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Let us at the beginning of this, another year, dear readers, think for a little of our own lives, and endeavour to draw a lesson from the flight of time and the passing seasons, so that our future life may be more useful and holy than that which has passed, and that we ourselves may be more fitted for that eternity which has no seasons, and in which time is known no more.
Few of us can enter upon a new year without some serious thoughts.
We feel that with the departing year another epoch of our life, with all its joys and sorrows, its good and evil, passes away for ever, and that the birth of the new year is the opening of another period of time in which, if we live, we may have opportunities for improving ourselves and putting forth fresh exertions to achieve victories over evil, and to make progress in that which is good.
In a book I was reading lately I came to these remarks: Every first of January that we arrive at, is an imaginary mile-stone on the turnpike track of human life; at once a resting-place for thought and meditation, and a startingpoint for fresh exertion in the performance of our journey. The man who does not at least propose to himself to be better this year than he was last, must be either very good or very bad indeed! And only to propose to be better is something; if nothing else, it is an acknowledgment of our need to be so, which is the first step towards amendment. But, in fact, to propose to oneself to do well is in some sort to do well positively; for there is no such thing as a stationary point in human endeavours; he who is not worse to-day than he was yesterday is better; and he who is not better is worse."
Yes, it is true that we cannot remain stationary. We must be making progress in the right way or the wrong. Not only every year but every day that we live finds us nearer to that which is perfect and God-like or the reverse; let us therefore from this time strive to be better and not worse each day of our lives.
We cannot make ourselves perfect, and no resolutions for amendment formed in our own strength can be of any avail; but if we seek the help which is promised to all who ask it, we may be enabled by God's grace to be better and holier Christians through the present year than we were through the last.
The rapid passing away of time should make us ever careful that we waste not even the shortest period.
If the end of the present year is to find us better and nobler than we now are, we must use well the moments and hours of which the year is made up. The mere hoping that such will be the case, without strenuous efforts to compass it, will only bring us disappointment, and we shall be prone to say with Dryden :
"When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat,
Yet fooled by hope, men favour the deceit,
Lies more; and when it says we shall be blest
"Every day," says Bishop Hall, whole life is but a day repeated." be able to live a holy year, we holiness.
"is a little life; and our This being the case, to must live each day in
But how is this to be accomplished? How are we, weak and erring mortals, to find grace to pass each day as we should? Only by unceasing prayer and constant watchfulness-prayer for strength to do the right, and watchfulness to enable us to discriminate between the right and wrong.
To the end that we may be able rightly thus to discriminate, a knowledge of God's laws is indispensable, and it behoves us carefully to study, and jealously to hoard up in our minds the words of Holy Writ, that they may prove a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths. Nothing so tends to the development of a strong and healthy Christian. character as the frequent perusal of the Bible. Other books, however good and admirable, should never be allowed to
take the place of THE BOOK. They may be used as props and stays, but the Bible should be the centre column, the mainstay of the whole Christian building.
A habit of self-examination, too, is conducive to a holy life, for unless one examines himself, and finds out his own weak points, he is not so likely carefully to guard against particular temptations or besetting sins. I know that it is the fashion just now among persons of a certain class rather to look upon self-examination as a danger than as a preventive of evil. They urge that it is likely to produce a morbid state of mind, and to engender effeminacy rather than a robust tone and strong faith. "It is not the healthy man," say they, "who is constantly feeling his pulse and attending to his diet, but rather the weak and ailing,"
To these I would answer, that if there is any analogy between the health of the body and that of the soul, they should remember that it is not always the most robust and apparently healthy man, the man who defies all weathers and all exertion, and boasts that he never was ill in his life, that lives the longest, or gets through the most work in his life-time. Such men are often cut off in their prime, and their less robust brother outlives them for years, and works quietly, ou, not, perhaps, with so much swing and noise, but with perseverance and continuance.
No, friends; let these say what they will about selfexamination, I will give them two exhortations from Scrip-ture, and leave them; the first is: "Examine yourselves, whether, ye be in the faith; prove your own selves" and the second: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
But self-examination will be useless unless we are careful, when we find a weak point in our character, immediately to set about to remedy it; and this we can only do by seeking Divine help. It is useless for us to sit idly deploring our weaknesses, and wishing that we were stronger; while we do this, our weakness is increasing. As the sick man calls in the physician's aid to restore him to health, so
the soul, conscious of its guilt and weakness, must go to the Great Physician for strength and healing.
Have you, my readers, ever tried to live better lives, and failed in the attempt? Do not be discouraged, but rather let your past defeats spur you on to greater exertions in the future, and make you more careful to avoid those things that have proved stumbling-blocks in the past. Would you know why you have so utterly failed, why your good resolves have so quickly been forgotten, and how it is that you have made so little progress in the heavenly direction? Is it not because you have trusted too much in yourself and too little in your God?
If you would make good progress you must be constantly looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. In Him you will find strength to overcome all your enemies, and in Him alone can you find a guide to point out to you the right road, and to lead you on to life everlasting.
Trusting in Christ, looking to Him for help in every time of need, working with a single eye to His glory, you need not fear but that you will receive an increase of grace, and be enabled to live a profitable and happy New Year:
G. H. S.
"A little Child shall lead them."
LEASE take away that book," said a dying Englishwoman, who, a few hours before, had been received into the English Mission Home in Paris. The book was a Bible. "And do not pray for me," she added; "all that is of no use now." Her life had been full of sin and sorrow, and just before admission to the home, she had attempted to end it, but she must soon die, the doctor said, from the effects of starvation.
Presently the sound of children's singing was heard from a room close by; here were four little girls just rescued
from the fate of many English children in Paris; they had been sold for models, a few pounds paid for three of them, and the fourth thrown into the bargain, as slightly deformed. The Christian lady who was ministering to the dying woman feared lest these little ones, brought from most degraded scenes, might have learned songs coarse and profane; what was her surprise to hear the sweet words ring out:
"I heard the voice of Jesus say,
'Come unto Me, and rest.""
That night the poor sufferer, waking from uneasy sleep, was heard to mutter, "What is it? How is it? What does that mean? Come unto Me, and rest?" Her loving attendant, in the simplest words, spoke to her of the love of Christ for sinners. "How does it go on?" she asked— "what He says about rest?"
"Have you ever come to Him?" she asked, eagerly. "Yes, I have."
"And did He give you rest?"
"Then let me keep close to you; perhaps I can come to Him with you, as you have come already."
And then her friend softly and slowly went on with the hynin :
"I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn, and sad;
I found in Him a resting-place,
"What a change there is in her!" said one who visited the sick woman next morning; "and now she is asking for a Bible." A large print New Testament was given her, which contained also the Psalms; to which she turned. "That is
the prayer for me," she murmured, and with her eyes still on