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A New-year's Discourse.

A New-year's Discourse.

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Published by glennpease

1 Corinthians, vii., 29.

" The time is short.''''

1 Corinthians, vii., 29.

" The time is short.''''

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 10, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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A EW-YEAR'S DISCOURSE. BY REV. ADAM EMPIE, D.D., 1 Corinthians, vii., 29. " The time is short.'''' My brethren, were we destitute of reason and reflection, it would be useless for me to inquire and for you to knoWjr whether time were long or short. Did your knowledge on this subject depend upon the testimony of others, arguments and facts might be necessary to convince you of this truth. But, as you are reasonable beings, we need only appeal to your own experience. We dare venture to say, there is no- body present who has not, at one time or another, made the reflection in the text. It is, perhaps, impossible to mention a subject on which mankind more universally agi'ee. We shall, therefore, say nothing on time, abstractly considered. If our souls expired with our bodies, and death were the end of our existence, St. Paul would never have talked about the shortness of time. If ovu' hopes perished with us in the tomb, it would be immaterial whether time were long <ir short. In that case, we should have more reason to feli- citate ourselves on the kindness of Heaven, than to complain of the shortness of oar lives. Though the earth, the sun, and the stars survive us, and though some trees are said to live thousands of years, yet we outlive most of the vegetative and instinctive beings that surround us. Thousands of living creatures receive and yield their breath in the same * Written at Hempstead, Long leland. 1810. THE TIME IS SHORT. Ill summer, or the same day. Comparatively few of the lower
orders of creation reach the age of thirty years. The eagle retains his vigor till the age of one hundi'ed, and many trees do not cease to flourish, till they have reached the age of a century ; and yet some men have outlived this king of the feathered tribes and these occupants of the forest ; so that we live to see the birth, life and death of most of the vegetative and instinctive orders of creation. If, then, we belonged to the order of Monboddo's monkeys, and expected presently to sink into " an everlasting sleep," we might still rejoice as the lords of this lower world. Were we reasonable beings, and did not know that angels and other created existences lived for ever, we might, perhaps, regret that we did not belong to their number ; but, unless we were rebels and apostates, we would never dare to murmur at the dispensations of Provi- dence. Time to us would be comparatively long ; and Ave would join the libertine and the worldling in making the best of it, while it lasted. But thanks to God, my brethren, this is not our condition. And our time on earth is " short,''^ because it is but a portion of eternity. Our time on earth is short, because it is the commencement of that period that will never end. But, 3dly. otwithstanding the eternity of the life to come, our time on earth would be long, had we nothing to do. That class of society who spend their time as they do their money, and look upon it as lost, unless it contri- bute to their idle amusements or their sensual gratifications, are almost every day of their lives unhappy, for want of something to engage their attention, and would, if they could, wish away whole years. They are ready enough to complain of the shortness of life, in the aggregate ; and yet would gladly be deprived of the half of it, in order to rid themselves from the burden of inactivity, and the oppres- sion of ennui and idleness. It is really painful to see the ingenuity of these persons, in devising expedients for killing, instead of iraproA-ing, their time. They seem to overlook or to disregard the grand distinction between them and the brute ; and to be content with a mere vegetative and grovel- ing existence. We can pardon the inhabitants of our fields
and our stalls, for spending their whole time in nothing but in eating and drinking, in amusing themselves, and in sleep- 112 THE TIME IS SHORT. ing. Their duties are few, and instinctively performed. They soon arrive at the utmost limit of their perfection, be- yond w^hich they could not advance a single step, though they lived ten thousand years. To live and to enjoy them- selves is their employment, and the design of their creation. This done, and Heaven is satisfied. But man is in a widely different condition. He is as much higher than the brute, as the throne of God is higher than earth, his footstool. Instead of having nothing to do, he has enough to occupy every moment of liis existence. The brute lives but for himself ; but man is bound to live also for society. The Christian is a citizen of the world. He is to breathe the Sph'it, and copy after the benevolent example of his Divine Master. Every individual of the human race is his brother, and every principle of reason, humanity, and religion, constrain him to labor industriously, not only to provide for the comfort and support of himself and family, but also that " he may have to give to them that need," constraining him not only to practice all the business virtues, and the moral virtues, but also the duties of religion ; constrain him to use his best endeavors, to advise the ignor- ant, to relieve the needy, to comfort the afflicted, to secure  justice to the oppressed, and to lead the wanderer back to the path of duty and of religion. Besides these, there are obligations equally strong, arising from the various relations ¦^nd connections of society — mutual obligations between pastor and people, parents and childi'en, the magistrate and the citizen, man and man. These duties, properly pm-sued and attended to in all then* various bearings and connec- tions, vdll go far to employ the scanty period of life. But this is not all. Earth limits the prospects of the

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