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spent a great estate, he has this comfort at least, that he shall some time be freed from the shame and sense of his misfortunes; but what amends can be made, what arguments can be used, to comfort a man who has lived a careless, useless life, and is now going into eternity?
A few of those days which are past would be precious; but time is not to be purchased when we come to die; and for that reason it ought not to be squandered away and neglected while we have it continued to us.
Those that let one day after another pass over their heads, without thinking what ill they have done, and what good they have to do, may have this small comfort, that to lose a few days out of the number of their life, is not very material. Let it be so: but sure it is very material to lose one year after another, without thinking seriously of our errand into the world; without providing for a better world: and it is wisdom not to hazard our souls upon such uncertainties as are the number of our days and years, and the time of our stay here.
Thus you see what we pray for, when we beg of God to give us grace to number our days. It is, that we may soberly consider the shortness of our time, the uncertainty of our latter end, and that the greatest good or evil that can possibly befal us depends upon our making good or bad use of the present opportunity; and that, considering these things, we may apply our hearts unto wisdom; that we may fear God, which is the beginning of wisdom; that we may observe his laws, which are the ways of wisdom;
and that we may live to his glory and our own salvation, which is the perfection of wisdom.
This is that true wisdom which the Spirit of God recommends so much to us, as the only thing which can make our years happy, whether our friends wish them or not; and without which we cannot be happy, though we should succeed in all our undertakings besides.
Blessed be God, that we who are here present have seen the end of this year, and are come even to the beginning of another; that we have not been cut off in the midst of our days, and especially, that we have not been surprised by death in the midst of our sins and unthoughtfulness.
X Blessed be God, that we are yet of the num ber of those who have time and space for repentance and good works! The gracious, God grant that we may value our days as we ought to do; and that, if we live to the end of the approaching year, we may not have reason to repent that we have lived so much longer, or apprehend the anger of God, for what we shall have done!
To this end let us consider,-That the shortest life, by the grace of God, is long enough to gain heaven; and that the longest life is but a curse, when we make use of it only to increase the number of our iniquities; that though every one present should live to the end of another year, to the end of many years, yet still we are accountable for them; and that it is no great blessing, whatever we think of it, to live many years, only to be more miserable at the last.
Let us, therefore, live like people that are truly convinced and persuaded of the truth of these things, that we may not be surprised in the midst of our sins. And these considerations, as serious as they are, will be so far from damping the pleasures of this season, that they will make our joys more grateful, and more lasting.
And in the doing of this great work, the good God send us a happy New Year!
Prosper thou, O God, the work of our hands upon us: O prosper thou our handy-work.
And God grant, that after the few days and years we have to live in this world, we may leave it for a better; where we may praise thee to all eternity, for the time thou hast afforded us here, in which to work out our salvation, and for all the favours thou hast in mercy vouchsafed unto us.
THE GREAT DANGER OF NOT KNOWING THE DAY OF VISITATION.
LUKE xix. 41-44.
AND WHEN HE WAS COME NEAR, HE BEHELD THE CITY, AND WEPT OVER IT, SAYING, IF THOU HADST KNOWN, EVEN THOU AT LEAST IN THIS THY DAY, THE THINGS WHICH BELONG UNTO THY PEACE! BUT NOW THEY ARE HID FROM THINE EYES. FOR THE DAYS SHALL COME UPON THEE,THAT THINE ENEMIES SHALL CAST A TRENCH ABOUT THEE, AND COMPASS THEE ROUND, AND KEEP THEE IN ON EVERY SIDE; AND SHALL LAY THEE EVEN WITH THE GROUND, AND THY CHILDREN WITHIN THEE: AND THEY SHALL NOT LEAVE IN THEE ONE STONE UPON ANOTHER; BECAUSE THOU KNEW. EST NOT THE TIME OF THY VISITATION.
Must tell you, in the first place, that all these things came to pass exactly as our Lord foretold, within less than forty years after his death.
The Romans besieged the city of Jerusalem so close that not a man could escape; and after the most dreadful siege that ever was heard of, they took it, destroying all before them, and not leaving one stone upon another of one of the finest cities and temples in the world.
Our blessed Lord could not forbear weeping, because he foresaw that this would certainly come to pass, and because he saw that that people would not be persuaded, by any thing that he
• See Job xxxiii. 14. Psalm xxxix. 4; xc. 12; cv. 8. Mark xiii. 33. Luke xxi. 3, 1 Peter ii. 12. 2 Cor. vi. 2. Heb. iii. 3.