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XXIV. The Danger of Social Pleasures
XXX. The Greatness of God in Small Things
XXXI. Is a Lingering or a Sudden Death to be pre-
XXXII. Is a Lingering or a Sudden Death to be pre-
XXXIII On Apparitions of the Dead
XXXVI. The Appearance of Jesus on Earth .
XXXVII. The Destruction of Jerusalem
XXXVIII. The Persecutions of Christianity
Hours of Devotion.
REFLECTIONS ON THE NEW YEAR.
PHILIPPIANS iv. 447.
Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing ; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
There is something unusually solemn in the beginning of each new year. It is, as it were, the festival which we dedicate to our silent hopes, our most secret wishes. Here the joyous early ringing of the bells announces the commencement of the period; there clarions, and trumpets, and sacred songs greet the first morning of the year. The sprightly host of youths, rejoicing, hait the dawn; friends and acquaintance, in mutual love, wish each other happiness.
Dutiful children pray more
devoutly for the health of their parents,—the suffering, for their benefactors,—the people, in the temple, for their rulers.
To all the boundary between two years is most important; to the king upon his throne, as well as to the beggar under his roof of straw; to the indus
; trious father of a family amidst his workmen, as well as to the anxious mother beside her children; to the grey-headed veteran in his easy chair, as well as to the youngster, who, full of buoyant expectation, longs to launch forth into a stormy world.
Our past life appears, behind us, like a lengthened dream : the remainder of our days, before us, hangs like an impenetrable cloud over an unseen land. More fearful cares torment the melancholy man : brighter hopes swarm round the cheerful one. Each one directs his view towards the lot which the ensuing days and months shall probably bring forth. Each one would guess something of his own destiny, which yet lies hidden in a dark futurity-as the corn at present in the wintry, closedup lap of the earth, continues still to germinate.
With uncertain expectation and fresh solicitude, each one returns to his occupations, and draws out his designs and plans. The Christian also resumes his course. Fear and hope play around him also. But with what disposition does he set forward, at the beginning of the new year, to meet the obscure future, and his unknown fate? He, for a while, seeks solitude ; in which his soul
; may obtain self-possession. He lifts up his spirit to his Almighty Father, and contemplates the infinite love of God. His mouth gives utterance to the gratitude of his heart; he says: 'I am not worthy of all the mercy, love, and faithfulness which Thou hast shewn me. For, that I am, and, what I have, must be ascribed to Thee ! Thou hast preserved me through a thousand dangers, which I did not even know. Thou wast present when my need and difficulties were the greatest. Thou didst watch over me and my family when we erred. Whatever befell me in past days, I am sensible it happened for my advantage : and what I as yet do not understand, that it also was for the best, I shall learn in the sequel to comprehend. For the inviolable order in which Thou rulest the world is wise and wonderful, and conducive to that higher state of blessedness which Thou hast been pleased to appoint to man. Yes ; I also belong to this sacred system, which is eternal and indestructible as Thyself; I also am accounted by Thee a member of it. And even a lamentable fate, although I have not brought it on myself by any imprudent act,a fate which I could not avoid-a fate under which my heart has bled, is to be esteemed a part of Thy
perpetual government of the world. And whatever Thou dost, is well done!'
O God, my God, Thou who art full of inexhaustible mercy! O Father, my Father, who art full of unutterable goodness, I beseech Thee never to forsake me! Forsake not either me or my beloved family. Forsake us not even when we shall do wrong. Thy children err : with tears they seek again Thy mercy.
Yes, O Lord, my God, hitherto Thou hast helped me ; Thou wilt sustain me still. Behold how full of confidence Í lift up mine eyes unto Thee. As a feeble child rests itself with love and firm dependance on the father's or the mother's hand, so rest I myself on Thee. I will follow the precepts of Thy holy Son—the doctrine of my Redeemer Jesus Christ; for it is Thy word which He has transmitted to us: and then with quiet submission will I await the destiny which Thou hast appointed to me and mine, in the ensuing year.
I put my whole trust in Thee; and therefore venture not to make any particular petition. Thou only knowest what is salutary for me and mine; and Thou wilt give, and cause to happen, whatever may be most beneficial to us.
Certainly, O my God, O Thou omniscient Being, many a fervent, cordial wish agitates my heart; many a still, small wish, which I would scarcely