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Teach me to number my days, that I may apply my
heart unto wisdom.-PSALM xc. 12. SUPPose I had received notice to quit my apartments, and in three days was to remove to some distant residence-I should betake myself to my chambers, consider how I might best dispose of the interval, and make myself ready for my departure-I should say the time was short; and since so short it was, I must make haste to use it for all needful preparation. If any one knocked at my chamber door, I should tell them I was very busy, could not well spare time to entertain them—if they had business they must dispatch it quickly, if not I must request them to forego the visit. Then if they began to talk to me about the concerns of the place, something that was proposed to be done, some danger or inconvenience that was apprehended, I should listen with indifference, and tell them they had better see to it, since I was so shortly to depart. I should remind that I was about to lose all interest in the things they spoke of, and could not attend to them while I remained; for I had but three days longer.
So if my days were numbered—if I knew, as under some circumstances of disease I might-that I had but three months more to live, should I not act the same? Should I not shut my windows, and close my doors about me, to abstract myself from the things of earth, and use the brief interval as the awful certainty required ? If sorrow knocked, should I not say, that if it would come in it might-but the visit must be brief-I had but three months more to stay, and therefore its presence did not signify. If pleasure knocked, should I not say, it was all too late to give it entertainment-I had other business than to amuse myself with this world's trifles. If the cares and interests of life tried to force themselves on my attention, should I not feel they were things that I had done with, and could no more trouble myself about.
"Teach me to number my days that I may apply my
heart unto wisdom.” If I am fifty years of age, teach me to reckon there are but twenty, likelier ten years more
then all these things will be my concern no longer. If I am thirty, teach me to remember that in thirty more, there will be nothing for me to lose or win, in the game I am playing with so much anxious eagerness. Or if I have counted yet but fifteen years—let me consider—three times, four times more that space-and sorrow or joy, success or defeat, wealth or poverty, pain or pleasure, may knock, but I shall not be there may come in and out at their pleasure, for the chamber will be empty.
Hold fast the form of sound words.-II Tim. i. 13.
To conciliate unbelievers, by supplying them with every needful means of light for discerning the truths which they do not apprehend or recognize, is doubtless a high moral and Christian duty; but to strive to conciliate them by a surrender of any particle of truth, to modify or change it, to cut and fashion it to the measure and mode of their disposition to conviction, is a breach of trust of the same kind, as to bid our master's debtor take his bill, and write down fifty measures of wheat, when an hundred measures is the just amount of the score. We are not intrusted with
latitude or discretion for thus negotiating the good will of infidelity in the article of revealed truth. We must take care to present it pure and genuine, and unbelievers must then take it as it is or they must leave it; but those who attempt a compromise, by any unauthorized concession, are not the champions, but the betrayers of that truth.
And the fowls came and devoured them up.
МАТт. xiii. 4. The proper application of this text is to those from whose careless hearts a watchful enemy wilfully takes away every good impression that may be made on them
by the casual hearing of the words of truth. May we borrow it a moment as a warning to some who do unwittingly the adversary's work, and from hearts not careless pick up the good seed that had else perhaps borne fruit to their advantage. We commend not those who on returning from the service, pretend to admire a sermon they have not admired, say they have received benefit by it when they know they have received none, and insist upon it the preacher has honestly delivered his Master's message, when they know that he has not so, because they think they ought to be benefitted, and ought to be pleased with every sermon: and persisting in asking your opinion when you have no wish to give it, are very angry if you say you did not like it. We commend not this, because it is not truth—and religion disclaims all falsehood. But there is a mean between commendation and censure-there is such a thing as silence. And we would give a warning to others and take one to ourselves, against the criticising and censuring of sermons before those on whose hearts we know not what impression they have made. For we know there are times when the saddened heart has received from the preacher some word of consolation, the callous truth has been startled by some word of warning, the confident heart has been convicted by some home struck heart, the desponding heart has opened to some beam of hope—and eagerly they have seized upon their treasure, and laid it up in their bosom, and are carrying it home in fearful silence lest it should escape them--and by the way they meet the well-meaning chatterer, who having not at the moment the same need, received not from the words the same impression; and having not had the remedy applied because the remedy was not suited to their case, they begin to discuss the sermon-and as we al ways criticise best what we feel least, their remarks are, perhaps, just. This was too strong, and that was too weak—this was misapplied, and that overstrained. They do not admire this expression, and they disapprove of that doctrine. Meantime their disturbed companion looks in upon her treasure, and sees its value rapidly decreasing. If she is an experienced Christian, and knows that the consolation or the stimulus she had gathered was what she wanted, she drops a tear for their ill-judged intrusion, and returns to her sadness or her coldness. If she is ignorant and had desired to learn, or indifferent and did not care to know, then she freely lets go her gathered word—it was all a mistake, or at least it may have been--the cold discussion has robbed the feeling of its warmth and the impression of its reality --and the hearer returns to despondency or indifference. There was a seed had fallen on the ground; had it laid there awhile, it might have taken root and flourishedbut the talkers have picked it up to examine it--they have devoured it, and it is gone.
SAVIOUR’S SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
LECTURE THE TWELFTH.
But I say
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love
thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you ; That you may be the children of your father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the good and on the evil, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if we love them which love you,
what reward have you? Do not even the Publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren
only, what do you more than others? Do not even the Publicans so?–MATT. v. 43-47.
There is a language in society that needs not words to give it expression, nor open assent to give it currency—the language of our actions, habits, and opinions. All men speak it and all men understand it, and tacitly conform themselves to its terms. We do not now profess, in sober seriousness, to hate our enemies : and when in the warmth of discourse, we say we hate a person, we have often no other meaning than a slight aversion, a passing disapprobation, that would not, if it might, touch a hair of their heads to injure them. Whatever evil there may be in using terms too strong for our meaning, it is not related to our present subject. It is not the language of our lips that needs to be reformed, as here by the Saviour deprecated. For we have all with the name of Christian taken to ourselves something of the Christian creed; we have all adopted the precepts of the Gospel as theoretically good, though practically we leave them quite out of question : and while we in effect go on hating, tormenting, and to our utmost molesting those who displease us, we all most graciously condescend to admit that God is right when he commands us to forgive them. It is therefore no longer said, “Thou shalt hate thine enemies”—bat is it therefore no longer done? Has the evil ceased? Are God and man agreed, and the disciples of Christ no longer in need of any better rule than the world subscribes to ? Perhaps we shall find upon enquiry, that the world has no such law and the nominal Christian has no such principle--and the real Christian trims but too seldom the lamp that his Lord has lighted in his dwelling
It may seem, at first sight, that these words are no more than a repetition of the former precept, and of the many precepts we have had to forgive our debtors and