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and affected to despise honours to which they never had it in their power to ascend. But Solomon, a great and powerful prince, in the pleasurable time of life, had in his own person tried the experiment. He made the tour of the sensual world. He went in quest of happiness through all the scenes of life. He extended his search over the broad and flowery way, as well as in the narrow path, as it should seem by a particular permission of Providence, to save the pains of future inquirers. Solomon acted the libertine upon a principle of inquiry. The result of his researches was, that all unlawful pursuits began with vanity, and ended in vexation of spirit, and that the true happiness of man consisted in that understanding which teacheth us to depart from evil, and in that wisdom which instructeth us to fear the Lord.
It is common in Scripture, to express all the acts of devotion and virtue by some part, or principle of religion ; sometimes by wisdom and understanding'; at other times, by faitli, love, the fear of God, walking with God, and many other phrases ; all of which express the same meaning, and denote the whole economy of a religious life. So that remembering our Creator in the days of our youth, implies an early, and an entire dedication of ourselves to the service of God.
In further discoursing upon these words, I shall enforce the exhortation in the text, and endeavour to persuade you to remember your Creator in the days of your youth, from the peculiar suitableness of religion to the early period of life. And, in the first place, let me exhort you now in the days of youth, to remember
your Creator, from your being as yet uncorrupted by the world.
Although both Scripture and experience testify that man is fallen, and that our nature is corrupted, yet it is equally certain, that our earliest passions are on the side of virtue, and that the good seed springs before
Malace and envy are yet strangers to your bosom. Covetousness, that root of evil, hath not yet sprung up in your heart ; the selfish, the wrathful,
and the licentious passions, have not yet obtained dominion over you. The modesty of nature, the great guardian of virtue, is not seduced from its post. You would blush even in secret, to do a deed of dishonesty and shame. High sentimients of honour and of probity
expand the soul. The colour comes into the cheek at the smallest apprehension of blame; the ready lightning kindles in the eye at the least appearance of treachery and falsehood. Hence says our Lord to his followers -Unless you become as a child ; inless you assume the candour, the innocence, and the purity of children, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Theretore, whilst you are yet an offering fit for heaven, present yourselves at his altar, devote yourselves to his service. How beautiful and becoming does it appear for young persons, newly arrived in this city of God, to reinember the end for which they were sent into it, and to deyote to their Maker's service, the first and the best of their days? When they are in the prime of youth and of health, when the mind is untainted with actual guilt, and alive to every generous impression, to consecrate to religion the vernal flower of life? The virgin innocence of the mind, is a sacrifice more acceptable to the Almighty, than if we should come before bim with the cattle upon a thou. sand hills, and with ten thousand rivers of oil. If there be joy in heaven over a great and aged sinner that repenieth, how pleasing a spectacle will it be to God, to angels, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, to behold a person in the critical season of life, acquit himself gloriously, and, despising the allurements, the deceitful, and transitory pleasures of sin, choose for lvimself that better part which shall never be taken away !
Dare then, O young man, to remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth ; have the courage to be good betimes. Beware of talling into the usual snare of the inexperienced ; beware of thinking that you have time enough to be religious, and, for that reason, may defer the work of your salvation to maturer age ; when, as
you foolishly imagine, seriousness and sanctity will come of their own accord. In answer to this, let me ask you, my friends, How often have you observed time reform any one ? Did time reform Saul? Did time reform Ahab? Did time reform Jezebel ? On the con. trary, did they not grow bolder in wickedness? You generally, indeed, observe a greater decency in maturer age. The ebullition of youth is then spent, its turbulence is over ; but, too often, I am afraid, the w.id passions have only given place to an external sobriety, whilst the heart is as far from God, and as carnal as
If you suspect this to be a hasty decision, examine what passes in the world. Do you not observe great part of men in the decline of life, as earthlyminded as before? The passion for pleasure has indeed abated, but the love of lucre, the most sordid of all passions, hath come into its place. If such persons have any regret for their past life, it is only because it is past. Even then, they look with envy upon the gay and the flourishing state of the young. With what joy and triumph do they talk over the excesses of their early days, and seem to renew their age in the contemplation of their youthful follies ? Alas, my friends, Is not God the Lord of all your time? Is there one of your days which doth not pertain to him? Why would you then take the power of life, and make it an offering to the enemy of souls? Is your time too long, to be all employed in the service of God? Is the prime of your days too precious to be devoted to heaven ? And will you only reserve to your Maker the refuse of life; the leavings of the world and the Alesh? If you would speak it out, the language of your heart is this: That whilst you are good for any thing, you will mind the world and its pleasures ; that you will crown yourselves with rose-buds, before they are withered, and let no tlower of the spring pass away ; but if at any time the world shall forsake you, if your passion for pleasure shall have left you, you will then seek the comforts of religion ; any part of your time, you think, is good enough for God; you will apply
yourselves to the work of your salvation, when you are tit for nothing else ; and when you cannot make a better of it, you will seek the kingdom of heaven.
Is it thus that ye requite the Lord, O people, foolish and unjust? Is this your gratitude to your Benefactor? Is this your love to your Father? Is this kindness to your Friend? Whilst he now calls upon you in the sweetest language of Heaven, My son,
give me thy heart,” ought it not to be the natural movement of your heart, to answer with the good man of old, " With my soul have I desired thee in the
night ; with my spirit within me, will I seek thee
early:"-" Whom have I in heaven but thee? and " there is none in all the earth whom I desire besides os thee."
In the second place, Let me exhort you to early piety, from the consideration of those evils which await you
your future days. Now is your golden age.
When the morning of life rejoices over your head, every thing around you puts on a smiling appearance.
All nature wears a face of beauty, and is animated with a spirit of joy. You walk up and down in a new world ; you crop the unblown flower, and drink the untasted spring. Full of spirit, and high in hope, you set out on the journey of life : visions of bliss present themselves to view ; dreams of joy, with sweet delusion, amuse the vacant inind.
You listen and accord to the song of hope, “ To-morrow shall be as this day, and much “ more abundant.” But ah ! my friends, the flattering scene will not last. The spell is quickly broken, and the enchantment soon over.
How hideous will life appear, when experience takes off the mask, and discovers the sad reality! Now thou hast no weariness to clog thy waking hours, and no care to disturb thy repose. But know, child of the earth, that thou art born to trouble, and that care, through every subsequent path of life, will haunt thee like a ghost. Health now sparkles in thine eye, the blood flows pure in thy veins, and thy spirits are gay as the morning; but, alas ! the time will come when diseases, a numerous and a direful train, will assail thy life ; the time will come, when pale and ghastly, and stretched on a bed, “ chastened with pain, and the “ multitude of thy bones with strong pain, thou wilt “ be ready to choose strangling and death rather than “ life.”
You are now happy in your earthly companions. Friendship, which in the world is a feeble sentiment, with you is a strong passion. But shift the scene for a few years, and behold the man of thy right hand become unto thee as an alien. Behold the friend of thy youth, who was one with thine own soul, striving to supplant thee, and laying snares for thy ruin! I mention not these things, my friends, to make you miserable before the time. God forbid that I should anticipate the evil day, unless I could arm you against it. Now remember your Creator, consecrate to him the early period of your days, and the light of his countenance will shine upon you through life. Amid all the changes of this fluctuating scene you have a Friend that never fails. Then let the tempest beat, and the floods descend, you are safe and happy under the shelter of the Rock of ages.
Thirdly, the season of youth devoted to piety, will yield you a comfortable old age.
When the fire and spirit of youth are decayed; when sober age retires from the noise and bustle of a busy world, and loves to spend in peace the tranquil Sabbath of life, what joy will it afford to be able to look back with pleasure on the actions of other years ! Worn out and weary of his pilgrimage, the traveller now entertains himself by recalling the times that are past, and recollecting the scenes of his early days. In particular, he now loves to recal the period of childhood and of youth, when he wandered up a stranger to care and sorrow, and passed his days in innocence. Often does the fond idea recur; often the pleasant period return.
It will add much, my friends, it will add much to the pleasures of the re