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The Shortness of Time : realize it only when we think of & SERMON.
what is past. Every successive porBut this I say, brethren, the time tion appears shorter than that which is short:- 1 Cor. vii. 29.
preceded it. We are aduionished
that we shall soon bid adieu to the The Preacher, in the Old Testao cares, pleasures, and trials of life; mert, tells us tbal " for every thing that every moment is precious; and there is a season ; and a time for is of peculiar value, as it is allowed every work under the sun.” It
us to prepare for an unchanging may, with equal propriety, be add- eternity. ed, that for every season there is a The Apostle, in the text, is eviduty, and work enough to occupy dently speaking of the duration of all our time. Our Creator has human life, the season of action and made us active beings, and placed suffering in the present world. us bere, to tarry our appointed Lord, make me to know mine time, and to prepare for another end, and the measure of my days, life. It would be an impeachment what it is, that I may know how frail of his wisdom and foresight, if he I am." had not provided us with sufficient 1. The time of our life appears employment for our active powers. short, if we compare it with other We have business enough to occur duration. py every moment of our lives. The age of the Anteditupians.exWhen time bangs heavy upon our tended to nearly a thousand years, hands, it is not for the want of The general object of existence was something to do, but for the want of the same to them, as to 08; ito pass inclination to our proper business. away the present life, and to pre
The terms short and long, when pare for a state of retribution. Yet applied to time, are words of com- how much longer time had they, to parison. They naturally refer us accomplish the end of their being ! to some measure, or some other Say ye, who have laid your plans of daration. We regard time as short, enterprise too wide to be finished in if it appears so, wben compared the little space of threescore years with other duration that is con- and ten ; is not your life short, when templated; with the portion ul- compared with theirs ? Yet we have lotted to other beings, or with other no reason to believe that length of modes of existence. We regard it days adiled any thing to their hap. as short, if we view it in reference piness. Ye whose grey hairs still to the difficulty and importance of find you delaying the care of your the works we have allotted to it. souls; would you not feel a more We feel its shortness still more, it' confident hope that you could enjoy we have ourselves curtailed our the pleasures of sin for a long season, opportunities. We are convinced and yet by repentance secure the of it when we look forward, but we rewards of virtue, if your probation
could be extended ten fold? Yet They shall perish but thou shalt we have no evidence that any unu- endure : yea, all of them shall wax sual proportion of the Antediluvians old like a garment; and as a vesbecame pepitent before death. ture shalt thou change them, and Nay, “the earth was filled with vi- they shall be changed: but thou art olence,” by them.
the same, and thy years shall have The duration of the world makes
no end." our little span of sublunary being Il. Our life appears short, if we appear still more trifling. For compare it with the works we have nearly six thousand years, the earth to do. has performed its revolutions, the The business of the present world sun has shed its light, the rivers must be attended to. have run into the sea, the sea itself creature of God is good, and nothing has kept ebbing and flowing, and to be refused, if it be received with the earth has been covered with thanksgiving.'
When we look at verdure. Generations innumer. The world, and see the great openable have lived their appointed ings for enterprise, the noble actime, and returned to dust; but quisitions which may be made, and the foundations of nature are still the success that has attended othfirm, and for aught we can see, ers; when we see the still higher may yet endure hundreds of cen- eminence, in happiness, in wealth, turies. It was a comparison of our fa- in honour, which is in view, but ding life with the constant earth, that has never been reached, our minds filled the mind of the royal moral- are filled with ardour. We will go ist. “ One generation passeth away, beyond all that have preceded us. and another generation cometh ; but we will rise to the summit of worldthe earth abideth forever.” The ly attainments. We will throw all duration of human life dwindled to others into the shade by the splena moment in his mind, and the sta- dor of our greatness.—The thought bility of the earth filled his thoughts of death comes over our minds, and like eternity. The psalmist com- our beart sinks within us. Life is
pares our life with the most fading too short to realize our golden • and changeable of the productions teams. If we would not lay out
of the earth. It is a flower, it is for a disappointment, we must mod. grass, the flower of the grass, a va- erate our hopes. Our lives are burz? but “the foundations of the too short to level mountains, to turn e;trtb:are Jaid that it should not be the course of rivers, to build up 'removed forever.”
empires, to master the whole sum But eternity alone will give us a of human learning, and to tind out just estimate of the shortness of life. all the secrets of nature. Extend your view forward, to a not perfect the plans and inventions boundless existence. Think of the which we might form for human imBeing, who is from elernity to eter- provement. A great work can be wity, the same yesterday, to-day, and finished by no one, so well as by forever. The earth itself becomes the original mover. Many a noble a mere passing dust. Time, years, enterprise has been broken off centuries, dwindle to a point. Our and defeated, because the life of the own existence is lost, like a drop projector was too short, and his sucin the ocean. Nay, the ocean may
were too indifferent, to be measured by drops, but eternity bring it to a favourable issue. can never be measured. We can Still less can we enjoy the fruit of neither begin nor end the computa- our labours. Said a certain rich tion. "Os old hast thou laid the man, when his barns were bursting foundation of the earth, and the with plenty, “ Soul, thou hast much heavens are the work of thy hands. goods laid up, for many years ; take
thine ease, eat, drink, and be mer. of social duties, and have many opry.” But while he was thus flat- portunities to promote the welfare tering his hopes, and felicitating him- of those around us. But those opself upon bis success, God said to portunities must be seized at the inhim, - Thou fool, this night shall stant, or they are gone. Time hurthy soul be required of thee : then ries along so rapidly, that the mowhose shall those things be, which ment wben we can do
any thing for thou hast provided ?" A variety others is usually the only time. We of considerations tend to make us find it so, even in the most ordinary feel that our time is short, to enjoy intercourse. A person, to whom the good things of this life. They we wish to show some particular soon satiate us, and cease to afford civility, is within our reach ; but us bigh pleasure. We are contin- for some reason, we delay our atually longing for variety. They tentions, for an hour, or a day, and perish in the using. They take to find it too late. We did not think themselves wings, and fly away. he would go so soon. But time is Death comes upud us in the midst of short. We feel this more, when our enjoymentofthem,and burries is we are finally separated from our to tbe grave, to leave them all forev- friends and neighbours. Then, in er. And then, what does it avail, that our seasons of meditation and of sadwe have tasted largely of the felici- ness, memory is busy in recalling to ties of life? What are riches and us opportunities of kindness which honors, to a dead man ? The bave been suffered to pass unimthought that we must soon part proved; injuries which have been with our dearest delights, casts a left unatoned for, and unforgiven ; gloom over our pleasant hopes, neglects which have never been The time of our enjoyment is so made up ; instructions, admonitions, short.
prayers, which might have saved á It is but a short time, that we soul, that now, perhaps, is lost forhave to suffer the ills of life. This ever. You were busied here and is a world of sorrow. “ Man-is of there ; you delayed a little while. few days, and full of trouble.” And to attend to something else you
; thougb the shortness of life be of it- waited for a season more convenself a sorrow, yet the thought of it ient; you indulged in sloth. timidimay lighten the weight of severer ty, or selfishness ; fully inreading affliction. When the christian feels to do your duty, and feeing that anlife to be an insupportable load, other time would do as well;:unjir when his body is filled with pain, it is too late. Death has removed his plans frustrated, his pros- bim, beyond the reach of your kindpects darkened, his friends forsak- ness, beyond the sense of your neging him, or snatched from him by lect, beyond your warnings and death, and be is ready to sink under your prayers. Time is so short that the burthen, hope opens to him a a moment may make it too late to speedy release from life, and an en- accomplish your object. trauce into bis desired haven. "The Our time is short to prepare for time is short ;” “For bere we have eternity. All that we can gain or no continuing city, but we seek one lose, enjoy or suffer, in this life, to come." “Arise ye, and depart, are trifles in themselves, compared for this is not your rest." "The with their influence on our eternal righteous is taken away from the state. Before entering upon the evil to come." “ There the wick- retributions of that world, there is ed cease from troubling, and there to be an examination of the deeds the weary are at rest."
done in the body. When we are We have but a sbort time to do to be examined, preparatory to adgood to others. We owe a variety mission to earthly honors or privile
ges, how much pains is taken to pass III. We feel the shortness of the trial successfully. No efforts time more, when we have ourselves are too great, no care superfluous, curtailed our opportunities, by our no zeal excessive. But here is an negligence. examination for admittance to the We often find when the portion glories and blessings of heaven. It of time which we have allotted to is a very rigid scrutiny, reaching a particular object, is drawing toeven to the thođghts and intents of wards a close, that we have made an the heart. It is a perfectly impar. unequal distribution of oor labour, tial trial, without fear or favor. and have crowded an undue proAnd what is more than all, it is fi- portion upon the last of our time. nal. This is not a case, in which With many people, the latter part of present mistakes can be corrected, the day or week is always a time of and present failures retrieved, by anxious hurry. What a pressure future diligence. If you fail there, of business do those find, who have you fail forever. It is not a case, delayed their preparation to leave where, if you do not pass to a high the world, till they come upon the degree, you may to a lower ; or if bed of sickness and death. Wealth, not approved for one employment, honours, kingdoms, worlds, would you may be received for another. all be given up, to redeem a single “ It is thenceforth good for nothing, bour. They have wasted their opbut to be hewn down, and cast into portunities ; they have suffered trithe fire, and burned.” Such is the Hes to occupy their attention; they trial. And this life is the season of have kept putting off what was dispreparation. Is it not short, to pre- agreeable to them, and they find pare for such an examination ? I themselves summoned away, when do not ask those who have been re- they are not at all prepared, either solving, and re-resolving, for many to leave this world, or to enter the years, and have not yet begun the other, in peace. What should have work. You keep putting off, and been the business of their lives, is putting, off, because you think it can thus crowded into a small space be done at any time. Old age, a of time; and what is done in a hur. sick bed; a moment, will be enough, ry, is always ill done. Distress,
accurding to your calculation. So confusion, and strife are entailed .. little • eo you realize the difficulty upon survivors ; an anxious shudcand importance of the work. But dering seizes the breast, as the bilsay; ye who are groaning, and bur- lows of death roll over; souls are dened with sin, who have long been doubtless often lost forever, beendeavoring to mortify the deeds of cause the best part of life has been the flesh, and who are almost ready suffered to pass away, without secuto faint, in view of the distance at ring the object of our existence, or which you yet remain from that per- considering our latter end. Ye fect holiness, which is necessary to who have been putting off the care be possessed in heaven ; is not of your souls, for twenty, forty, sixyour time short, to subdue your re
ty years ; how dare you waste your maining wickedness? Do you re
time, when life is so short ? gret baving begun your preparation IV. But we cannot see how short so early? It is a great work, to time really is, until we look back prepare for eternity. It deserves
upon it, when past. our most anxious care ; it will fully
Every successive portion appears occupy our whole lives. And even shorter than that wbich preceded it. then, unless we give unwearied dili- There are certain seasons which gence, death will surprise us with our work unfinished, and we shall of life, where we naturally pause
serve as way marks in our journey suffer loss.