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hardened by habitual guilt, nor sentenced to perpetual barrenness by the judgment of a righteous God. Eiteem, embrace, improve the precious but flying season. Heark. en to the instructions of parents; the admonitions of pastors, the lesions of providence, and the dictates of God's holy spirit speaking by the conscience. Think of the amiableness of early piety in the fight of men; and its acceptableness in the fight of God—“I love them that so love me," says he by his prophet ; " and they that seek
me early shall find me."
(2.) Be not satisfied with, or trust in outward privileges.
If you are the children of pious parents, who have lived near to God; if you have been favored with early instruction, unless these advantages are improved, they will not plead for, but against you, at the great day. This is the dictate both of scripture and reason, “to " whomsoever much is given, of them much will be re“quired." There is a common faying, that is neither agreeable to truth nor experience, and yet fometimes obtains belief in a blinded world, that the children of good people are as bad as any: as if early education, which is of so much influence in learning every thing elle, should have no effect in religion. On the contrary, where do we expect to find pious youth, but in pious families, or sober and industrious youth, but in sober and industrious families ? I should call that man prudent in the conduct of life, who in the choice of a fervant, an apprentice, or a partner in businels, would pay almost as much attention to the blood and parentage, as to the person with whom he was to be immediately connected. But if we take notice of what probably gave occasion to the mistake, viz. that the wicked children of pious parents are the worst of any, it is a truth of the utmalt mament, and easily accounted for. They burst asunder the strongest ties, they are under the unhappy necellity of mastering conscience by high-handed wickednels, and commonly come to speedy and deserved ruin: “ He that
being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly to be deliroyed, and that withoại remedy."
(3.) Do not satisfy yourselves with a name to live, while you are dead. Though some young persons religiously educated, by falling into dissolute society, become open profligates, there are others who retain the form without the life of religion: Therefore, if nature hath given you amiable dispositions ; if these have been cultivated by a pious and prudent education ; if you feel the restraint of natural conscience; if you are desirous of public praise, or afraid of public shame, do not neglect any of these preservatives from fin; but yet endeavor to obtain, and fee that you be governed by a principle superior to them all, the hope of final acceptance with God through Christ. Ask of him to give you a new heart, and a new spirit, to “ create you a-new in Christ Jesus unto good works, " which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in " them."
In the last place, this subject suggests fome important instructions to the hearers of the gospel in general. (1.) Lose no time in providing for your great and best interest. Every argument that tends to thew the importance of early piety, may be applied, with equal or greater force, to thew the danger of delay in more advanced years. What is wife or amiable in youth, is necessary to those who are nearer their journey's end. But considering myfelf as speaking to professing Christians, what I would earnestly advise you, is, to apply the principles above laid down, to particular purposes, as well as to your general conduct. If conscience or providence has pointed out to you any thing that you may do to advantage, either for yourselves or other's, lose no time in setting about it, because you do not know how little time may be yours: So says the wise man, Ecc. ix. 10. " Whatsoever thy hand “ findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no
work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goell.”
(2.) Do not forget the improvement of this subject, which our Saviour himself has pointed out ; imitate the temper of children; learn to be humble and teachable, gentle and easy to be intreated. Both watch and pray against all violent attachments, rude and boisterous paf. fions, and deep rooted resentment. Obferve how the little lambs lay down their resentment, and forget their quarrels. Under this particular, it is proper to recommend a decency of deportment, and a contempt of all vanity and affectation, as well as fimplicity and fince. rity of speech, and a contempt of all artifice and refinement. The apostle has given an excellent descrip. tion of this, 2 Cor. i. 12. “ For our rejoicing is this, " the testimony of our conscience, that in fimplicity “and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by " the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the so world.”
(3.) Set a good example before others in general, but especially young persons. The old rule, Maxima debetur pueris reverentia, ought to be pondered as well as recollected. It is of much importance what our visible conduct is, at all times, and in all places, because we continually contribute to form each others tempers and habits; but greater caution is necessary in presence of young persons, both because they are most prone to imi. tation, and because they have the least judgment to make proper diliinctions, or to refuse the evil, and choose the good. Some instances might be given, in which things might be said or done, before persons of full understanding, without injury, that could not be done without injury, or at least without danger, before persons in early life.
(4.) In the last place, be not wanting in your endea. vors and prayers for the public interest of religion, and the prosperity of the Redeemer's kingdom. Support
, by your conduct and conversation, the public credit of religion. What is more powerful over the minds of men and the manners of the age, than public opinion? It is more powerful than the most fanguinary laws.
And what is public opinion? It is formed by the sentiments that are most frequently heard, and most approved in conversation. Had we a jut sense of the importance of viible religion, what a powerful principle would it be, of prudent, watchful, guarded conduct, in every
state and circumfiance of life? Whatever reason there may be co
complain of the frequency of hypocrisy, or feeking the applause of men, I am afraid there is no less reason to complain of the want of attention to that precept of the apostle, “ Look not every man on his own things, but “ every man also on the things of others;" or of our Lord himself, Matt. v, 16. “ Let your light so shine be“ fore men, that they may see your good works, and. “ glorify your Father which is in heaven.” I apprehend that these seemingly opposite faults, are not always separated, but often found in the same persons; that is to say, there may be a strong desire after, and endeavor to obtain public applause, by a few fplendid and popular actions, and yet but little attention to that prudent and exemplary conduct, which promotes public usefulness. Consider what you have heard, and the Lord give you understand. ing to improve and apply it, for Christ's sake. Amen,