As I was out for my daily walk last evening and surveying the vast expanse of the heavens speckled with the twinkling stars, each set in its proper place by the hand of HIM who has formed all things for HIS pleasure, and knowing that those visible to my eyes were but a drop in the bucket compared to the limitless numbers of them that HE has created for HIMSELF, David’s exultation came to mind, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psa 8:3-4) Then this hymn by Joseph Addison, published in 1712, flooded into my soul:
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 blessings flowed.
When in the slippery paths of youth, with heedless steps I ran,
Thine arm, unseen, conveyed me safe and led me up to man.
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 pleasing theme renew.
Through all eternity to Thee a grateful song I’ll raise;
But O! eternity’s too short to utter all thy praise.
#449 Lloyd’s Hymnal
The song writer says that his “rising soul surveys” those mercies. Even the grace which causes a mortal to contemplate the mercies of GOD flows out from the very mercy which he has been given. The natural man in his spiritually dead state cannot even so much as bring to his mind the thought of the true mercies of GOD, let alone have any contemplation or meditation therein.
The natural man can only view what he might call the “mercy” of GOD as some extension of an obligatory love which he is convinced GOD owes to HIS creation and must in fairness allow all to be partakers of. But that man who is awakened by the SPIRIT of GOD to view his own depravity, helpless estate, and utter worthlessness is given a realization that apart from the bestowal of HIS mercy he will surely perish. Because of mercy, he is moved to cry out with the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Then when he has been given reason to hope in that mercy alone, he can exult with David, “I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.” (Psa 104:33-34) Such is the mercy of GOD which raises a beggar from a dunghill to the holy mountain where his “rising soul surveys” the vast expanse of the mercies of a covenant GOD and he is “transported with the view”.
Long before any of those who are the objects of HIS mercy were ever able to contemplate these mercies which have been visited upon them, HE was faithful to care for and keep them unto the very day of their deliverance. “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”(Isa 43:1-2) These mercies were given to the elect sons of GOD, “before their infant hearts conceived from whom those blessings flowed.”
Yea even “When in the slippery paths of youth, with heedless steps I ran,” HE was that ONE who preserved them even though they were yet in rebellion against HIM, even as a father is mindful of his child and desires his benefit. Surely those who have seen HIS grace and tasted of HIS mercy can say, “Thine arm, unseen, conveyed me safe and led me up to man.” “Hitherto hath the LORD helped us” (1Sam 7:12) is their testimony.
HE daily loads HIS people with benefits too numerous to mention even as the songwriter says; “Ten thousand thousand precious gifts my daily thanks employ; “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” (Psa 116:12) Yet one of the greatest of all of the benefits given to us by our gracious FATHER is the gift of being able to recognize from WHOM those blessings have come, and to rejoice in them. “Nor is the least a cheerful heart, that tastes those gifts with joy.” There are many in this world who are convinced that the blessings they enjoy come to them as a result of some activity or faithfulness on their part. What an abundant grace is visited upon those who are given a heart to rejoice only in HIM.
Hopefully we shall be enabled to continue our course with a clear desire to seek after HIM and say, “Through every period of my life, Thy goodness I’ll pursue;” for if we are enabled to do so, we feel quite confident that such is a token of HIS faithfulness to us even unto death and beyond. “And after death in distant worlds, the pleasing theme renew. Through all eternity to Thee a grateful song I’ll raise; But O! eternity’s too short to utter all thy praise.”
Thus we are reminded of GOD’s purpose for those HE has loved from before the foundation of the world. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by (grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:4-7)
Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song, The joy of my heart, and the boast of my tongue;
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last, Has won my affections, and bound my soul fast.
Thy mercy, in Jesus, exempts me from hell; Its glories I’ll sing, and its wonders I’ll tell;
’Twas Jesus, my Friend, when he hung on the tree, Who opened the channel of mercy for me.
Without thy sweet mercy I could not live here; Sin soon would reduce me to utter despair;
But, through thy free goodness, my spirits revive, And he that first made me still keeps me alive.
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart, Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground, And weep to the praise of the mercy I found.
The door of thy mercy stands open all day, To the poor and the needy, who knock by the way.
No sinner shall ever be empty sent back, Who comes seeking mercy for Jesus’s sake.
Great Father of mercies, thy goodness I own, And the covenant love of thy crucified Son;
All praise to the Spirit, whose whisper divine Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.
#11 Gadsby’s Hymnal, by John Stocker
“To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him.” (Dan 9:9)mam