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serving of every encouragement, and justly merit the highest praise.
Youth. It is very justly observed, by an admired writer,* that virtuous youth gradually brings forward ripe and accomplished manhood. Youthful piety is indeed extremely amiable, and has charms inexpressibly lovely and engaging. We look with admiration on the child who discovers early presages of future goodness, and whose disposition sweetly glows with inward sentiments of benevolence. Happy are the parents of such a child, and pleasurable are the hours of their lives.
In addressing myself to youth, I will, in the first place, remind them of their duty to their parents; whom they are bound to love and honour with the tenderest affection of heart. A submissive and respectful obedience is always due to them. And let the bonds of affection unite brothers and sisters, that peace and happiness may flourish around them. Let them also be grateful to their instructors, and seck and follow their directions. Let them. consider the value of time, and the importance of making a right use of it. Their parents and their teachers are equally anxious for their improvement, and are ready to do all in their power to promote it. But it is in vain for young persons to expect a proficiency in knowledge, unless they are diligent and teachable, and unite their own efforts with those of their teachers; and unless they daily ask the Giver of every good gift for His grace and assistance. By a due regard to these most essential respeels, they certainly bid fair to become useful and respected members of society, and it is probable that honour, success, and comfort, will ever attend them.
But these are nof the only duties; there is another infinitely more glorious, and of far more transcendent importance. I mean, the amiable piety of a child towards his MAKER. Let it then, ye youth, ever be your peculiar province to fear God, and keep his commandments. Know, that whatever He commands, it is your duty to perform. Consider the precepts of christianity, whose origin is divine, as the best rules and guides of your faith. Study to know, and to do your duty.t Never let
† lle, whether young or old, who conscientiously and habitually endeavours to discharge, as the disciple of Christ, bis duty to God and his
it be yours to infringe the laws of Heaven. Let it not be yours to set a bad example, to encourage the wicked, or seduce the unwary. Let it not be yours to break the bonds of hospitality, violate the sanctity of secrecy, chill the ardour of friendship, or subvert the peace of a family; but glory in the discharge of your duty, in every respect whatever, and act in a manner entirely consistent with the laws of human nature. In the giddy thoughtlessness of redundant health, be not led away by the deceitful allurements of this life; but cherish early principles of piety and integrity, and let no consideration impel you to swerve from ihem; for be assured, that no worldly advantage of any kind will justify a deviation from the paths of truth; and that genuine piety is one of the most honourable distinctions in the world.
You will remember, that God has given you a capacity for wisdom; it behoves you, therefore, to pursue it with unabated perseverance, and to employ it to the benefit of yourself, and of mankind, and more particularly to the glory of Him, from whose goodness, and by whose blessing, you primarily received it. Bé always actuated by a sincere reverence for the scriptures, a firm attachment to virtue, and a decided abhorrence of vice. Whatever tends to improve your heart, form your manners, or enlighten your understanding, pursue with a desire proportionate to the importance of the end. Follow the path of duty prescribed to you by the word of God; and labour to surmount every obstacle which bids formidably to impede your christian course. Let not the fascinating smiles of corrupt youth deceive you; learn early and habitually to resist, with unshaken fortitude, all their attempts to overcome your modest virtue ; and be not carried away either by their ridicule or their applause. You have something more valuable and momentous to attend to--the approbation of your own heart. Let no worldly custom, no worldly interest, no worldly praise, tempt you to deviate from the strictest rules of temperance and self-governinent. Abandon every advantage, sacrifice every comfort, encounter every scornful reproof, · rather than do what your conscience forbids. Your principles and faith, while you are here, will be exercised, neighbour, will receive such gracious assistance from above as will sustain him under all the distresses and afflictions of life, and till himn with hope and consolation on the bed of death.
and you will often meet with sceptics and fools, who will laugh at your moral conduct, and who, though but the children of a day, will presumptuously and profanely dare to cavil at the inscrutable counsels of infinite goodness. But be not discouraged; persevere in the right way; and let it be your unalterable determination, whatever may be the consequences (and the consequences can only attach to this life), to follow the commandments, and the example of Christ, and not the maxims and practices of a wicked and deceitful world. Examine yourself frequently; and with a seriousness suitable to ihe importance of the occasion. Let your meditations be of this kind :
“ Am I a Christian indeed, or only a nominal one? Do I live up to my profession? Do I cultivate in myself that benevolence of disposition, that gentleness of behaviour, that mildness of manners, that'unaffected piety, which the blessed Saviour of mankind so constantly and 80 warmly recommends in his gospel of salvation Are the principles of love and affection to my parents, to my friends, to my fellow-creatures deeply interwoven and imprinted in iny bosom ? Is not the heart deceitful above all things? Do I then take pains to soften and amend it? Am I one of those who honour God with their lips, while their hearts are far from Him? or do I worship Him in the beauty of holiness? Do I frequently examine myself, and more frequently think of the things which belong to my everlasting peace before they are for ever hid from my eyes ? Have I set the Almighty Father always before me; and have I ever said to myself, in the moment of calm reflection, Thou, God, seest me? What are my thoughts respecting futurity ? Am I yet prepared to de, and appear before the awful judginent seat of Christ? Do I yet understand the practical and evangeli, cal doctrines of the Christian religion; and have I yet learnt to apply my heart unto the truest wisdom? Do I ever contemplate" the miseries of my fellow-creatures, and thence learn to be more contented, humble, and charitable? Ain ( sincerely thankful to God for life and happiness; for the many comforts I already enjoy, social, domestic, and religious; but more particularly for the redemption of the world, by our Lord Jesus Christ? Have I indelibly fixed in my inind the important and emphatical truth, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord? Do I bewail, with a sorrowful contrition of heart,
the multitude of my offences, pray for divine mercy and assistance, and endeavour to lead a holy, peaceable, and virtuous life? Do I take care, (and a very innportant care it surely is,) to give God the first place in my heart, in my thoughts, in my affections? Do't make every thing else subservient to this grand fundameptal point of Christian duty ? Or do I prefer any thing in the world to Him? Do I regulate my conduct and manners agreeably to the rules and doctrines of the Gospel ? Do. I often peruse and study it? Am I attentive to prayer, to meditation, and spiritual improvement? Do I regularly attend public worship? And am I attentive and self-condemned while I continue there? Am I attentive to the improvement of my mind in useful and elegant literature? Am I grateful to those who have had the care of my education? Do I remember the precepts of early instruction, and take a sincere delight and pleasure to follow them? Do I speak and think of others, as I wish that they should speak and think of me? What company do I keep; and is my conversation perfectly compatible with the rules of decency and propriety? Am I respectfully behaved towards all men? Do I ever wish ill to any body ? Ain I always as ready to forgive others, as I hope to be forgiven by God? Do I endeavour to make all around me happy, by a behaviour at once pleasing, kind, and amiable? Do I wish well to all my fellow-creatures ? Am I faithful and affectionate to my friends, and grateful for favours received ? In short, do I study my whole duty, and act in all respects as plainly to evince that I am, what I ought to be, a sincere lover of goodness, and a firm adherent to God? If I am steady and uniform in every change and sphere of life, I am sure of being blessed by my Heavenly Father; and that I shall possess that peace of mind which the world can neither give nor take away.”
Let me advise you to adopt a similar plan of self-examination; and learn, or at any rate endeavour, to conduct yourself, on all occasions, with propriety. Rest satisfied that a virtuous course of life is attended with many and sweet satisfactions; but the dangers and inconveniencies of a sinful course are innumerable : a; thousand snares surround the wicked, and often do they involve themselves in inextricable difficulties. Let une earnestly conjure you, therefore, to prefer the solid happiness which arises from virtue, to the momentary pleasure which proceeds from vice. Let a fervent piety of
soul be one of your earliest and most prominent distinc-' tions. Check inordinate desires, and stifle every evil inclination of the mind. Think that you are but the pilgrim of a day. In health, in sickness, in pain, in trouble, in sorrow, in prosperity or adversity, forget 'not this solemn and interesting truth ; and let it influence you to cease to do evil;-let it prompt you to learn to do well. That eternal Being who governs and directs all things, will one day call you hence and judge you. An awful thought! beyond the power of words to express. Search and consult the scriptures : regard and study them daily, as the rule to which you are to conform every thought, and word, and action : and as the rule by which all your thoughts, and words, and actions, will be tried at the last day, before the awful tribunal of Heaven. Resolve to live and act and die agreeably to the injunctions of those sacred records. Let this be your first and principal concern. It is the most important concern of all you have to do or think of on earth. Sentiments so dignified and noble will render you an estimable character, and at the same time an independent one, in the best sense of the expression. Ponder, therefore, the path of life : consider it well; and ingenuously strive to lead that happy and enviable state of existence, as shall entitle you to a bright and a lasting reputation here, and a never-ending happiness above. “ You may obtain the blessed help of Almighty God,” says an author * of much sensibility,“ by fervent prayer to Him, and by earnest endeavours to grow in gracet ;' to improve day by day in piety and good works. Think not that the Divine assistance will be bestowed unasked, unsought, unsolicited. Nor think that it will be bestowed, that it may supersede the necessity of your own exertions; that it may enable you to lead a careless life, without labouring to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”! Ask in the name of Jesus Christ for the sanctifying aid of divine grace; and it will not be withheld: study to improve by that which is bestowed, and more will be granted. Buť“ grieve not” by transgression “ the Holy Spirit of God;" lest you be abandoned to yourself, and given over to a reprobotę mind."||
† 2 Pcter ui. 18.
Philip ii. 12.
|| Rom. i. 28,