How true this is! The New Year, which comes to-morrow, brings with it opportunities for becoming better, and being of greater use than we have ever been. But, alas! how few of us will recognise the good chance till it has passed for ever.
Some of us have special opportunities for growing better with age. We live with those who have always shewn us a good example, and have the privilege of listening every Sabbath Day to those who explain the Book of God, so as to feed our souls with bread Divine. Those of us who are not so fortunate, who, it may be, have our lot cast among the ungodly; yet we, though at Patmos, may have revelations which some do not enjoy who have more help from friends and good influences.
But does not the past admonish those of us who are Preachers and Teachers? How many opportunities are past, to return no more! How much more useful we should have been had we made use of them! How we might have preached Christ instead of our own selves! How we might have encouraged and stimulated our hearers, if only we had caught more of the spirit of Jesus! How much power from above there would have been in our addresses, if we had spent more time alone; and how many more souls would have been converted, if we had not restrained prayer!
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But the past is past. The future dawns, and in its kindling light let us re-consecrate ourselves to the work God has set us to do. We shall have appointments to preach. Shall we not look on each appointment, however distant the place, or small the congregation, as
A HEAVEN-SENT OPPORTUNITY?
Let us make the most of it. Shall not the new opening for usefulness find us prepared to enter in? Must it ever be said again that the pulpit was open to us, but we were not ready to fill it as it ought to be filled? Could an angel from heaven desire anything better than the opportunity which will come to so many, next Sunday, of preaching, or it may be, of teaching a class of young people out of the Word of God?
If we need a stimulus, let us ask ourselves the question, -- How shall I feel, looking at my past chances of usefulness from the observatory of the sick room and dying bed? Are we to fill our dying pillows with thorns, as we remember Sabbaths when we gave way to indolence and self- indulgence, instead of crowding them with well-aimed efforts after usefulness, and diligently employed occasions for study and teaching.
To the unconverted reader we say, -- Beware, lest this New Year be wasted as its predecessors were. Is it to be like all the rest? Is that which comes to thee as a friend, wishing to give thee space for repentance and faith, to become another lash in the scourge which is to punish thy soul for ever? Is God's ledger still to chronicle thy unforgiven debts; unforgiven, not because there was no mercy, but because thou wast too indolent to pray. Rouse thyself, sinner, lest these very opportunities should add to thy doom! They fly past thee, but where do they go? They are on their way to the bar of God, to witness against thee. What a crowd of them to testify! Wouldst thou silence them? Come, ere this year closes, and the new one begins, to the feet of Jesus, where thou shalt find pardon and peace, and where thou mayst receive power to live a life of devotion and holy labour -- thus making opportunity thy willing and true yoke-fellow.
PRAYER A VITAL NEED.
A Poet has said, that Prayer is the Christian's native air. It seems as if some Christians who are doomed to die of soul decline, might live if they would go back to their native air. Reader, do you need this prescription?