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I AM A COMPANION OF ALL THEM THAT FEAR THEE, AND OF THEM THAT KEEP THY PRECEPTS.
THE fear of God and keeping of his command
HE ments are connected parts of the fame character, and comprehend the whole duty of man. The author of the words before us delighted in the law of the Lord: It was his meditation all the day. He beheld the transgreflors, and was grieved. Yea, faith he, “Horrour « hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked “ who forsake thy law. Do not I hate them, O Lord, “ who hate thee? and am not I grieved with those “ who rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect " hatred; I count them mine enemies. I have not “ sat with vain perfons; neither will I go in with dif“ semblers. I have hated the congregation of evil
men; and will not sit with the wicked.” To all of this description he said, “Depart from me; for I will
keep the commandments of my God.” In the text he mentions the fearers of God as his companions. These were the characters which he esteemed excellent, and in whom was all his delight. These hath the Lord set apart for himself. For these the holy angels minister. They shall not be tempted above that they are able. If cast into the furnace, they come forth as refined gold. Their death is precious in the Night of the Lord. They shall be found to honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Such are the fearers of God. What I now have in view is to recommend their company to young people.
The character which persons obtain in life, depends much on their early associates.
Upon this ground parents are commanded to train up
their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This they cannot be presumed to do, unless they recommend to them virtuous companions, and enforce the recommendation by a pious example before them. Trained up with the fearers of God, habits may be formed and fixed, which may secure them against the snares and allurements in the path of life. Careful observers trace the discrete, virtuous, useful, and even eminent part, which some act in life, to their early choice of a few associates, esteemed for thoughtfulness, prudence, and an emulation to excel in wisdom and virtue. Among the instances of gross departure from honourable and useful paths, the greater part, perhaps, must be ascribed to an early acquaintance with some one or more of an unprincipled character-But we need not enlarge in a cafe so plain. The world abounds with bad examples: Good ones have been generally rare-not certainly less rare in our times than heretofore. If more frequent, and of a more dangerous description, greater vigilance and firmness will be required to withstand them: Greater magnanimity will be displayed in resolving to keep company with the virtuous few. Let the lasting and important consequences, which may depend upon an early and fixed resolution in this point, be kept in mind. For the earlier this resolve is made, the more praise-worthy, the more secure your virtue. .
Secondly, The fearers of God are of one heart. This is a further recommendation of their company.
They are agreed in the great doctrines and duties, and in the spirit, of religion. They have one Lord, one faith, one hope. On points not essential, on forms and modes, on the ways and means which may be best
adapted to promote religion, there will be a diversity of sentiment : But the fearers of God, fo far as they know one another, are united in esteem and affection : They agree in love to Zion—in striving for the faith delivered to the saints-in endeavours for the best interests of their country, and of mankind-in fervent prayers and exertions for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem, the enlargement of her cords, and strength of her stakes. They mutually rejoice, when things go well in church and state. They are afflicted in the afAictions of their people: They mourn the declensions and deadness of professors : They unite against the common foes of Christianity, are deeply affected with any ad
advantages gained against the cause of truth, and the reproaches caft upon it: They agree in endeavours that their light may shine before men that their good may not be evil spoken of. Except they are thus far agreed, they seek their own things, not the things of Christ. Christian charity seeketh not her own. From imperfect knowledge of religion and of each other, good men separate. When clothed with humility and charity, they are sensible of their own liableness to err, think no evil of their brethren, without full proof from their fruits; and esteem others better than themselves.
Vicious men and infidels, though they agree in their opposition to truth, holiness and peace; yet do not pursue the same, but separate, sinister interests, accord. ing to their different pafsions. But the fearers of God, so far as they act up to this character, have no end feparate from his glory; no happiness separate from his favour. So far as they have attained, they walk by the fame rule, and mind the same thing. What distinguisheth them is not a perfect accordance in opinion, but the fpirit of Christ, the same mind as was in him. This unites and endears them to each other, though of different opinions on speculative and circumstantial matters, more and far otherwise than any agreement in such matters without the spirit of the gospel, This
spirit, apparent in any, is a peculiar recommendation of their society. Especially would we recommend fuch fociety to those who are just coming forward in life. For,
First, They are the best counsellors. They receive the truth in love, and have no attachment to errour. They come to the light. Perceiving how much they need wisdom from above, they ask it of him who giveth liberally: They ask in faith, nothing wavering. They therefore shall know the doctrine of religion in all important points. “None of the wicked shall under
stand; but the wife shall understand.” God teach: eth his way to the meek and humble, who wish to know and do his will. Their "path is as the shining “ light, which shineth more and more.
But the way “ of the wicked is as darkness.” Their deeds being evil, they love darkness rather than light. The Father of lights guideth the former by his unerring wisdom; the latter, trusting to their own wisdom, know not at what they stumble. They who walk uprightly walk surely; because God is their sun and shield, to enlighten and guard them.
These are the best advisers, if it be true that he who walketh with wife men shall be wise. Both their integrity and judgment, in the things of your peace, may be confided in. For “ the fear of the Lord is the
beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have " all they who do his commandments.”
What more desirable, at the entrance on life, than a guide, an acquaintance, in whom you can confide ?-whose society is improving ? a guide, an acquaintance who hath acquainted himself with God, and is at peace with him-a friend of universal virtue-in whose eye a vile person is contemned—who honoureth such as fear the Lord. The thoughtful and serious seek the company of persons with whom they may take sweet counsel ; and fhun the thoughtless and frivolous, vain and impious. He who has not the fullest confidence in his own opin.
ions, but is conscious of his liableness to err, desires the opinion of others in matters of moment. With whom then shall he take counsel ? Certainly with those who have no wish to deceive him who treat the most important subjects as being what they are-who rejoice not in iniquity, but in the truth-whose fupreme wish is, that this may have free course.
Secondly, Such companions will not only give you falutary counsel, but will constantly incite you to “ whatsoever things are true, honeft, just, pure, lovely, s and of good report.” With a view to mutual improvement in such things, the fearers of God speak often one to another, stirring up the gifts of God in one another, as good ftewards of his grace. Without such mutual incitement, the love of religion will grow cold, and its cause be wounded in the house of its friends. These therefore exhort one another, as they have opportunity; "confess their faults one to another, and
pray one for another, that they may be healed.” You need every incentive to virtue in early life, every preservative against vice. Associate yourselves therefore with the friends of virtue: Set before you her brightest ornaments. Emulate what
must acknowledge to be praise-worthy in them.
It follows, thirdly, that in such company you will best pursue the end for which life was given.
You were fent into the world to do good in this life, and to lay a good foundation for that to cometo believe in and follow your Redeemer, who eminently glorified God on the earth, and finished his work while it was day. In this work he had meat to eat, of which the world is ignorant. Would you do the main business of life in some such manner? would you, as he was, be animated by the joy set before you? Then keep company with them who live to the Lord. These only are the persons who consider the true use and end of life--who rejoice both God and man-who reflect that they are not their own, were not made for