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The young finner convinc'd; or, the evil and danger of youthful fins.
JOB xiii. 26.
For thou writeft bitter things against me, and makeft me to poffefs the iniquities. of my youth.
HE fins and follies of youth are gene
Trally made very light of's to
fay of the vileft action, it was a trick of youth, palliates the matter and almost excufes it: thus it is in the common account of men, but if we look into the word of God (that book according to which old and young fhall be judged another day) we shall find the fins of youth quite otherwife rated there. There young men are exhorted to be fober minded, and warned to fly youthful lufts, as most dangerous and deftructive to their fouls. We find that David had a very humbling fense of his youthful fins, from his prayer for the pardon of them, Pfalm xxv. 7. Remember not the fins of my youth, nor my tranfgref fions; according to thy mercy remember thou
me, for thy goodness fake O Lord. We find Solomon alfo, in his Ecclefiaftes, bitterly lamenting his youthful faults and frolicks. And Job lets us know, in the text, how grievous the remembrance of his youthful iniquities was to him these were fins which he had committed long ago, but he had not done with them yet; for a humbling and afflicting fenfe of their guilt ftuck faft to his foul, now in his advanced years, and pierc'd him thro' with many forrows. These were the bitter things which he speaks of in the former part "of the text, Thou writeft bitter things against me. The latter claufe explains the former, and declares what thefe bitter things were, viz. the iniquities of his youth. God's writing bitter things against him fignifies his charging him with the guilt of those fins; and fo the words are very expreffive of Job's diftrefs and fear, left God fhould condemn him for his youthful fins and follies.
I fuppofe there may be an allufion in our text to the antient cuftom, of writing bills of accufation against malefactors, in which were fpecified the crimes they were condemned for, and these were publish'd for the vindicating of publick juftice. Thus Pilate writ our Sa-. viour's accufation, and nail'd it to his cross; in which was fpecified the pretended crime that he was condemned for, viz. that he was, or that he fet up himfelf to be, the King of the Jews. Probably, in allufion to fome fuch cuftom
custom as this, Job expreffes the apprehenfion which he had of God's condemning him for hisyouthful fins, in these words, Thou writeft bitter things against me, that is, as it followsin the latter claufe, Thou makeft me to poffefs the iniquities of my youth. In thefe words there are two things to be confidered and inquired into, which will make way for a practical improvement of them.
I. What are the peculiar iniquities or fins of youth.
II. What it is for a man to be made to poffefs the iniquities of his youth.
I. What are we to understand here by the iniquities of youth? There is no doubt but they take in all the fins which are committed in our younger years. We come finners into the world, being shapen in iniquity and conceived in fin, Pfalm li. 5. and we are called tranfgreffors from the womb, Ifaiah xlviii. 8. It is an inquiry but of little moment, how foon we begin to commit actual fin? Solomon has obferved long ago that foolishness is bound upin the heart of a child, and no fooner, almoft, do children begin to act at all, but we may make the fame obfervation ourselves: naturalcorruption discovers itfelf with the first glimmerings of reason, and visibly taints, almoft, our earliest actions: well may we therefore be called tranfgreffors from the womb. It is further certain from fcripture that every fin deferves God's wrath and curfe, and makes C 5
the finner liable to it, the fins of childhood and youth not excepted. We need a pardon for every fin that we ever committed in all our lives; and was one only to be excepted out of the general pardon, one fin of our youngest years, that would for ever exclude us out of heaven, and fink our guilty fouls into the pit of burnings. We ought therefore to be humbled before God for the fins of our very childhood and youth, and to pray with David, that He would remember us with mercy, with refpect to our youthful fins.
But befides this general account of youthful fins, it may be very proper to take a more particular and diftinct account of them. For it is evident that there are fome particular fins which young perfons are more efpecially prone to, and which may therefore, moft properly, be called the fins of youth: and to fuch fins, it is highly probable, our text has a fpecial reference. Though the corruption of nature inclines us to all fin, and works in us, as the Apostle fpeaks, all manner of concupifcence; yet it does not follow that every man must be equally prone to every fin; nay, experience affures us that this is not the cafe: very often the temperament of the body favours one luft more than another; hence fome people are naturally paffionate, others are as naturally addicted to drunkenness, or uncleannefs, or the like: fo the different ages of human life have their
different temptations, and their peculiar fins ; fome fins are, in a fpecial manner, the iniquities of youth; that is, fuch fins as young perfons are commonly moft prone to; and there are alfo the fins of manhood, and of old age. Peculiar temptations furround us in every stage, and in every circumstance of our pilgrimage. The iniquities of youth fall under our confideration at prefent; and I will take the liberty to mention fome of them, not, I am fure, with a defign to expose any young perfons, but merely to caution them, and to point out where their greatest danger lies, that they may the better avoid and escape it.
The prevailing iniquities of youth are commonly fuch as thefe.
1.) Pride and felf-conceit. These, it is true, are vices which stick close to our nature, and we shall hardly ever get quite rid off them, 'till mortality and corruption fhall be deftroy'd together. Pride feems to have been the firft fin both of angels, and men. Devil was lifted up with pride, and fo fell into condemnation, 1 Tim. iii. 6. and this was undoubtedly the ruin of our first parents; they affected to be like Gods, but thereby funk into ruin and mifery. And now ever fince the fall, pride has incorporated itself into the nature of man. But whether it is, that when we grow up to years of difcretion, we see the folly of pride, and fo really become more