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they are, in reality, no less than the issues of life and death.
Nor will it, secondly, be of less importance to the young Christian to know, that he carries with him a dangerous enemy from without: that the temptations of the flesh are strong by nature, that they are still stronger by indulgence: that it will, therefore, be indispensably necessary for him to cleanse his way by early habit, from all sin and filthiness of the flesh; lest brutal lust and confirmed appetite drown him in perdition both of body and soul.
Let him remember, thirdly, that there is a dangerous and deceitful world to encounter, which will endeavour to seduce his innocence, under a thousand disguises. Is he disposed to mirth and gaiety? It will rush upon his soul with all the charms of novelty and pleasure: it has the power of beauty to invite, and the force of example to allure: it has the bowl of intoxication to stupify his reason, and it has the emissaries of hell to awaken his passions, by instilling the inflammatory poison of wanton description or obscene representation, in those scandalous books and prints, which, to the eternal disgrace of our civil policy, are publicly exposed to sale,
sale, and are the bane and ruin of thousands in
Is he inclined to business and the active pursuits of life? It has the kingdoms of the world and all the glory of them to set before him: it will accost him in the specious language of the tempter, "All these will I give thee, if thou "wilt fall down and worship me:" an offer how often fatal to the conscience, and, like its diabolic author, the father of rapine, fraud, lies, and injustice!
There is a smiling world too, which he has to encounter, no less dangerous to the youthful mind. The proffers of friendship, the entanglements of ambition, the glitter of titles, honours and distinctions, will all display their tinsel finery, to catch his unsuspecting eye, and mislead him from the road of virtue. And, what is worse, should he once yield to their allurement, they will act like a powerful opiate upon his soul, they will benumb the feelings of nature, and render him insensible of danger, till death or disappointment awake him to the stings of conscience and the horrors of eternal vengeance.
Let him expect too, to find a frowning world, to act upon his fears, and drive him from the steady fortress of integrity. He must be prepared to encounter the black train of misfortune, slander, treachery, ingratitude, pain, exile, and dereliction: a task how difficult to the man of the most spotless virtue and collected resolution; and yet how necessary to every one, who travels the rough and dangerous road of human life!
Let him know too, that he has a spiritual adversary ever near him, to take every advantage, to strengthen every temptation, and "as a "roaring lion walking about, seeking whom he
may devour:" that it will therefore behove the young Christian not to be ignorant of his devices, not to throw himself off his guard, but rather, as the Apostle advises, to "be sober, to "be vigilant."
Need I add, will not every young person too soon experimentally find, that he has a weak and corrupt nature, ever ready to receive the impressions of evil, and add strength to outward temptation, to second the assaults of corruption, and yield by treachery the fortress of virtue, where open force has failed? Even the strongest will always find it a task of sufficient labour to counteract the prevailing bias of a frail and cor
rupt nature: how arduous a task, therefore, will this be to the unconfirmed imbecility of youth, always pliant and ductile, when formed to the best advantage, and too often soft and unresisting, from the feebleness of a natural false modesty, or the misfortune of a vitious or neglected education!
These are some of the difficulties which every, young man has to encounter at his entrance into the world. Highly, therefore, will it become him to walk circumspectly. Nor let
him consider this as the task of leisure, or the employment of listless indifference. The trial is arduous, and the issue no less than endless happiness or misery. It will require him, there fore, to summon all his abilities, and to call in all the aids of reason and religion. He must watch the dawnings of sin in his soul with a jealous eye, he must examine every design, he must weigh every consequence, he must stand firm and immoveable against every assault.
And the best method of doing this, will be that recommended by the Psalmist in the words of the text: "he must take heed to his ways, "according to God's word."
Nor need he wish for a better or more complete direction for his conduct. Its precepts are few, plain, and simple; yet contain a most perfect rule of life and manners. They were many of them delivered by illiterate fishermen and mechanics; yet exceed all the boasted rules of philosophy, and all the treasures of ancient wisdom. They point out to him his situation and various relations in life, and furnish him with the fullest instructions for his conduct in it, considered as a dependent, social, and accountable being. They tell him what he owes to God, what he owes to his neighbour, what he owes to himself. They explain to him the great mystery of his redemption from sin and death; and in those three short, but comprehensive words, repentance, faith, and obedience, teach him what is expected from him as a Christian. They enforce all these duties by the most cogent motives and powerful sanctions. And, to add still greater weight, the whole of what is there delivered is illustrated by the most striking. portraits of living virtue; that example may add energy to precept, and that speculative wisdom and practical piety may be seen, as they always should be, united.
To this word of God, therefore, let every young man go, for the guidance of his conduct