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the brute. The charms of beauty, of man ners, of wit, may adorn the young in their hasty journey to an endless world; but religion only will prepare them for a heavenly home those may glitter in the casket; but only that will beautify the jewel.
If then, my young friend, you would know your real state, examine not from what pollutions you may have been kept free; not what moral duties you have practised; not what religious ordinances you may have regarded; or with what attractions you may be adorned; but inquire, are you acquainted with the sinfulness of your own heart? Have you ever experienced repentance towards God? Have you ever committed your helpless soul to the Lord Jesus Christ? and sought your happiness and eternal good in him? If you are a stranger to all this, you are a stranger to religion.
The worth of the soul a reason for early piety, and its importance shown by the word of God.
THE chief design of the preceding sections has been to make you sensible of your need of spiritual blessings; and to give you a brief view of the nature of religion. Consider now more fully some of those reasons, which should induce you to embrace religion without delay. And may God enable me to set them before you with that affectionate earnestness and plainness which become one dying creature, when addressing another, who must soon be an inhabitant of heaven or hell.
One most weighty motive to induce you to give your youth to God, is that you possess an immortal soul. The body is the inferior part of your nature. Pass away a few short years, and it must mingle with the clods of the valley, and say to corruption, Thou art my father; and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister. By the body
you are allied to worms and dust; by the soul, to angels and to God. Your soul is immortal. It derived its being from God. A few years will finish all your delights, and hopes, and fears below; then will your soul be fixed where it must live for ever. While you, my young friend, read these lines, the souls of millions are encountering all the sorrows, or are gladdened with all the joys, of an endless world. For ages have the bodies of many of them been turned to dust; their very tombstones are mouldered away; but they all live in eternity, though forgotten here; they are hidden from your sight, but are more alive to joy or sorrow, than they ever were upon earth. Soon will the time arrive when you must meet this solemn change of being; when you must converse with man no more; but must become a companion of angels or of devils. And, O what is the worth of a soul! that may, through endless ages, shine in heaven, glorious as an angel of light; or which, covered with darkness, misery, and despair, must become like a devil, in that lake of fire, where the fire never shall be quenched. O! in pity to your own precious and immortal soul, embrace, without delay, the gospel of your God.
The worth of the soul is a subject on which
men of all descriptions have agreed; which the best and wisest have had their testimony confirmed by the most careless and the worst. Martyrs have shown their sense of its value by all their sufferings to secure its salvation. For this thousands, as sensible as you of the comforts of life, have willingly forsaken "kindred, country, friends, and ease;" have been tortured on racks, or devoured by beasts of prey; been burned alive, or suffered torments far more intolerable than burning! "And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings; yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned; were sawn asunder; were tempted; were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy; they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and caves of the earth." Impressed with the worth of the soul, many, with these dark scenes before them, have bid farewell to all the allurements of the world; to meet the roughest storms of persecution; face its dangers; and sink into the grave beneath them. Yet while some were burning, others were coming forward to take their places, in the true spirit of the English martyr, who, at the place of execution, kissed the stake, and
exclaimed, "Welcome the cross of Christ, welcome everlasting life!" Does one of all these martyred myriads repent? Does one now imagine, that he suffered more than salvation was worth? Ah, no, if they could now address you, they might tell you, that sooner than lose the soul, they would burn in flames a thousand times hotter! suffer torments a thousand times more protracted; prisons a thousand times more dismal; and meet death in forms, if possible, a thousand times more terrible. And was it worth their while to endure so much to reach heaven, and is it not worth yours, in earnestness, to seek admittance there?
If, after the testimony of such distinguished witnesses, you should hearken to those who have trodden a less brilliant and less suffering path to heaven, their testimony would be the same. Say to the dying christian, "You are in those circumstances which enable you to view this world and the next aright; what should I chiefly mind?" He, in purport, would reply, "Take care of your soul." A dying saint said to some friends that visited him, "You come hither to learn to die. I can assure you, that your whole life, be it ever so long, is little enough to prepare for death. Have a care of this vain deceitful world, and the lusts of the flesh. Be sure