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world, indulging ourselves inexpediently, out of our place, neglecting our work, or quarrelling with our fellow servants? or would it have come as a welcome messenger of peace from our gracious Redeemer to his willing, waiting, and faithful servants?
These inquiries may tend to humiliation and gratitude. None of us have spent the last year so well, but that the exact review of it may excite our shame and remorse ; whilst we reflect how little we have done to glorify God, and to serve our generation, and how poorly we have done even that little! How cold our affections, and how formal our devotions have been! How much our time has been lavishly wasted, and our talents unimproved! And how many our omissions and transgressions have been, even if we have been preserved from more manifest backslidings, and from dishonouring the gospel! A particular selfexamination in these respects, with humble confession, and application of the atoning blood to our consciences, may very properly introduce the new year : and we may reasonably hope that it will be a happy one to us, if we thus take care not to carry any of our preceding sins into it, to mar our comforts or blast our expectations.
It is also both good and pleasant to be thankful: and this happy frame of mind may be promoted-by reviewing the mercies of the past year. The preservation of our life and health; exemption from torturing pain, or violent sickness ; ' merciful recoveries and deliverances; the supply of our wants ; the continuance of our relative comforts, and our civil and religious privileges; exemption from the tremendous evils of war, and other dire calamities; and a variety of mercies, personal, domestic, and public, are obvious causes for grateful praise.—But some readers of these reflections may
be reminded to bless the Lord for converting grace, vouchsafed them within the course of the past year ; and may say, “ On the first day of last January, I was dead in sin, and, had I then been • taken out of this world, I must have perished ; ' but now, through the rich mercy and grace of
God, I have passed from death unto life, and en‘joy the scriptural hope of eternal felicity!'Others may be called on to bless God for granting their desires, in the conversion of their children, relatives, or beloved friends : others for recovery from grievous backsliding, or for being rescued from sore temptations and deep discouragements. Every Christian has cause to praise the Lord, if he hath been preserved from drawing back, turning aside to vain jangling, imbibing dangerous heresies, or disgracing the gospel; the doubting may be thankful for being indulged with longer time, to give diligence to make his calling and election sure; the established for more opportunity of glorifying God on earth ; and even the unconverted should recollect" that it is of the Lord's “ mercies he is not consumed;" and that, instead of being in the land of hope, prayer, and forgiveness, he hath not been consigned by that God, whom he daily provokes, to the region of misery, darkness, and despair.
We may also profitably review our trials, our conduct under them, and the effect of them upon our minds : for they are sent to humble and soften
us; to wean us from self and the world ; to endear to us the Saviour, and the hope of heaven ; and to teach us compassion and submission. To pause, therefore, and reflect on such returning seasons, how far they have answered these purposes, may be a happy means of exciting our prayers for grace, to enable us thus to profit by corrections; and of teaching us hereafter“ to hear “ the rod, and who hath appointed it.” Thus our losses may prove our richest gains, our sorrows the source of joy, and the very experience of our weakness and folly, the means of rendering us wise and strong in the Lord Jesus Christ.
If, upon the review, we find that the Lord hath employed us in any useful service, and that we have sown that good seed, which by his blessing may produce good to others : we should render him all the glory, seek forgiveness of all the evil combined with it, and intreat his blessing on all our labours and attempts, as well as an answer to all our former prayers : and then close the year by beseeching the Lord“ to teach us so to number
our days, that we may apply our hearts unto “ wisdom.”
The commencement of the year may remind us, that we have travelled another stage of our journey through time towards eternity: or rather that eternity has made another march towards us. We should seriously consider, that the age of man is but threescore years and ten; and then calculate what proportion of that term has already elapsed ; and how much of the great work of life yet remains to be done. The brevity of our remaining span, even supposing we should reach the limits of human life ; the probability that it will be much shorter ; and the possibility, that we may be just on the verge of eternity, are subjects of meditation peculiarly suited to this occasion.—Thus we should enter on a new year, with a realizing apprehension that we may not live to see its conclusion ; and fervently praying for grace, to enable us to attend on the great concerns of our souls, and the duties of our station, as if we were sure this would be the case. And, if we look over the circle of our acquaintance, recollecting who have been removed during the last year, we shall probably find that several persons, younger and more healthful than we, are gone: and this may convince us, that it is not unlikely that others, next new year's day, will be making the same reflections on us, as we are now making on those who have gone before us.
These meditations may serve to abate our eagerness and anxiety about temporal things ; to reconcile us to our crosses and burdens; to excite our diligence, in “ labouring for the meat which en“ dureth unto everlasting life, in seeking first the 44
kingdom of God and his righteousness,” and in “ making our calling and election sure.” They may quicken us in renewing our acceptance of Christ, as “ our wisdom, righteousness, sanctifica« tion and redemption ;” and in attending to the work of our place, in the family, the community, and the church of God: they may lead us to be sober and vigilant; to continue in prayer; to attend constantly on all divine ordinances : to study to be quiet, and mind our own business, leaving worldly men to settle their disputes among themselves,; and finally, to regard the counsel of Solo
mon, “ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it “ with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, “nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, “ whither thou goest.” Then, should we live through the year, we may hope to review it with gratitude and comfort; and, should we be removed before the close of it, “ as Christ hath been “our life,” so “death will be our gain.”—Let us then begin the year, by setting up an Ebenezer to the Lord, who hath helped us hitherto; thanking him for the past, submitting to his will and wisdom, as to the present; and entrusting all we have and are to his gracious care and keeping, in respect of the whole of our future existence.
AN ESSAY .
ON THE USE AND ABUSE OF SELECTIONS OF SCRIPTURE,
PLACED IN ORDER FOR EVERY DAY.
It has for some time been the custom with Christians of different denominations, to make use of books, containing detached texts of scripture, appointed for each day in the year; sometimes accompanied with short reflections, or a verse from a hymn, &c. But it may reasonably be inquired, how far this practice is conducive to the advancement of genuine piety; and how far the abuse of it may be of bad tendency? And also, by what means it may be rendered useful? and how the danger to be apprehended from it
There is some ground, as it appears to me, for