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that they would attend to it before this period of their life. But, dreadful to think! they are yet thoughtless. Should you follow their ex. ample, and resolve to be religious some time hence, what right have you to expect you shall keep the resolution better than they? Their failure admonishes you to improve the present season. “Behold, now is the accepted time, the day of salvation: Therefore harden not your hearts."
We add, the propagation of religion, and its influence on future ages depends much, under God, on the rising generation. It is, in a great measure with you, who compose this generation, to say whether religion shall have credit and influence with those who shall come after you. God, we believe, can and will support his cause; but you may be the instruments of its defence, or advancement. This is a thought which merits attention. Others crowd upon the mind.
The longer you defer it, the more difficult will it be to engage in earnest in the duties of religion. Habitual indifference to sacred truths, to spiritual and divine things, soon leads to " hardness of heart, and blindness of mind.” The obstacles to a devout and holy life will 65 66
increase with the years that are spent in vanity and wickedness. Accumulated guilt, and diminished sensibility, are the fruit of delay, and the symptoms of a person's being “ dead in trespasses and sins.” Fairly examined, every experiment that has been made will show the hazard of putting off the concerns of the soul and eternity to a supposed more convenient season ; for it never arrives. Frequently do we hear persons lament, often in the language of deep despair, that they did not early attend to wisdom's voice, and give to God the dew of their youth; but never that they too soon became serious and good. Many a dying saint, after a long life of eminent piety, has received consolation from the reflection that he devoted himself to God and religion in his youth. “Lay up in store,” my young friends, this “ good foundation against the time to come.”
As a farther inducement to it, consider your dependence on the divine assistance, and the intimation that it shall be withholden from them who quench and grieve the holy spirit. The declaration of the Most High is, “ My spirit shall not always strive with man.” Concerning you, if the present season is suffered to pass unimproved, God may say, as of a tribe in
Israel, “ Ephraim is joined unto idols, let him alone.” He who worketh in men to will and to do of his good pleasure, calls upon them to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, and gives every encouragement to their sincere endeavours to effect the all-important object. How kind, condescending, and gracious are his assurances ! “ I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me.' Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally.” Can you wish for greater encouragement to early piety? or for stronger proof that the dew of youth is an acceptable sacrifice to God? But, remember it is given today, if you will hear his voice; to-morrow the glad tidings may not meet your ear. If you now refuse to hear and obey, God may resist you as despisers of his goodness. Or, if you should obtain pardon, you may be denied the comforts of religion. In whatever light you contemplate the subject, the present is the best, and may be the only time allotted you for the great work of religion.
To impress this thought, let me remind you, that future time and opportunity are uncertain
67 to you, and beyond your control. If it could be supposed you would not become worse by delay, nor the work of religion more difficult for you; yet death may close the scene, and hurry your souls into the immediate presence of God! Many younger than you, perhaps your companions, have been suddenly arrested. This may be your lot. What foolish and dangerous presumption, then, to suspend your eternal hopes and happiness on the continuance of this uncertain life! to put off your highest concerns to a future period, which you may never see!
These are solemn and weighty considerations. More might be suggested; but I will only hint, that early piety will be attended with peculiar pleasure and satisfaction; that it will minister comfort in all your afflictions, be the solace of your declining years, arm you against the fears of death, and inspire you with a hope that will be “as an anchor to your soulss” and “ that will never make you ashamed.”
1. What hath been said about the reasonableness and importance of religion applies to all ages and classes of people. They who have not attended to it have the highest reason to confess and lament their folly. The consequence of it is greatly to be dreaded. Has the world engrossed their thoughts, and been their only hope and portion? Wretched mortals! Their hope will soon perish, and their portion be with hypocrites and unbelievers. If there remain but a few hours of feeble life, “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” But, if resolved to continue in his impiety, let him relinquish all hope of heaven, and reconcile himself to the thought of an everlasting separation from God, and all holy beings in the future state. "
They who have made religion their choice, Christ their hope, and his gospel the rule of life, have “ chosen that good part which shall never be taken away.” Let them go on rejoicing, grow in grace, and endure unto the end; “ for their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.” But,
2. The subject offers motives and encouragements to early piety; and is to be applied, in a more particular manner, to young people. The reasonableness and importance of religion