« הקודםהמשך »
crowned him with thorns; and when they had nailed his limbs to the cross, he said, “ Lord, be merciful to them; they know not what they do."
These are the principal errors, by an attention to which the salutary yoke of discipline may be best supported in the season of youth: To put on that humility which is so well accommodated to the beginning of wisdom, and the beginning of life, will spare future shame, and future change; and enable us to pursue a simple, consistent tenour of improvement in piety, and knowledge. In subduing a tendency to contempt, we shall avoid malevolent feelings, which always bring with them their own punishment; we shall not become blind to perfections, and curiously acute only in the detection of evil. In reducing vanity within due bounds, we shall remain under our own laws, instead of yielding obedience to a multitude ; we shall live, not in dramatic agitation, but with firmness, freedom, and content. In curbing early impetuosity, and converting it into steady perseverance - in affairs, and cool intrepidity in dangers,
We spend our years, as it were a tale that
When we hear a story pleasantly set forth, in appropriate language, and with wellcontrived incidents, the mind hangs upon it eagerly, and falls from a certain heighth of enjoyment, when it is concluded: there is no sense of the passage of time; but the wit, and genius of the narrator abridges it to the duration of a moment; so it is with the years of the rich, and great; they are spent as á tale that is pleasantly told ; there is no monotony in the events, no slowness VOL. I.
in the succession ; novelty ever refreshes the fable, and genius ever adorns it; on a sudden, the noise is all hushed, the tale is told ; our years are brought to an end, and the silence of death succeeds.
. I seize then with some eagerness, upon the occasion which the conclusion of the year presents, to press upon you the duty of self-examination, and to protest against that life which is past without pause, and without reflection.
It is these artificial divisions of time, which teach men to think of its rapid pace; whenever the idea of change is introduced, there comes with it that melancholy, which is the parent of virtue; the 'inind is carried on from one vicissitude to another, till it stops, and trembles at the last ; now it is, that our thoughts are more than ordinarily serious; now it is that we listen to the lowly breathings of conscience, that we remember that this world is not the last scene of existence, that we catch a distant glimpse of the grave: how blest are they who hear from that conscience the voice of
praise, and see beyond that grave, the prospect of salvation.
We spend our years as a tale that is told; that is, we live so as to banish reflection; we do not enter into
serious computation of the progress we have made in godliness ; we do not balance the increase of virtue, against the waste of life; there is no care that the soul should be more pure, because the body is more frail ; that the inward man should be more fit to live with Christ, as the outward man is more ready to fall down into his native dust..
life is gone;
To stop this. easy, and fatal flow of life, and to extract religious wisdom from years, we must have recourse to self-examination; another