Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

the earnest attention of young men to a subject in which they are so deeply interested; and with praying that they may be led, by God's grace, to take heed to their ways, to understand the end of their conduct, and to behave themselves so, that God may uphold their footsteps, and teach them to tread in those paths that lead unto life, through Christ Jesus.

SERMON XLI'.

GOD'S WORD THE YOUNG MAN'S ONLY SAFE GUIDE.

THE PRAYER.

O ALMIGHTY GOD, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

PSALM cxix. 9.

WHEREWITHAL

SHALL A YOUNG MAN CLEANSE

HIS WAY ? BY

TAKING HEED THERETO ACCORDING TO THY WORD.

WE have shown that the young man, to cleanse his way, must take heed, and must understand what his way is, and whither it tends. We might have suggested also some rules of conduct, which human prudence and common sense will show us are likely to assist him in cleansing his way, and in keeping him from the ways of sin. But it may be more desirable to confine ourselves to the line pointed out by our text, which directs us not only to take heed, but to take heed “ according to God's word.For after all, this is our best and only safe rule.

1 This Sermon is almost a transcript of Eaton's Sermon on the text, excepting that I have dropped one of the heads into which he divides the subject as leading to another Sermon, which would be inconsistent with my present plan and limits.

From this part of the admonition, it will be obvious, that it is not enough, to use mere cautionary measures, and prudential maxims of conduct, but that independently of those rules which his own prudence, or that of his friends, may offer, his efforts, to be effectual, must be excited by a desire of taking heed according to God's word; must have for their motive a constant regard to God.

Solomon tells his son, “ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It is unquestionably the foundation of all wisdom. It is then only that we begin to be truly wise, when we begin to know and to fear God. This principle of piety, this due regard for God, which causes us " to stand in awe, and sin not,” is the first and grand principle of wisdom and goodness. There is no other which can have authority sufficient to give law to the human mind, and command obedience in all circumstances of trial and temptation. But this regard for God is that faith that purifies the heart, and gives us the victory over the world. Its nature and power may be seen in the virtuous reply of Joseph when tempted to crime. “ How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?

This principle of piety established in the soul preserves a sense of God as always present, and acquainted with our most secret thoughts, and a spectator of our most hidden actions, and not an unconcerned spectator, but of purer eyes than to behold iniquity with approbation, and prepared to judge all men according to their doings.

Entering, as the young man is, upon a world full of temptation and of evil example, headstrong as are his passions, corrupt as is his will, with what motive can he be presented, which shall be always at hand, and always active; inciting him to cleanse his

way, and furnishing him with power to do it? What can be effectual to these purposes, but a steady principle of piety, a constant habit of referring all his thoughts, words, and works to God, and of considering Him as the person to whose glory they are offered, and who is the constant observer of their tendency?

The authority of man cannot reach nor restrain further, than the outward and open actions; it cannot take cognizance of the secret works of darkness, much less of the purposes, desires, and schemes of the heart. These, unless controlled in time, will become too powerful to be resisted, or restrained, by any terrors whatsoever.

A young man, therefore, may be corrupted before the authority of a parent or of a friend can interpose. But the presence of God is every where: He searches the heart and tries the reins of the children of men. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the wicked may hide themselves. And there is no authority, but that of God, which can extend its influence into all places, and cause its power to be felt at all times, to secure innocence of life, and purity of heart. But true piety has God ever before it; will restrain you from all appearance of evil, as well in private as in public. For as darkness and light are both alike to God, so are they alike to the godly man. Piety will teach us to act as never alone, as always under the view of that Being, who seeth all things.

But though human authority may be admitted to be thus insufficient, yet that presumption to which I referred in my last discourse as particularly strong in the mind of a young man, may induce him to imagine that his own powers are of themselves sufficient; that his reason and conscience is a guide abundantly capable of directing him how he ought to act; that his will, and private resolution, will supply him with ability and strength, without having such constant recourse to the aid of piety, or referring every thing to God. Let him but take heed to his way, he may think that is enough. If a young man desire to perish, through his own folly, these are the very opinions on which he might form his practice.

The king, who was celebrated for his wisdom,

« ПредишнаНапред »