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the evil day comes. Put not far from you this evil day. Give glory to God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains; lest, while you look for light, it be turned into the shadow of death.
5. Besides those solemn arguments, which are ta ken from another world, the scripture often urges youth to early religion by arguments taken from this world; which, though far less important in them. selves, are adapted to influence tender minds just o pening to worldly prospects.
Come, ye children, says David, hearken unto me, and Iwill teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. In the writin of Solomon, similar observations often occur.My son, forget not my law, but let thine heart keep my commandments; for length of days, and long life, and peace shall they add to thee. Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty.-Happy is the man that findeth wisdom Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour; her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
Virtue has her native charms, which, properly displayed, will command esteem even from those who have not chosen her for their companion. But her charms never appear to greater advantage, than when displayed in the character of the young. Did you ever see a youth, who, impressed with the fear of God, and a sense of futurity, carefully shunned the follies and vices of the world, and steadily pursued the path of wisdom-whose natural gaiety was tempered with a religious gravity-whose language, though cheerful, was always discreet; and whose
manners, though social, were strictly chaste and pure-who had prudence to decline the known occasions of evil, resolution to withstand a bold temptation, and fortitude to reject a wicked inticement who could, on proper occasions, mingle with his youthful companions, and yet have no fellowship with their unfruitful works, but rather reprove them -whose governing aim was to act right, without the vanity of human applause-and who, while he maintained a virtuous character, ever preserved a modesty and humility becoming his age?-Did you ever see such a youth? Tell me, if you did not esteem him; if you did not covet his reputa. tion, and almost envy his happiness. Have you ever seen a contrary character? and, Did you not dopise and condemn it? Believe then, that the ..uous youth has favour and good understanding in the sight of God and men.
As you are rational beings, you have a part to act in the world. You are to be members of society, and to take a share in the common concerns. of human life. It is not your wish, nor was it the Creator's design, that you should pass through life solitary and unconnected. No man lives merely to himself. Early piety will lay a foundation for your future dignity and usefulness. Religion has something to do in every station, and in every calling; nor can you properly fill your circle without it. Whatever may be the business assigned you, truth, justice and benevolence, are the principles which must govern you. These you ought early to possess, that you may always feel their influence. A habit of duplicity, fraud and unrighteousness, formed in youth, will operate in the concerns of man hood, and soon plunge you into infamy and ruin. If you now banish religion from your thoughts, you banish all reasonable hope of worldly reputation and prosperity, as well as of future glory.
Think not, however, that the chief reward of piety is in this world. It will indeed bring you many blessings, and secure you from many evils : but still you are in a world of mortality and change.
Disappointment, pain, sickness, sorrow and death, await the saint in common with others: But he has consolations, to which the guilty can make no claim. Peace of conscience, and hope in God, a persuasion that all things are meant for his good, and the prospect of immortal glory beyond the grave, are comforts which delight his soul in the day of affliction and in the approach of death. Since no man can escape these events, it is every man's wisdom to be prepared for them. Religion is the only preparation; religion in youth is seasonable preparation. If it would be desirable to escape afflictions; next to this, at least, it is desirable to be prepared for them. Your preparation cannot be too soon, for the necessity may be near.
You will, I presume, set out in life with a desire of usefulness. To crawl obscurely through the world, like a mere reptile, only to eat and sleep, and breathe and die, is too despicable an idea for a rational being. To live only that you may disturb the peace, wound the feelings, injure the characters, and corrupt the manners of mankind, is too near an imitation of infernal spirits, not to be abhorred in your thoughts. Is it then your aim to spend life with dignity to yourselves, and usefulness to others; to enjoy peace of mind while you live, and good hopes when you die; to be had in honourable remembrance among those who survive you; and to meet the smiles of angels, and the approbation of the Judge of all? Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth. Know the God who made and preserves you, whose mercy is your hope, and whose favour is your happiness; serve him with a perfect heart, and with a
willing mind. If you seek him, he will be found of you if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.
However indifferent this advice may seem now, the day is coming, when you will feel its importance. As you are now climbing the hill, and rising to maturity, worldly prospects open and expand to your view, and you promise yourselves a delightful and prosperous journey through life. But, believe me, you will soon pass the summit, and find yourselves treading the downward path: Then your worldly prospects will shorten and shorten, and the shadows will stretch over your heads; and when you sink into the vale of old age, your worldly prospects will disappear. Happy then, if you have better prospects in God.
Hear now the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
The Youth assisted in forming his religious Senti
PROVERBS, ii, 10, 11, ÍB.
When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleas ant unto thy soul, discretion shall preserve thee, and understanding shall keep thee; to deliver thee from the way of the evil man; from the man that speaketh froward things.
SEVERAL of the first chapters of this
book, and this in particular where our text is, are expressly addressed to the young: And the declared intention of them is, to give wisdom to the simple, and to the young man knowledge and discretion. That by wisdom and knowledge we are here to understand the principles and dictates of virtue and religion, is so well known to all who are acquainted with the writings of Solomon, that there is no need of adducing instances to prove it.
Religion is founded in knowledge, and therefore it is called by this name. He who acts religiously, acts understandingly. When knowledge is pleasant to his soul, understanding will keep him.