« PreviousContinue »
PSALMS XC. VERSE IX.
We spend our years, as it were a tale that is told.
WHEN we hear a story pleasantly set forth, in appropriate language, and with wellcontrived incidents, the mind hangs upon it eagerly, and falls from a certain heighth of enjoyment, when it is concluded: there is no sense of the passage of time; but the wit, and genius of the narrator abridges it to the duration of a moment; so it is with
the years of the rich, and great; they are. spent as a tale that is pleasantly told; there is no monotony in the events, no slowness c c
in the succession; novelty ever refreshes the fable, and genius ever adorns it; on a sudden, the noise is all hushed, the tale is told; our years are brought to an end, and the silence of death succeeds.
I seize then with some eagerness, upon the occasion which the conclusion of the year presents, to press upon you the duty of self-examination, and to protest against that life which is past without pause, and without reflection.
It is these artificial divisions of time, which teach men to think of its rapid pace; whenever the idea of change is introduced, there comes with it that melancholy, which is the parent of virtue; the mind is carried on from one vicissitude to another, till it. stops, and trembles at the last; now it is, that our thoughts are more than ordinarily serious; now it is that we listen to the lowly breathings of conscience, that we remember that this world is not the last scene of existence, that we catch a distant glimpse of the grave: how blest are they who hear from that conscience the voice of
praise, and see beyond that grave, the prospect of salvation.
We spend our years as a tale that is told; that is, we live so as to banish reflection; we do not enter into any serious computation of the progress we have made in godliness; we do not balance the increase of virtue, against the waste of life; there is no care that the soul should be more pure, because the body is more frail; that the inward man should be more fit to live with Christ, as the outward man is more ready to fall down into his native dust.
To stop this easy, and fatal flow of life, and to extract religious wisdom from years, we must have recourse to self-examination; another year of my life is gone; am I better by that year? is there one bad passion which I have conquered, reduced, or even attacked? am I more respectable in my own eyes? am I more the child of grace? do I feel an increased power over sin? can I fairly say, for the year that is past, that I have done something? that Į have advanced a single step towards the