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choose? We have to remind you, in the II. place, that God is ready to become your leader, and that it is your duty and privilege to place yourselves under his direction. He would have you cry unto him, saying, Thou art the guide of my youth.
The Israelites of old, in passing through the wilderness, to Canaan, found in God all that their situation required. They were exposed to danger; and he was their defence. They were destitute of provisions, and he furnished them with supplies. They were in a trackless desert, and knew not the way they should take; and he was their guide. By the fiery cloudy pillar, he determined all their encampments, and journeyings: as this rose, they rose; as this turned, they turned: till, by a right way, it led them to the city of habitation. And he is equally the leader of his people. "A good man's steps are ordered by the Lord. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” And who can express the satisfaction of mind, which arises from such a reflection as this? ““ Well, I have a dangerous world to pass through, and I wish to pass through it safely, and usefully, and to reach heaven at last. This is my aim, as well as desire: and I am not a lonely, or an uncertain traveller. God is with me. I am under the care of his providence. I have the scripture for my rule. I have also the promise of the Holy Spirit, to lead me into all truth; and, as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
And this is surely enough to incite you to apply to him. For, my dear young friends, what properties could you wish for in a guide, that are not to be found in God? He is infinitely wise; and cannot lead you astray. He has conducted mil
lions; and "the way-faring man, though a fool, has not erred” under his direction. He is infinitely powerful. He can support you under the heaviest burdens; deliver you from every adversary; and "make all things work together for your good.” He is infinitely kind. He will bear with your infirmities; and sympathize with you, in all your troubles: and, he is infinitely faithful: not a * word shall fail of all that he has spoken;" and, therefore, you may say, with David, “This God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death."
Thus, “he leads his people, to make himself a glorious name." And thus, all who have been under his guidance, have extolled their leader; especially after they have finished their course. When they looked back upon his dealings with them, the review furnished them with peculiar songs of wonder, and of praise: and their language has been, “To him that led his people through the wilderness-for his mercy endureih for ever!”
And this is He, who is willing to become your guide; and who proposes himself as your guide.Only, in the Ill. place, remember how you are to engage his attention; you are to cry to him; 6. Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?”
This familiar expression intends prayer and supplication; and it prevents you from assigning, as an excuse for the omission of the duty, that you are not master of words, and cannot deliver yourselves in proper language. For what is prayer? Is it not the desire of the heart towards God? If you cannot pray, cannot you cry to him? He can hear the voice of your weeping. He knows the meaning of a sigh; of a look. "My desire,”
says David, " is before thee, and my groaning is not bid from thee."
And let me here remark two things. The first is—That you are not to expect this guidance, without prayer. His own declaration is sufficient to decide this—“For all these things, (says he) will I yet be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.” And the second is—That you are not to despair of this guidance, with prayer. It is God's way, to produce in us conviction of our need, and to draw forth our desires after the influences and blessings he has to bestow. But, he that commands, and inclines us to call upon him, will not suffer us to call upon him in vain.“ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and be that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”
Therefore, “Let the heart of them rejoice, that seek the Lord.” And if, unhappily, you have lived without him in the world; if other lords have had dominion over you—but you are now willing to abandon them, and to make mention of his name only, saying, Lord, I am thine, save me; “Grant me thy counsels for my guide,
And then receive me to thy bliss,
Are faint and cold, compared with this”-be assured he will in no wise cast you out; but will receive you graciously, and love you freely,
We have, therefore, only to observe, IV., that there are particular seasons, in which he expects to be sought after by the young, and from which he dates the expostulation, “ Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?”
And, first, this is the case, when they leave the house of
their friends, and the wing of their relations. Behold a youth removing from home--to go to school—to learn a business—or to travel. See! he departs. The fond mother views him from the window-and turns away-to weep, The father accompanies him to a distance, and having left him-looks back again-and prays66 The God who fed me all my life long, unto this day; the Angel who redeemed me from all evil, bless the lad, and let my name be named upon him, and let him grow into a multitude.” Though in such circumstances he still engrosses affection and solicitude, he is no longer immediately under the notice of parents. They have given him instruction; they can maintain a correspondence by writing; but they are no longer near him; and he may fall into mistakes, which will decide his condition before they can know the danger, or offer advice. To such a youth, God says,
a Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?”
Secondly. When the young are bereaved of their parents, and will see their faces, and hear their voices no more for ever. This is no uncommon affliction; but it is an awful one; and sometimes the most distressing consequences ensue. There dies a father; and, behold the widow descends from the sofa of ease, to the oar of labour; and the children lose the caresses of the neighbourhood; are scattered, oppressed, injured. For few in our world act according to the laws of genuine friendship; or inquire, like David, “ Is there any left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness, for Jonathan's sake?” But the moral hazards of such bereavements are still more dreadful. Deprived of a directing and re
straining hand-left to himself, with evil propensities, and surrounded with error and vice, what wonder is it that the young traveller is drawn aside, and led the downward road? Are there any here at present, who have been deprived of their relations and are thus disposed? O say, with David, “ When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." Yes—if you cry to him—he will not leave you orphans; he will be to you all that you need; and you shall prove that, it is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth” Returning, therefore, from such a grave, hear him saying, "Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?”
Thirdly. This is the case, at the commencement of a new period of life. Such is the day on which I now address you. God has preserved you through all the perils of another year, and has thereby laid you under a thousand fresh obligations to love and serve him. You now stand on the threshold of a new division of time; and, are you determined to enter it without God? Would you think of living another year of vanity, of irreligion, and of danger? Ó, let this day be distinguished by the surrender of yourselves to him, who cries, My son, give me thine heart. Then you will begin the year with every advantage his presence and favour can afford: then he will say to you, as he did to the Jews of old, when they had laid the foundation of the teinple, From this day will I bless you. From this first day of the year,
" Wilt thou not from this time cry unto mc, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?”
Fourthly. This is the case, when the young see
he asks you,