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are two things, for which I hope to have the teftimony of all my ordinary hearers. 1. That I have never omitted to mention with all freedom and plainnefs, the fins and duties of every rank and class of men, as the fubject led to it, or the occafion feemed to require it. 2. That in doing this, I have generally avoided bringing in particular accidents that have fallen out in the place; being much of opinion, that the lefs perfonal any thing of that nature is, it is the more likely to be ufeful. But though I continue in the fame opinion in general, there are fome things fo flagrant and atrocious in their nature, fo dangerous and hurtful in their effects, that bare filence concerning them would carry in it an imputation of unfaithfulness or partiality in a minifter of Chrift. And as in the prefent cafe, the fcandal feems loudly to call for fome public notice of it, fo it is impoffible to make the perfons more known than they are already by their own folly. If it could make them any more afhamed, it would be an unfpeakable benefit both to the public and themfelves.
With a view therefore to the fcandal juft now hinted at, fuffer me to apply the truths above illuftrated, by giving you fome advice and direction, under the three following characters, one or more of which will include every per fon who now hears me.
1. To those who are young: in that lovely, precious, dangerous feafon of life; of all others the fitteft for learning what is good, and unhappily prone to learn or imitate what is evil. My dear children, this is not the firft of many times I have addreffed inflruction particularly to you, and I pray that God may open your hearts to receive it. Let me befeech you, firft of all, to learn this impor tant leffon, to diftruft yourselves: be fenfible of your inexperience, and be perfuaded of your danger from the admonitions of others. The greatest evidence you can give of real knowledge, is to be fenfible of your ignorance; and of true wisdom, to be willing to learn: the folicitude and concern of your parents or other relations, to preserve you from the deftructive paths of vice, is from their certain knowledge of what you are now unwilling to believe. Above all things, fhun, as the peftilence, the fociety of
profane scorners. Loft to all fenfe of piety, feared in their confciences, and enflaved to their lufts, they will do all in their power to destroy a rifing fenfe of religion in your minds: "While they promile you liberty, they themfelves are the fervants of corruption." Think upon eternity approaching: no man can forefee or foretell to you now, whether your time on earth fhall be long or short; whether you fhall have much profperity, or many trials in the prefent world; but as the bleffing of God is the best ingredient in all temporal mercies, fo being at peace with him is the best fupport under fuffering, and the only pre-. paration for death.
But as all the delufive arguments in favor of fin are drawn from this prefent life, fuffer me to plead the cause of piety and truth in this refpect. Be affùred that true religion is the way to health, peace, opulence and public esteem. Hear the wifeft of mere men: Prov. iii. 16, 17.
Length of days is in Wisdom's right hand, and in her " left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of plea"fantnefs, and all her paths are peace." Do not look only on those libertines who are in the beginning or middle of their courfe, whofe fpirits are lively, and their vigor yet unimpaired: look on the few older practitioners. These were the good fellows and focial fpirits of a former period their companions were cut off in the middle of their days, and they remain as beacons for your inftruction and warning. Do you fee them fullen in their deportment, mean in their attire, and defpised by the world itfelf; their faces bloated with intemperance, and their miferable offspring pale with hunger, or crippled by neglet thefe are the terrible fruits of midnight rioting. They were once as merry in their cups, as ready with their jefts, and as great despisers of Sabbaths, and fermons, of whining and praying, as any of their more fprightly fucceffors, who are in the high road to the fame despicable end.
My dear friends, when you perceive any one flirring up your averfion to parental authority, and teaching you to defpife the trouble fome admonitions of minifters and mothers, know that he is enticing you to the ruin of foul, body and eftate. Hear again the wife man, or rather the
Spirit of God fpeaking by him: Prov. xxiii. 19, &c. "Hear then, my fon, and be wife, and guide thine heart in "the way be not amongst wine bibbers, amongst riot"ous eaters of flefh; for the drunkard and the glutton "fhall come to poverty, and drowsiness fhali clothe a man "with rags. Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and defpife not thy mother when the is old." Prov. xxx.
17. "The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth "to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley fhall pick it out, and the young eagles fhall eat it."
Do you indeed think, that any of your loose companions, with all their profeflions of friendship and attachment, have the fame concern for your true interest that a parent has; or the fame judgment to difcern it? You may esteem it as a favor when you are affifted in the indulgence of your pleasures, and your irregular courses are concealed from the knowledge of your relations; but it is in truth the greatest injury that can poffibly be done' you it is often diftreffing to thofe of riper years and more experience, to observe how difficult it is to perfuade young' perfons of eafy tempers and warm affections, of the danger of affociating with profligates. We reckon it hard that you will not believe that they are worthlefs, upon our teftimony; but muft learn it from your own fatal experience. Believe it, there is no true friendfhip but what is founded on the principles of piety and virtue and if you confide in thofe of a different character, you will fooner or later be rewarded with treachery and falfehood: and indeed, the fooner the better; for their friendship is infinitely more hurtful than any effects of their difpleasure. Again therefore, let me befeech the younger part of my audience, who have not yet themselves thrown off all regard to decency, to give up all friendfhip with, and avoid the fociety, of those who have. It is ufually a hard facrifice, I confefs; but neceflary to your prefervation from the most destructive courfes. What fignifies the scorn or refentment of a few hardened wretches, compared to peace of your own minds, the heart-felt pleafure you' will give to every real friend, your comfort and happiness in this life, and the well grounded hope of a bleffed immortality?
2. Let me fhortly addrefs myself to parents, or others who are intruffed with the education of youth. And, oh that I could make you fenfible of the importance and difficulty of your charge! There are many directions, which might be given you with respect to education in general; but I choose to confine my thoughts at prefent to what is fuggefted by the occafion and fubject of this difcourfe. Let it therefore be your care, to preferve your children, as much as poffible, from the company and conversation of profane perfons, efpecially thofe who are tainted with infidelity and who, as its natural confequence, treat the exercises of piety with contempt and fcorn. To fuffer this, when you can hinder it, is treating their fouls in the fame manner, as you would do their bodies, if you placed doses of sweetened poison in every corner of the house. You will daily perceive how children are formed by imitation, in their temper and manners: they muft bear a refemblance to those from whom they receive their first impreffions: but if this is the cafe in general, how much more must they embrace the principles, and imitate the practice of their companions in pleasure ?
This caution is fo neceflary, that where counfel and intreaty are not fufficient to procure compliance, authority ought to be interpofed. Mere authority indeed will be very ineffectual; and therefore, I must particularly recommend to you an early attention to your children's opinion and judgment: they foon form a judgment, and will give early marks of approbation and averfion of perfons and characters. Do your utmost to make them efteem religion, as the greatest happiness to every perfon, and the most amiable part of every character. Make them fenfible, from your conduct, that it is not only your fincere choice, but greatest delight. It is very fatal to them, when they are led to look upon it as a burden and conftraint. Habituate them early to confider all other qualities as good for nothing, when piety is wanting; and a perfon of a truly Chriftian converfation as worthy of the highest esteem, whatever be his ftation or circumftances in other refpects. Remember it makes a part of the character of a good man, as drawn by the Pfalmift David; Pfa. xv. 4. "In whofe
"eyes a vile perfon is defpifed, but he honoreth them that "fear the Lord." I am perfuaded, that many, who truly fear God themfelves, are inadvertently guilty of a great mistake in this particular: they difcover unhappily too much of their admiration or envy of the natural advantages of others, independent of their moral character. Drefs, furniture and wealth, are looked upon as diftinguifhing advantages; and children are often fuffered to indulge themselves in mockery and derifion; even where deformity, poverty, aukwardnefs, and things perfectly innocent in themselves, are the only objects of their scorn. Intellectual abilities alfo, comprehenfion of mind, and fprightlinefs of fancy, are commonly much the objects of efteem; and young perfons are infenfibly led to admire thefe natural qualities, without at all confidering to what purposes they are applied. This must necessarily have a fatal effect; and therefore parents fhould endeavor, as much as poflible, to preferve upon their own minds, and infpire their children with an efteem of true piety, and a horror and averfion at a vicious character, whatever advantage may happen to accompany it.
If due care is taken betimes in this refpect, I am perfuaded it will, in a great measure, prevent the danger arifing from the example or folicitation of the patrons of impiety. Their chief fuccefs depends on their real character's lying concealed, till it is fafe and proper to avow it. They inftill the principles of irreligion, as a wife man would do the molt facred truths, by little and little, as their difciples are able to bear them, and always do it under the difguife of pleafure. There is nothing more different than the converfation and carriage of a libertine, in the prefence of thofe of whom he ftands in awe, and among his felect companions; and even these last are but gradually initiated into the concluding and horrid mysteries of profanity and blafphemy. Young minds therefore fhould be early formed to fuch a tafte, as to look for piety and virtue, before they will give their approbation or affection to any human accomplishments. Were this the cafe, they would not be fo often betrayed by specious appearances, and drawn in, by degrees, firft, to fuffer; then,