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greeting of the new year ? Does not this season, together with all the thoughts that cling about it, and which none of us, if he wished, could shake off altogether, deliver to us this very message, and press it on us for our meditation: “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new ?”
Indeed, brethren, it does; and further, I believe it is a message that we are bound to listen to-one that may be made fruitful in good to our souls — one that has its warnings and its promises -- and one that, if laid to heart, if taken in and let to stay there, may prove, God blessing it, a quickener of our steps in the right way, a spur to holiness, an incitement- and much we need it to increased diligence and earnestness in our Christian race.
Let, then, these words abide in you. Remember them after you have left church; and recall them often and often to mind in the course of the ensuing twelve months,—“ Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
I shall dwell shortly on the two thoughts which are here suggested to us.
I. On the past — the impossibility of its return -its being ended.
II. On the future—what we have to do in it-its opportunities for improvement, for leading
a new life.
And, first, of the past. It is gone—it cannot be had over again. No man can add a cubit, or a hair's-breadth, to his stature; neither can any of us have again one moment of the days that are past. We might desire to have our days back; we might think we should do better with them; we might think that, with our experience, we should avoid many faults which we have fallen into, and do many good and right actions which we have now left undone, if God would give us our time over again.
But; brethren, wish it as we may, this thing cannot be. God gives no man two lives, or even two parts of life twice over. We are children but once; youths but once; grown men and women
If we use these several stages of our life well, we shall, as we grow older, be the better and happier; but if we do not use them well—if we misuse them, though we may live to repent, we cannot make up for the misuse. We shall be to the end of this life, nay, perhaps to the end of eternity, for ever and for ever, the worse for our misspent time, be it in childhood, or youth, or mature age.
Oh, consider this ; consider it, you, above all, who are yet young. Do not let your young days slip from you unimproved. You have at your command treasures beyond price— treasures of time, treasures of youth, treasures of opportunity. What would not grown-up men give
to have again your position ? to have youth, and a clear course in which to run youth's race before them. But, as I have said, for us it is impossible. We had your opportunity, and, alas ! we have, too many of us, lost it. ,
Youth and its prospects is for us one of the old things which are passed away.
Brethren, for you it is not so. days, young strength, unwasted opportunities, are yet present to you; your course is as yet plain before your face. You may succeed where
. we have failed. You may win what we have lost. You may, if you use your youth well, make it the stepping-stone to much after-lappi
you now keep from evil; if you now follow what is good ; if you are gentle, and teachable, and reverent; if you observe religion young, and honour God's name, and His day, and His word; if you are like that good servant of the wicked Ahab, who “ feared the Lord from his youth ;” why, I can promise, because God has promised it, that you will reap the fruit of this in your life afterwards. You will, when grown men, be repaid by possessing that peace of an untroubled conscience, those habits of order and self-discipline, that fixed faith, that good and sober conversation, which are the sure out-growth of a godly wellspent youth.
And, on the other hand, if you, like so many
who have gone before you, neglect to improve your youth ; if you do not then sow the good seed that I have been speaking of — if you sow other sort of seed — if you are careless, irreligious, wanting in respect for God and man; not on the watch against temptation; the same will happen as you see to have happened to your elders. . When grown men-yes, and before, you will be entangled in many sins ; you will have your conscience burdened; you will—supposing the best case-supposing repentance and a desire to make up for folly-yet be sore tied and bound by the clog of your offences, by the hindering weight of your wasted youth and your rejected, spoiled opportunities.
Therefore, as I said, use well your youth while it is in your power; before it become one of those old things which have passed away.
Again: other things as well as youth are passing, nay, are already gone. Look back but on a single twelvemonth,—think how many opportunities for dealing kindly by one another, for helping our brother, for converting sinners, for proving our fellowship in the gospel, are now lost to us, and for
We had them, and we failed to use them. We might surely, all of us, have shown more Christian kindness, more forbearance, more charity, both in word and in deed, than we have shown in
the last year. We must feel that the past is in this respect a witness against us. We have not done in it what we ought to have done—what, to have done, would now make us more comfortable and more at peace with ourselves.
There is in this thought matter for warning, matter for self-blame. Let us not decline to take it to ourselves. Let us call ourselves into judgment for our slackness. Let us not go on into another year before resolving, if God spare us, to make a better use of what opportunities may yet remain to us for doing good. Let us beware lest if we put off, or let slip such occasions, our hearts grow colder and more hard, and nothing be able to awake us to a right sense of our Christian duty, till, to our dismay, we are confronted with our Lord upon His throne, and hear from His lips the sentence from which there is no appeal,-“I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.”
Once again. Though old things are passed away, though we must have regret and sorrow, and shame of heart, in looking back and seeing how we have wasted and misused golden opportunities and precious time, it is not good, nor is it required of us, that we should despond. It is idle to sorrow