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know that the imaginations of the heart are so various, and at some periods so turbulent, as to cover us with guiit and shame. And if the depraved mind is itself so fruitful of evil, to what additional depravity may it arise when Aided by the powers of satan, and the numberless objects of temptation? Here the heart of every youth may be allowed to know its own bitterness. From this corrupt fountain, how many young persons of both sexes have been plunged into vices which have irrecoverably blasted their reputation! Who could have thought Absalom capable of the crimes he committed ? But although such offences may not be appropriate to you, and your life may have been preserved from violent eruptions of immorality, the heart is nevertheless defiled before an holy God. The imaginations too frequently arise against God, the authenticity of his Word, the person and the salvation of Jesus, the certainty of death and judgment, and the necessity of a moral preparation for eternity. Good advice, a sound education, and a virtuous example, may be given you; still the natural heart is evil, only evil, and that continually. And should any of you be disposed to controvert the point, you will remember that I have brought forward the sentence of your God, who is greater than your hearts, and knoweth all things. But this is not all which the question in our text implies.
The sins of young men, as well as others, expose them to the displeasure of God. The wages of sin is death, let transgressors be of whatever age or sex they may. Therefore, rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. How many young men have been cut down in their prime, as the flower of the field, and conveyed to the grave, as Job expresses it, while their bones were full of the sins of their youth! Solemn event! If you live in sin, you must die in sorrow. Your reason, your conscience must unite with Scripture testia mony, and pronounce these sentiments just. If so, you will better realize the question in our text; for
It implies a conviction of guilt, and a desire to obtain instruction in order for relief. We know that such sensibility is extremely painful; but it is equally certain, it is absolutely necessary to seek and obtain the knowledge of that way in which you shall he cleansed. Because many young persons are destitute of a conviction of their errors, they live without prayer, and despise the only way of relief. Saul of Tarsus no sooner saw the evil of his ways, than it was said of him, Behold he prayeth.
: By this time, my young friends, you must perceive the justness of our remarks, that a young man's ways are defiled, and expose him to the displeasure of his Maker, and that the question in the text is proposed by those only who are sensible of their state, and desirous of relief. What impressions do these things now make' upon you? Have you so far tasted the bitter fruit of follý as to turn unto the Lord by prayer, and ask how your ways can be cleansed, and your future years be crowned with peace and joy? It is for your sake, especially, we shall now attend to the - Answer in our text. It is by taking heed thereto, according to the word of God, Let us see how far God's word may instruct the inquiring youth. In the first place, it gives him a just representation of the evils, the guilt, and the misery of his case as a sinner against God. There is no other book in the world that can do this.
The word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Because the word of God so anatomizes the mind, conscience, and life of sinners, is the very reason why many loose and hardened persons reject it; thereby giving themselves greater latitude in transgressions. You, my young friends, I hope, will act a contrary part; take the Bible and learn the nature of your moral disease, which, I assure you, is half way to the cure. This invaluable volume will next discover to you, that there is a fountain opened for sin, and for uncleanness; and that this fountain is none other than the pierced heart of the Son of God, whose blood cleanseth from all sin. Here, young men, however polluted in your hearts and lives, behold the LAMB OF GOD! By his atoning blood, your guilt can alone be blotted out before the judgment of your God, and sacred peace flow into your tortured breasts. While I name this heavenly balm, may its virtue be applied to every heart! - Possessed of pardon in the blood of Jesus, you will soon perceive that the word of God contains the purest directions for-virtue in every possible relation and connection with mankind, whether in private or in public life. And what alone forms the true dignity of man, the Bible will open to you those duties and privileges, in which you may walk humbly and happily with God. Instead of offering you a list of duties, or explaining the holy principles on which they must be performed, I shall direct your attention to the life and example of the Lord Jesus. He passed through a state of youth undefiled, that he might honour and sanctify that early stage of life. Happy shall I be if this remark falls with due sensibility
upon every young man who hears it! It will form a noble stimulus to every holy and benevolent action, and, at the same time, guard the avenue of your hearts against every temptation to vice. I shall only add, as God's word will be a light unto your path in the journey of life, it will cheer your hope of immortality and glory. While in youth, you will find the Gospel more precious than gold; but should you be continued to old age, it will assure you that God will be the present portion of your soul, and create numberless delights when time, with its vanities, are fading away. So far then, we may venture to say, the virtues of youth contribute to the felicities of old age.
Having detained you so long, I know of no better way to close this discourse than by bringing the two opposite characters to view. A young man whose ways are corrupted and devoid of the fear of God, stands ready to embrace the first and the foulest temptation to vice. He sets an immoral example, injurious to all around him: himself a stranger to the pleasures of peace with God. Under the calamities of life he has no rational support; and no wonder, if in some fatal moment he sinks beneath his burden in untimely death! What say you, young men, shall this be your likeness? Place it in any light you may, can it possibly engage your approbation? Surely not. In life devoid of peace, in death abandoned to woe! Look then at that young man who takes heed to his ways according to God's word. Religion forms a jewel in his heart, which shall never be lost. Under the accidents of life, he has God to support him. His example contributes to the good of every private and public circle of life. He shall be like the tree planted by the river of water, that bringeth forth fruit in season ; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he dooth shall pros.
per. Were there no future state-were there no joys beyond the grave-the life of pious young contrasted with the vicious, must be pronounced happy. May this likeness be drawn by grace upon each of your hearts, and be resplendent in every action of your
O thou celestial born! dear youths of grace,
You shall possess immensity of bliss,