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perpetually expanding, and invite renewed action in their cultivation. The nations are given to the Redeemer for his inheritance, and his order is unrepealed, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." On his people devolves the high privilege of executing his will.
The volume for the last year spread before its readers the cheering success and exhilarating prospects of the Burman Mission, and the progress of truth in various other lands, by the efforts of Christian benevolence. It narrated many of the gracious visitations with which our churches were favored. The traits of excellence which marked the characters of departed worthies were recorded for the imitation of survivors. Attention was directed to interesting publications, and their defects and excellencies pointed out; and many doctrines and duties of Christianity were discussed. The perusal of the work, it is hoped, has cheered the hearts of many, and excited them to increased activity.
In commencing a new volume, the Committee of the Board, who have in charge its publication, cherish a deep sense of responsibility; and they will aim to render it still deserving of extended patronage. They invite communications from their friends in the different States, comprising biographical sketches, biblical discussions, literary notices, accounts of revivals, and general religious intelligence. They also solicit the patronage of the churches generally in the United States, to this official organ of the Baptist Foreign Mission, and indulge the belief that the friends of Missions will be excited to enlarge the list of subscribers, and to give permanent and increasing support to the American Baptist Magazine.
BOSTON, JAN. 1, 1830.
REFLECTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR.
IT has been said, by one of the most original and sublime of the English poets,
""Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours,
And ask them what report they bore to Heaven." One of the purposes for which the faculty of memory was given us, is, to enable us to recal the events which are past, to derive pleasure from the recollection of hours spent in useful toils, or innocent pleasures; to be instructed by the lessons of experience; and to be humbled before God, by the remembrance of our sins.
The power of recollection, it is probable, belongs to man alone, among the inhabitants of our earth. The inferior animals undoubtedly exercise memory, and some of them in a very surprising degree. But there is a difference between memory and recollection. Simple memory is passive. It retains impressions, but requires the recurrence of the object, or some other external cause, to awaken the ideas, which it has treasured up. But recollection implies a power in the mind of directing its attention to past scenes, and bringing again before it the events, actions and feelings, which it has witnessed or experienced. It is a noble and useful faculty. We owe to it much of our happiness. Without it, we should rise very little, in point of intellectual power, above the ingenious ape, or the "half reasoning elephant."
This faculty, however, like all our other powers, is perverted. We are disinclined to use it at all, for any useful purpose. The present and the future fill our minds. If we glance at the past, it is usually with a rapid and superficial survey. As the act is voluntary, we exclude from our observation, whatever it is painful to us to recollect. Our sins, therefore, we are prone to forget; and the favors which we have received, are often forgotten, or reluctantly remembered, because the sense of obligation is unwelcome to our minds.
Hence it is not surprising that we retain so slight a recollection of the benefits which God has bestowed on us. Other dispositions coincide with the one which we have mentioned, to erase them from our memories. We lose sight of God, amid the natural causes, which he employs as the ministers of his will. We regard our blessings as the fruit of our own skill and industry; or as the result of the ordinary course of things. If our minds ascend at all to the Great Giver of every good and perfect gift, we seldom feel our unworthiness so strongly, as to excite gratitude for his mercy. How pertinent, then, is the exhortation of the Psalmist :-Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.* How fit it is, that we should remember the benefits which God has so bountifully bestowed on us, and praise him with grateful hearts. It is especially proper that at this moment, standing as each reader does, near that interesting point, which divides the old year from that which has just commenced, we should pause, and for a while "talk with our past hours;" re-. cal to mind the great benefits which we have received; mourn over the sins which we have committed; and call on our souls, and all that is within us, to bless his holy name.
The Psalmist enumerates, in the Psalm which we have just quoted, several particulars, among the causes for gratitude.
1. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities.
David considered the pardon of his sins as the highest cause for gratitude. He placed it, in the list of mercies, before the preservation of his life, esteeming it as a stronger proof of the mercy of God, and as a far more valuable blessing. It is a stronger proof. of the mercy of God, because life and all the blessings which pertain to the present world, cost Jehovah nothing, if we may be allowed so to speak. He is the fountain of life, and he can, with a word, create millions of worlds like ours. He opens his hand, and supplies the want of every living thing. The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. In the gift of temporal benefits, there is nothing to limit his power. He regards these things as of inferior value, and bestows them on his enemies, as well as on his friends. But the pardon of sin cost the blood of his Son. It was bought at an infinite price. The honor of God, too, is outraged by sin, and pardon requires the exercise on his part, of the same compassion which gave his only begotten Son, to enable him to pardon us, in a way consistent with his character. God, then, performs no act, more important in its consequences, and in which his own honor, and the welfare of his dominions, are more concerned, than the pardon of a sinner. It is, too, the most valuable gift which he can bestow; for it is connected with the enjoyment
* Psalm ciii. 1—4.
of his favor, and with the attainment of everlasting felicity. Well, then, might. David exclaim, Blessed is he, whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Well might he esteem the favor of God as life, and his loving kindness as better than life. This blessing gives tenfold value to every other. How unavailing are all the benefits which we enjoy, to make us truly and permanently happy, without the pardon of our sins, and the hope of future felicity. It supplies, too, the absence of almost every other blessing. Lazarus was a happier man, while he lived, than the rich man, at whose gate he sat as a mendicant; for in the midst of his poverty he had peace of mind, and the hope of a future repose in Abraham's bosom. But the rich man was either wholly thoughtless of his own character, or was tormented, before the time, by the fear of that hell, in which he was soon to lift up his eyes.
Have we the hope that God has forgiven us all our iniquities? Let us call upon our souls, and all that is within us to bless his holy name. Alas! how many sins have we committed against him the last year-how many, that we can remember-how many, that we have forgotten. God has seen them all, and if we have sincerely repented of them, he has forgiven them. O for this inestimable benefit, how ought we to praise him. But when we add to this, the innumerable spiritual mercies which have flowed from his hand, how can we adequately express the gratitude and joy which ought to fill our hearts.
There are some, it is probable, among our readers, who, during the past year, have received the pardon of their iniquities, and an adoption into the family of God. He brought you to a sense of your condition, and you wept over your sins. In his infinite mercy he forgave you; he spake peace to your souls. The name of Jesus became precious to your hearts. You rejoiced with joy unspeakable. What ought to be your gratitude! How should you strive to walk worthy of the Lord, in faith, in love, in dutiful obedience, in works of charity! O forget not his benefits. Let the recollection of his goodness be a constraining motive to live not unto yourselves, but unto him who died for you, and rose again. Cherish a strong desire for holiness. Make the Redeemer your pattern, and ask of him daily the grace which you need to keep you from falling, and bring you to his heavenly kingdom.
But there are others, it may be feared, who have no reason to hope, that their iniquities have been forgiven. This is not among the benefits which you have received from God. You have, perhaps, never asked him to forgive you. How awful is the thought! Every day of the past year you have sinned against God. He has been angry with you every day. When you have lain down to rest at night, his wrath has hung over you. In the morning, when you arose, it hung over you still. At night, you lay down again, with a heavier weight of condemnation upon your soul. arrived at the commencement of another year, and your sins are unforgiven. O that you might not forget your iniquities. God has remembered them. They are all recorded in his book. At the judgment day, they will all be brought forward, unless the
precious blood of Christ shall be sprinkled on the book, and shall blot them out forever.
Who healeth all thy diseases Who redeemeth thy life from destruction.
A second benefit, recorded by the Psalmist, cause for devout gratitude, is, that God had healed all his diseases He may, perhaps, allude to the diseases of his soul; but the more direct reference no doubt is, to the bodily diseases from which God had relieved him.
A large portion of the misery which is suffered by mankind arises from sickness. Our bodies are mortal, and long before death completes his victory over them, disease impairs their strength, defaces their beauty, and racks them with pain. The cure of diseases therefore, has always been an object of great importance. Medicar science has been cultivated, in some degree, among the rudest nas tions, and divine honors have been awarded by heathens, to eminent physicians. God has often, by special miracles, cured dis eases; and our Saviour and his Apostles spent a large portion. their time in healing the sick.
In former times, when medical skill was less common and tho ough than at present, recovery from sickness was less frequent than it is now. The Psalmist, therefore, felt a more lively gratitude, inasmuch as the direct interposition of God was more manifest.
But such a recovery is, at any time, a proof of his goodness, and. ought to awaken gratitude. Some of you have been sick during the past year. You lay helpless on your beds. Your friends sur rounded you with affectionate assiduity. Your physician exerted. his skill for your relief. Perhaps then you thought of God; and. it may be, you resolved that if you should recover, you. would live no longer in neglect of religion. You have recovered. You are grateful to your friends and to your physician. But what could they do for you, without the blessing of God! It is his high pre rogative, to kill and to make alive. Will you then forget him Where are the vows which some of you may have made him? Why did he spare you, while you were without repentance for your sins, or gratitude for his kindness?
Have you been preserved in health? How much greater cause for thankfulness! The power and the goodness of God are more displayed in preserving from sickness, than in removing it. What a standing miracle it is, that with bodies so frail, and while ten thousand causes of disease are lurking around us, we continue, to enjoy so large a measure of health. How fearfully and wonderfully are we made it is a remark of a lively French writer, quoted by Dr. Paley, that if we could look within ourselves, and see our hearts beating at the rate of four thousand strokes an hour; our lungs playing, the blood circulating, the tendons pulling, and all the rest of this complicated machinery in steady operation, we should be afraid to move. Yet how freely do we move and act, and how long does this harp of a thousand strings keep in perfect tune! It is the Lord's doing, and it is wondrous in our eyes. To him, then, be the praise. But let us not forget that we must all