« AnteriorContinuar »
corrupt influences. The Christian who is active in the cause of religion, will preserve and maintain a vigorous state of piety, and this will be an effectual barrier against all the encroachments of sin. We should also be constant and regular in the discharge of every moral and religious duty, neglecting nothing which God requires of us, and doing nothing he has forbidden. Let us, then, follow hard after our Saviour, keeping our eye continually upon him, imitating his example, and walking in his footsteps; and thus shall we be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
2d. Finally, if there be any in this assembly who, like Peter, are following Christ afar off, I would urge upon you to consider the sin and danger of your state, and call upon you immediately to return to the Lord. You may not yet have fallen into any gross and scandalous sins ; but remember you are rapidly declining into that state of mind which will provoke God to abandon you, and to give you up to believe a lie that you may be damned. Solemn thought! but it is no less solemn than true. You cannot remain long in your present condition; you must return to the Lord from whom you have wickedly departed, or you will be swept away into the vortex of sin and ruin, by the current of the world. It is in vain for you to hope to stem the tide of worldly popularity, and corrupt appetite, at a distance from Christ. Peter was unable to do it; and you will be found as weak as he was, unless you are supported by the all-sustaining arm of
divine grace. And how can you hope for this at a distance from Christ, and in the neglect of duty ? " The path of duty is the only way of safety; and it is only in the way of duty that we can either claim or expect the divine protection. God has nowhere promised to spread his shield of protection over the idle, the indolent, and the loitering. If you would claim and secure the protection of heaven in this
world of sin and danger, you must be found in the way of duty—you must watch unto prayer, and put forth in the service of God all the active powers of the soul. While the soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing, the soul of the diligent is made fat. He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. If you, then, would secure the favor of God, and replenish the soul with divine grace, you must shake off sloth and stupidity-you must rouse yourself from that dull, stupid, and lifeless frame into which
you have fallen—you must come up to the full measure of duty, and once more engage in the service of God, soul, spirit, and body, as in former days. Then new vigor will spring up in the heart, and fresh grace will be imparted to the soul, and new light will be poured upon the understanding; and you will experience that inward renovation which will cause old things to pass away, and all things to become new. When the heart is thus touched by the living energy of the gospel, then the yoke of Christ becomes easy, and his burden light; then the joy of the Lord, a joy unspeakable and full of glory, springs up spontaneously in the mind;
then the soul is delighted with the fatness and marrow of God's house ; then the undying fire of zeal and love is kindled up in the heart, and the watchful, prayerful, and devoted Christian, goes on his way rejoicing; then the Christian is not only prepared to be active, but also to be useful, in the cause of God and in the salvation of the world.
A Sermon to Young Men.
"I discerned among the youths a young man void of understanding.”—Proverbs vii., 7.
« 'Tis education forms the common mind;
Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined."
Some moralists have compared the state of infancy to a blank sheet of paper, to be filled up in after life, with either good or evil, as the case may be. This comparison, however just and striking in some respects, yet in others will be found defective. The infant may resemble a blank sheet of paper, with respect to ideas, remaining as yet in a state of entire ignorance. It may also be represented as a blank sheet of paper with regard to moral actions, having done neither good nor evil
. But, at the same time, it possesses all the passions and appetites, all the powers and capacities of a man, in miniature. The infant, by the growth of years, or by the acquisition of knowledge, acquires no new powers or capacities; but merely develops its latent principles, and unfolds and illustrates the vigor of its intellect. It is not in the power of the universe to give one new faculty to the infant mind. We can merely improve the powers and faculties that are imparted in the gifts of nature.
I should, therefore, prefer to illustrate the infant mind by the young twig, which will yield, at least in some degree, to the power of art, and the force of habit; while the man of years resembles the sturdy oak, that has struck its roots deep into the bowels of the earth, and listed its trunk aloft in the air, and becomes stubborn and unyielding. Train up a child, says Solomon, in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. If, in early life, we are brought under a religious influence, and receive proper and suitable instruction, and are led, by good examples and right influences, to form the habits of piety and virtue, we shall be doubly fortified against the seductions of sin, and the wiles of the devil we shall be fortified in principle, and fortified in habit. Such persons resemble, indeed, the sturdy oak. Having struck their roots
deep into a religious soil, they have become strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might; and are enabled to overcome the world, with all its enchanting pleasures, and all its fascinating charms.
• But the case is directly reversed, with the irreligious portion of mankind. By rejecting a religious influence, and yielding to the dictates of passion and appetite, their corrupt dispositions become inflamed, and are easily excited. When allured by the seductions of sin, they are capable of making but a slender resistance. The attractions of vice become too strong for repulsion, and the young and irreligious are led away by them, as the ox goeth to the slaughter. Such was the course of the unhappy youth, to whom Solomon refers, in the language of the text: i discerned among the youths a young man void of understanding. We are led to remark, from these words,
I. A young man is void of understanding, who refuses to yield obedience to the reasonable requirements of his parents. The Scriptures of divine truth require children to obey their parents : Child. ren, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord. Indeed, this is a subject of so much importance, that it was incorporated into the law of God, and made one of the ten commandments: Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. This requirement will appear reasonable, when we consider that young people need some guidance and government in their minority; and there are peculiar reasons to trust the prudence, care, and affection of a parent, in preference to any other person. It will appear reasonable, I say, that children, while in their minority, should obey their parents, provided, nevertheless, that the commands of parents are not inconsistent with the will of God. The evil consequences of transgressing the commands of parents, are many. They are not confined to the individual offender; they extend, by their influence, to the whole household.
1. It introduces disorder and confusion into the family.
Permit me, before I conclude my remarks, on this head of my discourse, to make a few observations on the duty of parents to their children. The Scriptures lay a restraint on parents, with regard to the exercise of their authority. It is not to be attended with harshness and severity, lest they provoke their children to anger, and discourage them from attempting to fulfil their duty, under the idea that, whatever efforts they may use to please their parents, it will be a hopeless task. Parents have much to answer for, wher they produce such an effect as this on their children's minds. If, on the one hand, it be said, that there is much folly in the heart of a child, and that the rod of correction must drive it out, it must be remembered, on the other hand, that the mind of a child may soon
be cast down, and that we may, by hard restrictions and undue severity, augment that very rebellion which we endeavor to subdue. There can be no doubt but that many parents harden their children's hearts against their authority, in the first instance, and ultimately against God himself, purely by the tyranny which they exercise, and by the continual irritations which they occasion ; and, in the last day, they will be found, in too many instances, the prime movers, and the real causes, of their children's eternal ruin. Fathers, be upon your guard, respecting this; and, instead of thus driving your children to despondency, endeavor to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. See in what way God dealeth with his children; how he bears with their infirmities, and consults their best interests. So should you do, and, like Abrabam of old, be solicitous of their eternal welfare.
II. A young man is void of understanding, who indulges himself in the habit of profane swearing. God has forbidden us to use his name irreverently: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Those who transgress this commandment, offend against the majesty of heaven ; and God has declared that he will not hold such guiltless. There is no greater mark of the corruption and depravity of a man's heart, than this practice; for no man can be tempted to profane the name of God. Temptation supposes the allurement of either pleasure or profit, but profane swearing administers to neither. When we commit some crimes, we plead the indulgence of passion, or the gratification of appetite ; while we are tempted to the commission of others, in the hope of supplying our wants, or of increasing our treasures. But the profane swearer cannot justify or excuse himself
, in this sinful practice, by either the one or the other. It must, then, be the offspring of pure edness; the overflowings of a corrupt and diabolical heart
. It is a contempt of the authority of God, and an insult to the majesty of heaven. It is a perversion of reason, and a prostitution of those high and exalted faculties, which God has given to man for the best of
purposes. It is a mark of vulgarity and low breeding. It renders our language obscene and incoherent. It has a tendency to corrupt and demoralize society.
III. A young man is void of understanding, who is accustomet to intemperance. The sin of drunkenness draws along with it almost an endless variety of bad effects.
1. It betrays most constitutions into the extravagance of anger or sins of lewdness.
2. It gradually undermines and destroys the constitution of man, and shortens life.
3. It impairs the faculties, stupifies the senses, and renders man unfit for business.
4. It is extremely difficult to break off from the habit when once formed.
5. It is a violation of the word of God. Wine is a mocker,
strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. Wo unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink, that continue until night, till wine inflame them. Who hath wo? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine : they that go to seek mixed wine. Look thou not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his odour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright: at the last it biteth like the serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. And be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the spirit.
IV. A young man is void of understanding, who pursues the practice of gambling. The evil of gambling will appear evident if we consider the following propositions.
1. It is a waste of time. Time has been given to man for wise and valuable purposes, but when it is appropriated to gaming, it is totally lost. Gaming brings no valuable considerations to either body or mind : it does not refresh the body, nor invigorate the mind. It furnishes no valuable information : it adds no strength to the reasoning powers. It neither sweetens nor elevates the temper; but, on the contrary, sours it and renders it morose, and frequently inspires the spirit with envy and malice, which, when cultivated for any length of time, strengthens into habit. In the meanwhile, all the time employed in it is wasted and lost. This loss is immense. No man can answer for it to his Maker: no man can repair the injury that is done to himself. It cannot be too often said, nor too strongly realized, that time is the most valuable of all things; since on the proper employment of it depends every blessing, which we are capable of receiving. He who wastes it, as every gamester does, is guilty of a prodigality that cannot be estimated. All men are bound by the most solemn obligation to redeem their time; that is, to make the most profitable use of every day. But gaming is profitable for nothing; it is absolutely useless.
2. It is connected with many entanglements. The truth of this position may be illustrated by the relation of a single historical fact: I allude to the case of Samson and the Philistines. A wager was laid by Samson with thirty Philistines relating to his riddle. Seven days were allowed them in which to solve it. The forfeiture was thirty sheets and thirty changes of garments. After three days fruitless inquiry, the pride of these thirty companions was greatly mortified, and their covetousness excited to a most fearful degree. Not being able to endure the thought of losing their wager, they were filled with indignation, and threatened to burn his wife, together with her father's house, if she did not get the secret from her husband, and reveal it to them. She, partly through fear, and partly from a partiality for them, labored inces