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in general, and the necessity of making it an object of your first and most careful attention, you have heard stated. Suffer me, then, my friends, to ask if you do not feel a conviction, that it is your greatest interest, and will be your highest wisdom, immediately to devote yourselves to God in all the duties of piety and virtue? Appeal to your conscience, consult your inward feelings, your rational sense of things. These, I am persuaded, will decide in favour of the most speedy and sober attention to religion. Can it be, then, that you should find in your hearts any reluctance to enter upon the important work, on which your hopes for time and eternity depend? What are your objections? Do you fear you shall seek in vain? You can promise yourselves no greater success at a future period; and do you relinquish the idea of becoming holy and happy ? Surely not. You intend to be, at some future time, what we would persuade you now to be, that is, sober minded, pious, virtuous, and good. Your apprehensions of want of success in applying yourselves to the study and practice of religion, has no effect on your determination what you will do in future. It canwot, therefore, be the reason of present beglect. Besides, God has in
his word given you all the encouragement that can be reasonably desired. He hath never said to any " Seek ye me in vain;" but hath declared that those who seek him early shall find him. “ Ask, and ye shall receive ; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” What greater encouragement to early piety can you wish? God commands you to “ strive to enter in at the strait gate,” and to learn heavenly wisdom; and can you expect to be holy and happy without any efforts or concern? This would be contrary to your own nature, and to the purposes of divine wisdom.
If, then, you must seek, or not enjoy the object, why not at the present time, while you possess vigour and activity, and are under advantages that will never be experienced in any other period of your life? Will any say in heart, “it is true, religion is reasonable and important; but I am too young to tie myself down to the rules of a holy life ?” What, too young to serve the God that made you, to honour the Saviour that redeemed you, to act well, to be wise and happy! God ordaineth praise to him. self out of the mouth of babes and sucklings; and will you think yourselves too young to glorify him? It is a reflection upon your own un:
derstanding. You cannot be too young to be virtuous and good; but you may soon become too old in sin to leave any reasonable hope that you will ever be delivered from its dominion and punishment.
Are any restrained from following the convictions of their conscience, from being pious and good, by an apprehension tliat they shall be the subjects of ridicule if they do not “ follow the multitude to do evil ?»Will any own that such an inferiour motive induces them to hazard their eternal interést? He must make a silly, a despi. cable figure, who is laughed out of his life, or estate; how much more so he that dares not be virtuous and religious, wise and good, lest fools should mock and ridicule him! This “ fear of man bringeth a snare.” It is astonishing that any should be under its controling influence. Where is their fear of God? Where their love to their own souls? “ The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.”
But, my youthful friends, do you feel that you cannot relinquish your pleasures and prospects in the world, to secure the future rewards of piety and virtue? Do you mentally say, that, when you shall have done with the pleasures and vanities of youth, you will attend to relig.
ion; but at present we must be excused? The import of this is, that you will devote yourselves to God and religion, when you can no longer be active and vigorous in your opposition to both. What folly! What presumption! What high and daring provocation! Can it be imagined that God will be pleased with the efforts of impaired reason, with the affections of a heart that renounces its love of sin only because it does not receive its wonted pleasure from it, with the services of an enfeebled body, or of decrepit age? Will you love him least, and serve him last, whom you ought to love most, and serve first ? Is this a suitable return for the divine goodness, for redeeming love? Your consciences give the proper answer.
The loss of your relish for sinful indulgences, or the want of vigour to pursue the paths of vice, will not capacitate you for the duties · and satisfactions of religion. Besides, it is an unreasonable prejudice against religion, if you think it will deprive you of any of the rational pleasures and comforts of this life. It only re- . strains you from hurtful lusts, from injurious practices. It teaches you how to use the world, and not abuse it; and in all things to honour
God, and preserve the purity of your own char. acter.
Allowing all this to be true, some may feel that they are too much engaged in other concerns to attend to religion at present, and imagine they shall find a more convenient season. Yielding to such suggestions has proved the ruin of countless millions. Say not “to-morrow shall be as this day, and more abundant; for you know not what a day may bring forth.” The present may be your last on earth; if it should not, you have no time to idle away ; you are required to improve the whole term allotted you in the service of God and of your generation.
But take into view another consideration. Many of you have been, by the pious act of your parents, given up to God in baptism, and had the initiating seal of the covenant fixed upon you. Ought you not to ratify their act by personal consecration of yourselves to God, and keeping his commandments? Will you renounce your interest in covenant privileges, by refusing to comply with the terms of the covenant? Does your baptism lay you under no obligation to be pious and holy ? 'As it gives you a title to some privileges, it must impose some duties. Your