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feayG been giving out * as well as receiving influence , through the y ^ arthat ii past . No action , ^ f ours has be eta totally unoottnecled with the worH iii which we live ; and if wfe eannot press the ground With our ffeet without prodfucing si > me impression upon it > nor movfe ^ nor speak , without putting in action the element in wbich we breathe , far less are out operations upon the immaterial part of Creation to fee disregarded . Much of the influence
we exert over others is indeed direct aad designed $ fcmt by far the most important part of our agency i $ that which is less obvious , but constajsi in its operations . It is by means of this almost imperceptible stream of influence that we may notice the gradual wearing down of a good habit or a once sturdy principle in a family or a nation , the adoption of bad fashions
or worldly maxims , a lowering of the standard of morality , a substitution of popular for conscientious judgments : and by it we may also , though , alas ! more rarely , see brighter views and kindlier feelings springing up around us ; sometimes , but yet more rarely still , a kind of excellence is produced , better than that to which mere imitation x > f a fellow-creature would ever lead , better than that which is founded on the mere desire to , communicate or
receive present happiness , a desire to be faithful and true servants to God in every thing . Here , then , is another ground for self-examination . Has our secret influence , the best , the most effectual sort of influence , been o £ a salutary kind ? " Would you wish to be loved by your fellow-creature ? " said one of the best and purest philanthropists that ever lived . " Begin then by
loving / lim . " Would you have your friends reformed ? Reform yourself ! Would you inculcate religious duties ? Be religious . But , alas ! seldom as it is that duty has not the homage of the tongue , her best praises do not often come up before us in the loud , consenting , unequivocal language of the heart and life . Happy for us if conscience condemn us not in that which she alloweth !
In pointing out thoughts like these as the natural result of meditation at this season of the year , let it not be supposed that we consider them as less incumbent at other times , or wish to countenance that artificial , periodical devotion which gathers together for a few special seasons the solemn un « - pressions which ought rather to be distributed over our whole lives . In fact , with the close of every day the circle of a year is complet ^ ed > and-the natuTbl divisions of time seem to point out to us incomparably better than any others
jthe most appropriate periods for reflection and preparation for the , labours of life . It is when the curtain of night falls over the outward creation , and the mind feels its need of repose , that God himself seems to have marked out an hour for balancing our great account with him , " an hour , " says Sir Thomas Brown , " so like death * that I dare not trust it without my prayers and an
half adieu to the world . " And again , when the cheerful sun uprises , arjd creation is bathed in a siew flood of living light , when thoughts of the day ' 3 duties or pleasures come pouring upon , us , it would $ e § n * bo easy ta ^ k to escape from the influences of those hours , prompting us to thankfulness and prayer , did not , memory bring us the sad records of inseastt ^ iUty to oaan y a warning of these impressive oiomtors *
JJut all the past is nothing , if it be not for the improvement of the present . We commenced with the more dispiriting "view of human i ^ ftr naity , let as finish with the better thought of Ale&ighly power * We begun in weakness , let us end in strength * To fi * our contemplation ^ on good rather ti > aw veyii , one would think were an easy task ; but experience proves that it is Jkr harder than we suppose . Yet let us only imagine the sitate of that man ' s mind whose eye is ever turned towards the Fountain o £ Good , whose practical
New Year n s Morning . g
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1830, page 3, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2580/page/3/