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The World's Convention
Mr. Joseph Sturge
The Teetotaler's Companion
An Ungodly Minister
Murray's Home and Colonial Library
Lives, Memoirs, &c. .
Address to the Friends and Promoters of
Sixty Millions !-How to save it
Chronicle of the Congregational Union, 43, 92,
Home Missionary Society, 45, 92, 139, 189, 238,
Newport Pagnell College
The Philosopher's Scales
Wanderings of a Pilgrim in the Shadow of
Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual
Assembly of the Union.
294, 349, 899
CHURCH MEMBER'S MAGAZINE.
Theology and Biblical Ellustration.
THE IMPROVEMENT OF LIFE.
To every person of unprejudiced reflection, who derives his views simply from the word of God, what can be more solemn than Human Life? When we contemplate it in itself, in the influence which it exerts, and in the vast and awful consequences resulting from it, it is clothed with inexpressible solemnity.
Human Life is most solemn from its brevity. It is a course which is soon run. It is "a vapour" which is soon exhaled. It is a tale" which is soon told. It is a glass, the sands of which soon descend and disappear. The flying cloud-the withering grass-the quickly-fading flower-the arrow, just propelled from the string, are appropriate and impressive emblems of the life of man. "It appeareth only for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” "Thou hast made my days as a hand-breadth, and mine age is as nothing before thee."
Human Life is most solemn from its uncertainty. It is just as fluctuating as it is transitory. When we are soberly regarding it, we find that we can calculate on nothing-depend implicitly on nothing. Instead of anticipating a year, we cannot confidently expect a day; we dare not "boast" even of "a moment." In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, we may be cut down, and removed to the invisible and eternal world.
Human Life is most solemn from the work which we have to do. What engagements are to be discharged, and how are those engagements perpetually recurring! What labours are to be endured, and in how patient and cheerful a manner are those labours to be borne! What difficulties are to be encountered, and how readily are those difficulties to be met-how boldly and vigorously are they to be overcome! What enemies are to be contended against, and how determinately must we grapple with those adversaries at every step of our journey! What changes are to be realised, and how
submissive and unmurmuring is the spirit which we are to exemplify, in the endurance of all those changes! What sufferings are to be experienced, and how are we required to remember, that every "rod has a voice," to which we are bound to listen, and whose communications we are bound to obey.
Human Life is most solemn from the eternity with which it is associated, and to which it is ever tending, with almost inconceivable rapidity. All its engagements-all its opportunities-all its privileges-all its changes-all its trials are unspeakably solemn from their connection, their close and inseparable connection, with eternity,-with that vast and changeless state of existence on which we shall soon enter, and to which the present state of being is only an introduction.
"O! that unfathomable sea!
Those deeps without a shore!
If these remarks, then, be accurate, and sustained by hourly experience, as well as by the explicit representations of the Holy Scriptures, with how much seriousness should Human Life be regarded, with how much care and earnestness should it be improved! It should never be trifled with, much less viewed with unmeaning and wanton levity. The development of such a spirit unfolds ignorance the most profound, and folly the most egregious. The man of serious reflection will see nothing in connection with Human Life with which to trifle; while the man of prayer, and the man of God, will see everything in it, as it is passing so rapidly away, to awaken the most sober and elevated thought, to induce the most earnest inquiry, and to lead to active and unceasing exertion.
Improve Life by estimating it aright, as the Holy Scriptures require you to appreciate it. Human Life can never be employed for the accomplishment of the noblest objects, until this estimation be formed respecting it. Entertain those large, those sublime, and those impressive views of it, which are so finely expressed and inculcated in the word of God. Mark how Job, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Paul, and especially, our Saviour, speak respecting its solemnity, its importance, and its tremendous responsibility. Nothing can be more enlightened and awakening than the representations of the inspired writers with regard to the small portion of time allotted to man here, and during the continuance of which alone he can prepare for eternity. What can be more vivid and powerful than the delineations furnished, of the rapidity of time, of the uncertainty associated with it, of the dangers and difficulties by which it is uniformly accompanied, of its unspeakable value to him who is inevitably appointed to exist for ever, either in a situation the most glorious and transporting, or in one the most dreadful, revolting, and agonizing. How impressively the inspired writers exhibit the incalculable importance of "redeeming the time, because the days are few and evil." "This I say, brethren, the time is short; it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it, for the fashion of this world passeth away," 1 Cor. vii. 29-31.
Improve Life by embracing every opportunity of securing advantage, and especially advantage of the highest kind. Let not one be undervalued. Let not one be lost. Let every opportunity of improvement be promptly and eagerly seized. Let it be regarded as a pearl. Let it be esteemed as a treasure. Remember, when an opportunity of gaining advantage, and especially of an important kind, presents itself, it may never occur again. Grasp it, then, at once, and let it not pass from you without a blessing being left behind.
Knowledge must be acquired; the mind must be well cultivated; desirable and excellent habits must be vigorously maintained; the health must be watched over as a source of perpetual enjoyment, and as a means of extended usefulness; any talents possessed must be carefully and assiduously improved; special seasons for doing good must be sacredly regarded; and, above all, the heart, with all its passions, its affections, its sensibilities, and its desires, must be continually disciplined, and its increased holiness supremely contemplated and solicited.
Improve Life by associating it with fervent and unceasing prayer. To secure the effectual improvement of life, a devotional spirit is not only desirable, but indispensable. There can be no preparedness for the duties of life, without much prayer. There can be no fitness for experiencing the vicissitudes of life, without much prayer. There can be no security amidst the temptations and dangers of life, without much prayer. There can be no adequate support under the trials of life, without much prayer. There can be no meetness for the decline of life, without much prayer; and, sure are we, that, after the present life has terminated, there can be no celestial happiness enjoyed, unless a spirit of habitual prayer has sweetened its anticipation, and fitted for its full realization.
Life, to be secure, to be happy, to be holy, to be prosperous, to be useful, to afford one continued opportunity for glorifying the Saviour, must never be spent without prayer. Prayer will sanctify all its engagements-alleviate all its cares-sweeten all its mercies-give a tone and an impulse to all its efforts -and multiply and enrich all its enjoyments.
Improve Life by always anticipating its close. It will soon be here, and much sooner, perhaps, than we expected. Only a few days have to pass, only a few weeks have to elapse, only a few months have to be spent by us, only a few fleeting years have to roll away; and how quickly will they have gone! Then, our day will have departed; our sun will have set; our race will have been run; our warfare will have been discharged.
"Ah! I shall soon be dying;
I hail the happy day,—
Let therefore the close of our present ephemeral existence be habitually anticipated. Let it engage our first thoughts in the morning, let it remain with us amidst all the avocations and changes of the day, let it be our last reflection when the head presses the pillow at night. Let each reader recur to such impressive thoughts and inquiries as the following:--" My work will soon be done,how am I performing it? My stewardship will soon terminate,-how am I regarding the sacred and awful trust which is committed to me? My journey will shortly arrive at its close,-in what manner, and with what aims am I pursuing it? The last sand will soon fall from the glass, how am I regarding every sand? Do I view every particle as it descends as a pearl, for the use of which I must give a minute and solemn account to God?" These are the thoughts which should fix the mind-these are the inquiries which should absorb and fill the soul. Would that every reader thought and felt as that distinguished man, John Foster, expressed himself in a communication to Mr. Hill, in 1841, when he was seventy-two years of age. "I do hope and earnestly trust, that every day I may yet have to stay on earth will be employed as part of a period of persevering, and, I almost say, passionate peti