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Again, Youth is the most dangerous and critical of all seasons. A remembrance of its Creator is its only hope of safety; for, to say nothing of the numbers that die in youth, there are such blights and blasts, I assure you, young friends, which are ready to meet the tender plant of youth, as you will scarcely believe. You also live in a time in which these blasts are more abroad than formerly. Now, there is no security against these but putting your. selves under the protection of your Creator. Your parents and your ministers may teach and watch, but your real safety lies in abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. Surely, He only can deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He, and he only, can cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings mayest thou safely trust. It is his truth only can be thy shield and buckler.
To give another view: Life is a journey through a dangerous wilderness; and, in such a journey, it will not serve us to ask any one we may chance to meet, which is the right way? we need one fast friend to lead and protect us. If one of you were lost in a wood, and in danger of being starved or devoured, you would long for your parents' own hand, and hold it fast if it were there; disregarding what strangers should say passing by. Such an infallible friend and director you will find in your Creator. Oh, that you inay be enabled to remember this!
But, perhaps, you would be ready to say to me, “ If I am liable to be misled, yet I have never thought I was in danger of being devoured.” Ah! you little suspect how little yet you really know! and this will shew the necessity of your remembering in youth your Creator's word; for has he not expressly said, Be sober, be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour? Now, if you knew there was a lion in the street waiting to destroy you as soon as you went out of these doors, what care and what fear it would occasion! yet, at the worst, such a lion could only destroy your body; whereas the roaring lion, of which God warns you, is going about seeking to destroy both your body and your soul; and, if he can prevail with you to be forgetful of your Creator, he will effectually prevail.
On the other hand, however this roaring lion may go about, he shall neither destroy, nor even hurt, such as iruly remember their Creator.
Further, It is most honourable to God when our youth is dedicated to his service. When he has given us his best things, should we present him with the dregs and refuse of ours? To see young Samuel standing like a lily among thorns, saying, by every word and action, I am indeed but a child, but he will accept my feeble services; I am God's; I rejoice in being his to see a child thus separating himself from the ungodly children of this world, and shining as a bright star in a dark night—or to see one, like Timothy, learning from a child to know and honour those Scriptures which are able to make him wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus—what an honour to God are such infant witnesses as these! Verily, the highest grandeurs of this world are beggary when compared with this work.
Once more. To remember your Creator in youth is most profitable to yourselves. There are but two masters, and you must serve one of them; and what a mercy not to be the slave of Satan in your best years! What a blessing to escape the mischiefs and dangers to which you are so liable, and to be early preserved from the snares, blights, and blasts, of the world, the flesh, and the devil!
Oh! I could tell sad stories of young people who have been drawn aside, and who have gone on from bad to worse. They have first done wrong in little things, then proceeded to greater, then lost their character, till at length, being tied and bound with the chain of evil habits, some have come to an untimely end : and what think you ruined all these? They forgot their God. While Solomon remembered his Creator, saying, Lord, I am but a little child; I know not how to go out or come in, give thy servant an understanding heart, how wise and prosperous was he in his childhood; but when he forgot his God, how foolish and disgraceful in his old age was even Solomon. On the contrary, I have known young persons who once, by their ill
purses, were in misery and the disgrace of their families; yet, upon turning to their God, they have become new creatures, new comforts, and new honours to their friends, as well as blessings to society.
And yet, great as the benefit of this may seem, it is but a small part of what might be said; for he that is joined to the Lord in one spirit, he is an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ; nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive what God hath prepared for him.
Such a child may lose his parents; he may be turned ont into the world without a friend; he may look round and say, "I do not know whom to go to for a bit of bread :" yet, if this child can also say from the bottom of his heart, My Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, O help me to suffer it patiently, and do it sincerely-he has a Father, and a Saviour too, that will say in return, “ Fear not, I will guide thee by my counsel, and afterwards receive thee to glory."
Now, iny young friends, if soine great man were to offer you his friendship, would you think you could accept of it too soon? Or, if one was to bring you a sum of money, or a large estate, would you desire them to be kept from you till some future time of life? But surely the friendship of your God is infinitely greater than these: Remember now, therefore, thy Creator in the days of thy youth.
But this will more clearly appear from what I proposed to consider,
3. Why this most important work should not be deferred: namely, because evil days come, and years draw nigh, in which thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them,
It is impossible for me to make you fully understand the infirmities and impediments of old age: if you live long enough, however, you will know them experimentally. I have not time in this discourse to explain to you that figurative description of one growing old which follows the text; suffice it to say for the present, that the old man is described as going down hill to his long home, with the loss of his faculties, and the burden of his infirmities. His sight fails, his limbs tremble, his heart sinks; he has enough to do then to bear up under hiinself. He can scarcely attend to any thing new, and much less perform any thing difficult. Suppose you saw a man groaning with a very heavy burden, under which he was ready to sink ; and suppose, while he was thus loaded, you were to attempt to instruct him; he would naturally say, “ Can I attend to any thing with this burden upon my back?-stay, stay; surely, must be released froin this load before I can hear."
But old age has not only its infirmity, but also its peculiar incapacity for improvement. If the tree has long struck root in a bad soil, who can then reinove it? If it has long been growing crooked, who can straighten it? The old tree will sooner break than bend.
Old age, even in its best estate, like that of Barzillai, how affectingly doth it speak! I am this day fourscore years old, and can I discern between good and evil? Can thy servant tuste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any more the toice of singing men and singing women?-wherefore then
should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king? At such a time is our very strength but labour and sorrow.
I protest to you that I have never discovered a greater device of the devil, nor one more common, than putting off religion to old age. “ It is time enough,” says that enemy to which our hearts are too prone to listen, “it is time enough to think of religion when you are old; now is the season for a little pleasure. What harm is there in this or that? it is quite natural for youth to follow amusements; and to see as much of life as they can ; and by and by religion will come of course.” Come of course! Religion come of course! What the old deep-rooted crooked tree transplant itself, and suddenly become straight! The best and greatest work undertaken and performed in evil days of pain and infirmity! Young friends, this is the counsel of him who was a liar from the beginning. I am sorry to say that I have heard too many young persons, whom he has deceived, speak in this manner. To be secure, therefore, from the destructive effects of such evil counsel, O remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.
Old age too has its own temptations as well as youth. It is prone to fear every thing, and doubt every thing; but naturally indisposed to learn any thing. It is apt to sink into peevishness, and entertain a fondness for its own opinions, and therefore of course cannot easily bear to be instructed. Besides which, there is a weariness and langour that cannot bear disturbance, though every thing important be at stake. It naturally seeks rest. "Let me alone," cries the old man, “ let me alone-let me die in peaceif I am wrong, I must be wrong; I am too old to learn -it is too late now to think of any thing new—if the tree be crooked, it must remain crooked, and as it falls so it must lie." Young friends, whenever you observe these evil days of old people, think of the words of our text.
On the other hand, before these evil days draw nigh, what wisdom to prepare against their coining! To have a firm staff to lean upon when fesh and heart fail to have in ready use a lamp for your erring feet, and a cordial for your fainting spirits, through faith in the word of a faithful Creator—to become from long experience a witness, like Obediah, of the truth and grace of bim whom you have served from your youth-what on earth is a more blessed and honourable post than this! The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. .
I shall conclude this discourse by first answering a common objection, then adding a word of exhortation.
The objection which a young person is apt to bring (and which, while young, I felt myself ) is this: "I believe, " says he," that real religion is the better part--the one thing needful, wbich alone shall never be taken away. I believe there is nothing that can for a moment be balanced against it; for what shall it profit ine if I could gain the whole world, and lose my own soul? What a shocking thing it would be, upon leaving this world, to have nothing on which to rest the sole of my foot! Certainly, to be truly religious is to be truly wise; but then, I say, the great difficuliy is, how and by what means, may I atlain to it? for when I have tried to remember my Creator, my heart and thoughts have the next moment gone from him. Sometimes, after a sermon, I go home and think what a blessed thing it is to be a Christian ; but on the Monday other things come before me, and drive these better thoughts away; and I feel no disposition through the week to pursue them. I imagine, therefore, that I am not able to be religious.”
My dear youth, I have felt all this before you ; but observe, I knew not then expressly the Christian secret, where to get strength, and therefore failed in my endeavours. We that have long run the Christian race, feel that we have no power in ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God. Yet the apostle who said this, could also say, I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.. My son, saith he, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. Observe, young friends, he was to be strong through the grace which is in Christ. Now, we can say the same to you, Be strong; but in his strength. You must not only believe in him
as a Saviour, through his cross, but hope to run the race which he sets before you, by his power working in you to will and to do of his good pleasure. "Run, therefore, by looking unto Jesus.
Suppose there was a necessity for you to lift a great weight from the ground; you might indeed try, and try again, and find
your own strength exerted in vain; but if your friend or parent, who set you the task, came and joined his band io yours, it might then be lifted with ease: and thus it is that the feeblest Christian succeeds in his endeavours.
Or, to return again to the garden : You have heard of trees being ingrafted; now the graft is a little stick or peg