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merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things that thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is the man that retaineth her."

To caution the young man on the one hand, and to encourage him on the other, to take heed to his ways, he may be presented,

1st, With the example and fate of the wicked, who do not take heed to their ways.

2d, With the approbation and countenance of his friends, and of all good men.

3dly, With assurances of the Word of God that this work is one which cannot fail, in which his labour cannot be “ in vain in the Lord,” and in which the Lord will be both his confidence and his guide.

Ist, The examples of the wicked, whose crimes too often take their rise in that thoughtless disregard of their ways, to which we just now alluded. A. young man without a fixed object in view is like a mariner without anchor, chart, or compass. He is driven before every blast of passion, and floats with every current of temptation. Can he expect to escape shipwreck of his soul ? But he will not long continue the mere passive instrument of Satan; he will soon become his active agent. The continual, though thoughtless indulgence of sin pollutes the heart, “ the imagination becomes defiled, the will enslaved, the affections entangled.” Ruin and destruction are gaining dominion over him, according to that most true description given by St. James. “ Lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

1 Prov. iii. 15, &c.

In this fatal state, the young man begins to take heed to his ways, he begins to have an end in view; an end which engages, which enslaves, which destroys him. He does, indeed, take heed to his ways, but his attention, his whole thoughts are bent not on cleansing his way, but on devising schemes to defile it. This becomes the perverse, the dreadful end, to which his reprobate heart gives up its affections, and his darkened mind turns its powers.

The power of conscience becomes gradually deadened by repeated shocks, the soul becomes more and more polluted; the Holy Spirit, grieved and despised, forsakes this violated and impure abode. Satan occupies the vacant dwelling; the wretched man, left to his own devices, works all“ uncleanness with greediness," delights in sin, longs for the opportunity of gratifying the lusts of the flesh, and in his very thoughts and desires are perpetually guilty of sin. Instead of taking heed to his ways, that they may tend to peace and salvation, his labours, his thoughts, are all directed to discover the easiest methods of silencing the remonstrances of conscience, of concealing his guilt from public observation, of rejecting the exhortations of parents and friends, and avoiding the recollections of that God, who for these things will certainly bring him into judgment. Thus he takes heed to his way.

He“ lays wait for his own blood, and lurks privily for his own life.He now is no longer neuter ; he loves darkness better than light. He presents an example of one of those whom St. Paul awfully describes as “vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction.” He warns every one of the necessity of taking heed to his ways, and habituating himself to contemplate the end of them, while there is time and opportunity to cleanse them, and render them ways of pleasantness, and paths of eternal peace.

The young man will also, in taking heed to his ways, be encouraged by the approbation and countenance of his parents and friends, and of all good


“ A wise son,” says Solomon, “ maketh a glad father.” While he is taking heed to his ways, and directing his steps towards the blessings of Heaven, he is procuring to himself honour and approbation here upon earth ; he is obtaining from those, whose commendation he ought to desire, the encouragement of their favour and respect. Nothing can gladden the heart of a parent more than the conduct of a wise son; no spectacle can be so grateful

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to a fond parent, as that of a young man laying the foundation of Christian excellence, and preparing to show forth, in his maturer years, the graces of the Gospel, and to secure, after his death, the prize of salvation. It is grateful not only to a good, but even to a wicked parent. He must, indeed, be very far plunged in guilt, and debased by crime, who could contemplate such a son without a feeling of satisfaction. Even the wicked see enough of the folly and peril of their ways, or at least have a sufficient perception of the uneasiness and mischief caused by vice, to wish that those about them may not be subject to its influence. However, here and there a scoffer may be found, or an envious evil-doer may calumniate and sneer, yet, generally, the young man, who takes heed to his ways, will command respect and affection. “ Exalt her,says Solomon, speaking of heavenly wisdom, “ exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she will bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee."

Lastly, in taking heed to his ways, the young man has the sure word of God that his labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.

Other pursuits may fail, and end in disappointment; but this cannot fail, as having His blessing, whose grace is sufficient for us, and who has promised to be with us to the end of the world. As with Joseph, whether in the prison, in the house of Potiphar, or in the palace of Pharaoh, every thing he undertook was crowned with success; (for the Lord was with him, and made all that he did to prosper) so will it be with you. Take heed to your ways, have one great end in view, and the Lord will make all that you do ultimately to prosper. Whatsoever consequences may appear to result at this present time from your conduct, all will finally work together for your good: health or sickness, riches or poverty, prosperity or adversity, all will, under God, carry you forward to the great end you have in view. But an end you must have in view; you must take heed to your ways, if you would wish to preserve your innocence, to obtain the affections and respect of your friends, and, above all, to secure the favour and support of God.“ son,” says Solomon, “ let them not depart from thine eyes, keep sound wisdom and discretion; so shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down thou shalt not be afraid ; yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh; for the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.”

The means by which you are to cleanse your ways, and preserve yourselves in the right way, will be the subject of a future discourse. This exhortation I shall close with entreating


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