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we have met with. For all these admonitions are we the better, and have we profited by them? Let it be supposed, for instance, that we had been accustomed aforetime to pray but seldom, and, when we did, to pray without attention, and without fruit. Do we now observe the hours of prayer with more constancy and less distraction? Do we really and truly find any pleasure in our devotions? or are we dragged unwillingly to them as a task, and, consequently, rejoice with all our hearts when they are over? For years together, perhaps, we have turned our backs on the communion table. Is it in our intention to give that holy ordinance a more frequent attendance for the future? Do we hear a sermon with a determined resolution to carry what is said into practice, or as a matter of amusement only, and a subject whereon to display our powers of criticism? Does the current of our thoughts flow in any degree more pure than formerly? Is our conversation become innocent, at least, if not improving; free from slander and scandal, from pride and conceit ? Are our actions more and more directed by the rules of justice and charity? Above all, what use do we make of the talents with which it hath pleased God to intrust us, particularly those two, our time, and our fortunes? Is it altogether such as that we shall be able, on our death-beds, to think on it, before God, with comfort and confidence? When we examine ourselves as to the progress we have made in the Christian life since this day twelvemonth, do we find that we have made any progress at all, that
we have discarded any evil habits, or acquired any good ones; that we have mortified any vices, or brought forward to perfection any virtues? In one word, as we grow older, do we grow wiser and better? These are the questions which should be asked at the conclusion of a year-And may the heart of every person here present return to them an answer of peace!
4. While we are following a friend to his grave, it is obvious to reflect, that his day of trial is at an end, that the time allotted him for his probation is over, and his condition fixed for eternity. Engaged in the awful speculation, we can hardly avoid the following reflection if, instead of his being taken from us, we had been taken from him, what at this time had been our lot and portion in the other world? By the favour of God we have lived to the end of the year: we might have died before it. In such case where had we now been? Have we no misgivings within? Do we feel as if we thought all would have been right? Are we conscious to ourselves of having stood prepared at all times, and for all events, in such habits of repentance, faith, and charity, as would have rendered our passage hence welcome and prosperous? If not, should we delay, for a moment, to make such preparation, and to stand in such habits?-Suppose any person had means of being assured, and actually were assured, that he should die upon the last day of the year into which he is now entered, we should all agree upon the manner in which such person ought to spend the year. There would not be, I dare
say, one dissentient voice. Yet, upon the supposition here made, this person has before him a whole year certain. Is not the obligation then still stronger upon every one of us? For that man must be out of his senses, who can bring himself to imagine that he has a whole year certain, or a month, or a day, or an hour. The argument is not to be answered.
I have somewhere read of one who, having strong religious impressions, and feeling terrible apprehensions whenever the ideas of death and judgement presented themselves, contrived so to habituate his mind to the contemplation of them, as to render them ever after, not only easy, but agreeable. His custom was, to consider each evening as the close of life, the darkness of the night as the time of death, and his bed as his grave. He composed himself for the one, therefore, as he would have done for the other. On retiring to rest, he fell on his knees; confessed, and entreated pardon for the transgressions of the day; renewed his faith in the mercies of God through Christ; expressed in a prayer of intercession his charity towards all mankind; and then committed his soul into the hands of his Creator and Redeemer, as one who was to awake no more in this world. His sleep after this was perfectly sweet; the days added to his life were estimated as clear gain; and when the last came, it ended with as much tranquillity as all that had preceded. I would wish to recommend this example to your imitation. The practice will cost you some pains and trouble, perhaps, for a little while; but you will never have cause to repent that you be
stowed them; and I know of no better method whereby you can place yourselves in a state of constant security and comfort.
5. When we say that we have lost a friend, we can mean only, that we have lost him for a time. He is not finally perished; we shall see him again: and therefore it behoves us to consider what our sensations will be at the sight of him; which must always depend on our usage of him during his life. We shall see him with joy or grief, as we have formerly used him well or otherwise; and all that we have ever said or done relative to him will then be known. We are too apt to forget this circumstance; and seem to think that when they are dead with whom we have been concerned, no farther account will be taken of our behaviour towards them. Otherwise the consideration could not but have a great effect in the regulation of our conduct.
The case is exactly the same respecting the old year now departed. It is, indeed, as we have observed before, numbered among the dead; but like the dead, it will, in one sense, arise and appear to us again, and we shall be made to recollect the usage it received at our hands, while we were in possession of it upon earth. Memory will in that hour be quickened and perfected. Like a mirror holden before our eyes, it will represent faithfully to our minds the various transactions of the year in which we bore a part; and we shall be forced to recognise and acknowledge the thoughts, the words, and the actions which passed during its continuance with us. May we find
pleasure in reviewing them!-But review them we must-and so must He who is to be our judge, at the day of his second manifestation. That day draws on apace. For not only friends die, and years expire, and we ourselves shall do the same, but the world itself approaches to its end. It likewise must die. Once already has it suffered a watery death: it is to be destroyed a second time by fire. A celebrated author, having in his writings followed it through all its changes from the creation to the consummation, describes the eruption of this fire and the progress it is to make, with the final and utter devastation to be effected by it, when all sublunary nature shall be overwhelmed and sunk in a molten deluge. In this situation of things he stands over the world, as if he had been the only survivor, and pronounces its funeral oration in a strain of sublimity scarce ever equalled by mere man.
"Let us reflect upon this occasion, on the vanity " and transient glory of this habitable world. How, by the force of one element breaking loose upon the "rest, all the varieties of nature, all the works of "art, all the labours of men, are reduced to nothing! "All that we admired and adored before, as great "and magnificent, is obliterated or vanished; and "another form and face of things, plain, simple, and
every where the same, overspreads the whole earth. "Where are now the great empires of the world, "and their imperial cities? their pillars, trophies, " and monuments of glory? Show me where they "stood, read the inscription, tell me the conqueror's