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themselves, are ftewards of another's goods, and muft give account of their stewardship. Would you give a good account of your own, then keep company with fuch—not with the idle and murmuring, who hide their talent; nor with the steward who wastes his Lord's goods.
Fourthly, Pious companions will best guard your virtue in perilous circumstances, and in perilous times.
The foes of piety are always numerous. Some are of an insidious character; others are impudent and fhameless scoffers. Such characters walk on every side at the present day. To withstand the craft of Satan and his agents will call for all your vigilance. To refift the torrent of vice and the derision of mockers will require great fortitude:
“ The fear of man bringeth “ a fnare." Amidst an evil and adulterous generation, the temptations to be ashamed of religion are many and powerful. Those in youth are peculiarly liable to false shame, the dread of singularity in the caufe of truth. They naturally follow the multitude and the fashion, in the paths of errour and destruction, rather than the few, in the paths of truth and life. It is hoped that our young people will receive the exhortation to be companions of them who fear God. Such will be constant guards to their principles and moralsconstant monitors of the delufions and danger that surround them. With such they may escape temptations, which have proved fatal to thofe who have not had the counsel and warning of some able and faithful friend, when their faith and virtue have been affailed. Such a friend may persuade you never to make shipwreck of faith and conscience, be the temptations what they may--to hold fast integrity till you die. Such an associate, speaking the language of his own experience and of the purest friendship, may convince you, that conscious integrity and the hope of heaven are too dear to be facrificed to any fear of the adversaryany apprehension of outward shame and sufferings,
Have you great
Such a friend may prevail with you to stand fast in the Lord, trusting his promise, “ I will keep thee in time “ of temptation-will make a way to escape.” Such a friend will remind you, when you most need to be put in mind, of the
pattern of Christ, “ who was in all points tempted as we are; yet
without fin—who endured the contradiction of “ finners against himself_endured the cross," overcame, and is crowned; and through whose strength his disciples are more than
conquerors. temptations from within or without ? Does your mind waver between truth and errour, duty and sin? Are you even ready to resolve on the side of irreligion ? ready to be led captive by the devil? In such a perilous situation, a wise and virtuous friend, observing that you lie open to temptation, may, by seasonably interposing, snatch you from the tempter, and keep you from presumptuous fins. See then the importance of being a companion of them who fear God, and keep his commandments.
Fifthly, Be a companion of them; for they are the best comforters in affliction.
If you do not lay your account for various afflictions, and prepare to meet them, they must fall the heavier. You are liable to frowns on your laudable industry and enterprize. You may be cast on the bed of pain and languishment. You may be injured in your good name. You may be bereaved of kindred and friends, on whom you have much temporal dependence, the objects of your earthly hopes. You are liable to mental darkness. Such circumstances peculiarly call for the succours of religion. In such circumstances, what miserable comforters are vicious companions ? They can only add affliction to the afflicted. Or if they are capable of mere human sympathy, adversity calls for divine consolations; and the suitable persons to administer them are those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Such are friends at all times; and espe
cially when a friend is most needed ; and in the thing most needed, the one thing needful. The fearers of God smooth for each other the rugged paths of life; lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. They have learned contentment in whatever state they are. Whatever the gloom in their outward condition, or that of their connections, or people, or of Zion, they rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of their salvation. They have a perpetual spring of inward support in the principles and spirit of religion. If the world rejoice, while they are forrowful, their forrow shall be turned into joy. Their sufferings are working out for them a far more exceeding weight of eternal glory. Like the good Samaritan, who shewed mercy to the wounded traveller, the fearers of God will pour an healing balm into your wounded breast. Their conversation, in a day of trouble, will do good like a medicine.
Sixthly, Be a companion of the fearers of God; for with them you will best enjoy prosperity—the vari. ous bleflings of life. Are you in health? They will put you in mind that a found heart is to be preferred to a sound constitution; and will instruct you to improve the vigour of your powers to the most valuable purpose. Are you rich and prosperous ? They will excite you to be rich in good works; to trust in him who giveth you all things richly to enjoy. They will help to inflame your gratitude for health, peace, plenty, friends, and other delights. They will guard you against a denial and contempt of God, the infolent and oppreslive treatment of man, which not seldom attend on a fulness. They may prevent your table from becoming a sare—your affluence from proving an occasion of leannes being sent into your souls. They will help to sanctify your prosperity, as Job sent and fanctified his children on their days of festivity. They will teach you, indeed, to eat your bread with joy, and to drink your suine with a merry heart--to rejoice with your families
and friends for the abundance of all things. For every gift of God is good, and nothing to be refused. They will teach you, at the same time, such use of the world as does not abuse it-even moderation and temperance in all things-joy with trembling—a remembrance of the days of darkness. They will caution you against a prefumption that you shall never be moved, because that now, through God's favour, your mountain stands strong. The blessing of the Lord maketh rich; and he addeth no forrow with it. For riches, obtained and enjoyed by his blessing, are neither ill gotten, nor ill used. The gifts are not confided in, but the Giver. If you are a companion of them who fear God, while they rejoice for all his goodness to you, they will help you to realize the mutability and emptiness of external goods; and will point you to the superior gladness of God's reconciled face. Their joy is not the extravagant mirth of fools; but calm, manly, social joy, which centres in joy in God. Their conversation is not frivolous and light; much less is it profane and filthy; it is always with grace, chaste, savoury, entertaining and serious.- Are your children and friends round you? Is no rod of God upon you? Do you know no forrow? If you are a companion of them who fear God, they may guard you against setting your affection, your hope, on any of the endearments of life—against presuming on their continuance--against expecting too much from them-against placing them in God's stead. Let them instruct you to rejoice as though you rejoiced not; and to weep as though you wept notto fulfil your duty to the friend or relative who may be dear to you as your own soul, reflecting how frail you respectively are. Your present joy may be turned into heaviness at any hour. With the fearers of God for your company, joy in your dearest comforts will be tempered with this serious impression, that God destroyeth the hope of man--that he giveth and tak
Lastly, be a companion of them who fear God, for with them you will wish to be united at death. No one in the hour of death, will say, Gather my soul with kinners. Those who have been companions in fin thro' life, fervently wish and pray, that they may have other company in the future world, however unqualified and indisposed for it. What is earth and time to heaven and eternity? That society to which you would choose to be united for ever, and which will be eternally delightful, is doubtless the best for this life. Behold the company in heaven, glorified saints, among whom may be numbered fome whom you knew, and who were highly esteemed on earth; yea, some of your kindred --behold angels of every order, thrones, dominions, principalities and powers, who minister for the heirs of salvation-behold Jesus who was crucified, but is now crowned with glory, whom all the angels worship, who is able to save to the uttermost, and hath declared, that every one who overcometh shall fit with him on his throne, and reign for ever and ever--In that high and holy place dwelleth the King eternal and immortal, with whom is the spring of life, and whose presence is the fulness of unmingled, eternal joy. To be united to such society is to be blessed beyond all that eye hath seen, or ear heard, or hath entered into the heart of mån. For such fociety you can be made meet only by an union with those on earth, who have the temper, and live the life, of heaven. If you have no love to such company now,
you do not prefer them, what lot or portion can you have with them hereafter? There is neither an hypocrite, nor a profligate, nor an atheist, who, on the fupposition of an after state, does not wish to attain the happiness, and fhun the misery of it. Companions in holiness and bliss mutually enjoy and improve each other. But what joy have the vicious and profane in each other? What enjoyment is there among infernals? Instead of alleviating each other's misery, such company can but