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L E T T E R

FROM

MR. THOMPSON TO HIS SON WILLIAM,

ON DECISION OF CHARACTER.

My Dear William. I am very happy to hear, from Mr. M-, that you maintain the same character for diligence and attention, in his countinghouse, that you received from your esteemed master at school. Your cousin John also informs me, that your health and spirits are as good as when you left home; for these blessings I trust you feel grateful to him who allows himself to be called “our heavenly Father." Endeared name ! my glowing love for my dear children enables me to form some conception of its import. We often talk of you, my dear boy; and your mamma said, at breakfast-time this morning. There is only one thing that William wants, to make him all that we could wish, and that is-decision of character." I did not forget this remark; and, because I know it to be true, I shall make a few observations on the subject, which I hope you will consider and improve.

Your desire to please, and your fear to offend your companions, are amiable traits in your character; but, when I consider the natural easiness of your temper, I fear lest you should be exposed to temptation, and should comply with the solicitations to evil, wbich you must expect to encounter in passing through life. Kindness and courtesy may be maintained towards others, without a sacrifice of principle; but we should never forget, that decision of character is absolutely necessary to enable us to

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stand firm in the day of trial. I recollect, when I was in an office in London, thirty years ago, that one of my companions was a youth whose character was somewhat similar to one whose name you will be able to guess, when I say that he was very amiable, lively, good tempered, and undecided. This young man's name was Jones, he was the son of pious parents, and seemed at first very steady and well inclined: we often enjoyed a little serious conversation together when office hours Soon after my acquaintance with him, some of our companions proposed going to the theatre, and I heard one of them remark, “'Tis no use asking Thompson; but I think we can persuade Jones to go with us.” Three or four of thein came up to Jones: at first he declined, he hesitated; they joked with him, laughed at his prejudices, and, by degrees, persuaded him to accompany them. One compliance made way for another; one temptation succeeded another, till poor Jones gave up every thing serious, became gay, dissipated, and was ruined. I tremble lest you, my dear William, should pursue any thing like such a course; beware of the first step-be firm, be decided : let no one who proposes any thing evil to you be led to imagine that you are hesitating, or indifferent on the subject; learn to say, and to say decisively, the important monosyllable-No. You remember, that when the youthful Joseph was tempted, his answer was firm, decided, and final: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?" Gen. xxxix. I. He did not hesitate and parley with temptation, his refusal was decided at first, and his conduct was thus consistent throughout, though he was tempted “ day by day.” He acted by faith, and thus you are now taught in the scriptures to "flee youthful Justs.” Faith draws strength from Christ, through whom alone the young can be preserved from the numerous snares which beset their path.

Knowing, as I do, the dangers and temptations which the young must encounter, and that nothing but the grace of God can keep them from evil, I feel very anxious for you, now that you are removed from the watchful care of your parents. You have had many religious advantages; and I know that you respect the christian character, and are attentive to the outward observances of religion: but, my dear boy, what are these without decision of heart, without supreme love to Christ, entire reliance on his mediation, and total devotedness of mind, and soul, and life to him ? The claim of God is to our all;" he will not be satisfied with a part: he says, “My Son, give me thine heart.” And is it possible, that a little outward attention, and mere expressions of respect, will be deemed a compliance with this comprehensive requisition ? Vain will be the attempt to impose on Him who searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins of the children of inen. He cannot be mocked.

Indecision of character, as to spiritual concerns, is not of such a harmless nature as some persons imagine; for it opposes the commands of God, slights the grace of Christ, and grieves the Holy Spirit. “ Come now, and let us reason together,” saith the Lord. " Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden,” says Christ.

- The spirit and the bride say, Come: And let him that heareth say, come: And let him that is athirst come: and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Should such pressing invitations be treated with hes

itating coldness, or wavering indecision ? Would a perishing beggar, who received the gracious invitation of a prince to have all his wants supplied, be undecided whether he should accept the offer or not? And shall sinful perishing man hesitate and slight the invitation, and be undecided whether to accept the offer of his God or not? Oh, the infinite folly, and madness, and perverseness of the human heart ! -exceeded by naught, save by the grace,

and condescension, and compassion of Christ !

Not only is the undecided person opposed to God, but also to himself, as it respects his own comfort and happiness: “ He that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.” I have heard of some persons who were said “to have had enough religion to make them miserable, but not enough to make them happy.” These were no doubt undecided characters, they wished to have their portion here, and yet also to claim a reversion in the skies; but this is impossible. Opposite principles maintain perpetual warfare in such bosoms, and thus the “double ininded man is unstable in all his ways.” We have no right to expect the comforts of religion unless we are entirely decided; the promises of God cannot be claimed by the half-hearted, they are only the portion of him who trusts in the Lord with all his heart, and leans not unto his own understanding. The most decided christians are commonly the most happy christians. Indeed, without decision, a man may have the name, but is not entitled to the character of a christian indeed; his house is not " founded on a rock."

And now, my dear William, after these mere general remarks, I would press the subject of decision of character on your heart, with all the anxiety of a

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father, who can say, with sincerity, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 4. If decision be necessary to persons of all ages, it is of special importance to the young, of infinite importance to you. You have had some impressions; O let them not be like the morning cloud and the early dew, which soon vanish

Think of Felix, who trembled and said, “Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season, I will send for thee.” Those who deJay have no reason to expect that the convenient season will ever arrive. Remember, that the longer you delay to be decided, the more difficult will it become; excuses will be multiplied, temptations will arise, and conscientious feelings be weakened. The “ first-fruits,” under the Jewish dispensation, were to be dedicated to God; so should your earliest affections and youthful energies be surrendered as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Rom. xii. 1.

Take this letter, retire to your closet, search the scriptures; examine your own heart, and pray earnestly for the enlightening influences of the Holy Spirit; seriously contemplate the life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, who never was undecided on our behalf, though we are too often undecided towards him; look to him continually for strength, " for we can do all things through Christ who strengthencih us;" consider the value of your soul—the import of the word ETERNITY; and, O my dear boy, BE DECIDED FOR GOD IN THE DAYS OF YOUR YOUTH.

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