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NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS.
Another year has passed away, never to return! Who can tell how rapid has been its flight, or how momentous its history! If the history of one human being, during that short period, exceeds our comprehension, when viewed as a commencing link in an endless existence-how much more the myriads which inhabit the world ! It seems like yesterday since it was begun. Like a wave in the stormy sea it has carried us impetuously forward many degrees nearer to the end of our life; where, prepared or unprepared, we must meet in judgment “ that God, with whom we have to do.” How many has this brief period ushered into that world, where years are never counted, and where the stamp of an unchanging eternity is seen on every one of its inhabitants ! Yes, they are gone !—and every spirit, as it hastened from its body with the quickness of a sunbeam into the presence of God, proclaimed afresh that warning to us all, “Be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.”
Another year has fled :—and while the records of our character and history have gone with it to the throne of God, they have left an awful transcript on our souls, which no created power can efface! Startle not when we tell you that throughout that space of time, an effect has been produced on you, more important and imperishable, than on the whole earth besides, when regarded in a temporal point of view. For when the ever-shifting scene of time shall have fulfilled its last appointed movement—when this world, which is now waxing old, shall have fully answered the purposes which it was created to subserve ;—then shall it be burnt up with all its adornments, and the collected industry of a thousand ages ;—while your precious soul shall stand forth, throughout eternity, with the grand predominant features of your spiritual history inscribed upon it :-either a pillar in the temple above, where all shall read the wonders of the love and grace of God to you-ward through Jesus Christ, and the nearness of your advance while on earth to his blessed image,-or a beacon in the regions of woe, inscribed with “shame and everlasting contempt!” Not a day has passed, not an hour has been spent, but your neverdying spirit has advanced to one or other of these final and unchangeable results, even according to your state and character in the sight of God. Do you doubt this, because you may not have been conscious of it, even though the awakening fact is borne out by the history of all ages, as also by the infallible Word of God?
As well may you doubt the incessant changes in the natural world, or the growth or decay of the human body, because we are unconscious of these operations at the moments of their occurrence. Look at the waves of the sea, beating on a rock! Know you that every succeeding wave produces on that rock a certain change? If any one denies this statement, because we are unable to point out, at the receding of the wave, the amount of change effected, we leave him for a time, and return again, after the lapse of years ;—and there we find the rock altered in its form! With what? Evidently with the beating of the waves. We ask, when was this done? -at once? No: but imperceptibly, gradually, incessantly. The result of one stroke, or one hundred strokes, was not perceptible, but the aggregate result of many thousands of waves is now visible and incontrovertible. The application is obvious. Whatever be your character, there is, and has been going on in your soul, an incessant preparation for your final abode. Every thought, every feeling you have cherished, has left its impression, and weakened or strengthened
your habitual character! No day has left you as it found you! And oh ! if you are not, through faith in the alone merits of Jesus, and through obedience to his will, laying up treasure for eternal life; if you are not seeking the Lord'habitually as the friend of your heart, the Saviour of your soul, and your hope for time and eternity ;-if you are not continually having recourse to his blood to cleanse you from all sin, and desiring that frequent intercourse with God, which is the true mark of genuine affection, what can we conclude in regard to you from the infallible Word of God? If we look to that standard, and the account which it gives of those who are on the road either to eternal glory, or destruction, we have too much reason to fear, that in place of laying up for yourself the “ treasures in heaven,” you have really been, in the sight of God, gathering the materials of your future and everlasting sufferings. We pity the deluded heathen who desires for herself the funeral pile, and when it is lighted, rushes recklessly into the flames. wherein do you differ –(if what we have now described is your character,) except in the awful aggravation of your guilt, and the exceeding fearfulness of your doom, while you continue unreconciled” and “ unsanctified ?” She, to obtain an imaginary heaven, lies down on those materials which burn and expire in a moment; while you, O unconverted reader, for the perishing enjoyments of time, shall inevitably lie down (if you die as you are at the present moment,) on that “ pile of fire and much wood,” which is “ deep and large,” which the “ breath of the Almighty like a stream of brimstone shall kindle,” and which shall never cease to increase in intensity of anguish.
In these eventful times, we see the fate of empires, cities, communities, hastening to a crisis, and the eyes of the world are fixed upon them, while on every side are to be seen joy and sorrow,-fear, hope, and anxiety strangely commingled ! But what then! these, all these events, concern us less, far less, than the future, the everlasting destiny of our own souls : for “ What shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?" What will it avail us, though all the earthly changes and fluctuations which our imagination could conceive, were to occur, not only in our beloved country, but throughout the whole world, if, while we are drifting from them all by the stream of time, into the world of spirits, our own souls are perishing, and a weight of accumulated, unpardoned guilt is lying on them? require to prove that the first and nearest concern of every human being is with the salvation of his own soul; and that if this is not secured, nothing will, nothing can be a compensation for the tremendous and eternal loss? of us been the absolute sovereign of the world throughout the longest monarchy which ever existed, and had all its government been conducted by consummate skill, and our wishes accomplished incessantly to the very letter; yet, if we at length descended to the realms of eternal woe, where would be our profit? O! if you die without being in friendship with God, through faith in the sacrifice of the Redeemer, will the remembrance of any earthly circumstances be a drop of peace to your agonized existence? Will they cheer your mind under the fearful recollection that you gave your heart to the things of time, and despised or neglected the love of God, and the infinitely precious gift of his beloved Son?
What say you to these things? We meet you on the threshold of another year, and hastening to the gates of
eternity as rapidly at least as our world travels in its orbs around the sun. How do we meet you? We ask the question which travellers by sea call to each other from a distance—“ Whither are you bound?” How can we offer you the congratulations of the season, when, for aught we know, you may be hastening forward to irretrievable ruin? Our purpose is urgent. We have no time for ceremony. We demand of you, therefore, with all the abruptness of genuine affection in circumstances of danger, are you the reconciled friend, or still the enemy of God ? Have you discovered the necessity for the atonement of Jesus, in your own guilt and fearful danger? Have you been awakened to cry for pardon and eternal life, as earnestly and importunately as a drowning mariner calls for the hand of deliverance ?
Do you really believe and cling with all your heart to the good news of the love of God, in the gift of his beloved Son to a lost world,“ that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but might have everlasting life?"-and have you obtained from above a new disposition to love and serve God-to seek his face-his favour and his glory? We ask not what church you belong to ;-nor by what class of professing Christians you may be denominated. No! Names go far in this world :-but, at the day of Christ's appearing, names, certificates, and testimonials from churches and ministers will not avail. Yes! a man may arrive at “that day” loaded with such testimonials, and being found without one from the Lord Jesus, (even the abiding witness of the Holy Spirit) they will be all rejected. Suffer us, therefore, affectionately to present one criterion more of your condition in the view of eternity. But of what avail will it be if you are unwilling to know the truth in regard to yourselves, be it ever so painful,—or having known it, to follow it out with your whole heart? It is easy to stifle conviction, and evade the truth of God; but they who are determined to speak peace to themselves at any risk, shall do it, as a judgment from God. The criterion we offer, is in the simple questionwhere do you seek—where do you find your happiness ? This is the real test of character. Every human being has by his very constitution an incessant thirst for happiness, and must necessarily seek it somewhere. Where, then, do you seek habitually to allay your thirst for enjoyment ? Is it in the element of this world ?-or in the realities of God ? Search and see. Ask for a light from above, if you are doubtful of the answer. Many are very zealous in outward ordinances of religion, who nevertheless in heart seek