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104

sinners, being most correspondent to the propensities of human nature, are by no means least influential in forming the characters and habits of men. The young are most liable to be corrupted. Youth has its peculiar temptations, and in general receives the deepest impressions from external objects, and from the companions with which it is associated. At this period habits of virtue, or vice, are commonly formed, and example and persuasion have the greatest effect. When any habit has become fixed, there seems to be a disposition to resist every thing designed to change, or correct it. There is a sort of pride in adhering to the first choice, and in refusing to re-examine the subject. It is therefore of very great importance that yaimg persons should be guarded and cautioned against the examples and enticements of the wicked, lest they be seduced into the · paths of vice and folly, live in disgrace, die in despair, and sink into endless darkness and mis. ery. The text is a caution, given by a father to his son. The mode of expression is tender and affectionate. By a father it is now addressed to his own children, and to every youth who may hear the discourse, which he hopes will appear plain and instructive. In treating upon

105 the subject a number of leading thoughts will present themselves, and demand, even at the hazard of being carried to an unpopular length, a distinct consideration.

The first thing to be considered is the fact that sinners entice others. This is established by the testimony of holy writ, and verified by daily observation. The author of the words under consideration was too well acquainted with human nature, in its various appearances, not to be well apprized what part sinners will act, and what the danger resulting from their examples and solicitations. Nor can any youth of common observation and reflection fail of noticing the fact, though he may not have perceived the particular danger to which himself and others have been, and constantly are, exposed. Review, my young friends, almost ever so short a period of your life, and you will find that, in your intercourse with the world, you have been beset with the enticements of sinners, and urged to comply with their wishes, to adopt their notions and practices. Your own expe. rience, therefore, justifies the intimations of God's holy word, and, we fondly hope, prepares you to receive the admonition not to yield to their power of persuasion, to their arts of seduction. The fact granted, which never can be denied with any appearance of truth and rea. son, it will be interesting to inquire,

In the next place, secondly, to what sinners would entice you, and into some of the motives of their conduct. To suppose they will persuade you to be virtuous and good, and thus secure a different and better character than their own, is unnatural, absurd, and contrary to universal experience. Their object, or, at least, the general tenor of their conduct and conversa. tion, is to engage others to be their companions in wickedness, to draw them into the vices to which they themselves are addicted. As if by increasing the number of transgressors, and extending the dominion of sin and misery, their own guilt will be diminished, to use a pertinent observation of our Lord, “ they compass sea and land to make one proselyte;” and often are not content until they have made him “ two fold more a child of hell than themselves.” Like the grand adversary of our race, they endeavour to corrupt the minds and destroy the virtue of those around them, and thus poison the only pure source of happiness. No means are left untried to gain their point, to entice others to silence the voice of conscience, and to

free themselves from every idea of religious and moral obligation, so far, at least, as not to hesitate about joining them in whatever course they are disposed to pursue. Some, having made greater advances in wickedness and impiety, carry this design farther than others; but every step tends to the highest presumption, folly, and criminality, to induce men to cast off all fear of God, to submit to no restraint, but to give the reins to every unruly passion. In faith. ful allegiance to their master, sinners strive to establish his kingdom, and extend his empire, by increasing the number of his subjects, and persuading them to prove by their works their loyalty to the prince of darkness. --. But what can be their motives? This is a question not hard to solve. Their motives are as base as their conduct is wicked. It will be conceded, that very few choose sin for its own sake, or for its ultimate consequences. They propose to themselves some present pleasure and advantage, or the removal of some uneasiness which they experience. This will account for the general practice of sinners in enticing others to the ways of wickedness. The superiour excellence of the virtuous and holy, excites a continual uneasiness in their own bac

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soms; and this becomes a powerful motive to
destroy, if possible, the ground of the other's
superiority, and reduce his character to a level
with their own. Religion and virtue, they very..
well know, exalt the human character, and com-
mand the veneration and esteem of those who
want the resolution to cherish any principle and
habit of goodness. Their conscious inferiority
to the virtuous and good impels the vicious,
not to change their own temper and manners,
but to bring the others to their base standard.
Though so attached to the pleasures of sin, and
confirmed in the habits of it, that they will not
relinquish them for the purer and nobler enjoy-
ments of virtue and piety; yet they are not sat-
isfied with their own choice, situation and pros-
pects. Far from feeling that they have acted
with more wisdom, and secured higher degrees
of honour and felicity, than they who have
chosen to observe the principles of religion and
moral rectitude, they envy their happiness, while
they refuse to make a single effort to rise to the
same condition and character. Can a baser
motive ever influence the human mind? De-
teştable as it is, its influence is not to be
doubted.

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