To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:…
(with ver. 10): — There are many falsehoods written over the ashes of the dead; but none more flagrant and profane than that inscribed on the monument erected in Westminster Abbey, by the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry, to the memory of the poet Gay. It was written by Gay himself, and reads thus —
"Life is a jest, and all things show it;
I thought so once, but now I know it."What a miserable estimate of the grand existence of man on earth! What a gross misrepresentation of the lessons taught by God's works and ways! What a libel on the momentous revelations of the future world! What a noble answer to Gay's wretched falsehood Longfellow supplies in his "Psalm of Life"! How many souls have been stirred to action by its trumpet-call! How many true and brave lives have been lived in response to its appeal!
I. THE REALITIES OF LIFE SURROUND US ALL. There are the realities of your calling; the duties connected with it, which you feel must be discharged in the most efficient manner possible; the responsibilities attaching to it, which perhaps in several ways are heavy; the temptations to swerve from the line of rectitude, and practise that which is mean and sinful; the worry and anxiety arising out of the keenness of competition, the sharp dealing and fraud of your fellow-men, and the uncertainties of all secular life. We are not to be slothful in our secular pursuits; if we are, we may as well give them up altogether; yet, at the same time, we should see that we have them all in subordination to our spiritual interests, and the life to come. Often the realities of life thicken around men while they are destitute of all preparation. They have failed to exercise forethought-neglected to make provision for the future. All previous periods of life have seen them unfaithful to themselves, to their opportunities, to their calling. You can never redeem what you have lost; but you may avoid losing more. It is of no use bemoaning the past. "Let the dead past bury its dead!" At once embrace the opportunities of the "living present." Forget the things which are behind, and reach towards the things which are before.
II. HEARKEN TO THE WORD OF COUNSEL, AS TO THE WAY IS WHICH YOU SHOULD MEET THE REALITIES OF LIFE AND TURN THEM TO GOOD ACCOUNT. Cultivate earnestness of character. History furnishes us with some rare instances of earnest" purpose and endeavour — vigorous grappling with the realities of life, that should inspire us with enthusiasm. "I am doing a great work," said Nehemiah, while rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, "so that I cannot come down." "This one thing I do," exclaims the Apostle Paul. Minutius Aldus, a famous printer at Venice in the sixteenth century, had this significant inscription placed over the door of his office — "Whoever thou art, Aldus entreats thee again and again, if thou hast business with him, to conclude it briefly, and hasten thy departure: unless, like Hercules to the weary Atlas, thou come to put thy shoulder to the work, then will there ever he sufficient occupation for thee and all others who may come. In the diary of Dr. Chalmers, under the date of March 12th, 1812, there occurs this entry — "I am reading the life of Dr. Doddridge, and am greatly struck with the quantity of business which he put through his hands. O God, impress upon me the value of time, and give regulation to all my thoughts and to all my movements. .May I be strong in faith, instant in prayer, high in my sense of duty, and vigorous in the occupation of it! When I detect myself in unprofitable reverie, let me make an instant transition from dreaming to doing." I think it was Sir James Mackintosh who said that whenever he died, he should die with a host of unaccomplished purposes and unfinished plans in his brain. So every earnest man will leave behind him many a half-finished, and even many an unattempted work. Nevertheless, with a true and earnest heart we may complete some things — we may weave the threads of life into a fabric of varied use and beauty — and, like David of old, serve our generation by the will of God before we fall on sleep, and are laid among our fathers. Once more, nothing will so help you to deal with the realities of life as true religion. Do you possess it, and are you living under its influence?
Parallel VersesKJV: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: