« AnteriorContinuar »
childhood the holy scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation. We have had the word of God in our hands, and have enjoyed the privilege of his institutions of public worship and divine ordinances. These favors we continue to enjoy, and remain prisoners of hope, while many have fallen ;-younger than we have fallen into the grave-fallen into endless woe.
What shall we render unto God for all his benefits ? Let us rejoice that our times are in his hand, and devote our lives to his service. And let those, who have been made the subjects of his saying grace, adore his distinguishing mercy.
But let us, for a moment, consider the times that have gone over us, in the year past. The times which have gone over the state, and nation, and all the nations of the earth, in the year past, have been interesting, and calculated to teach us lessons of wisdom, the same lessons which the word of God has always taught us; that mankind will never be harmonious and happy, till they are made better; and that a free and happy government never will be long supported, without the spread and influence of Christianity, nor unless it is encouraged by government, and supported in all proper ways, by the example and exertions of the legislature.
But the times, to which we are particularly to attend, are those, which have passed over us as a congregation, and as individuals. We have had times of mercy and times of affliction, but they have all been in God's hand. It becomes us to notice our escapes from death, and to look upon the scenes of mortality in our families, or the families of our neighbors. The deaths among us, in the year past, have been fewer, than the average number for many years. We have enjoyed general health. No dreadful epideinic has prevailed, except in a few families, and the subjects of it in those families,
have been wonderfully raised, by a merciful providence. Yet death hath silently, and in several instances suddenly, cut down one after another, till the number of deaths has amounted to twenty-one. Sev: en or eight of these were females, the others males. The number twenty-one, however, includes an instance of a foreigner and stranger, who was poor, and was supported at the expense of the state. Only twenty of the inhabitants of this town have died. Of these, five were under the age of four months ; one aged eleven years ; two died in youth, having entered the marriage state; they had become parents, and were called away from their dear companions, and their tender babes, at the age of twenty-one, and twentyfive years'; four died between thirty-nine and fiftyeight, three of whom left young families to bewail their loss; and cight were taken from among the aged, from between sixty-three and eighty-threea larger proportion of the aged than what is usual.
These our deceased friends, and other friends, who died in other places, are gone : we have bid them farewell, we shall see them no more here. Their weeping families shall enjoy their smiles, and their assistance no more on earth. But their times were in God's hand. The times and circumstances of their deaths were ordered in wisdom, and some of them, in great merey to themselves, and to the living. Let us remember, that we must soon follow, and let us take heed that we live as dying creatures, who must soon render a solemn and interesting account of ours selves to God, and must for ever abide the sentence, which will be given, according to the deeds done here in the body. Let us reflect, that we have one year less to live, and one more, with all its times, its sabbaths, means and advantages, trials and comforts, śliortly to account for unto God : solemn thought ! worthy to make a serious impression on our minds, and suitable to awaken the reflection, what have we laid up the last year against the judgment ?
Perhaps before the present year is closed, we shall finish our state of trial for eternity-yea doubtless some of us, and perhaps numbers of us, will be called from this world, and all its concerns, to appear before God : not only in old age, and in middle life, but numbers also in youth, and childhood, according to the ordinary course of providence, will die, and all further opportunities to prepare for the day of judgment, and eternal retributions, will be precluded. And are you all prepared ?
Ave you ready and prepared, my aged friends, to gomto die this year-to go to the judgment seat of Christ? You have long enjoyed the means of grace, have been favored, through the forbearance and tender mercies of God, with many precious opportunities to secure salvation ; you have had much longer time, than the most of mankind have, to prepare for the world of glory; you have had time enough to deliberate on the importance and wisdom, of laying up in store a good foundation, against the time to come, that you might take hold on eternal life. And are you now prepared ?
Are you, who are parents, prepared to die this year. Have you fulfilled the duties you owe your families ? have you instructed them, counselled them, prayed for them, and with them, and have you been true to him, who intrusted them to your care, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ? Have you neglected nothing towards them, the neglect of which would afilietyou on a dya ing bed? Your lives are uncertain. Whatever you would do for the everlasting welfare of your families, should be done without delay; and your
duties as parents, are great, and of great importance to your children. Oh, then, set your houses in order, for you must die, and not live. If it be uncertain, whether this shall take place before the close of the present year, this uncertainty should lead you to admit no
delay ; and since it must come, it is wise to be always prepared.
Are you, my young friends--the youth and children—are you prepared and ready to leave this world, and appear before your judge? Oh, how important it is, that you remember your Crcator in the days of your youth; and that you seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. Our Lord invites you in particular: to come unto him, and declares his readiness: to receive those who are very young. How affectionate are his words : « Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God."
Finally, my hearers, let us all be exhorted to make our peace with God, to take his word for our guide, and counsel, and our heritage for ever. In this way only can we find peace, and be supported, among the changing scenes of life. In this course, and acquiescing in the truth, that all our times are in God's hand, we may pass serenely along, amidst enemies and dangers, and wait all the days of our appointed time, till our change come. While we thus trust in God, and faithfully discharge our duty, we may leave our children, or our families, we may leave the church, and the world, with God. Though dark scenes draw over the land and the world, yet our times, and the times of our children, of the land, and of Zion, are in the hands of God. In this We may rejoice, for he will do all things well. He has been the God of our fathers, and if we will trust our times in his hand, he will be our God, and the God of our children; for he is the dwelling place of his people in all generations. He is a prayer-hearing God; he hath delivered those, who trusted in him, and he will still deliver them. Let us leave ourselves in his hand, and commit all our desires for
the good of others unto him in prayer, and with confidence in his wisdom and goodness.
This God is the God we adore,
Tis Jesus, the first and the last,