« הקודםהמשך »
Yes,- I say farewell. It has not taken me by surprise. It was what I expected. The event was inevitable. The appointed hour arrived, quickly expired, and all was over. We were to part. We have parted. At midnight the clock struck: it numbered twelve. It was the knell of departed time. The year had fied. I beheld its beginning, and witnessed its close. Where is it now? It was, but is not. Its departure has left us upon the advance : while it has receded, we have moved forward. Numerous and diversified have been its occurrences, solicitudes, and results.
It has dissolved many å tender tie, told many a painful tale, and left many an aching heart. As long as memory retains her seat it will not be forgotten. Some, with great difficulty, have just kept their heads above water, while others have sunk beneath the overwhelming surge. In the review, it furnishes varied matter for recital. But whatever changes may have marked its course, its existence is at an end. Like a dream of the night, it has passed away, and multitudes have passed away with it. It has carried them to the grave. It has borne them to the judgment-seat. It has landed them in immortality. Advancing time denotes approaching eternity. Here is the stream, there the ocean. Here many things hang in suspense, but nothing is doubtful or uncertain there. There is no suspense in the state of the blessed, neither is there any question as to the destiny of the lost. Another year of our earthly history has been added to the preceding ones.
Will it be a witness for us or against us? How have we treated its sabbaths ? What have we thought of its warnings ? What use have we made of its mercies? How have we employed its privileges ? While the last year has added to the time that is past, it has taken so much from what is to come. Who can tell what the one may bring forth, upon the threshold of which we are now standing? We are the living amidst the dead. What is our life? A fugitive, frail, decaying existence-like a flying cloud, a flecting vapour, an arrow just propelled from the string; or as the withering grass, or the flower whose beauty scarcely blooms, and whose fragrance hardly exhales, ere it is gone. The word farewell sometimes means a final adieu, a parting for the last time. Thus we have bid adieu to the year which has just expired. Could all that we thought, and said, and did, pass in review before us, what proportion of our character would be in conformity with the relation we sustain, as rational and accountable beings? There was so much time we gave to this thing, and so much to the other ; but how much to earnest prayer, to self-examination, to a careful perusal of the holy scriptures, and a diligent attention to the great concerns of salvation ? Did ever the thought occur, what, if I should be called away in my present state; am I prepared for the transition ? The views and feelings of persons on this point are various, and therefore all cannot be right. To suppose that we may be saved in our own way, or that each one may pursue his own course, and find all well in the end, would involve a contradiction, and give rise to an assumption, that principles and emotions hostile to each other, would warrant the same ground for hope, and lead to the same happy result. It is clear, from holy scripture, that the Divine Being has prescribed but one method by which we can find grace in his sight. He will receive none into his favour, but upon his own terms, and these are exhibited in the mediation of his beloved Son, whose righteousness and atonement constitute the only way of acceptance and holiness. To slight his proposals of pardon and reconciliation, would be attended with results infinite and irreparable and appalling, and would in consequence render us guilty of an infatuation, requiring eternity to comprehend and immortality to deplore. Though the last year is. beyond our recall, the clock of time, with respect to us, has not yet struck its final note. Its pendulum continues to
vibrate in our hearing. Shall we, then, presume on the future? A voice from within whispers we cannot. We are dying creatures. We sojourn in a world of vanity. All around us is mutable, inconstant, uncertain. Families are being broken up, connexions are being dissolved, life is ebbing, and the fashion of this world passing away. In yonder family, what changes ! In yonder neighbourhood, what changes ! Both far and near, what changes ! Within our own circle, what changes! With the progress of time, the value of earthly good, however highly esteemed by its possessor, is perpetually diminishing; the tenure by which he holds it becomes weaker every day; the period is ever contracting which is urging him to the point, when what he has will be no longer his, but must pass from his into other hands.
“Every beating pulse we tell
Leaves but the number less." What note do we take of time ? Its value is above all price. God, who is so lavish in the bestowment of all other blessings, is most sparing-nay, we had almost said penurious – in his distribution of time. He doles not but a single moment of it in the world at once, and another is not given till that is taken away. The hour and minute hands, as they turn round upon the dial, furnish constant intimation of the lapse of time, and admonish us, not that we have so much in reversion, but that what is past is irrecoverably gone. We have bid adieu to the last year ; our account with it is added to the list of preceding ones. But this fleeting existence is a state of trial. Brief as it is, our everlasting condition depends upon our connexion with it. It is the period of probation ; it is the season of grace; it is the day of salvation. On the score of privilege we occupy elevated ground. A price is put into our hands to get wisdom.
True religion, which, like the sun, can only be seen in its own light, has appeared unto us; and we are invited to contemplate it in its native purity, to view it through its own medium, and to judge of it by its own standard, which is infallible, of intrinsic and unrivalled excellence, and constituting the only rule by which “we must be saved.” The medium
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON.