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No. 8.

JANUARY, 1832.

Vol. VI.


Office, 144 Nassau-Street.-J. S.Taylor, Agent.

POSTAGE.-One Cent and a half, not over 100 miles :

Two Cents and a half, any distance over 100.





Upwards of fifty Clergymen, of five Christian denominations, and belonging to sixteen different States, most of whom are well known to the public as Authors, have furnished, or encouraged the Editor to expect from them, Sermons for this Work; among whom are the following:

Rev. Dr. Richards, Professor in the Theological Seminary at Auburn; Rev. Dr. Proudfit, Salem, and Rev. Mr. Beman, Trry; Rev. Drs. Meson, Milnor, Mathews, Spring, Woodbridge, and De Will

, New-York City; Rev. Dr. M Dowell, Elizabethtown, N, J. ; Rev. Drs. Alerander and Miller, Professors in Princeton Theological Seminary; Rep. Professor MClelland, Rutgers College, New Jersey ; Rev. Drs. Green, Skinner, and Bedell, Pbiladelphia ; Rev. Dr. Taylor, Professor in New Haven Theological Seminary ; Rev. Dr. Fitch, Professor of Divinity, Yale College ; Rev. Asahel Neuileton, Killingworth, Con.; Rev. Dr. Wayland, President of Brown University; Rt. Rev. Bp. Griswold, Salem, Ms.; Rev. Dr. Griffin, President of Williams College ; Rev. Dr. Humphrey, President of Amherst College, Ms.; Reo. Dr. Beecher, Boston; Rev. Professors Porier, Woods, and Stuart, of Andover Theological Seminary; Rev. Dr. Fisk, President of the Wesleyan University, Middletuwn, Ct.; Reo, Daniel A. Clark, Bennington, Vt.; Rev. Dr. Rales, President of Middlebury College; Rev. Dr. Matthews, Hanover Theological Seminary, Indiana ; Rev. Dr. Rice, Union Theo. Sem., Virg. ; Reo. Dt. Tyler and Rev. Dr. Payson, Portland, Me.; Rev. Dr. Lord, President of Dartmouth College; Rev. Dr. Church, Pelham, N. H.; Rev. Dr. Leland, Charleston, S. C.; Rev. Dr. Coffin, President of E. Tennessee College ; Rev. Prof. Halsey, Western Theo. Seminary. Rev. Dr. Hawes, Hartford, Conn.


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MATT. xvi. 3.-Can ye not discern the signs of the times ?

THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES are the character and aspect of the passing age; its distinguishing events and productions, preparations and proceedings, doings and projects. Time has been compared to an ever flowing river; but such a river assumes different appearances in different parts of its course, is wider and narrower, now smooth and now ruffled by winds and obstructions in its bed, sometimes moves slowly and softly, and sometimes with haste and noise.— The stream of time never stops in its solemn course ; but there are divisions on its banks,—days and seasons, years and ages; and as one day is cloudy and another fair, one season genial and another " horrid with frost and turbulent with storm,” one year fruitful and healthful, and another a year of famine and trouble, so the different ages are distinguished from each other by peculiar marks and characteristics. The characteristics of the present age, those things wherein it is peculiar, or which distinguish it from other ages, are the signs of the times.

II. Now every age receives its impress from the hand of God, who hath put the times and seasons in His own power.—He upholds, moves, guides, controls, determines, works all things after the counsel of His will. The transactions and affairs of the times, though brought to pass by a vast multitude of free and accountable agents, fulfil His counsel and contribute to the perfecting of His plan. Be the signs of the times therefore what they may, they are such as God has stamped upon them, and are significant of

VOL. VI.-8

something pertaining to God and His purposes ; and something, of course, most interesting to us—The context mentions the signs of fair and foul weather ; these are appearances in the sky from which the character of the coming weather may be inferred : “ When it is evening, ye say it will be fair weather, for the sky is red; and in the morning, it will be foul weather to-day, for the sky is red and lowering." The phases of the sky show what sort of weather is approaching, and the phases or distinguishing features of the age, the signs of the times, show what God is doing, and about to do, in fulfilment of His eternal designs.

III. To discern the signs of the times is to mark and comprehend them; to be acquainted with the true character of the age, and with what it teaches and prognosticates concerning the counsels of God. It includes also a right state of heart towards the moral lessons of the age, and a practical conformity to them. God makes known His will to men, both by His word and His providence: in the one He speaks, in the other He acts ; and actions are instructive as well as language. His word indeed is more explicit, and is our only universal and infallible rule of life, but as His word helps us to understand His providence, so His providence reflects light upon His word, and though it does not originally prescribe our duties, yet does it present new motives to the performance of our duties; and to certain duties, as fasting, thanksgiving, benevolent exertions and sacrifices, does it present special and extraordinary calls.—He who truly discerns the signs of the times is aware of the obligations which the character of the age imposes on him, and has a conformity in spirit and in life, to the spirit and movements of the age. True discernment of things, according to scripture, implies a sense of their qualities; and he is ignorant of a matter whose heart and conduct show that it has no practical influence upon him. Not to love and trust in God is not to know Him ; not to keep Christ's commandments is not to know Christ; to depart from evil, is understanding; obedience is knowledge; sin is darkness, ignorance, madness. The man who does not live as the character and spirit of the age requires, does not discern the signs of the times. Any light which he may think he has on this subject is darkness; darkness hath blinded his eyes ;-he walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth.


IV. The IMPORTANCE of discerning the signs of the times is assumed in the text, and deserves our consideration. On this point let the Scripture first speak. While it connects the greatest advantages with knowledge on this subject, it threatens ignorance with the Divine indignation ; declaring on the one hand, that whoso is wise and will observe these things shall


understand the loving-kindness of the Lord;" and on the other, that “because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of His hands, He shall destroy, them and not build them up.” Elsewhere we are instructed that God's inexorable anger may be kindled by not giving heed to His providential voice. • In that day did the Lord God of Hosts call to weeping and to mourning, and to baldness and to girding with sackcloth ; and behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine ; let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die : and it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of Hosts, surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of Hosts.” God in His word has made some things our daily and stated duties, as devotion, kindness, industry in our callings; and some things, duties which are not stated and ordinary, but which we must hold ourselves in readiness to perform at the summons of His providence; as the observance of fasts and coming up to the Lord's help by special labors and sacrifices of benevolence.Now these latter duties are as much duties, as binding on the conscience, as the former; and the forecited scripture shows us what may be the consequence of failing to discharge them in their season.--Again, a large portion of God's word is prophetic :— the times and seasons which are to come, prophecy in its own manner hath characterized beforehand ; and though the main design of this may be io confirm our faith, by comparing the age when it is past with its description in the prophetic word, and observing the correspondence of the one with the other; yet this is not the only use of prophecy : “ Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein : FOR THE TIME IS AT HAND.” Meditation on the prophecies may be useful BEFORE THEIR FULFILMENT ; it receiveih blessing from God: and if we inquire for the reason, this is what we find :--The times as they come forth at the Father's bidding, do not come disjointed and isolated, but one draws on another in perfect continuity : one prepares the way for another; one in a true sense causes another :-so too are they connected in prophecy from the beginning to the end of the world. Now if

you know well the signs of the present time, you may, even of yourself, form some useful anticipations of the character of that which is next to come ; but as that time is described in the page of prophecy, the study of the prophets may greatly assist your anticipations. You know where you now are, both in prophecy and in fact, and your own reflections guided by the prophets may, to most useful and important purposes, enlighten you concerning the days which are coming upon the world. But it is manisest how, all depends on your understanding the true character of the time that now is. Without this knowledge the page of prophecy might as well be blank; and meditation therein

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