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tion to that Supreme Being who makes his creatures happy. He who pretends to great sensibility towards men, and yet has no feeling for the high objects of religion, no heart to admire and adore the great Father of the universe, has reason to distrust the truth and delicacy of his sensibility. He has reason to suspect, that in some corner of his heart there lodges a secret depravity, an unnatural hardness and callousness, which vitiates his character.---Let us study to join all the parts of virtue in proper union; to be consistently and uniformly good; just and upright, as well as pitiful and courteous; pious, as well as sympathising. Let us pray to him who made the heart, that he would fill it with all proper dispositions ; rectify all its errors; and render it the happy abode of personal integrity and social tenderness, of purity, benevolence, and devotion.
ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF TIME.
GENESIS xlvii. 8. .
And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou ?
Time is of so great importance to mankind that it cannot too often employ religious meditation. There is nothing in the management of which wisdom is more requisite, or where mankind display their inconsistency more. In its particular parcels, they appear entirely careless of it; and throw it away with thoughtless profusion. But, when collected into some of its great portions, and viewed as the measure of their continuance in life, they become sensible of its value, and begin to regard it with a serious
While day after day is wasted in a course of idleness or vicious pleasures, if some incident shall occur which leads the most inconsiderate man to think of his age, or time of life; how much of it is gone; at what period of it he is now arrived ; and to what proportion of it he can with any probability look forward, as yet to come; he can hardly avoid feeling some secret compunction, and reflecting seriously upon his state. Happy, if that virtuous impression were not of momentary continuance, but retained its influence amidst the succeeding cares and pleasures of the world! To the good old patriarch mentioned in the text, we have reason to believe that such impressions were habitual. The question put to him by the Egyptian monarch produced, in his answer, such reflections as were naturally suited to his time of life. And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, the days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years : few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their pilgrimage. But the peculiar circumstances of the patriarch, or the number of his years,
are not to be the subject of our present consideration. My purpose is to show how we should be affected in every period of human life, by reflection upon our age, whether we be young or advanced in
years; in order that the question, How old art thou? may never be put to any of us without some good effect. There are three different portions of our life which such a question naturally calls to view ; that part of it which is past; that which is now present; and that to which we fondly look forward, as future. Let us consider in what manner we ought to be affected by attending to each of these.
I. Let us review that part of our time which is past. According to the progress which we have made in the journey of life, the field which past years present to our review will be more or less extensive. But to every one they will be found to afford sufficient matter of humiliation and regret. For where is the person who, having acted for any time in the world, remembers not many errors, and many follies in his past behaviour ? Who dares to say, that he has improved, as he might have done, the va
rious advantages which were afforded him ; and that he recalls nothing for which he has reason either to grieve or to blush ? When we recollect the several stages of life through which we have passed; the successive occupations in which we have been engaged, the designs we have formed, and the hopes and fears which alternately have filled our breast; how barren for most part is the remembrance; and how few traces of any thing valuable or important remain ? Like characters drawn on the sand, which the next wave washes totally away, so one trivial succession of events has effaced the memory of the preceding; and though we have seemed all along to be busy, yet for much of what we have acted, we are neither wiser nor better than if such actions had never been. Hence let the retrospect of what is past produce, as its first effect, humiliation in our own eyes, and abasement before God. Much do human pride and self-complacency require some correction; and that correction is never more effectually administered, than by an impartial and serious review of former life.