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of Christ. Even in our own days such examples are within the range of our experience, and we may most of us have met with young men, whose lives incontestibly prove, that, however strong the passions may be at that period of life, it is far from being impossible to subdue them, and to become, by the grace of God, and through the merits of our Redeemer, pleasing to the Lord, and acceptable in His sight.
Lastly, we may observe, that if the passions of the young man be strong, his judgment inexperienced, and bis temptations many, he is hitherto less corrupted by the world, and has not submitted to the dominion of evil habits. And it will be found a task at least as easy to prevent the first growth of evil habits, as to extirpate them after they have once been permitted to take root. It will be at least as easy to guard against the slavery of sin, as to break off its yoke. The young man has to contend with no long established vices; he has not yet deadened the power of conscience; he has not, as the Apostle describes it, “ given himself over to all manner of lasciviousness," has not become “
past feeling ;" nor is his conscience yet “seared, as it were, with a red hot iron.”
In what way soever, then, we regard the subject, whether we consider the comprehensive character of the Gospel promises, exhortations, and threats; not at all limited to any particular age-whether we contemplate the recorded examples of past ages,
and the experience of our own—or whether we examine the situation and difficulties of a young man; we see no reason to assume, that there is any thing like impossibility for him to cleanse his way, and to become a bright and shining light to the Christian world.
It is necessary to dwell upon this subject at some length, because the notion of its being impossible for a young man to cleanse his way, too often lies at the bottom of his conduct, in pursuing the path of sin. Though he may not bring himself to the positive statement, that the performance of his Christian duty is impossible, yet he virtually acts upon some such conclusion. He commits much and heinous sin, upon the plea that, at his time of life, it is pardonable, as being almost, if not altogether, unavoidable. There cannot be a more pernicious maxim. What man will try to pursue a course of holiness, which he considers himself incapable of running? What man will commence a work, which he has made up his mind to think is impracticable? There are many means, by the adoption of which we may most efficaciously carry on the great work for which every man is sent into the world; but these are not the subjects of our present consideration. I shall only now exhort all young men not to deceive themselves with the notion, that their Christian duty is impossible; that they are so surrounded by temptations, so goaded by passions, that they must put off, to a more advanced period of life, the season for showing forth a Christian example, and for adopting those severer rules of conduct, which become the Gospel of Christ. Headstrong as may be our passions (and they will daily become more headstrong by indulgence), they form no excuse for yielding to the dominion of pleasure and wickedness at any period of human life. We may be assured, upon the authority of the royal preacher, and of all Scripture, that however impossible we may persuade ourselves it is to avoid these things, God will see the matter in a very different light, and for all these things will infallibly bring us into judgment. Let us rather apply to our Christian pursuits that maxim, which the children of this world often apply to their temporal undertakings with the greatest success; viz. that every thing is possible to him, who is persuaded that it is possible. Often as this is true in temporal matters, it is much more so in spiritual concerns. We know, upon infallible authority, that the “ grace of God is sufficient for us.” With the blessing and aid of the Holy Spirit, all things are possible. If you, young men, then, would but apply this truth to the encouragement of your exertions in the ways of Christian perfection, with only the same diligence and earnestness as you do the other, to the attainment of
your temporal gratifications, you would not fail to find a corresponding return. The remotest chance of gain, or pleasure, is never disregarded; but the clearest prospect of spiritual profit is looked at, too often, not with zeal and desire, but to discover what difficulties present themselves; not with the intent of trying what may be done, but with a disinclination to try to do any thing at all. This is not the plan to be followed by him, who seeks to gain the prize of our high calling in Jesus Christ. This is not the plan recommended by St. Paul' to his young friend and disciple Timothy, with which I shall close this discourse, and recommend the subject to your meditations.
“ But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge, in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, till the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
THE YOUNG MAN CAUTIONED TO TAKE HEED TO
O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake our Lord. Amen.
Psalm cxix. 9.
WHEREWITHAL SHALL A YOUNG
MAN CLEANSE HIS WAY? BY
TAKING HEED THERETO ACCORDING TO THY WORD.
OUR last discourse was upon that awful and important declaration in the book of Ecclesiastes ; in which, after noticing the propensity of the young man to indulge his youthful passions, and to yield to the temptations that present themselves to his bodily senses, the Royal Preacher cautions him, that for all these things God will bring him into judgment. It follows from this denunciation, that