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ing as to the relative claims of these two individuals to our admiration; and if their journey be the journey of life, and they reach the grave together, is it not easy to say which has lived the longere? There are other way marks along this journey, besides the revolving of the earth, the signs in the heavens. There are voices to tell us of our age besides the salutation of passing years; there are seeds of benevolence, of charity, of love to God; there are tears and hand-pressings of gratitude; there are triumphs over sin, successful resisting of temptation, patient endurance of affliction; these are the tokens of God's favor, the smiles of his reconciled and approving countenance ; by these our age is to be reckoned. There is the growth of the mind, the expansion of the heart, the progressive sanctification of its affections; these are lines of estimate to mark our progress. And more of such marks may be counted on the past journey of many a young disciple of
esus, than can be discovered by searching along the length. ened route of others who are gray with years.
I have already guarded you against the thought, that this rule will apply only to the age of the righteous. The wicked may be old without a gray hair. Oh, how fast do they live whose days are filled with deeds and words of wickedness! Along the course of their lives how many black and dismal way-marks may be counted ! What maturity of iniquity have we seen among the young! Many a name is on the page of history, into whose short span of time there are crowded whole years of common wickedness; notorious for crime, they have wrought, in their quick passage through the world, what would have sufficed to fill hundreds of ordinary lives. It is sad to think how many “grow old in sin,” long ere time has marked their brows with wrinkles, or a single lock is gray !
And now, my hearers, desultory as these remarks may appear, I trust that you perceive that they are not without a connection and a bearing, and that you are ready to accompany me in their application. The occasion is a fitting one on which to address you, individually, the question, How old art thou ? Let us together give heed to the inquiry, and on the principle we have just considered, let us reckon our age. Have we filled up the year just ended with action? or have we passed through it listlessly and indifferently? What have we done for ourselves, for our fellow-men, for God? Are there any way-marks greeting our vision as we look back? Or is all a blank? And if there are way marks, are they bright and cheering to look upon ? Or does the sight of them fill us with shame and sorrow? Have we been living merely earthly lives ?-lives of the body, while the soul has slumbered ? How is it with you, my hearers? Have you sought the honor of God? Have you prayed, and watched, and labored, to gain greater degrees of holiness? Have you been charitable? Have you given
freely of what God has bestowed upon you ?_Or have you been worldly, and cold-hearted and selfish? Have you continued in sin, neglectful of God and holy things, and sought only your sensual enjoyment in the things which earth produces? How have the blessings which you have received, how have the trials which you have endured, affected you ? What use have you made of them? Have you grown old in wisdom, or are you yet in your infancy? Say, my Christian hearer, How old art thou How much has the past year added to thy age ? Count not now simply the days of thy pilgrimage. Reckon thy age by thy growth in grace, by thy deeds of holy living, by the good influence thou art exerting on the world ; and then say how old thou art.
And here, at the beginning of a new year, let us resolve that whatever be the number of our days, we will not die young ; we will fill up our days, our hours, our moments; we will make our hours swift, and cause them to do full work as they rush along. Let us fix our eye upon the great object before us, and bend all our energies to attain it. Time flies. We have a work to do. The night approacheth. Whatsoever is done must be done quickly. For us " to live is Christ.” Oh what a glorious life. Have we been living it ? Will we live it? Ah ! memory bids us weep. Hope bids us rejoice. How far have we come short of our high object! Yet to what a glorious elevation may we attain ! Redeemed people of Christ, go on in your pilgrimage, steadfast and rejoicing. Let each year that is added to the past, be full fraught with scenes on which memory will love to dwell. We are drawing near to death. We may not live to see this year's close, or we may live on to feeble old age. But remember,
"Though pale grow thy cheeks, and thy hair turns gray,
Time cannot steal the soul's youth away." Our bodies shall fail us. Our work on earth must have an end. If we have lived in communion with Christ; if we have lived as becometh the children of God; we shall be old enough, we shall have lived long enough, whenever our summons comes. Our bodies then may die, their service will have ceased. But our souls shall live on in immortal youth.
" The soul of origin divine,
Å star of day.
Shall never die." And do you too, my dear hearers, who are not yet the children of God, remember that your souls shall never die. Oh will you not ask yourselves how old you are ? Another year has gone from you. You have let it pass unimproved. It has added to your guilt. God has mercifully spared you. Will you still be insensible to his goodness? Will you still withhold your affections from Him? Will you still procrastinate the work of repentance, and the seeking of your soul's salvation? Think of it, my dear friends—an immortality of wretchedness! Can you
endure the idea ? Can you, unmoved, think of encountering the reality? I pray you let the subject of our present meditations have its due weight with you. When the next new year comes, your spirits may be in the world beyond the grave. Are you now ready to depart thither ? No! Sorrowful is the answer, no. When will you be ready? Do you know at what hour death will approach you? Why then, why under such fearful hazard, any longer procrastinate your preparation ? Why waste your precious time? Why not live wisely now, in order that you may live happily hereafter ?
" Will the shade go back on thy dial plate ?
Will thy sun stand still on its way?
Then live while 'tis called to-day.
As they lessen, in value rise ;
But in days that are truly wise."
BY REV. SEWALL S. CUTTING,
THE INEFFICIENCY OF THE CHURCH, AND THE REMEDY.*
“ For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof, as a lamp that burnetb.”—Isa., 62 : 1.
We have assembled, my brethren, after an established and goodly custom, to dedicate this edifice to the worship and service of Almighty God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. How, so far as the service devolves on me, shall this best be done?
Neither myself nor my brethren in the ministry, can by any outward rites attach a special sacredness to the materials of this edifice, or impart a spell to the atmosphere which it encloses. This edifice will find its best, its only consecration, in subserving the purposes of Christianity. It will be a sacred edifice, if the incense of spiritual worship ascends from the hearts of Christian disciples here assembling; if the gospel is here preached in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; if here are witnessed the holiness and zeal of a true and energetic
A Discourse, delivered at the Dedication of the new Baptist Church in Southbridge, Mass., October 25, 1848.
piety. I think, therefore, that I shall best perform my part in the present service by offering some thoughts of a practical character, having reference to the prevailing inefficiency of the means employed for promoting the cause of religion, and to the remedy by which that inefficiency may be removed.
That the means at present employed for promoting the cause of Christ are inefficient, to a painful extent, will not be doubted. In whatever direction you may look for the proper fruits of Christian exertion-whether in the devotion and consistency of individual professors; in the number of those who are brought from darkness to light and made heirs of immortality, in particular congregations; in the influence of the church of Christ on social and political life and manners; or in the subjugation of the heathen to the sway of the Redeemer;-you cannot fail to see, in the meagreness of the results, the too certain indications of a lack in the kind or the measure of the labor which has produced them. The heart that loves the cause of Christ, and desires the salvation of the world, is pained by the sad spectacle, and often inquires for the remedy. I doubt not there are many here present, to-day, who have made the inquiry, and such, I equally believe, will be gratified with even an humble attempt to solve it.
For this purpose, the text which I have chosen is appropriate. The rapt language of the prophet, indicates a heart set upon the prosperity and glory of Zion, and determined to apply the energies of life to the accomplishment of these aims. We shall see in the end that the spirit of this passage, lodged in the hearts of the people of God, and working out its fruits in the kind and measure of their labors, would effectually counteract the present apathy with which the church is afflicted, and clothe her with new and even primitive power.
For the plainer insight into the real occasion of the present inefficiency of the means which are used to promote the cause of Christ, let us institute a survey of our Zion, so far at least as relates to the matters which bear upon our present theme.
1. And here I may remark, in the first place, that the occa. sion of this inefficiency is not to be found in doctrinal unsound
I think it may justly be feared that the doctrines of grace—the sterner features, as they are sometimes called, of the Theology of the Reformation—are not set forth and enforced, either in the pulpit or in private religious teaching, with the vigor of statement and clearness of elucidation which have marked an earlier period; but it may safely be affirmed that there is no abandonment of these doctrines, and that even the suggestion of abandonment would be rebuked with earnest remonstrances. The doctrines of man's depravity and helplessness, of the atonement for sin by the death of Christ, of justification by faith, and regeneration by the Holy Ghost, underlie, and give tone and character to our evangelical religious teaching, whether from the pulpit or the press. The lack of vigor in statement, and of clearness in elucidation, which I have named, is indeed to be lamented, and, as I believe, has something to do in occasioning the prevailing inefficiency, but there is certainly no wide-spread doctrinal unsoundness, working its destructive influences at the core of piety. From that calamity, may the good Lord long deliver us!
2. I remark in the second place, that our present inefficiency is not to be accounted for, by the presence, in our churches, of unbrotherly strifes and divisions. From these we were never more free.
A few years ago, when the application of Christianity to social questions began to be agitated in connection with the reform movements of these times, collisions of opinion gave rise to personal alienations, and our churches often presented scenes of painful discord. In some sections the peace of our churches was, at a later period, disturbed by varieties of opinion on the near advent of our Saviour, and the disquietude which prevailed was, for the time, an effectual bar to progress. But
at the present moment we are largely blessed with concord. Peace dwells within the walls of Jerusalem, though the prosperity which the Psalmist equally invoked, is not our blessing. We have occasion for profound gratitude to Him who is the author as well as lover of peace and concord, that in seeking out the occasions of our inefficiency, unbrotherly strifes and divisions are not found to be one of them.
3. Nor, finally, is our inefficiency to be explained by any lack in the system or comprehension of our plans to do good. Perhaps there never has been a time when plans for promoting religion were so perfect and far-reaching, as at the day in which we live. In our particular congregations, we have Sabbath schools in the most systematic operation, reaching with the living voice and with judicious and excellent books, the children and youth; we have, in addition to the regular preaching of the gospel, meetings for conference and prayer, and these generally so arranged, as to bring them to every neighborhood. In the larger towns, and probably in all the cities, we have organizations through which religious tracts are borne to every family that is willing to receive them; and in many cases, these silent messengers of mercy, are accompanied by the pious teachings of the tract distributor, or of the city missionary, whose mission, generally to the poor and outcast, is attested, like the mission of Him whom they serve, by the considerate and tender dispensation of temporal relief. And so comprehensive are our plans of Christian exertion, that there is scarcely a form of moral destitution on the face of the earth, which they are not prepared to reach. The yoụngest child that lisps in your Sabbath school, has a channel through which it may reach with its tiny benefaction the heathen infant of its own age, and pour into its dark mind the blessed illuminations of