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entering upon a new year, we shall do well to make a solemn pause, upon its threshold, and consider what events may take place with respect to us this year ; the necessity of being prepared to meet them, and particularly to look back, and call to remembrance the sins of the past year, Solemnly consider, I entreat you, the sins you have committed—the days you have misimproved the sabbaths you have neglected—the , offers of mercy you have slighted, that you may enter on this year with new resolutions, and improve it better thou have any which are past.

Remember, if you do not improve it better, you will abuse it worse. Let it be impressed on the conscience and heart of every impenitent sinner in this assembly, that if you do not improve future time better than you have improved the past, the longer you live, , the more wicked you will grow, and the more dread- . ful will be your destruction. You had better die this year, than to live an hundred years in sin and die emphatically accursed.

It has been said that this year you may die. It is probable, that a number of us, before the year shall close, will be numbered with the great congregation. In twenty years past, I have recorded one hundred and ninety deaths in this place, which on an average is almost ten a year; and yet through the goodness of God, there has been no uncommon mortality during the whole of this period. From the general course of providence then, we may naturally expect that with respect to some present, this will be the last year of their state of probation. And indeed who can

say with any degree of assurance, that he shall have the opportunity of another sabbath, or of hearing another sermon? There have been repeated instances of persons who have been in this house of worship on one sabbath, and in their graves before another. This shows the importance of improving this year, this day, since we know not what a year, a day may bring forth.

This may be a year of prosperity to some, and of great and distressing adversity to others. You may enjoy an uninterrupted scene of health in your persons and families, and your worldly pursuits may succeed beyond your expectations. Or you may be just on the borders of distressing sickness, in which wearisome days and nights will measure off the remaining span of life. Some will probably form new connexions, in which they may promise themselves much happiness, and indeed enjoy it. Others may meet with bereavements of friends--losses in their interest—their habitations may be turned into ashes, and they and their families reduced to want and misery. But whatever circumstances await us, one thing will always be need. ful, I mean true religion. Without this you will increase in pride, and hardness of heart, should you enjoy health and prosperity.

prosperity. Without this, you will despise the chastening of the Lord,” or “ faint when you are rebuked of him.” In short, you will grow worse and worse, whether God smiles, or frowns upon you in the course of his providence. On the other hand, they who possess christian grace, are habitually prepared for whatever may happen. Should they enjoy health, they will be thankful; if sick or in affliction, they will

be humble. Should they meet with losses and disappointments, they will be patient; and the various scenes of life will strengthen and confirm their grace. Should they be called to meet death, they will be found in peace of their Judge. For such to “live is Christ, and to die is gain.” These observations show the pressing importance of religion, which is the only preparation to meet God in his providences.

We may therefore lay it down as an undoubted truth, that whatever tends to divert the minds of people from the concerns of their souls, and render them less thoughtful and attentive to the doctrines and duties of real religion, is of a dangerous and fatal tendency; and must be avoided, would we be the subjects of lasting happiness. There are many things which contribute to a state of carelessness and security in sin, and to settle persons down in a state of inattention to the great end for which they were made.

When we see a person, or people going'on secure in sin, unmindful of God, the consequences of a stupid life, we may find, on examination, a number of criminal causes which have contributed to this. It is a known and acknowledged fact, that one sin leads to another, and often to many. Thus ignorance opens the door to a great many evils, and this ignorance is a real crime, when means of knowledge are' at 'hand, This opens a door for persons to do many things which should not be done, on the principle that these things are innocent; and also to omit many things which are dutiful. Ignorant persons are commonly very inatten. tive to the consequences of present conduct. They often do things, which are followed with the most destructive consequences to themselves and others, without thought or design. But a wise, understanding man considers his way, determines the propriety of any proposed action, by the certain, or probable good or bad consequences to himself and others, while “the simple pass on and are punished.” Ignorance is the parent of superstition, and false schemes of religion among a people.

Through ignorance of the clear light, and abundant evidence there is of the truth and divinity of the holy scriptures, many fall into infidelity, and sink down into total neglect of all the means of grace. It is on this principle that ignorance leads persons into destructive errours, and blinds them to truth and duty, that God says ny people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will reject thee.” The ignorance here complained of, was among a people who had the advantages of divine revelation. They were not heathen, but Jews, unto whom were committed the oracles of God. This destructive evil when found among those who live in a land of gospel light, is generally owing to one or the other of these causes ; either to ignorant, false teachers, or to great and criminal inattention in a people who enjoy proper instruction. When there are abundant means of knowledge, and a people remain ignorant, their ignorance must be imputed to them as a sin, and they are chargeable with all the evil consequences resulting from it.

Strife and contention among a people, either political, or religious, tend to banish serious consideration, and take off the mind from the value and importance of improving time to its great purpose. Especially do they unfit the mind for the public and social worship of God, and of consequence tend to put an end to the practice of this duty, among a people thus at variance among themselves. . Not only so, but these evils display themselves in acts of revenge and violence; and prompt the parties to spend precious time in contriving how they shall counteract and frustrate the designs of their adversaries.

Hence the Apostle tells us, and the experience of ages has confirmed his observation, “ that where strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” It is impossible in the nature of things, that religion should prevail in a society where these prevail ; for they directly and powerfully tend to make a thoughtless and secure people more thoughtless and secure, and to banish even the form of religion from a place. Fire and water, light and darkness are not more contrary to each other, than strife and contention to love and peace. How unprepared is a people to improve time, to meet God in his providences, whose hearts and lips are filled with revenge and strife ! How unprepared is the proud, contentious man to make the humble prayer which Christ taught his disciples ! The person, who is sensible that these prevail in his life, must feel the absurdity of expressing with his lips what is so foreign from his heart. Nothing quenches a spirit of prayer among a people more effectually than variance and strife. whose bosom is agitated with these unsocial passions,

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