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than the present season, when we are closing another period of our short and fleeting time. While therefore the few remaining sands of the year are running out, let us remember, that God requires that which is past.
Í. A review of our past means and privileges. God judges of things as they are: he knows that the body is nothing to the soul, or time to eternity! he has therefore graciously provided for our spiritual and everlasting welfare.
He remembered us in our low estate, and devised a way in which his mercy could be exercised in harmony with his justice.
This purpose of grace formed from before the foundation of the world was accomplished in the fulness of time. The friend of sinners came to seek and to save that which was lost. He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. " All things are now ready”
But you are to be made ready too: and hence the dispensation of the gospel, and all the advantages with which you have been indulged. By these, I mean your having been born in a land of vision, where the Saviour of the world is known. I mean your having enjoyed the blessings of the reformation, which gave each of you the scriptures in your mother tongue. In the original, the bible would have been no more to you than a fine well of water covered by a rock, which you could not move, or as so many beautiful pictures hung up in a dark room-but now the stone is rolled away from the well's mouth, and these pictures are placed in open day. I mean your having had the word of life, not only to read, but also to hear.
I mean your having had ministers to call you to repentance, to warn you of your danger,
to beseech you in Christ's stead to be reconciled unto God. I mean the various ordinances of the sanctuary, and all the helps to seriousness and devotion, which the goodness of God has afforded you.
These means of grace are unspeakably import- , ant, and you have had them in rich profusion: you have had line upon line, and precept upon precept. During the past year only, you have to account for fifty-two Sabbaths, and perhaps more than one hundred sermons! - What influence have all these had upon your minds? Are you cruci. fied to the world? Are you denying yourselves, and taking up your cross, and following the Saviour? Are your affections inore spiritual, your principles more powerful, your minds more enlightened? Must we address you as our Lord díd his disciples, “ Are ye also yet without understanding?"-or as the apostle did the Hebrews,
When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."
o let me call upon you to review all your opportunities, and means of instruction, and improvement; and compare yourselves with them. See whether the end of them has been answered at all; and whether your proficiency has been proportioned in any degree to the number and value of your privileges. Do not think your concern with them is all over- -God requireth that which is past. 6. What is become of these advantages to what purposes have you applied them? Where are the fruits of them? They were given you as talents to improve; and if they have
been useless, be assured they will prove injurious. If they do not save they will condemn; and if they are not the savour of life unto life, they are the savour of death unto death."
The proprietor of the vineyard said, “Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none.
" Observe this.
You see God distinctly notices how many seasons of unprofitableness people have passed through. And if he thought of cutting down this tree because in a favourable situation,
it had yielded nothing for three years only; what can he resolve, but the immediate destruction of those individuals who have been fruitless under the means of grace twenty, perhaps forty or sixty years! Surely the vine-dresser himself cannot implore for such, one year, one month, one week more! " He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
II. He requires a review of past mercies. When humble and attentive minds look back, their mercies appear so many that it is impossible to enumerate them. And hence divines have taught Christians to serve their mercies as botanists do flowers—to class them: or as astronomers deal with the stars-to form them into constellations. They tell them in looking back to think of mercies temporal and spiritual; mercies public and private; mercies personal and relative. They tell them to think of continued mercies; restored mercies; and of preventing and delivering mercies. They would have them also fix their minds on particular instances—for instances affect much more powerfully than things in a mass. They teach them also not to overlook the circumstances which enhance their blessings; such as are derived from their seasonableness, their utility, and so on.Take their advice, and pursue this plan.
How many times has he lulled you to sleep in his arms, fed you at his table, clothed you from his wardrobe? How often has he supplied yons wants, and wiped away tears from your eyes? When brought low, has he not helped you? When in jeopardy, has he not defended you? When sickness has alarmed your fears, has he not led you back from the gates of the grave! When accidents have been ready to destroy, have not "all your bones. said, who is a God like unto thee?" În how many cases has he given us favour in the eyes of our fellow-creatures: and blessed us with the advantages and pleasures of friendship? From what low and obscure beginnings has he raised some of us in the course of his wonder-working providence; and how well does it become us to compare the former time—when with our staves we passed over Jordan, with the present-when we are become two bands, and have all things richly to enjoy.
There are few persons who in looking back are not able to perceive some very striking displays. of divine goodness. We do not wish people to be forward to publish these to the world-many of them would not be, and could not be striking to others; but they ought to observe these remarkable interpositions themselves, and to say with David, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Nothing can impress or influence our minds when it is forgotten. We should therefore recall our mercies, and place them full before us, that we may feel whether we have rendered according to the benefit done us. How much of our insensibility and ingratitude
springs from inattention, and a bad memory: and how well may it be said of thousands as it was said of Israel, “Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.”
Asit is so necessary to keep things in the mind, and as our memories are so treacherous, it would be well for us in every possible way, to aid our recollection, and to endeavour to preserve and perpetuate those good feelings, which our mercies produce when we receive them. Thus “Samuel took a stone, and set it between Miz. peh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” And thus Joseph, by the very name of his children, would recall the wonders which the Lord had showed him: “And Joseph called the name of the first born Manasseh; for God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. And the name of the second, called he Ephraims for God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” And hence the command given to Ephraim: "Set thee up way-marks, make thee high heaps; set thine heart towards the highway, even the
which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.”
If we had indulged a person year after year, all through life, should we not require him to think of it; to be sensible of our kindness, and to behave towards us becoming bis obligations? There is nothing, perhaps, which we feel more painfully than the ungrateful reception of the favours we bestow: and a very few instances of unthanksulness are sufficient to induce us to discontinue our benefits. What then does God think of us? Not only are the expressions of his goodness infinitely