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Your circumstances may be such as we deem unfavourable: but every thing arising from this will only contribute, and largely too, to your benefit, if you act with Christian discretion. Serve God in your places : follow His word, and not your own fancies, caprices, and passions: and He will be with you, bless
you, support you, and give you favour in the sight of many who for a time perplexed you. He will be your Guide, Comforter, and Portion. Will you, then, act in agreement with that proverb
“ There is a lion without: I shall be slain in the streets ?”
“Lord, we beseech Thee, grant Thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow Thee the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord." Amen.
O Gracious Father, I know and feel that I ought to give up myself to Thee and to Thy service according to the gospel of Thy blessed Son our Lord: but while I meditate and reason with myself on my duty, I find various hindrances to my entrance on a religious life. These, however, I readily acknowledge, ought not to keep me from: the performance of what obviously is my duty, Thou hast allotted to me my circumstances in this
world; and whatever they are, Thy grace is sufficient to enable me to surmount every obstacle, and to endure every trial with patience, and to improve every thing to my spiritual advantage. Impress my soul, I beseech Thee, with such a sense of religion as will make me decided and earnest in it. Be pleased to instruct, strengthen, guide, rule, and comfort me with Thy good Spirit, that I in my place and condition as a Christian ought. Be ever present with me; communicate to my soul Thy blessings of mercy and grace; and grant that I may think, and feel, and act as a follower of the loving and humble Saviour. Repress all the vain and crude, the vehement and intemperate, the capricious and perverse workings of my heart: and endow me with wisdom, courage, and prudence, with humility, patience, meekness, and love, Enable me to bear trials with calmness and resignation, and to improve them to the honour of the gospel, and to my own benefit. Of whatever I may be destitute, grant me abundant supplies of the influences of Thy Spirit, that I may not only choose the good part, but may enter on a religious life, persevere in it, prosper in it, and adorn it, to the glory of Thy name, the good of my fellow creatures, and the salvation of my immortal soul; through the merits and for the sake of Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“ In brief, acquit thee bravely: play the man.
If thou do ill, the joy fades, not the pains :
© 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 !” — Cecil.
Having said so much to you, my young readers, on the nature, excellence, and importance of true piety, I would now address you in the language of plain and earnest persuasion. Every sentence that I advance will, I am well aware, be in vain, except it be accompanied with the divine blessing. I have often spoken to the young, and been heard with seeming approbation : but I have often found that a cleaving adherence to the world, pleasure, and vanity, blighted all my hopes. In my present address, I will not aim to work upon your feelings. If it were in my power to awake the tender affections, a pleasing effect might be produced for a season : but the tear would soon be wiped away, the heart would be soon composed, and you might yield to the first vanity by which you were allured. As your feelings subsided, religion would be forgotten.
The case with you now is simply this—You have a Choice to make: and then the momentous question is, What choice will you make ?
“ How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him." On the one hand is the world ; on the other, Christ and His gospel. Will you go with the unreflecting multitude ?
“ Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth ; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes.” Why forget the sequel ? “But know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment." Or will you copy the example of Moses? “ By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season ; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of reward.” In other words, Will you be worldly, thoughtless, and trifling characters, making religion comparatively nothing; or will you be spiritual, thoughtful, and serious characters, "seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness ?”.
Choose the world, and what will it give you ? It will give you companions and pleasures, laughter and merriment; all that sparkles in the mortal view; all that gratifies the earthly taste. You may riot in tales and novels : you may shine in the circles of the splendid and the gay. All this is very enchanting and alluring: and who can think to forego the varied delights that please the senses and charm the fancy? You will admire others, and others will admire you, in the mazes of the dance, in the ranks of the theatre, in the rooms of elegance and fashion, in the walks of amusement. our eyes will be bright in rapture, and your pulse will beat high in joy, as you move in the brilliant scenes of your earthly paradise.
“ This shall be our choice-at least for the present”-thus perhaps some of you are ready to speak. But let me ask you, What will you do in those days when God lays upon you His afflicting hand? What will you do in the changes and trials of human life? What will you do when you come (for young people die) to the bed of death? What will you do when you stand before your Judge ?-But you say, I go too far: I am too solemn and grave.
Certainly I am not: for young persons ought to think of what lies before them, and to make their choice of life with a due recollection of God, their souls, and eternity.