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the Lord Jesus Christ. Grant that I may receive Him as my only Saviour, and follow Him, in ail holiness and righteousness of living, as my only Lord and Master. Suffer me no longer to waste my time, to abuse Thy goodness, or to trifle with my privileges. Enable me to be thoughtful and serious in divine things: and lead me, of Thy great mercy, to the true knowledge, and to the right confession, of our blessed Redeemer.
Thou only canst enlighten me, and subdue and renew my heart: Thou only canst lead me to the real possession of the light and life and principles of real godliness. Be gracious unto me, o heavenly Father, and grant that through Thy power and goodness I may be made altogether a Christian; approved of Thee as a true believer in Thy beloved Son, a new creature in Him, glorying in Him, and living in, and by, and to Him, to Thy honour and praise. Grant this, I humbly intreat Thee, for the sake of the same Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
THE PIOUS YOUTH.
“ These are Thy glorious works, Thou Source of good!
Indeed, repentance is a rough and sharp virtue, and, like a mattock and spade, breaks away all the roughnesses of the passage, and hindrances of sin : but when we enter into the dispositions which Christ hath designed to us, the way is more plain and easy than the ways of death and hell. Labour it hath in it, just as all things that are excellent; but no confusions, no distractions of thought, no amazements, no labyrinths, and intricacy of counsels : but it is like the labours of agriculture, full of health and simplicity, plain and profitable; requiring diligence, but such in which crafts and painful stratagems are useless and impertinent.”
Bp. Jer. Taylor
It may not be improper for me, before I proceed, to give you an idea of the character which, my young readers, I wish you to sustain. If, then, I were to describe a young Christian according to the notions which you have formed of him from the conversation of the world, you could never think of aiming to realize it in yourselves. He must be pale, moping, and melancholy; he must be stern, strict, and morose ; weak, timid, and scrupulous ; precise, self-conceited, and censorious ; enthusiastic and fanatical ; full of cant and hypocrisy ; with much feeling and fancy, but with little reason, reflection, and sound sense. In short, he must be an inexplicable compound of absurdity and good intentions. Such is the rubbish of language in which some delineate a character which they do not understand.
But because I do not join in the censures of the world, shall I describe the young Christian with the brightest colours, as though he were an angel ; “a faultless monster which the world ne'er saw?” Certainly not: I see his defects, and I see his excellencies: but at present I can only put a sketch of him before you—a few of the chief lines of his moral portrait.
1. He does not follow the world in their vain amusements. Piety demands sacrifice, self-denial, renunciation. Much that is pleasant to the unrenewed, splendid to the human eye, and grateful to the natural ear, must be abandoned. The paradise of the young Christian is a garden which the Lord hath planted, where is the Tree of Life, and the River of Life: and in his estimation the paradise of the world is a desert, abounding with weeds and brambles.
2. He does not confine his reading to what is empty and fanciful. If he have the advantage of education and leisure, he will attend to the cultivation of his mind: but the works of fiction will not be his aliment. He treats such things as a flower, which he may gather, gaze upon, and fling away. In the Sacred Volume, in sound pious writings, in solid works on Natural Philosophy, in History and Biography, he finds what makes him acquainted with God, with His will and works and ways, and with human nature.
3. He does not select frivolous and vain companions. The youthful heart is warm and social; and religion does not make it cold and unsocial. But the intimate associates of the young Christian will not be the gay and thoughtless, but those who look above the earth to heaven and eternity, who are anxious to excel in piety—to know and do the will of God, and to enjoy His favour.
4. He does not waste his sabbaths in frivolity. To him the Sabbath is 56
a delight and honourable ;" the figure of an eternal Sabbath, and a means of obtaining it. He devotes the Sabbath of God to the God of the Sabbath. His Bible, his Church, his Closet, benevolent labours, meditation, self-examination—these employ him. He cannot make the day of God a day of vacuity, gossip, visiting, sauntering, and pleasure-taking,
5. He does not reduce religion to Baptism, Confirmation, and hearing sermons ; to rites, notions, and formality. With him religion is a spiritual matter, an affair betweeu God and his own soul, a divine influence, the gifts of love and mercy, the operations of almighty grace, a spi- ritual frame and habit of mind and heart.
6. He does not live as if he had nothing to do but to accomplish his own will, purposes, and pleasure. “I may do as I like”- this is foolish and perverse language. The young Christian feels his responsibility. He has a law to observe, duties to perform, talents to improve, a path to walk in. He feels himself not merely a son, but a servant-a servant of God.
But you observe—“All this is negative : you only describe the young Christian as separate from others : we wish to see him such as he is positively in himself.”—I will endeavour to meet your wishes. Consider, then, the following brief particulars.
1. The young Christian is a true penitent. He does not say that, because he has been virtuous and amiable, he has no sin, or is not a sinful creature. His mind is enlightened, and his heart is a heart of flesh : he sees and feels both what he is, .and what his conduct has been. Sin is in his estimation the great evil : and his spiritual apprehension of it in himself and in his practice, makes him to be of an humble spirit, of a contrite heart