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In the last place,
4. I would tell them, that ministers, and deacons, and such as we are ready to hope are good men, are not our rule : nor, will it be inquired at the day of judgment, whether you were no worse than the children of such and such inen. But the question will be, were you really saints in Christ Jesas ? And was your conversation such as becometh saints ? Did you live like children of the light, and of the day; having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness ? Did you live soberly, not in chambering and wantonness, not in sport and vanity, not making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof, but putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, having the same mind in you as was in him, and imitating him in your whole temper and conduct? Did you live by the faith of the Son of God, and show your faith by your works? Or did you live like the children of this world, walking after your own lusts, in the way of your own hearts, and in the sight of your own eyes, even as others?
Thus in a kind, and rational, and Scriptural way, I would deal with them, and endeavour to afford them full conviction.
But I hasten,
2. To point out, very briefly, some things which have a natural tendency, to beget and cherish a sense of God in the heart : or to direct you to the means instituted by God for that purpose, and in the use of which, it pleases God, of his sovereign grace, and according to the good pleasure of his will, to grant the necessary influences of his holy Spirit for this blessed end.
Be much in reading the word of God, the holy bible, that best of books, that sacred treasure of divine knowledge. Spend many of your leisure hours in this profitable and delightful employment. And let your minds be always taken up with the great things therein revealed concerning God and Christ, and the holy Spirit : concerning the fall of inan, and the way of recovery opened in the Gospel, the greatness of the salvation by Christ, your absolute need of it, and your obligations to Christ for it; concerning death and judgment, heaven and hell, and eternity: and while you read, labour for a realizing sense of those great truths. And in order to this be much in secret prayer, in close meditation, and im
partial self-examination. Daily retire into your closet, and spend many an hour alone in these religious exercises. And maintain an everlasting watchfulness over your hearts to keep out vain thoughts, and to suppress all bad inclinations, Moreover, seek out a serious religious companion, and make such an one your friend, your monitor, and helper : and sometimes spend an hour with him, in serious discourse tugether. Get acquainted with your pastor, and freely open to him your spiritual concerns, entreating biin to be your faithful guide. Be swift to hear, and take heed how you hear, that the word preached may profit you. And children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Diligently attend family-duties every day; and let the sabbath of the Lord be carefully observed by you. Be diligent in the use of all the means of grace. Be resolute, be engaged, let no time run to waste; exert yourselves to the utmost, in striving that you may enter in at the strait gate, and escape the wrath to come. And never rest in any thing short of a saving conversion to God, por be content without an assurance of the divine favour, and a life of communion with the father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. In a word, never rest satisfied without obtaining the faith of God's elect, and such a holy heavenly temper of mind, as was described under the first general head, when I showed what is implied in remembering God.
Only let it be minded here, that I do not give you these directions, under a notion of putting you upon making amends to the law and justice of God for your past sins, by your repentance and reformation, and of recommending yourselves to the divine favour by any works of righteousness that you can do: nor under a notion of your having ability to renew your nature unto holiness, by the exertion of your own powers. No, but rather under a notion, that in the use of these means, you may come to be convinced, by the Spirit of God, of the insufficiency of your own righteousness, and to be made sensible of your spiritual impotency; and so be led to see your need of both righteousness and strength from Jesus Christ, the one Mediator and only Saviour; in whom all fulness dwells, to whom you must look, on whom you must trust, from whom you must derive all things, (John xv. 1-6. VOL. III.
Rom. x. 3, 4.) in the diligent and constant believing use of all the means of grace. But I must not enlarge.
In the second place, I am to offer some arguments or mo- . tives, to encourage and persuade young people to the pursuit of early piety. I have already shown the many and great obligations that lie upon you, to remember God, to have a sense of hiin on your bearts, even so as to be divorced from all other things, and entirely devoted to him. And have showed, that those obligations are absolutely binding, and of everlasting force. And so I have considered early piety as a matter of duty. But now I come to view the matter in a different light, to consider it as a point of prudence, a matter of interest and expediency. For it is not only your duty, O young people! early to devote yourselves to God, and to a life of strict piety ; nor only a duty to which you are under infinite obligations; but it is also your wisdom, as it is for your interest; unspeakably for your advantage : more for your interest, than to be made worth thousands a year : more for your interest, than to be adopted into the family of a king ; yea, more for your interest, than to be made lords of all this lower world. The service of God is certainly then your most reasonable duty.
Let it be particularly considered here,
1. There is an unspeakable pleasure in religion itself, antecedent to all other considerations ; yea, joy unspeakable anul full of glory. (1 Pet. i. 8.) A sinful state in Scripture-account is a state of death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace, Rom. viii. 6. Yea, it is eternal lite began in the soul; it is the dawning of eternal glory. There is an unspeakable pleasure in seeing and knowing God to be just such an one as
An unspeakable pleasure in having a sense of God on the heart; of his all-seeing eye and all-governing hand, and of the infinite moral excellency of his nature, discovered in his moral government of the world, in the law and in the Gospel, in the nature of the first covenant and of the second. It is this that ravishes all the heavenly world, and makes them in ecstasy cry out, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, the whole earth is full of thy glory, (Isa. vi. 3. Rev. iv. 8.) It is this that will be the grand foundation of the blessedness of angels and saints to all eternity. They shall see God, they
shall behold him in his glory, their hearts shall be everlastingly full of a sense of his transcendent beauty. (Mat. v. 8. John xvii. 3. i John iii. 1, 2.) The moral excellency of the divine nature gives a lustre to all the perfections of God, and speaks him infinitely glorious in being what he is; and here is the foundation of that infinite happiness he has in the enjoyment of himself. It is this, that fills all heaven with glory; and it is this, that makes a little heaven begin to dawn in the hearts of the godly bere on earth. Indeed, a true spiritual sense of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, is the beginning of heaven, and a foretaste of eternal happiness. And therefore in Scripture it is called eternal life. (John xvii. 3.) There is an unspeakable pleasure in being divorced from all other things, and in cleaving to that best of beings. It was so sweet to the Psalmist, that he cries out, Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none on earth I desire besides thee, Ps. 1xxiii. 25. To love him, to delight in him, to live upon him, in this present evil world, is near a-kin to hea
To be transformed into his image, is angelic blessedness: to be entirely devoted to him, to live a life of communion with him, and obedience to him, affords the most refined pleasure, sweeter than the honey, yea, than the honey comb. In a word, to have a spirit of pride, and vanity subdued in us, to have a spirit of worldliness and sensuality inortified, and to be strictly pious, is the bappiest thing, that can possibly be bad in this present world. To be spiritually minded, is life and peace. Leave therefore the cruel slavery of sin, the vile servitude of gratifying your corruptions, and no longer love death. But come now and be blessed ; begin now to enter into the joy of your Lord. He that commits sin, is the servant of sin; but if you will be Christ's disciples, you shall be
1; free indeed. And the glorious liberty of the sons of God is infinitely preferable to the licentious liberty of the children of this world. His yoke is easy, bis burden is light: wisdom's ways are pleasant, and all her paths are peace. It is a thousand times sweeter, to mourn for sin, than to commit it; to be weaned from the world, than to possess it all; to have pride mortified, than to have it gratified ; to enjoy cominunion with God, than to be in vain company; to forgive an injury, than to revenge it ; to love enemies, than to hate them. Yea, the seeming pleasures of sin, which are but for a season, carry a sting in them, and are so many keen torments, compared with the sweetness there is in the ways of God. All the generation of God's children can witness to the truth of these things. Therefore remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth ; and so begin early to be happy. Besides,
2. Great and many are the superadded privileges you will be entitled unto, if you indeed become religious betimes. Your sins shall be forgiven for ever. God almighty will become your everlasting friend. You shall be taken into the family of God, and he will be your father : Christ will be your Saviour. The Holy Spirit will be your sanctifier. He that governs the whole world, will be your powerful guardian and protector. His eye will be over you for good. He will give you as much of the good things of this world as he thinks best; and will teach you to choose, that he should be your continual carver. He will make all things work together for your good : He will train you up for eternal glory; and at last bring you to his heavenly kingdom. Instead of being in the guilty, destitute, and forlorn state of nature, you shall even while in this world have a God to go to; an almighty all-sufficient, infinitely glorious, infinitely gracious God and Father, to go to ; to go to under all spiritual distresses, and under all outward trials ; to go to in sickness, and when you come to die. And after death, guardian angels will convey your souls to the world of the blessed. And Christ will own you as his members, before all the heavenly host. And God will openly acknowledge you for his children. All the inhabitants of heaven will congratulate your arrival there, and rejoice over you as joint-heirs with them of eternal glory. And here shall you be everlastingly and perfectly blessed, in the open vision and full fruition of God and the Lamb.
If therefore you desire heavenly blessedness, and have any relish for divine pleasure, if you have a beart to be divinely bappy, in time and to eternity; O hearken, this day, to the counsel in our text, Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,
But if you have no relish for spiritual and heavenly blessings, no regard to God, nor care of your souls, and cannot