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aggravate it. If you cannot be willing to suffer with the wicked in hell, if you wish to be happy with the fearers of God in heaven, then choose these, not those, for your acquaintance on earth.
What has been observed, it is hoped, may incite our young people to form an early acquaintance with those who appear to have the fear of God before their eyes. Connections with such, in business, in friendship, and in the nearest earthly alliance, are recommended to them. The nearer and more important the partnerfhip in either of these, the greater attention should be given to the temper and character of the parties. Genius, rank, wealth, without virtuous qualities, can never ensure the ends proposed; but may interfere with and defeat every valuable purpose of the connection. There must be some foundation for a solid af. fection, esteem and confidence. But what foundation for either among those who have no commanding sense of moral obligation, no fear of God? Persons of contrary difpofitions and pursuits, cannot trust or enjoy each other: Their society must be disagreeable. The vicious form connections with the virtuous, to make advantage of them, to pervert them, to rob them of their worldly goods or of their religion, or with some other unworthy view. Men naturally separate, as far as they can, from the company of those, whose confirmed taste, inclination and pursuits are diffimilar to their own for whose character they have no esteem. A virtuous friend, a virtuous partnership in business, and especially a virtuous partner in the conjugal relation, is to be much valued. Their cares, interests, enjoyments, burdens and hearts are one.
Connections in business, in friendship, in the nearest ties of life, should then be formed with much deliberation and circumspection. The comfort, usefulness, improvement and advantages of life are very intimately concerned herein. It is desirable to be connected with those whom you can trust--with whom you can have an unreserved intercourse, a cordial and warm friendship—who can and will faithfully advise and aid you in the things of life and godliness—who in all the vicissitudes of the world, will be your comforters. A friend, to whom you may safely and profitably open your heart, must be of great worth. Take care then to choose one who will not knowingly deceive you to whom you can communicate all
state. Can this be any other than a fearer of God?
We plainly infer, from the foregoing discourse, that those who are inattentive or indifferent to their company, do not fear God. The personal virtue, of the young especially, depends so much on the company they keep, that scarce any thing more demands their own attention, and the attention of their parents and teachers. The truth and importance of this thing, are so very manifeft, that many parents, who have no fear of God themselves, would prefer virtuous associates for their children, and take pains to give them a virtuous education. If parents who are evil may give such good things to their children, much more will pious parents attend to this subject. Let the young, therefore, as they would be numbered among the fear. ers of God, honour all of this character, and ever choose them for your intimate acquaintance. The honour of God, your own reputation, peace and security require this. Set before you the best patterns. Imitate the example in the words before us. Resolve, in the morning of life, to be companions of them who fear God, and whose ways are directed to keep his precepts. With youths of this character for your companions, " you will be in the fear of the Lord all the day; yea all your life long. You will be preserved from the awful condition of such as learn to sin without fear or shame. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. Stand in awe, and fin not. Be the friends of Christ, and of his friends. Have no intimacy with his foes, that they may be ashamed. If you allow yourselves to frequent their company, you will be in imminent danger of proceeding to all their excefses. In your greatest extremity, they will have no pity on you ; but desert you, as you have deserted the ways of virtue. . “ The opportunities for fin," which an intimacy with them affords, “ are great “ temptations. They will furnish you with the kill “ and knowledge of sinning. They will always be “ ready to second your temptations. They will “ watch your weakest hours, that they may triumph “ in your fall, and have the malicious pleasure of seeing “ you like one of them. Men are not always alike “ upon their guard: Their virtue is not at all times
equally strong-you have inclinations to evil, which you are not always sure of controlling: Whenever they attack you, reason, thought and prayer are
your best refuge. Why then will you enter the so“ cieties of wicked men? You know that they will “never suffer you toenjoy the advantages” of reflection and devotion. “ They will leave you no time to “ think, but will drive you on" to destruction.
“ There are many difficulties in the practice of reli
gion, even when we call in all the assistances, and “ take all the advantages that may be had—Whoever “ considers this, must needs think it extreme folly in
any one, who shall refuse the helps he may have to “ make the work easy ; or expose himself to greater “ difficulties in it. This every person does, who lays “ himself open to the deadly insinuations of evil men, “ who are industrious in the bad cause they serve." Therefore my young hearers, have no fellowship, lot or portion with them. Contract friendship with the fearers of God. The ungodly are as the chaff which the wind driveth away. They shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous ; but the way of the ungodly Mall perish.
CAUTION AGAINST BAD COMPANY.
PSALM, i. 1.
BLESSED IS THE MAN THAT WALKETH NOT IN THE COUNSEL OF THE UNGODLY, NOR STANDETH IN THE WAY OF SINNERS, NOR SITTETH IN THE SEAT OF THE SCORNFUL.
HE able caution against profane and immoral company. Our young people, who are most exposed to have their principles and morals corrupted, are desired to confider themselves as peculiarly interested in what offered
The several appellations, ungodly, finners, scornful, may be used to express the general character of the foes of piety—the opposite to that of the godly, who, as it follows in the next verfe, delight in the law of the Lord, and meditate in it day and night. Or if these terms were meant to describe different forts of irreligious men, we may understand by the first, those of a speculative caft-by the second, the openly immoral and by the laft, fcoffers. The first may be men of visible morality, though their talents are employed to subvert the foundation of piety. The fecond, if not speculative, are practical unbelievers. In this number are the intemperate, the lewd, such as live by extortion, and the lovers of pleasure. The last, without fear or shame, give the reins to their lufts, and openly revile the most folemn truths of religion. They alike blafpheme God, and violate decorum and good man