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ASTOR, LENOX AND
DCXLII.—The Triumphs of Temperanco, Ps.
By Rev. John Marsh, D.D., 29
DCLXVI. -A Plea for Seamen, Ps. cvii. 23, By Rev. Edmund Neville, D.D.,
"Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer, with all his reign and his might, and the times that went over him, and over Israel, and over all the kingdoms of the countries.”—1 CHRONICLES xxix. 29, 30.
By " the times that went over him,” the inspired writer obviously means the series of changes in the varying history of David's life, wrought by the progress of time, and completed when the monarch and bard of Israel was gathered unto his fathers. David had been a conspicuous character ; many changes had crossed his path ; though not wholly unsullied by vice, still many virtues adorned his brow ; elevated by a special providence to the cares and perils of a throne, he discharged the duties thereof with fidelity to his God; and having reigned forty years, seven in Hebron, and thirty-three in Jerusalem,“ he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor.” His acts, his reign, bis might, and “the times that went over him," were deemed worthy of a record for transmissign to a future age. n the meditations of this morning, let us then direct our particular at
tention to the exceedingly suggestive phrase which occurs in the latter of <thy above verses," And the times that went over him.” It is obvious that what was true of Kir David, is substantially true of every man.
* The tinges” are passing over all; and though but few can hope to secure even a brief chapter in the annals of the world, still every one has his own individual life. To him it is an interesting scene, in prospect, and in retrospect: it is his life ; and "the times” that pass over him, are matters of the most lasting moment to himself. The mutations and modifications of one's being, as he passes down the stream of time ; the never ceasing
current of changes to which he is subject, in which he so intimately shares, and by which he is to be so permanently affected ; the steady and unintermitted action of causes within him and without him, all tending to some final result-this the eye of meditation is far more imposing and solemn than the rare though striking incidents of life. Such a theme befits the present hour. It is appropriate to the instructive suggestions of the closing, and the opening year.
The general fact of change with the progress of our years, admits of no denial. Who in this audience is now in all respects just what he was one year ago ? To whom is the past year a perfect blank, leaving him exactly where it found him, with not a solitary trace to show that he ever enjoyed such a period ? To whom has it been nothing but a mere lapse of time? This is true of none ; and if not so for a single year, then most certainly not for that longer term which measures our sojourn on earth. The truth is, we are constantly changing. Every moment, like every year, leaves its mark behind it. Though the foot of time fall ever so noiselessly upon our path, still the impress is there ; and it is well to remember that it is not so much by sudden and startling phenomena as by the continued succession of little events, that great results are accomplished in the bosom of our existence. We are apt to be insensible to the amazingly productive power of these little changes. They are so regular in their occurrence, multitudes of them so much unnoticed at the moment, and some of them so entirely beyond our control, and without our agency, that it is only by collecting the results into an aggregate that we become the affected observers of what has transpired. To-day is like yesterday ; yesterday is like its predecessor ; and a day is such a common article, ibat, except by a special effort, we fail to notice the progress of our years, or the vastly important impress which it leaves upon our being. Could we, however, retrace our steps, and give back to each moment what it gave to us, detaching the effect from ourselves, and reinstating it in the bosom of its cause ; could we then assemble these fleeting moments, each loaded with some relic of our history, and labeled with its peculiar contribution to our present state ; perchance we might, by passing the eye up and down the group, form some idea of “the times” which have passed over us,—of the multitudinous agencies at work within us and upon us, ever repeating their own action, and adding some new item to the texture and fashion of our progressive life. Such a vision, could it be taken, would make us almost doubtful of our own identity. Change, change, , nothing but change, would salute the eye from all points of the mental horizon. It is marvellous that man can be so wonderfully altered in the course of a few years ; and yet remain essentially the same being. It is marvellous that such a varied series of events can be crowded into so small a compass. Truly, man is " fearfully and wonderfully made," bearing the signature of God in his endowments, and containing the elements of a great destiny in their history.
This general statement of life's changing current, will perhaps address our minds with more power, if we pause to observe some of the particulars which it embraces. To these let me then invite your attention.
I. Time makes a deep mark upon the body, the least important portion of our complex nature. This truth appears at a glance. Look into any
community ; and how readily we classify its members under certain denominations, which bear impressive testimony to the work of time. Here are those whom we call infants, just entered upon the scene of life, of all animated creatures the most helpless, and aside from the lessons of experience giving least promise for the future. They will not long retain their present condition. Coming into existence impressed with the law of development and growth, they will soon cease to be what they now are. time touch their susceptible nature, adding thereto the effects of its plastic band, and they will be moulded into children; the physical imbecilities of infancy will disappear, and these once helpless objects be ready for the sports and gambols of early life. Add a little more time, and they have passed on to the stature and comparative maturity of persons in the full prime and activity of ardent and hopeful youth. Subjoin another measure of time, and they are men and women in the strong and well developed vigor of completed manhood, having reached the acme of their physical being, and become ripe for the stern and laborious pursuits of life. Add another quantity of time, and the work of decay has begun its desolating ravages. The process once commenced, goes forward with increasing rapidity, till life becomes a burden, and the wearied frame at last drops into the dust under the accumulated infirmities of its own continuance. Hence, the difference between infancy and childhood, childbood and youth, youth and manhood, between the latter and old age,
is simply a question of time. “ The times” as they pass over us, create these wide and impressive variations in our physical condition. The particular point that we occupy in the series, is to be determined by the number of years that we have lived.
We are quite familiar with this succession of changes, so much so as perhaps hardly to give it a thought; and yet when we pause for reflection, we cannot fail to see a most solemn procession of events, steadily advancing in a line parallel with the progress of our years. The powers which " the times” give and mature, they take away : the edifice which they rear with such careful and prolonged agency, they demolish; they develop and dissolve, ripen and blast, with equal certainty, bringing to perfection the very being they mean to destroy. The creature that goes up for a season, no sooner reaches the altitude than he begins to go down, increasing in the momentum till his grave opens and covers him from human sigbt. In both directions, the process is slow and silent; yet the effect keeps accumulating till it amounts to the total reality, which to the eye of thought is a most wonderful fact.
Nor should we forget that over our entire path from the first moment to the last, is always suspended the possibility of death. Comparatively few of our race pass through all the stages of life. What multitudes fail in infancy and early childhood! How thin the ranks of the aged by reason of early deaths ! That event, which“ is the last of earth,” is the liability of every moment. When it will come, to whom, and how, and where, is known only to Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being. Let us ever remember this impressive and solemn liability, as we proceed in the journey of life.
II. Equally marked is the effect of " the times” as they pass over us, upon our intellectual nature. We have miuds as well as bodies; and by