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134 nications of the wicked, I proceed, in the next place,
Seventhly, To offer several motives to dis. suade them from consenting to the enticement of sinners.
To every friend of virtue, to every lover of human kind, it would afford high satisfaction, my young friends, to observe in you a disposition to receive and follow the counsel of the wise king of Israel. But, when we consider the baneful influence the example and persuasion of sinners have had upon many, who once bid fair to tread the path of virtue, and rise to a blessed immortality ; when we think on the strange enchantment there is in the company of the wicked ; we may well be anxious for those exposed to it, and diffident of success in addressing them. The importance of the case, however, calls for our exertion, and claims your candid attention.
It behoves you to reflect most seriously on the subject, and ever to remember, that in con. senting to the enticement of sinners, so far as to imbibe their sentiments and adopt their practi. ces (to which every degree of consent has a di. rect tendency) you become their associates and companions in folly, are continually exposed to
the vilest arts and examples, lose your virtue, and all hope of rational happiness. Incalculable mischief results from the first consent to frequent their company. Associating with them will have an effect, and by degrees produce conformity to their temper and manners. Every serious impression and correct sentiment will gradually wear away, the checks of conscience become feeble, and your propensity to evil strengthened. Surrounded by vile companions, who are ever urging you on from one vice to another, and dissipating every serious thought that may rise in your minds, small will be the prospect of your repentance and reformation, and numerous the evils you must experience in this life, which are not felt by the pious and good. However great the round of criminal pleasures, you cannot avoid a consciousness of guilt. This will create a sense of inferiority, which will excite envy, and thus sap the foundation of your happiness. When you have once yielded to the enticement and seductive arts of sinners, you will feel that you are degraded in the estimation, not of the virtuous only, but of your very seducers, who are not less faulty, and as unhappy as yourselves. Having consented, and by doing it lost your virtue, you
will be directed by your ruling passions ; and, without a vigorous effort to retrieve your character, and change your course, be continually sinking into the depths of vice and wickedness. Besides, the pleasures you pursue will pall on the senses, and in review will be more disgust. ing than religion and virtue, if these were in fact as gloomy and debasing as they are sometimes represented by those who would excite the highest prejudice in your minds against them.
The loss of reputation, to a noble mind a most painful reflection, is among the evils that result from a consent to the enticement of sinners. To this frequently succeeds the privation of health, and sometimes the loss of life, But, if capital crimes should be avoided, intemperance and debauchery, to which they are exposed, who join sinful companions, often incapacitate persons for the enjoyment even of their forbidden pleasures, and shorten their days. By consenting, they lay snares in their own path, dig a pit for themselves, and lurk privily for their own life. They run into innumerable dangers and troubles in this world, and subject themselves to the most distressing feelings and apprehensions at every interval of sober reflection. “They are like the troubled sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt."
But what are temporal evils, in comparison with what they must expect in that state of righe teous retribution, into which they are hastening? “A companion of fools shall be destroyed.” What is said of one description of sinners is in a sense applicable to all. “ Their house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” Destruction is in their paths. “ The soul that sinneth shall die.” This is the sentence God hath delivered, and will he reverse it ? Have you any reason to expect an acquittal, if found among the workers of iniquity, when brought before the judge of quick and dead? The shame and remorse the greatest offenders feel in this life are but faint representations of what they will then experience. In the world to come horror and anguish will overwhelm their guilty souls, Those who are their associates here will there be their com. panions, drinking the same cup of misery. Will it then, think ye, be any relief to call to mind the days in which you shared with them in sinful pleasures? Will your friendship continue ? and will vou endeavour by tender offe
ces to mitigate each other's woe? Little reason have you to expect the future state of punishment will be the seat of friendship. All will be rage and enmity, perpetual discord and mutual crimination and abhorrence! As sinners entice each other into folly and wickedness here, and are means of increasing their guilt, it is not un. reasonable to believe, that they will then be mutual tormentors. It is well known that when associates in any crimes punishable by human laws are arrested and confined together in prison, they accuse and reproach each other, and thus render their situation more wretched. Why should not this be the case in the future state? Weigh the certain, and probable consequences of consenting when sinners entice you, and you, it is hoped, will resolve never to yield. Reflect on the superiour pleasures and enjoyments, which must be sacrificed to guilty pursuits, and your resolution to withstand every tempta. tion will be strengthened. The refined generous feelings and sentiments of the soul, which are the source of true satisfaction and enjoyment, find no place, the happiness resulting from conscious integrity is lost, the delights arising from grateful emotions of heart to God