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being understood, but certainly false, as they are intended to be understood.
Here the youth sometimes begins, and if he has already begun, always strengthens the spirit of prevarication. Here he loses the high reverence for truth which this eminently sacred object demands of every child of Adam. Here he chills the susceptibility of conscience, that apprehensiveness of guilt under which the soul thrills with an electrical alarm whenever temptation and sin are presented to its eye, and which is the first and chief security against transgression inwoven into the constitution of our nature. Here he learns to look at falsehood with an eye less and less trembling, until it becomes cool, steady, and satisfied. Finally, here the habit of falsehood is often rivetted, and the melancholy career begins which ends only in perdition.
At the same time the idleness, the profaneness, the riot, and the gambling compel the instructors, if they have sufficient integrity to discharge the duties of their office faithfully, to animadvert in various modes upon his conduct. He is reproved, warned, and rebuked. This rouses his resentment, awakens a spirit of revenge, and prompts him to new and more violent perpetrations. He is then formally and solemnly censured. The same spirit, stung into new hostility, endeavours to reck its resentment in new crimes. Detected again, he is finally sent away, with disgrace to himself and extreme mortification to his parents.
Into the world he carries nothing but wasted time, abused talents, an empty mind, shrunk by sloth and polluted with vice, and a life in which conscience finds nothing to approve, and God sees every thing to condemn. His habits have now become too fixed to permit any reasonable hope of a change for the better. Knowledge he has none to qualify him for those kinds of business for which learning and science are the indispensable preparation. Study he cannot, because his idleness within these walls has rendered the employment loathsome. For active business of every kind he is unfitted, both by his ignorance and his inclination. He who has been idle here will ordinarily be idle wherever he is, and he who has spent so much
of life in sedentary idleness is peculiarly disqualified for the exertions of activity. Besides, he leaves this place under a cloud. He has acted in such a manner as to be driven from these walls. The reason, whatever it may be, will always be believed to have been an unhappy one for him, and usually will be the true one. The subject has been so long under the eye of the public, and has been so often illustrated in the experience of ages, that it is well understood by the community at large. All men know that vice is the regular object of collegiate censures, and most men entirely believe what thirty years' experience enables me to know, that idleness is that bitter and prolific stem of which all rank and poisonous vices are the fruits. Of twenty students who leave this seminary in disgrace, nineteen are ruined by sloth. So long and so regularly has this been the fact, that it is, in a sense, proverbially as well as generally known.
With these stains upon his character, the miserable youth enters the world. The course by which alone he can recover a decent reputation is all ascending, steep, and difficult. Who can wonder that to him, habitually slothful and vicious, it should seem too long and too hard to be resolutely encountered. Sloth, according to ancient fable, had charms even for Hercules. What must be its power over a youth who was fascinated by it at first, and has regularly chosen for a succession of years to bow himself under the yoke without opposition or reluctance. Hardly ever are the exertions made which in the case before us are indispensable to success. Idle here, he is idle everywhere. Vicious here, he is vicious through life. Without reputation here, disgrace accompanies him to the grave.
As he is useless to mankind, it cannot be supposed that they will regard him either with esteem or affection, or that they will take any measures to render his life pleasant. But he is not merely useless he is a common nuisance. Too indolent to provide for himself an honest subsistence, he is obliged, if he subsist at all, to derive the means from a succession of tricks and frauds, or to receive them from the hand of charity. His character at the same time is contemptible, and his example
contagious and baleful. Of course he becomes an object on the one hand of contempt, on the other of loathing. Want, with shrivelled cheeks and haggard eyes, stares him in the face wherever he goes. Wherever he goes he is followed by the finger of scorn, the jeer of derision, and the hiss of infamy.
In the meantime, he has a soul, and, in spite of his sloth and his wishes, is accountable and immortal. He who is idle in his temporal concerns will be lazy in those which are spiritual. In the case before us vice, of many kinds, and in gross degrees, combines with rivetted sloth to render the work of salvation doubly difficult. To a slothful mind the way to eternal life is full of obstacles, steep, rough, hard of ascent, immeasurably long, solitary, and doubtful in its termination. On all these accounts it is forbidding, full of discouragements, full of toil, devoid of comfort, devoid of hope. To a vicious mind it is disgusting in itself. Such a mind regards the business of obtaining salvation as an odious, painful employment, all the parts of which it considers only with disgust. Equally disagreeable to such a mind is the salvation itself. It sees nothing in eternal life worth the possession, much less worth the labour of attainment. All the disadvantages, therefore, under which a man labours with respect to this mighty concern, combine their influence to prevent this man from securing the glorious acquisition, and to shut him out of heaven.
On such a man it cannot be expected that God will smile. He who will do nothing for himself or his fellow-men, who only devours what they earn, and who lives to no end but to sin and to make others sin, he who does nothing for the author of his being but violates his precepts, abuses his grace, and dishonours his name through life, can certainly expect no favour from God. We know the end as well as the character of the servant who wrapped his talent in a napkin and buried it in the earth. How much less guilty was he than most of those whose character has been described in this discourse. What then can these persons expect but to be given over to premature hardness of heart and blindness of mind. Useless and noxious only while they live in the present world, what can they hope but to be miserable in that which is to come.
Wicked and slothful here, they will of course, with all the other wicked and slothful, be there bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It is remarkable that this useless, worthless, wretched being, throughout all the parts of this deplorable progress, hugs himself upon his superior wisdom. This strange union of selfcomplacency with folly and vice, has not escaped the observation of that profound investigator of the human character, the author of the book of Proverbs. "The sluggard," says he, "is wiser in his own conceit than seven men who can render a "reason." In this seminary, and probably in others, he always pronounces himself a genius; vain of his talents, priding himself particularly in his sagacity, and looking with contempt on his industrious companions, although commonly superior to him in every valuable endowment as well as attainment. This silly dream of his own shrewdness passes with him through life, and with all his rags, and shame, and sin, he thinks himself wiser than any of those around him.
We are now prepared to sum up the account. The idle member of this seminary enjoys what pleasure he can, in sloth, in dress, in visiting, in vicious company, in profaneness, gaming, drinking, and riot. On the other hand, he is ignorant, pitied, despised, and punished. At the same time he imbibes and rivets habits of vice which cling to him through life. Into the world he enters with the same pleasures, continually lessening indeed, together with the means of them, until at a period not very distant he can enjoy them no more. Thither vice and shame follow him. His character, here broken, is there lost. Poverty, contempt, and disgrace seize upon him as their prey. By good men he is pitied, by bad men despised, and by both regarded with reprobation. Parents point him out to their children, as a warning against sloth and sin; and the providence of God holds him out to mankind for general instruction as a wretched monument of abused talents and neglected privileges. He lives undesired. He dies unlamented. For eternity he makes no preparation, and enters it with no hope. "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear."
THE DANGER OF FREQUENTING EVIL COMPANY.
PROVERBS XIII. 20.
"But a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
THE writer of this book particularly, and the scriptural writers generally, teach us, that by folly they mean sin. Thus Solomon observes, that the thought of foolishness is sin. "Fools," he also says, "despise wisdom," that is religion, "and make a "mock at sin:" a character which with particular propriety belongs to gross sinners. Such sinners seem also to be especially intended in the following declaration : "It is an abomi"nation to fools to depart from evil." It is hardly necessary to observe, that all these passages clearly teach us, as indeed do many others, that the writer of them by folly intended sin, and by fools those who practise it.
The propriety of this use of these terms is obvious. Sin is folly by way of eminence, and those who practise it are fools in a higher degree than any other men.
With this explanation, the text may be easily seen to contain the following doctrine :-" He who frequents the company "of sinners is in danger of eternal destruction."
The declaration of the text is absolute; but like other absolute declarations, of which the Scriptures, particularly this book, contain a very great number, is intended to be understood with some qualifications. It is not true that every one who frequents the company of sinners is destroyed in any