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NEW YEAR THOUGHTS.
As one great object of a Religious Souvenir is to furnish the means by which a truly profitable, as well as an interesting present may be provided for a New Year, our readers who duly appreciate the design of our publication, will naturally expect that the preliminary essay should be appropriate to the season. We fear, however, that an announcement of this kind, will at once operate upon some as an inducement, not indeed to shut the book, for we know that it will generally be read, but to do what is little better, skip the article which thus seems to bespeak for itself an attention more than ordinarily serious. We entreat the reader, however, to go with us step by step, carefully to peruse what we have to say appropriate to the new year; and not to lay the book down until
we have been permitted to pay our tribute of respect and affection, in the best way we know how, by a little wholesome counsel. We may venture to promise, that the five minutes devoted to us, will not be found in the great day of final account standing to the credit of time mispent.'
It is the exclamation of one, who appears in his writings to have had a very accurate conception of the value of time, behold how short my time is,' and he follows the exclamation with a question, which to us, unacquainted with the peculiarity of the writer's circumstances, may seem singularly querulous, viz: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain ?' The shortness of time, however, is no valid reason for the supposition that all men were made in vain. It only proves that time, short as it is, should be so employed, as to accomplish the design intended by the Great Creator. And if men choose to think, and act, as if they were made for no valuable purpose, instead of impeaching the wisdom of the Creator, it only serves to attach to men themselves, the blame of counteracting the designs which wisdom and goodness have formed for their advantage.
When we say that time is short, we gain no moral benefit from the remark, unless we clearly understand the meaning of the terms we use. Short and long, fix no idea in the mind, except they are considered relatively. That individual's time is long, who lives long enough to accomplish the most valuable purposes of his being, even if he dies ere he has attained the age of manhood; and that individual's life is short, who lives to the age of the oldest of the patriarchs, if he fails, during its protracted term, to attain the end for which he was brought into being. No life is short, then, which accomplishes its grand object; and no life is long, which fails to do so.
Nevertheless it is true, and it is here that the subject is capable of so much valuable improvement, that time is short,' if we view it in its bearings on our own views and habits of thinking, and of acting; and as we state one or two of the particulars in which this is most emphatically true, we have no doubt that our readers will bear us witness from the results of their own experience. 'Time is short,' compared with patriarchal days.
The youngest of the antediluvian patriarchs died at the age of eight hundred and ninety-five years; the oldest went so far as to attain the age of nine hundred and sixty-nine years. Now that the limit of human life is most inconceivably brought down below the standard of the age before the flood, we are apt to imagine that those who lived so long, possessed, by so doing, advantages far superior to ourselves. In this we are very greatly mistaken. Our advantages are almost beyond conception greater than theirs; and such are the facilities for the acquisition of knowledge in the sciences, in the arts, in literature, and even in the pursuits of religion, that we can, if we so please, accomplish more in the brief space allotted to us, than they could in the longest of their lives. If we speak of learning, we have only to instance the art of printing, which has made one year of the present age of the world equivalent to ten of the olden time, when literature was folded up in scanty manuscripts, difficult of access. If we speak of motion, one year is now worth ten before the flood, for man's ingenuity, under the directing energy of