« PreviousContinue »
13.—THE PROMISES OF RELIGION TO THE YOUNG.
In every part of Scripture, it is remarkable with what singular tenderness the season of youth is always mentioned, and what hopes are afforded to the devotion of the young. It was at that age that God appeared unto Moses when he fed his flock in the desert, and called him to the command of his own people.
-It was at that age he visited the infant Samuel, while he ministered in the temple of the Lord, “ in days when the word of the Lord was precious, and when there was no open vision.” It was at that age that his spirit fell upon David, while he was yet the youngest of his father's sons, and when among the mountains of Bethlehem he fed his father's sheep.-It was at that age, also, “ that they brought young children unto Christ that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said to them, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.”
If these, then, are the effects and promises of youthful piety, rejoice, O young man, in thy youth 1-rejoice in those days which are never to return, when religion comes to thee in all its charms, and when the God of nature reveals himself to thy soul, like the mild radiance of the morning sun, when he rises amid the blessings of a grateful world. If already Devotion hath taught thee her secret pleasures ;—if
, when Nature meets thee in all its magnificence or beauty, thy heart humbleth itself in adoration before the hand which made it, and rejoiceth in the contemplation of the wisdom by which it is maintained ; -if, when Revelation unveils her mercies, and the Son of God comes forth to give peace and hope to fallen man,
eye follows with astonishment the glories of his path, and pours at last over his cross those pious tears which it is a delight to shed ;-if thy soul accompanieth him in his triumph over the grave, and entereth on the wings of faith into that heaven 6 where he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High,” and seeth the “society of angels and of the spirits of just men made perfect," and listeneth to the "everlasting song which is sung before the throne :”—If such are the meditations in which thy youthful hours are passed, renounce not, for all that life can offer thee in exchange, these solitary joys. The world which is before thee,-the world which thine imagination paints in such brightness,-has no pleasures to bestow which can compare with these. And all that its boasted wisdom can produce has nothing so acceptable in the sight of Heaven, as this pure offering of thy infant soul.
In these days, "the Lord himself is thy shepherd, and thou dost not want. Amid the green pastures, and by the still waters” of youth, he now makes "thy soul to repose.” But the years draw nigh, when life shall call thee to its trials; the evil days are on the wing, when thou shalt say thou hast no pleasure in them;" and, as thy steps advance, the valley of the shadow of death opens,” through which thou must pass at last. It is then thou shalt know what it is to remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” In these days of trial or of awe, “his spirit shall be with thee," and thou shalt fear no ill; and, amid every evil which surrounds thee," he shall restore thy soul.-His goodness and mercy shall follow thee all the days of thy life;" and when at last " the silver cord is loosed, thy spirit shall return to the God who gave it, and thou shalt dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
Let the young go out, in these hours, under the descending sun of the year, into the fields of nature. Their hearts are now ardent with hope, - with the hope of fame, of honour, or of happiness; and in the long perspective which is before them, their imagination creates a world where all may be enjoyed. Let the scenes which they now may witness moderate, but not extinguish their ambition :-while they see the yearly desolation of nature, let them see it as the emblem of mortal hope :-while they feel the disproportion between the powers they possess and the time they are to be employed, let them carry their ambitious eye beyond the world and while, in these sacred solitudes, a voice in their own bosom corresponds to the voice of decaying nature, let them take that high decision which becomes those who feel themselves the inhabitants of a greater world, and who look to being incapable of decay.
Let the busy and the active go out, and pause for a time amid the scenes which surround them, and learn the high lesson which nature teaches in the hours of its fall. They are now ardent with all the desires of mortality ;-and fame, and interest, and pleasure, are displaying to them their shadowy promises :~and, in the vulgar race of life, many weak and many worthless passions are too naturally engendered. Let them withdraw themselves for a time from the agitations of the world; -- let them mark the desolation of summer, and listen to the winds of winter, which begin to murmur above their heads. It is a scene which, with all its power, has yet no reproach; -it tells them, that such is also the fate to which they must come ;-that the pulse of passion must one day beat low ;that the illusions of time must pass ;--and "that the spirit must return to Him who gave it.” It reminds them, with gentle voice, of that innocence in which life was begun, and for which no prosperity of vice can make any compensation; —and that angel who is one day to stand upon the earth, and to “swear that time shall be no more," seems now to whisper to them, amid the hollow winds of the year, what manner of men they ought to be, who must meet that decisive hour.
There is an eventide in human life, a season when the eye becomes dim, and the strength decays, and when the winter of age begins to shed upon the human head its prophetic snow. It is the season of life to which the present is most analogous ; and much it becomes, and much it would profit you, to mark the instructions which the season brings. The spring and the summer of your days are gone, and with them, not only the joys they knew, but many of the friends who gave them. You have entered upon the autumn of your being, and whatever may have been the profusion of your spring, or the warm intemperance of your summer, there is yet a season of stillness and of solitude which the beneficence of Heaven affords you, in which you may meditate upon the past and the future, and prepare yourselves for the mighty change which you are soon to undergo.
If it be thus you have the wisdom to use the decaying season of nature, it brings with it consolations more valuable than all the enjoyments of former days. In the long retrospect of your journey, you have seen every day the shades of the evening fall, and every year the clouds of winter gather. But you have seen also, every succeeding day, the morning arise in its brightness, and in every succeeding year, the spring return to renovate the winter of nature. It is now you may understand the magnificent language of Heaven,-it mingles its voice with that of revelation,-it summons you, in these hours when the leaves fall, and the winter is gathering, to that evening study which the mercy of Heaven has provided in the book of salvation; and while the shadowy valley opens which leads to the abode of death, it speaks of that hand which can comfort and can save, and which can conduct to those “green pastures, and those still waters," where there is an eternal spring for the children of God.
1.—THE BRITISH MONARCHY. The learned professors of the rights of man regard prescription not as a title to bar all claims set up against old possession, but they look on prescription itself as a bar against the possessor and proprietor. They hold an immemorial possession to be no more than a long continued, and therefore an aggravated injustice. Such are their ideas, such their religion, and such their law. But as to our country and our race, as long as the well compacted structure of our church and state, the sanctuary, the holy of holies of that ancient law, defended by reverence, defended by power, a fortress at once and a temple, shall stand inviolate on the brow of the British Sion-as long as the British monarchy, not more limited than fenced by the orders of the state, shall, like the proud keep of Windsor, rising in the majesty of proportion, and girt with the double belt of its kindred and coeval towers—as long as this awful structure shall oversee and guard the subjected land, so long the mounds and dikes of the low Bedford Level will have nothing to fear from the pickaxes of levellers. As long as our sovereign lord the king, and his faithful subjects, the lords and commons of this realm—the triple cord which no man can break; the solemn sworn constitutional frankpledge of this nation, the firm guarantee of each other's being and each other's rights; the joint and several securities, each in its place and order, for every kind and every quality of property and of dignity-so long as these endure, so long the Duke of Bedford is safe, and we are all safe together—the high from the blights of envy and the spoliations of rapacity, the low from the iron hand of oppression and the insolent spurn of contempt.
2.-PERORATION TO SHERIDAN'S SPEECH IN THE CASE OF
WARREN HASTINGS. JUSTICE, my Lords, is not the ineffective bauble of an Indian pagod; it is not the portentous phantom of despair ;-it is not