ON BEGINNING A NEW LIFE WITH A NEW YEAR
Consider first, how many years of your life are now past and gone; how long it is since you first came to the knowledge of good and evil; and in what manner you have spent all this precious time, given you for no other end but that you might employ it in the love and service of your God, and in securing the salvation of your immortal soul. Alas! have any of these past years been spent in such a manner as to answer this great end? Is not that one and only business for which you came into the world, still to be begun? Have not all these years, which one after another have flowed away into the gulf of eternity, been utterly lost to your souls? It is well if they have not; considering how soon the greatest part of Christians, after their coming to the use of reason, fall from the grace of their baptism; how quickly they gave themselves up to follow the bent of their corrupt inclinations and passions; and in what a forgetfulness of God they generally pass their days. Ah! my soul, what a sad thought it would be, if during all these years thou hast hitherto lived, instead of storing up provisions for a happy eternity, thou hast been only ‘treasuring up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath!’
Consider 2ndly, the present state and condition of your conscience. What is your life at present? How stand accounts between your soul and God? What would you think, if this day you were to be called to the bar of divine justice? Would you not earnestly desire a delay? alas! how few live in the manner in which they would be glad to be found, when death shall overtake them! and yet they are not ignorant, that death generally comes when least expected, and that, generally speaking, as men live, so they die. Ah! my soul, deceive not thyself, not suffer thyself to be imposed upon by the enemy. Thy time, to all appearance, will be much shorter than thou art willing to think; this very year perhaps may be thy last; it will certainly be so to many thousands, who expect it as little as thyself. Set, then, thy house in order now; begin this very day to rectify the whole state of thy interior, and live henceforward as thou desirest to die. There cannot be so great a security where eternity is at stake.
Consider 3rdly, that the mercy of God has borne with you for so many years past, and, notwithstanding all the provocations of your repeated crimes and perpetual ingratitude, has brought you now to the beginning of this New Year, out of a sincere desire, that now at least you might begin a new life, and such a life as might secure to your soul that true life which never ends. You have been, alas! like the barren ‘fig-tree, planted in his vineyard,’ which hitherto is willing to try once more, in hopes of our doing better for the future. But, O take care to disappoint him no more, by refusing him the fruits he expects of a thorough amendment of life, lest he pass an irrevocable sentence, for the barren tree to be cut down, and cast into the fire.
Conclude to begin, from this very hour, to turn away from sin; and to dedicate yourselves henceforward in good earnest to the love and service of your God. Alas! how few Christians seem to be truly in earnest in this greatest of all concerns, where their all is at stake for eternity.