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hear the doom of the slothful servant that hid his lord's talent in a napkin. Oh what work ought to be crowded in a year, in the last year of life—and this may be that very year!
Whether, however, you die this year or not, you must die some year; and compared with the millions of millions of years, measuring eternity by the revolutions of time, what is the longest life, even that of METHUSELAH, if it could be attained, but a moment and the twinkling of an eye. Remember the apostle's impressive admonitions-—“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”—Ephes. v. 15, 16. 6 But this I say, brethren, that the time is short: it remaineth, that they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”—1 Cor. vii. 29–31.
ALLEINE, the author of the “Alarm to the Unconverted,” in his striking letters to his people, has one entitled, “ Look out of your graves upon the world," and which concludes thus :—“ Labour to get right apprehensions of the world. Do not think these things necessary; one thing is needful: you may be happy in the want of all outward comforts. Do not think yourselves undone, if brought to want or poverty: study eternity, and
whether you are poor or rich ; and that you may never have such an opportunity for your advantage in all your lives, as when you put all to hazard, and seem to run the vessel upon the rocks. Set your enemies one against the other ; death against the world; no such way to get above the world, as to put yourselves into the possession of death. Look. often upon your dust that you shall be reduced to, and imagine you saw your bones tumbled out of your graves, as they are like shortly to be, and men handling your skulls, and inquiring, “Whose is this ?' Tell me of what account will the world be then—what good it will do you. Put yourselves often into your graves, and look out from thence upon the world, and see what judgment you have of it then. Must not you be shortly forgot among the dead? Your places will know you no more, and your memory will be no more among men; and then what will it profit you to have lived in fashion and repute, and to have been men of esteem ? One serious walk over a churchyard,' as one speaks, "might make a man mortified to the world.' Think upon how many you tread, but you knew them not. No doubt they had their estates, their friends, their businesses,
and kept as much stir in the world as others do now. But, alas! what are they the better for any, for all this? Know you not that this must be your own case very shortly? Oh, the unhappiness of deceived man ! How miserably is he bewitched, and befooled, that he should expend himself for that which he knows shall for ever leave him! Brethren, I beseech you, lay no stress upon these perishing things, but labour to be at a holy indifference about them. Is it for one that in his wits to sell his God, his conscience, his soul, for things that he is not sure to keep a week, nor a day; and which he is sure, after a few sleepings and wakings more, to leave behind him for ever? Go and talk with dying men, and see what apprehensions they have of the world : if any should come to such as these, and tell them, “Here are such and such preferments for you, you shall have such titles of honour and delights, if you
will now disown religion, or subscribe to iniquity.' Do you think such a motion would be embraced ? Brethren, why should we not be wise in time? Why should we not now be of the mind of which we know we shall all be shortly ? Woe to them that will not be wise till it be to no purpose! Woe to them whose eyes nothing but death and judgment will open! Woe to them that, though they have been warned by others, and have heard the world's greatest darlings in death to cry out of its vanity, worthlessness, and deceitfulness, and have been told where and how it would leave them, yet would take no warning, but only must serve themselves to be for warnings to others! Ah, my beloved, beware there be no worldly professors among you, that will part rather with their part in Paradise than their part on earth ; that will rather part with their consciences than with their estates ; that have secret reserves in heart to save themselves whole, when it comes to the pinch ; and not to be of the religion that will undo them in the world. Beware that none of
hearts where your
feet should be, and love your mammon before your Maker. It is time for you to learn, with Paul, to be crucified to the world.”
Keep, then, in mind the great end of life. Redeem time for the purpose
for which it was given. Consider every day as a lost day, in which you have not begun to live to God through Jesus Christ. Examine the past years of your life, and learn from them how great your need of Him who shed his blood that
your soul might not be lost, and through whose intercession the Holy Spirit comes to sanctify the heart and renew the mind.
Make a solemn surrender of yourself to God, and at the commencement of another year enter into covenant engagement with him, through Jesus Christ, to be his servant to live as of the number of his peculiar people—and to show forth his praise. - Psalm iv.; Rom. vi. xii. ; 1 Pet. iv. 1-7.
Should you have been enabled by Divine grace to turn your back on the world, that you may follow Christ, let it be your great concern this year “ to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”—2 Pet. iii. 10–18.
Seek to get some spiritual good from everything that may happen this year; and enter into the gracious design of God, which is to render everything conducive to your real welfare. -Phil. iv.; Rom. viii. 28.
Examine the past years of your life, to see what defects are to be supplied, and what sins are to be put away for the future. -Deut. viii. 2; Psalm lxxxvii., cxxxix. 23, 24; Job xxxii. 34; 2 Cor. xii. 5. Especially let the failings of past years be instructive for the future, as showing how you are likely to be ensnared, and to be led into temptation.—Matt. xxvi. 41.
Endeavour to make the trials through which you have passed, and the help you have obtained from God, a ground of confidence and hope for the future.—Psalm cxvi.
Remember, that though you may not die this year, you must die some time, and therefore never let the subject be long absent from your minds. Live as at the grave's mouth; die daily ; feel yourself a stranger and pilgrim upon earth ; and be ever looking on with faith and hope to the time when you shall die, and go home to God.-Psalm xc. ; Ecclesiastes xii. ; ; 2 Cor. v. 1-4.
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY,
27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON ;
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, LONDON.
J. & W.Rider, Printers, Bartholomew Close, London.
I FIRST became acquainted with M. H.-writes the individua. whose kind and persevering efforts were in this case so remarkably owned and blessed by God in the year 1831, in one of my usual visits among the poor of a distriet in which my residence was fixed, and with whom I was in the habit of frequent intercourse. I was attracted to her residence br receiving the information that it was the abode of an aged female, who had early in life received the advantages of a liberal education, but was now, in the decline of her days, at nearly eighty years of age, reduced to a state of extreme distress. Anxious to ascertain the spiritual condition of one under such circumstances, and who, from her advanced age, was necessarily standing on the verge of eternity, I proposed visiting her ; but was a little discouraged in my purpose to do so, by a friend living near to her, who stated that she held heterodox views, was averse to all society, and had lived for the last thirty years in the entire neglect of all religious ordinances, and in such total seclusion that for a long time past she had not even crossed the meadow in which her dwelling was situate. Such objections only tended to increase my anxiety to impart instruction to her; and therefore I resolved to call upon her. Imploring the divine assistance, I descended the hill, and approached her abode. Good morning to you,' I said, as I endeavoured to open a door which was evidently pushed against me. • You have mistaken your house and acquaintance,' was the answer; your business is with some one else.'— No,' I said, “it is with you. I come as a friend to inquire after your welfare. I am sorry to see you so infirm.' She surveyed me with an incredulous look; but on my advancing further into the room, if such it could be called, This is no place for you,' she said ; •I have not a chair to offer you." I perceived that her voice trembled while she said, “ This is my wretched abode.'— I hope you can look forward to a better home, I observed ; " life is short, and we are all hastening to our latter end.'—I know that without being told,' was her reply. "And the judgment that follows death is awful,' I rejoined. "Ah!' she exclaimed, 'that I must chance as well as others.'— But,' I remarked, ' let us not venture our eternal interests on chance; let us seek the better foundation, that which is already laid; the true corner-stone, our Divine Redeemer.'* The result of this, my first interview with her, was of the most discouraging and painful nature. All which I advanced, seemed to be in vain. She distinctly told me that
* Isaiah xxviii. 16; Ephesians ii. 20; 1 Peter ii. li,
• Do you
she did not in the slightest degree believe that Jesus was the Son of God; affirming, in the strongest terms, that she was determined not to believe. I anxiously entreated her not to. repeat what she had said; and at the same time offered up my. earnest prayers at the throne of grace for her, that the Holy Spirit would guide her into the way of truth, by convincing her of sin, and leading her to the Saviour.* I asked if she possessed God's Word. “I have a Bible,” she said. believe in it?'-'I regard it as I would any other historical volume.' Finding that her understanding had been cultivated, and that her mental powers were of a superior character, I thought it desirable to direct her attention to some texts of Scripture which referred to the Divinity of our Lord, and requested her to place the Bible before me. After considerable reluctance, and some little expression of irritation at my persevering in the request, she said, “If you will see it, there it is;' pointing to a large family. Bible covered with the dust of years, and which bore evident marks of having long lain where I found it, unopened and disregarded. She noticed my surprise, and seemed confused. I expressed my deep regret at what I had observed, advised her to begin to read that Holy Book, and entreated her to pray that the Holy Spirit would unseal its contents to her soul.t “I never pray at any time,' she said, “and I shall not begin to pray to an unknown God. I do not believe there is a Holy Ghost. I think there is one Supreme Being, whose mercy is as great as his power; and if he choose to save me, he will effect it without
interference on my part.' The more we conversed, the further we diverged from each other's opinion. I offered to bring my own Bible and read to her. "I can read without your assistance, and am. perfectly acquainted with its contents,' she said. But it is a pleasure to me to read the Scriptures to a fellow-creature.' She smiled somewhat contemptuously, and said there could exist no mutual feelings between such opposite beings. Sorrow,' I said, “ has always a claim upon sympathy. You appear friendless; and if I could impart any comfort to you, I should rejoice.' This expression of kindness seemed to win upon her. She extended her hand, and shed tears. Still all which I advanced on the subject of religion appeared to produce none, or at the best but a transient, effect. The divine light on the page was wanting, and I had another practical proof that the quickening power is God's prerogative.f I bowed my head and heart at his footstool, earnestly imploring for his name's sake that he would make known his saving grace to this benighted soul.
* John xvi. 7-13. + John xv. 26. • Zechariah iv. 6,7; Luke xi. 13; James i. 5.