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against immoderate humidity, duly watered in feafons of drought, defended from the encroachment of worthlefs herbs which even in that cultivated spot are continually fpringing on every fide; it teftifies by a confpicuous transformation the fostering care of its protector. Its growth enlarges ; its juices are meliorated; its tints are heightened; its fragrance is exalted; its fruits are multiplied. It is no longer a barren weed: but the delight of Him who has appropriated it to himself.
In correspondence with the general outlines of this fimilitude, the God of mercy purifies unto himfelf a peculiar people. By the miniftration of the Gofpel Herefcues them from the noxious vicinity of wickednefs; fuftains them with his arm; nourishes them by his grace; cheers them with the light of his countenance; and enables them to bring forth fruit unto perfection.
Between the objects of favour, however, in the two cafes, there exifts a very important difference. The plant is unconscious, fenfelefs, paffive. It knows not its benefactor nor his purposes. Choice has no concern in its improvement. Not fo the human being addreffed by the Gospel. Him God has created a moral agent. From
him God requires active concurrence; cooperation of the will manifefted by exertions of obedience. He does not hurry the man by arbitrary force from amidst the thorns and thiftles of iniquity. Come out from among them, he cries, and be feparate. Beftowing on the helpless individual adequate powers by the influence of his Spirit; He commands him to exert them and come forth.
To remove an aged plant from the foreft, and to caufe it to flourish in the garden, might be a tafk level to the fkill of the cultivator. But he gives the preference to a younger ftem, whofe fibres are lefs firmly riveted in the foil, and lefs closely interwoven with the roots of the contiguous thicket. To pluck up the veteran finner, however deep he may have fhot his roots downwards towards hell; and to enable him to flourish like a green olivetree in the courts of the houfe of his God; is an undertaking devoid of difficulty to the Omnipotent. But with fingular complacency he looks on thofe, who have received Him as the guide of their youth. Out of the mouth even of babes and fucklings He perfetteth praife. Advancing childhood receives new marks of his love.
Come, ye children,
children, he cries by his Holy Spirit, bearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Suffer little children, exclaimed his beloved Son, to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of fuch is the kingdom of God. In the Old Teftament is heard the gracious admonition; Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth. And in the paffage from the New which I have proposed for our confideration, a paffage ftrictly connected by the context with the subject of marriage, it is to young perfons that the promise, though pertaining to all Christians, is primarily addreffed: I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you: and ye shall be my fons and daughters, faith the Lord Almighty.
How is an intereft in this promise to be obtained? By coming forth and being feparate from the pollutions of the world: by cleanfing ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and Spirit, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
In order to apply these universal instructions to the especial benefit of the young; I defign in the prefent and in the fucceeding discourse to point out the diftinct bear ings of fome of the principal Chriftian vir tues on the characters and duties of youth in
in general, and, as opportunities arife, of each fex in particular.
I. The architect, whether purpofing to erect a cottage, or a palace, or a temple, provides for the fafety of the future fuperstructure by devoting his first care to the folidity of the foundation. In youth, as in every other period of life, the foundation of every Chriftian excellence is piety: a fervent love of God habitually fubmitting itself to the guidance of his law. Wherewith fhall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to thy word. Jofiah did that which was right in the fight of the Lord; and declined neither to the right band nor to the left. Why? For while he was yet young he began to feek after the God of David, his father (a). Why had the young men whom St. John addreffed been énabled to overcome the wicked One? Because, adds the Apostle, the word of God abideth in you. Youth is the feafon of ardent affections. Shall the heart be warm in its attachment to earthly relatives and affociates: and cold towards your heavenly Father, your kindest friend; cold to Jefus Chrift
(4) Pf. cxix. 9. 2 Chron. xxxiv. 2, 3.
who died for you, and is not ashamed to call you brethren? Youth is the feason when the perception of delight is the most lively, Shall you be penetrated with a feeling of obligation, with tender emotions of gratitude, towards an earthly benefactor; and unthankful to Him who giveth you all things richly to enjoy? Youth is the feafon of ftrength and alacrity. Shall the sluggish fpirit, the inactive feeblenefs, of age be seen zealous in labours for the glory of God; and fhall you be torpid as to his fervice? Youth is the season of inexperience. Shall you be earnest in the purfuit of human knowledge, obedient to human counfel; and negligent of the light which Jehovah has revealed, that it may be a lantern to your path, of that univerfal wisdom which is given by infpiration from Him, and is able to make you wife unto falvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus? Youth, viewed with a reference to the protracted term of mortal life, poffeffes the fruits of but a fhort period for growth in grace. If the faint of an hundred years looks back from his deathbed with regret and felf-abasement on his progrefs in the qualifications by which he is to be rendered meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the faints in