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up-rising, and understands your thoughts afar off. He compasses your path, and surrounds you with his presence, every day, and every where. Do you not, then, need to be reminded repeatedly of your trying situation as probationers for eternity, who are preparing for your final and endless destination ?
4. Remember that God not only may, but must call you to an account for all your conduct in this state of trial. He has formed you rational and immortal creatures. He has made you capable of knowing good and evil, and of feeling your moral obligations to obey all the intimations of his will, whether by the voice of his word, or by the dictates of your conscience. And since he has endued you with rational and moral powers, he cannot consistently leave you to live as you please; but is bound, by his moral perfections, to call you to an account for all the exercises of your hearts, and actions of your lives. “ Know thou, that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment.” God was at liberty whether to give you a rational and immortal existence or not; but we cannot conceive that he is at the same liberty to call you or not call you to an account for your treatment of him and one another in this world. It is just as certain, therefore, that he will bring you into judg. ment, as that he has brought you into existence.
And now consider once more,
5. Whether your hearts can endure, or your hands be strong, in the day that God shall deal with you? When he calls you to judgment, he will bring into view all that you have said and thought and done, which was contrary to his holy law. He will let no idle word, no sinful thought, pass unnoticed. He will exhibit your whole hearts and your whole lives before the view of the whole intelligent creation. And is it not of serious importance that you should be prepared for this solemn scene? The judgment which God shall pass will be final, and without appeal. When Christ says to the righteous, “ Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” they will go away into everlasting life. And when he says to the wicked, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,” they will immediately sink into endless perdition. In the view of all these things, which have been exhibited to your most serious consideration, must you not see and feel the propriety and importance of the solemn address made to unthinking, unholy, unfeeling youth in the text, and of the solemn warnings and admonitions given to the young through the whole word of God? If solemn warnings will ever do you any good, it is most likely they will do you good in the morning of life. If they do not carry conviction to your consciences now, you have great reason to fear that they never will. The longer you resist conviction, the more hardened you will grow, and the more you will be prepared to be destroyed; and that without remedy.
1. If there be a propriety in the solemn and pathetic address to youth in the text, then it is very absurd for any to think that young people in particular may be excused for postponing and neglecting preparation for their future and eternal state. This they are disposed to think and say. They claim a right to rejoice in their youth, to walk in the ways of their hearts, and in the sight of their eyes, and put far away the evil day of death, or old age. They feel and say it would be very improper, indecent and unbecoming in them, to regard serious and divine things; and the world would despise them for it. They vainly imagine, that they have time enough before them to prepare for death and eternity in some later period of life. They are ready to believe and say that the aged, the sick and dying, ought to prepare for the solemn scenes before them. They would think it very absurd and criminal for a dying youth not to pray, and if capable, not to read the Bible, and, if he had opportunity, not to converse about death and eternity. They do think it is very absurd and criminal for those whose heads are covered with gray hairs, and who are stooping over the grave, not to read and pray, and set their souls in order for that vast eternity, where they must soon be fixed in never-ending happiness, or misery. But yet, they excuse themselves for the neglect of every religious duty, and for the ardent pursuit of every lying vanity. And their excuse is accepted by one another, by the world in general, and too often by their very parents, who have publicly and solemnly dedicated them to God, and bound themselves to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This would be strange were it not common; and that it is common is stranger still
. Such views and feelings are contrary to the voice of God in his word. He requires young people to remember their Creator in the days of their youth, and commands young men to be soberminded. Such views and feelings are contrary to the voice of God in his providence. He sends death to the young as well as to the old. And such views and feelings are contrary to the dictates of conscience in both the old and young. They both know that it is the indispensable duty of rational and immortal creatures to give their hearts and lives to God, as soon as they are capable of it. There are in reality more and weightier reasons for youth to be religious, than for any other persons.
While they neglect religion, they run the awful risk of destroying, not only their own souls, but the souls of others, and of doing a vast deal of mischief in the world, whether they are finally saved or lost.
2. If there be a propriety in the solemn and pathetic address to youth in the text, then there is something very beautiful and amiable in becoming religious early in life. Piety adorns all persons who possess it; but it shines with peculiar lustre in youth, because it more clearly appears to be the effect of a change of heart, than of a change of circumstances. Gay youths often become more sober, circumspect and regular, in consequence of age, of trials, and even of ambition, or a desire of gaining respectability in the eyes of the world; while they are as really impenitent, unbelieving and opposed to the gospel, as ever they
But when young men become sober-minded, and renounce the vanities of childhood and youth, and unite with the people of God in practicing and promoting vital piety, they exhibit a shining evidence of real, unfeigned religion, and of a pure purpose to serve God and their generation as long as they live. They resemble young Samuel, young Josiah, and the young Redeemer, who went about his Father's business at twelve years old. Though some, who were converted late in life, have been eminently pious and extensively useful, yet those who have been the most pious and most useful in the world, have generally become pious in youth. Such certainly have the most time and best opportunities of doing good in the world. How useful were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; how useful were Joseph and Moses ; how useful were Jehoiada and Daniel! These men were early pious, and long and extensively useful; and they will command the respect and veneration of all mankind to the end of time. Early piety is so far from being really disreputable, that it never fails to command the inward respect of both the young and the old. Early piety is peculiarly pleasing to God.' He says, “ I love them that love me; and those that seek me early, shall find me.” Accordingly, as far as our observation extends, we find that God much oftener produces piety in the young, than in the old. Though some old Manassehs are called in at the eleventh hour, yet the instances are very few, in comparison with the conversion of youths and others in the early stages of life. Youth is the best and most important time to become religious. It is the best time for themselves, for God, and for the world, were they sure of life and of a sound conversion in the hour of death. But they have no assurance of life, nor of becoming religious, though life should be prolonged to the latest period. Those youths, and those only, have acted the wisest part, who have
chosen the one thing needful, devoted themselves to God, and secured his everlasting favor.
3. If there be a propriety in the solemn and pathetic address to the youth in the text; then there is a peculiar propriety in young persons remembering the Sabbath-day, and keeping it holy. The Sabbath was made for man, and is a precious season given to the young as well as the old, to attend to the great concerns of their souls. It is a time to think, to read and to pray, in secret and private, as well as in public. But young people are extremely apt to neglect and even abuse the great privilege of attending public worship, and hearing the gospel, which has brought life and immortality to light, opens the invisible scenes of the invisible world, and exhibits the restraining motives of death, judgment and eternity. The gospel assures them, that they are living for eternity, and that their souls are immortal, and that they must very soon be called into judgment, and give an account of the deeds done in the body. But who are so apt to neglect and abuse the privileges of the Sabbath as they
Who are so apt to absent themselves from the house of God? Who are so apt to attend public worship with levity ? Who are so apt to resist the truth and despise reproof? Yet none, in God's view, stand in so much need of instruction, of warning and of reproof, as they do. He has commanded parents to instruct and restrain them; and he has commanded his ministers to feed the lambs of his flock. It is to be greatly lamented, that parents so often allow their children to neglect public worship, while they attend it. In seasons the most difficult to attend public worship, we often find the seats of the young vacant, while the seats of the aged are filled. The rising generation here are most criminally negligent in attending public worship, and far more criminal still, in profaning the Sabbath in every way in which it can be profaned. The abuse of the Sabbath is the most soul-ruining sin of youth. It has brought thousands to an untimely end. “Wo unto you that laugh now: for ye shall mourn and weep.” Solomon represents a self-ruined and self-condemned youth as saying to himself, “ How have I hated instruction and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me; I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly." Every youth who profanes the Sabbath, rejects the gospel, and despises reproof, is in danger of enduring such bitter reflections to all eternity.
4. If it be proper to give young people such solemn warnings and admonitions as Solomon does in the text, then it must be extremely improper to provide for them and allow them in vain and sinful amusements. If one of these things is right, then the other is wrong. If it be right to teach youth that their hearts are totally depraved, that they live in an evil and dangerous world, that they are already under a sentence of condemnation and the wrath of God abideth upon them; that they are exposed every day to sickness and death, that death will close their probationary state, and that after death is the judgment; can it be right to provide superb theatres and elegant ball-rooms, at a great expense, for their entertainments and vain amusements ? All parents know that if one of these things is right, the other must be wrong. And I presume no parents can be found, who do both. Those who teach, warn and reprove their children, to make them sober-minded, never provide for them nor allow them in vain and dissipating amusements. And those parents who provide for and allow their children to spend their time in vanity and fashionable amusements, do not desire nor dare to inculcate upon them the vast importance of preparing for death, judgment and eternity. Let me now seriously ask all parents, which of the two modes of treating children is right? Will you not answer as one, it is right to instruct, to warn and admonish your children to remember their Creator in the days of their youth, and to abstain from all lying vanities? If you say and believe this, can you conscientiously allow them to go into vain company, and to join in their vain and dissipating amusements ? You must be called to an account for your conduct towards your children, as well as they for their conduct towards their Creator. Dare you do that which you know will tend to prevent rather than promote the piety and salvation of your children? Think for a moment how you would feel to see one of your children in the bloom of youth, lying on a death-bed, expecting every day to be called into judgment, without hope; would you not bitterly lament your negligence in not preparing him for heaven ? If you would, how should you treat your children in health? This is no imaginary case. It is somewhere or other realized almost every day. I am not preaching terror. I am only preaching truth, and such truth as I have often preached.
5. It appears in the view of this subject, that the death of young people is a very solemn and interesting event to the living, whether they leave the world prepared or unprepared. Death is always a solemn and interesting event to the dying, let it come how or when it will. For it closes their state of probation, seals up their account for the great day, and transmits their souls to their long home. But when men gradually sink into the grave under the infirmities and weight of old age, their departure out of the world is generally little noticed and