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Whitefield On Ingratitude

george-whitefield-picture

George Whitefield

In the words of George Whitefield:

That which has the greatest tendency to excite the generality of fallen men to praise and thanksgiving, is a sense of God’s private mercies, and particular benefits bestowed upon ourselves. For as these come nearer our own hearts, so they must be more affecting: and as they are peculiar proofs, whereby we may know, that God does in a more especial manner favor us above others, so they cannot but sensibly touch us; and if our hearts are not quite frozen, like coals of a refiner’s fire, they must melt us down into thankfulness and love. It was a consideration of the distinguishing favor God had shown to his chosen people Israel, and the frequent and remarkable deliverance wrought by him in behalf of “those who go down to the Sea in ships, and occupy their business in great matters,” that made the holy Psalmist break out so frequently as he does in this psalm, into this moving, pathetical exclamation, “that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men!”

His expressing himself in so fervent a manner, implies both the importance and neglect of the duty. As when Moses in another occasion cried out, “O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would practically consider their latter end!” Deut. 32:29.

I say, importance and neglect of the duty; for out of those man thousands that receive blessings from the Lord, how few give thanks in remembrance of his holiness? The account given us of the ungrateful lepers, is but too lively a representation of the ingratitude of mankind in general; who like them, when under any humbling providence, can cry, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Luke 17:13. But when healed of their sickness, or delivered from their distress, scarce one in ten can be found “returning to give thanks to God.”

And yet as common as this sin of ingratitude is, there is nothing we ought more earnestly to pray against. For what is more absolutely condemned in holy scripture than ingratitude? Or what more peremptorily (absolutely, emphatically) required than the contrary temper? Thus says the Apostle, “Rejoice evermore; in every thing give thanks,” 1 Thes. 5:16,18. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God,” Phil. 4:6.

On the contrary, the Apostle mentions it as one of the highest crimes of the Gentiles, that they were not thankful. “Neither were they thankful,” Rom. 1:21. As also in another place, he numbers the “unthankful,” 2 Tim. 3:2 amongst those unholy, profane person, who are to have their portion in the lake of fire and brimstone. (Sermon, Sunday, May 17, 1738 Psalm 108:30-31)

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