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The circumstances are not to be numbered, which in this changing world, are the causes of serious thought to thinking men. A withered leaf, or a faded flower, the waning moon, or the setting sun, a public calamity or a private sorrow, the careless gaiety of childhood, and the faltering step of age, magnificence and misery, a splendid pageant, a solitary tear, a baptism, a funeral, accident, sickness and death, have all a voice, a moral, and a warning.
The seasons of the year, too, speak in almost human language; and men have been fond of tracing, in their various phenomena, resemblances to their own existence, feelings, and pursuits. Youth and spring have been joined together with bands of flowers; the fruits of summer have imaged our maturity; our decline is foretold by the brown hues of autumn; and winter has lent to age its hoar-frost and its snows.
The notice so generally taken of the day which has been fixed upon to commence our years, is proof that it is connected with many human sympathies. How, indeed, can we help being affected by the silent marks which measure out our lives, and serve as stated boundaries to the mysterious progression of time!
Religion gives a deep interest to notices like these, and leads us to value and improve them, and raises our thoughts from the divisions and events of time, to Him who is without beginning, and without end.
If we feel in a proper manner our dependence on God, and the responsibility of our actions, we shall often look back on the experiences of the past, and forward to the promises and requisitions of the future. At the commencement of a new year, especially, we shall be disposed to think on what the last has received
and returned, and on what the coming one should accomplish.
In the year which has gone by, we have been supported, as we have always been, by an arm which never tires, and supplied from a bounty which can never be exhausted. We have tasted of joys till we have expected them as our right, and comforts have been so liberally imparted to us, that we have ceased to remark them. We can recal many instances in which we have been rescued from sudden pain and death. Troubles have been averted, griefs have been alleviated, losses have been repaired. We have been saved when we had despaired of help, and snatched from the waters, when they had well nigh gone over
Even the trials and afflictions which we have met with have resulted in our benefit. They have softened our tempers, or humbled our pride, checked us in an evil course, or fixed us in a good one, and thus have assumed at last the aspect, the offices, and the character of blessings.
How have we shown our sense of these favours? What has been our gratitude, and what service have we rendered? If we answer truly, we shall have little reason to be satisfied with our review. Our consciences will repeat a long and fearful account of opportunities neglected, talents unimproved, powers perverted, time mispent, warnings unheeded, and promises unperformed. Many an evil consequence rises up to point at our misdeeds, and our bosoms will acknowledge their own unthankfulness. We shall be obliged to confess, that selfishness has often silenced the voice of our better feelings, that interest has prevailed over duty, fashion over propriety, and habit over conviction. We shall remember, and we ought to remember, with shame and contrition, that we have suffered ourselves to listen, again and again, to the suggestions of passion and temptation—to listen and to yield—though experi. ence admonished, and instruction forbade, and principle resisted, and wisdom cried aloud.
We cannot, in our defence, plead ignorance, nor want of means. We cannot deny that we have had ample assistance, motive, and encouragement, from early education, from books, counsel, religion, Christian society, and Christian example.
But we trust that we have effected some good. We trust, that amid all our follies and sins, we have performed some actions which have proceeded from virtuous intentions, and terminated in beneficial results. Notwithstanding our weakness and rashness, we have soinetimes resisted with success, and fled when flight was victory. Let us thank God for that; not however in the spirit of the Pharisee's thanksgiving; not to indulge a spiritual vain-glory, nor to flatter a false security; but with a feeling of humble gratitude, and that our souls may perceive the value, and the beauty of holiness. While we lament that we have done so little good, let us be truly grateful for the little which we have done; for if there is any thing to thank God for, it is that we have been able, in any degree, to imitate and obey him.
From this train of meditations on the past, our thoughts on the future will naturally follow. We cannot believe that God will cease to be merciful to us, that he will withdraw his support, or shorten his hand. Let us endeavour to evince our gratitude for his unmerited goodness, by complying henceforth more carefully with his injunctions. If he is our Father, let us do him better honour, and if he is our Master, let us serve him with a more constant fear. Our sorrow for our transgressions, if it is of any value, will stimulate our efforts to amend our lives; and the conviction of past inactivity and unprofitableness, if it is deep and strong, will give form and energy to our consequent resolutions.
And let us not linger, and delay, and look out for a more convenient season, as if we knew the measure of our days, and held time and opportunity in our own hands. The experience of every day, casualty in every shape, death on our right hand and on our left, should teach us a better wisdom. We aggravate our guilt exceedingly, by this foolish procrastination. Could we live the longest life of man, we should have little time enough to finish our task; but here we are without knowledge, and without security. The commencement of another year we may never see.
If we were to lie down in the dust, and in the sleep of death, without a hope of ever waking again, we might indeed, with some show of reason, take our own ways, and defy their consequences. But we shall wake again, and wake to a life whose awards and destinies will depend on the manner in which we have spent the years of our probation, whether they have been
many, or whether they have been few. While we have time, let us employ it as we ought, for time is succeeded by eternity. Let every following year,
while years are continued to us, be more ull of good, and more free from evil, than the last; for they must soon be numbered; and then we go to meet our Judge.
Rules for long Life. The following energetic lines are by Thomas Randolph, a poet who wrote with considerable reputation near the beginning of the seventeenth century.
Take thou no care how to defer thy death,
appears T’have past the date of grave
Methuselah's years, If he his life to sloth and sin doth give, I say he only was, he did not live.
Eastport Unitariun Book Society. SOCIETIES for the publication and distribution of books and tracts, inculcating a rational faith, and a consistent morality, have, within a short period, been formed in many of our congregations. We are glad to find that our brethren of Eastport, in the state of Maine, have lately entered into an association of this nature. They prove by so doing, that they are convinced of the truth, excellence, and importance of the views which they have embraced, and that they are engaged in earnest in making them more generally known