When all thy mercies 0 my God My rising soul surveys
“ALL HIS BENEFITS” Ps. 116.12
When all thy mercies, 0 my God, My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view I’m lost, In wonder, love, and praise.
Benefits! What a precious word. How full of meaning; the good acts of God fitted to meet all our needs. He who “crowneth the year with His goodness” will not despise the song of the soul for its unbounded manifestation. Such a song heads this article; the outflow and overflow of the spirit fraught with praise in the presence of covenant care and keeping. The words well up from the soul as a Review, a Reflection, a Response, and a Rejoinder.
To look back will strengthen faith to look forward, even though the review of the years that are past blinds our eyes with tears, before the scenes that cause such soul-humbling, and self-loathing before God, in the face of all His great goodness and tender mercies.
This review registers His benefits as personal communications “towards me”. Let us draw aside from the broad acres of a universal providence to that path we have personally trod, for this song is in the singular number, and there, while every step He has led demands a song for all the benefits of His leading – hedging up one path and opening another, chastening and correcting always “in measure”, in His sovereign dispensations on every hand – one is compelled to say:
Indulgent God, how kind are all Thy ways to me
Whose dark benighted mind was enmity to Thee;
Yet now, subdued by sovereign grace,
My spirit longs for Thine embrace.
How marvellously has “the Fountain of all good” fitted His goodness to meet all my need in grace; for what but grace mapped out every step His providence planned? A creature of time, I have been upheld and cared for and corrected, led, fed, clothed and sheltered by His all-wise and gracious hand working together all things for good.
But, if there be such marvellous grace in the pathway of providence, what shall I say of all His benefits in His dealings for the salvation of my soul?
In the light of the cross of my Lord,
What mysteries of mercy I see!
What benefits, blessings, and grace
Flowing down to a sinner like me!
What covenant goodness and love
Shine forth in those sorrows He bore,
When He all my sin would remove,
And my lost, ruined soul would restore.
The words constrain also a reflection. Who can review such dealings in providence and grace without reflecting –
What thoughts of peace and mercy flowed
In Thy dear bosom, O my God.
So Deity occupies His eternal mind with the individual case of each object of His love. But for those benefits, where should I have been today? “Why was I made to hear His voice and enter while there’s room”, can only be answered by, ‘”Twas the same love that spread the feast, that sweetly drew me in.” Blessed be God for such considerations, for such reflections. All His goodness towards me might have continued with an ungrateful absence of soul-humbling reflection to endear me to Himself. But surely, to recognize the benefit, and reflect on the grace that provides it, is blessing indeed, and leads to communion with Him. Let the words of Richard Cecil aid the soul’s reflection:
“What will meet my case? What is it that I want? What will satisfy me? I look at the rich and I see Ahab in the midst of all his riches, sick at heart for a garden of herbs. If I look at the wise, I see Solomon with all his wisdom, acting like a fool; and I know that if I possessed all his wisdom, were I left to myself, I should act as he did. If I turn to men of pleasure, I see that the very sum of all pleasure is that it is Satan’s bed into which he casts his slaves! I see Esau selling his birthright for a mess of pottage. If I think of honour, I take a walk in Westminster Abbey; there, among the mighty dead, is the winding up of human glory. And what remains of the greatest men of my country? A boasting epitaph! None of these things, then, can
satisfy me. I must meet death; I must meet judgement; I must meet God; I must meet eternity!”
O, my soul, let every reflection on all His benefits constrain to the uplifting of the cup of salvation; the cup He has filled with every new covenant blessing, every benefit of which is sealed in His own name. Does not this reflection constrain to the acknowledgement of His benefit as –
The promptings of His Spirit require a response, the constraining power of His love drawing me to Him by His grace bestowed. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, thy face, Lord, will I seek.” Has He opened the eye to see, the ear to hear, the hand to receive, the heart to possess? Then it is that the “voice of the beloved” finds a sweet response in the soul, and communion, deep, holy, sweet communion, springs up from the flame of the fire He has kindled. Moved, melted by His love, and a sense of His mercy, the song arises from the soul: “What shall I render unto the Lord, for all His benefits towards me?”
A rejoinder must be directed to the enemies of the soul. Let them all combine in seeking the destruction of the soul, or the disturbance of its peace, communion with God means victory through the blood, over them all. The voice of conscience, the accusations of Satan, yea, and all that is felt by the revelation in “the chamber of imagery” into which He leads for our instruction and humbling, shall be met by the record of His benefits, and the witness of the Spirit to a personal interest in the same.
“What shall I – whose ‘best is stained and dyed by sin, whose all is nothing worth’ – render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?”
No more, my God, I boast no more,
Of all the duties I have done,
I quit the hopes I held before,
And trust the merits of Thy Son.
The best obedience of my hands,
Dares not appear before Thy throne,
But faith can answer Thy demands,
By pleading what my Lord has done.