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II. And first; he who remembers his Creator in the days of his youth, may depend upon it, that his Creator will not forget him all the days of his life. A religious young person is, above all others, peculiarly acceptable to the Almighty; an object upon which he looks down with an eye of uncommon favour and approbation. There cannot, indeed, be conceived a spectacle more great and lovely, than to see a young man struggling with the temptations of the world, the tyranny of custom, the solicitations of evil company, and the strength of evil passions. To see him not “ meanly following a multitude to do evil,” but bravely stemming the popular torrent ; and whilst those around him deviate either on the one hand into the beaten road of yice, or on the other into the endless mazes of gaiety and folly ; to see him left standing alone with virtue in the midst, and daring to be singularly good. To see the vigour of his understanding not sunk in sensuality, or dissipated in trifles, but rising to the noblest pursuits after truth and virtue ; and the alacrity of his spirits not exhausted in the wild sallies of intemperate
mirth, in ruining his own and others' innocence, and disturbing the peace and order of society; but exerting itself in the most lively display of every generous and social duty, in giving life to his devotions, and achieving the conquest over his passions. To see him, in short, sacrificing the flower of his days, his gaieties, his pleasures, and diversions, at the altar of his Creator ; and, in spite of the impotent wit and raillery of his gay companions, in spite of all the obstructions that the wickedness of man, or the deceitfulness of his own heart, can throw in his way, steadily and resolutely persevering in a uniform course of piety and virtue to the last
It cannot fail, but such an one must in the ordinary course of things, draw down upon himself the choicest blessings of heaven. He sets out in life with fairer prospects and greater advantages than all his rival contemporaries, with the blessing of God upon all his undertakings, and a moral assurance, that whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper. And it must surely be a most comfortable reflection to him, that. he thus grows under the defence of the “ Most High, and flourishes under the “ shadow of the Almighty.” It must give life to all his designs, inspire him with a manly fortitude in all his resolutions, and diffuse an even cheerfulness and composure through his whole deportment, whilst, like his blessed Master in the same period of life," he grows in stature and in wisdom, “ and in favour with God and man.”*
2. By remembering God in our youth, we save the pains of recollecting him in old age, “ when the evil days come,” (as come they assuredly will) “ in which we shall “ say, we have no pleasure in them.” If Religion is a lesson we must some time or other learn, we cannot begin too soon. It is not a thing to be taken up at our leisure, a work to be done when we have nothing else to do; but will find full employment for all the time and pains we can bestow upon it. Youth is the time when the seeds of every Christian grace and virtue are to be sown in our hearts. If we neglect this favourable season, and suffer the tares to spring up in their room, we shall not only
* Luke ii. 52.
have the painful task of implanting new affections and new desires in a worn-out soil, but of eradicating the old ones ; and that, too, when they have grown up with us so long, and are so interwoven with our very constitutions, that to rend them away from the soul, would be like plucking out an eye, or tearing off a limb from the body. The Scriptures have laboured to express, in the strongest terms, the extreme difficulty of such an undertaking, and made use of the boldest figures to impress a deep sense of it upon our minds. They call such a reformation in an advanced age, 66 becoming a new creature, putting off the 6 old man and putting on the new,” and compare it to “ the leopard changing its 66 spots, and the Ethiopian his skin.”* Indeed, the great hardship of the task may well justify such expressions; and if any one considers what pains it costs him to wean himself from even from the most whimsical and trifling customs which he has accidentally acquired and long indulged, he will easily conceive what inward pangs
• 2 Cor. v. 17. Ephes. iv. 22. 24. Jer, xiii. 23...
and agonies he must undergo, before he can entirely eradicate habits that are grafted on the strongest natural desires; and effect such a total change in the whole frame and temper, in the colour and complexion of his mind, as is absolutely necessary to render his reformation effectual. : We are told, indeed, in Scripture, that 6 the ways of Religion are ways of pleasant6 ness, and that all her paths are peace;" and so they most certainly are; but it is to those only who have been accustomed to walk in them from their youth up. The gate that leadeth to this way is narrow and straight, and the road, at first, so rugged and uneven, that if we do not enter upon it till “ the day is far spent, and the night draweth on,” we shall neither have time nor strength to surmount the many obstacles we shall meet with. But if the young man sets out in the morning of life, the freshness of his strength and spirits, aided by the influences of divine grace, will carry him through every difficulty. As he advances forwards, his toil grows less; the asperities of the way gradually disappear ; the path grows wider, and the prospect