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"No pleasure,” every enjoyment having lost its zest, and life become a burden.
This state the sacred penman further illustrates by the following figurative language--"While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain.” A cloudless sky, with the sun, moon, and stars in all their grandeur, is a fit emblem of the season of youth ; whilst clouds, rain, storm and tempest announce the winter of hoary age-In youth the imagination gilds the horizon, bedecks the heavens with splendour, bestrews the earth with flowers, representing, to our sanguine minds, life as a scene of uninterrupted enjoyment. Experience corrects our error, and dissipates the airy phantom. The atmosphere, which seemed so clear, is often disturbed by tempests, which shake our tabernacle ; the rose conceals a thorn; the tear-worn cheek bespeaks a heart rent with anguish ; and we learn from experience that "man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards." But the contrast between the brightness of spring and summer, with winter and all its rising train of clouds and tempest, is not greater than that between the light, airy buoyancy of youth, and the cold, cheerless comfortlessness of age—“I know not,” says one, who had spent a considerable portion of his life in India, but had returned to his native country, "I know not, how it is that I always connect the idea of sunshine with the scenes of my youthI stood by the same stream as before ; there was the same well and cottage; the same wood skirting the horizon, but the heavens were pouring down torrents of rain”. But how do we account for this contrast? The same sun that shone on our youthful rambles walks forth with equal brightness; it is the same earth we tread, that was pressed by our early footsteps; the same brilliant canopy is still spread over us; society in its composition and elements has undergone no material change, though our early companions do not now mingle with it—But life has advanced onwards, and “the clouds return after the rain.” Sober realities have dissipated the airy visions of fancy. The heart has felt till it has become callous; and we have fought with the elements on the sea of life, till we look for no harbour but the grave-How ill adapted is such a season as this to commence a course of piety!
To enforce more strongly the necessity of early piety, Solomon subjoins a graphic anatomical description of the effects produced by age on the bodily frame ; representing the decay of the senses, the failure of its energies, till the “ wheel is broken at the cistern,” the heart the great instrument of circulation is disabled; the arteries no longer propel the vital stream, the blood stagnates in the veins, death ensues: " the body returns unto the earth as it was, and the spirit to God that gave it."
The ruinous mental and bodily decay, induced by age, render this a season most unfavourable, if not hopeless, for seeking salvation : for it is then, if ever, that we specially need the consolations of religion to support us under the pressure of infirmities, and the approach of our last enemy.
Awful indeed must be the condition of him who in addition to those physical decays, is weighed down with a sense of guilt and dread of future punishment, and has to risk his everlasting all, on the enfeebled efforts of his last moments! When persons, who from their youth up have been accustomed to attend on a gospel ministry, and have lived amidst the means of salvation, harden their necks, and put off their salvation till the approach of death, their state is dangerous beyond description, and there is reason to fear lest these awful words should be realized in them, “because I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded, I also will laugh at your calamity and mock when your fear cometh.” Prov. i., 24.—Hear this 0 young man! O young woman ! Be warned and instructed and remember NOW thy Creator.
To many these words do not apply. The season of youth is past with you—your best advantages and opportunities are fled for ever. What account are you prepared to give of them to the Judge of all the earth ? Have you been amongst those who have stood "all the day idle"? Have you acquired neither knowledge, nor holiness, nor happiness? You have served neither God, your fellow creatures, nor your own temporal, spiritual, and eternal interests? Nay, have you not hired yourselves to the worst master, Satan,—and have done the worst of work, sin,—to reap the worst of wages, death,-eternal death? Then awake thou that sleepest; arise from the dead, that Christ may give thee light! O aged, or middle aged sinners ! to-day, while it is called to-day, harden not your hearts; Remember now though late your Creator ! For this word stands unrepealed for your encouragement now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation." The door is not yet shut! Your sun has not yet gone down. The early morning may be past; it may be the third hour, or the sixth, nay it may be the eleventh, yet the master is still willing to admit you to his vineyard. Say not to-morrow, I will repent. Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. To put off your return to God is unsafe, it may be ruinous. Be persuaded by the terror of the Lord, to flee to Christ; lest wearied with your rebellion, as he was with ancient Israel he swear in his wrath that you shall not enter into his rest.
“FOR THE JEWS REQUIRE A SIGN, AND THE GREEKS SEEK AFTER
WISDOM. BUT WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED, UNTO THE JEWS
Among the numerous proofs of the divine benevolence, there is one peculiarly interesting to the thoughtful and intelligent Christian—that however difficult may be the attainment of the remoter branches of science, or however abstruse those subjects which, comparatively, are least necessary to be understood, -all the knowledge which is of general importance, and which it is man's interest and duty to be intimately acquainted with lies upon the surface of those systems or theories that are obscure, and is easy of acquisition. This principle, applicable to all the affairs which engage our attention, is nowhere so fully developed as in that most interesting and momentous subjectReligion. The important doctrines it enunciates, and the moral precepts it enjoins, are not merely subjects for angelic speculation and wonder, but are capable of comprehension by our limited capacities, and commend themselves to the reception of our faith, so far as the comprehension and belief of them are necessary to our present and future welfare. Of all the mysteries of Religion, none is more inscrutable than the INCARNATION OF DEITY, and yet none seems more consistent with reason, and the longings and requirements of mankind. Viewed in its highest mysteries, this is a subject which archangels fail to grasp, but considered as a fact, revealed by God to man, it is easy and intelligible to the sincere enquirer after truth.
The history of the fallof man finds its literal corroboration in the deep echoes of the human consciousness, and the unanimous testimony of all ages :—from this settled conviction sprang the various means made use of by all nations to appease the Deity and to atone for guilt; this originated penances, fastings, macerations, and pilgrimages; this has immolated hecatombs of victims, and dyed altars with the blood of the innocent; and not unfrequently has wrung from the bleeding heart that sorrowful cry, “shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul.'
To demonstrate simply the existence of a Being of infinite attributes-man feels is not sufficient for him. He wants to know his relations to that Being, and that Being's aspects towards him. He may survey creation, shewing forth the handiwork of his great Architect; he may gaze upon yonder spheres, fulfilling their circuit, and
“For ever singing as they shine, The hand that made us is Divine;”.
* Micah, vi., 7.