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168 ADVANTAGES OF EARLY RELIGION. rather to suffer affliction with the people of Gord, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, May I esteem the reproach of Christ my greatest honour; and may I endure, as seeing thee who art invisible. Like Joshua, may I serve the Lord; and, with Samuel, say, Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth. O, may I imitate the faith and piety of all that goodly company, who sought thee in their youth; who loved thee in their prime; and who are honoured by thee in the realms of endless day. If but few love thee in sincerity, let me be one of that happy few who make God their all. Should I find early religion the source of many difficulties; should it even expose me to the contempt and aversion of friends, whose esteem and love I now enjoy; yet, O my God, let not this move me; but may I gladly bear my cross for him, who bore a heavier cross for me. May I cheerfully go to him without the camp, bearing his reproach, and esteeming nothing dear compared with thy love; nothing valuable compared with an interest in Jesus. Grant this, o blessed Lord, for my Redeemer's sake. Amen.
§ 1. Among those things which have most influence on the minds of men, are profit and pleasure. While recommending early religion
to you, think not that I wish to render you poor : or unhappy. Far from it: I rather wish you to
be truly rich, and truly happy, not merely for
EARLY PIETY COMPARATIVELY EASY. 169 e pestil the little span in which earthly pleasures or Ta' fv riches are enjoyed; not merely for a period. so hristes short as ten thousand thousand ages, but for as met hul ever and ever. Where is that treasure to be marts found that will enrich you for eternity ? Not walis amidst the wealth of this world. “ Man know
eth not the price thereof; neither is it found in porabite the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not
in me; and the sea saith, It is not with me. It.
cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be flores weighed for the price thereof." Where are they,
that, but a few years back, possessed pleasures
Kingdoms ? All vanished from the world ;
What are ye now, and what is your amount!”
of religion in youth. Torlog 2. Early piety is comparatively easy. The
al corruption of man's heart is such, that at every period of life, there are difficulties in turn
God in reality. At any time it is needtrive to enter the strait gate; but it is much er to turn to God in youth, than it is in later ; the heart is then not so hardened, as it is longer life of impenitence and sin. The
is not so averse to instruction, as it is when judices have so darkened all its faculties as lost to exclude the heavenly light. When
as long reigned triumphantly; when Satan long led the sinner captive; it is hard to es
com his tyranny, and many have experienhis. The scriptures confirm the doctrine de difficulty of conversion late in life. “Can
Dein While entreate Joseba I would recoud
fus to strive to enter
mind is not so averse
cape from his tyranny, an preced this. The script
of the difficulty of co
the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard gender his spots ? then may ye also do good, that are acces customed to do evil." In this sense we may ap- og ply, with dreadful propriety, the words of Ni- i lan codemus : Can a man be born when he is old? When is it that disease is most easily checked? Not when it has laid fast hold on the vitals; but i. when its first symptoms appear. When is it into that the mistaken traveller may most easily forsake the wrong, and return to the right patb? Not when he has travelled for miles in a wrong direction, but when he enters that way. Wero you rushing down a steep hill, when might you most easily stop ? Not when you had nearly reached the bottom, but when you began to de trald scend. So
“ 'Tis easy work if you begin,
To fear the Lord betimes;
Are harden'd in their crimes.” In another view early religion is comparatively easy. There is reason to believe that God w sooner hear your prayers for mercy, and grant you peace and pardon, if you turn to him imme. c diately, than if you refuse for awhile to listen to his calls. If you delay to turn, God may alte wards delay to manifest his forgiving love; ..
doubt tee may lead you through tedious scenes of dou and pain, anxiety and fear, which, but for the de refusals, you would have never known. + eminent Christian, who was converted by 10 means at a late period in life, after feeling appointment that his mind was not rent from its oppressive burden so soon as he hoped, observed, “I have now learned how w reasonable was such an early expectation
n so soon as he had its
171 of the li have been taught to wait patiently upon God ood, wil who waited so long for me." me me Before your sins are more multiplied, before
monis il your heart is hardened, before Satan gains a chenke firmer hold upon you, O, turn to God! Make not easil it work for future repentance. Harden not your the mi heart now, lest God, in righteous judgment, - Me should harden it for ever. Employ not your best most te years in shutting the gate of life against yourThe rits self ; or in filling with difficulties the only pathles in way to heaven. If a person, with but one way at her from a precipice, were to employ himself for men mit weeks and months in stopping up that way, or u hods in making his escape by it tenfold more difficult, a bepul bow great would be his distraction! If another,
with one door opened, to let him escape from a
mal dungeon, were to spend the time in which ne should flee from prison and the gallows, in fastening up that one door with bolts and bars,
dow great, how dismal, would be his folly ! But, company my young friend, if you do not now turn to
vesus and to God, far greater will be yours !
continuing careless of the Lord, you will fill hip with difficulties that one way of escaping from 1014 hell, which is now comparatively easy; you will Elmau shut against yourself the door of mercy by which
love ruu should flee from destruction; and will make es Om tentold more difficult for your own soul to es
bw cape the flaming sword of divine Justice; the MOKE eternal prison which is never opened ; and the wtedy hire that never shall be quenched. de 1.90. Another advantage attending early piety. Ots that it is that which is most honourable to IS Emu and to yourself; and it is that which has the
est prospect of becoming eminent piety. Reclingion is honoured, when the young but faith
172 EARLY PIETY HONOURABLE, votaries of the Lord, are seen renouncing the world in the prime of their lives. The world seems to imagine that religion is only suited for gloom and age; but they show that it has charms that win the hearts of the sprightly and the young. The world seems to suppose that what Satan leaves, is all that should be devoted to God; but the young followers of the Lamb show, that such are the excellencies of his service, that it calls for their youth, their health, their prime, their all. How have the glories of religion been displayed by those young converts, who, after a short course of humble piety, have bid an early and yet joy. ful farewell to all beneath the sun ; who have seen no charms in this deluding world sufficient to tempt their wish to stay ; but who have calmly departed to eternal rest, before they had pass. ed even sixteen, eighteen, or twenty years below! Will not you, my young friend, make that offering to the Lord, which such have made? Will not you tell a deluded world that religion is bet. ter than life?
Early piety is honourable, as it is that which is most likely to become eminent piety. Faint at the best is the likeness of God on his children in this world. The greatest saint is only a penitent and pardoned sinner ; but when faith, and hope, and love, and holiness appear in their fairest earthly form, then is religion honoured most; then even its enemies at times are constrained to bear testimony to its excellence. Such are the testimonies that the ancient heathens bore to the virtues of the primitive Christians. “These,” said one, " are the men who speak as they think, and do as they speak.” “Behold,” said another, “how the Christians love one another !" Even