Almighty God, why art thou so concerned that we should obey thee? Why dost thou not close thine hand upon us, and return us to the earth? Thou dost stoop down to us, and care for us as though we were of consequence to thee. The heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee. The angels thou dost charge with folly; the heavens are not clean in thy sight. Yet thou dost look down upon the children of men, and shed blood for them, thou dost call for them as loving hearts would call for those who are hungry, and offer them bread. Yea, thou dost seem to stop the universe in its way that some poor lost lamb may be gathered up again. The Son of man came, to seek and to save that which was lost. Why came he? We can be of no consequence to the Eternal. Surely we are but as insects in the sunbeam, living a moment, and quickly dying in the presence of him who made all time and who opens the year as he closes it without sign or token that any great event has occurred to himself. Thou dwellest in eternal time, thou art measured by the unending and unbeginning now. Yet thou dost care for us, thou dost pity us with tears; thine heart grieves over us, as if we could complete thy dominion and enhance thy joy. Like as a father pitieth his children, even so dost thou pity the sons of men. We know it. In no otherwise can we understand the providences which make up our lives. They are not judgments, they are not symbols and pledges of wrath; they are veiled angels, they are messengers of love, tenderness, and redemption. All things are greater than we suppose. When thou art feeding the one bird in the winter time, thou art feeding the whole universe the year round. If thou canst be interested in one of us, then art thou interested in all. The whole earth is thine; the Jew and the Gentile are thine; the uttermost part of the earth is not far from thee: the whole earth in all its points touches the eternal throne. Give us grace, mercy, and peace as a new year token. May we feel that the Lord is still amongst us—the fire that burns but does not consume: a presence that would cheer by suppressing itself rather than a fire that would flame out upon us, and terrify by judgment and penalty. Give us understanding of ourselves that we may have better understanding of others. Open thou our eyes that we may behold wondrous things out of thy law. The Lord be pitiful to us still with tenderness of mercy. The moment the mercy is withdrawn our life is extinguished. We live in mercy, we live in the pity of God; we are preserved by thine heart, else would we be crushed by thine hand. We love the Saviour. His name becomes dearer to us as the years rise and fall, and number themselves with the eternity gone. He is all in all. He is the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star. He is Alpha and Omega; and there is no escape from the line of his love—high as heaven, deeper than any parts of the earth, stretching over every sea, so that the land and the water, and the family and the state, and the market-place and the cemetery, are all under his watch and care. Plant many a flower upon the grave; conceal it with flowers; may they spring so richly and so beauteously that the grave shall be rather a type of the resurrection than a sign of the conquering death. Do for us all we want; or take hold of our hands, and help us to do it ourselves, that we may be pleased for a moment, though never missing the consciousness that our hand is in the hand of God. God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—thou dost by these names stand far away from us; God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ—by this sweet name dost Thou come into every house, and touch every heart. Amen.