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The great multitude, in every age, have been regardless of the momentous consequences of life. Serious consideration has not marked their actions. Taking no prospective view of things in relation to eternity, they have consulted only present and personal gratification. And, ah, too late, have they awoke from these delusive dreams!-too late discovered their fatal mistake. There is an importance attached to the actions of men, during this short life, which is incalculable. We awake in the morning to behold the world, which the light of day has restored to our vision; we enter upon our accustomed employment, and amid the hurry of wordly avocations, or the whirl of vain amusements, scarcely pause to take one serious thought of an hereafter. The day is gone. Darkness again shrouds the world, and we retire to rest without either retrospection of the past, thanks for favours bestowed, or supplication for divine protection.
Thus passes precious time, till death is come;
But, for Eternity, all is left undone. To those, who, for a long course of years, have lived in this careless and criminal neglect of God and duty, my present remarks are not addressed. Their habits of sin, by a continued course of indulgence, have acquired a strength, which none but an Almighty arm cani resist, and nothing but Almighty grace subdue. Deplorable beyond description is the condition of the aged
sinner. To him, the evenicg of life, when support and consolation are most needed, is entirely destitute of either. All is unmingled regret in view of the past; persect barrenness as to present comfort, while over his future prospects there is a cloud of impenetrable darkness, with which nothing but the moral darkness of his own mind can be compared. And all this is but the prelude of that misery, which is faintly shadowed forth in scripture, by the worm that never dies, and the fire that never shall be quenched.
I have presented this gloomy picture, of which so many furnish the sad reality, for the purpose, merely of furnishing a dissuasive to the young, from pursuing a course of conduct which is attended with such unhappy consequences, and which leads to such a dreadful end. The temptations which beset the paths of youth, are many and various. From these, they are peculiarly exposed to danger. Who that knows the power of temptation, and has felt its force, when in all the ardour of young affections, will doubt this truth? Untaught by experience, unsuspecting and incautious, the unwary youth rushes into the scenes of an ensparing world. With such feelings, and entirely ignorant of human ture, he nither anticipates danger, nor is prepared to meet it. But as an imaginary security renders any situation more hazardous, so in this case the youth is doubly exposed. Alas! how many there are, who, commencing life with much promise of usefulness and respectability, soon contract habits of vice and dissipation, become objects of disgrace and misery, and then sink into an untimely grave, with unrepented sins, and aggravated guilt! And on how many of their tomb-stones might it be written-This youth destroyed himself by associating with the wicked! Or if life. is protracted, it is only to draw out a miserable existence; poison society with corrupt principles; and at last perish with a still greater condemnation! Now all this may be accounted for on the common principle of cause and effect. At an age when the strongest desires are felt for social intercourse, the youth steps from the parental roof to
enjoy the pleasures of the world. Meeting with a solicitation to associate with those, from whose baneful company he has hitherto been restrained by parental authority, he replies at first, perhaps, in the negative. The solicitation is repeated, and urged with all the plausibility and pathos of which those are capable, who, in adapting the means to the end, - are wiser than the children of light." Still the half-suspecting, timid, trembling youth hesitates, while his conscience, understanding, and the recollection of pious parental instruction, all whisper-no! refuse---refrain-go not in the paths of wicked men ; turn from them and pass away. But misery loves company, and company it will have. The solicitation is again repeated, with redoubled importunity; and at length the deluded youth yields up himself to the force of entreaty, and replies, I will comply for once ; yes I will go.-Go where, mistaken youth ? Ah, why will you go in that fatal path which has misguided thousands o! why will you thus sacrifice happiness, and heaven, and all ? Why take the fatal step, which it will be so difficult to retrace? Why will you go in the
way of the wicked, which leads down to the chambers of death, and whose steps take hold on hell? Is this “ pondering the path of thy feet?” But he goes, even as 6 an ox to the slaughter," " or as a bird basteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life." Yes, he joins himself to the company of the ungodly, notwithstanding the instructions of parents, the remonstrances of coňscience, and the warnings of God. And in doing this, probably he is undone forever! 0! if he had but resisted the temptation at the outset; if he had refused to yield to the first solicitation, it would have been comparatively easy; but it is a poor time to resist the assaults of a powerful enemy, when enclosed within his territory. The first step in sin necessarily leads to the second, and so on with an increasing ratio, till the last takes hold on death. It is easy to set in motion a huge rock from the summit of a lofty mountain, and it is also easy to stop its motion at first, but it would require immense strength to stop its midway course, and replace it on the summit. So it is with the youth who takes
one fatal step in sin, a course which is ever accelerated by motion.
Have I stated an uncommon case ? and is the description merely imaginary? No, the case is not an uncommon one, neither is the one half told in describing it.
I have known the youth of sober and regular habits, in whose mind the principles of our holy religion have been early distilled; who respected religon and feared an oath. I have seen this youth leave the parental roof, followed by the prayers and tears of his parents. And I have afterwards seen him in the great city ; but alas, how changed !
Here he had formed new associates, who had corrupted his principles, and destroyed his character. Here he had learnt that religion was a gloomy superstition; that it was beneath the attention of those who call themselves gentlemen. Here, in a word, he had become an infidel in theory, and a profligate in practice. But what produced this mighty and melancholy change? What fatal process has led to all this? The unhappy youth himself could tell you, if he would be honest, that there was a time, a fatal moment, when, 'tremblingly, he took the first step, which at leogth led him where he now is, and having become entangled with wicked companions, he found it next to an impossibility to extricate himself
. This, I say, if he were honest, would be his frank confession. And 0, could you stand around his dying bed, you would probably hear him exclaim with the deepest anguish— Unhappy, miserable man that I am! How have I hated instruction, and how has my heart despised reproof! O, had I but paused and considered, and listened to the monitory voice of conscience ! But it is now foreyer too late, and I am eternally undone !" I have known the youth too, who was left an orphan in this wicked world, with nothing but a large fortune to protect him, which is a miserable substitute for parental watchfulness and instruction. I have seen him, while pursuing his studies preparatory for college, again and again almost persuaded to be a Christian. I have seen him regular in his attendance at the conference and prayer-meeting, and
regular also in his deportment. At length he enters college ;—there he is led away by wicked, designing youth, becomes intemperate and profligate, is expelled from college, his character is ruined, and all the hopes of his friends blasted! And now, dear youth, for whose eternal welfare I write this sheet, I entreat you shun the company
of the wicked, as you would a den of deadly serpents! Be a companion of all them that fear God; and if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
A word to those who, having been seduced from the society of the pious, and from the paths of virtue, are now attempting to draw others into the same vortex of ruin into which they themselves have plunged.-Deluded mortals! Why act this unfriendly part ? Why seek to deprive others of that happiness which you have lost? Why conduct as though you thought the misery of others would alleviate your own ? Rather arise with the repenting prodigal, and retrace your steps to your heavenly Father, from whom you have so ungratefully and wickedly revolted. Repent, return, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall yet find mercy. But if you will still persist in your wicked course; if you will still resort to your pleasures, and drown the whispers of con-, science in noisy mirth; if you will fall asleep in your sin, and put off the serious considerations of an hereafter; remember that God has said, " for all this I will bring thee into judgment.” You can now laugh at piety, and profane the name of God, and this may serve as an opiate to lull you to repose. But
Say, dreamers of gay dreams;