Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

volved upon him, in being left to take heed to his own ways.

To such, to all such young persons, God speaks in the solemn and affectionate language of the prophet: “ Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, my father, thou art the guide of my youth ?" God is willing to be so, the father of the fatherless, the guide of the young: draw nigh to Him, and He will draw nigh to you.

When father or mother forsake you, or you leave them, God will take you up, to be a father to you, and you shall be unto Him for sons and for daughters.

It has been observed already, that authority is requisite for the preservation of all order and virtue; and if the authority of God do not succeed, and take place in your minds, in proportion as the authority of your earthly parents is diminished, or relinquished, you are deserted, you are left to yourselves in a state the most forlorn, miserable, and perilous. Wilt thou not, therefore, cry unto God, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth? Without this all your parents' hopes are defeated, their instructions vain, their labour lost. Without this, all your own efforts will be both vain, and all your best actions not only of no avail, but even partaking of the nature of sin, as springing from a motive, which has no reference to religion and faith.

Be prevailed upon, therefore, to choose God for your God, for the “ guide of your youth,” and the guardian of your life. Henceforth

life. Henceforth “ sanctify the

Lord God in your hearts ;" “ let His fear be before your eyes continually;" learn habitually to stand in awe of God, and “ sin not;" let Him be the object of your frequent and serious thoughts both by night and by day, when you lie down and when

you

rise up, when you go out and when you come in; at home and abroad, in private and in public, learn and accustom yourselves to pray to Him, and praise Him; to refer all your actions, words, and thoughts, to His approbation and His glory; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

We may conclude this address with the words of David, to the grandeur and propriety of which nothing can be added, but the consideration of the time and circumstances of their delivery. They are addressed to his own son, in the presence of all his princes and people assembled on purpose to receive his last benediction and advice, under the prospect of his approaching death. In this august assembly the aged and infirm king stands up, and having first exhorted his people, turns to his son, and thus counsels him :

“ And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts. If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever."

SERMON XLII.

CAUTIONS AND DUTIES OF THE MIDDLE AGED.

THE PRAYER.

O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Matt. xiii. 22.

HE ALSO, THAT RECEIVED SEED AMONG THORNS, IS HE THAT

HEARETH THE WORD: AND THE CARE OF THIS WORLD, AND

THE DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES, CHOKE THE WORD, AND IT

BECOMETH UNFRUITFUL.

We have shown the necessity of a young man's taking heed to his ways, the motives by which he should be actuated to do so, and the rule which he is to take for his direction; in passing on to the duties of the middle age, I can have nothing to add on these points. The only principle on which the middle aged man can rely, as furnishing him with a proper motive, and sufficient authority to influence him at all times, and under all circumstances, is a principle of faith and piety. And the only rule to which he can safely and infallibly refer in all cases, is to the Word of God. The application of that rule to the endless variety and combinations of events and duties, which it cannot enumerate, must be left to reason and conscience. The distinction, then, between the duties of the young man, and those of the middle aged, and of the old, consists, not in either being actuated by different principles of action, or having a different rule for their direction, but solely in the objects to which chiefly, at each age, they are called upon to apply this principle and this rule. The young man, the middle aged man, and the old man, have to contend with many temptations, which are common to all these periods of life; and they have also respectively to watch those temptations, which, though not always, yet are generally more prevalent at each of these several seasons. This claims in each a more than common share of attention to certain vices, and certain virtues, which should then be respectively discouraged, or cultivated. Of these I shall now proceed to offer you some examples, as relating to the middle aged; that is to say, to individuals between the ages of thirty and sixty, or thereabout. And we may select, as a general description of what too often is found to prevail in the middle age, that

H h

VOL. II.

state of heart and conduct, which our Saviour explains to have been represented by the seed springing up among thorns, “ the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”

Many a man has begun well, and when young has learned to govern the impetuous lust and passions of youth; yet when he goes forth amidst the cares of the world, he suffers the seeds to be overgrown, and choked. He is assailed by another kind of temptation; and he who was alert and proof against the violent and direct impulses of passion, is silently betrayed, and overrun by the less perceptible but not less fatal encroachment of worldly care. And though this may happen at one age as well as at another, yet it is an event to which the circumstances of a middle aged man give a more than ordinary degree of probability, and which at that season requires peculiar vigilance. This will be seen as we consider some of those temptations and cares, and passions to which the middle age is in an especial degree exposed.

It is by no means the least uncommon mode by which Satan makes his approaches, and finally subdues the heart under his dominion, that he causes us to deceive ourselves, and betray our greatest interests, by giving to sin the semblance of virtue and duty. Thus, a man who is profuse, persuades himself that he is generous; he that is mean and uncharitable, persuades himself that he is frugal and

« ПредишнаНапред »