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of your heavenly interests, is the direct means of your earthly prosperity. To the acquisition of kpowledge, property, reputation, and influence, it is as auspicious as to your holiness and happiness beyond the grave.
Secondly, Without sobriety of mind, your interests of both time and eternity will be neglected and lost.
Levity of disposition is the certain road to poverty, trouble, and disgrace. He who makes amusement his business will become a beggar of course, and be compelled to creep through life in want, insignificance, and contempt. It is impossible that he should acquire reputation, or be useful to mankind or even to himself. If property be thrown into his hands by his parents or by the events of providence, it will be squandered by him; if not, it will never be acquired. Steadiness of thought and constancy of exertion are indispensable to the acquisition, and still more to the preservation, of wealth, and equally to the attainment of all other earthly good. 66 Seest thou a man di“ ligent in his business ?" said the most exact observer of human life whom the world has ever seen, “ he shall stand be“ fore kings, he shall not stand before mean men.”
To immortal concerns these observations are applicable with equal force. To the very nature of these concerns lightness of mind is a direct and unchanging enemy. He who will not be serious will never be virtuous. Every thing relating to your eternal interests is in the highest degree solemn, nay, awful and amazing. Heaven and hell, the great Being who made us, provoked by our sins, and denouncing against us the vengeance of eternal fire; the glorious Redeemer of mankind descending with infinite love to die for us; our own character as fallen, condemned creatures, who are yet invited to return to God, and obtain an inheritance in his everlasting love, are subjects solemn and impressive beyond expression. They repel all inconsideration, claim irresistibly the deepest concern, and demand the most ardent pursuit. To a light-minded man they say at a great distance, and with awful authority, “ Hi" therto shalt thou come, but no further.”
Thirdly, The present is the best time to secure this disposition, especially as it respects your immortal interests.
You are now disinclined to pay any serious attention to your eternal well-being. Every day you live you will be more disinclined. The difficulties in your way to salvation are now such, as prevent you from beginning this mighty work. Every future day they will be greater. Now the subject is unwelcome to you. To-morrow it will be disgusting.
Look back upon your past lives. Has religion become more agreeable to you by the flight of time? Has the past year rendered it more pleasing? Are you more sober-minded ? Is the character of God more interesting to you? Is Christ more desirable ? Do you regard your souls with more affection ? Are you more willing to ask for blessings ? Are you more constant or more fervent in your prayers ? Does the eye of God see, does his ear hear, proofs of any such reformation? Does he not, on the contrary, behold you seriously engaged about nothing but pleasure, and still trifling away your day of probation?
But if during the year past you have not advanced a single step towards heaven, is it not plain, that so long as your present disposition continues you will never advance a single step? Do not you yourselves believe that your character must be changed, that your lightness of mind must give place to the sobriety enjoined in the text ; that you must no longer be fascinated by amusements ;
that you must turn your eyes and summon your affections to the interests of the soul; must weigh time against eternity, and earth against heaven and hell? All the aged and middle-aged around you were once young, as you now are. They were as hopeful and gave as fair a promise of future good. Every advantage which you possess they enjoyed, and God encircled them with privileges and blessings. But how many, whom you know, have neglected all their privileges, and but too probably lost them for ever ? have become fixed in evil habits and evil pursuits, and have yielded themselves finally up to sense, to the world, and to perdition? Of how many has it become difficult for you to entertain a feeble hope that they will not ultimately perish ? Have you not often found a reluctance to think on this subject with attention, and to inquire what would become of them in the
end? Have you not, in spite of all your wishes, been forced at times to conclude that there was not even a doubtful prospect of their becoming better, or being happy beyond the grave?
Shall, then, this melancholy case be your own ? Can you willingly take this character, and terminate life with these prospects? Would you be willing to enter eternity as you now are ? Does your present conduct furnish any reason to believe that you will enter it with a better character or with better hopes ?
Youth is an invaluable season. The heart is then comparatively tender and the soul open to instruction. All interesting things easily make deep impressions on the thoughts. God may then be regarded as being peculiarly reconcilable. The great body of those who are saved were apparently turned to righteousness in this happy period. Were it not that the young are so prone to levity of thought and so enchanted with pleasure, this season would be still more hopeful. Sobriety of mind would, in all probability, save many a youth from destruction, and mightily enlarge the kingdom of heaven.
Fourthly, You ought immediately to assume this character, because you have no security of years to come.
Within twelve months some of you may be in the grave. Should God with an audible voice declare concerning one or another of your number, that within this period he would be summoned to the judgment, what would be his emotions What would be his condition ? But if the same person goes on in his present course, the only difference will be, that his condemnation will be delayed a few short years, and that this delay will make him more guilty, and his perdition more dreadful.
Think, then, I beseech you, with the deep anxiety which the case demands, of your present situation ; of your lightness of mind; of your miserable subjection to your passions and appetites ; your sottish devotion to amusement and pleasure. What is to be the end of this career ? Will it prepare you for death? Will it enable you to leave the world with hope; and to give up your account with joy ? Will it become the found
ation of your acquittal in the judgment? or open for you the gates of heaven? or fit you for the blessings of immortality ? How deplorable will it be, to die at the end of such a life? How dreadful to recite before your Judge an account made up of amusements ! How melancholy to remember, in the future world, that for amusements the soul was lost for ever!
He who must die ought certainly to be always ready for death. As he cannot foresee the hour in which he must leave the world, common prudence, as well as the command of God, requires him to be prepared for this event at every hour. “ Am I ready ?” is a question which you are bound to ask every day you live. Are your sins forgiven? Have you besought the Lord with strong crying, and many tears, to forgive them, and to save you from endless woe? Are you penitent, believing and prayerful? Have you chosen God as your God, Christ as your Saviour, and the Spirit of truth as your Sanctifier ? Have you confessed Christ before men ? or, if not, are you now prepared to make this confession ?
Or, on the contrary, are you still sinners, strangers to the covenant of promise, without God, and therefore without hope, in the world ? Are you prayerless, thankless, impenitent, unbelieving, possessed of hard hearts and blind minds? Is the world your god, your portion, your all ? Is it true, that you have never even asked God to save you; and that Heaven has never known a single petition from your lips enter its delightful walls for your eternal life?
When the great curtain, which hides the invisible world from your sight, shall be drawn, will you behold, unveiled to your eyes, the gates of glory opening to receive you; a smiling Judge, ready to acquit you ; and the spirits of just men, made perfect, waiting to hail your arrival? Or will you meet an angry Judge; a dreadful condemnation; a world of sorrow; and a host of miserable companions, hailing your approach to their own melancholy doom?
Look forward to the events of a year to come, and tell me what emotions it must excite in your minds, to remember, at the close of it, that during this period you began to renounce
your sins; to trust in your Redeemer; to obey your God; and to commence your journey towards the regions of immortal life ! What transports would spring up in the hearts of your parents, to know that all their fears, and all your dangers, were terminated, because you had chosen the one thing needful, the good part, which will never be taken from you? How delightful would it then be to find your conflict ended, and your victory won; to see yourselves fairly entered into the straight and narrow way, and nothing remaining but to continue your progress ? Think what it must be to possess the hope and joy of sanctified minds; to become children of God, and followers of the Redeemer ; to make all virtuous beings your friends; and to commence the divine career of glorifying your Creator, and doing good to the universe, throughout an interminable existence. What a period would such a year be! How long to be remembered on earth! How rapturously to be celebrated in the ages of heaven!
To encourage yourselves in this noble and evangelical pursuit, call to mind that God, to you, is now a God at hand, and not a God afar off. Behold his hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. He is now ready to receive and welcome you to his kingdom, his forgiveness, and his everlasting love.
66 Come unto me,” says the merciful Saviour of mankind, “ all ye that labour, and are heavy laden ; and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest to your souls ; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
On the other hand, how distressing will it be, if a season so inviting, so plainly the best which you shall ever enjoy, should roll on all its days, and weeks, and months, in vain. How distressing, that fifty-two Sabbaths should shine with their benevolent beams upon your heads, and illumine your paths to the house of God, only to increase your condemnation! How painful is the reflection, that all these golden days will be lost? that they will be wasted in gratifying passions which warp, and in pursuing pleasures which steal, your affections from