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THE LAST DAY OF THE YEAR. READER, you have come to the closing hours of the year : they are as a brief resting place in your journey to eternity, from whence you may look back on the road along which you have passed, and judge of your prospects for the future. It is not a time for trilling or indifference. Let it be a season of reflection, self-examination, and prayer. Place yourself at the bar of conscience, and inquire, What report of my state and character will the departing year bear with it to God?
Has it not been a year of mercies? How regular and abundant have been the supplies which a kind Providence has bestowed ! Morning and evening, noon and inidnight, have borne witness to the goodness and faithfulness of God. But have you rendered to him according to the benefits done unto you?
Has it been a year of trials? Who have been without them? Trials in trade, in the family, in body, in mind. Perhaps one has followed another in quick succession. Could you at the
commencement of the year have foreseen the losses and disappointments which you had to meet, it would have pressed you down in sorrow. Yet, through the good hand of God, you continue to the present day.
Has it been a year marked by bereaving providences? If it has not been so to you, it has been to thousands. Many a widow now sits in solitude, weeping over the loss of him who was her earthly comfort and protector. Many a child turns to the fireside corner, but the father or the moth':r is no longer there; and many a parent now looks in vain for a child who it was hoped would have been a comfort in declining age. Death has divided many hearts, and marred many bright prospects this year. The mourners have gone about the streets, and thousands have been carried to the grave. Yet you have been spared; and why? Is it because you are stronger, or more healthy, or more useful, or more deserving, than others who have gone? Is it not of the Lord's mercies that you are not consumed, and because his compassions fail not? Lam. iii. 22.
It has been a year of privileges.. Fifty-two sabbaths have blessed the year; what have you done with them? Many solemn addresses from the pulpit you have listened to; what has been their influence on your character ? There is your Bible; have you read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested its sacred truths? Do you understand it better than you did on the first of January last? How have you spent your seasons of prayer? Have you lived through another prayerless year? Have you done as much good as you have had opportunities of doing? If you have done little or nothing in the cause of Christ, is it because you have lacked opportunity? If you have been active, what have been your motives, your rule, your end? Are you as spiritually-minded as you should be? Have you kept a tender conscience within, and maintained consistency of character without? You are hastening on to eternity ; are you better prepared to enter on your final state, than you were on the last day of last year? What are your hopes, your prospects ? Are they warranted by Scripture? Will they bear the test of a dying hour? Or are they like the hope of the hypocrite, which goeth out at death? Do you love Christ more? Are you resting on him with a more simple faith, deriving from him all your spiritual health and life? Are you looking forward, and longing for his appearing. These are questions which should be fairly, fully met. When can you better think over them than on the last day of the passing year? The season calls for reflection. Another stage of your journey is past; enter into your secret chamber, and shut your door; and while humbled in the dust, under the painful conviction of guilt and unworthiness, seek
your soul to Him who is able to keep that which you commit to him. Surely, if there be one day more than another when you should feel your need of the blood of Christ, it is that which closes the departing year.
But perhaps you began the year with a heart at enmity with God; are you now converted? You commenced it as an unregenerate sinner; are you now a humble penitent, hoping for mercy through a Divine Saviour? If conscience condemns you, as yet unchanged, still far off from God and righteousness, what have you done? You have shut your eyes to the light, closed your ears to the voice of mercy, resisted the Spirit of God, denied the Saviour's claims, increased your guilt, and “heaped up wrath against the day of wrath." You are nearer eternity than you ever were, and less prepared to enter on it. You have made progress to judgment, but have increased your account. When the year commenced, Mercy cried, “ Lord, let him alone this year also: if he bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut him down." The year is gone, and you are found the same fruitless tree, yea, with less prospect of ever bearing fruit. Promises may have been made, and good intentions formed; but you have lived only to give another proof, that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”
Not only should you look back from this point of time, but you should look forward. You are especially admonished of two solemn periods, the last day of your life, and the last day of the world.
The last day of your life will surely come. How fast is it hastening on ! How rapidly have you passed the stages of childhood and youth! and it may be maturity is nearly gone, and old age is at hand. Who can tell how near you are to the grave ? You look back on the years already gone; they appear but a handbreadth : how few remain! There inay literally now be but a step between you and death. For what is your life? Is it not like à vapour which appeareth for a little while, and then vanisheth away? “ We spend our years as a tale that is told," Psa. xc. 9.
Oh, how solemn are the thoughts associated with the last day of your earthly probation !
There is the last day of the sinner. What anguish rends his heart! So unexpectedly called to die! He had hoped that he had many years to live; but now he is told he must die. He looks back in distress of spirit; he looks forward, and all is hopeless. “ Farewell, all my gains and projects, my merriments and thoughtless companions, my abused sabbaths and seasons of grace, ny 'murdered hours,' my promises of amendment! Before me is nothing but misery, and the blackness of darkness
for ever!" How different the last day of the believer! Hear the dying saint exclaim, “ Welcome death, welcome glory! • The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith : henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,'” 2 Tim. iv. 6, 7.
But when the hour comes that shall end your pilgrimage below, will it be your happiness to take your farewell, for ever, of sin and sorrow, pain and death, and at once rise to light, and holiness, and bliss, and join the ransomed throng in singing the “new song" before the throne of God, ascribing all the praise of salvation to the Lamb that was slain? What answer does your conscience give to this inquiry?
The last day of the year seems prophetic of the last day of the world. Every year, as it is added to the thousands that are past, is bringing on that day, of which Enoch prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all,” Jude 14, 15; when “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up," 2 Pet. iji. 10; and though scoffers, who walk after their own lusts, ask, “Where is the promise of his coming ?” yet that day will come “as a thief in the night." And who shall abide its coming ? You will be a party to its solemn transactions; though thousands of years should intervene, and your body pass into the finest dust, until not a vestige is left to denote that it once formed a part of a human being, yet you shall le there, not as a spectator, but as one deeply interested in the sentences that shall then be passed. Then the departing year will be brought into review, with all its mercies and privileges, its misimproved hours and accumulated guilt. Oh, where will you stand ? on the right, or on the left hand of the Judge ? Is He, who shall be the Judge, now your Saviour and Friend?
On entering on a new year, receive a few hints of advice.
1. Daily cherish a deep sense of your need of the Divine Redeemer, through whom alone your sins can be pardoned, and your soul be found righteous before God.
2. Daily seek the influences of the Holy Spirit, to renew your heart, and to sanctify you in body and spirit.
3. Daily aim to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
4. Daily give attention to prayer, the study of the Bible, meditation, and self-examination.
5. Daily keep heaven in view, and look forward to the end of your earthly course.
“ Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord," Psa. cvii. 43.
“ THE WRATH OF THE LAMB."-Rev. vi. 16. When we think of a lamb, we think of one of the most gentle, harmless, meek, and patient creatures in God's creation. A lamb is a creature which excites our tenderness. To be afraid of a lamb, is a thing never heard of. It has no means of defending itself when attacked; no disposition to revenge itself upon those who would injure it.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ is called a Lamb, to show his meekness and patience under suffering : “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth,” Isaiah liji. 7.
It is true that a lamb is fearful and helpless, whereas Jesus is strong and mighty. All power in heaven and earth is His: " He is King of kings, and Lord of lords," 1 Tim. vi. 15; Rev. xix. 16. Still, when we think of Jesus as a lamb, we remember how he emptied himself of all this power and majesty, when he took our nature upon him. We think of one who was “meek and lowly in heart." We remember all the kind and loving words