« PreviousContinue »
ing angel, and are placed in the book of God's remembrance.
What are some of the reflections, feelings, and emotions which a review of the past is fitted to awaken? In the first place, it should have the effect of exciting our gratitude. The monuments of God's care and goodness every where meet our eye. We have but to pause and consider, to look within and about us, to be convinced that our debt of gratitude and love to him is vast, is “endless."
Our life is a mystery in its origin, its continuance, and its end. Dangers press around us at every step. Hosts of diseases stand ready to convey us to the tomb. Yet our Heavenly Father has preserved
He has borne us up in the arms of his love, and his invisible hand has scattered unnumbered blessings in our path.
To his original appointment we are to ascribe those great laws and processes of nature, to which, and not to ourselves, primarily, we owe our comforts and happiness. We look to the earth for those supplies, without which we must soon perish; but are these supplies called forth by our industry and skill alone? Can we send forth temperate airs ? Can we recal the sun to dissolve the frost, and expel the gloomy train of winter? Can we moderate the summer heats? When the ground, on which we tread, is as ashes, and vegetable nature sickens and languishes, can we collect the vapors and disperse them in gentle showers? Can we scatter abroad the gems of morning dew? Are the seasons subject to our power? Can we waken the
melody of spring, or call forth its delicate odors? Can we ripen the harvest, or give their hues and flavor to the autumnal fruits? Can we wield the elements, or bind the planetary influences ? Of all the treasures of the year, vast in number and importance, how few are produced by the sole agency of man! How little is it man can do at best! Of himself how feeble and helpless!
We are thus invited to call to mind what we have received. We are admonished, in the next place, to consider what we have done ; what returns we have made to God for his goodness. How have we employed the year through which he has conducted us? Have we been insensible and forgotten him, living in carelessness of his laws, and without a due sense of his allsurrounding presence and agency, thus subjecting ourselves to the charge of practical atheism? Have we been deaf to the gentle whispers of mercy, by which he has designed to win us to virtue and to himself? Has love to him been our supreme motive, our governing principle ? or have we pursued selfish ends, been wedded to narrow and grovelling views and interests? What advances have we made in goodness, in humility, in self-government, and benevolence ? Has time served to abate our virtuous ardor, and chill the kind affections of our nature, or has it contributed to inflame a thirst of excellence, to extend and enliven our sympathy, and draw closer the ties, which connect us with our fellow travellers on the journey of life? We have approached several steps nearer the tomb;
have we in the same proportion added to our fitness for heaven?
These are questions which deeply concern old and young. Let every one seek a reply to them from his own heart. This reply, it is to be feared, will, in but too many cases, be a very melancholy one.
We cannot recal the past. But the future, should a future year be granted us, is yet in our power. Reform and improvement are within our reach. Let us be anxious and strive to secure them. With the past year let our sins die, let our imperfections be dropped, and our follies end. Let us not take them with us into the coming term. Let them not mar the texture of our future lives. Let them not sully the moments which are yet to arrive.
Let those moments, however few, or however numerous, be rendered back pure to the hand that dispenses them. Let the year be sacred to justice and to humanity, to whatever is right and fit in feelings and temper, and virtuous, attractive and fair in action. We may, if we will, render it subservient to the cause of knowledge, and of goodness, to our own felicity, and to the peace and happiness of society. We may prevent its waste and abuse, but we cannot remedy them when it is gone.
We view the past, it may be, with a feeling of disapprobation ; we are dissatisfied with the attainments already made, we are oppressed with a sense of our deficiencies, with the recollection of time misspent, of opportunities neglected, and powers abused. Let us not go on adding sin to sin, and bitterness to regret, sowing iniquity and reaping of it sorrow. Enough of imperfection will remain with us, at best, often to sadden our reflections, and weigh down our spirits to the earth. Let us not unnecessarily increase the burden, lest it be
than we can bear. Each year leaves a void in the circle of acquaintances, relatives, and friends. Familiar forms disappear, and we look around, and ask, where are the companions of our journey? They have entered the world of spirits. How soon we shall follow them is known only to Him by whose power we are sustained in being. Death may strike at any moment. All else has its season and hour.
“ Leaves have their time to fall,
Who shall point out its place and hour? Since then we know not our time, what remains for us but to be ready and watch, that we be not surprised by the summons, however soon, or sudden, its arrival?
THE HOUR OF DEATH.
(From Mrs. Hemans.)
LEAVES have their time to fall,
And stars to set-but all,
Day is for mortal care,
Night for the dreams of sleep, the voice of prayerBut all for thee, thou Mightiest of the earth.
The banquet hath its hour,
There comes a day for grief's o'erwhelming power, A time for softer tears—but all are thine.
Youth and the opening rose
And smile at thee-.but thou art not of those
Leaves have their time to fall,
And stars to set-but all,
We know when moons shall wane,
When autumn's hue shall tinge the golden grain-But who shall teach us when to look for thee?-
Is it when spring's first gale
Is it when roses in our paths grow pale ?--
Thou art where billows foam,
Thou art around us in our peaceful home,
Thou art where friend meets friend, Beneath the shadow of the elm to rest
Thou art where foe meets foe, and trumpets rend The skies, and swords beat down the princely crest.