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few years are come, and you go the way whence you shall not return, there will no one meet you to save you but Jesus Christ-this Son of God, this everlasting friend. Learn, then, now to love the Lord your God for this His greatest mercy: repent you of all your past sins and consider well the way that leads to everlasting life! And, O merciful Father, who wouldest not the death of a sinner, but that he should repent and live, have mercy upon these thy servants: blot out all their past transgressions give them grace and favour in thy sight and let them see how great things thou hast done for their souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Believe me, your affectionate friend,
ALMIGHTY GOD, who hast taught us that hope that is seen is not hope, but that we are saved by hope, mercifully grant that with the spirit of charity we may hope all things for the best, and anticipate a blessed immortality, through Jesus Christ our Lord. -Amen.
Where is now my hope?-JOв xvii. 15.
MY DEAR FRIENDS-Take away hope from the heart of man, and you destroy the only joy which can animate his prospects either in the life that now is or in the life to come. The man who ploughs his fields and sows his corn, both ploughs and sows in hope: he has confidence in Him who gives him rain and fruitful seasons that He will so far crown his labours with success, as to let the earth bring forth abundantly the fruit of the seed sown upon it. His faith is first manifested in preparing the soil, then in sowing his corn, and then he must leave it: "the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it until he receive the former and latter rain;" but having done all that lay in his power-having replenished and subdued the earth so as to bring it into the most productive state, he rests from his labours thereupon, and looks that it bring forth fruit in due season. His hope is that he may see the little furrows watered from
above, that the young blade may spring up-that the showers from heaven and the sunbeams after the clouds may so fertilize the earth as to give him promise of an abundant crop: hope animates him as he sees the usual indications of coming spring; and, unless those hopes be nipped in the bud by some unforeseen calamity, he feels confident that the orderly course of nature will not give him disappointment, but that God will give the increase.
His hope, then, is in God, and sweet is his hope who knows that God-that He is so bountiful as to make his sun rise upon the good and upon the bad, and sendeth rain upon the just and upon the unjust; but, if he thinks a little while, he must perceive that there must come a time when those very lands must look dark in his eyes, and all his labours and hopes of profit must be for others to reap, when the clouds of heaviness shut out the lights of earthly hope, and with Job he is made to exclaim-"Where is now my hope ?"
Happy man! who can lie down to rest having no desire in his soul, saving that the same God who will gather him to his fathers will continue His mercies to those who are to come after him, and bless even his vanishing labours for their benefit! Thus does a good man leave his inheritance for his children's children, and a blessing for ages yet to come. So with the labourer: he has hope-he knows that God gives him health and strength, and that though none are without difficulties, that industry and application will assuredly meet with reward: his hope is not that blind and foolish fancy which thinks that any good is to arise from laziness-that if he neither labours nor plants, nor digs his soils, nor clears his
land, nor works at all, spontaneous produce will spring up whether he is industrious or not. "The slothful man (says Solomon) roasteth not that which he took in hunting, but the fruit of the diligent is precious." The sluggard says, "There is a lion without. I shall be slain in the streets;" so he will not rise to labour, but folds his arms a little longer in his bed and gets into lazy, self-indulgent habits, until his difficulties increase; so that, like a host of armed men, they are not to be subdued, and he finds first one master, then another, give him up, until degarded and miserable he is himself without support, and the happiness of his life is gone; he is led to exclaim at last" Where is now my hope?" Hope never forsakes the faithful. Aye, remember this, young man -hope never forsakes the faithful! Even in the darkest days of affliction_even when the clouds of adversity rise like monsters to hide the sun-the faithful will still hope against hope for that good which he sees not, but assuredly looks for, it and it will come.
Let but a man use the humble means which are at his disposal-let him but cast his bread upon the waters and be faithful-he shall find it return to him in God's own time beyond all doubt. As we grow older in life, and things wear a different aspect than they did in our youth when our ideas were green and our inexperience alone flourishing, we begin to see things assuming that position of truth which, in our younger days, we thought far distant. As it was in the days of Noah, so is it in our day: the sun shines, the same earth produces the same fruit, men labour and toil thereupon, seed-time and harvest continue, day and night, winter and summer. But as we grow in years we see our hopes change, and
things we cherished fondly in prospect, when either possessed or vanished, leave us to learn that disappointment is attached to all such fleeting things, and we cannot find any of them permanent. Scarcely will a man believe how short and unsatisfactory is any thing upon which he places his hopes. In the possession of the object, be it what it may, he finds many evils coming with it, unforeseen circumstances crowd in upon the very object of his delight, and after all, whatever it was, it brings him very little satisfaction; and when he has it his hopes are fled, and he likewise exclaims with the patriarch
"Where is now my hope?" Oh, look you where you will in life, high up amidst the most ambitious sons of glory who march through fire and sword, or plow the ocean in ships as the great traffickers of the earth, no man attained the victory over his enemies and possessed himself of cities, thrones, empires, and countries of the earth, or the riches of the world, but found little real joy in the possession, but many a sorrow, many a disappointment. But turn to the lower grades of life-look at the lowest-it is the same. The man who possesses nothing save what his hands must toil for, even when he gets that which he most desires, finds labour and vexation come along with it, and a very short enjoyment of that which he seemed so greatly to desire. What then, you will say, is the use of hope if man is always to meet with disappointment? Ah! is there a man among you, even though he should meet with the bitterest disappointment, who would even then be without hope? You would sacrifice the very zest of life if you would sink into despair. If there is a wretched being any where, it is the man without hope, who has no kind of wish