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view, and within your reach? If there be innumerable evils inseparable from sin; if "the way of transgres"sors be hard;" if there be "no peace to the wick"ed ;" if "the gall of bitterness" be connected with "the bonds of iniquity;" if "the wages of sin is "death;" and "these are the true sayings of God," then the earlier the deliverance, the greater the privi lege. Those who approached our Saviour in the days of his flesh, desired an immediate relief from their pressing maladies. Bartimeus did not say, "Lord, "that I may receive my sight"but not so soon; I wish to enjoy my blindness some time longer. The leper did not say, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make "me clean ;" and I hope at some future season I shall be healed; but I cannot resign my disease for some years. In another case, a poor wanderer, who has missed his way in a journey of importance, would deem it an advantage to be set right speedily. But you wish first to go far astray, though you must retread every step, exhausting your strength and your time by your return, and in danger of seeing the day end, before you have reached the road, in which your journey is to begin. Such losses and injuries are occasioned by delay; and where the soul is saved, and sin is pardoned, in how many instances are late converts "made "to possess the iniquities of their youth!" This brings
PART II. To consider the beneficial influence of early piety over the remainder of your days. Youth is the spring of life; and by this will be determined the glory of summer, the abundance of autumn, the
provision of winter. It is the morning of life, and if the Sun of righteousness does not dispel the moral mists and fogs before noon, the whole day generally remains overspread and gloomy. It is the seed time;▾ and "what a man soweth, that shall he also reap.". Every thing of importance is affected by religion in this period of life.
Piety in youth will have a good influence over your bodies. It will preserve them from disease and deformity. Sin variously tends to the injury of health; and often by intemperance the constitution is so impaired, that late religion is unable to restore what early religion would have prevented. The unpleasantness which you see in many faces, is more the effect of evil tempers brooding within, while the features are forming and maturing, than of any natural defect. After such disagreeable traits are established, religion comes too late to alter the physiognomy of the countenance; and thus is obliged, however lovely in itself, to wear through life a face corroded with envy, malignant with revenge, scowling with suspicion and distrust, or haughty with scorn and contempt.
Early piety will have a good influence over your secular concerns. Nothing is so likely to raise a man in the world. It produces a fair character; it procures confidence and esteem; it promotes diligence, frugality, and charity; it attracts the blessing of heaven, which "maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow with "it." "For they that honour me, I will honour." "Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the "first fruits of all thy increase; so shall thy barns be "filled with plenty, and thy presses shall rush out
"with new wine." "Seek ye first the kingdom of "God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall"be added unto you."
Early piety will have a good influence to secure you from all those dangers to which you are exposed in a season of life the most perilous. Conceive of a youth entering a world like this, destitute of the presiding, governing care of religion; his passions high, his prudence weak; impatient, rash, confident; without experience; a thousand avenues of seduction opening around him, and a syren voice singing at the entrance of each; pleased with appearances, and embracing them for realities; joined by evil company; ensnared by erroneous publications:-the hazards, my young. friends, exceed all the alarm I can give; and you may flatter yourselves, that your own good sense and moral feelings will secure you; but "he that trusteth in his "own heart is a fool." The power of temptation, the force of example, the influence of circumstances in new and untried situations, are inconceivable; they baffle the cleareft conviction, and the firmest resolu tion; and often render us an astonishment to ourselves. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and "lean not to thine own understanding; in all thy ways "acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Follow Him, and "thou shalt walk in thy way safely, "and thy foot shall not stumble." His grace and his providence will be thy guard and thy conductor. And "wilt thou not from this time cry unto" Him, "My Father, thou art the Guide of my youth?"
Early piety will have a beneficial influence in forming your connections, and establishing your plans for life;
for you will ask counsel of the Lord, and arrange all your schemes under the superintendency of Scripture, which contains his unerring views of things. Thuse changes which a person who becomes religious in manhood is obliged to make, are always very embarrassing. With what dišliculty do some good men establish family worship, after living, in the view of children and servants, so long in the neglect of it; but this would have been avoided, had they early follow: ed the example of Joshua, “as for me and my house, " we will serve the Lord." How hard is it to disen
” tangle ourselves from associates, with whom we have been long familiar, and who have proved a snare to our souls ! but we should never have linked ourselves with them, had we early listened to the voice of truth;
my son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not :" " he that walketh with wise men shall be wise, and a “ companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Some evils are remediless ; persons have formed alliances which they cannot dissolve; but they did not walk by the rule,“ be ye not unequally yoked together with unbe“ lievers.” They are now wedded to misery all their days; and repentance, instead of visiting them like a faithful friend, to chide them when they do wrong, and withdraw, is quartered upon them for life.
We may view the influence of youthful piety, as connected with your spiritual progress and pleasure. In every science, profession and business, early application is deemed necessary to future excellency ; He is not likely to surpass others, who began long after them. As soon as the grand purpose of a man is fixed, he has something always to regulate him, always to engage
him ; he secures much action, which would otherwise be dispersed and useless ; he avails himself of all accidental assistance, and turns every stream into this swelling channel. An early dedication also renders a religious life more easy and pleasant. Use facilitates ; a repetition of action produces habits, and habits formed, yield delight in those exercises which formed them. What was irksome at first, becomes by custom agreeable, and we even refuse a change. And this is peculiarly the case here; for religion will bear examination; it improves on intimacy; fresh excellencies are perpetually discovered; fresh succours are daily afforded; and every new victory inspires new hope, and produces new energy.
Your piety, my youthful friends, will be of unspeakable advantage in the calamities of life. These you cannot reasonably expect to escape. "Man is born “to trouble.” Whatever affords us pleasure, has power to give us pain. Possessions are precarious. Friends die. When his gourds wither, what becomes of the wretch who has no other shade? But “to the upright
there ariseth light in the darkness.” Though divine grace does not ensure them exemption from calamity, it turns the curse into a bleffing; it enters the house of mourning, and soothes the troubled mind; it prepares us for all, sustains in all, sanctifies by all, and delivers us from all.
Early piety will bless old age. When the “evil ç days come, and the years draw near, in which you
, “ will say we have no pleasure ;" when the clouds “ return after the rain;" when those that look out " at the windows are darkened ;" when the grass