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As David began a life of piety in youth, fo he continued it to old age. He says, “ o God, thou art my trust from my youth-Thou hast taught me from my youth, and bitherto I have declared thy wonderous works.” The religious knowledge, and the pious principles, which he had early embi. bed, governed his conduct in all the subsequent stages of his life.
In his history we find imperfections, and one in. ftance of gross and complicated iniquity; but not any habitual vice. His great transgression was followed with a profession of deep repentance his imperfections were occasions of godly forrow his infirmities called
his daily vigilance. Repentance with him was not a transient exercise, but an habitual temper. Hence he prays,
« Re. member not against me the fins of my youth ; but according to thy mercy remember me for thy goodness fake, O Lord.”_" Who can understand ħis errors ? Cleanse thou me from secret faults: keep back thy fervant also from presumptuous fins; then thail I be innocent from the great transgreffion."
Conscious of remaining corruptions, * he laid God's judgments before him, and watched to keep himself from his own iniquity". from the sin which moft easily beset him. Senfible of his liableness to err," he thought on his ways ;” and when he found himself going astray, he topt, and “turned his feet into God s testimonies; and he made hafte and delayed not to keep the commandments of God.” Distrusting his own wisdom and stability, he held his ears at. tentive to reproof, and his mind open to conviction. “Let the righteous smite me," says he, “ it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break When the prophet expoftulated with him for his great transgression, he discovered no resentment at the freedom, which his monitor used with him ; but humbly received, and honestly applied the rebuke, and penitently confessed, “ I have finned againstthe Lord.” David did this thing fecretly, and might imagine, that it remained a secret still. What inward exercises of penitence preceded the prophet's reproof, we cannot say. Now, for the first time, he was explicitly admonifhed ; now he found that his iniquity was no longer to be concealed ; now he confessed his guilt, and declared his repentance before men.
In all his life he was distinguished by a devout spirit ; by a humble fubmiffion to divine corrections; by a wise improvement of various afflictions ; by a constant observance of the ways of providence ; by a faithful attendance on the worihip of the fanctuary ; by a conscientious performance of domestic duties ; and by a thankful acknowledgment of mercies and deliverances. Few men appear to have walked through life in such an intimate communion with God, and under such an impressive lense of God's presence and government, as this good man, who, from his youth, had chosen God for his hope and trust.
This early choice of religion was a spring of comfort to him in his declining years. In a time of affliction he prays, “ Deliver me, O my God, for thou art my truft from my youth. By thee have I been holden up from my childhood. My praife shall be continually of thee."
In David's example we are taught, “ that early piety lays the sureft foundation for comfort in old
. This is a truth, in which you, who are now young, are deeply concerned, and which you
ought most seriously to apply. You love many days, that you may see good. But how many foever your days may be, they will all pass away, and the last of them will come. You cannot then see good, unless you now take up,
carry along with you, into that period, something better than the world can give ; for the world, however liberal it may seem for a while, will then take back all its former gifts.
The best thing, which you can then have to comfort and refresh you, is the remembrance of early piety, and a consciousness of a patient continuance in well doing. If you wish to have this consolation at that time, a pious life must be your choice now. This will, on many accounts, be your best support.
1. Early religion will prevent many evils, which would be a torment in old
age. If you now are determined to cast off the great concerns of religion, and to walk in your own ways, and in the fight of your own eyes, be affured, that bitter things are written against you, and that your old age will fadly possess the sins of your youth in pains of body, remorse of conscience, and the terrors of wrath to come ; or, which is worse than all, in a stupidity of mind, which, though it may render you past feeling for a season, will make your destruction more certain and more awful.
And besides the evils which await you, there are mischiefs incalculable and inconceivable, which you are bringing on others ; and especially on those with whom you most frequently associate. Many will be seduced into vice by your vain converfation-many will be corrupted in their manners by your ungodly example-many will be hardened in guilt by your profane contempt of rehigion. And these will be influential in seducing, corrupting and hardening many more.
There is no poflibility of foreseeing how long the evil may continue, how far it may run on, and how wideły it may spread around, after it has once been put in motion. “One finner destroys much good."
Now fuppose you should live to old age, and in that folemn period fhould feel a serious sense of the judgment before you; will it not be painful to reflect on fuch a life as has been described ? It will then be too late to recall the evils which you have done. They who commenced the journey of life in your company, will generally have fin. ished their course, and passed to the judgment. The few who are left, will be placed at a distance from you. They will be out of the reach of your counsel and admoniton: or if you can speak to some of them, perhaps they will, by this time, have become too insensible to feel, and too obstinate to follow your good advice.
In this stage of life, you will probably fee families, which sprang from you, and which, in confequence of your example, live, as you have done, without religion, without the fear of God, without regard to his worship. In a few days you must go to answer before God for your own perLonal conduct, and for the important trust com: mitted to you. What answer will
prepared to give ? In the perplexity of conscious guilt, from what fource will you derive comfort ? God demands from you the service of your youth; if you will not give him this ; behold, you have linned against him ; and be sure your fin will find you out.
2. Early piety will render you instruments of much good in the world. Your zeal and forwardness in religion will provoke very many. And, in the time of old age, will it not be a pleasing reflection, that you have not lived in vain ; but, according to your ability, have brought honor to God's name, and done good to mankind ? That by your youthful example you have encouraged some of your fellow youths to forsake the foolish and live, and to go in the way of understarding; to seek unto God betimes, before their hearts were hardened through the deceitfulness of sin ; to come forward with an open profession of religion, and to walk agreeably to the religion, which they profess? Will it not be a pleasure to think that these pious youths, animated by your example, have extended and spread among others the good, which you began; and that there are, within your knowledge, many pious and virtuous people, who perhaps might have continued and perished in their guilty courfe, if you, like fome, had lived in the contempt of religion, and in the Aeglect of your salvation ? And if you fhould have pofterity, who may live on earth after you are gone, will it not be a great confolation and joy to see them walking in the truth, maintaining religion in their houses, promoting peace and virtue in fociety, and spreading among their neighbors, and handing over to their fucceflors the pious sentiments, which they received from you? Or whatever may be their conduct, will it not be a solace to your minds to reflect, that you have faithfully discharged your duty to them, have seasonably instructed them in the truth, and have affection. ately exhorted them to a holy life, and to appeal to God and them, as witnesses how holily and justly and ur.blameably you have behaved yourfelves among them?