Sidor som bilder

These are the several ways then, by which our past, present, and future time may be redeemed and improved. And surely I need not use many arguments to shew the wisdom and necessity of thus redeeming and improving it.

God has sent us into the world, as into a wide extended theatre, whereon we are to act the part allotted to us. To him belongs the appointment and duration of the part we are to act, but on ourselves it depends to act it well or ill. But though the choice be thus far in ourselves, the event of it is not so. For the same God, who has assigned to us our duty, has also unalterably fixed the conditions of discharging it. If we acquit ourselves with fidelity, an unfading crown of glory is reserved for us.

Since then the state of eternity depends upon our performance of the part assigned us in life, and since the short span of life is all that is allowed us for the trial and exercise of our abili ties in performing it; how much does it become us to redeem every hour, to suffer no moment to pass without some mark of our application and diligence in our weighty and important calling? But our time is not only thus important on ac-' count of the great business to be discharged, but also on account of the rapidity, with which

[ocr errors]

it flies from us. The ancients, agreeably to their expressive symbolical language, represented it with wings, to denote its hasty flight. But it needs no symbols to remind us of its celerity. Time has a thousand tongues of its own, to proclaim that it is hastily flying on. The repeated knells of our departed hours, the quick succession of day and night, the revolving seasons, the loss of our friends, and our own decaying bodies and altered looks, all declare this solemn truth, in a language not to be mistaken. And indeed we are all of us sensible of its speed, when we reflect at all on our own existence. If we look forward indeed, thirty or forty years may seem a considerable period: But if we look back upon the same space, how short is it: It is like a dream when one awaketh: The day of our birth and the present moment seem parted by an almost imperceptible line. Even the friends who have long been mouldering in their graves, seem but to have parted from us yesterday: their looks, their sayings, their actions, are fresh in our memories, though all that now remains of what we once knew of them is reduced to the poor pittance of dust to dust, ashes to ashes. If therefore we hasten not to mark our progress through life by wise and virtuous actions, we shall find ourselves at the end of our journey, before we are aware of it, and before we are pre


pared to give up our accounts to the great Judge of quick and dead.

We should farther consider, that the uncertainty of time, so far as it relates to us, is equal to its swiftness. Time indeed will still continue to flow on, whether we exist or not, and to-morrow will be present, as yesterday was. But it may not be present to us. To-day is all we can call our own; for, as an elegant writer expresses it, "Yesterday is dead, to-morrow is unborn." Yonder sun, whose beams now rejoice our eyes, will rise again to perform his daily course; but we cannot be sure that we shall do so; our eyes may be closed in death, ere his chearful presence enlightens the chambers of the morning; even strength and youth combined afford no security. And surely, if the early promise of the morning flower be blasted by an untimely fate, it can be no wonder if the grass of the evening be cut down, dried up, and withered. And indeed so many are the accidents to which we are outwardly exposed, and so delicate and complicated is the inward structure and organization of our bodies, that we may justly be said to exist by a miracle, and cannot be sure of our existence for one moment. Since then the future is so uncertain, it is the strongest argument to employ the present moment well, to suffer no day to pass without


without its proper share of duty; lest vain and fruitless wishes, a wounded and despairing conscience, should be our only companions in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,

If such then be the value and importance of time, it will afford us but a melancholy prospect to consider, how it is generally employed, either by ourselves or others. It will give us but little comfort to look back upon the many days we have spent in trifles and vanities, in idle discourses and childish recreations, calculated rather to beguile the flying moments of our time than to improve them to our profit.

But if we have little comfort in looking back upon the childish waste of our time, we have still less, I fear, in reviewing that, which has been employed to worse purposes, in the service of sin. It will give us little pleasure to remember, and yet the day will come when we shall be forced to remember, how much of the time allotted us we have spent in lewd thoughts, or unlawful lusts, in sinful pleasures, or dishonest persuits, in dishonouring God, or injuring our neighbour, or in adding some way or other to the black catalogue of our sins and vices. And yet such is the view, which the retrospeet of life will too generally exhibit to us!




[ocr errors]

What then shall we do to compensate for this fatal loss of our past hours, which will one day lie so heavy upon our consciences? The plain answer is in the words of the apostle, Redeem

"the time." Let those who are yet in the morning of life, and have lost but little of their time, press forwards with vigour to the end of their journey, without suffering themselves to be drawn aside by youthful lusts or irregular desires. Let those who are in the middle of their course, remember, that their sun will soon decline to the west, and may, even before that, be obscured with impenetrable clouds and darkness: That therefore it becomes them to work, whilst the light is with them; and whilst their faculties are yet fit for labour and application. And as to those who have almost finished their course, but without answering the great ends for which they were sent into the world, who are grown gray in sin as well as in age, what shall I say? What language can paint their folly in its proper colours? What eloquence can rouze them to a state of serious consideration? What voice can impress upon them, with effective energy, these awful words: "Awake thou that sleepest, arise from "death?"

Indeed, my friends, yours is a truly dangerous situation. It is the situation of Lot in Sodom, when

« FöregåendeFortsätt »