Journal – November 21, 2021
You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths drip with abundance
THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER 2021
Next Thursday, I pray, our nation will celebrate Thanksgiving Day remembering God’s goodness to our ancestors, and in our day by establishing and maintaining this free land. Oh, that this would become true throughout the country. In our Psalm of Thanksgiving, we see it divides into two parts. We have crowning mercies that call for crowning gratitude and in the same verse, paths of abundance, which should be to us ways of delight. When we have thought upon these two points, we may meditate for a few moments upon the whole subject and endeavor, as God shall help us, to see what duties are expected of us.
All the year round, every hour of every day, God is richly blessing us, both when we sleep and when we are awake, His mercy waits upon us. The sun may leave off shining, but our God will never cease to cheer His children with His love. Like a river His lovingkindness is always flowing with a fullness as inexhaustible as His own nature, which is its source. Like the atmosphere which always surrounds the earth and is always ready to support the life of man, the benevolence of God surrounds all His creatures in it, as in their element they live and move, and have their being. Yet as the sun on summer days appears to gladden us with beams warmer and brighter than at other times, and as rivers are at certain seasons swollen with the rain, and as the atmosphere itself on occasions is fraught with fresher, more bracing, or more balmy influences than before, so is it with the mercy of God. It has its golden hours, its days of overflow, when the Lord magnifies His grace, and lifts high His love before the sons of men.
If we begin with the race of man, in olden days our fathers celebrated the joyous days of harvest, a special season of excessive favor. It is the glory of autumn that the ripe gifts of providence are then abundantly bestowed. It is the mellow season of realization, whereas all before was but hope and expectation. Great is the joy of harvest. Happy are the reapers who fill their arms with the liberality of heaven. The Psalmist tells us that the harvest is the crowning of the year. To have this joy of harvest we must remember the musical voices of birds, and the joyful lowing of herds, as spring was ushered in. Every verdant meadow and every flowing stream hear the joyful proclamation and feels a new life within. The little hills rejoice on every side. They shout for joy. They also sing. Throughout the warm months of summer the royal year is dressing itself in beauty and adorning itself in sumptuous array. What with the plates of ivory, yielded by the lilies, the rubies of the rose, the purple of the violet, and all manner of fair colors from the many flowers, we may well say that “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
No garments of needlework of divers colors can match the glorious vesture of time’s reigning Son. But the moment of the coronation, when earth feels most the sway of the year, is in the fullness of autumn. Then it is when the fields are covered with a dose of gold, and fruits are glowing with the rich hues of ripeness, and the leaves are burnished with inimitable perfection of tint and shade, then with a wreath of divine goodness, the songs of rejoicing maidens, the year is crowned. Upon a throne of golden corn, with the peaceful sickle for his scepter, sits the crowned year bearing the goodness of the Lord.
We may forget the harvest, living as we do, so far from rural labors, but those who must watch the corn as it springs up and track it through all its numberless dangers, until the blade becomes the full corn in the ear, we cannot, surely, forget the wonderful goodness and mercy of God when we see the harvest safely stored. My brethren, if we require any considerations to excite us to gratitude, for a moment let us think of the effect upon our country of a total failure of the crops. All people would sorrow and even our Representatives in Washington might be covered with sackcloth with this news. At this day the kingdom of Egypt sits trembling. The rejoicing and abounding land trembles for her sons. The Nile has swollen beyond its proper limit, the waters continue to rise, and a few more days see the fields covered with devastating floods. If it is so, alas for that land in other years so favored as to have given us the proverb of “Corn in Egypt.”
My brethren, should we not rejoice that this is not our case, and that our happy land rejoices in plenty? If the plant had utterly failed, and the seed had rotted with the heavy rains, we should have been quick enough to murmur, how is it that we are so slow to praise? Take a lower view of the matter, suppose even a partial scarcity at this juncture, when one arm of our industry is paralyzed, how serious would have been this calamity! With a staple commodity withdrawn from us, with the daily peril of war at our gates, it would have been a fearful trial to have suffered scarcity of bread. Shall we not bless and praise our covenant God, who permits not the appointed weeks of harvest to fail? Sing together all you to whom bread is the staff of life and rejoice before Him who loads you with benefits.
We have none of us any adequate idea of the amount of happiness conferred upon a nation by a luxuriant crop. Every man in the land is the richer for it. To the poor man the difference is of the utmost importance. There is more bread for the children or more money for clothes. Millions are benefited by God’s once opening His liberal hand and providing food for the whole earth. Reflect upon the amazing population of our New York City consider the immense amount of poverty there, but our God provides a harvest to feed the poor with soup kitchens etc. Let us not despise the bounty of God, because this great benefit comes in a natural way. If every morning when we awoke, we saw fresh loaves of bread put into our cupboard, or the morning’s meal set out upon the table breaking the overnight fast, we should think it a miracle. But if our God blesses our own exertions, and prospers our own toil to the same end, is it not equally as much a ground for praising and blessing His name? O come, let us worship and bow down. Let us exalt the Lord our God and come into His presence with the voice of joy and thanksgiving.
But how shall we give crowning thanksgiving for this crowning mercy of the year? We can do it, dear friends, by the inward emotions of gratitude. Let our hearts be warmed. Let our spirits remember, meditate, and think upon this goodness of the Lord. Meditation upon this mercy may tend to nourish in you the most tender feelings of affection, and your souls will be knit to the Father of Spirits, who pities His children. Again, praise Him with your lips. Let psalms and hymns employ your tongues on Thanksgiving Day. Next Lord’s Day when we meet at the proper time to worship our great God, let us turn it into a praise meeting, and let us laud and magnify His name from whose bounty all this goodness flows. But I think also we should thank Him by our gifts. The Jews of old never tasted the fruit either of the barley or of the wheat harvest till they had sanctified it to the Lord by the Feast of in gatherings. There was, early in the season, the barley harvest. One sheaf of this barley was taken and waved before the Lord with special sacrifices, and then afterwards the people feasted. Fifty days afterwards came the wheat harvest, when two loaves, made of the new flour, were offered before the Lord in sacrifice, together with burnt-offerings, peace-offerings, meat-offerings, drink-offerings, and abundant sacrifices of thanksgivings to show that the people’s thankfulness was not stinted or mean. No man ate either of the ears, or grain, or corn ground and made into bread, until first he had sanctified his substance by the dedication of somewhat unto the Lord. And shall we do less than the Jew? Shall he, for types and shadows, express his gratitude in a solid manner, and shall not we? Did he offer unto the Lord whom he scarce knew, and bow before that Most High God who hid His face amidst the smoke of burning rams and bullocks? And shall not we, who see the glory of the Lord in the face of Christ Jesus come unto Him and bring to Him our offerings? The Old Testament ordinance was, “You shall not come before the Lord empty.” And let that be the ordinance of today. Let us come into His presence, each man bearing his offering of thanksgiving unto the Lord. But enough concerning this harvest. It has been a crowning mercy this year, so that the other version of our text might aptly be applied as a description of 2021“You crown the year with your goodness.”
Furthermore, we have heard of heavenly harvests, which, in days of yore, awakened the church of God to loudest praise. There was the harvest of Pentecost. Christ having been sown in the ground like a grain of wheat, sprang up from it, and in His resurrection and ascension was like the waved sheaf before the Lord. Let us never forget that resurrection which crowned the year of God’s redeemed with goodness. It was a terrible year indeed. It began in the howling tempests of Christ’s poverty, and want, and shame, and suffering, and death. It seemed to have no spring and no summer, yet it was crowned with an abundant harvest when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Fifty days after the resurrection came the Pentecost. The barley harvest had been passed wherein the wave-sheaf was offered. Then came the days of wheat harvest. Peter and the eleven who were with him became the reapers, and three thousand souls fell beneath the Gospel sickle. There was great joy in the city of Jerusalem that day—nay, all the saints who heard thereof were glad, and heaven itself, catching the divine enthusiasm, rang with harvest joy. It is recorded that the saints ate their bread with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God. Pentecost was a crowning mercy, and it was remembered by the saints with crowning thanks. O that the Lord would once again crown the year with His goodness and send us revivals from the right hand of the Most High.
And now I close. The whole subject seems to give us one or two suggestions as to matters of duty. God crownes the year with His goodness.” One suggestion is this: some of you in this house are strangers to God, you have been living as his enemies, and you will probably die so. But what a blessing it would be if a part of the crown of this year should be your conversion! “The harvest is past, and the summer is ended, and you are not saved.” But oh, what a joy, if this very day you should turn unto God and live! Remember, the way of salvation is freely proclaimed every Lord’s Day at Dominion Church, it runs in this style “This is the commandment, that you believe on Jesus Christ whom He hath sent.” Soul, if this day you trust in Christ, it shall be thy spiritual birthday, it shall be unto thee the beginning of days; emancipated from your chains, delivered from the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death, you shall be the Lord’s free man. What sayest thou? O that the Spirit of God would bring you this day to turn unto Him with full purpose of heart. Turn unto God and live! Remember, the way of salvation was freely proclaimed here last Lord’s Day morning, it goes like this “This is the commandment, that you believe on Jesus Christ whom He hath sent.” Soul, if this day you trust in Christ, it shall be thy spiritual birthday. It will truly be a Happy Birthday.
Taken in part from Messages by C. H. Spurgeon