The Nine.––"Whoso offereth Me thanks and praise, he honoureth Me," saith our God; and we are abashed when we realise that it rests with us to add honour to the Highest, and that we refrain our lips.
"Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine?" Alas, how often are we among the nine, the poor, pitiful souls who received everything and gave nothing, not even a word of thanks! It is worth noting that "the unthankful and the evil" go together in that list of lost souls which we find in the last book of the Bible. Even if we have our moments of thankfulness, when we cry,––
"When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view I'm lost,
In wonder, love and praise";––
our fault, and our very great misfortune, is, that we fail to take at regular intervals that survey of our life which must indeed cause us transports of gratitude. We fail to give thanks, partly because we are inert partly because we are preoccupied with some fret or desire of the moment, and partly because of the petulant turning away of the shoulder from God which is our danger. But let us take time for the survey, if only on the Sundays, or, less frequently still, at the great seasons of the year.
'My Rising Soul surveys.'––How good is life, how joyous it is to go out of doors, even in the streets of a city! Surely a pleasant thing it is to see the sun! How good is health, even the small share of it allotted to the invalid! How good and congenial all the pleasant ways of home life, all family love and neighbourly kindness, and the love of friends! How good it is to belong to a great country and share in all her interests and concerns! How good to belong to the world of men, aware that whatever concerns men, concerns us! How good are books and pictures and music! How delightful is knowledge! How good is the food we eat! How pleasant are the clothes we wear! How sweet is sleep, and how joyful is awaking!
The Soul that surveys these and a thousand other good things of our common life is indeed a 'rising soul,' rising to the Father,––who knoweth that we have need of all these things,––with the gratitude and thanksgiving that are forced out of a heart overflowing with love. Even an occasional act of thanksgiving of this kind sweetens the rest of life for us; unconsidered thanks rise from us day by day and hour by hour. We say grace for a kind look, or a beautiful poem, or a delightful book, quite as truly as for a good dinner––more so, indeed; for it is true of us also that man doth not live by bread alone.
We honour God by thanking Him.––But we think so little of ourselves that it does not seem to us to matter much whether or no we thank God for all His surprising sweet benefits and mercies towards us. Indeed, we should not have known that it does matter, if, with the condescending grace that few earthly parents show, He had not told us that He is honoured by our thanks! How impossible it seems that we should add anything to God, much less that we should add to His honour! Here is our great opportunity: let us give thanks.
Perhaps most of us fall on our knees and give thanks for special mercies that we have begged of our Father's providing care––the restored health of one beloved, the removal of some cause of anxiety, the opening up of some opportunity that we have longed for. For such graces as these we give ungrudging thanks, and we do well; but the continual habit of thanksgiving is more;––
"Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be,