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strength and ability, with decency and reverence, can have none of these evil consequences : and the practice of this duty, at fit times, and in a reasonable degree, is an excellent remembrancer of the wretchedness of being attached to any sensual gratifications, and the easiness, as well as necessity, at fit times, to forbear them.
The Importance of Time in relation to Eternity.
Another week is past; another of those little limited portions of time, which number out my life. Let me stop a little here, before I euter upon a new one, and consider what this life is, which is thus imperceptibly stealing away, and whither it is conducting me. What is its end and aim, its good and its evil, its use and improvement ? What place does it fill in the universe? What proportion does it bear to eternity?
This mortal life is the beginning of existence to beings made for inmortality, and graciously de. signed, unless by wilful guilt they forfeit it, for everlasting happiness. Compared with eternity, its longest duration is less than a moment; therefore its good and evil, considered without a regard to the influence they mily have on an eternity to come, must be trifling to a degree below contempt. The short scene, begun in birth, and closed by death, is acted over millions of times, in every age; and all the little concerns of mortality are pursued, transacted, and forgotten, like the labours of a bee-hive, or the bustle of an ant-hill. The thing which hatb
been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done, is that which shall be done : and there is no new thing under the sun.” Our wisdom, therefore, is to pass through this busy dream as calmly as we can, and not suffer ourselves to be more deeply attached to any of these transitory things, than the momentariness and unimportance of them deserves.
But considering this short life as a probation for eternity, as a trial whose issue is to determine our everlasting state ; its importance to ourselves appears beyond expression great, and fills a right mind with equal awe and transport. The important day will come, when there shall be a new thing indeed, but not“ under the sun :” for “ heaven and earth shall pass away;" but the words of him, who created them, “ shall not pass away.”
What then is the good or the evil of life, but as it has a tendency to prepare or unfit us for that deci. sive day, when “ the Son of man shall come in the clouds with great power and great glory, and shall send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds?”—that Son of man, who is the Son of God, “ blessed for evermore," and once before came down from heaven, and took upon him this our mortal nature, with all its innocent infirmities and sufferings; and subjected himself even to the death of the cross, that he might redeem us from all our sins, and obtain the gift of everlasting life for all who should not wilfully frustrate this last and greatest effort of divine mercy,
Whát then have we to do, but with love and gra. titude unutterable to embrace the offers of salvation, and henceforth become in every thing his true and faithful disciples ? To whom should we live but to him wbo died for us? To whom should we give up ourselves, but to him who gave up himself for us, whose “ yoke is easy, and his burden light ?” In whom should we trust, but in eternal truth? In whom should we cheerfully hope, but in infinite goodness? Whom should we copy, but him, who was made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted, and has left us an example, that we should “ follow his steps ?” Which if we do faithfully to the utmost of our power, his grace shall so assist us, that in the end we shall be where he is, to behold his glory, and partake his bliss.
Let me think then, and think deeply, how I have employed this week past. Have I advanced in, or deviated from the path that leads to life? Has my time been improved or lost, or worse than lost, misspent ? If the last, let me use double diligence to redeem it. Have I spent a due portion of my time in açts of devotion and piety, both private, public, and domestic; and have they been sincere, and free from all mixture of superstition, moroseness, or weak scrupulosity? Have I, in society, been kind and helpful, mild, peaceable, and obliging ? Have I been charitable, friendly, discreet? Have I had a due regard, without vanity or ostentation, to set a good example? Have I been equally ready to give and receive instruction and proper advice; careful to give no offence, and patient to take every thing in good part? Have I been honest, upright, and disinterested ? Have I, in my way,
and according to my station and calling, been diligent, frugal, generous, and industrious to do good ? Have I, in all my behaviour, consulted the happiness and ease of those I live with, and of all who have any dependence upon me? Have I preserved my understanding clear, my temper calm, my spirits cheerful, my body temperate and healthy, and my heart in a right frame? If to all these questions I can humbly, yet confidently answer, that I have done my best; if I have truly repented all the faulty past, and made humble, yet firm, and vigorous, and deliberate resolutions for the future; poor as it is, the honest endeavour will be graciously accepted ; and I may to-morrow gladly and securely approach the sacred table, and partake of that bread of life, which our blessed Saviour gave, to nourish to all goodness those who receive it worthily, and to be not only the means of grace, but the pledge of glory. Amen.