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yet, if this child can also say from the bottom of his heart, My Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, O help me to suffer it patiently, and do it sincerely-he has a Father, and a Saviour too, that will say in return, “ Fear not, I will guide thee by my counsel, and afterwards receive thee to glory.'
Now, iny young friends, if soine great man were to offer you his friendship, would you think you could accept of it too soon? Or, if one was to bring you a sum of money, or a large estate, would you desire them to be kept from you till some future time of life? But surely the friendship of your God is infinitely greater than these: Remember now, therefore, thy Creator in the days of thy youth.
But this will more clearly appear from what I proposed to consider,
3. Why this most important work should not be deferred: namely, because evil days come, and years draw nigh, ix which thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them,
It is impossible for me to make you fully understand the infirmities and impediments of old age: 'if you live long enough, however, you will know them experimentally. I have not time in this discourse to explain to you that figu. rative description of one growing old which follows the text; suffice it to say for the present, that the old man is described as going down hill to his long home, with the loss of his faculties, and the burden of his
infirmities. His sight fails, his limbs tremble, his heart sinks; he has enough to do then to bear up under hiinself. He can scarcely attend to any thing new, and much less perform any thing difficult. Suppose you saw a man groaning with a very heavy burden, under which he was ready to sink ; and suppose, while he was thus loaded, you were to attempt to instruct bim; he would naturally say, “ Can I attend to any thing with this burden upon my back!-stay, stay; surely, I must be released froin this load before I can hear."
But old age has not only its infirmity, but also its pecu. liar incapacity for improvement. If the tree has long struck root in a bad soil, who can then reinove it? If it has long been growing crooked, who can straighten it? The old tree will sooner break than bend.
Old age, even in its best estate, like that of Barzillai, how affectingły doth it speak! I am this day fourscore years old, and can I discern between good and evil? Can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any more the toice of singing men and singing women?—wherefore then
should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king? At such a time is our very strength but labour and sorrow.
I protest to you that I have never discovered a greater device of the devil, nor one more common, than putting off religion to old age. “It is time enough,” says that enemy to which our hearts are too prone to listen, “ it is time enough to think of religion when you are old; now is the season for a little pleasure. What harm is there in this or that? it is quite natural for youth to follow amusements; and to see as much of life as they can; and by and by religion will come of course." Come of course! Religion come of course! What the old deep-rooted crooked tree transplant itself, and suddenly become straight! The best and greatest work undertaken and performed in evil days of pain and infirmity! Young friends, this is the counsel of him who was a liar from the beginning. I am sorry to say that I have heard too many young persons, whom he has deceived, speak in this manner. To be secure, therefore, from the destructive effects of such evil counsel, O remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.
Old age too has its own temptations as well as youth. It is prone to fear every thing, and doubt every thing ; but naturally indisposed to learn any thing. It is apt to sink into peevishness, and entertain a fondness for its own opinions, and therefore of course cannot easily bear to be instructed. Besides which, there is a weariness and langour that cannot bear disturbance, though every thing important be at stake. It naturally seeks rest. « Let me alone," cries the old man, “ let me alone- let me die in peaceif I am wrong, I must be wrong; I am too old to learn -it is too late now to think of any thing new--if the tree be crooked, it must remain crooked, and as it falls so it must lie.” Young friends, whenever you observe these evil days of old people, think of the words of our text.
On the other hand, before these evil days draw nigh, what wisdom to prepare against their coming! To have a firm staff to lean upon when flesh and heart fail to have in ready use a lamp for your erring feet, and a cordial for your fainting spirits, through faith in the word of a faithful Creator-to become from tong experience a witness, like Obediah, of the truth and grace of him whom you have served from your youth-what on earth is a more blessed and honourable post than this! The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.
I shall conclude this discourse by first answering a common objection, then adding a word of exhortation.
The objection which a young person is apt to bring (and which, while
young, I felt myself ) is this: " I believe,” says he," that real religion is the better part--the one thing needful, wbich alone shall never be taken away. I believe there is nothing that can for a moment be balanced against it; for what shall it profit ine if I could gain the whole world, and lose my own soul? What a shocking thing it would be, upon leaving this world, to have nothing on which to rest the sole of my foot! Certainly, to be truly religious is to be truly wise; but then, I say, the great difficulty is, how and by what means, may I attain to it for when I have tried to remember my Creator, my heart and thoughts have the next moment gone from him. Sometimes, after a sermon, I go home and think what a blessed thing it is to be a Christian ; but on the Monday other things come before me, and drive these better thoughts away; and I feel no disposition through the week to pursue them. I imagine, therefore, that I ain not able to be religious.”
My dear youth, I have felt all this before you ; but observe, I knew not then expressly the Christian secret, where to get strength, and therefore failed in my endeavours. We that have long run the Christian race, feel that we have no power in ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God. Yet the apostle who said this, could also say, I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth
My son, saith he, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus.' Observe, young friends, he was to be strong through the grace which is in Christ. Now, we can say the same to you, Be strong; but in his strength. You must not only believe in him
as a Saviour, through bis cross, but hope to run the race which he sets before you, by his power working in you to will and to do of his good pleasure. "Run, therefore, by looking unto Jesus.
Suppose there was a necessity for you to lift a great weight from the ground; you might indeed try, and try again, and find your own strength exerted in vain; but if your friend or parent, who set you the task, came and joined his hand io yours, it might then be lifted with ease: and thus it is that the feeblest Christian succeeds in his endeavours.
Or, to return again to the garden : You have heard of trees being ingrafted; now the graft is a little stick or peg
of wood, which would dry and rot if left by itself; but the gardener fixes it into the stem of a living tree, and thus receiving life or sap froin the stem to which it is united, it soon becomes one with the tree itself, and thereby buds, and blossoms, and brings forth fruit. In this way we find our Lord teaching his disciples how to succeed in his service. I am, says he, the Vine, ye are the branches : he that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit ; for without me ye can do nothing.
You see then, my young friends, the Christian's secret. He employs almighty grace for the performance of a work which cannot be done without it. Take my yoke, saith Christ, and learn of me, and ye shall find rest. Bear my cross, and ye sball find it bear you. If your father, or mother, or minister, are pressing forward in the heavenly road, bless God for their example; but, believe me, neither your father, your mother, nor your minister, could bear up under their difficulties, if there was not one mightier to bear then up. He is able to do the same for you, and has already done it in innumerable instances. If even so great a character as David be left to himself, the weakest and vilest creature cannot fall lower than he did.
Upon the whole, you see nothing in religion can be done without Christ, while every thing to which he calls us may be done with him. In this way it is that the Christian becomes a conqueror; for who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God!
I shall leave you with only adding a short word of exhortation. You have been shewn, 1. How you should remember your Creator ; 2. When he should specially be remembered ; and, 3. Why you should not put off this remembrance. Now let me beseech you to think seriously of the dreadful evil of living longer destitute of a real acquaintance with, and remembrance of, your God; and think, on the other hand, of the blessed privileges of those who truly remember him. Cleave to him, therefore, for he is thy life; and that in the days of thy youth, for then it is not only done with less difficulty, but your youth may be the only opportunity for doing it at all; and, should you even live to old age, I have shewn you how evil these days are for such a work, and how unlikely it should succeed if put off to that time.
Oh, that it may please God to help, if it were but one of you, to become wise unto salvation from this moment ! Then shall we, and even the angels, rejoice that another lost sheep is found and secured. In thus addressing you, we seek only to make you truly rich, truly wise, truly happy; and we know no one can be really so till he remembers his Creator.
When you see a poor, forsaken, wicked child, wandering about the streets, ragged, hungry, and diseased, you are naturally led to pity him; but it would be well if you recollected that his rags, and hunger, and disease, are not the principal parts of his wretchedness; they render him, indeed, very pitiable, and call for such help as we can afford him; but, as I said before, bis outward want is not the worst part of his misery; the worst part is, what we call his moral misery; namely, that he knows not God, and never remembers his name but to profane it; that he is a willing slave of the devil, who tempts him to swear, to lie, and to steal; that, in short, he is a lost sheep, wandering from Christ, the true and only Shepherd and Bishop of souls. What are bis outward rags, and filth, and wants, and diseases, compared with this! They only respect his dying body; but these wants and disorders beggar and destroy his immortal soul.
But now, suppose that any one of us could bring this poor child to read the Bible, to pray for grace, and remember his Creator in the days of his youth, his wants and disor, ders might be removed; but, even if they were to remain, and he lie in the street like Lazarus, covered with diseases, and with none but dogs to pity him; yet, if his heart could rise to God, and his faith take hold of a Redeemer, what then would be the changes and chances of this mortal life to him ! and, as it was said of Joseph in his affliction, it must be said of himn in his very lowest and worst temporal circumstances, his God is with him, angels are ready to receive him, and a crown of glory is preparing for him.
You have also heard, that your Creator will judge that world which he has made; and that the day cometh when great and small shall stand before him. . Consider my young friends, what a joy it will be to any of you in that day to be able to say, “ I know the Judge, I have trusted in his promises--I have remembered him in my feeble prayers and endeavours, and now I know that he will remember
Does such an one wish to ask, “ Will he remember me? Will he remember me should I die while a youth, and that among the millions which shall stand before him in that great day? Will he indeed remember me?