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TIME, A MESSENGER CHARGED WITH SOLEMN INTELLIGENCE.
THE vicissitudes of day and night, and the changes and succession of the seasons, as they answer important purposes in common life, so are they of great use to awaken moral and religious reflections. If time were as unvaried in its circumstances, as it is silent in its motions, it would seem to stand still, and we should scarcely notice its progress. Time is in scripture compared to a swift messenger, who comes charged with momentous information. This information it communicates daily; every morning and every evening; at every change of the seasons; and with peculiar solemnity when one year ends, and a new one We will at this season pay some attention to its reports.
Time proclaims a God. "The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament displays his handy works. Day unto day utters speech; night unto night shows forth knowledge." The orderly The orderly succession of the seasons and the liberal productions of the earth repeat and enforce the same imIf we dwelt in portant truth. one unvaried scene of the same surrounding objects, though the evidence of an existing divinity, might be as decisive to reason, yet it would not be so striking and impressive, as it is amidst this variety of objects, which the changes of day and night, of summer and winter present to us. It is astonishing, that, when God so clearly manifests himself to
us, we should live so unmindful of him; that when he so loudly speaks to us, not only from year to year, but from day to day, "he should not be in all our thoughts."
Time tells us, that there is a Providence, and calls upon us to acknowledge it with prayer and praise. Who causes the sun to rise and set; the showers to water our fields, and the seeds, which we have sown, to vegetate and yield a harvest? Who causes the seasons regularly to succeed each other, and walk their continual rounds? Yea, to come home to ourselves; how do we live?
how draw our breath? how perform the vital functions, while our reason and senses are bound in sleep? How are we preserved from danger and death, when all our voluntary powers are suspended? These are the works of God. In him we live and move; from him we have all our supplies and comforts; to him our lives should be devoted.
Time teaches us, that we have a work to do. Why returns the winter sun to warm the frozen earth? Why rests he not beneath the horizon, but rises at the stated hour to spread his luminous and cheering influence? It is that man may go forth to his labour. While we dwell here, we need supplies for the body. These must be procured by our industry. If we neglect the du ties of life, we treat with contempt that friendly sun, which
rises to guide us in our work, and sheds his beams to bless and succeed our labours.
Here our residence is short. There is an eternal state before us. While we labour for the meat, which perishes, we must much rather labour for that which endures to eternal life.
Time warns us, that death is approaching. The number of our months and years is with God. This number will run out. Every year, every day brings intelligence, that the number is diminished, and still diminishing. Every year, every day, as it comes along, repeats the exhortation, which every preceding day had given, to review our life, examine our state, repent of our sins, and do whatever our hands find to do, as "there is no work in the grave to which we are going."
Time announces interesting events in the world around us. From his information we learn, that this near friend, and that intimate acquaintance is gone to the eternal world; that prevailing sickness has carried away numbers from such a place; that storms have driven ships on rocks and shoals, and plunged the helpless passengers in the ocean; that fierce battles have hurried into the unseen world thousands and thousands of our fellow probationers. We hear of wars between distant nations. We take an interest in favour of the one or the other. We rejoice in the victory of this, or that conflicting army. But the victory was obtained at an expense, which man cannot calculate or conceive, at the expense of life to more of our race, than we have ever seen collected in one place.
Each of the slain was on trial for eternal happiness. He valued his life as we do ours. His probation is now finished. His condition is fixed. What a solemn messenger is time. Seldom a day passes without intelligence of some, who have closed the mortal term of their existence. Such intelligence nearly concerns us who survive. It reminds us what beings we are, and what an interest is depending.
Time is a swift messenger, "swifter than a post." Wheth er we watch or sleep; whether we are active in our work, or amused with trifles, time continues its course without inermission. One hour follows another; day succeeds to night, and night to day; month to month, and year to year.
Think of this, ye who delay the work of your salvation, and imagine tomorrow will be as this day. Ye know not what shall be, nor where ye shall be, on the
Think of this, ye who spend your precious hours in pleasure and diversion. While you indulge in thoughtless mirth, time runs on, life hastes away. When your amusement is finished, what have you gained? Have you acquired knowledge and vir tue; secured pardon and hope; obtained a better heart, and sweeter peace of mind? You have gained nothing; but have lost much.
At least, you have lost a portion of your time, and an equal portion of your life. Will not the hours, which, you wantonly throw away, seem im. portant when life is near its close? Will you not then wish to recal the hours, which have flown to heaven
as messengers with sad reports
Think of this, ye slaves to the world. What profit have you found in all your labours? What is worldly gain to you, while you gain nothing else? God is bountiful, but you are unthankful. You receive good things; but what is your enjoyment? It it only sensitive; and this embittered with anxiety, vexation and fear. The true enjoyment of worldly good consists in that faith, which looks up to God as the giver, feels a sense of obligation, and studies grateful returns. The true end of life is to glorify God, do good to men, and prepare for a happy existence hereafter. To the man, who thus lives, time, as it passes, brings real good. But to those, who seek a portion only in this life, time brings labour and trouble. It may announce success in business, and treasures laid up for many years; but it also announces, that they are mortal, and that death is approaching, which will eject them from their possessions, consign their bodies
to the narrow limits of a grave, and send their souls to a world, where they have no goods provided; no treasures secured. This is the report, which every day makes to them. They hear it with reluctance, and let it pass with the day which brings it. How miserable is the life of the man of the world, who has nothing to enjoy, but what this world, can give, and has no portion in that world where he must live forever? Live, then, under an impressive sense of another world, and, in reference to that, order all your conduct.
Revelation has taught us how the happiness of immortality was purchased, and how it may be secured. It was purchased by the blood of the Son of God, and may be secured by faith, repentance and obedience. Take a serious review of life, repent of your past sins, seek God's mercy through his Son, and devote your lives to him. In a word, "walk by faith." This brings future things to be present, overcomes the world, enlivens benevolence, teaches patience in affliction, contentment in every condition, resignation to God's allotments, zeal for his glory, and diligence in every good work.
That we may maintain such a life of faith, we must converse with the word of God; this makes the man of God perfect. We must live near to the throne of grace; here we find grace to help in time of need. We must apply providential admonitions in our personal afflictions and the deaths around us; these are monitors sent to awaken our slumbering souls. We must com. mune with our own hearts;
thus we learn, what we are, what we have done, and what we have to do. Every day should begin with a new dedication of ourselves to God, and with humble supplication for the protection of his providence in the dangers, and the assistance of his grace in the duties before us. And every day should be closed with a review of our tempers and actions, and with prayer for the pardon of all our irregular passions, foolish meditations, and known omissions of duty.
If our days thus pass we shall see much good; a good conscience, a good hope, good works done or designed. Our time, as it runs, will drop by the way some agreeable reports concerning our Christian progress, our title to heaven, and our usefulness in the circle of our connexions. Time is swift; but not too swift. The only evil is, we are too slow. We are accountable for no more time than we have ; let us use this well, and we shall render our account with joy.
The swiftness of time is a reason for immediate attention to every duty as it calls; for while we delay, time passes, and the opportunity may be lost. But this is no reason for complaint or discouragement, for time, swift as it is, if well improved, will be sufficient for all the purposes of our present term of existence.
If time is short, let us not shorten it by waste or mispense. The expedient to make life long, is to use it wisely. We are apt to complain, that our days fly away too swiftly. But before we complain, let us inquire, what we are doing while they are fly
ing. If we make no use of them, what should we gain by their slower progress? If we spend them only in sin and folly, no matter how soon they are gone. If we employ them in our prop er work, the swifter they fly, the sooner they will bring us to that world, where is fulness of joy. There the swiftness of time will no longer be matter of our notice; but days, and years, and ages will be lost, swallowed up, and forgotten in an eternal, incomprehensible duration. NUNCIUS.
LETTERS OF A CLERGYMAN TO
You wish to be successful in your business. But what is it to be successful? Is it to be rich and great in this world? or to be useful here and happy hereafter? The former, God has not promised, and is the lot of but few. The latter you may expect with assurance, if you transact your secular concerns on principles of piety and benevolence, and apply your devotional exercises to the improvement of these principles. Let your secular and your spiritual vocations be conducted on the same principles, and they will be mutually subservient; they will become one; they will never interfere. If in your worldly vocation you are prudent and just, and in the appropriations of its proceeds you are sober and beneficent, you are then successful in your business. If in your social relations you study to promote peace, virtue and happiness, you will reciprocate the benefits, and
be successful in these relations. If in your attendance on divine institutions you become more pious and benevolent, more devoted to God, and more zealous of good works, your example will do good to many, and you may reckon yourself successful in your attendance. Perhaps you will not always see your success immediately; but "commit your works to God, and your thoughts will be established." "Be not weary in well doing, for in due season you will reap if you faint not."
In works of charity obey the calls of providence, and the dictates of a benevolent heart. Good may be done, which you do not see, and a return may come in a time and manner quite unexpected. "Cast thy bread on the waters, and after many days thou wilt find it. Give a portion to many, for thou knowest not what evil may be on the earth;" nor what occasion thou mayest have for the charity of others, or even of those, who are now the objects of thy charity, "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not which of them shall prosper, or whether both shall be alike good." "He who goeth forth and scattereth precious seed, shall doubtless come again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him."
The faithful minister acts on this encouragement. He holds forth the word of life, and keeps back nothing that is profitable. But knowing that the word preached becomes mighty through God, he commits it to him, imploring his grace to accompany
Thus he trusts that he shall
save some, and " that he shall be a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish."
The pious parent imparts instructions and counsels to his children, and commands them to keep the way of the Lord. And his parental labours he commits to God. And though he should not see their present success, yet he continues in them, trust, ing that they will not be in vain. And "if he should deliver neither son nor daughter by his righteousness, yet he knows he shall deliver his own soul."
The young person, deeply impressed with a concern for his salvation, inquires, What he must do to be saved. He con sults the word of God. He learns what are the terms and means of salvation. He attends to them with some degree of dil, igence and seriousness. But perhaps he finds not the success which he expected. He is still in darkness and fear; still a stranger to that hope and com, fort of which some improved Christians can speak. And he is tempted to say, "It is vain to seek the Lord, and keep his ordinances." But this is too hasty a conclusion. If he sees more of the corruption of his heart; more of his own impotence and unworthiness; more of the evil of sin and the worth of his soul; more of the justice of God in condemning such sinners as he is; let him not say that all this is vain, but remember, that such views of himself are necessary preparations to his receiving the Saviour with faith, gratitude and love.
Let him attend on all the means, and apply himself to all the works, which God has pre