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SERMON I.

THE FIRST SUNDAY OF THE YEAR.

ON PUTTING ON THE “NEW MAN” WITH THE NEW YEAR.

“What is there that hath been?. The same thing that shall be. What is there that hath been done?

The same thing that shall be done. Nothing under the sun is new; neither is any man able to say, behold this is new; for it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us." (Eccles. c. i. v. 9-10.) The passage in the book of Ecclesiastes, from which last Sunday * I took occasion to address you, furnished me with an opportunity of taking a retrospective view of the year which was then drawing to a close, and of submitting to you such reflexions as it naturally gave birth to. That year is now no more. It is gone by; and we have now entered upon another year, which is rapidly pursuing the.course of its predecessor, and, like it, will at length be wholly swallowed up in the gulph of eternity, there to mix with the years beyond the deluge. The same inspired author, who, from the text of last Sunday, suggested to me the idea of looking back upon the past, has also, from that which I have selected for this

* The discourse here alluded to is that of the last Sunday in the year.

VOL. I.

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Sunday, induced me, in like manner, to look forward to the future. For, with the hand of a master, and a few strokes of the pencil, he has boldly delineated a striking picture of the events and transactions of the whole of the current year, which yet is little more than two or three days old. He tells us that all that will happen in it will be no more than a repetition of what had happened before; that all that will be, has been; that all that will be done, hath been done. “What is there that hath been? The same thing that shall be. What is there that hath been done? The same thing that shall be done.”

And having established the principle that no such thing as novelty is to be discovered beneath the sun, he appeals for the truth of it to the occurrences of former times, in opposition to the possible pretensions of those who might be disposed to controvert it. “ Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say ; behold, this is

For it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us." These observatious of the royal sage you will soon see confirmed by your own experience. The sun will continue to rise and set as in former years. It will pursue as heretofore its annual course through the heavens. The vicissitudes of seasons will mark as usual its majestic progress. The Spring will restore their foliage to the trees. It will cover the fields with its verdant mantle, adorned with a rich embroidery of flowers of various hues and fragrance. Summer will promote by its genial warmth the advancement of vegetation. Autumn will complete the unfinished work of Summer; and then will Winter again come round, and disfiguring the fair face of Nature with its snows, its sleets and its storms, will give to it once more the same desolate appearance which it now exhibits. Nor will the affairs and transactions of men distinguish more the present year from those which have preceded it, than the inanimate works of creation. For, as in every foregoing year, so also in the present, men will again be born, and they will marry, and they will die. They will continue to run the same round of occupations and pursuits as their fathers did before them. Some will go to their merchandise, some to their farms, and others to their amusements. There will be the same distinction of ranks, conditions, and talents, as there have ever been. But that great leveller, Death, has no regard to any of these distinctions. And, as in former years, so also in the present, he will be seen stalking with gigantic step through all the various departments of life, trampling under his feet the children of mortality, and sweeping them indiscriminately into the common receptacle of all that is mortal. So true it is, that as the wise man observes, “ what has been, will be, what has been done, will be done, and that nothing under the sun is new.” And thus may the new year, as it is called, be aptly compared with a new edition of an old book, which, with little or no material alteration, will be found to convey the same information as those which were published before. It is an old annual register with a new date; that is all. And even its very date is distinguished from that of the last which made its appearance, which is already out of print, by no other difference than that of the least of all numeral figures, a solitary unit. For as the date of the last was the year of the Lord 1833, so that of the present is the year of the Lord 1834. And yet, my friends, I will not hesitate to assert, that this same year, which, in conformity with the observation contained in the text, I have said will have nothing of novelty in it, may become a new year to you. Nor is there any thing in this assertion contradictory either to the words of inspiration, or to what I have myself advanced. For the words of inspiration, as well as what I have myself advanced, relate to the natural course of things. But when I maintain that this year may become a new year to you, it is to a supernatural order of things that I advert. And how, it may be asked, considered in this latter point of view, may the year be rendered new? Why, my friends, I will tell you. It is by a complete renovation of your minds and hearts. It is, in the language of the great apostle of the Gentiles, “ by being renewed in the spirit of your minds; by putting off, according to the former conversation, the old man, who is corrupted according to the desires of error, and by putting on the new man, who, according to God, is created in justice, and holiness of truth.”(Eph. c. IV. v. 22, 23, 24.) Such, my friends, are the measures to be adopted, in order to render the year a new one. Adopt them, and I have no difficulty in declaring my full conviction, that not only it will be to you a new year, but a happy new year.

new.

The reason for which, both in the events of nature and in the transactions of men, which take place in each succeeding year, no material novelty is discovered, is this, that we are accustomed to view them with the eyes of the old man, who, in the language of the apostle, “ is corrupted according to the desires of error,” and not with those of the “ new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.” Hence, when men look abroad upon the works of nature; when they contemplate the alternations of day and night; when they witness the regular vicissitudes of the seasons ; when they behold the various productions of the earth; and consider the different conditions, occupations and pursuits of individuals and of nations, they discern nothing more than a reiterated exhibition of the same objects, presented to them by a wheel in perpetual rotation. But, would they apply to the eyes of their mind the perspective of faith, and would they open their hearts to the powerful influence of God's holy Spirit, the whole of the scene, I will venture to say, would undergo a change which would fill them with astonishment.

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