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ordinary course of nature, drawing to eternity? "How old art thou?"
One class of you might, indeed, reply; “It is still but the morning of life with us: we are but young, and, in the usual course of things, many years lie between us and the closing scene of life." To this the obvious answer is: look around you, and you will see the young dying as well as the old. Nay; the life of very young persons, is still more precarious, than that of the adult, or even of the aged: and, in all probability, some who now hear me, will never reach to years of manhood. But I desire to give the subject quite another turn; and request, for the advice I am just going to offer, the particular attention of all the children, now here present before God.
You have, my young friends, in your hands, and in your power, what many grown persons would give worlds to purchase, had they, indeed, worlds to give, and could worlds call back the past. I mean the commencement of life; those hours for sowing the good and precious seed; that bright morning which, if rightly used, will shine, more and more, unto the perfect day, and expand unto a happy life, and a happy immortality. Alas! if you but knew the secret agonies, which swell the bosoms of many, who have thrown away their early opportunities; whose seed-time
is over, and no seeds sown, but those of remorse and bitterness: you would rejoice, with joy unspeakable, at still being young; at still being able to set out well; to remember your Creator in the days of your youth; and lay up, for the evening of your days, as far as belongs to fallen man, "the calm remembrance of a life well spent." Too many will be apt to tell you, that you were born in innocence, and that your faults are but playful follies, and the fruits of harmless nature. But you, I trust, have been better taught. You were born in sin: you bring into the world a sinful nature and your hearts (need I tell the youngest of you?) are prone to depart from the living God. If you were what man was once in Paradise, you, like the holy angels, would have no pleasure, but in doing your heavenly Father's will; no employment, but love to God, and love to all around you. But from this happy state you fell and none but that gracious Being, who came down from heaven, can restore a sinful creature to the sunshine of God's favour. He alone was innocent, and undefiled by sin. But he died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring you to God. And is it too early, while you are still young, to love and serve that dearest of friends, and best of benefactors? Is it too early, to secure that bright crown, which all who confess
that Saviour on earth shall wear in heaven? Is it too early, to accept that happiness, which true religion is sure to bring-to fly the dark and dreary road which leads to hell, and set out upon that path of pleasantness and peace, which, through a Saviour's merits, conducts the soul to heaven? Many of you, I know, have read the lives and deaths of pious children. But if you would read such memorials, with real benefit, resolve that you will be followers of these youthful soldiers of the cross, as they were followers of Christ. When you rise from the perusal of one of their interesting and affecting stories, and see how God, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, can perfect praise; how children can adorn his gospel, in their lives, and " infants glorify him, by their deaths;" do not suffer the impression to pass from you, as if it were that, merely, of an amusing tale; but say to yourself, "Why should I not become an early saint, like this? I have the same Saviour, the same Spirit, the same God, to go to; the same eternity is before me; and the same heaven is open to receive me!" Oh! remember, that religion does not consist in giving ready answers, and in saying fine things. Religion is nothing, or worse than nothing, unless it shew itself in daily practice. Well, then, begin the new year with this resolution; that you will
devote your childhood and your youth to God. Accompany that resolve with fervent prayer; and God will hear it, and grant your heart's desire. Angels will listen, and rejoice: and approving conscience will attest the truth of that, which you have so often repeated in your hymn:
If we devote our youth to God,
'Tis pleasing in his eyes:
A flower, when offered in the bud,
But to the inquiry of my text, some might answer; "We are now at the period of life, at which fierce temptations urge; at which the world presents itself, in all its importance, and its power; and brings its hopes and fears, its occupations and anxieties, to bear, with all their force, upon our minds." In truth, these matters are not small, to flesh and blood. You are now in the heat of the battle: the burthen of the day is upon you: and you are amidst the swellings of Jordan. This is precisely the time, at which men ought to think the most, but at which, in reality, they think the least, of another state of being;—at which they are so often imbruted with sensuality, struggling, with their whole might, to provide for themselves and families, or saying, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years." So live those,
between whom and eternity, the line of separation is as brittle as the spider's web. And when, in this state of profound delusion, the summons (as it often does) suddenly arrives;-when the suspended sword, in the twinkling of an eye, descends, and cuts the slender thread of life:-O blessed God! what a change is here! The soul, at one moment, sunk in animality, and buried in the flesh; and the next moment ejected from the "earthly house of this tabernacle," and turned out upon the wide world of spirits! At one moment the unhappy sinner, encircled with the things of time, and secured behind all the entrenchments which they can throw around the mind-living as if there were no life but this-every avenue effectually closed against the piercing painful light of truth -conscience slumbering-all busy inquiries, and troublesome misgivings, about the future, hushed to rest-the world in quiet possession, and all things promising peace and safety —and, in the midst of this death-like sleep, surprised, by a hand which thunders at the door, and a voice which says, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee!" Now end all the pleasures of time: the bubble of the world is burst, and nothing of it is left, but the recollection that it has been our ruin. Now begins, in good earnest,