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sciousness, that you have approved yourselves to God.

Religion, you know, is a service due to God. And if it be due to him at all, it is as really due in youth, as in old age. If you neglect it while you are young, you as impiously defraud and rob God, as if you should neglect it when you become old; for you are as much God's creatures, as dependent on him for happiness, and as accountable to him for your conduct now, as you will be then. If there be any service which you owe to God, the obligation commences with your intellectual capacity, and continues through all stages of life, and you can no more plead an exemption from it at one time, than at another. Now if


should live in the neglect of religion until old age invades you, and should at that time retain any moral and intellectual fenfibility, you must condemn yourselves for having wasted your best days in folly and vice, and reserved for God the poorest and most useless part of life—that part in which you are least able to serve him and do good to mankind. This will be like offering the blind, the lame and the torn for facrifice. And surely you may well be afraid, that such an offering will not be accepted at your hands. If after a life of impiety, you should be so happy in the last stage of your mortal exiftence, as to exercise a sincere repentance, yet how painful must this be? The iniquities of a long life will stand in order before you. The matter of your repentance will be, not mere infirmities, or accidental offences, but an habitual course of wickedness from your earliest youth to that fad hour. How awfully will you have filled up the measure of your fins ; what remorse and anguish will seize your minds ; how will your hope tremble, when it attempts to lay hold on mercy ?

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To those who seek God early there are many encouraging promises. But what promise will you find for such as refuse to seek him until they are old ? These have lost the benefit of all the encouragements given peculiarly to youth ; for they have gone beyond this period. Their hopes must now rest on more general declarations of God's mercy.

But how pleasant may be the last stage of life to him who can look back and say, “ Thou, O God, art my hope, and my trust from my youth. Thou haft taught me from my youth, and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. I have feared thee from my youth, and have not wickedly departed from thee." Such a man carries with him into old age, peace of mind, felf-approbation, hope of glory, and joy in God. He can adopt this pious language ;

ci Thou art my portion, o God. I have said, that I will keep thy katutes. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth, that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth ; but thou art the trength of my heart, and my portion forever.”

4. Early piety gives comfort to old age, as it lays a foundation for eminent improvement in religion.

He who begins the religious life, when he is old, has but little time before him for progress in divine knowledge, for the correction of wrong biasses, for the extirpation of evil habits and the formation of virtuous ones. The holy temper wrought in him will exist under great imperfections, and his spiritual exercises will meet with many difficulties and obstructions. Consequently he cannot experience that comfort and pleasure in religion, which he wishes to enjoy; especially in so near views of another world. Vol. V.


But they who'make religion their early choice and habitual practice, are continually advancing in the divine life. The graces wrought in them by the spirit of God, in their renovation, are strengthened by exercise, and the duties of the Christian life are facilitated by use. And the vir. tues, which are most important to old age, such as sobriety, contentment, patience, devotion and heavenly mindedness, come into familiar and a. greeable operation. It is no easy matter for an' old man to be calm and cheerful under his present trials, if he has been anxious and fretful in all his former days. It is difficult for him now to have his conversation in heaven, if it never has been there before. He can have little relish for devout and spiritual exercises, if they are all new to him, and he now begins to learn them. My friends ; that religion may bring its consolations home to your hearts in that evil day, you must gain a familiar acquaintance with it in your better days.

5. Religion begun in youth, and continued through the subsequent stages of life, will be a fafe ground for strong hope in old age.

The man, who believes, that within a few weeks or months, he shall enter into the eternal world, muft, if any sensibility be left, earnestly desire a good evidence, that he shall be happy there, But this evidence cannot ordinarily be acquired in a day or week. It must be the result of experience and self-examination. There must be opportunity to prove the inward temper and to compare it with the word of God. . A sudden and hafty confidence is generally deceitful, and always precarious. There is no doubt, that some, even in old age, may be the subjects of a renovating change; but the reality of such a change must be

doubtful to them, until they have had more time to prove themselves, than the aged have reason to expect. Such persons, though they die safely, yet cannot wholly disburden themselves of previ. ous anxieties and fears.

Therefore, my friends, take up religion in seafon, carry it with you through life, cherish it in your old age ; then you will have comfort in the decays of your nature, and good hope in your death. Your constancy and improvement in religion from early life will be an evidence in your favour, in which you may place confidence. How pleasant will be this period, when you can review a long life with conscious approbation, and can look forward into the eternal world with the full assurance of hope? How bright will be the evening of your life, when light breaks in on your eyes from the heavenly world? How cheerfully may you step forward into the valley of death, when the light of God's countenance gilds your passage? “ If you prepare your hearts and stretch out your hands to God; if you put away iniquity from your hands and wickedness from your fouls, then shall you lift up your faces without {pot ; yea, you Thall be stedfast, and shall not fear; your age shall be clearer than the noon day; you shall shine forth, you shall be as the morning.”.

6. Early religion brings this additional advantage to old age, that it ensures a more distinguished degree of glory in the future world.

The scripture assures us, that the heavenly rewards will be measured out to good men according to the works which they have done for God, and the attainments which they have made in holiness. “ They who have fowed bountifully, will reap al. so bountifully, and they who have fowed Ipar. ingly, will reap sparingly." They who have spent

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a long life in the steady practice of religion, must have acquired more virtue in their hearts, brought more honour to God, and done more good to men, than they who never attended to religion before the last stage of their probation. Confequently they have a capacity to enjoy, and a title to receive a proportionably larger measure of heavenly felicity. There are fome, who wili scarce. ly be faved ; and some whose reward shall be great. The late penitent will be found in the former clafs ; the early Christian in the latter. And, o how pleasant must be the contemplation of death to such aged faints, as can depart in the full persua. fion, that an entrance will be ministered to them abundantly into the kingdom of God, and that there they shall receive an exceeding and eternal weight of glory?

I have reasoned with you, my young friends, on the supposition, that you will live to be old. And now fay, Does not religion, on this ground, appear to be your highest wisdom ? Is not your judgment brought fully over to the side, for which I have been pleading ? Then fix your resolution immediately.-Do you hesitate ?-There is another argument in your case, which certainly forbids delay. It is not certain that you will live to be old. And with respect to each of you individu. ally, this is not probable. You see some die old ; you see more die young. The uncertainty of life is a powerful reason, why you should choose God for your hope and your trust from your youth. Even though you should be spared to old age, this early choice is, on many accounts, highly reasonable and advantageous; if you are to die in youth, and God knows whether this be not your destiny, then the choice, which I have recommended, is absolutely necessary. For this is the only time you can have.

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