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is of the Lord's mercies that we are not con- To urge you to this four-fold review, Re sumed, because his compassions fail not." member the intimation we gave you at the
It will be a call to repentance. This al beginning of this address, and which is so ways commences in a conviction of sin, and fully expressed in the words of the Apostle is daily brought into exercise by fresh dis- "So then every one of us shall give account coveries of its remaining existence. “They of himself to God.” Therefore, judge yourshall come with weeping, and with supplica- selves, that you may not be condemned with tions will I lead them."
the wicked. This account will be personal, It will humble us. And we need every public, and impartial. “He will bring every check 'to pride, for we are prone to think work into judgment, with every secret thing, more highly of ourselves than we ought to whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” think. But what are we? Have we lived And whence will he bring them? From the a day without being fools, loiterers, undutiful book of his remembrance: there he has reservants, unfaithful stewards? And what corded all your means and mercies, troubles reason can we have to be proud ?
and sins. From the book of your own memoIt will promote charity. We shall be ten- ry: there also they are secured. For there der towards others, in proportion as we deal is a difference between remembrance and honestly and severely with ourselves. The memory; the former often fails, but what is most effectual way to take us off from be- inscribed upon the latter abides indelibly, and holding the mote in our brother's eye, is to only requires something to shine upon the employ ourselves in extracting the beam from letters to render it legible. Have you not our own. We have all our infirmities, though observed that what seemed dead in the mind, they may not be precisely of the same kind only required circumstances to revive it? with those which lead us so rigorously to With what freshness and force have things condemn others. We are all “in the body, long forgotten sprung up in the memory when and should consider ourselves, lest we also recalled by occurrences! Thus all the hisbe tempted."
tory of man will hereafter be re-traced—re. It will be a spur to diligence. Do you traced in order to be tried and tried in orask, in what are we to use diligence? This der to be approved or condemned. “Wheredepends, in some respects, upon the condition fore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such you are in. Perhaps to this hour some of things, be diligent that ye may be found of you have been anxious about every thing, him in peace, without spot, and blameexcept the pardon of your sins. While these less." remain unforgiven, the wrath of God abideth With this solemn thought, let us close the on you, and you are every moment in danger period of our time that is now going to be of sinking into the lowest hell. It is obvious numbered with the years before the Flood. ly therefore your duty, immediately and It has seen many carried down to their graves, earnestly to seek after an interest in Christ, and has brought us so much nearer our own. by whom alone you can be justified freely “ The fathers—where are they? And the from all things.
prophets, do they live for ever?" "Man But diligence equally becomes those of goeth to his long home, and the mourners go you who hope that you are already partakers about the strects.”. And when a few years of this blessing. You can never do enough are come, we shall go the way whence we for him who has saved you by his grace. shall not return. We are accomplishing, as You have much lost time to redeem: and an hireling, our days; and our neighbours, much lost ground to recover. When you our friends, our relations will soon seck us ought to have been running, you have been but—we shall not be. standing still —perhaps drawing back. Some
Let us sing : who began the divine life long after you, are
“Lord, what a feeble piece now far before you on the heavenly road. You are surrounded with dangers which re- Our life, how poor a trifle 'tis, quire incessant vigilance and prayer. You have a thousand mistakes to rectify, and “Alas, the brittle clay, numberless excellences to acquire. What is
Tnat built our body first!
And, ev'ry month, and ev'ry day, the life of a good man? What is it that dis
'Tis mould'ring back to dust. tinguishes him from others—but a faithful “Our moments fly a pace, investigation of his faults; an attention to
Just like a flood, our hasty days moral improvement; an endeavour to make
Are sweeping us away. each day a practical criticism on the past ?
* Well, if our days must fly, He observes how he was hindered : and re
We'll keep their end in sight; marks where he fell, or was likely to fall. We'll spend them all in wisdom's way, And thus he levies a contribution of profit
And let them speed their flight. even upon his losses; and derives wisdom "They'll waft us sooner o'er from his ignorance, strength from his weak
This life's tempestuous sea;
Soon we shall reach the peaceful shore ness, and zeal from his indifference.
of blest eternity."
Is this our mo tal frame!
That scarce deserves the name!
Nor will our minutes stay;
DISCOURSE XXXI. guish the apostles we
cise by Him who g OUR IGNORANCE OF FUTURITY.
Paul could discern (NEW YEAR'S DAY.)
to come—but in
rance, and could only. So soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
ties. Thus he said to the Ch. Phil. ii. 23.
“And now, behold, I go bound n. I HAVE the pleasure to address you on the unto Jerusalem, not knowing the thing. first day of another year. The day is only shall befall me there." He was now a pridistinguished from others by human institu- soner at Rome.-His trial was depending, tion; but this has given it various advantages but the result of it he was unable to deterand characters, natural and civil, intellectual mine. He could therefore only form his plan and moral. It is often a season of peculiar conditionally, and resolve to send Timothy to transactions; in which persons balance their the Philippians “so soon as he should see how accounts, commence business, form con- it would go with him.” nexions. It is a period marked by humanity And will this not apply more fully to our and benevolence. Children beseech time circumstances? mercifully to spare the guides of their youth. When we look into futurity, all that meets The father and mother hope to see their dear the eye is a dark unknown. Even in those offspring long coming around them. The cases in which God has announced things to husband congratulates the desire of his eyes, come, the prophecy is wrapped up in so much and the wife hails the companion of her jour- obscurity, that the fulfilment and the explaney. Friendship renews every lively desire; nation generally arrive together. We can and all, however indifferent at other times, previously ascertain nothing. And how often yield to custom, and wish your returns of this has this been exemplified in the calculations day to be many and happy.
of wise men-and some not very wise—with It is a season of thankfulness and joy. We regard to those predictions which remain to praise the Preserver of men, who has held be accomplished! Not only have they been our souls in life, and carried us through the drawn off from more useful duties, but they unnumbered dangers of another year--while have frequently survived their laborious our feelings are tempered to solemnity by the schemes, and been ashamed of the confidence reflection that many have finished their with which they have published them. After course, and that we look for some of our own gazing from the tower of their folly, they relations or acquaintances in vain.
found that God had gone by in another road For it is a period of seriousness and recol than that which they appointed him, and had leetion. It reminds us of the instability of used other instruments than those which they the world, and the rapidity of time. Of this had put into his hands. They did not consiindeed, every day and every hour should re- der that the advantage of prophecy is to be mind us; but the changes made, and the derived from the completion; and that so far losses oceasioned by these variations, are too is a previous knowledge of it from being necommon and inconsiderable to awaken reflec- cessary, that it would in many instances prove tion. But the termination of a year rouses hurtful, and often prevent the accomplisheven the careless, impresses even the insen- ment. It is not for us to know the times and sible. And if we do not allow the subject to the seasons which the Father hath put into operate on the mind, who does not feel for the his own power. moment the sentiment of Job, “When a few In the course of a few years only, how years are come, I shall go the way whence I have all our conjectures been disappointed ! shall not return ?"
More than once we had imagined that we had But there is another relation in which we seized the clew, and the skein of Providence may consider this day. When we begin a seemed likely to be unravelled; but suddenly new division of time, we naturally look for- we found it more entangled than before. And ward, and endeavour to penetrate our future would any one now undertake to determine condition. The prospect is intimately con- what will be the state of the nations of the nected with many of our duties, and will be earth a few months hence? come injurious or profitable, according to the Sometimes a cloud no bigger than a man's manner in which it is indulged. Let us then hand has overspread the heavens; and from confine our attention to this view of the sub- apparently inadequate causes events have ject. And consider, I. OUR INABILITY TO arisen the most astonishing : while, on the DETERMINE OUR FUTURE CIRCUMSTANCES. II. other hand, the best-concerted plans and the SHOW WHAT USE WE SHOULD MAKE OF Our most powerful resources have failed. Some IGNORANCE. III. SEARCH FOR SOMETHING TO are offended at the word chance; but the SATISFY AND COMFORT US, UNDER ALL OUR Scripture employs it, and it is no improper
term. If indeed we apply it to God, it is I. Though the endowments which distin-profane-for “ known unto God are all his
SUSPENSION AND UNCERTAINTY.
MAKE OF THIS IGNORANCE.
is of thetrom the beginning; his counsel shall | it assemble together on the return of this day! sumed, and he will do all his pleasure.” But The wife may be seen in widowed weeds! Itit counsel is to him, chance is to us. We The children may appear orphans ! The sis
ter may say, “ Alas: my brother!" y low nothing before it arrives. The conseuences of things would be known if these Let us, 11. Show whAT USE WE SHOULD things themselves moved on in one even regular course, and always terminated uni- Let us learn from it our littleness; let us formly in the same manner-but when we confess that we are nothing, and that God is see them often turning up contrary to their all in all. “Vain man would be wise;" and natural tendency-when we see that “the there is nothing of which he is so proud as race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the his knowledge—but there is nothing that strong, nor yet bread to the wise, nor riches should make him more humble. For what to men of understanding, nor favour to men can we know! "Who knoweth what is good of skill"-our anticipations must be always for man in this life, all the days of his vain liable to uncertainty. “ Time and chance life which he spendeth as a shadow ? For happeneth to them all."
who can tell a man what shall be after him What says your own history? He has under the sun ?" Can he distinguish between led you, but it has been by “a way which appearances and reality? Can he see the you knew not;" and perhaps you hardly combination, the dependences, and the effects know it now. How wonderful have been the of things? Does he “boast himself of toremovals of your habitation, and the connex- morrow," when he “ knoweth not what a day ions which you have formed! How strange may bring forth ?” “The way of man is not and unlooked-for have been both your friends in himself: it is not in man that walketh to and your enemies! Some have acquired direct his steps." Are we then qualified to be wealth, and others filled offices towards our own guides, or to manage our own affairs? which they could not have formerly aspired. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and Had these changes a few years before been lean not unto thine own understanding. In foretold, they would have appeared incredi- all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall ble; and the subjects of them would have said, direct thy paths. “He shall choose our in“If the Lord should make windows in heaven, heritance for us." “ Lord, my heart is not might this thing be!"
haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do 1 So little have we been capable of judging exercise myself in great matters, or in things aright, that we have in a thousand instances too high for me. Surely I have behaved and mistaken our real welfare: we have desired quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of enjoyments which would have been a snare; his mother: my soul is even as a weaned and have been afraid of trials which have child." proved to be some of our chief mercies. When Secondly. Since we cannot see how things he was approaching to "empty us from ves- will go with us, we should beware of presel to vessel"—to keep us from “settling upon sumption. “Go to now, ye that say, today our lees;" when he came to prune away our or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and suckers—that we “might bring forth more continue there a year, and buy and sell, and fruit;" we mistook the friend for an enemy; get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be and said, “ All these things are against me,' on the morrow.” The Apostle here gives us when they were “all working together for the scheme of an unsanctified tradesman. He our good !"
resolves to go without delay to some place Nor have you any information that can en- where he can carry on business to advantage. able you to see how things will go with you His aim is not fraud, but fair gain in the lawfor a single year. You know not how it will ful way of buying and selling. And where go with your health this year-what seeds is the harm of all this ? Is not diligence laudof disorder may spring up in your frame; what able? Are we not commanded to provide for accidents may befall your persons. You know our own house? Wherein then does this man not how it will go with your circumstances appear blameable? Perhaps he was actuated this year—what losses or successes you may by avarice; and was seeking not a subsistence, experience; what new scenes of enjoyment but a splendid independence. Perhaps he was may be opened, or what old ones may be dried influenced by imprudence, and was not aware up. You know not how it will go with your of the bad effects of roving abroad, or of relations this year-whether you will be in- changing his scene of action: for “as a dulged with their continuance or stripped of bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man their company. Perhaps the eye of Provi- that wandereth from his place:” and “a rolldence now sees the hearse standing before ing stone gathers no moss.” This may be your door; and you trying to go in to take a true—but what this man is here condemned last view of your happiness, before it be com- for is this God is not in all his thoughts. mitted to “the house appointed for all living." These words, “ I will,” are too big for him. The Lord preserve this family! but in what Regardless of God, he engages to live a year, different circumstances may the members of land all the year to be successful. He seems
to exclude the possibility of sickness or acci-| events are entirely his. And he says to us, dents; of unfaithful servants or insolvent as the king did to his prime minister: "Atdebtors: of dear purchases and cheap sales : tend you to my affairs, and I will attend to as if he foresaw and secured all the events yours.' “ Take therefore no thought for the of the year himself-While he was not sure morrow: for the morrow shall take thought that he should be able even to begin his jour- for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the ney, and knew not what should be even on day is the evil thereof. Be careful for nothing; the morrow. Well does the Apostle call this but in every thing by prayer and supplication rejoicing boasting," and say, that “all such with thanksgiving let your requests be made rejoicing is evil.”
known unto God. And the peace of God Things may be within the reach of our which passeth all understanding, shall keep knowledge and not of our power; but how your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. can that be within the reach of our power Such is the temper and the business of a that does not fall under our knowledge? How Christian. The child at school is not to lean can we ward off dangers of which we are not his elbow on the table, and vex himself by apprized ? How can we arrange and regulate thinking how he shall find raiment, how he occurrences of which we can have no fore- shall get home, how the expense of his edusight? Now this is our case. We know only cation is to be defrayed. He is a learner; he the present; and what superstructure can we is to mind his book—the father requires no build on such a narrow foundation? How more of him-he will provide. The farmer often, even while forming a plan, has the lapse is not to muse from day to day about the of a few days so varied circumstances, that weather, “perhaps it may not be a fine season we have been compelled to new model it, or -there may be a blight and all my labour to abandon it altogether! “ Let no man de- may be lost.” No: but he is to act; he goes ceive himself. If any man among you seem- forth bearing precious seed, commits it to the eth to be wise in this world, let him become ground, and then pursues his other business a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom and what can his anxiety do afterwards? of this world is foolishness with God. For it "So is the kingdom of God, as if a man is written, “ He taketh the wise in their own should cast seed into the ground, and should craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the sleep, and rise, night and day, and the seed thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. He should spring and grow up, he knoweth not leadeth counsellors a way spoiled, and maketh how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of the judges fools.”
herself, first the blade, then the ear, after that We dare not infer the future from the pre- the full corn in the ear.” The soldier is to sent. David erred here. After he had been learn his exercise, to obey the word of comdelivered from Saul, and other enemies, he mand, to keep his arms bright, to be always tells us that he had too much confidence. And at the post assigned him; but he is not to negin "my prosperity I said, I shall never be lect all this, by busying himself in drawing moved. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made plans of the campaign, and describing the my mountain to stand strong:" but hear what duties of the general. he adds—"Thou didst hide thy face, and I Finally. Our ignorance of what may be was troubled.” The rich have been often fall us should lead us to seek after a preparastripped of their wealth; and the caressed of tion for all events. Do you ask, where shall their honour. Many a fair morning has turn- we find it? I answer, in the blessed influence ed out a very stormy day.
of Divine grace. This drew prayer from Thirdly, the same considerations which Jacob when he went forth with a staff; and should check presumption, should also prevent praise when he returned with a fortune. This despair. Seeing we know not how it will go preserved Daniel in the court of Darius and with us, why should we look only for evil? in the lion's den. This enabled Paul to say, It may be far better than the foreboding of I know both how to be abased, and I know our fears. Our deliverance may be much how to abound: everywhere and in all things nearer than we imagine.
I am instructed both to be full and to be hun
gry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can "The Lord can clear the darkest skies, Can give us day for night,
do all things through Christ which strengthMake drops of sacred sorrow rise
And seeing we have not the orTo rivers of delight.”
dering of the weather, nor the choice of our Indeed, our extremity is often his opportunity. food-happy is the man, whose constitution It is often darkest just before break of day. enables him to bear any weather, and whose And when the ebbing of the tide is lowest, appetite enables him to relish any food. the flowing is nearest.
This leads us, III. To inquire WHAT THERE Fourthly. Since we see not how it will go IS TO ENCOURAGE US UNDER ALL THIS DARKwith us, let us draw off our attention from NESS AND UNCERTAINTY. You say, I see not future events to present duties. We are to how it will go with me. And it is well you cast not our work, but our care upon the do not. You know as much as it is good for Lord Duty and means belong to us, but you. For it is with the mind as it is with the
To welcome traveller's hoine."
And never, never sin;
A greater degree of hearing would | that "God is faithful, who will not suffer you incommode us; and a nicer degree of seeing to be tempted above that ye are able ; but would terrify us. If our eyes could see things will with the temptation also make a way to microscopically, we should be afraid to move. escape, that ye may be able to bear it." In Thus our knowledge is suited to our situa- a word, and is it not enough to know this? tion and circumstances. Were we informed -you know that “all things work together beforehand of the good things prepared for for good to them that love God; to them that us by Providence, from that moment we are the called according to his purpose.” should cease to enjoy the blessings we pos; You say, You see not how it will go with sess, become indifferent to present duties, and you. But your ignorance only regards time : be filled with restless impatience. Or sup- all in eternity is sure. Beyond this land of pose the things foreknown were gloomy and darkness dwells everlasting light. Your unadverse, what dismay and despondency would certainty only regards the roughness or be the consequence of the discovery! and smoothness of the way-for you know what how many times should we suffer in imagin- stands at the end of it-It is your Father's ation what we now only endure once in real- house, where are many mansions ! ity! Who would wish to draw back a vail
* See the kind angels at the gates that saves them from so many disquietudes !
Inviting us to come; If some of you had formerly known the
There Jesus the forerunner waits troubles through which you have since waded, you would have fainted under the Yes, you know how it will go with you there. prospect.
There you will “enter into peace;" there You say, You see not how it will
“ the days of your mourning will be ended;"
go with you ; but God does. And he is there you will be " for ever with the Lord!"
your friend, and your father, and loves you better
“There-shall we see his face, than you love yourselves, and is far more
There from the rivers of his grace concerned for your happiness than you can
Drink endless pleasures in." be. “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, Ah! blessed privilege—and happy they O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and who can enjoy it! They have enough to remy judgment is passed over from my God ?" lieve them in every distress. Their afflicNothing is hid from him. “He knows thy tions must be light and momentary indeed, walking through this great wilderness. He when they are persuaded that they are workknows thy soul in adversity.” He sees all ing out for them a far more exceeding and thy dangers and all thy wants. Nothing can eternal weight of glory. But this is not my surprise him whose eyes are in every place. case. My perplexity seems to increase in Nothing can elude his notice who numbers proportion as I advance. To me the other the heirs of thy head. When Abraham was world seems darker than this; and it is a called to leave his own country, and his gloomy valley that leads to it. Oh! if I father's house, he obeyed; and “ he went out, knew that all would end well!—But this is not knowing whither he went.” But though that which adds a pressure to every burden, he knew not " whither he went,” he knew and embitters all my comforts—I see not how with whom: he knew that he followed a it will go with me at Last.” guide who could not lead him astray. And My Christian friend : I designed not by thus Job relieved his mind under a pressure what I have said, to intimate that such a perof perplexity: “Behold, I go forward, but he suasion is essential to your safety, but only is not there; and backward, but I cannot that it is a desirable privilege; and in this perceive him: on the left hand, where he we are agreed. But remember it is attainadoth work, but I cannot behold him : he ble. You may have “a good hope through hideth himself on the right band, that I can- grace,” and the full assurance of hope.” not see him: but he knoweth the way that I | You are commanded to seek it. In the mean take: when he hath tried me, I shall come time, I would observe, that the solicitude you forth as gold."
feel, is no bad evidence in your favour. 'In You say, You see not how it will go with proportion as the mind feels the importance you. But you know, “that it shall be well of salvation, it longs for certainty, and, fearwith them that fear God.” You know that ful of deception, is not satisfied with slender if you are his, though your way may be evidence. "May the Lord, you are now fol. thorny, “ your shoes shall be iron and brass;" lowing sorrowful and in darkness, shine upon and that as “ your day is, so shall your your path, and “fill you with all joy and strength be.” You know that love is the peace in believing, that you may abound in spring of all your trials, as well as of your hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." comforts. And that though no “chastening But if we cannot begin the new year with for the present seemeth to be joyous, but confidence and joy, let us do it with seriousgrievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth ness and prayer. Let us resolve to walk bethe peaceable fruit of righteousness to them fore him in newness of life. Let us commit which are exercised thereby." You know ourselves to the care of his Providence, to