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completed the obduration of your heart, and experience shall have improved you in all the arts of guile? Dissimulation in youth is the forerunner of perfidy in old age. Its first appearance is the fatal omen of growing depravity and future shame. It degrades parts and learning; obscures the lustre of every accomplishment; and sinks into contempt with God and man."
The last point I shall touch upon respecting the duties of youth, is to remind him, that in all he does he is now of an age to understand, that he does it not only to profit himself, but also to please God, and those who take delight in his advantage and improvement. On the first of these, of doing your duty with a view to please God, I here need only refer you to those Sermons in which that motive has been urged '. But with respect to those who labour, and take an interest in your welfare, especially your parents, bear in mind what a noble and delightful incentive you have to well-doing, now that your judgment is sufficiently matured to understand their care of you, and the gratitude due to them. You can now comprehend how full of comfort it must be to those whose affection for
you should secure your love, that they may have before them a prospect, when they go down to the grave, of leaving you in the way that leadeth unto salvation. You can feel and comprehend, that while you
1 Sermons I. XI. XII.
are laying the foundation of your future respectability and advancement in this life, and of your immortal hopes in the next, you are preparing for the declining years of those you love, and whose affectionate solicitude has watched over you, a consolation and pleasure of the purest kind. Nor should you, in contemplating this encouragement to well-doing, omit to look at the other side of the picture, and to remember the guilt and the punishment that will overwhelm him, who, regardless of his own soul, of the bitter sorrows of those who loved him, should aggravate the sorrows of a dying parent, by setting before him the spectacle of a son “who forsaketh the guide of his youth, and forgetteth the covenant of his God; whose house inclineth unto death, and his paths unto the dead."
1 Prov. ii. 17.
THE YOUNG MAN'S MEANS AND OBLIGATIONS TO
ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare
way Son our Saviour, by preaching of repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
EccLEs. xi. 9.
REJOICE, O YOUNG MAN, IN THY YOUTH ; AND LET THY HEART
CHEER THEE IN THE DAYS OF THY YOUTH, AND WALK IN THE
WAYS OF THY HEART, AND IN THE
SIGHT OF THINE EYES :
BUT KNOW THOU, THAT FOR ALL THESE THINGS GOD WILL
BRING THEE INTO JUDGMENT.
THERE is in this sentence of the royal preacher an awful strain of irony. In sarcastic and scornful description he places before the young the portraiture of sinful indulgence, sketches the potent and syren lusts, which invite him to drink deep of the cup of
pleasure, and then, in terrible derision, shifts the scene, and lays before the fool-I mean the scriptural fool, the sinner—the dreadful prospect of an avenging God, who,“ for all these things, will bring him into judgment." I
say, there is an awful strain of irony in this sentence; it has all the keenness, all the cutting scorn, which this figure of speech is capable, but none of the bitterness with which human disputants too often charge it. It aims not to hurt, and to provoke: it does indeed convey derision and scorn, but it is not personal; it directs them at an imaginary character; it strikes at the vice alone; it is levelled at the folly of the sinner; it sets before him the picture of his situation in a most awful and humiliating light, not to pain or to irritate him, but to warn him of his danger, and to show him the madness of his course. Indeed, my younger brethren, the portrait well deserves your attentive consideration. Health and pleasure may solicit, evil associates may invite, the world, the giddy, the gay, the thoughtless exuberance of
fresh manhood may exhilarate; but they will not excuse your walking in the ways of sin. Your God, your Saviour, nay, your Judge, at no period of life relinquishes His sovereignty over you ; He has not allowed you at any time to yield to the uncontrolled lusts of the flesh, or to give place to the devil; it will not avail to plead the temptations of your time of life.
It is in scorn and derision that the royal preacher
exclaims,“ Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the ways of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes.”
But know, yes, remember, remember as beings who have inmortal souls, as beings whose path is towards eternity, whether in weal or in woe, “know that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.”
Under this awful appeal of the royal preacher I would now proceed to the consideration of the duties of the young man.
In discussing those of youth, I assumed the age to which my remarks were intended to apply, to be between the ages of twelve and twenty years. You will consider those which I now offer to fall generally upon the season of life between the latter period, and the age of thirty.
Every one must at a glance perceive how very important a season this is, and how much our conduct in it tends to influence our future character, and to determine our destiny both here and hereafter. I shall, therefore, give greater attention, and take a fuller range in my observations on this part of our life, than upon either those which precede it, or those which follow it. Taken either in a worldly or in a religious point of view, there is no object of greater and more solemn interest, none that affords more materials for reflection, than a young man going forth into life. At that period parental