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have lived to no purpose ; and more, who are so deep asleep, that the shock of death cannot awaken them, make the same lamentable confession, when, from eternity, they look back on the schemes and labors of time; and they are not able to take to themselves the consolation of charging God with being the cause of it. Oh, yes, the man of the world is indeed made in vain ; but it is his own work. His life is a life of splendid vanity, as, when at last he comes to gather it up, he finds it. He has done nothing, he has gained nothing. The supreme business of existence has been disregarded ; eternity has been laid out of the question ; God has been forgotten, and no reference has been had to the account which he takes of man. As a probationer for immortality, as a candidate for heaven, he has done nothing; and whatever may have been the splendor and the success of his secular enterprises, the wealth that he amassed, and the honor that he has acquired and preserved unto an old age, vanity is the solitary word that deserves to be written in capitals as the only appropriate inscription for his monument. There is but one way of living to any purpose ; and that is by being a Christian in reality and in heart. There is nothing vain, nothing negative, nothing necessarily profitless in the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ, and a child of the heavenly adoption, no matter what scenes he passes through and what events befall him on earth. How can there be when God promises that all things shall work together for good to them that love him? His very bereavements, and disappointments, and failures, and these various
trials, which cause him to exclaim at the vanity of human life, do send a most benignant influence over the whole of the immortal future. Affliction worketh for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; he suffers not one unprofitable pain; the sicknesses of his body are all turned to meet the necessities of his soul. And he dies just in the manner and just at the time that he ought to die for the greatest good of his soul; his works follow him; he finds death gain.
I will presume to take the liberty of inquiring of you in what manner you are living, whether for eternity, whether with an hourly reference to the bar at which you are to be arraigned and tried, whether in continual remembrance of God, whether with the grand design of life steadily in view, whether as plainly becometh a being whom the Son of God has suffered for? Ask ye, and answer the questions. It is not only vanity, it is madness to overlook them. If ye live otherwise, ye not only live to no purpose, but to the worst of all purposes.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto
wisdom.-Psalm xc. 12.
It may be known to you that David was not the author of all the Psalms of the collection which goes under his name. Among those which he compiled, that from which the text is taken, is one.
It is entitled, “A prayer of Moses, the Man of God;" and it is supposed to have been written somewhere in the wilderness. The immediate occasion of it is thought to have been the spectacle of one of those sudden and signal displays of the divine displeasure, which visited the journeying Israelites with great and general mortality, sweeping off their thousands, and carrying them away as with a flood. We should suppose from the tenor of the Psalm, that the writer had under his eye, death, not as he advances by slow and natural steppings, but death as he passes along with the drift and destruction of the storm. 66 Thou turnest man to destruction." riest them away as with a flood."
“We are consumed by thine anger.”
The meditation which he pursues is, however, of universal interest, because the condition of man on earth which it contemplates, has been found to be
6 Thou car
the same in every subsequent age. And the very reflections of this ancient man of God, are continually obtruded upon our minds by facts almost as striking and revolting as those which fell under the observation of Moses. The same hasty work of death is going on upon the field which our eyes survey. And now, as well as when Israel was in the wilderness, that which in the morning flourisheth and groweth up, is cut down and withered in the evening. The tide of destruction sets ‘as strong as ever, and floats upon each successive swell, as many spirits to eternity. There has been no repeal, nor even a relaxation of that law, “Dust thon art, and unto dust thou shalt return." Life is now that vapor, span, handbreadth, vanity, told tale it ever was. The unseen execution of the sentence that went forth from God against man, the angel of death has passed down the ages, sweeping away all that was good and beautiful and great; and reducing all to the same low level of torpor and corruption. Generation has followed close upon generation, with its burden of souls for eternity, as wave follows wave, commingling and losing its waters in the ocean. In the current arithmetic of life which never stands still, each day, and hour, and minute is substracting spirits from time and adding them to eternity, until now the living are as nothing to the dead, and the grave has the immense and overflowing majority.
There is then a general appropriateness in these reflections; but, besides this, there is a special propriety in them, now that we are standing by the
grave of one year and witnessing the birth of another; looking back upon the facts of the past and forward to the probabilities of the future. Who, when he reviews the year that has just gone, though it was like all the years that went before it, can forbear to pray, “Lord, make me to know my end and the measure of my days; teach me to number my days?" How wide and awful the ravage which that single twelvemonth has made in the population of the world. Thirty millions of this great brotherhood, who, but a year ago were living, or had not begun to live, now know the secret of eternity. Others have crowded into their places, while they have gone willingly or unwillingly, to join that great assemblage of mankind, incalculably more numerous than that which now peoples the earth, who wait and wait and wait for the long-lingering wind of the last trumpet to the dead. It is not right to call this earth the abiding spot and home of mankind. It is but their short breathing place. A large proportion of the race are only born here, as if it were but to leave a body behind them, ere they go to join the great concourse of spirits. And, oh! who, when he turns from a review of the past, to the anticipation of the future, will not, with yet more feeling, repeat the prayer, “Lord, teach me to number my days ?” When he thinks that the new year shall the same steady step to crowd away other millions, and that this shall be succeeded by another and another, until the now living generation shall all be swept away. There is something in the very progress
go on with