« ElőzőTovább »
carried him to the grave, testified the love and veneration they had for him all seemed to say (men, women, and children, individually) Let me die the death of this righteous man, and let my end be like his !'
EPITAPH ON HIS TOMB-STONE,
IN THE BURIAL-GROUND OF SLAIGHWAITE-CHAPEL.
Sacred to the Memory of
the late Rev. THOMAS WILSON,
32 years Perpetual Curate of Slaigh waite-Chapel, faithfully discharging the trust committed to him by his Lord. He died July 2, 1809, aged 64 years.
Go feed my lambs,' the heav'nly Shepherd cry'd;
DEVOTIONAL REFLECTIONS ON PSALM XXXIX. 4. Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days' what is, that I may know how frail I am!
ON the commencement of the year, such a prayer as this is particularly suitable for every traveller on the road to the eternal world. It is not by the exercise of reason merely, that we can form a proper estimate of human life; but if to this we are enabled to add the influence of faith and the spirit of devotion, we shall have those affecting views of our lives which will lead to that improvement of what remains of them, which their brevity and uncertainty require.
It is not the intention of this paper to clear up any difficulties in the connection of these words, except to observe, That the paragraph probably begins with the foregoing verse; and that David, by intensely musing on the brevity of life and the vanity of man, at length speaks with his tongue, and utters this and other devout sentiments contained in the psalm,
The petition now under notice embraces three objects; and these respect the close, the duration, and the frailty of life. These objects are always important, and yet too much neglected by us all. At the present season especially, when the plans, the duties, and the prospects of the opening year are before us, how rational, how wise is it to consider our latter end!"
Lord, make me to know mine end!' Does not this petition imply the natural and extreme unwillingness of the minds of men, even of very good men, to think deeply and profitably of the closing period of their mortal career? How strange, how thoughtless, how criminal this aversion from the most interesting, most awful period of life! Lord, subdue this aversion, and
make me to know mine end!" The supplicant feels the unpleasantness, the evil of this aversion, and therefore implores the assistance, the grace of God. With solemn ardour of soul he prays, Lord, direct my thoughts, dispose me, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is!" Observe, he reflects that the end of all things is at hand.' He pauses, and thinks that the end of his probation and trial, his duty and exertion, his pursuits and enjoyments, as they bind him to this world, is fast approaching. He is convinced that this is a fact; and yet he does not feel so serious, so happy, so resigned as he ought to be. Hence, notice further, he prays that he may know, or attentively consider the end of his course. He does not curiously wish to know the time and mariner of his departure; but his desire is, that he may, by previous knowledge of the certainty and rapid approach of the event, stand prepared. He is often admonished by the heavenly whisper, Be ye also ready.' His prayer and hope is, under these impressions, to be found in Christ; to be found clothed with the whole armour of God; to be found willing to put off the earthly house of this tabernacle; to be, in a word, willing to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.' Such are the sanctified views and feelings of a man who wisely considers his latter end!
Another object of the petition most probably refers to the duration of life. The Psalmist prays that he might know the measure of his days. This measure, this short duration, he seems to allude to in the following yerse: Behold, thou hast made my days as an hand-breadth, and mine age is as nothing before thee!' It becomes us often to consider how near we are to the end of life. The measure of our days is determined by the counsel of God, and that measure is but short. Our days will soon be numbered and finished! Who can contradict the solemn and affecting assertions of Job? Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble: he cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not: his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee: thou hast appointed his bounds, that he
cannot pass.' Frequently and seriously let us think, therefore, on the probable bounds of our lives, and on our daily approach to those bounds that cannot be exceeded; and how soon may we appear on the verge of the eternal state!-Yet, alas! such are the many attachments to human life, that but few can be found, among the busy tribes of men, who sufficiently estimate the measure, the hourly shortening measure of their days, what it is !'-how short it is, even in the longest instance, and how short it may probably be in our own! Hence
The inspired penman next adverts to his own frailty: That I may know how frail I am. Death is gradually and secretly undermining our constitutions. This should lead us to consider how scanty the stock of life is, and how faint the spirits, which are as oil to keep that lamp burning. Verily, every man at his best state is altogether vanity.' He is a mutable, mortal, dying creature. How frail, how liable either to be soon or suddenly broken is the earthen vessel' that contains the immortal mind! Lord, give to each of us a deep and perpetual conviction of his own frailty! Lord, grant that I may know how frail I am!that I may know and consider it aright! that I may reflect how frail this mortal tenement is! that my time is short; and that there is but a step between me and death!'
This sentiment of the devout Psalmist, which has occasioned the foregoing explanatory reflections, powerfully urges upon us a serious improvement of our remaining days. The label written on each revolving day and week, month and year, is this, Redeem the time! Why should the end of life be so much forgotten? Why should a due preparation for it be so universally neglected? The busy and the thoughtless may attempt to argue and procrastinate; but both Reason and Conscience will still urge, that the great business of life is to prepare for its termination; and Scripture speaks yet louder in their ears, Prepare to meet thy God! The shortness of life should awaken and keep alive all our diligence. Be diligent to make your calling and election sure.' So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.' The question is, Who are these wise and devoted characters? They are penitent sinners, and believers in Jesus ;-they walk by faith, and not by sight;-they are led and sanctified by the Spirit; they are humble and heavenly-minded; they are weaned from this world, and long for a better; and they are always abounding in the work of the Lord. Happy characters indeed! Let the weakness of your frame induce patience and resignation! If you are saying with Job, All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come,' you shall have an entrance ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!'
REDEEMING THE TIME.
TIME is so precious that not any of it must be last. The whole time of our life must be employed either about our souls, in the service of God, or in the works of our callings; but particularly the time of youth, the time of health and strength, -the time of affliction, the time of the gospel,-and the time of the Sabbath.
The time of youth must be redeemed. The great God stands much upon priority, to have the first and best, the first ripe fruits, the first that openeth the womb. My young reader, offer then the Isaac of thy youth, the spring and flower of thy age, to God, and stay not until the evil day. Begin first with Him from whom thou hadst thy being; go about the grand affair and work of thy never-dying soul, before thou dost ingulph thyself in the cares of this world. If the celestial seeds of grace are sown in the morning, the pleasant and sweet flowers springing out of those seeds, will invite the Lord Jesus to come and walk in his garden. The infinitely gracious God holds out the golden sceptre, and invites you to come to him. The ruddy David, the child Samuel, the young Timothy, God calls. Say then this instant, Behold, we come: thine we are, thine we will be come now and take thine own!' God will accept you: his arms and bosom are open to receive you. I remember thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when the first fruits were holiness unto the Lord. If you would enjoy a happy life of communion with God, offer unto him the firstlings of thy flock, thy youthful days. If you receive the seed of grace in the morning of your age, it will take the deeper root in your heart, and cause you to bring forth fruit even in your old age. That cloth will keep its colour best that is dyed in the wool; and the vessel will longest retain the scent of that liquor with which it is first seasoned. O! remember then thy CreaQUINS
tor in the days of thy youth!" The time of health and strength must be improved. Those that are now strong and lively, must not expect to be so always; they, as well as others, must count upon disease, sickness, and weakness, which will confine them to their houses, chambers, and beds. O! that while their strength and health of body, and natural vigour are continued, they were mindful of their work and time! If a man had business of great concern, or matter of life and death, that required time, strength, and diligence, and should omit it until he were stricken in years, or till sickness or weakness had invaded him, every one would be ready to charge him with folly and shall we lay the stress of our everlasting state upon a few days of sickness and weakness before our death? God forbid !
The time of affliction must be redeemed. Christians, in the time of adversity we must consider! It was the time of Jacob's trouble when the apostle exhorted believers to redeem the time. God speaks to us by his rod as well as by his word; for every affliction addresses us in the language of Ehud to Eglon, I have a message unto thee from God; and God will reckon with us. for the rods he lays upon us.
The time of the gospel must be redeemed. Gospel - time is our spiritual harvest; and it is a notorious folly to sleep in harvest. It is a time of light, -a time of love, -a time of life, a time of liberty! It is now an accepted time, a day of salvation!' Sinners! the dear Lord Jesus, the great Peace-Maker, is now an importunate suitor to your perishing souls! The treasures of grace are open, and offered to you upon easy terms, without money and without price!" O! make haste and buy the pearl of price, which is better than rubies! If you lose this, you may never have another opportunity! The Spirit and the Bride say, Come!'
The time of the Sabbath must be redeemed. We must sanctify the whole of that day: it is the Sabbath of the Lord our God. It must be spent, from morning till evening, in the service and worship of God, either in public, social, or secret duties; and no part of it must be spent in frothy, vain, and unprofitable discourse or recreations; in riding, buying, selling, or working. This dreadful sin of Sabbath-breaking is a sin in fashion. Hundreds in this nation serve the Devil more upon the Lord's Day than upon any other day. The Lord of the Sabbath hath commanded, that thou and all thy house keep that day holy. The Sabbath was once called Regina Dierum, The Queen of Days.' In the New Testament, it is called The Lord's Day. In the primitive times, a serious and strict observation of the Lord's Day was a test of Christianity. When the question was asked, Servasti Dominicum? (Hast thou kept the Lord's Day?) the answer returned was, Christianus sum, intermittere non possum (I am a Christian, and cannot intermit it). It was the saying of an eminent divine, That he judged of a man's religion according as he reverenced the Sabbath. THEODOSIA.
THE INTELLECTUAL CHARACTER
IMPROVED BY THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE GOSPEL. The entrance of thy words giveth light it giveth understanding unto the simple.-Psalm cxix. 130.
I ) ..
WHEN the Lord Jesus Christ selected the first, and most honourable ministers of his religion, he did not call to the apostleship men eminent for learning, but persons the greater