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TH NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

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2100 ་་་་་་་་་་་་

ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATION8. 1903

The Self-Flattery of Sinners....
Wants of the Soul...

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CCCLXXXVII.-The Blessed Consequence of Repentance.

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adjusted the system, on purpose to make it present a succession of times and seasons, that his very object was, among other things, to surround us with ever-circling periods of change, going and returning, going and returning, and giving us note, by their perpetual transitions, of the transit of time. These changes of days and nights, seasons and years, are the hands that move on the dial-plate of the universe. Here the flow of time is made visible, here it is measured and told.

I design to occupy my discourse, this morning, in pointing out the moral advantages of this arrangement, and deriving a lesson of wisdom from it. This whole system of things, my hearers, is a RELIGIOUS STRUCTURE, and is built to serve the ends, not less of our spiritual, than of our mortal nature. And, if we examine it as such, we shall find it filled with the proofs of Divine Love, and the admonitions of Divine Faithfulness. What then are the objects, or benefits, God intends to secure for us, in the arrangements just named? I answer

ence.

1st. That by this means he compels men, as far as they can be compelled, to reckon their time, or number their days aright. Nothing is more important to the moral benefit of man, than that he be made to have his end before him, and see it as near at hand as it is. Death is the only argument which cuts off delay, and brings the motives of religion to bear on the present time. This only it is, which sobers life and brings the matter of eternity to have a real and influential existWhen we number our days aright, and only then, do we ever apply our hearts unto wisdom. And, therefore, it is a great end to be secured in God's gracious arrangements, that man should be as constantly and as powerfully impressed, as possible, with the flight of time, and the shortness of his stay here. And the more so, that he is so apt, by nature, to procrastinate-so apt to measure the period of life. that remains, by the desire he feels of living, by the worldly plans he has laid out for the future, and the worldly hopes he has yet to realize.

Suppose, then, that God had so cast the arrangements of our system, as never to give notice, at all, of the passage of time, by the distinction of days, seasons and years. In that case, we should all be living on together, but, how fast, or how slow, we could scarcely guess. There being no natural measure of time, there would probably be no artificial measure of it. We should never know, in years and days, how long we had lived; we should only be able to compare ourselves with other men and determine, each, that he was born before, or after, or simultaneously, with some other. But if the question were, how long we have lived, we should have no answer, except as we frame some loose impression, by our inward judgment. And how poor a reliance this would be, we see from the change men undergo in their impressions of the rapidity of time.-One year of their childhood seems as long to them, they say, as two, or perhaps even ten years, later in life. This shows you how they would mistake, if there were no measure of time save that of their inward judgment. They would never realize how fast they are living. They would take the period equal to ten years, in the later portion of life, to be the same period which constituted

only its tenth part, in their childhood; and so, when drawing on towards the close of their days,-the very time when they ought most of all to be awake to the shortness of their stay,-then would they be, most of all, insensible to the flight of time, and the swift approach of eternity. All this, on the supposition that they were perfectly honest inquirers, and were carefully endeavoring to reckon their days rightly. But this, we know, is not true of men. They shun this reckoning. They are fond of life, they have plans laid out for many years, and have a thousand fond hopes, which they must realize. The shortness of their time, therefore, is an unwelcome truth. They will not believe it, if they can put it by. With such a disposition, how distant would they set the hour of their death; how completely would they deceive themselves, if there were nothing to sway their impressions, more than what we have supposed.

Observe, then, the faithfulness of God. He has made the very universe to be the clock of the universe, and admonish every mortal heart of the sure and constant passage of time. We are not left to our inward judgments. Time has its measures without, in the most palpable and impressive visitations of the senses. Every twilight tells us that a day is gone, and that by a sign as impressive as the blotting out of the sun! It is as if we had a clock, so adjusted as to give notice of the hour, by displacing, at a stroke, the light of heaven, suspending the labors of the world, quenching the fevers of its earthly schemes and passions, and diffusing an opiate spell of oblivion over all human consciousness. The impalpable odors of the spring penetrate our secret sense, as monitors of time. The summer heat is the heat of time, the winter's cold is the cold of time-both forcing their way into our experience by a visitation that we cannot resist. One season tells us that another is gone; and, when the whole circle of seasons is completed and returned into itself, the new year tells us that the old is gone. And a certain number of these years, we know, is the utmost bound of life. How sure is the reckoning. It is even compulsory-none can escape it. All things, in fact, swim round us and above, in circling motions, and these all are but so many measures of time, so many voices telling us of its flight. Our very business, our day's works, our pay days, the term of our stocks and contracts, is made to be impossible, without reminding us that days, months, years are passing away, and bringing us nearer to our eternal account. If the years fly swiftly and still more swiftly, we yet know that they are years. They will not prolong themselves to the satisfaction of our judgment. If we try to avoid the reckoning, they will not stop. If we have spent them in folly and neglect of God, they still whirl on their flight. If life is fading to a close, and the sentence of God's displeasure waiting to receive us, they will not slacken their steady and determined rolling. And thus you see that God has built the very frame of creation to warn and keep you warned of the flight of time. Your stay here was to be short, and he has thrown all things round you into visible transit, that you may see the time pass and have your eternity ever in view. To accomplish so

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