Page images


attain unto "the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus," we must not only be alive to the worth, but weigh well the cost of the undertaking. In strong and marked language, and to prevent the disgrace of a failure, our Lord hath told us what must be done in order that we may "inherit eternal life." When he says, "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life;" when he saith, "Whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple ;" would, in so speaking, show us the nature of the conflict carrying on between the world and God, between the flesh and the Spirit; and that he, who would come out victorious in the cause of his own imperishable soul, must be prepared against all extremities, must never be forgetful of his own high and immortal destiny, must be fully convinced that the gain of a whole world would be but a sorry and Matt. vii. 14.

2 Mark x. 17.

4 Luke xiv. 33.

pitiful exchange for the loss of his own soul.

It is these, and such like reflections, which may, or ought, naturally to crowd upon us, whenever, not unmindful of the eternity unto which we are hastening, we look back upon the days we have already passed, and towards the probable future space of time which may yet remain to us. But O, how foolish and improvident is it to calculate upon any, the least portion of the future! If we, with God's grace, resolve to be good, to be for the future more attentive to our religious duties, less given to sensual indulgences, more sober and more discreet in our general conduct and behaviour-in a word, more watchful over ourselves according to the teaching of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ-we must resolve and act on the instant. We must, as the psalmist resolved," make haste, and prolong not the time to keep the commandments of God." Now," as the apostle

[ocr errors]

exclaims, "is the accepted time now is the day of salvation !" 5

Therefore, brethren, resolve we, and let us begin this new year well. Let us this day begin, and live throughout it, if God grant us this space of reprieve, as we shall have wished to have lived it, when the amount of our services, the extent of our trials, the temptations we have withstood, the self-denials we have exercised, shall be all brought forward, summed up, and appreciated not according to the world's fallible estimation, but by the unerring judgment of Him, "Who now seeing in secret, shall then reward openly."

A good beginning do they make, who are prepared this day* to present themselves before the Lord at his table, avouching themselves to be his servants by openly remembering him in the holy sacrament

5 2 Cor. vi. 2

* The Holy Communion is administered on the first Sunday in the year at the Dock-yard chapel, Malta,

of his own divine appointment. Surely on those who so attend and receive in faith, the blessing of God shall descend, the light of his countenance shall shine; and that which is needful for their soul's health shall be granted, if they persevere in the stedfastness and righteousness of their choice to obey the Lord, and to serve him with a grateful heart and a willing mind all the days of their life.

And let those who do not stay to communicate; let those who will still foolishly and perversely persist in declining to obey the invitation of their Saviour and their Lord; let those, likewise, who are yet "halting between two opinions"-between the deceitful and treacherous temptations of the world, and the pure, the holy, and satisfactory service of HIM, the Almighty Eternal, who will one day "judge the world in righteousnes''-let all such behold themselves and their future situation, and consider seriously what will then be 1 Kings xviii. 21.

their harrowing thoughts and vain regrets, if the Lord, in the supreme counsel of his unimpeachable will, were to " laugh" their senseless irresolution "to scorn," and to say, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee!" O! believe we that our better resolutions, our intention to amend, our desire to live more "soberly, righteously, and godly," will not be strengthened by procrastination. "Choose ye then, brethren, this day, whom ye will serve." And whilst we would not so wrong your professed faith as Christians, nor your judgment as rational men, as to suppose there can be a doubt on the subject-you surely desire and would fain choose "life and good," not "death and evil?"-we would remind you, according to the words of our Lord, that "by their fruits shall men be known and judged hereafter;" that "if you would enter into life, you must keep the commandments;" you must "deny ungodliness and

7 Luke xii. 20.

« PreviousContinue »