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as I have before said, are your least dangerous enemies; but you may too often meet with young persons whose manners and be, haviour are specious and innocent in the company of their superiors, but who throw off that regard to decency and virtue, when they have no other associates than those of
their own age. Then it is they will put your integrity to the test, by an artful trial of your sentiments, and by suiting their discourse to the temper of mind which you discover. But can the approbation of such characters be worthy a moment of your solicitude? Are not the wise, the generous, and the good, those by whom you wish to be applauded? and can the esteem of such persons as you despise, be an object deserving your pursuit? For, however they may contrive to maintain a reputation in the world by a few plausible qualities, when you have once discovered their ill conduct, they can no longer share in your regard. Sacrifice not, then, your peace of conscience to obtain the plaudits of their contemptible favour; and, however painful you may find the first efforts of resistance, every succeeding denial will become more easy. Then
may you enjoy the pleasing satisfaction of a self-approving soul, and rejoice in the recolJection that such instances of pious resolution are the highest test of your Christian fortitude.
Without intending any particular censure on the present times,-for the evil and good are promiscuously joined in every stage of the world, yet the numbers are but too considerable of the inattentive and thoughtless. Involved in dissipation and wholly occupied by a round of frivolous engagements, those whose morals have nothing vicious, are yet defective in the spirit of genuine piety. There is a fatal prevalence in example that will incline you to think slightly of duties which you see others so much neglect ; nor can the strongest mind, without constant reflection, and using the means of grace, maintain a due sense of their importance; but however the majority of mankind may overlook the obligations which they owe to their Creator, these obligations are not cancelled by forgetfulness, nor will the future punishment be less severe because it has been disregarded. The time of probation, whether improved or neglect.
ed, still passes on; and though the customs of the world may excuse the omission of duty, to those who are governed by its maxims, they will find that sanction of little avail before a God of infinite justice. The distinction of an elevated mind consists in a right apprehension of things, and in forming a true estimate of their value. Hence you will find that the truly wise have always been superior to a weak compliance with the follies or vices of the age in which they lived. The venerable Patriarch Noah main. tained the simplicity of a virtuous character, and was not ashamed to worship the true God, although, besides his own family, there was not one to countenance his example. Yet, steady in the path of duty, he admonished, advised, and reprehended his unhappy companions without sharing in their guilt, and obtained from the attesta. tion of God himself, this noble tribute to his worth: "Thee only have I seen righte. ous before me in this generation." What a bright pattern of excellence does this furnish to your observation, and how great an encouragement does it afford to stem the tor. rent of corrupt example, although you should
be single in your opposition. The Almighty and heart-searching God, who so eminently rewarded the piety of his ancient servant, that for his sake alone the whole world was preserved from destruction, is still equally watchful over those who serve him, and will behold with a favourable eye the unremitting exertions of duty. If you find the solicitations of others are in danger of weakening your religious principles, or of inspiring a rising shame, which may prevent the exercise of your duty, fortify your mind with this important reflection,-that, in all places and in all company, you are equally in the view of the Supreme Being; and under the consciousness of his immediate observation, can you acknowledge, by your conduct, that the opinions of your associates are of greater weight than the acquirement of his approving regard? Think how you shall be able to justify such a preference, when you stand in the hour of future judgment, convicted before him. However consequential those may now appear, of whose ridicule and contempt you are most afraid, whether your awe of them may proceed from any advantages of genius.
wit, beauty, or fortune ; whether from their power to assist your interest, or their abilities to injure your reputation; all these distinctions will in a few years be done away. The sentiments of those who are departed give us but little concern, unless, they were connected with us in particular bonds of friendship; and the period cannot be very long before the most busy actors in the present scene shall be united to that number whom you now consider with such perfect indifference. So that, although the pursuits of virtue should be certainly attended with ignominy and shame, the term of sufferings can be but transitory, and the future reward will, beyond a doubt, be everlasting; for very different will you then find the opinions of mankind from the estimate they form at present they will then be convinced from experience, that "wisdom is the principal thing, that the merchandize of it is better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold ;" and that those whom they despised as unfashionably good, have chosen that better part which shall never be taken away from them."