God’s Unspeakable Gift

Sacramental Meditation XIX

By John Willison, Practical Works (London: Blackie & Son, 1844), 269-71; minimally edited.


“Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Many give thanks to God for meat and drink to their bodies, which indeed is the duty of all; but alas! Few give thanks to God for Jesus Christ, the only food of precious souls, and God’s unspeakable gift to men! Many are fond of temporal gifts and earthly riches, which are nothing but vanity; but ah! They are easy about this pearl of great price, this matchless gift, whose value no tongue can express, nor open up what is contained in it. The Apostle tells us a great truth in Ephesians 1:3, that “God blesses us with all spiritual blessings in Christ.” In this gift of God we have innumerable gifts bestowed on those who believe on Him, such as the gifts of spiritual illumination, pardon of sin, reconciliation with God, adoption into His family, restoring of His image, sanctifying influences, spiritual strength for work and warfare, loosing of bonds, witnessings of the Spirit, unstinging of death, conduct through the dark valley, and a title to the mansions of glory, and the eternal enjoyment of God. Christ is the most necessary and most enriching gift ever given to the world. God gave Him to be a plank of mercy, to save our souls when shipwrecked. He gave Him to be our physician and balm, to heal us when our wounds seemed incurable. He gave Him to be “the Lord our Righteousness,” when we had no righteousness. He gave Him to be our Advocate to plead for us, when we had many accusers, and none to take our part. He gave Him to us to be “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” In this gift there is infinite fulness, and unsearchable riches. Well may the Spouse call Christ a “bundle of myrrh” (SS 1:13-14), because so many gifts and blessings are bundled up in this one gift. Oh, what can I conceive, or what can I express of this gift! He that would describe or speak of it, would need to have his tongue dipped in heaven. Should an angel come down to tell us of this gift, he would outspeak all the men on earth; yet when he had said all he could, the gift would be far above his expression. Why? Because He is “unspeakable.”

Thanks be unto God that gave us not a servant, not an angel, not a friend, but His Son. Not an adopted Son, but His own Son by eternal generation; a Son, who is the “brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of His Person.” Yea, He gave us His only Son, to die as a sacrifice in our room! How bitterly did Jacob bewail the parting with one son, when he had eleven behind! But God gave His only begotten Son, and the Son of His love for us! It is recorded as an admirable instance of Abraham’s obedience, that he was willing to part with his only son at God’s command. “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me” (Gen 22:12). But what was Abraham’s son to God’s eternal Son, the second person of the glorious Trinity! A Son that was His equal! A Son in whom His soul delighted! A Son that never displeased Him at any time! How bitterly did David mourn at parting with a rebellious son!” O Absalom, my son, my son, would to God I had died for thee,” etc. But what are all the sons of men, or ten thousand worlds full of men, or as many heavens full of angels, to the beloved Son of God, whom all the angels worship and adore? And yet this is the gift that God gives us. In this gift, divine bounty hath stretched itself to the uttermost. He could have created a million of heavens more bright, and millions of angels more glorious for us; but a more glorious Son He had not, nor could have; a greater gift He had not in all His treasures, than His own coeternal and consubstantial Son, yet He makes a free gift of Him to us! Oh who would not give thanks unto God for this His unspeakable gift? And, who would not part with all the world to have an interest in this gift sealed to him at the Lord’s table? This is the gift that sweetens all other gifts, and without which nothing in the world hath any sweetness in it.

This gift of God is most free; it was impossible that the world could have Christ in any other way than as a free gift. A man, like old Jacob, may be bereaved of his children, but it was not possible that God could be bereaved of His dear Son. Neither could we have Him by purchase; we were so poor, we had not wherewith to purchase the least blessing. And, what though all the riches of the world had been ours, though all its mountains had been gold, pearls, or diamonds, they would not have been sufficient to purchase one sight of this gift, far less a right to it. Nor could ever any motive be found out for bestowing this gift, but the free love of God. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn 3:16). As if he had said, since the world hath no merit, nor price, worth, nor motive, to obtain this blessing, I just make a free gift of Him to the world. Take Him freely, poor beggars of Adam’s family; take Him, and He will enrich you all! And oh, how seasonably and unexpectedly was this gift given? Adam, when he came trembling before God after his fall, looking for his final doom, did little expect such a gift, until God himself, to the astonishment of angels and men, promised the seed of the woman. Who could have thought that the great God would have given His dear Son to such vile wretches, sinners that were not seeking Him? Nay, who of mankind could have desired such a gift? Indeed, when we had been perishing, we might have looked up and cried, O God, have mercy upon us. But who would have said, oh give the Son of Thy love to bear the wrath due to us! We neither deserved nor desired this gift, but God gave it most freely and surprisingly. When Adam broke God’s covenant, he was pursued with a cry, “Adam, where art thou?” Doubtless, Adam expected a terrible blow from the sword of justice; but behold, he is pursued with a cry, and the unspeakable gift in the crier’s hand! Oh how surprising was this to poor, trembling, guilty Adam! What cause had he to cry, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift! What shall I render to the Lord for such a gift?” And the same cause have we.

Oh wonderful love! This free gift is offered freely to the poorest creature of Adam’s family; so that such one as I, am warranted to accept and embrace it, and make sure my interest in it; “Lord, I believe, help Thou my unbelief.” Many covet other gifts, but I covet this best gift, this enriching gift; this is a lawful covetousness. I receive this gift of God into my bosom, into my very heart. Oh that I had the marks of those who possess this gift, and are truly thankful for it! Can I say that this gift is truly precious to my eyes, and that I esteem it far above all temporal gifts whatsoever? And do I frequently break out with the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee; and there is none upon earth I desire besides Thee?” Have I low thoughts of myself, as unworthy that Christ should come under my roof, reckoning myself with Paul, “the least of saints, and chief of sinners?” Do I renounce all Christ’s rivals and competitors? Do I count all my doings and duties “but loss and dung, for the righteousness of Christ?” Do I take the crown off every head, and put it upon Christ, and give Him all the glory of my salvation, and say, that “in the Lord Jesus only have I righteousness and strength.” Am I careful to avoid everything that would dishonour Christ, and say to every temptation that offers, “How shall I do this wickedness, and sin against God,” or bring a reproach upon Christ and His ways? Do I rejoice when Christ is honoured, His throne raised, His glory advanced, and His subjects increased; and when strangers and young ones are drawn to love and admire Him? Am I often saying, “What shall I render to the Lord for His unspeakable gift?” I am at a loss how to express my thankfulness. I have nothing to give Him; but I will render all I have to him, my soul, my body, my love, my praises, my time, my talents, my walk, and conversation. Lord, accept of my two poor mites, soul and body, in token of my gratitude for God’s redeeming love and free gift; and make me fit for giving Thee thanks eternally for this unspeakable gift. Oh that I could apply these blessed marks to myself!

And oh, what thanks do I owe my dear Saviour, that submitted willingly to be heaven’s gift to the children of men: yea, frankly offered, and gave Himself to be a sacrifice for them, to drink of the brook in the way, even the cup of God’s wrath, that we might drink the cup of God’s blessing! Oh how low was our fall, that nothing could raise us up again but the low abasement of the Son of God! And oh how low was the stoop that He behooved to make to recover us! The Son of God must be trod upon as a worm! The Almighty Physician must come from heaven, and let His heart be pierced, to prepare a medicine to cure our disease! He “that thought it no robbery to be equal with God,” must be made equal to robbers and murderers! He must not only suffer death, but desertion also, from God, from man, and the whole creation! Oh unspeakable gift! W