserably ruined ourselves by sin, and he has sent his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to pay the price of our ransom. For us Christ was born, and laboured, and suffered. He was delivered up to the death of the cross, that we, through faith in him, might not perish : “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved," John iii. 17. In him is treasured a fulness of all spiritual blessings-a fulness of power to redeem; of merit to justify; of wisdom to enlighten; of all grace, suited to meet the wants and woes of guilty man.
There are the blessings of revelation. That man might know, from age to age, the mercy provided for us in Christ, and the way to obtain it, God has given us the sacred Scriptures, in which are declared all things necessary to be known for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." He has also set upin his church the “ministry of reconciliation;" and to enlighten our reason, and impress the truth savingly on the heart, he gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.
There are the blessings of eternal life. To all who seek for pardon through faith in the blood of Christ, and who prove their faith by obedience, shall be given this unspeakable happiness. Then the soul shall be perfect in knowledge and holiness; the body shall be spiritual and immortal ; it shall inhabit a glorious home; the angels shall be bright and beloved companions; and the crown and sum of all shall be, communion with God and Christ Jesus through all eternity. “God will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away," Rev. xxi. 3, 4. Consider these blessings—so free, various, suitable, and glorious; some in present possession, and others in promise and prospect-and then say, under what obligations we are laid to show our grati. tude. Now turn to the other side of the picture.
WHAT HAVE WE DONE TOWARDS God? Have we rendered to him according to the benefits done to us? The contrast is affecting and humiliating. Thousands of his mercies have been wholly forgotten by us; and tens of thousands have been received without our regard, and without exciting one word of praise, or one feeling of love. We have taken the gifts, and slighted the Giver. Nay, more ; we have broken bis laws, and that openly, -laws which are "holy, and just, and good." We have broken
them not only once, or on a few occasions, but times without number; and not some of his laws only, but all of them-ii thought, word, or deed. And this has been the conduct not only of the daringly profane, but of all mankind.
The guilt of an offence is increased in proportion to the dignity of the person against whom it is committed. That which is a mere assault against a private person, is treason when done against a king. That which is simply an affront to a stranger, is unfeeling ingratitude when directed against a parent. What, then, shall be said of the conduct of sinners against the Lord of heaven and earth? To resist his authority, to rob him, to fight against him-how ungrateful and unreasonable ! howinexcusable and full of guilt and danger !
If we receive an injury or insult from an equal, how ready we are to resent it! But the great God has, in mercy, spared the creatures of his own hand, though they have grievously offended him. Instead of casting chem off in his displeasure, he seeks their good. He invites them, and pleads with them, as a father inviting his prodigal children to his embrace. He calls on them to consider their ways; he waits to be gracious; he stands and knocks at the door of their hearts, and offers to forgive and bless them: “ Come now," he most lovingly says, “ and let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Turn ye, turn ye ; for why will ve die?" Shall the blessed God speak to us in such tenderness, and we remain insensible to his love? Oh, where is the man that would bear with his fellow man as He bears with us? But there is a limit to his forbearance. A day is coming when he will execute judgment on all who persist in scorning or slighting his goodness, and when he will overwhelmn them with his just displeasure, giving them over to the worm that “ dieth not," and the fire that “is not quenched.”
If we are ready to approve the sentence of a heathen king against the Grecian officer, shall we not condemn ourselves ? But though self-condemned, this may still be the ground of hope: “God is love. In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him," I John iv. 8, 9. This truth received into the heart by faith will awaken the most lively gratitude, and lead to repentance and holiness. The soul then, under a sense of the Divine goodness and mercy, will devote all its powers to the praise of its glorious and gracious Benefactor, will partake of every gift with thankfulness, and cease to be an UNGRATEFUL GUEST.
THE APPEAL. There was a widow, who had one only little child. She loved this child with all a mother's and a widow's fondness. Her whole life seemed wrapped up in the child's life : she only lived for it. But, sad to tell, while this little one was well and strong, nothing could persuade the widow to give her heart to God. But it pleased God to lay his hand on the child, so that it became very ill, and shortly after died, and we trust was taken to glory. Poor woman, she was now both widowed and childless. Her pastor went to see her, to pour, if possible, into her wounded heart the balm of Christian consolation. But he found the Lord had spoken to her before he came. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, the death of her child had been made a blessing to her, in leading her to submit to God, and to give herself to Christ in faith and love. She acknowledged her former hardness of heart, and said, “ Ah, sir, I will tell you how it is : there was a shepherd, sir, and the shepherd had a sheep, and the sheep had a lamb. Long time the shepherd tried to get the sheep into
his fold: he tried all ways, but all were of no use. So at last he took the little lamb in his arms, and placed it in the fold; and sure the sheep went in then quickly enough.” From that time this poor childless widow lived a life of faith in the Son of God, in humble hope of a life of glory with him hereafter.
Reader, have you ever thought in how many ways God speaks? The above narrative is quite true. How solemn and clear was God's voice to that poor widow by the death of her child! Through grace she listened, and was saved. Reader, perhaps God has spoken to you in some such way, and you have not listened, but turned away your ear, and would not hear. Fearful thought!-your Creator speaks, and you, his creature, refuse to hear. If your earthly father had spoken, you would probably have listened and obeyed : if your sovereign had condescended to address you, you would doubtless have gloried in the distinction, and hastened to execute his commands. But the Father of all, the Lord of heaven, the King of kings, has spoken to you from your birth till now; and unless you have believed the gospel of his Son, and are living the believer's new, holy life, you have never yet answered, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth," 1 Sam. iii. 9. Think in how many ways God has spoken to you; for in truth it is not only when he speaks as he spoke to Abraham, or Moses, or Samuel, that his voice is uttered; but he now appeals to us.
God speaks through your conscience, that faculty within you which bears witness to what is right and what is wrong. Perhaps this conscience has become very insensible in you; you have hushed and stifled it whenever it tried to make itself heard: so that, being unenlightened by God's Spirit, unfed by God's word, unencouraged, uncared for, it almost ceases to speak. But, oh! while you now read, does it not once more bear witness, it may be for the last time, your thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another ? Rom. ii. 15.
God speaks by creation. Have you ever listened to this voice? or have you walked this earth and looked upon its wonders with scarcely any higher aim than have the beasts which perish? They only value it for the food it yields. Has creation no diviner object for you than bodily enjoyment? Do you ask- What does it tell of? It tells of God, its Maker, of his almighty power and Godhead, of his goodness in providing for the wants and gratifying the tastes of his creatures, and of his just displeasure against sin, which has brought death into the world, and a curse upon this beautiful earth : “ The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firinament showeth his handywork," Psa. xix. 1.; and though “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now," Rom. viii. 22, yet