As Christians we have one consolation. Be the year what it may, He who has helped us in the past will stand by us in the future. His unspeakable goodness will not fail. He will overrule all the untried experiences to our good. He will shelter us from the storms. He will deliver in times of peril. This being true, we can walk forward with calm courage. All things work together for good to them that love God.
Sad and solemn are the cadences of the dying year. Only a few months ago, how full of life and vigor was the new year, now grown old and ready to drop into the irrevocable past. It has spent its life on earth, for good and ill, and its footprints are eternal. Nothing can be altered, nothing recalled. It has left its ineffaceable marks, and they cannot be removed.
What, then, does this lead to? This old year, with all its joys and sorrows, with all its work and failure, with its opportunities and its sinsGod has been in it all; a faithful God, keeping faith with the better nature in each one of us. And now we begin to see somewhat more clearly how all things have been working together for our goodtoward a real and effective repentance and reformation, and new consecration of purer love and obedience.
The years are going. Let the chaff and the evil part of this life pass with them. As men load the wagon with the sweepings of the street, and, carrying it far to the ocean, cast it into the deep abyss, so bring together all your hatreds, weaknesses, unkindnesses, jealousies, all passions, ingratitudes, and embittering memories, and, tying them into one bundle, let the old year sweep them out and drop them into the gulf of oblivion. Expel from your life all sins and sordid aims. Carry into the new year only the choicest thoughts and aspirations. As in the olden days when men approached the Parthenon they cleansed their persons and arrayed themselves in white robes before entering that glorious temple, so cleanse your garments from transgression, clothe yourself with aspirations. Farewell to the past! Welcome and all hail to the future.
This dying year will bear witness for or against us at the judgment. We sometimes say, Time dies. Is time dead? No. The years die, but time lives. Time will live till the judgment, and then Time shall be no longer. When time ends, eternity begins. The passing years are times children, which will come from their graves to bear witness in the case pending between God and men at the great judgment-seat. Among the years which shall witness against us will be this dying year. If it shall be seen that in the years record are written bright pages concerning us, happy shall we be. Pages which tell of toils for Jesus, of earnest prayers, of loyalty to God and conscience, of self-denials, of visitation of the sick, of sympathy for the distresssed, of instruction of the ignoranthow many such things has the old year written for us?
He had his virtues. This old year was impartial. No discrimination knew he between classes or conditions. He meted the same number of hours to the man in the hovel and the man on the throne. The hour-glass he turned the same number of times for him whose garments were plain and coarse and him who wore garments of costliest fabric. Like God who sent him, this old year was no respecter of persons. He showed constant vigilance. No laggard, no loiterer, he. Having been sent to fill a space in times calendar, he filled it to the full. Sent to mark off so many hours on times dial, his hand was never slack; he slept not for a single swing of the pendulum. May we keep our vigils as faithfully! He fulfilled his mission. Gods plans are deep, and we know little, perhaps, as to the mission of any of these passing years, decades, centuries, and cycles; yet we know that each fulfills a purpose in the betterment of humanity; and the closing year has served well his embassy in bringing the race nearer its final goal. A prize, peerless and bright, awaits each of us if we are as true to our mission as the old year has been to his.