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said, “The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.” Desires, then, are nothing without endeavours.
But our meaning is this—that what a Christian does in this world, is very little, compared with what he ought to do, and even would do. If you view his dispositions; if you judge of him by his desires, he would " attend on the Lord without distraction,” he would run and not be weary, and walk and not fainţ;" he would equal a seraph in the service of Heaven. But if you view his executions; if you judge of him by his attainments, he cries out, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that I cannot do the things that I would: when I would do good, evil is present with me, and how to perform that which is good I find not. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Christian! this will not be the case always.He who has given you the will, which once you had not, has promised in due time to give you all the power you now want.
You will soon drop every burden, and escape every impediment. You will soon appear before his throne, and serve him day and night in his temple. 66 When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”
“ Grace will complete what grace begins,
To save from sorrows and from sins;
AN ADDRESS TO YOUTH.
(THE FIRST DAY OF THE YEAR.)
Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father,
thou art the guide of my youth?—Jer. iii. 4.
It is a lovely view which the Supreme Being has given us of himself in the words of Ezekiel: " As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” His mercies are over all his works.-But if there be one class of his creatures, for which he seems more peculiarly concerned than another—they are you, my dear children—they are you, my young friends.
Hence, to engage you in his service betimes, he has laid hold of every principle of action; he has addressed every passion of your natureyour hope, and fear—your joy and sorrowyour honour and disgrace. He commands you as a sovereign—“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” He promises you as a God—“I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me.” He expostulates with you as a father—" Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?”
These words teach us—I. That youth need a guide. II. That God is willing to take them under his direction. III. That the way in which they are to engage his attention, is by prayer.
And, IV. That there are particular seasons in which he expects to be sought by them, and from which he dates the expostulation—“Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?”
Yes, my dear youth, you need many things.For whatever amiableness and attractions you may possess, you are fallen creatures. guilty-and want pardon. You are depravedand need to be renewed in the spirit of your minds. And you are wanderers—and DEMAND
Let me try to convince you of this. Now, we are expressly assured by the prophet, that, “The way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”And if this be true of old travellers, who have long been moving Zion-ward, how much more is this the case with those who are only beginning to start? There is nothing we are so unwilling to own as our ignorance-but, though “vain man would be wise, he is born like a wild ass's colt. They go astray from the womb, speaking lies.” The human mind is naturally dark. We bring no knowledge of any kind into the world with us -it is all originally external, and drawn in through the senses. It is the
of instruction, and is obtained by slow degrees. And, as to religious knowledge, we should have been entirely destitute, but for a revelation from God. And when this light is given, it is like the sun shining on a blind man: it affords the medium, but not the faculty of vision. Another work, therefore, is necessary to make us wise unto salvation--and hence, David prays for himself; 6 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law;" and hence, the apostle prays
for the Ephesians; “ That the Gud of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give unto them the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of him: the eyes of their understanding being enlightened; that they may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."
Again. There is one kind of knowledge, in which you must be deficient—that which is derived from trial, and which we call experience. You have not had opportunities to observe, to compare, and to distinguish things. You have not remarked the difference there is between appearances, and reality; between the beginning and the end of enterprises. You are therefore liable to imposition, and delusion. The less experience we have, the more needful is a guide; but, alas, that which makes youth diffident, renders them presumptuous:
For they are full of confidence. We read of the meekness of wisdom. And it is certain that intelligence produces modesty; it brings to view difficulties which never strike the superficial observer; it shows us that so far are we from all claim to infallibility, that we are not only liable, but likely to err. For advancing in knowledge is like sailing down a river, which widens as we proceed, until the prospect expands into an ocean, and we see no land. But ignorance and inexperience generate and cherish rashness and forwardness. A quickness of growth, is often in proportion to the shallowness of the soil, as we see in the stony ground-But young people often mistake a readiness of apprehension for a depth of judgment and a comprehensiveness of mind:
hence, they will speak with decision on subjects which perplex others; are positive where the wise are uncertain; and flounder on where talents and years are afraid to step.
Now, too, the passions and appetites begin to rage in their violence. These becloud the understanding, and prevent reflection: and rendering them averse to reproof, and impatient of con
on, and plunge them into a thousand improprieties and embarrassments.
Let us also remark their situation and circumstances in this present evil world. If thus ignorant, and inexperienced; if thus full of confídence, and eagerness of desire, they had to travel through a smooth and safe country--it would not be so dangerous. But they have to journey through regions full of pits and snares; where enemies are concealed in ambush; where by-paths perpetually present themselves; where seducers lie in wait to deceive; and fruits grow on the sides of the road fair to the eye, but deadly in the taste. And here—what can be done here-without a guider-Who will cry, Forbear; there is danger-these steps take hold on hell: 6. This is the way, walk ye
in it?" And to close the whole, let us remember the consequences which will arise, from wrong steps taken in youth. Many of these will make work for bitter repentance, hereafter. With regard to others, repentance itself will be unavailing: you must endure the connexions you have formed; and carry the infirmities you have entailed upon yourselves, down to the grave. What you now do will give not only a colouring, but a character to the whole of
future life. Youth, then, needs a guide. But whom will you