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RESOLUTIONS FOR THE YEAR.
We spend our years as a tale that is told. It is high time to awake out of sleep. This year thou shalt die.
ARE you prepared to meet your God? The last setting sun has added one more to the number of your years. What report has it carried to your Judge? Has it recorded in eternal lines your usefulness or your indolence; your self denial or your indulgence; your devotion or your impiety? God's judgment will be as exact as his memory. What you have sown, that you will surely reap. If the last year has convinced you of the lapse of time, the decays of age, the frailty of human life, the certainty of death and the need of preparation; what are the resolutions which this day requires?
You must put a new value upon time. You must remember that time, unheeding your delays, mindless of your wishes, travels on with a noiseless, but inexorable step. Unaccommodating to your sloth, the awful Now asks you but once to embrace it, then turns its back upon you, and your hands are stretched out after it in vain. All you hope to accomplish, must be done in the few days of the uncertain future. If you have neglected, till this period, the cultivation of your intellectual powers, and the establishment of religious principles, you have added another chain to the bonds of moral servitude; the bonds which moral fortitude has to burst asunder. Reformation in you will now require another struggle, and the resolution necessary to enter upon it another sinew. The God whom your moral indolence has displeased from day to day, has suspended your punishment from year to year. Shall not this fresh proof of divine clemency melt the frozen bosom of ingratitude? Has your heavenly Father, ever thoughtful for your good, preserved you in life and loadyou with blessings, only that you should be forgetful of him? Are you in youth,-resolve this day, that you will be industrious in order to be useful; and virtuous in order to be happy. Let this coming year witness your increasing efforts to gratify your parents and friends, by your intellectual and religious improvement. Jesus Christ increased in wisdom as he increased in age; and so can you.
Are you in middle life,—now is your time for great efforts, great sacrifices and great attainments. Time to you is of exceeding value. Waste not an hour. Remember, that while you fold up your hands, time folds not up his wings. Prevent the lethargy of your best energies. Do what you can do; for this is the measure of your duty.
Are you in age, and have many years witnessed your virtue? You know its delights and its consolations-well done, good and faithful servant. But, if your hoary head tells only of your vices, religion has no consolation for you. Habitual sin cannot enter the kingdom of God. You may repent, and yet receive the benefits promised to the deeply sorrowful and the truly converted.-Christ is an all sufficient Redeemer, able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him.
Whatever your age or condition, recollect, that this year you may die-and are you now what you hope to be when death summons you to judgment ?
"Count that day lost whose low descending sun
Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence.
We should fix our thoughts upon God. We are to spend with him an eternity. He has communicated to us his own image; endowed us with wonderful powers of body and mind; subjected the visible world to our use, and surrounded us with accommodations. Not only vast temporal benefits but great spiritual mercies we have received from God. He has sent his Son a divine Redeemer to a guilty world, to open the way of reconciliation and peace. He has also promised to us the earnest of his spirit, to conspire with all the purposes and efforts of grace conducing to human salvation. He has become the repairer of our decayed frames, the enlivener of our dead souls; the infuser of spiritual light into our dark minds; the kindler of spiritual warmth in our cold hearts; the imparter of spiritual strength to our feeble powers, and the author of glorious liberty to captives under the vassalage of lust and passion. He has promised to aid us in the performance of our duties; in fulfilling the conditions of salvation, in order to our becoming sons of God. He is our guide in the ways of truth, our counsellor in all doubts, our support in all needs, our succour in all distresses, our guard against temptation, our comforter in sadness, our monitor in peril and our friend at all times. He enables us to cherish good thoughts, kindle holy desires, strengthen pious resolutions and further honest endeavours.
He teaches us how to pray, and then answers our prayers; he gives us great bounties, and then tells us how to relish them; he imparts opportunities, and advises how to improve them; he arms us with power, and instructs us where to be useful; he fires us with passions, and then metes out their limits and uses. He has filled us with earthly and celestial attributes, and then marked out to each its station and glory. He excites us to action by every proper stimulant, and regulates that action by every religious motive. He has made us all we are, and promised us all we hope for.
What then can we return God for his manifold goodness? Let us give him glory for all the good works performed by us; all the good fruit growing in us, and all the good habits established in us. Let not our souls be barred against him by vain conceits and vicious inclinations, but let us make them holy temples of his divinity, royal thrones of his majesty, bright orbs of his heavenly light, and welcome abodes of his blissful presence. Let us remember, that the only way of coming to happiness in the next world, is coming to God in this.
Songs of immortal praise belong
Be thine my heart, my life, my tongue,
To fear thy power, to trust thy grace
And he's the wisest of our race,
REFLECTIONS ON WINTER.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.— Thou hast made summer and winter.
IMPRESSIVE lessons of religious wisdom are deducible from the bleakness and inclemency of winter. It is the season of solemnity. The sun withdraws his light as though enfeebled in his power. Desolation and death reign every where; and no promise seems written upon the dreariness. Where is our hope? It is in God. The annual miracle of a mighty resurrection is erelong to be repeated, and these frostbound fields will reassume their robes of beauty. While the night of winter has sunk in heaviness, joy has as uniformly attended the morning of spring. These appearances lead us to see divine wisdom, to feel divine power and to trust divine goodness.
There is in winter an obvious analogy to old age; to the darkened eye, the decaying frame, and the hoary head upon which the snows of time have fallen. Let not the winter of our days be gloomy. The goodness which called us into life, is the same goodness which withdraws us the care which has presided over our progress will be present at its termination: the love which made kind provision for us when born into time, will also make like provision for us when born into eternity. Revelation assures us, that an everlasting spring shall visit the grave, and that the virtuous spirit shall put off corruption, and be clothed with immortality.
Winter has an analogy to those who mourn. In this unfinished state of being, how many suffer under the unexplained visitations of sorrow! They weep over unforeseen domestic trials; or are consigned to the cold neglect of worldly obscurity; or grieve over the ashes of those they loved. Arrived at the moral winter of their being, this night of sorrow should teach the graces of adversity. There is comfort in the gospel and the providence of God. The clouds which envelope them will disappear, and the voice of resignation and joy will be heard amid the promises of another season. It is not the momentary state but the final issue which is to be regarded; and if from the sorrows of earth they reap the joys of heaven, this day of affliction will have answered its purpose. While therefore they see the storms of winter preparing the earth for the blossoms of another spring, let them be the sign of those kind severities by which God prepares humble souls for everduring glories.
Let us all see God in the varying seasons, and convert the world into a temple of the all present Deity. Man alone looks through nature up to nature's God. Solemn indeed is this great privilege. Let us devoutly trust. Let us piously adore. Amid the wastes of winter, faith sees a promise rise out of the dreariness, and sorrow finds an emblem of a state where we shall reap in joy. Shrouded by the winter of our moral nature, may that mind be formed and those dispositions nursed, which are to be reawakened under the influence of a greater spring; and which are to exist when the revolutions of seasons are past and when time itself shall be no more.
Grateful for every blessing past,
GOSPEL ADAPTED TO MAN'S CONDITION.
I am the way and the truth and the life.
JESUS CHRIST is the true way to eternal life. The gospel is a system perfectly adapted to the probationary state of man. is light to the darkness of his reason, peace to the tumult of his conscience, joy to the anguish of his soul and hope to the gloom of his despondency.-Is he guilty ?-it presents a sufficient Saviour. Is he polluted?-it opens to him a fountain for the uncleanliness of sin. Is he alienated from God ?—here is a medium of approach, a way of access. Is he the victim of ignorance and errour?-here then he receives the lessons of a heavenly prophet, and becomes wise to salvation. Does he feel himself the subject of passions which lead him astray?-here is an example to subdue his passions, to curb his lusts and to control his will. In every point of view, the gospel meets his case. Is he a sinner?-it offers pardon. Is he a debtor ? -It presents him the merciful conditions of his discharge. Is he a captive?—it gives him liberty. Is he an endangered heir of glory? -it restores him to his throne and constitutes him a king and a priest unto God. Is he thirsty ?—it is a river of life. Is he weary?it is a delightful repose. Is he ignorant ?-it is a divine instructer. Is he diseased?-it is immortal health and vigour to his soul. Is he dying?—it is eternal life. This is the prevailing character of its proclamations, the general style of its appeal; 'Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. The Spirit and the bride say, come, and whosoever will, let him come and drink of the water of life freely. Come unto me, all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'
Under the influences of a devout spirit, the gospel still proves itself possessed of uncontroulable power over every one who really receives it. It pierces the conscience; it softens the heart; it purifies the soul. The lover of pleasure hears it, and becomes a lover of God; the thoughtless trifler is struck by it, and for the first time begins to reflect and pray; the sensualist as he listens to its sayings, tears his lusts from his heart; and the man who before loyed and served the world, turns his back on it, and tramples its sins and follies underneath his feet, while he fixes his eyes on heaven. Thus has the gospel brought thousands to righteousness, whom the moral law could not have reclaimed; and thus has it proved its superiour glory by its superiour influence over the hearts of mankind.
The Gospel reflects the image of God. It is divine in its origin, free in its communications, satisfying in its effects, constant in its supplies, active in its operations, merciful in its frowns and glorious in its results. It is every where concise, simple, original, animated, interesting, dignified: its precepts are important, its morality perfect, its doctrines practical, its sentiments sublime, its views ennobling and its sanctions eternal.
Large is the bounty of his hand!
BEST USE OF THE STUDY OF NATURE.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work.-Thou has made man a little lower than the angels.
THE study of nature ought to be made subservient to religion.— Let philosophy be the handmaid of theology. There is not a star in the heavens, nor a flower in the fields, nor an attribute in man, which does not declare the glory of God. To look upon nature, therefore, without any reference to its author, to admire the work without admiring the workman, is folly, is stupidity, is atheism. How cold is the heart and how dull the understanding of that man, who, contemplating the magnificent spectacle of the heavens, feels no pious emotions arising in his breast, and is completely absorbed in the speculations of science! He is not to be envied, although the voice of fame should pronounce him the first of philosophers, who sees nothing in the universe but matter and motion; and having pointed out, perhaps more successfully than others, its constitution and laws, still refuses to acknowledge an intelligent agent, who made and governs it. While the advances of science have shed new light on the pages of inspiration, it is to be deeply regretted that, in this enlightened age, there should be any to whom the severe but well founded remark of a sacred writer, concerning the sages of antiquity, may be, with so much justice, applied: 'professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.'
Design proves a designer. The world is full of exhibitions of great power, wisdom and love. The belief of God's existence is attended with the most delightful consequences. The conviction of an omnipotent Creator, an omniscient Providence, and infinitely wise Governor of the universe, invests the whole of nature with a new and pleasing aspect. Man alone looks through nature up to nature's God. The present state of man becomes part of a general plan of administration, which tends to the most substantial happiness of the moral and intellectual creation apparent defects are made subservient to general perfection, and partial evil is resolved into universal good. Deity is then beheld in the whole economy of nature.— His perfection is displayed in every appearance of symmetry, elegance and beauty that shines in his works. His wisdom is announced in the admirable design and contrivance, which the structure of every substance and part exhibits. His goodness is proclaimed in the provision made for the comfort and happiness of all sensitive creatures in their capacities of enjoyment. The soul of man particularly points to a divine power and energy; since its highest exaltation consists in its resemblance to the Father of light. It would feel degraded if it could not go back to connect itself with him, and could not feel destined to an eternal union with his all-glorious attributes:
We sing of God, the mighty source
Of all things, the stupendous force
On which all things depend:
All period, power and enterprise,
Commence, and reign, and end.