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state, when renewed and judged, we are called to partake without end of the happiness which God hath in store for his people. Although it is often remarked in the world, that prosperity and sometimes great power attends the wicked, the dishonest, the vicious, and the immoral: and the virtuous, honest, and religious man is visited by various afflictions, privations, and chastisements; yet it is by no means to be considered that Providence prefers vice, and rewards it; for the whole tenor of Holy Writ plainly declares his utter abhorrence of it; and success to the ungodly man may arise from his perversion of some passion implanted in him for a good purpose, and not from the intentions of the wise and supreme Jehovah.
Again : enquire of those who are partaking of this world's vanities, whether upon due reflection, they feel any solid, substantial happiness. Pleasure, doubtless excites the mind, and animates the senses at the time of the amusement; but, I venture to assert, that the conclusion would be vanity and vexation of spirit; so little good is obtained from the varieties of this busy and noisy world. Well might a Poet exclaim,
"True happiness is not the growth of earth,
The sense of acting virtuously and of doing well, with the hope of future reward, is one of the principal features of real Happiness. On the contrary, the knowledge of committing vice, and as vice will be punished, ought to prevent many transgressions, and cause more morality than is known in the present day. Our happiness and misery in this world is greatly dependant upon each other, which appears to be a merciful dispensation: since we know that example bears a great influence upon the characters of men. For he who is really virtuous possesses that joy of heart—that delightful exercise of the christian graces,—faith, hope, gratitude, love, and benevolence,—which graces being so predominant in the Creator, naturally co-operate, and from hence must follow that sense of security and implicit hope, which bids fair to immortal bliss.
Finally. May those into whose hands these pages fall, deeply consider, as to whether they are acting in that course of living which gives real happiness in the present life, and consequently conducive to the happiness of a future one? Let each ask the question,—whether he is employing the few moments given to him her* for the obtaining of an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory: or, whether in the search for earthly happiness derived from earthly pleasures or vain riches, which fly like chaff before the wind, and which are all one day to be dissolved in elements of fire? By setting his affections on things above, he will less and less care for the unsatisfying delights in this world. By it also, he will enjoy as much happiness as his actions merit here in his present imperfect condition, and hereafter enjoy that happiness which another and better world is contemplated to afford, in praising and applauding that Perfect Superior Power, "in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways."
I cannot conclude better, than by quoting a few lines of the celebrated Dr. Johnson :—
"Reflect, that life and death affecting sounds,
Are only varied modes of endless being,—
Reflect, that life like every other blessing,
Derives its value from its use alone;
Nor for itself, but for a nobler end,
Th' Eternal gave it,—and that end is virtue!
A. M. W. Chelmsford, 21st Dec. 1844.
SIIEARCROFT, TTP. CHELMSFOKi.
THE NEW YEAR.
"We spend our years as a tale that is told."
90th Psalm, part of 9th verse.
What solemn reflections does the anniversary of every year bring with it, to all pious and devout Christians! To the young especially entering into life with hope and youthful imagination guiding them on. To the more advanced, as a warning of the years which are past, never to return, and of the necessity of accepting the present time; for " now is the day of salvation." Time with its airy wings is too swift when past, to be regained: therefore, to spend it well, becomes us all. Trials may cloud over our path, temptation may assail us every step we take in our progress in our spiritual life, and for a little while induce us to forget our great interests ; but if we pray fervently to our Almighty Father, he will carry us triumphantly through our difficulties, and we shall go on in our way rejoicing. And it would be well on the anniversary of another Year, to examine into our own hearts, and to see in what frame of mind we are in ;—what have been our chief employments, and how far we have attended to the concerns of our immortal Souls? How far we have permitted worldly business and luxury to engross our attention and absorb us away from better things; for we are well assured, that for every day, even every moment, we must hereafter have to account to that Supreme Judge, who knoweth all the secrets of our hearts. Solomon describes man to be but " vanity." The apostle Peter says, that "all flesh is grass;" and so also the prophet Jeremiah. The Psalmist declares that we are " sojourners in the land :" and we know that we are all hastening to the land of darkness, and the valley of the shadow of death. Men may fear death ; they may take no heed to the toll of a hell for a departed soul: but the time will come, when all must be left by themselves likewise. Yet there is a great consolation to the faithful,—we can never lose Christ; "he ever liveth to make intercession for us." Job compared his life to that " of yesterday," and also likened it to " a flower." "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world: if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him: for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world : and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." How vexatious must it seem to the man of this world to depart from all he loves and cherishes. And death will bring with it in its train, shame and remorse to those who are sowing to the flesh: and we shall most certainly reap the fruits of what we have sown here, either spontaneous joy, or sorrow in the world to come. Every sinful desire, every unlawful thought is cherished up to be reproved hereafter. Nothing is dispersed, or vanishes in the air. There is a storehouse somewhere; and who can imagine where? And when we hear the trumpet sounded by the spiritual agents between earth and heaven, what confusion will prevail, if, whilst we have known the way and the only true God, we have searched after other gods, the work of men's hands. If we are sowing to our flesh, what else can we expect but corruption? And if this should seem to any one startling and awful, let him fervently pray; let him repent of the years which he has passed in sin, that so he may commence running the heavenly race, and be found a good steward of the manifold grace of God. We know that our deeds cannot of themselves merit salvation,—that they cannot stand before the judgment-seat of unerring Wisdom perfect and spotless, but must be renewed and cleansed, washed in the blood of the Lamb, "who died for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works." Nothing that is worldly can lead to heaven. Nothing that is not of the Spirit can or shall reap life everlasting. This is certain: why then not "walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise ?" for "we spend our years as a tale that is told." Seeing that there are many things which increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? Therefore, begin to prepare for that solemn hour: the earlier you begin, the fitter will you be found: the earlier you choose to avoid the path of the wicked, the more you will eschew perfect ways: "for length of days and long life, and peace shall they add to thee." Be assured there is no middle course. "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Neither will there be but two places to inherit. With much circumspection then should we live, remembering the shortness of our lives, and that each anniversary forcibly tells us, "I return not." May the lukewarm be alarmed and stirred up by such a truth, to all diligence :—the unweary in well-doing comforted by the glorious prospect of a blessed Immortality. May the loiterers in the Lord's vineyard be no longer slothful; for the harvest of the saints will soon be gathered in,—the Lord cometh,—" Go ye out to meet him." This may be your last anniversary;—redeem it in the service of your heavenly master, as from it you will derive infinite satisfaction on your dying beds. Be persuaded that impurity and intemperance will end in misery and shame. And although these things cannot punish us here, they will hereafter. They cannot follow us to the grave ; but they will follow us hereafter. And what a bitter time will it be to them who have laid their portion in this life, and who will be driven like chaff from the presence of the Lord. Trifle then no longer; but look to your present condition. The future may never be yours to see; and therefore, not yours to repent in.