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they should; "for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." A length of time has elapsed; we are drawing considerably nearer to the term and period which is to fix our everlasting destiny than when we first embraced the faith of Christ. It has been supposed, and with probability, that Saint Paul expected the coming of Christ to be not far off, and this expression, "now is our salvation nearer," alluded to that coming; which being, as they thought, to happen soon, now drew sensibly nearer every day. These two particularities, the computing the date from the time that they became converts, and their expecting the coming of Christ to take place soon, though they clear up the meaning of the words, do not make them so strictly and precisely applicable to ús; but the general doctrine, the great and solemn admonition contained in them, is still as much for us to lay to heart, as suitable to our circumstances and religious condition, as it was to theirs to whom the letter was written. The time of any man's death is to him the time of his salvation; that is, the time when his destiny in another life is fixed and we are taught by the text to reflect that we are hastening very fast to that period; that every year draws us sensibly and considerably nearer to it. Then for this reason it is high time, if we have not already done it, to awake out of sleep; to shake off that dulness and insensibility to religious matters which cleaves to our souls; to rouse ourselves to virtue and to action; to have done with these wild and distem,

pered dreams of worldly pleasures and pursuits, which have hitherto influenced us, and to open our eyes as one just awake from a sleep to views of heaven and of hell; to a sight of our real business in this world, to making sure of a favourable sentence at the day of judgement. This meditation I think extremely suitable to the beginning of a new year. One year more, my brethren, has brought us nearer to our salvation-nearer to the term that is to fix us for ever. We now enter upon another year, and it surely is a proper opportunity to pause-to consider for a while whence we came; where we are, whither we are going, what we are about, what we have to look for. And first, they who suffer year after year to pass over their heads without any serious thoughts, or any serious endeavours after their immortal interests, know or consider little what a year is. A year is a very material portion of the whole time we have for our work. We talk of seventy or eighty years, but how few ever reach that number! The youngest, the strongest, the healthiest man living cannot be allowed to reckon upon more than thirteen or fourteen years: I mean, in worldly transactions. The very best life, and one in the very bloom and vigour of age, is not expected to be much more than that: for the generality of us, that is, for five out of six of all who are not the youngest, not half that. Let it then sink into our thoughts that a year is probably the sixth or the seventh part of all the term we have before us; that a year neglected is one step lost or

gone backward in the business of salvation, and that such steps are but few. And it may show us the value and the consequence of a single year to look back upon the last, to recollect what changes it has made, what alterations it has produced in our neighbourhood, or amongst our acquaintance: that of those with whom we have met together, sat, and conversed, several are gone down into the grave: that the time of trial is over with them-the opportunity of salvation closed and finished for ever: that death is abroad and amongst us; that our turn is near, that it cannot be distant; that when we see what one year has produced around us, we cannot but reflect in many ways what another may bring to ourselves. Is this a time to sleep? is this a proper situation to be dreaming about gains and pleasures, and advantages, which will all cease and perish with us; whilst death and judgement, and the sentence of God Almighty at the last day, are unthought of and neglected? It is a practice with many, in the arrangement of their worldly concerns, to settle at every year's end their accounts, to inquire how their affairs stand, to see what improvement they have made, as well as what faults and mistakes they have committed; to know whether they go backwards or forwards-wherein they chiefly fail, what they are to set to rights, and how they may proceed with more safety and advantage the next year.

This is a general thing, and a good thing; insomuch as they who do not use something of this sort

seldom, I think, thrive or succeed well. Now I would earnestly recommend a similar proceeding in our religious concerns. I am sure there is infinitely greater reason for it; because our being saved or perishing everlastingly is of infinitely greater consequence to every one of us than any other thing we can possibly gain or lose here.

Now this being the case, I cannot employ the remainder of this discourse better than by suggesting such topics for this annual self-examination as may appear most necessary and most important to be inquired into. And first, I would speak to those who are sunk in habits of sottishness and sensuality-who have given themselves up to a life of drunkenness, debauchery, riot, and disorder; which, if the Bible can be depended upon, must, without a sincere repentance and reformation, bring your souls to final destruction. We adjure, we warn, and admonish you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, trust not to another year. You may not live through this. Amuse not yourselves with false calculations of long life. Old age is the lot of few, of very few indeednot of one in a thousand who addict themselves to these things-to vice and unlawful courses. You suppose you shall be alive at the beginning of next year. You will have the same work to do as at this. You will have less ability, less inclination, more confirmed habits, more tyrannical propensities to conquer. To repent to any purpose you will have greater difficulty, greater pain, greater struggles. What ground

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is there to expect that if your resolutions yield now, they should be able to stand stedfast then?

In the second place, let me address a word to such as have spent the last year, and their past life, in a total neglect and forgetfulness of all religious concerns; who may be truly said to sleep in darkness and insensibility. Consider the time. Another year is gone a sixth or a seventh part of the whole, you can reckon your lives worth, is just departed. Open your eyes to the light. Awaken to a sense of your situation to a knowledge of what you are, and whither you are going. It is your own affair-your own interest. Your own welfare and salvation are at stake. Things, you find, do come to pass. The silent but irresistible progress of time brings events home, which you have been accustomed to regard as at a vast distance. Perhaps one, certainly a few, of such years as that which is gone, will bring you to death and to judgement, whether you have thought of these things or not.

The exhortation to other Christians I would found upon the principle, that the true Christian's life is a state of continual progress a constant growing in grace; a gradual amendment of ourselves, either by shaking off bad qualities or acquiring good ones, or most commonly and most naturally by both together. Now in this view, what has the last year done for us? What virtues have we planted in our hearts? What vices have we exterminated? Have we gone backwards or forwards? Is our moral character better or

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