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YEARS SPENT AS A TALE THAT IS TOLD.

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all our toil and concern to the body, which will soon drop into the tomb; but to seek, and seek first, the welfare of the soul, which must exist for ever. This is the improvement man is to make of this favour. This is the allimportant, and should be the great, business of life. Our interest suggests the questions, “Has my time been thus successfully improved ? Do I know Christ as my Saviour from the curse and consequences of sin ? Have I become a subject of the kingdom of God ?'' If so, this present life will be to me an eternal blessing.

Years are ours, to be accounted for to God, the Giver. “No moment is given man without account." So said a sage, and so says the word of truth ; declaring that “God will bring every work into judgment.” We have a daily account going on, which must be rendered ; and all our words, works, thoughts, and desires, are reckoned for us or against us. From this responsibility none can escape. The voice of infallible truth has declared that “every one of us must give an account of himself unto God.” Even if no account were to be rendered, it would be folly to neglect the improvement of our opportunity; but we must “stand before the judgment-seat of Christ,” to be judged for every moment of responsibility in this world. Affecting, solemn thought! Yet how many there are who must confess, “We have spent our years as a tale that is told;" as a word uttered, and about which we have no more concern; or as the meditation of a moment, which is soon forgotten ; or as a passing shadow, which is scarcely noticed! Such is the example of many whose conduct confirms the confession of Moses.

Years are spent as a tale that is told by those who pass through them with indifference to their ralue and design. “It is only a tale," say they. So men speak and act, as though life itself were but a sound or fiction. They only live for pleasure, to gratify their passions, to pursue the phantonis of sense, and to enjoy the uncertain and perishable possessions of the world. Such a careless one was the fool who said, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." Like many at the present day, who devote their years to lying vanities ; wasting strength, perverting talent, and cven squandering away possessions for that which satisfieth not. Numerous indeed are they who thus spend their years in carelessness and vanity; sowing the wind, and reaping the whirlwind; feeding on ashes, and spending their strength for nought.

Years are spent as a tale that is told by those who soon forget what should have been remembered. The tale told is soon forgotten, like a dream of the night, or passing cloud of the day. Thus the transactions which ought to be remembered with penitence, or as occasions of praise, are lost in oblivion. Instead of compunction, and earnest prayer for Divine mercy, the memory of sin is banished. Perhaps, on first reflection, pangs of conscience were felt ; but time glides on, and they are forgotten, and their guilt remains on the soul with deeper stain, and God pronounces condemnation. Blessings, also, are received in a variety of forms, and just at the moment the name of the Giver may be ultered in language of formal praise; but it lives not in daily songs, in holy life, and acts of grateful service to the Lord. Examples confirmatory of this description are all those who live without private prayer, family and public worship. Their years of mercy pass away as a tale that is told, and the mercy ceases to be remembered.

Years are spent as a tale that is told by those who disregard their flight. The tale is soon finished ; it has flitted over the mind, as a sunbeam on the rock, leaving no impression. So life passes away with many; and its transience is well figured by the vapour that " appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away," or by a "shadow on the earth, having no abiding." Switter

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WHO IS MOST USEFUL?

than the eagle's flight has been the movement of the pauseless past. Thus “our years” waste, giving only a present, momentary possession,-for the past cannot be recalled, and on the future no dependence can be placed ; nor can their progress be arrested. And too many, heedless of their departure, are so far from redeeming their hours, that they even try to

“Lash the lingering moments into speed." For this should man be humbled before his God; and let his humility appear in penitential confession of folly, and supplication for forgiveness. Were a fellow-creature to confer a gift to promote the accomplishment of any purpose, and the receiver, instead of devoting that gift to the purpose for which it had been bestowed, were to use it against the will, the pleasure, and even the honour of the giver, would he not have cause to blush in the presence of his friend? Then how much more should man be abased in the presence of his God, deplore his folly, and fear the consequences of his neglect ? A conviction of this neglect, and indifference in time past, should prompt to diligent improvement of the future. “ Years should teach knowledge;" and the past should cast an admonitory influence upon the future. To the rightly-instructed mind they do say, “We have been lost, let future years be redeemed: we have been neglected, let them be employed : we have been abused, let them be used aright: we have been counted worthless, let them be valued : we have been squandered for the concerns of the body, let them be consecrated to the service of the soul : we have been employed in the pursuit of things present, let them be occupied with the verities of eternity." And let every one heed the admonition, and thus resolve,-" This year that I am permitted to commence, and may be spared to spend,' shall be more highly valued, and better employed, than the one just elapsed. I will be more diligent in duty, more frequent in prayer, more devotional in spirit, and more circumspect in conduct. It shall not pass like 'a tale that is told,' but be estimated and improved as an eventful reality." Such a resolution is worthy of an intelligent and responsible being; and, when serseveringly reduced to practice, will have a salutary influence on the events of time, as they, in their turn, will contribute to the happiness of eternity. They who thus reason will avoid in death the guilty pangs of those who, learning too late the value of years misspent, but sensible that they have been abused or neglected, as to the important purposes for which they were given, will have to confess, with bitter anguish, “ We have spent our years in vain : we remember them as an empty, idle tale that is told, leaving only painful thoughts, and fearful apprehensions.” Dark termination of one's years! To avoid it, let each and all pray, “Lord, so teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm xc. 12.) Chelsea.

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WHO IS MOST USEFUL? He that retains, by the exercise of lively faith in the atonement, the largest measure of the Spirit in the church below. Many pious persons have been depressed by the notion that, because they are laid aside from public view, and are now living in obscurity, they must needs be useless, even a burden to others. This is unbelief. It is a dishonour to the God of life. Not a few have been tempted to question the wisdom of Divine Providence, because some visibly useful agent has been removed by death, and another spared, whose lile appears of little or no value to the world. In our present position, and with our present light, it is not easy to answer, on this point, all the unbelieving queries of the "faithless." But admitting, as we may, that where there is

A WAYSIDE CONVERSATION.

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most of the Holy Ghost in "the living temple," there is the most useful person among men, we open to all parties the door of the highest degree of usefulness. Listening to the Divine injunction, "Be ye filled with the Spirit, we may start, even on a sick bed, for a philanthropic prize that the highest angel might covet. If man is the greatest “ blessing" on earth, at that moment of his existence in which he has most of the Divine nature, we may live and die in faith, in a degree that some victims of discouragement have not thought it their Christian privilege to aspire after. They have been oppressed with the fear they should live to be useless. In one sense this godly jealousy is right; for the “salt may lose its savour,” and then a man is useless: yea, worse than useless, he is a curse. But a Christian is not useless because not in office ; or because “sick of the palsy," and laid on the bed. The most useful part of a Minister's or a philanthropist's life may be the period of confinement to his chamber; because that part is the holiest. Supplication for all saints," prayer for all men,” when we "pray in the Holy Ghost,'' is, perhaps, the greatest benefit that mortals can render to the world. This, surely, is best done when we are nearest the throne of heaven; when our union with God is most perfect. This kind of usefulness requires "mighty faith,” and the spirit of quenchless, burning charity Divine. Charity, kindling every moment by the descent of celestial fire : faith, sustained by the heart's constant grasping of the “precious promises." What section of the church, what grade of Ministers, what class of persons in civil society, is most useful in promoting human happiness? We may safely answer, " Those who live

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“ and walk most in the Spirit;" those who have the greatest “power with God” in saying, “ Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” It is the piety of a nation that preserves and "exalts” it. That piety is personal,- the indwelling of the Spirit in individual believers. Consistent faith in Christ, according to its various measures, is the multiform channel for the "rivers of living water" to flow in from heaven, and fertilise the world. “In doing good," then, let no man's heart be discouraged, from want of learning or money, office or health; for there is reason to believe that he is the most useful man to the world, who has most of God in him. “BE YE HOLY, For I AM HOLY.”

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A WAYSIDE CONVERSATION.

BY THE REV. T. D. BAINES.

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Two friends happening to meet, and having to travel in the same direction, the following conversation passed between them :

John. Good morning, Thomas : it is a fine morning.

Thomas. Yes; the Lord sends us delightful weather for the time of the year.

J. If it be a fair question, where are you going this morning ?

T. I am going to a prayer-meeting, at John Thompson's : will you go with me?

J. No; I am going to church : and I wish you had been there last Sunday; for we had an excellent sermon.

T. Had you? pray where was the text ?

J, Dear me! I have quite forgot it; but I remember the subject was baptism, and that our Clergyman clearly proved we were "born again" in baptism, and if we did our best to lead a moral life, and in addition to that received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, we should after death go to heaven. It was a capital sermon. I wish you had heard it: I believe it would have cured you of going to the meeting-house.

A WAYSIDE CONVERSATION.

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“ born again

7. You said lie clearly proved that we were born again in baptism. I should like to know how he proved it.

J. My memory is so bad, I cannot remember how: but I know he did prove it, and I am persuaded many of my neighbours thought so; for, when they got out of church, they said smilingly to one another, “ Our Parson has dressed the Methodists to-day, to their hearts' content."

7. I am sorry your memory is so bad. Did he say anything of being "born of water and of the Spirit," of "the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost ?"*

J. O yes ! now you mention those passages, I remember he did ; and laid great stress upon them. I think, if my memory serves me, he said the case was so clear that infants were

in baptism, that no man possessed of common understanding could deny it.

T. Well, John, I am surprised and sorry to hear he should say so; for it proves that either his heart or his head was bad. If he knew better, his heart was bad ; if he did not, his head was bad, and the money expended in sending him to college was badly employed. Now, John, if you will read the conversation our Lord had with Nicodemus, you will find that it refers to the regeneration of “a man" whatever, therefore, that text may prove, it proves nothing towards “identifying regeneration with infant baptism." And further, John, if this text (John ii. 5) proves that the element of water is essential to regeneration, it follows that the element of fire is essential to the baptism of the Holy Ghost. (Matt. iii. 11.) A Clergyman of your own Church says, and surely you will believe him, if you wont a Methodist :

"It has been confidently asserted that the washing of regeneration' means that regeneration is the effect of the washing, when the fact is, that exactly the opposite meaning is the true one. Had the Apostle intended to state the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, he would not have said, by the washing of regeneration,' but, by the regeneration of washing.' The phrase denotes the sanctifying effect, the practical holiness and newness of life, which are the necessary and invariable result of being 'born again.' Washing, or sanctification, is the consequence of the new birth in precisely the same sense and the same way that renewal of the mind is the consequence of the transforming influence of the Holy Ghost. Let us adopt the false and preposterous principle of interpretation which has been commonly applied to this passage in reference to other phrases of Scripture, and its absurdity will immediately strike the dullest comprehension : for instance, the beauty of holiness' would mean the holiness of beauty ; the sin of witchcraft,' the witchcraft of sin ; and “infirmity of the flesh,' the flesh of infirmity; and so forth." —Real Tract for the Times, by the Rev. J. Sutcliffe.

J. I am surprised! this is very different from what our Clergyman taught us, or the way in which he interpreted those passages ; and I confess I feel my confidence in what he said somewhat shaken: and yet, I don't like to give up the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, because it is such an easy way to heaven.

7. You seem surprised that one Church of England Clergyman should teach a doctrine, and another deny it. I will just tell you what one of your own Clergy says in the “Real Tract for the Times :"

" Let any one take up some half dozen out of the scores of contradictory pamphlets that have been published on the baptismal question. He will find obe writer maintaining, with considerable force and ingenuity of argument, that baptismal regeneration is not the doctrine of the Church of England. He will find a second maintaining, with equal confidence, that it is the doctrine of the Church, but not of Scripture ; and, therefore, that the Baptismal Service

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ought to be altered. A third is of opinion that it is the doctrine both of the Church and Scripture, and that the benefit arising from baptism consists in a change both of nature and state. A fourth considers that that benefit is limited to a change of state only, the nature of the child remaining precisely the same as before. A fifth persuades himself that he has at last found the “Key to Modern Controversy,' in making regeneration to be twofold, ecclesiastical and spiritual. A sixth, wlio may justly claim the merit of originality, gravely propounds the supremely preposterous notion, that in the human nature of Christ, all men are 'generally new born!'

" Now, all these writers are Clergymen, who have subscribed the same Articles of Religion, and have given their assent to everything contained in the Book of Common Prayer. In their own estimation, they are all sound Churchmen; in that of some portion, at least, of their brethren, there is not a sound Churchman among them."

You said, John, it was an easy way to heaven?
J. I did.

T. The easiness of the way is one reason why you ought to doubt its being right ; for our Lord says, “Strait is the gate," &c. (Matt. vii. 11.) And the mention of that passage leads me to point out another in the same sermon, "By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Verse 20.) Now supposing, John, I were to take you into my orchard, and show you a tree loaded with fine apples, and one covered with crabs, and ask you which was the apple-tree, you would be able to point it out by the fruit: and, remember, by men's fruit we are to know them. Now, John, what is the fruit produced by your baptized children? Do they not produce all the fruits of our fallen nature? If so, it settles the question ; for if they were regenerated, they would produce the fruits of holiness.

J. Well, Thomas, I must confess that my children are revengeful, proud, obstinate, envious, disobedient, &c.; but still it is possible that infants may be "born again" in baptism.

T. We are not called upon to determine what is possible, but what is å matter of fact; and as you admit that your children, though baptized, bear the fruits of the flesh, it proves they are not regenerated. And, John, allow me to observe, it is quite as likely, to say the least of it, that an adult should be regenerated by baptism as an infant; for the adult might at the very time he was receiving the sacrament believe with his heart unto righteousness : and yet, even in the case of adults, we find they may be baptized without being regenerated, as was the case with Simon Magus ; (Acts viii. 20 ;) and that they may be regenerated without baptism, as was the case with Cornelius; (Acts x. 41;) and therefore baptism is not essential to regeneration.

J. Well, these are two cases that never struck me before : however, I admit it is clear that Simon Magus was baptized, and that after his baptism he was a wicked man; for Peter very soon after said Simon had neither part nor lot in the matter ; (Acts viii. 21–23;) and that Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before his baptism. I really don't know how to deal with these cases: they are too plain to be reasoned away; and therefore I must admit that baptism is not essential to regeneration. But allow me to ask, if it be not essential to regeneration, why is it necessary ?

T. I am glad you admit that baptism is not essential to regeneration ; and I will answer your question by saying, it is necessary--because God commanded it. The risen Saviour said to His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. xxviii. 19.) Did not you say it was an easy way to heaven

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