Page images

death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours, for ye are Christ's." But if it be not so,-if, while surrounded by greeting friends, you are the heir of all God's threatenings, how sad is your case! Yet, wondrous fact ! it is still “ the acceptable time, and the day of salvation," and you are now invited to be partaker of a deathless life, and heir of a glorious immortality. Let, then, your birthday be rendered memorable in the annals of your life, by your entire surrender to God, and submission to his righteousness. Then will be the birthday of real happiness in your heart, and, while greeting friends surround you on earth, the angels of heaven will rejoice over you as a sinner born again.

“ To know the author of our frame,

Is our sublimest skill ;
True science is to read thy name,

True life to obey thy will."


CURIOSITY frequently asks this question, and pride sometimes refuses to answer it. Some persons are fond of talking about their age, and others as carefully conceal it. Reader, if you desire to keep this point a secret, I have no wish to be inquisitive. All I am anxious about is, that you should endeavour to gain some improvement from the question which a mighty king put to a venerable patriarch,—“How old art thou.

The question reminds you of a commencement, and of progress. Whatever may be the number of your years, whether you are in the buoyancy of youth, the prime of life, or in decrepit old age, you are a creature of comparatively very recent date; but lately sprung out of nothingness. You must subscribe to the humbling language of one of the ancients, “For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow,” Job, viii. 9. Think of the years which passed before you were born; think of eternity before time itself began, and learn hence your own insignificance. God's sovereign will gave you being, his Almighty power brought you out of non-entity. You, whose years are so few, are the child of an eternal parent; and if you have been brought to know God as your father in Christ, to trust his mercy, love his holiness, desire his glory, you may confidently conclude, that his thoughts concerning you were from all eternity “ thoughts of peace," and his purposes full of rich love and mercy. Wondrous thought! your history commenced countless ages before your actual being; for all who are united unto the Saviour in time, were chosen in him before the foundation of the world. Though we are but of yesterday, the counsels of eternity, as far as God has revealed them, and the transactions of time,

as far as he has recorded them, are ours to study, to rejoice in, and to improve.

From the moment when you first came into being, moments have been gradually accumulating, and forming days, weeks, months, and years. Many of these are hidden from your view, amid the dim shadows of unconscious infancy. What tears you then shed, what sorrows you then felt, what transports then filled your tiny heart, as objects new and wonderful were looked at, or sounds, sweet and harmonious, were listened to, are now nearly all forgotten. A few facts—some of them sorrowful, and others joyousoom through the mists of childhood; yet little of that sportive period is distinctly remembered. But still there was progress ; stature was advancing, strength increasing, reason budding, character forming, and conviction struggling. How far you are advanced beyond this, I cannot say; suffice it for my purpose, that you are old enough to understand what is here written,-old enough to feel responsibility, to know that God has to do with you, and that you must have to do with him. You are old enough to give an account of yourself to God;

old enough to be born again.

But, is it so? It may be, that at this question a tear of gratitude may trickle down a furrowed cheek, and a voice trembling with emotion may say, “ Yes, forty or fifty years ago did this great change take place. Then

I passed from death unto life. My previous years I count a blank, as regards good; and all praise to the atoning blood which obliterates the stains of these years. Much have I to mourn over, and much to be grateful for. God is faithful, I am hopeful; and this hope, which sanctified my soul in youth, sweetly solaces me in my declining age.”

Dear young people, hear you this testimony? ponder it well, I pray you, and seek grace to choose the better part. You have heard friends, when you, in reply to their question concerning your age, tell them how old you are, remark, “that you are tall for your age !” and those who love you may consider you to be wellinstructed and intelligent; but the great question is, loth He, who looketh not on the outward appearance but on the heart, testify " that there is sone good thing in you toward the Lord God of Israel ?

“ Whence came I? Memory cannot say.
What am I? Knowledge will not show.
Bound whither? Ah away, away,
Far as eternity can go :-
Thy love to win, thy wrath to flee,
O God! Thyself my helper be.”

THE BIRTHDAY ABUSED. SOME writer has observed, that the scriptures make mention of only two birthdays being kept, which are

those of Pharaoh and Herod, see Gen. xl. 20; Matt. xiv, 6. On both these occasions there was an execution. Pharaoh hanged his chief baker; and Herod sent, and beheaded John in the prison. In both cases, there is reason to fear that there was sensual mirth as well as cruel acts; and, alas ! too many, in keeping their birthdays, are imitators of wicked Herod in his unholy revelry. The anniversary of the birthday many is a season of rioting and drunkenness, and thus persons are cruel both to themselves and others. These practices are encouraged by the example of those who are in high places, while national customs and holidays are debased to the same bad purpose.

It would be foolish to attempt to prohibit all expressions of pleasure on such occasions, most persons regard the birth-day as a season of joyousness, and families frequently meet together to congratulate each other, and to enjoy in each other's society the bounties of a kind providence. If such family festivals are kept within due bounds, and mingled with gratitude to God, they should be encouraged rather than otherwise. They strengthen the bonds of social love, endear the different parts of a family to each other, and call all the kindlier feelings of our nature into exercise. We cannot afford to spare anything which serves as a corrective to the selfish tendencies of our hearts, and so we cannot give up a little hilarity on birth-days, if it be not

« EelmineJätka »