« AnteriorContinuar »
They take hold of virtue by pieces and corners only. Few are so depraved as to be without all sense of duty, and all regard to it. To some moral qualities, which appear to them amiable or estimable, almost all men lay claim; and on these they rest their worth, in their own estimation. But these scattered pieces of virtue, not uniting into one whole, nor forming a consistent character, have no powerful influence on their general habits of life. From various unguarded quarters they lie open to temptation. Their lives are full of contradiction, and perpetually fluctuate between good and evil. Virtue can neither rise to its native dignity, nor attain its proper rewards, until all its chief parts be joined together in our character, and exert an equal authority in regulating our conduct.
On our LIVES being in the Hand of
[Preached at the Beginning of a New Year*.]
PSALM XXXI. 15.
My times are in thy Hand.
HE sun that rolls over our heads,
the food that we receive, the rest that we enjoy, daily admonish us of a superiour power, on whom the inhabitants of the earth depend for light, life, and subsistence, But as long as all things proceed in their ordinary course; when day returns after day with perfect simi
* January 6th, 1793.
larity; when our life seems stationary, SERMON and nothing occurs to warn us of us of any approaching change, the religious sentiments of dependence are apt to be forgotten. The great revolutions of time, when they come round in their stated order, have a tendency to force some impressions of piety even on the most unthinking minds. They both mark our existence on earth to be advancing towards its close, and exhibit our condition as continually changing; while each returning year brings along with it new events, and at the same time carries us forwards to the conclusion of all. We cannot, on such occasions, avoid perceiving, that their is a Supreme Being, who holds in his hands the line of our existence, and measures out to each of us our allotted portion of that line.
tain limit, we know that it
Beyond a cercannot be ex
tended; and long before it reach that limit, it may be cut asunder by an invisible hand, which is stretched forth over all the inhabitants of the world. Then naturally arises the ejaculation of the text, My times, O God, are in thy hand. " My fate de"pends
pends on thee. The duration of my
life, and all the events which in fu- ̧ ́ "ture days are to fill it, are entirely at
thy disposal."-Let us now, when we have just seen one year close, and another begin, meditate seriously on this sentiment. Let us consider what is implied in our times being in the hand of God; and to what improvement this meditation leads.
THE text evidently implies, first, that our times are not in. our own hand; that, as our continuance in life depends not on ourselves, so the events which are to happen while life remains, are unknown to us, and not under our own direction. Of this we may behold many a proof when we look back on the transactions of the year which is just finished. Recollection will readily present to us a busy period, filled up with a mixture of business and amusement, of anxieties and cares, of joys and sorrows. We have talked, perhaps, and acted much. We have formed many a plan; in public or in private life, we have been engaged
gaged in a variety of pursuits. Let me Let me SERMON now ask, how small a proportion of all that has happened could have been fore, seen, or foretold by us? How many things have occurred, of which we had no expectation; some, perhaps, that have succeeded beyond our hopes; many, also, that have befallen us contrary to our wish? How often were each of us admonished that there are secret wheels, which, unseen by us, bring about the revolutions of human affairs; and that, while
man was devising his way, directing the event?
That scene is now closed.
that year has been told. has been told.
The tale of
We look for
ward to the year which is beginning; and what do we behold there ?-All, my brethren, is a blank to our view; A dark unknown presents itself, We are entering on an untried, undiscovered country, where, as each succeeding month comes forward, new scenes may open; new objects may engage our attention; changes at home or abroad, in public or in private affairs, may alter the whole state of our fortune. New connections