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planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planted any
thing, neither he that watereth; but God that
giveth the increase.”] To set up an Eben-ezer therefore implies a disposition to say, in praise as well as in prayer, “ Not unto us, O Lord, not unto
us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy “ and for thy truth's sake :"2 and to ascribe all our blessings to the everlasting love of the Father, to the atonement and mediation of the Son, and to the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.
It implies also an open acknowledgment of our obligations to the Lord ; a confession of our own unworthiness; and an endeavour, by all proper means, to perpetuate the memory of his great goodness towards us, in our families, and among all with whom we are connected. fession of the truth, with a consistent example and conversation, attendance on the ordinances of God, diligence in the instruction of children and domestics, and the improvement of our several talents to promote true religion, constitute such an avowal of our obligations to the Lord. These things tend to diffuse the knowledge of his abundant kindness, and to preserve the remembrance of it, for the encouragement of our brethren, and an inducement to sinners to seek the participation of our privileges.
We must not, however, be satisfied with thankful acknowledgments of the past; but, when we set up an Eben-ezer, and say, “ Hitherto hath the “ Lord helped us ;" we should renew our dedica
An open pro
tion of ourselves to him in respect of the future. “ Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy
God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judg
ments, and to hearken to his voice. And the “ Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his pe“culiar people, as he promised thee; that thou “ shouldest keep all his commandments: and to “ make thee high above all nations which he hath “made, in praise, in name, and in honour; and “ that thou mayest be an holy people unto the “ Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.”! Having thus far experienced the Lord's faithfulness and mercy, the pleasantness of his ways, and the misery of departing from them; we thank him for the past, and express our purpose and desire of walking with him all the residue of our lives. Our review of the way which we have come invigorates these determinations, increases our simplicity of dependence on his continued grace, and teaches us the necessity of greater vigilance and circumspection ; that, “ whether we eat, or whether we drink, or “ whatever we do, we may do all to the glory of « God."
In these respects the Lord's supper is a stated method of setting up an Eben-ezer. When, with serious recollection and self-examination ; with renewed exercises of repentance, faith, and love ; with humble confessions, fervent prayers, and thankful praises, we commemorate the sufferings and death of our Redeemer : we then join ourselves to the Lord and his chosen people ; we avouch him
I Deut. xxvi.
to be our God; we thank him for the past, and commit ourselves to his keeping for the future ; and we declare our determined purpose, by his grace, to walk in his holy ways during the remainder of our lives. It seems therefore peculiarly proper to begin a new year with this solemn act of adoring praise, this renewed dedication of ourselves to the service of our God and Saviour.
This review should likewise excite us to be “ fol“lowers of God, as dear children, and to walk in “ love, as Christ also hath loved us.” Our conduct towards others ought to be a constant imitation of the long-suffering, compassion, readiness to forgive and relieve, and persevering goodness, of the Lord towards us; that'"we may never be “ weary of well-doing,” or “ be overcome of evil ;" but that we may "overcome evil with good.”
Finally, the recollection, and thankful acknowledgment that “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us, should encourage our hearts to run with patience the remainder of “ the race set before us.” “The “ Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the “ lion, and out of the paw of the bear, will deliver
me out of the hand of this Philistine.” He, that hath preserved and assisted us in so many dangers and difficulties already, will never leave us nor “ forsake us.” “He fainteth not, neither is weary." His understanding is infinite, his resources inexhaustible, his faithfulness unfailing, and his mercy everlasting. We should therefore comfort one another with these considerations ; learn “to “ cast all our care on him who careth for us ;" and
'1 Samuel xvii. 37.
pour out our hearts before him : we should remember that “our Father knoweth what things
we have need of,” and that “no good thing will “ he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” “ Clouds and darkness are about Him," and gloomy prospects may meet our view : but the perfections and covenant-engagements of the Lord are unchangeable; and “ we know that all things work “ together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” “He “ will never suffer us to be tempted above that we
are able: but will with the temptation make a
way to escape, that we may be able to bear it :" yea, “the Lord shall deliver us from every evil “ work, and will preserve us to his heavenly king“ dom : to whom be glory for ever and ever. « Amen."
These are some of the encouragements and instructions, which real Christians may receive from the subject before us. But how stand matters with our souls? Hitherto the Lord hath prolonged our lives, and we now enter on another year; while numbers have been removed to the regions of darkness and despair, and some to the realms of endless day. Many of our acquaintance or relatives are gone to their long home; yet we remain in the land of faith, of hope, of mercy, and of prayer. But “ the time is short;" “ the end of “ all things is at hand.” A little moment, as it were, will terminate our season of probation and preparation for eternity; the continuance of our earthly comforts or trials, and our opportunities of doing good to men, and glorifying God in this world of sin and misery.
1 Cor. x. 13.
2 Tim. iv. 18.
Have none of you then entered on this new year destitute of vital godliness, strangers to repentance and works meet for repentance, and unacquainted with a life of faith in the Son of God, and communion with the Father through him? Are none of
you still loitering and procrastinating, loath to part with worldly idols, and averse to diligent piety? Or are you not trying to persuade yourselves that so much strictness is unnecessary; that by attention to decent forms and moral duties, or an assent to certain doctrines, you may reconcile religion with your worldly spirit and pursuits, and thus serve God and Mammon? You have indeed been spared to enter on another year, and have great cause, though little heart, for thankfulness : but what assurance have you that you shall live to the close of it: Several who joined with us last year in the service of the day have now entered on an eternal state; and probably many of us will join them before this year shall terminate. And how terrible will this be to those who, by a perverse abuse of the Lord's abundant mercies, have increased their own condemnation! Still “ the “ Holy Ghost says, To-day if ye will hear his “ voice, harden not your hearts.” “Seek ye the “ Lord while he may be found ; call ye upon him, " while he is near.” And we intreat you, join your prayer for yourselves to our supplications in your behalf, that in the present year you may be “turned “ from darkness to light, and from the power of « Satan unto God."