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to us all, as time gradually reveals them, in their true light; and with our eyes opened to the reality, how often are our affections better regulated and almost wholly changed! It would be a melancholy condition for any man if he did not in some measure grow wiser as he grew older—if years were added and experience neglected—if in grey hairs he retained youthful follies. The goodness of God has ordained that years, which pass away and carry with them many things we cannot get again, shall leave behind many things of greatest value and importance. But these blessings rest only with those who try to seize and secure them. Time we cannot stop, but we can pass it well, and then God will give us another heart, suited to the successive periods of this short life.
This change, effected by the discipline which time exercises, alone can fit us to act properly in every stage of our mortal existence—to be what we ought to be in youth, in manhood and in old age; and this alone can teach us to feel contented and happy; for without this useful improvement of the time, which Providence allots us, every age has temptations to which we shall yield, difficulties by which we shall be overcome, and evils by which our peace will be destroyed; and gloom and discontent will becloud each passing day, which might have been always cheerful, or always attended with some circumstances that would lead to resignation and encourage that contentment, which in gratitude to God we should always strive to feel
3. Increasing knowledge operates to change the affections ; and thus, in the means of improvement, God often gives to those who avail themselves of them another heart. Our early predilections are generally the choice of ignorance. Did we know better, we should be ashamed of our choice. We err in two ways when without knowledge we exercise and enlist our affections : we attach undue value to things which may be in themselves innocent, and we too frequently feel affection for those things which are injurious to our usefulness and happiness. As the times are very different in the lives of different persons when mental improvement takes place, if it come at all,—we witness the tenacity with which not only youth, but manhood and hoary age, cling to the indulgence of base affections and passions. God has given abundant means of guarding ourselves from this fatal direction of our inclinations--of obtaining the light in which we should walk-of discerning the inferiority of all other objects to purity, integrity and peace of conscience; and if we avail ourselves of these as rational and accountable creatures, then, under the Divine blessing, we receive another heart, whose pulsations may be as strong, whose affections may be as warm, but its exercise will be more consistent with our moral duty, more conducive to our happiness, and more uniformly the cause of justice to others, whom we shall then regard with the knowledge that will discern their merits, and not blind us to their defects or to the perception of their faults. This discrimination is absolutely necessary to preserve our character from injury amidst the casual associations of life.
4. Affecting occurrences are made by Divine Providence to change the heart. The tide of human affairs flows on with a uniformity and monotony which are comparatively seldom disturbed, and few watch and learn the silent lessons which this progress teaches. Line
line and precept upon precept fall in vain upon the ears of the thoughtless many. They are coolly approved, as they cannot be gainsaid ; but they touch not the heart, they affect not the conduct. But when “the judgments of God are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Is. xxvi. 9.) Such occurrences as happen in the affairs of men, at times sudden and unexpected, which deeply and painfully affect our interest, remain to rouse the mind to proper views of life and duty, which will give a new direction to the affections and fix them on things alone entitled to our supreme regard.
Thus, in the sudden loss of property, in the painful priva
tions caused by the death of relations and friends, in the breach of domestic connections, in heavy and long-continued bodily affliction, in any unexpected calamity, the heart is softened or subdued, and new views arise of pursuits which time and accident cannot disappoint, in which all who ask shall receive, all who seek shall find. And when by such distressing occurrences the stoutest heart is faint, this is not the cowardice which crouches when danger is to be faced, but the humanity which feels its dependence, acknowledges its weakness, and when thus admonished by the voice of God, which all events are, confesses its faults, tries to correct its errors, and assumes the great purpose for which human life was chiefly given, and from which it is too often turned aside by ordinary cares and pursuits. The fatal mistakes which those make who enjoy robust bodily health, it is not likely that the invalid will fall into. He may cherish deceitful hopes, may indulge expectations which will never be realized, may look for the return of health with more eagerness than he looks for the purifying effect of what he must endure ; but the afflicted with bodily infirmity cannot believe in the capacity of this world to make man perfectly happy. Would he learn the lessons which all bodily suffering is adapted and intended to teach, then his sufferings would be truly blessed ; and he would know that the darkest designs of Providence are kind and merciful, and that while no affliction is for the present joyous but grievous, it afterwards yields the peaceable fruits of repentance to secure eternal life.
As the sum of all I have said, I entreat you to bear in mind that whatever blessings God gives, He leaves it in our power to neglect or abuse ; whatever influence He mercifully exerts, He permits us by our own efforts to convert into good, or for a time, and sometimes till it is too late, to frustrate its benevolent designs. He works and accomplishes His will, but He condescends to require our co-operation, that we should be
fellow-workers with Him in the moral improvement of the advantages of life. He gives the increase ; but not before we dig and plant, and take all proper care for securing the harvest which we wish to reap. Good impressions He is constantly making on the minds of men. You feel them in all circumstances, all situations. They rush into the heart when inclination prompts to do wrong. But they grow weaker and weaker as they are neglected or disobeyed. The heart that was tender becomes hardened. In order to convert these impressions into abiding convictions, into faithful monitors which we will on no account disregard, we must in youth and in every period of life listen to the still, small voice, pointing out to our understanding and conscience the path of true honour, respectability, piety and virtue, which reason and religion concur in urging us to pursue.
Let the melancholy changes which took place in Saul, to whom the Lord had given another heart,-let his awful end, and the years of misery which preceded it, from the indulgence of passion unworthy the call which he had received,-admo
Let every life not spent in the service of God, in the peaceful discharge of duty, in the cultivation of amiable affections, warn us of our danger. Let our own experience of the effect of habits and associates unfavourable to piety, or of the decreasing influence of those which should prompt us to holiness and virtue, rouse all our energy to shake off the one and to revive the other, to redeem the future time, to improve remaining advantages, to co-operate with Heaven in securing our happiness on earth, and in preparing ourselves, by every effort we can make, for all that God, in infinite benevolence, destines us to enjoy in time and through the countless ages of eternity.
ON THE RETRIBUTION OF GOD.
BY REV. R. SHAEN, M. A.
GALATIANS vi. 7 :
"Be not deceived ; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth,
shall he also reap.”
THERE is always much truth to be found mixed up
with the most extravagant and pernicious errors. Indeed, it is only owing to the grains of gold which give colour and weight to the alloy, that so much counterfeit metal passes current amongst us. The possession of some virtue is the incentive to hypocrisy. Sufficient moral sentiment to appreciate and admire excellence is essential to the imitation or assumption of its semblance. The pure particles of goodness seem to diffuse their virtue over all that comes in contact with them, and thus to render attractive much that in
company would be reprobated as foul and rejected as baneful. So is it with all the opinions current in the world. They are all shadows of truth, if they possess none of its light. The views of mankind are all addressed plausibly and acceptably to some one or other of man's inclinations, and are felt to be congenial by those in whom these inclinations prevail. They suit the present stage of this or that character. They meet with an echo in the thoughts and feelings that spontaneously rise in minds most prepared to receive them. They contain enough that is specious and excellent to satisfy the conscience of man