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end of this life, the end of our day of grace, the end of the period which God gives us in which to see if we will serve him or not. It is quite true, that if we have not made the choice before, it will be out of our power when once we have died, when once the thread of our present life is cut off. Even with all the added light that is ours, it is yet absolutely true, that when the breath of man goeth forth his probation closes with it, his power to do God's service, “ For in death no man remembereth Thee, and who will give Thee thanks in the pit ?” “ The living, the living, he shall praise Thee, as I do this day.”
Yes, the living ! those in whom there is the warm motion of human life : which God breathed into them when they were born. These, and not the dead, may praise their God. To them it is still open to enter into the Temple gates and pray. To them is the word of His salvation still sent. To them, idlers, though they may have been in times past, loath and slow to yield Him any service, the placable Householder still offers the opportunity, says to them-yea, even at the eleventh hour“ Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right that shall ye receive.”
And shall we, brethren, who are thus invited, who are living men and women, called by the Master to a more diligent and single service, shall we trifle any longer with Him ? Shall we wait, and waste the one
more hour, till our sun go down, and the night cometh, when no one can work? O, surely not. We will prize higher the great gift of life than to waste it any more in idleness : or to expend it any more on a wrong object.
And remember, every life is wasted, every life is a misspent life which is not led to the glory and praise of God.
To lead such a life we must begin early. It is a great mistake to put off serving God till we are old, to suppose that religion is the proper occupation of the aged and infirm. Religion-by which we mean “The loving mercy, and doing justly, and walking humbly with our God "--cannot be begun too early. It should strengthen with our strength, and grow with our growth. “Remember now,” says Solomon, “Thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, in which thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” Give God the best of thy days, the firstling of thy strength, and do not think to put Him off with only the feeble service of the latter end, the dregs and leavings of a wasted and waning life. “The living, the living !” --those who yet retain all their power and all their faculties—"they shall praise Thee"-as I do this
There is reason enough at all times why men should lay to heart this counsel. But it comes upon us with
unusual force at this moment. For this is the First Day, the First Sunday of the New Year. Last night saw the close of one more of those threescore and ten years which mark the limit of our pilgrimage. Last night when in the still hours of her middle course, the sweet Church bells were heard ringing suddenly --the old year died. And to-day comes up the New Year! with its hopes, its trials, its sorrows, its joys, all as yet in obscurity-yet behind the veil-one thing alone is certain, that we are so much nearer to our latter end, that life is shortening, that death is coming on. Since this day twelvemonth some who lived amongst us, near neighbours, dear friends, have been removed. And if we go out of our own circle, what losses have we to deplore : what famous voices are silent, in Parliament, in the Church, at the Bar. What hands skilful in art and letters have dropped the instrument, pen, brush or chisel, which had made them famous ! How many amongst the mighty and great, as well as from the unnamed crowd, have fallen! The year which found them at its beginning as likely to live-aye, as more likely to live-than ourselves, has proved their last year. They cannot praise their Maker any more, as we do this day. They cannot sing the Lord's song any more on earth to the stringed instruments in the House of the Lord !
For good or for evil their trial is over, their fight is fought, their race is run. They, as we say, have got through!
And how soon may that be said of ourselves! We cannot all of us hope to be alive when this new year shall be over. There will be again ere it closes, as there have been in times past, breaches in families : here one taken, there another. The separating of dear ties, the removal of beloved faces. When and where the stroke may fall is mercifully hidden. But surely, not the youngest, not the strongest, much less the weak and aged, can boast himself of to-morrow. All we can count upon as suremas our own-is the present moment.
May God teach us to use it wisely! May He who inclines our hearts to His service, so guard our steps from every evil way, that we may live the remainder of our days, be they few or many, to His glory.
For so living, -and only when so living—we need not be afraid to die. God's true servant has a sure refuge against all that can happen. When the earthly house of his mortal tabernacle is broken up-removed from him as a shepherd's tent—he has another, a better, more lasting shelter provided for him he has a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens !
OF THE CENTURION'S
Third Sunday after the Epiphany.
ST, MATT. VIII, 13.
“And Jesus said unto the Centurion, “Go thy way, and as thou hast believed so be it done unto thee."
The Collect for to-day and the Gospel for to-day go very well together. In the Collect we pray Almighty God “To look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities to stretch forth His right hand to help and defend us,” and in the Gospel, taken from St. Matthew, viiith chapter, we have an example of this very help, we behold our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, stretching forth His merciful hand to heal a man of his leprosy, one of the worst