« السابقةمتابعة »
presence, to whom I must give account? The answers returned by conscience to such questions as these, would perhaps show the best man living that, if he have not all he wanted, there is no just reason for complaint. There is another consideration which may completely settle your minds, on the subject of the distresses to which the righteous are sometimes exposed in this present life. A very good man may be rendered much better by trials and afflictions. Proportionable to his sufferings will be his reward; and if you could propose the question to those saints in heaven who once wandered destitute, afflicted, tormented, in sheep-skins and goat-skins, upon earth, they would tell you, they do not now wish to have done otherwise.
Our Lord closes his interesting and divine discourse on this subject of worldly care and anxiety, in the words of my text, with an argument drawn from the evident absurdity of anticipating sorrow, and rendering ourselves unhappy beforehand : “Be not “ therefore careful for the morrow; for the morrow “ will be careful for the things of itself: sufficient unto “ the day is the evil thereof." The meaning is, that having such a promise from our heavenly Father, of being provided for as his children, if we are but dutiful children, we should not render ourselves miserable by forestalling mischief, and adding the future to the present; but that, having, through his grace, transacted the business and overcome the difficulties of the day, we should at night disburthen our minds of solicitude, and rest our weary heads upon our pillows in peace; since the trouble of each day is sufficient for the day; and He who has been with us to-day, will be with us to-morrow.
In this ever-memorable and most important precept, Christ consults our natural quiet, no less than our spiritual welfare. The chief sources of uneasiness are, vexation at what is past, or forebodings of what is to come: whereas what is past ought to give us no disquiet, except that of repentance for our faults; and what is to come ought much less to affect us, because with regard to us and our concerns, it is not, and perhaps never will be. The present is what we are apt to neglect. That, well employed, will render the remembrance of the past pleasant, and the prospect of the future comfortable. Attention to the duties of the day is like the manna, when it descended fresh and grateful from above; anxiety about the events of to-morrow resembles the same manna when, distrustfully laid up contrary to the divine command, it bred worms and putrefied. Give us, then, blessed Lord, even as thou hast commanded us to ask at thy hands, our daily bread, and let it not be corrupted by discontented and unthankful ima. ginations. Thou art the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Thou hast borne us from the womb; thou hast supported us from our youth up, even until now.
Thou forsakest none but those who have first forsaken thee. Only enable us to trust in thee, and then we shall never be confounded.
THE DEATH OF THE OLD YEAR.
2 CORINTHIANS, v. 17.
Old things are passed away; behold, all things are
I will beg
The departure of the old year and the entrance of a new one, cannot but suggest many useful and very important reflections to a thinking man. leave to offer some few to your minds, exactly as they have arisen in mine.
The departure of the old year may, I think, fitly be compared to the death of an old friend; and our behaviour in one case regulated by that which generally obtains in the other.
1. When we have lost a friend, our first care naturally is, to see that he be decently interred; to follow him mourning to the grave; to let his funeral remind us of our own; and to erećt a monument to his memory .
The past year is, to all intents and purposes, lost to us, and numbered among the dead. It is gone to join the multitude of years that have died before it.
They arise from their seats in the repositories of the dead, to receive it among them; it is now become like one of them; and all that hurry and bustle of business and pleasure which distinguished and animated it, have sunk into silence and oblivion. It will return no more upon the earth ; and the scenes that were acted in it are closed for ever. It has lived, however, and we have enjoyed it; let us pay the honours due to the deceased, and drop a tear over its tomb. We cannot take a final leave of any thing to which we have been accustomed, without a sentiment of concern. Objects, otherwise of the most indifferent nature, claim this; and they never fail of obtaining it at the hour of parting. The idea of the last is always a melancholy idea; and it is so, perhaps, for this among other reasons, because, whatever be the immediate subject, an application is presently made to ourselves. Thus, in the case before us, it is recollected ---and let it be recollected—it is good for us to recollectit--that what has happened to the year, must happen to us.
On each of us a day must dawn, which is to be our last. When we shall have buried a few more years, we must ourselves be buried; our friends shall weep at our funeral; and what we have been, and what we have done, will live only in their remembrance. The reflection is sorrowful; but it is just and salutary: equally vain and imprudent would be the thought of putting it away from us. Meanwhile let us cast our eyes back on that portion of time which is come to its conclusion, and see whether the good thoughts that have occurred to our minds, the good words that have been uttered, and the good deeds
that have been performed by us, will not furnish materials with which we may erect a lasting monument to the memory of the departed year.
2. When a friend is dead and buried, we take a pensive kind of pleasure in going over again and again the hours we formerly passed with him, either in prosperity or adversity. Let us pursue the same course; it may be done to great advantage in this instance. The grand secret of a religious life is, to “set God always before us;" to live under a constant sense of his providence; to observe and study his dispensations towards us, that they may produce their proper effects, and draw forth suitable returns from us.
Too often we suffer them to glide unheeded by us, and never afterwards think of recalling them to consideration! It were well if we kept a diary
of our lives for this purpose, if we “so numbered “our days, that we might apply our hearts unto wis“ dom.” But certainly no year should be permitted to expire without giving occasion to a retrospect. The principal events that have befallen us in it should be recollected, and the requisite improvements be raised from them severally by meditation. What preservations from dangers spiritual or temporal have been vouchsafed; what new blessings granted, or old ones continued, to me and mine, to my friends, my neighbours, my church, my country; and how have I expressed, in word and in deed, my gratitude and thankfulness for them? With what losses or crosses, what calamities or sicknesses, have we been visited ; and have such visitations rendered us more penitent, more diligent, devout, and holy,