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bour-contentions, in society-contentions: and at last they go down to the dead, and to hell. No doubt there are now thousands and millions in hell, who went thither in this very road.
And shall not this melancholy view of things, O young people, awaken you to reflect more seriously on your way, and to change your course! Can you, will you, dare you, go on any longer, in the very face of your own consciences, against light and knowledge, and in spite of all the inward warnings of God! O, stop this day, and come to an unalterable determination, to go not one step further, in your foolish, vain, and sinful courses! Lest you, as it were, tire the patience of God, and he swear in his wrath, that you shall never enter into his rest. Read Prov. i. 24—31. and consider what you do.
8. Consider how many resolutions and solemn vows you have made to God, and to your own consciences, in days past, that you would forsake all the ways of vanity and sin, and that in good earnest you would make a business of religion. And think of it seriously, "that all these resolutions and vows are now as much binding in the sight of God, as ever they were, yea, as much as when they were newly made." You have broken them so often, perhaps, that they now seem to have lost all their binding nature, and you can now break them without horror. Once, perhaps, it seemed a dreadful thing, almost an unpardonable crime, to break your resolutions; but now you can do it, and never so much as reflect
upon it. And yet those vows are as binding as ever. God
remembers them all, and conscience will remember them all at the day of judgment, and in their light will your conduct be viewed. Think of it, O young man; think of it, O young woman; and tremble to see what you have been doing! And this day, even this hour, come to an unalterable determination, without any delay, by the help of God, to put all your old resolutions in practice.
9. Consider, if ever you intend to become religious, now is your time, your best time, and it may be your only time It will be great stupidity and folly, to flatter yourselves with the notion of a better time hereafter. For by every day's delay,
your sins, your guilt, your hardness, and God's anger are increasing; and you ripening for ruin, and divine patience is growing weary. Youth is the best time to begin to seek after God. As hard as it is to bring yourselves to it now, yet it will be more difficult hereafter. As many temptations as you have now, yet you will have more, (though perhaps of another sort,) hereafter. And as little hope as there is now of your obtaining mercy, yet there will be less in years to come. So that now is your time, your best time, and it may be your only time; for unexpected death may stop your breath, and put an everlasting end to all your opportunities. O, therefore, delay not; but remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. While the evil days come not nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.
Lastly; Let it be considered, God claims a special propriety in your youthful days; as being the best, and most sprightly and active part of your lives. This we may learn from some injunctions under the Jewish dispensation. For God always insisted upon it, that the first and best of every thing should be in a peculiar manner devoted to him; the first-born of man, and the first-born of beast, and the first-fruits of all the increase of the field, were to be the Lord's. And the very best of their herds and of their flocks, were to be offered in sacrifice to the Lord. It was an abomination to bring their blind, their lame, and their sick for an offering, to sacrifice unto the Lord a corrupt thing, while they reserved the best for themselves. And surely it was perfectly reasonable, that God, who is the first and the best of beings, should have the first and the best brought him in sacrifice. How directly contrary, therefore, to reason and Scripture, are the natural notions of young people, (yea, and of parents too,) who are ready to think, and say, "Certainly young people may be allowed some more liberty; there is no need that they should live by such strict rules; now is their time to take their pleasures; it is time enough for them to be serious and religious hereafter, when they are settled in the world." Just as if it was reasonable and fitting, in the nature of things, that the world, the flesh, and the devil, should have their first and best days; and that God should be turned off with hereafter, when
they are become too old for carnal delights, for sports, and frolics, and vanity. "And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor, will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts. Mal. i. 8.
That wretched plea, although it be a very common one, casts infinite contempt upon God: for it supposes, that young people have good reason for it, and may very warrantably. please themselves, rather than God; may reasonably disobey his will, to have their own; may reasonably spend the best part of their lives in vanity and sin, and turn off God with an hereafter. Just as if themselves and their corruptions were more worthy of regard than the blessed God. It even supposes, that there is more benefit and comfort in vain company, than there is in communion with God; yea, that to love and serve God is a piece of mere drudgery, which cannot be borne with; but that the ways of sin are ways of liberty. Blush, O parents! Be ashamed, O children! To treat the Lord of glory, the delight of heaven, the joy of angels and saints, in such a contemptuous manner!
You that are in your youth, realize it, these are your best days, and therefore they must be the Lord's. These are your sprightly, active years, and therefore they must be devoted to him that made you, to serve him. Now your understanding is active, and your memory strong, your affections warm, and nature all alive. Now you are more free from worldly cares and incumbrances; now therefore you have many leisure hours for reading, meditation, and prayer; now you have, in a sense, nothing to do, but to seek after God. And surely now you must be the Lord's. These active powers, these blooming days, these pleasant years, these leisure hours, must all be consecrated to the Lord. Nor can you, without abominable sacrilege, spend them away in vanity and sin.
Thus, you lie under many and great obligations to early piety. Since God is what he is in himself; since you are rational creatures; since God has such an entire right to you, and authority over you, therefore you must be the LORD'S. And since Christ has died for sinners; since you have been given up to God in baptism through him; since God has ta
ken so much pains with you by his spirit; since all the solemn vows you have made are still as binding as ever; and since this is your best time, yea, perhaps your only time, and a time that God claims a special propriety in; therefore you must be the Lord's, you must remember now your Creator in the days of your youth. There is no saying, Nay. The obligations are infinite, and you must be the LORD'S.
III. To offer some directions and motives, to assist and encourage young people to early piety, to remember now their Creator in the days of their youth.
In the first place, I begin with directions. And in gene ral, I lay this down for a certain maxim, that "whatsoever has a natural tendency to make you unmindful of God, must be conscientiously avoided; and whatsoever has a natural tendency to beget and cherish a sense of God in your hearts, must be carefully practised." This the light of nature teaches; and so do the holy Scriptures. Heb. xii. 1. Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us. And, Eph. vi. 11. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand. Read also ver. 12. to the 18th. See also 1 Cor. ix. 24-27. Eph. iv. 29, 30. Are you under infinite obligations to remember God? by consequence you are under infinite obligations to avoid every thing that has a natural tendency to make you unmindful of him; and under infinite obligations to practise all those means which have a natural tendency to beget and cherish a sense of God in your hearts. You are not, therefore, at liberty to choose whether you will follow good directions, or not; but are under infinite obligations to hearken and obey. And here,
1. I will point out some things that have anatural tendency to make you unmindful of God; which you must therefore industriously watch against and avoid.
1. Indulging a vain, light, airy, jovial, wanton frame of spirit, has a natural tendency to banish all sense of God from the heart; and therefore must be industriously and continually prayed, and watched, and laboured against. Young people are naturally inclined to such a temper, and it is their
common way to give it a liberal indulgence; whereby all serious thoughts of God and religion, of death and judgment, of heaven and hell, are banished from their minds. Therefore the apostle Paul directs Titus, to exhort young men to be sober-minded. Tit. ii. 6. A temper contrary to sober-mindedness will be your ruin, if it be not mortified. Youthful levity and wantonness of mind, will quench the motions of the holy Spirit; it will stifle convictions; it will make you prayerless, and heartless in duty; it will extinguish all solemn sense of the vows of God upon you, and bring all your good resolutions to nothing. You have found it to be so in days past, and will find it so again, if you do not change your course. In the first place, therefore, begin here; no longer indulge such an unserious light, and frothy temper of mind. Watch your heart, and strive to be serious: labour to get, and cherish a sense of God, and of things divine and eternal.
2. Spending precious time in idleness, is another thing of very bad tendency. Young people have many leisure hours lying upon their hands every week, which ought to be spent in reading, in meditation, and prayer: but it is the common way to spend them in nothing, or that which is worse than nothing. And hereby the world, the flesh, and the devil, have a continual advantage over them; by means of idleness they lie an open and easy prey to every temptation. O, young people, therefore make this your constant rule, to employ all your leisure hours for the good of your souls, as you will wish you had done when you come to die! See Eph. v. 15, 16. Read and apply the counsel there given you.
3. Being much in vain company, whether at home or abroad, is another thing of bad tendency. In such company there is nothing but foolish jesting, sportful, wanton, and unprofitable discourse at best; whereby the heart is rendered still more vain and unmindful of God, and indisposed to every thing that is serious and good. Nothing can therefore be done in religion, until vain company be entirely and for ever renounced. Leave such companions, therefore, you must; or be one of their companions in hell for ever. (See Psalm i. 1, 2. Rom. xiii. 13, 14. Eph. iv. 29, 30. and v. 4. 1 Pet. iv. 2, 3, 4, 5.) "He that walketh with the wise, shall be wise: