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ness and propriety of it; and, secondly, by pointing out some of the principal advantages which will attend the practice of it.
I. First, then, I am to show the reasonableness and propriety of remembering our Creator in the days of our youth.
And here it is evident, that by remembering our Creator, we are not merely to understand a habit of recalling the bare idea of him to our mind, or a cold, lifeless contemplation of his existence, but such a fervent, affectionate, grateful remembrance, as is sometimes kindled in our breasts by thinking on an absent or a departed friend, when every tender circumstance of that endearing connection rushes in upon the soul, and all his friendly offices, all the pleasing instances of his love and kindness towards us, present themselves at once to our view. We must not only remember that he is, but that he is our Creator, and that with all those sentiments of piety and love, which such a relation naturally suggests. We must remember that he gave us life and all its blessings, all that we actually enjoy here, or hope to enjoy hereafter; and we must show the reality of
this remembrance by making a suitable return for such invaluable favours. For even in the most familiar forms of speaking, to remember a kindness is to requite it; and the only return that a creature can make to his Creator, is an uniform obedience to his will, and a punctual observance of all his laws. But that which the text more particularly recommends to the young man, is the remembrance of God as his Creator, not only because the communication of existence of course includes every other blessing, but because this consideration is more peculiarly adapted to the circumstances of those to whom the precept is addressed. For if even when life is become familiar to us, when we have tasted its sorrows as well as its joys, the remembrance of our Creator is yet apt sometimes to excite the warmest returns of gratitude and devotion, how ought this reAlection to work on the hearts of those who are, as it were, fresh from the hands of their Maker, and unacquainted with every thing in life but its blessings? How can the young man forbear breaking out with the royal psalmist into that passionate overflowing of a grateful heart; “ Praise the Lord, O my 66. soul, and all that is within me praise his “ holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, “ and forget not all his benefits : who for“ giveth all thy sins, and healeth all thine “ infirmities; who saveth thy life from de“ struction, and crowneth thee with mercy “ and loving kindness; who satisfieth thy “ mouth with good things, making thee s young and lusty as an eagle.” * One would imagine, indeed, that instead of thinking it could ever be too soon, men should rather fear it would be always full late, to remember their Creator, and that life itself would be short enough for making returns to his unbounded mercies. Yet such is the strange perverseness, shall I call it, or thoughtlessness of youth, that the goodness of God generally produces a quite contrary effect; and that profusion of happiness, which ought to bind them for ever to his service, is the very thing that supplants him in their affections, and banishes the remembrance of him from their minds. Their pleasures and pursuits follow so close upon one another, as to leave no room for any * Psalm ciii. ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
serious reflections to intervene; or if, by chance any religious thought intrude upon the series of their joys, they instantly dismiss the unbidden, unwelcome guest, with the answer of Felix to Paul ; “ Go thy way “ for this time, when we have a convenient “ season we will send for thee.” But let not the young man flatter himself that any season is so convenient as the present, or that God will be content with the dregs of life, and the refuse of his years ; let him not foolishly imagine, that after having spent his best days in the service of sin, the wretched remains of them are an offering fit for his Creator ; or that a soul polluted with guilt, and a body emaciated with disease, will be accepted at the altar of the Almighty. No; he demands the first and fairest of all our days, the first and purest motions of the heart; the first fruits “ of that vineyard “ which his right hand hath planted, and “ of the branch that he made so strong for 56 himself.” *
It can be, indeed, but little proof of our loyalty not to rebel against our Sovereign, when we have not strength to take up arms, and there are no temptations to make us swerve from our allegiance; but if, when we are in our full strength and vigour; when the danger is near, and the enemy at the gate, trying every method to subdue our virtue, and corrupt our fidelity ; if we then withstand in the evil day, reject his offers, repel his violence, elude his stratagems, and baffle all his attempts, we shall then, indeed, show ourselves good subjects and faithful soldiers of our heavenly Master; we shall have fought the good fight of faith, and when death shall release us from our station, may humbly hope to receive, through the merits of our Redeemer, the wages of our Christian warfare ; not those perishable crowns, and that visionary immortality, which are the poor rewards of earthly heroes, but a crown of glory that fadeth not away, a real immortality of happiness in Heaven.
* Psalm lxxxv. 15.