(December 31, 1758)
Time is measured, and is alike at both ends; it began
with a day, and will end with a day. Hence the evening and the morning were
said to be the first day, as the universal judgment is called the last day.
Eternity is the fountain from which it sprang, and the flood into which it
shall fall. The most lasting duration of time is but short, and its greatest
prolongations come to an end. A given moment is scarcely known, until it is
past. A few moments—of which make a minute, which we but begin to enjoy when
it is also gone; thus an hour flies away, a day hastens to its end, and a
year, (as this year has done,) comes to its last day. As, therefore, at the
end of the year trading people cast up their accounts, and regulate their
books, let me ask myself—What have my talents gained these twelve months?
For, whatever I may think, time itself is none of the least of
talents, and another year is added to my account.
Thousands who came into the world after me, are called
into eternity before me; and is not this a loud call to me to improve every
moment of my time? Time is only little thought of—by those who think still
less of eternity. But if I look into a future world, I will see of the great
importance of every moment of my time, who with my allotted time—must
prepare for this everlasting fixed state. O precious misspent, time, which I
never can recall! Now this year is gone, and never shall return; what, then,
have I done for the glory of God in this past year? Ah! it is passed away
from me as a void, though on this side it sparkles thick with mercies, like
the starry skies. Ah! did I say a void? nay, worse; for while his love and
goodness shone around me like the noonday sun—my sins rose numerous, like
the atoms of the sun!
This is the last day of this year; and how would I value
every moment of it—did I think it was the last day of my life? Yet nothing
but presumption flatters me—that I should live another day. I should count
every day as my last, since some have found their last, on days they as
little dreaded as I do this; and at most, some day soon will be my last,
when perhaps this same pernicious expectation will not be dispelled my
bosom. Then it is wisdom to be prepared for death. Wonder that he stays away
so long—and you will not be surprised that he comes so soon. Always expect
him—and you will not be terrified at his approach. Thus I should look on
every day as my last, that when my last day comes, it may not come unlooked
for, nor overtake me unprepared.
But, alas! this year has afforded me more mournful
spectacles of sin than all my life beside. I have heard the divine name
blasphemed; seen sin in high places; and all manner of wickedness committed.
O for what trifles, will men cast away their precious souls! and how can
I, unconcerned, look on sin in all its ugly shapes, and the dreadful havoc
it makes among immortal souls!
But may the divine providence bring me from these
chilling objects, and may I through grace never forget what I have heard and
seen! Here also patience, worthy of God, is conspicuous; for, when we think
how much wickedness is committed all over the world— in public and
private—by great and small—on land and sea; and again, that this rebellion
against Heaven was not begun yesterday—but carried on since Adam's fall, for
more than five thousand years; it is a wonder that the world has not long
ago been devoted to the flames! But that patience which for
continuance is amazing, shall at last give place to justice, which in
the execution will be dreadful.
But while I am meditating on my fleeting time, the
midnight-hour strikes, and I am already in another year. Then adieu forever,
1758! Yet let me remember, that by this adieu I look on my life as drawing
to its latter end, and that I am advanced another stage nearer
eternity—ignorant if a day, or a month, or a year, or two, or more—shall be
bestowed on me.