We might have begun this year in Hell!

(James Smith, "The First Day of the Year" 1865)

What a mercy that we have been spared until now. How many have been cut down during the last year. We might have begun this year in Hell. Oh, if we had! How dreadful the thought!

But many who did begin the last year as we begin this — are in Hell now. They little thought that it would be so — but there they are, and now there is no redemption, there is no way of escape. They are shut up in hopeless despair. Their doom is forever fixed.

And why are we spared? To go on in sin? To abuse the mercy that has been shown to us? To aggravate our woe? Oh, no! We are spared that we may escape from the wrath to come, that we may secure the pardon of our sins, and that we may be happy both in this world and in that which is to come.

This is the first day of the year, and what is our first thought? What shall we fix our thoughts upon?
Let us think of past mercies — and past sins;
let us think of present duty — and present danger;
let us think of future probabilities — and certainties.

Let us think of our state before God — what is it?
Are we pardoned — or condemned?
Are we sons of God — or children of wrath?
Are we reconciled to God — or living at enmity with God?

Do we ever . . .
  speak to Him in prayer,
  look to Him in faith,
  walk with Him in love,
  work for Him with pleasure, or
  long to be with Him in glory?