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any of their friends and companions carried off by a premature death. Every death is instructive and impressive; but, the death of one cut down in the flower of his days, is peculiarly so, especially to the young themselves. And the reason is this: it attacks their presumption; it expels them from their favourite refuge of lies. For there are very few of the young who resolve to have nothing to do with religion at all: but they leave the concern to a future season; and, in the mean time, make no doubt of their safety. They expect to live to old age; and then, when they have carried various points, and their relish for liberty and pleasure is abated, then they resolve to mind the salvation of the soul, and to dedicate to religion a season good for nothing else. Now, not to observe the baseness of this conduct, and how likely it is to provoke God to cast you off-not to observe how few are ever called in old age-not to remind you that your disinclination to religion will grow with your years-that the disease by continuance will grow inveterate: and, that as soon may "the Ethiopian change his skin, and the leopard his spot, as those learn to do good who are accustomed to do evil "-let me refer you to this early grave, to convince you of the absurdity of your hope and resolution. Here you see, that "all flesh is grass; and the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field:" that "life is a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away:" that youth is no security from the stroke of death; and, therefore, that nothing can be more unwise, than to depend, in a business so momentous, on events so precarious.
Now you glory in your vigour and strength; and promise yourself many years; when, perhaps, this night thy soul may be required of thee;
when, perhaps, there is but a step between thee and death; when, perhaps, the feet of them that have carried out thy associate, are ready to carry thee out. "For man also knoweth not his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.”
Again. This is the case, at a season when the young have peculiar convictions and impressions. And where is the youth who has not? Have you not sometimes, like Felix, trembled, when you have heard of the powers of the world to come? Have you not sometimes deplored, feelingly, the poverty of earthly pleasures and resources, and sighed, and asked for a better country? When you have seen believers tranquil in affliction, and happy even in dissolution, have you not prayed, "How godly are thy tents, O Jacob! and thy tabernacles, O Israel! Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."
These are cords of love, by which he would draw you to himself, and will you cut them off? These are so many ways in which he addresses you, and will you refuse him that speaketh from heaven? O cherish these emotions! "To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?"
In a word:-this is the case with the season of youth in general. For, if you ever mean to attend to the things which belong to your peace, the time of youth is unquestionably the best seaLet me mention only two things: First, if you wish to befriend others, it is the best season. One sinner destroyeth much good. His example,
and his influence, in a course of years, will produce injuries to society, which, if brought to repentance, he will deplore, but will not be able to repair. And, how painful will it be when he is advancing to heaven, to see some of his fellow creatures going down to hell, and reflect that he was the means of leading them astray! If a thought could imbitter the happiness of heaven, it would be this.
On the other hand, one real Christian may do much good, especially if he begin young. And here let me quote a passage from that devoted man of God, Richard Baxter. In the place where God made him most useful, which was at Kidderminster: "My first and greatest success," says he, " was among the young: and so it was, that
When God had touched the hearts of the young with a love of goodness, in various instances, their friends, their fathers, their grandfathers, who had lived in ignorance and sin before, became religious themselves; induced by their love to their children, who now appeared so much wiser, and better, and more dutiful than before. In a little time, religion spread through many families; and, after a few years, there was scarcely a house, in which the worship of God was not maintained."
If you wish to befriend yourselves, this is the best season; for, "Godliness is profitable unto all things; having promise of the life that now is,. and of that which is to come. -Its ways are ways. of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.". Should you succeed in, the world, it will keep your prosperity from destroying you. Should you meet with disappointments, it will comfort you in all your tribulation; for, "To the upright, there ariseth light in the darkness." Should it be said.
of you, as it was to one of old, This year thou shalt die, death will be your eternal gain. Or, should your time be lengthened out to a number of years, life will be a blessing, and your hoary head will be "a crown of glory, being found in the way of righteousness." Indeed, a preparation for death, is the only preparation for life; and, were you sure to live the age of Methuselah, it would be your wisdom and interest to commence the course here recommended immediately, and to enjoy, as soon as possible, all those incomparable advantages which can be derived only from divine grace. And, therefore, "Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?"
Such is the question with which God addresses you now. And what answer do you return?—I cannot imagine any thing more awful than this moment of suspense. Your relations; your Christian friends; the enemy of your souls; the angels of God, and God himself, are all waiting, to hear what reply you will make to this solemn inquiry. Whether your pious connexions shall rejoice, or be miserable; whether you shall be the plagues, or the blessings of society; whether you shall add to the safety, or the danger of your country; whether there shall be joy in heaven or hell; whether you shall be saved, or perish for ever-all-all depends upon the nature of the answer you return.
But, solemn as all these circumstances are, I forebode, from many of you, a negative reply; for such efforts as these have already been made in vain. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Already, perhaps, some of the desires of the flesh and of the mind," have gained an ascendency over you. Al
ready, perhaps, you have armed yourselves with sceptical principles, or loose notions of religion. The temper of the times in which we live is peculiarly discouraging; for the days are come, foretold by the apostle, "when men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." To all this we may add, that the heads of families do not second the endeavours of ministers by adding private instruction, discipline, admonitions, and example, to public means of religion.
Hear, then, the answer of these youths to this all-important question-" Wilt thou not from this time cry unto ine, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?" Some, less daring, hesitate a little; and say, "I pray thee have me excused." But others, more bold, reply-no. "They say unto God, Depart from us: we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." Such is the language of your dispositions, pursuits, and lives. Ah! who could have thought that you could act such a disingenuous, such a foolish, such a shameful, such a destructive part.
But so it is. You have refused the terms of peace. The armistice is broken-and from this hour God and you are at war. And who will prevail? "Who ever hardened himself against him, and prospered? Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?" But are all here like-minded? No. While the generality are gone in another direction-[ see some "asking the way to Zion, with their