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And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves
with the church, and taught much people. THIS is recorded of Barnabas Church, and taught much people."
At the time Stephen, Such is the connexion of the the first martyr mentioned in the words, and, in this connexion, New Testament, was stoned to they might lead us to discourse of death for his faithful adherence to the happy effects of the out-pouring Christ, there was a violent perse of the Holy Spirit upon a people cution against the Christians at the duty of a church, on such ocJerusalem. In consequence of casions, frequently to assemblethis, many of the disciples were and the favourable opportunity, at scattered abroad, and went in such a time, to teach people the various directions, preaching the peculiar doctrines of the gospel.gospel. Among these, some, who But waiving these things, all I were natives of Cyprus and Cy- propose, on the present occasion, rene, came to the city of Antioch, is to call your attention to the peand preached to the Grecians culiar mode of expression used in there: " And the hand of the this passage, “ A WHOLE YEAR. Lord was with them: and a great A year seems to be spoken of number believed, and turned unto as a long period-a period, in the Lord.” News of this happy which the apostle had opportunievent rcaching Jerusalem, the ty to preach much, and to do church there sent down Barnabas; much good among the people. who, on his arrival, greatly re- There are several respects, in joiced at the work of Divine Grace, which a whole year may be considwhich he beheld, and commencedered as a long and important pepreaching with much success. riot. At length, finding too much work First. A year is a long period, for one labourer, he went over to compared with some other porTarsus for Paul, and brought him tions of time. Long and short to Antioch.
" And it came to are comparative terms. . The pass. that, a whole year, they as- same thing may be long, comparsembled themselves with the ed with other things that are
shorter, and short, compared with year, the planet Mercury makes other things that are longer. A more than four such circuits, and year is long, compared with a Venus nearly two. If Mercury month, which is measured by the be inhabited, the people of that revolution of the Moon round the world, must view one of our years, Earth, which is performed twelve which is equal to four of theirs, as times in a year, 'It is still longer, a long period. But, compared with a week, which is Secondly. A year will appear an arbitrary division of time, to be a long and important perimade by the Creator of the world, od, if we consider how many who was pleased to set apart one events take place, in Divine Proday in seven, as the proportion of vidence, during that space of time proper to be devoted to reli- time. How many changes take gious worship and instruction.-place, during the four seasons, in It is owing to this divine institu- the natural world. The laws of tion, that the division of time into nature are ever in operation, and, weeks was ever observed by man- in the course of a year, produce kind, How many weeks and countless revolutions in the mineSabbaths there are in a whole ral, vegetable and animal kingyear! Compared with a day a year doms. What changes take place appears longer still. A day is in the kingdoms of men, in a that portion of time, measured by whole year! How many are born! the revolution of the Earth on its How many die! If the population axis. Three hundred and sixty- of the world be eight hundred milfive of these diurnal revolutions | lions, and a generation lasts, on are performed in the course of a an average, thirty years; then the year. If we descend still lower, whole number of deaths in a year, and compare a year with an hour, must be more than twenty-six it appears long indeed. The num- millions and an half! How many ber of hours in a year, is no less joyful events, how many sorrow. than eight thousand seven hundred ful events, how many unexpected eighty and six. And yet, how events, how many momentous long an hour seems to a man in events, take place in the course extreme pain, to one who is ex- of a year! If a minute history of pecting important news, to a them could be written, we might malefactor in the pillory, or a almost say, the world would not prisoner in a dungeon!
contain the books." A year is long, compared with Thirdly. A year is a long pethe whole life of certain animals. riod, compared with the duration How many insects, in that period, of human life. Before the flood, come into existence, arrive at ma- man lived to the age of eight or turity, become superanuated, nine hundred years. And, though and expire. Three hundred and at the time of the deluge, owing sixty-five generations of the ephe-to the corruption and violence meral fly may succeed each oth- with which the earth was filled, er in lineal descent, in the space a whole generation, with the ex
ception of eight persons, was Túis period is long, compared swept away, and human life was with the revolutions of some of much curtailed; yet the patriarchs the planets. While the earth lived from three to six hundred which we inhabit, is travelling years. After this, the life of man round the sun to complete our was gradually shortened, till, in
of a year.
the reign of David, it had become useful part, even of the longest reduced to the present standard; life, is short; and of this part, a as we read in the ninetieth psalm: whole year is a large portion. “ The days of our years are three Fifthly. A year will appear to score years and ten; and if, by be a long and important period, if reason of strength, they be four we consider how much men
do score years, yet is their strength in that time. How much good may labour and sorrow: for it is soon be done in a year? If no part of it cut off, and we fly away.-We be wasted in idleness, in needless spend our years as a tale that is sleep, in useless amusement: how told.” How applicable is this many acts of duty, of charity and description to the present term beneficence, may be performed ? of human life! But a very few, How much knowledge may be accomparatively, know the labour quired, how much business, secuand sorrow of more than seventy Tarand sacred, may be done,in the years. Multitudes are cut off in course of a whole year, by such as the midst of their days: but the are not slothful in business, but greater part close their earthly fervent in spirit, serving the Lord? existence in youth and childhood. How much was done in a year by Such being the short continuance that man, who went about doing of man upon earth, at this day; a good ? His publick life lasted but year may well be considered as a three years and a half; and yet, , large part of his life. If a child who can estimate the amount of knew that he should live to three the good which he did?" But, score years and ten; be might as he spake as never man spake,' still
say, with propriety, “ When so he did what no mere man could a few more years are come, then ever do.” It is granted. Read, I shall go the way whence I shall then, the lives of th Apostles, not return.” If the man of forty, and see how much they did for the knew, that he should die at the furtherance of the gospel and the age of seventy; a year would seem salvation of inen, in a year. to him to take away a large part “ But, they were divinely assisted of the residue of his life.Com- and inspired." Be it so. Read, pared with the whole duration of then, the life of Howard, of Fulhuman life, a year is long. But, ler, of Brainerd, of Mather, and
Fourthly. How much longer hundreds of others, who were not still does this period appear, when weary in well doing,'and see what compared with the active and use they accomplished, without any ful part of human life. Mankind supernatural aid, in the course of come into the world, the most fee. | twelve months. Turn back the ble and helpless of animals. Their records of passing events, at the growth in stature and understand present era, and see how much is ing, is slow. Years pass away, done, in the space of a year, by before they are capable of pro- benevoleut individuals, by charviding for themselves, or helping itable associations, by Bible, Tract, others. It is only for a few years, Missionary, Education and Moral in the meridian of life, that they Societies, to enlighten the ignopossess such maturity of strength rant, reform the vicious, relieve and judgment, as qualify them for the distressed, evangelize the heaactive service and useful labours.then, and advance the kingdom Soon their sun declines, and their of Christ. faculties wither. The active and How much evil may be done in
a year? “ One sinner destroyeth, ciety of kind friends, for the much good.” Men can do evil, means of acquiring knowledge, in this evil world, much faster, for peace and security and liberthan they can do good. It is ty, men are constantly indebted much easier to pull down, than to that wise and beneficent Proto build up.
The labour of ages vidence, 'that overrules all mormay be demolished in a few days. tal things,' and is the bountiful Fifty years of peace and prosper- source of every good and every ity, will scarcely suffice to repair perfect gift.' the loss and damage of one or two How many spiritual favours men years of war and devastation. In
may receive at the hand of God, in a year, states may be revolution
the compass of a year ? With how ized, kingdoms overthrown, the many opportunities of reading the best civil, literary and religious word of truth, of hearing the gosinstitutions abolished, and the pel preached, of approaching the floodgates of anarchy, ignorance throne of grace in secret, private and vice thrown open upon a peo- and publick, of speaking concernple, by a few evil and crafty men, ing the things of the kingdom, and in seats of power and trust. How of using the appointed means of much an individual, who is wise enlightening, sanctifying, to do evil, may accomplish, in saving the souls of men, are those the space of a year, to poison the who sit under the light of the gossentiments, corrupt the morals, pel, favoured, in the course of a and destroy the souls of men? year ? How many strivings of the Read the history of Jeruboam the Holy Spirit are experienced by son of Nebat, in ancient times, sinners, and how much of his who drave Israel from following sanctifying and comforting in fiuthe Lord. Read, also, the history ence is experienced by saints, in a of Voltaire, a still more subtile year? and successful demoralizer of na- How many afflictions men may tions, in modern times, who scat- receive from the divine hand, in tered the seeds of infidelity and the same period of time? How the firebrands of sedition through many losses and disappointments, Europe, and nearly accomplished how much sickness and pain, how the subversion of all government much bereavement and sorrow, and religion,
every year, in its progress, brings Sixthly. A year appears an im- to the frail, dying children of portant period of human life,when men ? The death of twenty-six we consider how many mercies millions of our mortal race, makes and afflictions men may receive every year one great and perpetual at the hand of God, in that space funeral. “ Man goeth to his long of time. How many temporal home, and the mourners go about favours men may receive from the streets." None of this afGod, in a year! He is the pre-fiction cometh forth of the dust; server of their lives. He gives none of this trouble springeth out them health, the greatest of tem- of the ground. “There is not poral blessings, whenever they evil in a city, and the Lord bath
He causes the sun to not done it.” shine, the showers to descend, Seventhly. A year appears to be and the earth to yield her in- an important period of human crease, to feed and clothe and life, when we consider, how much shelter her children. For the so- the conduct of each person, dur.
ng that time, will affect his fu- God upon us, we are brought near ture and everlasting state. This to the close of another year. The world is a place of trial; this life declining sun hastens down the is a season of probation, in which wintery sky : and in a few hours mankind are forming their charac- this year will be with the years ters and preparing themselves for before the flood-gone, never to the judgent of the great day:- return. It is a season for mediFor all the deeds done here in the tation, which should not pass unbody, every human being must improved. It becomes us to look give account of himself to God. backwards and forwards—to reMankind are always in action, and flect upon the events of the year all their actions are either good or past, and to prepare our minds evil, holy or sinful, pleasing or of- for the events of the year to fensive to God.
come. thoughts enter the mind, how In the first place, my hearers, many afflictions pain the heart, take a retrospect of the year that how many deeds are done by the is past, no inconsiderable portion hands of every man, in every of your life upon earth, and a year ? All these are perfectly large portion of the active and
known to Him, with whom we useful part of it. Consider, · have to do, who searches the 1. Your obligation to the God
hearts and tries the reios of the of all grace for the many favours children of men, in order to give and mercies, which you have reunto every one of them, according ceived the past year. Your lives to his works. The saint will here have been preserved, while many
alter receive, for every good deed, have fallen on your right hand See
an infinite, because an endless re- and on your left. It is owing to ward ; and the singer, who dies the care and protection of an evimpenitent, will receive, for eve- er watchful Providence, that you ry action of his life, an infinite, have been shielded from the pesbecause an endless punishment. tilence that walketh in darkness, How much good, then, the saint and from the destruction that may gain or lose, and how much wasteth at noon day. God has wrath the sinner may treasure up, been mindful of you, when you by the actions of a whole year! have been forgetful of Him. From Here the power of numbers, fails. how many dangers, seen and unThe worth of worlds would be no seen, has He covered you in the equivalent for the future good, or hollow of his hand? Asleep and compensation for the future evil, awake, at home and abroad, He which may result from the moral has been with you, and kept your conduct of a single individual, in feet from falling, and your souls a single year.
from death. If you have enjoyed
health, if you have been supplied The subject to which we have with the comforts of life, if your attended in the preceding dis- friends and relatives have been course, admits not of doctrinal preserved, if your houses have inferences, but is well suited to been safe from fear, and if you excite serious reflections in every I have been prospered in your secmind, and may be closely applied | ular affairs; for all these favours to the conscience and heart of ev- you are indebted to the infinite ery hearer.
mercy of God, from whom we reThrough the good hand of our ceive life and breath and all thing