Page images
PDF
EPUB

grimage on earth, rather than to increase its few comforts and ordinary blessings.

Other causes of mortification and regret may arise, in abundance, from the vices and untractable tempers of disobedient and undutiful children ;-more especially, if the effects, which we deplore, may be ascribed, in the least degree, to our own folly, and misconduct. We may not, perhaps, be justly chargeable with any want of care and attention ; nor with any harshness, caprice, or unnecessary severity: but the greatest evils often flow from very opposite causes. If, from excessive indulgence, and ungovernable affections, you render the tender minds of children vain, proud, and selfish, when they should be humble, teachable, and obedient;-if, relaxing all parental authority, you act with such preposterous folly, as if you would invert the wise order of nature, and of providence, by teaching your offspring, that you are dependent on them, instead of the reverse ;-then, indeed, as they grow up, you may expect to have deep and lasting causes of regret. The seeds of every vice and every folly have been profusely scattered, and you must expect to “ reap as you have sown." In the language of the prophet, you may say, we looked for peace, but no

66

good came;" or complain that “ the thorn is grown up instead of the fir-tree, and the briar instead of the myrtle.”

Other melancholy retrospects will present themselves to the mind, when we look back on seasons and opportunities of doing good to ourselves, and others, which we have suffered to pass away without improvement, or regard. Many have to accuse themselves not only of carelessness and sloth; but of having lost the talent, which others had acquired, and entrusted to their care. Encouraging the restlessness of discontent;—pursuing, to foolish and sinful excess, the projects of ambition ; desirous of finding out some short way to the acquisition of wealth, instead of treading, with patient industry, the beaten path ;-like the Roman revolutionist, at once prodigal and rapacious ;--and, therefore, fond of trusting daily to desperate contingencies, rather than to the sober certainties, or established probabilities of life ;-thousands' may lament, that they have irretrievably lost the means of happiness and competence, if they have not brought themselves and families to misery and ruin.

But whatever grounds may exist in our own minds for melancholy and regret, for mortifica

H

tion and disappointment, as connected with these, or any other events, which memory and self-examination would set before us, we cannot but know, and feel too sensibly, perhaps, that the time which is past is gone for ever. The hour that should have been marked with dili, gence and improvement, instead of idleness and folly ;-with the duties of virtue and religion, instead of the pursuits of frivolous amusements, and vicious pleasures ;-with acts of charity and beneficence, instead of mischievous and contagious examples ; - that hour, how frequently soever it may have recurred, and been neglected, or abused, has now glided down the great stream of eternity, and can no more be recovered, than the waters of the brook, which have once mingled in the spacious bed of the ocean.

Of the various treasures, which the goodness of our Great Creator throws in our way, none indeed are of a more irredeemable nature, strictly speaking, than that of time. The language of the text, therefore, which seems to admit the possibility of “ redeeming” it, must be taken in a metaphorical sense. We may, by future diligence, and exertion, make some amends for the time that has been lost, or squandered unprofitably away: and those who, in their younger years, have been indolent and careless, are frequently exhorted, in colloquial language, to " make up for lost time.". This, indeed, may frequently be done, provided the day be not too far spent, and the race of life be not too nearly over ; and, agreeably to the apostle's expression, such improvement may be considered as “ redeeming the time.”

Let the young be impressed, then, with the salutary conviction, that, if they suffer their season of life to pass away, without its proper improvement in the elements of useful knowledge--in acquiring virtuous habits, and in performing their religious duties, it can never be recalled. We may add, that the lesson, which is now neglected, will, at any future period, be far more irksome, and difficult. They are, in general, it is to be lamented, unwilling to hear, and reluctant to practise, whatever opposes their own wayward fancies and inclinations : but, in order to render instruction of all kinds more pleasant, and discipline more easy, let them remember that their first duty is: obedience. They cannot form any adequate judgment of the value and importance of their present acquisitions, nor see how intimately they are con

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

selves;

nected with those duties, and that station in life, to which it may please God to call them. Others will, in all ordinary cases, think, and feel, and act for them, and that with anxious care, and vigilant attention. With respect to certain prohibitions, and salutary restraints, as well as to those motives, rules of conduct, and ulterior views, which are not to be thoroughly felt, or understood, till we arrive at a mature age, they may safely release themselves from the task of judging, and deciding for them

---a task, which a forward vanity is sometimes too ready to impose on them, and be convinced that the best pledge they can offer of future wisdom, virtue, and happiness, is chearful submission, gratitude, and love. Let them, therefore, redeem themselves, if I may use the expression, from all habits of idleness and inattention, all the mischiefs and evils of disobedience, self-will, and a refractory spirit ; devoting their minds entirely to the diligent improvement of time, and to the cultivation of a teachable, dutiful, and affectionate disposition.

To those, who, having passed the usual age of discipline and restraint, are, in a great measure, masters of their own time and conduct, the voice of Religion would

say,

“Redeem the

« PreviousContinue »