Imágenes de páginas

believeth with an infidel?" Let it not be supposed that the energy of these words respects merely the case of a Christian about to marry a heathen or a sceptic. It represents the case of Christian meditating marriage with any person whom God regards as not a Christian: a person who, like the covetous man,” or the glutton, being enslaved to some habit of unrighteousness, is stamped by thc Scriptures “ an idolator;" a person who lives not unto Christ and therefore has no efficient faith in Christ; a person whose heart, idolizing the world, is cold and formal as to genuine religion. Reflect on the danger which would necessarily ensue to your own principles, no less than to your own happiness, from an union with a partner not truly religious; and you will confess that on this, as on every occasion, interest moves hand in hand with duty. Guard, then, your affections against sudden and premature impressions. Look primarily at the religious character of the individual, toward whom you feel a dawning of regard. Weigh circumstances with precision: weigh them under a lively sense of your predisposition to see all things with a favorable eye. If attachment, insinuating itself into the bosom has been permitted to make progress, ere you discover that its object is in the primary qualification defective; how distressing is the alternative of relinquishing your prospects at the expense of a bitter sacrifice, or of persisting at the risk of your present and eternal welfare! But if you shrink from the sacrifice, you do not love God above all. In making it, whatever you suffer, you suffer “ as a Christian;" you suffer “for righteousness' sako.” In such sufferings “blessed are you.” Act thus in all things, and you shall be blessed through your

Redeemer for ever.




2 Cor. vi. 17, 18, & vii. 1. Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not

the unclean thing: and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having there. fore these pronuises, dearly beloved; let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.


The Christian graces of piety, docility, and reverence for age, together with the leading obligations into which self-government is ramified, were investigated in the preceding discourse with especial regard to their influence on the conduct of youth. May the guidance of the Holy Spirit direct, and His blessing prosper, our inquiries into several branches of duty which remain to be examined with a similar reference.

V. With self-government discretion is intimately connected. Each borrows aid from the other, and lends reciprocal assistance. If, in proportion as discretion influences the character, the path is smoothed for the exercise of self-command; in proportion likewise as sober-mindedness and forbearance produce experimental effects on the conduct, the discriminating powers of discretion are strengthened, and the exertion of them is rendered prompt, easy, and determinate. “To give to the young man discretion," was an object which occupied the heart of the wisest of men.

[ocr errors]

son, keep sound wisdom and discretion. Discretion shall preserve thee and shall be lise unto thy soul. Let the aged teach the young women to be discrect. I will that the

younger women give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”— Such are the precepts of the Most High. What consummate, what truly scriptural discretion, was manifested by the incarnate Son of God, when he repelled the tempter in the wilderness; and when be turned aside the ensnaring questions of his enemies! Be yours the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dose. Discretion neither recommends immoderate suspicion; nor entrenches on candid simplicity and ingenuous openness; por authorizes the smallest deviation from the path of sincerity. Bu!, as including vigilant and cautious deliberation, it imposes a curb on the natural precipitance of the young; requires them to examine ere they choose; to understand before they decide; to distinguish between qualities somewhai similar; to prefer a substance to a shadow, an enduring to a transient enjoyment, a great good though remote to a triling acquision at hand. It regulates words no less than actions; inculcates seasonable silence; enjoins composure of deportment; upholds serenity of mind. How many unguarded speeches, how many rash compliances, how many unwise engagements, how many disputes, misconceptions, offences, and animosities, subjects all of subsequent and unavailing anxiety, would discretion have precluded! How many wasted opportunities of prudent remark, of salutary advice, of active usefulness, would discretion have seized! Discretion exacts a rational appropriation of time, and a judicious selection of employments. It proscribes noxious and trilling books; and, among the diversity of improving studies, directs your cye to those which, according to your station, promise the largest portion of desirable fruit. It forbids eagerness and curiosity to exhaust the powers of youth in boundless excursions throughout the regions of learning; and instructs you to limit your pursuit to objects not surpassing your grasp by their number or by their magnitude. Again and again it sounds in your car the danger of “ evil communication;" warns you that ariable feelings give no assurance of religion; that alluring manners may veil a profligate heart; that wit compensates not for vice, nor gay cheerfulness for indifference to piety. It reminds you that “all the delight” of the Psalmist was "in such as excelled in virtue;" that he was a companion of them

Vol. 11.-62

that feared God;" that men will form their judgment of you from the character of those with whom you associate; and that, according to the natural propensity of your heart to cvil and the powerful contagion of corrupt example, an unfavorable judgment, if at present premature, will probably be verified.

VI. In the general deportment and conduct of society, the young receive a peculiar measure of benevolent attention. Their minds, too, have not as yet forgotten carly lessons, and habits of compliance; nor lost the warmth of affection or of sanguine credulity, amidst protracted experience of hypocrisy and selfishness. Hence the Christian duty of benevolence urges its demands on youth with greater positive advantages, and in the face of fewer obstacles, than exist in maturer life. If the world, tolerant as it may be where age las chilled the feelings of sympathy, and caution has chained the hand of liberality, regards youthful malignity and youthful unkindness, and even youthful apathy, with detestation; with what eyes shall God, who pronounces the want of benevolence utterly unchristian in any period, behoid it in the young? Though the relief of the distressed by pecuniary assistance, or by those comforts which money can purchase, is so far from constituting the substance of benevolence, that you may “ bestow all your goods to feed the poor,'' and be totally devoid of Christian “charity;" it is yet one of the fruits which truc benevolence cannot but render. If any man hath this world's good, and secth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" If we are all members one of another, fellow-members of that "body" of which " Christ is the head;" if to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to take in the stranger, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and the prisoner, is to minister to the necessities of Christ; how dwellcth the love of our Redeemer in us, if we minister not to those whom “lle is not asliamed to call brethren," whose treatment he considers as experienced by himself? To economy, as a branch of self-government, a slight allusion has recently been made. Let economy now be regarded in a point of view still more attractive: let it be regarded as the fountain appropriated to feed the stream of beneficence. If we are directed to “ look every man to the things of others;" if the poor man is commanded 6 to work with his hands, that he

may harc to give to him that needeth;" shall not youth in easy circum


stances save that it may bestow? Shall youth content itself with the renunciation of cxpensive vanities? Shall it not delight to impose silence on many guilty desires, to sacritice many lawsul indulgences; to restrict within narrower limits the portion of time employed in harmless but unprofitable, and unnecessary occupations; that by dispensing bounty with a larger hand, by diffusing comfort over a wider circle of miscry, it may gratify itself not merely in the ampler exercise of compassion, but in more abundant manifestations of love to its God, and to its Redeemer?Christ, the Christian's model, “ pleased not himself,” lived not to his own casc and gratification. Let youth obey his precepts, and copy his example.

By the operation of benevolence on the heart, let the young be guarded against that proneness to entertain hasiy jealousics, and to form uncharitable opinions, to which, amidst the unexpected discoveries of evil in their associates, they will be tempted. In contemplating those, whom, on the whole you disapprove, let the eye be no less open to merits than to failings. Let the failings of another teach you to meditate on your own offences. Universally discreet, familiar exclusively with the good; be candid, and courteous, and benevolent to all.

VII. Of youth, one of the principal ornaments is, diffidence. With some of the duties already investigated, particularly with docility and reverence for age, diflidence is intimately joined. So cxtensive, however, are its bcarings on the character, so general is its importance as a safe-guard to youthsul virtuc, that its claims to separate consideration are not to be withstood. To be little in your own cyes; to distrust your own powers; to decm humbly of your own attainments; to seek for wisdom from the experienced; to honor all men; in lowliness of mind to esteem others better than yourself; to flee the haunts of temptation; to repress the sallies of vanity; to nip affectation in the bud; to resist the suggestions of pride; to turn a deaf car to the persuasions of ambition; to recoil from the voice of flattery; to receive blessings with lively consciousness of demerit; to resign them with thankfulness that they have been enjoyed so long: these are among the lessons of diflidence. Plainness and modesty of apparel

. are indispensable tokens of diffidence. So pronounces St. Paul, when, in contradistinction to decorations consisting in “gold and pearls, and costly array,” he directs that 6 women” should " adorn


« AnteriorContinuar »