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It now behoves me to determine for myself whether I will adopt and follow the christian doctrine, as divine truth, or not. Whether I will live agreeably to the will of God and of right reason, or to the impulses of my animal appetites; whether I will regulate myself by the precepts and the examples of Jesus, or by what the great mass of mankind think and do; whether I will seek my felicity on the career of wisdom and virtue, or on the road of levity and sin ? Whether I will dedi eie and consecrate myself to God, and to Jesus Christ, or be the slave of my passions, and a servant of men? Nobody can force me to the adoption and to the profession of christianity. My understanding and my heart alone either can or should decide in that matter.
And shall it prove difficult to me to form that decision, and to make that choice ? Have I not learned to know God as the creator and ruler of heaven and earth, as my sovereign, my father, my judge! Have I not learnt to know Jesus as his Son, and
the Saviour of mankind, as the most exalted pattern of virtue and piety, as the safest guide on the path of happiness? Has it not been clearly shown to me, and have I not frequently perceived and felt it myself, that sin and vice degrade, debase, enfeeble, enslave the man, and sooner or later plunge him in misery; that I can only by wisdom and virtue attain the true end of my being, and become thoroughly calm, contented and happy, and that christianity is the only efficacious means of preserving me from sin and vice, and of continuing me in the paths of wisdom and virtue, and of perpetually making farther progress? Have I not learnt to view the present life as a state of education and preparation for a life to come, and the close affinity between what I now think and do and what I have to hope and to fear? Should I not then act inimically to myself and contrary to my own conviction, in refusing to adopt, and to follow christianity as divine truth, as the best and safest direction to happiness? If I should raise the smallest scruple to devote myself entirely to God and to Jesus Christ, and openly to declare by the participation of the sacred supper, that I am a sincere votary to the only true God, and of his Son Jesus Christ ? And how should I dare to make that declaration before God, the Omniscient, unless my heart assented to it, unless I were firmly resolved to praise God with my body and with my soul, and always to think and live as becomes a christian? By this sacred act I shall enter into a closer communion and connection with God, my heavenly Father, with his Son Jesus, my Saviour and Lord, and with all those who honor and love God and Jesus. Should I not perform it with the utmost intenseness of my mind, with all the attention and consideration of which I am capable, should I not perform it with satisfaction and delight?
Yes, to thee, my Creator and Father, I solemnly consecrate the first fruits of my faculties, my first rational thoughts, and moral sensations. They are thy gift, thy
property. To direct them to thee, the first, the best, the most perfect being, and to be occupied with thee, is alike my duty and my felicity. Were I to lose sight of thee, how soon would my understanding be roving in darkness, how soon would my heart become a prey to degrading, ruinous passions, and indifferent to thy favor! No; constantly to improve my acquaintance with thee, always to render the thoughts of thee more familiar to my mind, to combine them more strictly with all that I think and do, to obey thee with still increasing alacrity, to exult in thee above all, and every where to maintain my correspondence with thee as the sovereign glory and the highest happiness of man; that shall be my most earnest endeavor! Thus shall I never want light on my journey, never courage and strength for the prosecution and completion of it.
Yes, to thee, best Son of the best Father, to whom I owe all the light, all the comfort, all the energy to good, by which I am now actuated, all the hopes which refresh and
strengthen me, to thee and to thy example I consecrate myself entirely and forever. Thy direction to virtue and happiness I will follow. Thy precepts shall be the rule of my whole deportment, thy example the model upon which I will mould my life, and strive daily to acquire a nearer and brighter resemblance of thee.
Oh that my youth, as far as can be, might be as blameless, as pious and holy as thine! Thou didst pass it in silence and retirement, and in fitting thyself for the work which the Father had committed to thee to do! Oh that I might avoid all youthful levity, beware of too frequent distractions, and prepare myself by reflection, by industry, by profitable exercises, for the affairs of my station and calling, and thus form myself into a useful member of human society.
Far be it from me, to believe, that seriousness and reflection, virtue and piety are only proper to the riper or more manly age, and incompatible with the cheerful enjoyment