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cieties which have fallen under your observation; and think who
and think who among them appear to enjoy life to most advantage ; whether they who, encircled by gay companions, are constantly fatiguing themselves in quest of pleasure; or they to whom pleasure comes unsought, in the course of an active, virtuous, and manly life. Compare together these two classes of mankind, and ask your own hearts, to which of them
you would choose to belong. If, in a happy moment, the light of truth begin to break in upon you, refuse not admittance
hearts secretly reproach you for the wrong choice
have made, bethink yourselves that the evil is not irreparable. Still there is time for repentance and retreat; and a return to wisdom is always honourable.
Were such meditations often indulged, the evil communications of sinners would die away before them; the force of their poison would evaporate; the world would begin to assume in your eyes a new form and shape. Disdain not, in these solitary hours, to recollect what the wisest have said, and have written, concerning human
to the ray.
happiness, and human vanity. Treat not their opinions, as effusions merely of peevishness or disappointment: but believe them to be, what they truly are, the result of long experience, and thorough acquaintance with the world. Consider that the season of youth is passing fast away. It is time for you to be taking measures for an establishment in life; nay, it were wise to be looking forward to a placid enjoyment of old age. That is a period you wish to see; but how miserable when it arrives, if it yield you nothing but the dregs of life; and present no retrospect, except that of a thoughtless and dishonoured youth.
Let me once more advise you, to look forward sometimes beyond old age; to look to a future world. Amidst evil communications, let your belief and your character as Christians arise to your view. Think of the sacred name in which
you were baptised. Think of the God whom your fathers honoured and worshipped ; of the religion in which they trained you up; of the venerable rites in which they brought you to partake. Their paternal
cares have now ceased. They have finished their earthly course; and the time is coming when you must follow them. You know that you are not to live always here; and you surely do not believe, that your existence is to end with this life. Into what world then are you next to go? Whom will you meet with there ? Before whose tribunal are you to appear? What account will you be able to give of your present trifling and irregular conduct to him who made you ?—Such thoughts may be treated as unseasonable intrusions. But intrude they sometimes will, whether you make them welcome or not. Better then to allow them free reception when they come, and to consider fairly to what they lead. You have seen persons die; at least, you
have heard of your friends dying near you. Did it never enter into your minds, to think what their last reflections probably were in their concluding moments; or what your own, in such a situation, would be? What would be then your hopes and fears; what part you would then wish to have acted; in what light your closing eyes would then view this life, and this world?
These are thoughts, my friends, too important to be always excluded. These are things too solemn and awful to be trifled with. They are superior to all the ridicule of fools. They come home to every man's bosom; and are entitled to every man's highest attention. Let us regard them as becomes reasonable and mortal creatures ; and they will prove effectual antidotes to the evil communications of petulant scoffers. When vice or folly arise to tempt us under flattering forms, let the serious character which we bear as men come also forward to view ; and let the solemn admonitions, with which I conclude, sound full in our ears: My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. Come out from amongst them, and be separate. Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Fear the Lord, and depart from evil. The way of life is above to the wise ; and he that keepeth the commandment, keepeth his own soul *.
* Prov. i. 10.; 2 Corinth. vi. 17.; Eccles. xii. 1.; Prov. xv. 24,
PSALM xxvii. 3.
Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall
This world is a region of danger, in which perfect safety is possessed by no man. Though we live in times of established tranquillity, when there is no ground to apprehend that an host shall, in the literal sense, encamp against us; yet every man, from one quarter or other, has somewhat to dread. Riches often make to themselves wings, and flee away. The firmest health may moment be shaken. The most flourishing family may unexpectedly be scattered. The appearances of our security are frequently deceitful. When our sky seems more settled and serene, in some unobserved quarter gathers the little black cloud, in which