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eternity. Now the other life presents itself, as a real thing. Now the soul perceives, that the warnings which it had despised, are true; and that it has struck on the very rocks, which had been so often pointed out to it, in vain. Now it believes that but one thing is needful; and finds how little he is advantaged, who has gained the whole world, and lost his own soul.
These, my brethren, are serious and awakening thoughts. Before these terrors of the Lord, when brought to bear upon the mind, fly all the dazzling follies of a low ambition, and all the false appearances, by which the world can flatter or terrify, like a dream when one awaketh. Before these considerations, even the important inquiry of my text, vanishes into nothing:-For what are years, whether few or many, interposed between us and hopeless, endless misery?
Are there any of you, now in the prime of manhood, who are still living without God in the world? To you I would say, let the coming year bring home the message of salvation to your souls. Hail its first dawn, as the commencement, to you, of life eternal. You still have time. It is not yet too late. Avert from your own heads the horrors I have described. Beware of a deathbed without hope. Fly for pardon while it may
be found:-fly to him who can expiate all your guilt, and whose blood can cleanse you from all sin.
Do I address myself to some, whose pilgrimage is well-nigh over-whose years are but labour and sorrow—and who have lived, to say, of things they once enjoyed, "there is no pleasure in them?" Did not facts so abundantly disprove it, such as these, it might be thought, stood always with their loins girded about, and their lights burning, and they themselves like unto men that wait for their Lord? But alas! it often happens, that none more systematically and effectually put away from them all thoughts of death, than those, who, in the course of nature, are drawing near the grave;— that there are none, whose hearts are more devoted to the world, than those who are on the point of leaving it. And whether this strange fatuity be considered as strong delusion, sent by God, or as the triumph of Satan over the rational soul: yet so it is, that man, in his fallen state, is thus a mockery of himself. Led by blind instinct, and not by reason, the creature of habit, rather than reflection, he cleaves to the world, merely because he has been long a slave to it.
But the master-piece of this perversion is this— not only, that man sets his heart on the world, when he is about to leave it: but that the last
passion which seizes the human soul, is the love of the world, in the shape, and for the sake, of the very thing, which has now peculiarly lost its use. The fact is, that three ruling passions reign, successively, in the child of earth, and fill up the history of his life below: the love of pleasure, the love of power, and the love of riches. Sensuality, ambition, and avarice, form the grand outline of man's apostasy from God. Now, if this order, or rather disorder, were reversed; if riches were first sought, with all the energies of the soul, nature would thus make provision for a fund, to feed the appetite for pleasure, and gratify the lust of power. But nature, fallen from God, is but blind fatuity: and all the machinery of man is out of course, unless it tend to Him. And thus the soul, by a just judgment, gropes in a vain shadow, is cheated by false appetites, and grasps at nothings; sets a value on means, when no value for the end is felt; and, in a word, serves and worships mammon, precisely in proportion as the mind has lost its relish for the only things, which money can purchase, or wealth procure.
But I trust these observations have no personal application here. It is my fervent hope, that of the elder portion of this assembly, there are some who can, with the pious Hooker, say, that, by
God's grace, they have loved him in their youth, and feared him in their age, and laboured to have a conscience void of offence, to him, and to all men:" or, with Simeon of old, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."
And, yet, there may be those among you, who have stood all the day idle, even unto the eleventh hour. Oh! let this new year commence, with a voice which speaks, and speaks effectually, to you, saying, "Go ye also into the vineyard," and whatsoever the gospel, in free mercy, promises, that shall ye receive. It is the property of religion alone, to bring forth fruit in old age. When a man is far advanced in life, to commence the attainment of any human art or science, would be vain and fruitless. These must be entered on, in all the freshness and vigour of man's youth and prime; or the attempt is but labour lost. Not so, with that celestial wisdom, by which the soul acquaints itself with God, and is at peace. Simple, as the fountain from which it flows; convincing by its own light, and not by elaborate deductions; sent from above, to tranquillise the heart, and not to fill the head with notions; a science suited to all ages, because addressed, not to the faculties which fluctuate and fade, but to the immortal spark, to the principle which links the soul to
heaven; this wisdom can descend upon grey hairs, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. To you, then, I would conclude my address, by saying: You, who, so emphatically, have nothing else to
turn to, turn,
even now, to the Lord your God. Turn to him, I say, and, behold, I show you a mystery: God can change your old age into youth; the close of this life's day, into the morning of a bright and cloudless immortality.
And now, having, at the suggestion of my text, addressed my hearers, according to the several stages of the life of man; I would, before I dismiss you, make a general application of the lessons which this day teaches, to the two great classes, into which the human family is divided— namely, those who serve God and those who serve him not.
One reason, why the Almighty has ordained, that Nature should not be stationary, but pass through successive stages, and run her course, rejoicing, through all the changes of that circle marked by heaven; one of the reasons of that allotment, was, I say, to give fresh opportunities, and renewed encouragements, to the sons of men, to turn from the error of their ways, and set out, as it were, from some marked and memorable point, upon a new course; leaving painful recol