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Christ and our own souls into closer and sweeter contact. Has there been nothing, "falsely so called" in the scientific knowledge we have been amassing? Has no "vain deceit" mingled with the philosophy that engrossed so much of our time, and engaged so large a portion of our patient investigations?
Far, very, very far, be it from our thoughts to condemn any mental acquirements. God is all mind, and those are most like him who have the most exalted intellects. But in this matter, the All-wise himself claims to be the only arbiter; and has he not said, "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil, that is understanding?" All this will be admitted, and for the best of reasons-it cannot be denied; but the worldly wise will, perhaps, tell us that it has nothing to do with science or philosophy. Be not deceived, dear young reader, it applies to every purpose and pursuit, and undertaking, of which the human mind is capable, sanctifying and directing, and refining all the life, and bringing God down unto all we are, or think, or say, or do; “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." What! has the Christian astronomer, or chemist, or geologist, or botanist, no interest in such a promise as this? "Mine eye," says the Great Jehovah himself, "is upon thee!" Do you despise its intimations, or undervalue the counsel it is pledged to impart to all the subjects of this precious truth? O! place yourselves beneath its guidance now; watch it in the laboratory, the observatory, and the study; by the mountain fastness, and the solitary way-side; and all your labours will be sweetened and improved to His glory, who calls you by the recurrence of another important period of your existence, to remember this delightful and condescending pledge of his endearing love—" I will guide thee with mine eye."
SHALL I DIE THIS YEAR?
THE arrival of a new-year's day is an interesting event, and ought not to pass by without a suitable improvement. Gratitude for past mercies, seems to be the first impression which the mind receives. To have been preserved in the midst of surrounding dangers; to have escaped accidents which have befallen so many; to have received an adequate supply of food and clothing; to have
parents and relatives, and friends continued; and, above all, to enjoy so rich a store of religious privileges, the Holy Scriptures, the ministry of the gospel, and a good hope of eternal life; these are things that call for a song of praise to the great and bountiful Benefactor, "who giveth us all things richly to enjoy." In the midst of the various reflections which occupy the mind, that of our mortality should not be disregarded. Another year is gone, to be succeeded by another and another; and "when a few years are come, I shall go the way whence I shall not return!" It is the obvious duty, as it is the practice of a wise man, to reflect upon his departure from the world. Generals of an army provide for a retreat; seamen prepare for a storm; guards of coaches furnish themselves with chains and ropes to be used in cases of emergency; persons possessed of property execute their last will and testament. In the word of God we have many instances of good men who have anticipated their mortality. The language of Job is striking, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." (Job. xix. 25.) David exclaims," I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." (Psalm xvii. 15.) Paul adverts to the subject frequently, "We know that when this earthly house of our tabernacle is dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (2 Cor. v. 1.) So the apostle Peter, "Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me." (2 Peter i. 14.) Such an anticipation of mortality is as necessary for youth as for age, for no one is sure of life. The bills of mortality give an account of persons of all ages who have been summoned from time into eternity, from the infant to the man of seventy years and upwards. A visit to the burial-ground will fully confirm this statement-there we have the record of departed children and youth, the middle-aged and the stricken in years. Every tombstone, every tolling bell, every hearse that passes, every mourner that goes about the streets, and the hatchment affixed to the nouses of the nobility and gentry, has a voice, and all in their turn proclaim, "Prepare to meet thy God;" for when a few years are come, thou 400, shalt go the way whence thou shalt not return.
Our cradles rock us nearer to the tomb,
As tapers waste, the instant they take fire.
One eye on death, and one full-fixed on heaven,
Becomes a mortal and immortal man.
Death is a journey, the most important ever undertaken, a last journey. Many journeys are important, but none equal to this. It involves our body, our soul, our all; our everlasting happiness or misery! A journey to the East or West Indies would fill us with concern; a journey round the world would increase our care and anxiety; but this leads us into eternity! The end of it is bliss
"A point of time, a moment's space,
Death is a journey taken by all. "It is," says Fielding, “that common lot in which alone the fortunes of all creatures agree. Few think of death, till they are within its jaws. If the wisest men compare life to a span, surely we may be allowed to consider it as a day; one leaves this life in the morning, another at noon, and many in the evening! May we be prepared at whatever part of the day we shall depart, and may it neither occasion surprise nor lamentation!" My youthful reader, have you never in the course of your studies, reflected upon death as happening to all? Where are the Scipios, the Cæsars, the Hannibals? Where are the conquerors of nations? Where the emperors, kings and statesmen? Where the men of learning and science? Ah! they have taken the journey! "Our fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?" The Indian king of Mexico, upon the day of his coronation, was clothed with a garment, painted over with skulls and dead men's bones: his people thus admonishing their new sovereign of his own mortality. "By various occurrences the rich and the poor die. Often do the young and vigorous hasten to the tomb, before the weak and the aged. The great Creator has planted death around us, and the ways to it are such and so many, as frequently to mock the prudence and best foresight of the wisest to evade them."
Death is a journey that you, dear reader, must take! How soon
you cannot tell-it may be-oh! it may be the next moment. Without the least warning, you may die 'suddenly-fall from your chair, drop in the street, or be found a corpse in your bed! But you should live to the full age of man, you must die at last.
"Yes! the important day will come,
When you must quit this earthly home,
Unknown the period of your stay,
You may appear in hell or heaven! "
No one ever returns from this journey to revisit his friends, or to report what he has seen, or heard, or felt. As the tree falls, so it lies; as death leaves us, judgment finds us. Death fixes our final state, nor can we come back, even for a short time, to rectify an error, or correct a mistake. There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest. (Eccles. ix. 10.) He that is unjust will be unjust still; he that is filthy will be filthy still; he that is righteous will be righteous still; he that is holy will be holy still. "Death to a christian," says Mason, "is putting off rags for robes." "It is," adds Dr. Watts, "but passing through a dark entry out of one little dusky room of our Father's house into another that is fair and light, glorious and divinely entertaining. O may the rays and splendour of my heavenly apartment shoot far downwards, and gild the dark entry with such a cheerful gleam, as to banish every fear when I shall be called to pass through !"
But what is death to the wicked, the impenitent, the mere professor of religion, the graceless, the prayerless, the unconverted? A dark valley without a gleam of light or hope, full of terror and agony, unutterable and indescribable! Death is terrible in the eye of nature, but far more terrible in the eye of conscience. It was the sad exclamation of Cæsar Borgia, when dying, "I provided in the course of my life for every thing but death, and now, I must die, though entirely unprepared for it." Very different was the state of the late Rev. Matthew Warren, who, when asked in his last hours how he was? replied, “I am just going into eternity; but I bless God, I am neither ashamed to live, nor afraid to die."
The anticipation of our mortality is capable of great improvement. Let the youthful reader realize the thought, "When a few years are come, I shall go the way whence I shall not return!” Let him suppose himself on the point of departing from the world. My readers! how would you feel? How do you feel now? Are you prepared? Have you fled for refuge to the hope set before you in the gospel? Have you given up yourself to God, and are you now the Lord's? This is an all-important enquiry, an enquiry not to be neglected. I do not know your age. Are you fourteen, or sixteen, or twenty, or upwards? Have you lived so many years without God, without a scriptural hope of heaven? Surely it is time for you to seek the Lord. Let this be your immediate engagement. Seek Him sincerely, earnestly, and perseveringly; nor rest till you have attained some degree of assurance that the Lord is your God.
Do not delay, for your existence may be terminated in a few weeks, or even days. You are not sure of a moment. So thickly do the arrows of death fly, it excites our wonder that we are not amongst the number of his victims. None are so likely to die as the young. This is confirmed by a reference to the register of deaths. More funeral discourses are preached for youth than for any other class. The age from fifteen to twenty-five is very precarious; to delay, therefore, would be presumption of the highest order. You say it is too soon, you are young, robust, and healthy. Witness the bloom on your cheek, the buoyancy of your spirits, your activity, and other favorable marks!
Delay?—No, not a moment. Haste to the Saviour at once. Does the sick man delay to seek the advice of the physician? Does the worldling delay to close an advantageous bargain? Does the mariner delay when the wind is favorable for sailing? Does the sleeper delay when aroused by the cry of fire; or, when he sees the