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A BOOK FOR BIRTHDAYS.
I WISH YOU MANY HAPPY RETURNS OF
THESE words have been long used on birthdays, by almost common consent. But, as with other hacknied expressions, some may begin to get weary of the wellknown words. Still, whatever language may be employed to express the heart's affections and desires on the natal day, the sentiment contained in the wellremembered phrase is retained. Nor will the words themselves very soon be wholly cast aside. Children, who feel more than they reason, will still pour out their heart's affections in them; and some of the elders will be somewhat disappointed if, on their birthdays, they do not hear the ancient salutation, round which so many sweet associations cling.
The import of these words may be thus expressed – MORE DAYS, MUCH HAPPINESS,—“I wish that you may live long, and that your life may be filled with
joy.” The majority of birthday wishes refer only to earth, and to happiness to be enjoyed in time; but there are some who look much farther, and who, while they desire that their beloved ones may long continue with them, and enjoy much earthly felicity in life's various relations, desire for them still more earnestly, spiritual and eternal happiness.
Friends may wish each other a long and happy life, but God only can bestow these gifts ; it will be wise, therefore, to pray as well as wish. If all general wishes had been accompanied by as many earnest prayers, there is reason to conclude, that much more happiness would have been enjoyed. It is much easier to utter an empty wish, than to breathe an earnest prayer ;
but a few moments' communion with God, on behalf of those whom we love, is far more likely to be of service to them, than a thousand compliments, renewed year after year. Not that we would say aught against the courtesies of life, much less against the utterances of affection ; by all means, let the one be done-but let not the other be left undone. A deep conviction, that “ in God we live, and move, and have our being,” and that real happiness can only come from him the blessed God, will stir us up to pray earnestly, both for ourselves and others.
Let all remember, that while health and happiness, as regards body and soul, are the gifts of God, that he generally bestows both in connexion with the use of means. There are certain rules which must be observed by those who would“ live many days, and see good,” Ps. xxxiv. 12. In vain do friends wish the intemperate, the passionate, the discontented, and the envious, many days and much happiness. The course they take, the passions in which they indulge, are calculated to shorten their days, and to make them full of misery to themselves, and of trouble to those around them. Let all consider life and health as sacred trusts committed to them by God, to be tenderly guarded, in order that they may be devoted to his glory. Let all who would be truly and permanently happy obey the gracious invitation, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," so shall they realize the precious promise, “ They that seek the Lord shall not want anything that is good.”
But how few, comparatively, of those who are greeted on their birthday, realize many happy returns of the same! How futile are human wishes, how weak the tenderest earthly solicitude! Many who have welcomed, with smiling faces, the well-known salutation, have, before the next birthday came round, been in the silent grave. Others have seen their earthly treasures go down in some rude storm of trouble, and feel themselves, as it were, tossing on a single plank; and, alas ! how many have entered an eternity for which they were which you
quite unprepared; where no day returns, for all is outer darkness,—where no happiness comes, for all is despair; where no friend salutes, for all are absorbed in their own irremediable grief. These are sad themes for a joyous birthday; but if you, dear reader, have not fled to the only Refuge, even the cross of Jesus, if you are still without God in the world; these are the truths
need to ponder. Be not satisfied with human wishes, with the gifts of affection, with the utterances of tender love. There is no remedy for your soul's decease, no portion for your heart's cravings in all these. They are merely sparks, beautiful but transient; if you compass yourself about with these, and refuse to bask in the healing and lifegiving rays of the Sun of Righteousness, you must lie down in sorrow.
There is one—the dearest friend of all-who, on your birthday, greets you on the dusty high-way of life, and not merely wishes you all good, but invites you to partake of soul-satisfying blessings. His name is full of life, it is a fountain of health, and a treasure-house of blessings. Do you know its virtues—have you felt its power? Have you already in your closet, this morning, feasted upon it? Did it, like a warm beam from heaven, fill the atmosphere of your souls when you first awoke to consciousness? Then, blessed are you," for all things are yours, whether the world, or life, or