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your hearts, a true value for the blessings which we have received from God; as also a just concern for the account we must give, and the great hazard we run, if we shall, any of us, be so unhappy as to despise or abuse these mercies.
You have seen plainly what will be required of every soul of us, when we come before the tribunal of God; that in receiving the gospel, we have received very much; and that very much will be required of us. We have received the knowledge of God, and of ourselves, and our duty to both. To awaken in us a concern for our souls, we have received from God an account of what must come hereafter; how the souls of men are disposed of when they die, according as their works have been in the body, whether good or bad.
You have seen the delusion of those who flatter themselves that they have little to account for, having received little from God.
Whatever heathens may say for themselves, no Christian can, with truth, say, that he has received little. Our Lord's answer, which he gave to the Jews,* will most surely be given to cvery Christian who shall plead that for himself: If I had not come and spoken unto you, you had not had sin; but now you have no cloak (no excuse) for your sin. No, not the meanest Christian: for the meanest Christian, the most unlearned, knows, when he does amiss; when he does what will displease God; and when his conscience does not accuse him.
John xv. 21.
And let it not be wondered at, that Christians, who know what sin is, and what will be the end of it, do yet, in defiance of hell and damnation, go on in their sin, and live and die under the displeasure of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell. The apostle has given us the true reason of this, because when men know God, and glorify him not as God, God will give them up at last to a reprobate mind; that is, to a mind void of judgment.
To conclude: If we would lead a life worthy of the religion we profess, and of the hopes we have of being happy when we die, we must ever and anon remember the account we are to give for the talents we have received; we must remember it, so as upon all occasions to put it in practice; and we shall soon see the good effects of the practical belief of a judgment to come.
For example: Let us often say to ourselves, -God has given me life and health, that I may do good in my generation, and that, by doing so, I may become worthy of a better life hereafter what then will become of me, if I spend this life in idleness, in luxury, in wickedness; if I shorten this life by intemperance; or spend it in sinful pleasures?
God has given me children; if I take no care to give them a Christian education, I shall be answerable for their damnation:
I have a plentiful estate, and more than enough for my own necessities; others are in want, and I regard it not: I shall certainly answer for this another day :
Rom. i. 22.·
I am selling my inheritance, or spending that in rioting and drunkenness, which belongs to my wife and children. Do I believe there is a God, and that he will not require it of me?—
I have more knowledge, and know my duty better, than my neighbours; why then I have more reason to fear, because more will be required of me. He that has given me power over others, will make me feel his power over me, if I abuse the authority with which he has intrusted me:
I have time to spare, which others have not. What then? Have I a right to squander it in idleness and pleasures? Can I persuade myself that life and time were given me for that end?
Would Christians reason after some such way as this, concerning the judgment to come, and what will then be required of them, it would mightily change their lives, and the face of religion in the world. But it must be thy grace, 0 God, which must make this change, and enable us to improve all the talents which we have received. Let us not then, good Christians, defer one moment to ask this grace of God, every one for himself, and for all Christian people. And that we may do it more earnestly, let us remember, that now is the time in which to prepare for the account we are to give, and to choose where and what we are to be for ever.
May God fix these thoughts in all our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living, to the honour of his name, and the salvation of our souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
NEW YEAR's DAY.
THE DUTY AND ADVANTAGES OF RIGHTLY CONSIDERING THE SHORTNESS OF HUMAN LIFE.
PSALM XC. 12.
SO TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS, THAT WE MAY APPLY OUR HEARTS UNTO WISDOM.*
HE plain meaning of these words is this: Teach us, O God, so effectually to consider how short our time is; how it passes away never to be recalled; and how much depends upon our making a good use of the time God is pleased to allow us; that we may live like people who have their senses about them, who consider what may come hereafter; that we may not squander away that time in vanity, which is designed to fit us for a blessed eternity; and that we may not be surprised by death, but be prepared (as wise men ought to be) for that which will come, whether they think of it or not.
The value of our time, the shortness and uncertainty of our lives, are things proper at any time to be recommended to people's serious consideration; but it would be unpardonable carelessness to let one year after another pass, without ever thinking of that which Le the last, without numbering the many years wé
Sec 2 Cor. vi. 2. 1 Pet. i. 17. Col. iv. 5. James iv. 14. Psalm xc. 9. Job xiv. 5, 14.
have lived in comparison of the few which perhaps we have to live.
We have, within a few hours, seen the end of one year more; and God grant that the sins of this year may never rise up in judgment against us. We are just entering upon the very beginning of another year, and God only knows which of us here present shall see the end of it: but this we know and are sure of, that either before the end of this year, or before many years are at an end, we and all men now living shall be in another world, and in an endless state either of happiness or misery.
Whether it does not much concern us to think of that world, and to make some preparations for it, I must leave you to judge, after I have laid before you a few things to be seriously thought of. Such are these following:1st. That our days are few. But that, 2dly. They are sufficient, if we are wise enough to make use of them.
3dly. That the end of them is unknown to us, and uncertain. And,
Lastly. That it is our wisdom to consider this, for that our eternal welfare depends upon it. The consideration of these particulars may be great use to us all.
To those who are truly concerned for the happiness of another life, it will be matter of great comfort to consider, that short as their time is, yet, by the favour of God, it is long enough to fit them for everlasting happiness.
To those who have spent their time well, it will be great satisfaction to look back upon the