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the duty of the young man, to cleanse his way, is both practicable and urgent. The weakness of that plea was shown, on which young men too often encourage themselves in sin, by persuading themselves, that, to walk as becometh the Gospel of Christ is scarcely possible, or at least hardly to be expected at their age. It was shown from the nature and intent of the Gospel dispensation, from the recorded examples of virtuous young men, and from the balance of advantages and disadvantages of that period of life, that there can be no foundation for imagining it to be, by any means, impracticable for him to cleanse his way.
This point being disposed of, the question naturally arises, wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? What steps shall be take to accomplish this? The answer is given in the text, “ by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”
I. He must take heed thereto.
II. He must take heed thereto, according to God's word.
I. If there be any one age, at which more than another it is our duty to take heed to our ways, it is that of the young man. Left now to his own discretion, he is liable to be led away by vanity, to place a presumptuous confidence in his powers ; he has not yet that experience, which will teach him how prone we are to error in the views of
things that present themselves. He is at a period of life when outward circumstances have not yet checked the sanguine and hasty conclusions, from which his judgment is apt to take its tone, and to form its decisions according to his desires. He has not met with those reverses and disappointments, which teach us the consequences of precipitate decisions, and the necessity of reflection before action. His passions too are strong, and he is more open to temptation.
Placed in a situation of such peril, if he will but listen, what advice can be given to him more important than that of the Royal Preacher, to take heed to his ways. That without the grace of God no efforts of his could avail, is not questioned; but unless he himself take heed, that grace will profit him nothing. Much rests with himself. .
He has, by the Divine mercy, the means in his power of working with that Holy Spirit, which only can truly enable us to cleanse our way, and he is required, at his peril, to turn the gifts of God to his everlasting benefit. We will, therefore, now endeavour to state some of those methods by which the young man may take heed to his
way. The first thing the young man has to do in taking heed to his ways, is, to come to a clear understanding as to what his ways really are.
may seem a strange assertion, that many are utterly ignorant upon this point, but such will be found to be very commonly the case. When we speak of a man's
ways in a religious point of view, we do not speak of his mere actions, only as they stand by themselves, without regard to their consequences, but of his thoughts, and words, and actions, as things connected with some results, as pursuits, as tending to some end. Now one great evil of the young man's situation is, that very often he has in view no way at all; though his conduct is tending to some end, he neither contemplates, nor even sees that end. He · has no point to which he is systematically, or even intentionally, advancing, and to which his thoughts and actions are knowingly directed. Every bubble that presents itself he pursues; he turns sometimes to the right hand, and sometimes to the left; he never inquires whither the path he follows will conduct him; he never thinks of noticing which is the right path. His actions are determined by pleasure or caprice ; instead of regarding them as the actions of a mortal, and awfully responsible being, he rejoices himself in the days of his youth, walks in the ways of his heart, and in the sight of his eyes, never considering, that for all this God will bring him into judgment. To him, we say, “ take heed to thy ways."
We say, that he knows nothing of his ways,-he does not see whither they tend ; his ways are like those of an idiot; they have no end, they have no object which he perceives. For though they lead to a very awful end, that end is not contemplated by him; he regards it not; he has no thought either of avoiding or of seeking it. We caution him, therefore, to take heed to his ways,—to observe the end of them,—to have an object in viewi,—to know, and to consider well the consequences of his doings.
Will it be said, we do take heed to our ways, we do consider them well, we do know the end of them? If it be so, you have reason to be thankful ; only take good heed that you deceive not yourselves. For if you do really take heed to your ways, some such questions as these will very often, and very earnestly, occupy your serious meditations.
For what purposes did God send me into the world ? For what does His Providence watch over, and preserve me? Why did he send His Blessed Son, to suffer death upon the cross? What doth God require of me? Whither am I day by day advancing? Am I to live here for ever? Am I to live elsewhere? Will any portions of my present conduct be connected with my future destiny? What are my ways, and to what do they tend ?
These, and many other questions of the same description, will often occupy the mind of the young man, who turns a serious thought upon his life, and is desirous to take heed to his ways. And what will the answers to these questions set before him? They will set before him the end in which all his ways should terminate-Salvation through Christ. This is the purpose for which God gave you being ; this is the purpose for which He still preserves you ; this is the purpose for which he sent His Blessed Son into the world, to suffer death upon the cross. He requires you, by faith and holiness, by prayer and well-doing, to seek the accomplishment of this purpose. To the conclusion of all earthly things you are daily and hourly advancing. Your time here is short and uncertain. You are about to enter upon another life, which will endure to all eternity. Upon your faith and conduct here will depend the happiness or misery of that eternal life.
Your ways ! what are they? Whither do they tend? That question, it is not for me to answer. Ask yourselves ; ask your own hearts; consult your own consciences. What are your ways, and whither do they tend ; if they be paths of pleasantness, are they ways of peace? Do they tend to the great purpose set before you? Do they tend to salvation? Take heed—I repeat it—Take heed to your ways. If you
will but attend to the counsel of Solomon, and earnestly take heed to your ways, you will soon cause that caution, and those pursuits, which at first required some pain and labour, to become habitual and pleasant to you.
You will be interested in the objects of your pursuit, and daily become better acquainted with their value. Such Solomon describes to be the result, and thus he presses his counsel upon our attention : " Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the