Our Mouths So Seldom Opened

From “Thankfulness for Mercies Received, a Necessary Duty” (1738)

Numberless marks does man bear in his soul that he is fallen and estranged from God; but nothing gives a greater proof thereof than that backwardness which every one finds within himself to the duty of praise and thanksgiving. When God placed the first man in paradise, his soul no doubt was so filled with a sense of the riches of the divine love, that he was continually employing that breath of life, which the Almighty had not long before breathed into him, in blessing and magnifying that all-bountiful, all gracious God, in whom he lived, moved, and had his being. And the brightest idea we can form of the angelical hierarchy above, and the spirits of just men made perfect, is, that they are continually standing round the throne of God, and cease not day and night, saying, “Worthy art thou, O Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).

That then, which was man’s perfection when time first began, and will be his employment when death is swallowed up in victory, and time shall be no more, undoubtedly is part of our perfection, and ought to be our frequent exercise on earth: and I doubt not but those blessed spirits, who are sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation, often stand astonished when they encamp around us, or find our hearts so rarely enlarged, and our mouths so seldom opened, to show forth the loving-kindness of the Lord, or to speak of all his praise.

Matter for praise and adoration, can never be wanting to creatures redeemed by the blood of the Son of God; and who have such continual scenes of his infinite goodness presented to their view, that were their souls duly affected with a sense of his universal love, they could not but be continually calling on heaven and earth, men and angels, to join with them in praising and blessing that “high and lofty one, who inhabits eternity, who makes his sun to shine on the evil and on the good,” and daily pours down his blessings on the whole race of mankind.,

But few are arrived to such a degree of charity or love, as to rejoice with those that do rejoice, and to be as thankful for other mercies, as their own. This part of Christian perfection, though begun on earth, will be consummated only in heaven; where our hearts will glow with such fervent love towards God and one another, that every fresh degree of glory communicated to our neighbor, will also communicate to us a fresh topic of thankfulness and joy.

George Whitefield (1714-1770) was an Anglican priest and evangelist, a leader of the first Great Awakening. As a student of Oxford, he was part of John and Charles Wesley’s Holy Club, committing himself to serious discipleship. After his ordination he became an itinerant evangelist, and is estimated to have preached 18,000 sermons to as many as 10 million people in thirty years of ministry in Britain and the American colonies. “The Good Shepherd” is a farewell sermon, which he preached onboard ship immediately before departing Savannah, Georgia, where he had served for a time as the rector of Christ Church.

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