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precious hours that are yet to come, not only from indolence and sloth, but from idle pleasures, and trifling occupations. If the former may be considered as mere vacuity, the latter are little better than barren wastes on the map of life. Happy are they, however, who do not find the one engendering vices of every kind, and the other leading, by an almost insensible progress, to sin, misery, and ruin.
But so copious and varied is the list of human transgressions, and omissions of duty, that the mention of one class often reminds us of another, though of a very different description. While the young, from being too much addicted to pleasure, and slaves to their appetites and passions, are seeking their own gratifications, with an eagerness, and fondness for variety, which must necessarily imply the breach, or neglect, of every sober duty ;-there are too many in middle life, and on the confines of old
who are incessantly occupied with the anxious cares and concerns of the world ; — with endless schemes of gain ;-with varying projects of business, or restless dreams of ambition and power. To such men I would say, without hazard of error, that if there be one folly in human conduct, which, without being stigmatised with atrocious guilt, is more striking and prominent than another, it is that of spending the whole of life in preparing to live; or, like the foolish traveller, of still continuing to lay in additional stores of provisions, and necessaries, even in the very last stage of our journey.
If there are any present to whom these remarks will apply, let me exhort them to listen to the apostle's warning, and in future“ to redeem the time.” Out of the large sum of days, and weeks, and years, which your previous habits have devoted, and which you may now be disposed to pledge, to the acquisition of wealth and honors, and other perishable things of this life, redeem some precious hours, at least, which may be consecrated to the nobler purposes of virtue, and religion. Consider, this is not our resting-place, or home. We are but as strangers and pilgrims here; "our days pass away as the swift ships; as the eagle that hasteth to the prey;". and, before another year shall have finished its course, some of us, it
may be expected, shall.“ be gathered unto our fathers."
With this awful uncertainty of life and death hanging over our heads, to be heedless of the concerns of eternity, and of that great day, when we must all give account to “ Him that
judgeth the quick and the dead," appears to be a degree of folly and infatuation bordering on insanity.
With full and earnest purposes of amendment, let us humbly hope then for a further extension of life, not that we may continue to waste it in folly, negligence, and sin; but that we may, in a truly religious sense, fulfil the apostle's precept, and endeavour to “redeem the time;"—feeling a “ godly sorrow” and contrition for the treasures, which we have already lost, or sinfully abused ;-truly thankful for the opportunity, which is still graciously afforded us for newness of life, and, for this purpose, disposed to join, with fervent devotion, in the earnest prayer
of the Psalmist, to our Heavenly Father, “ “O, spare me a little, that I may recover my strength, before I go hence, and be no more seen !"
We are farther urged to this steady course in our moral and religious duties by the conside, ration, which the apostle states, as a reason, in the latter part of the text. “ Redeeming the time, because," he observes," the days are evil ;” and the observation is fraught with that practical wisdom, which can scarcely be the fruit of any thing, but divine inspiration or
actual experience. It is evil men, we may remark, that make, in one sense of the expression, evil days; and it was not without some reference to his own sufferings and calamities, that St. Paul characterised the time in which he lived: for the venerable apostle, after having encountered toils, and perils, and sorrows of almost every kind, and when he was now become " such an one,” he says, “as Paul the aged," was, at the time of writing this epistle, à prisoner at Rome; and though cleared from the groundless accusations of the Jews, and set at liberty by his appeal to Cæsar; yet we soon after hear of his being in bonds again, in the same city, from which he was not released till he had suffered martyrdom, like the rest of his holy brotherhood, in the cause of their blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
On this last trying occasion, he thus complains, in the second Epistle to his faithful and affectionate son, Timothy: “ Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" “ Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil”-for no other reason, perhaps, but because he was deprived of a part of his “ filthy lucre,” in not making so many shrines of the goddess, Diana, as usual, for the temple at Ephesus.
" At my first answer,” continues the venerable apostle, no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God,” says he, in the true spirit of Christian forgiveness, “ that it may not be laid to their charge."
Now, under such severe trials, and in the evil days of persecution, men have need of all the fortitude and perseverance, all the patience and resignation, that the glorious hopes of the Gospel of Christ can inspire; otherwise, so far from “redeeming the time,” they are in danger, like the false friends of St. Paul, of deserting their duty, and of sacrificing every thing that should be held dear and sacred, to the love of “this present world.”
When no such calamities oppose our Christian progress, the days may be said to be “evil,” if they abound with more than ordinary temptations to sin. The young, indeed, may have enough to apprehend, at all times, from their want of experience and reflection ;-from their eagerness of enjoyment;—from the illusions of fancy, and the impetuosity of their own passions : to these, however, may be added, the allurements of pleasure, and the enticement of vicious companions. When we consider the almost infinite variety, in which bad and se