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an increase of thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold. They will make a jest of your faults, they will applaud your vices, and so avail themselves of your tender age, to give a thousand and a thousand wounds to your innocence, that all your application will scarcely heal, when you shall be capable of application. If you do not avail yourselves of the first sentiments of piety and reason, to resist, so far as the weakness of childhood will permit, those dangerous snares, you will find yourselves very far advanced in the road of vice, before your situation is perceived.
2. Is infancy succeeded by youth? Fresh snares, new temptations occur. On the commencement of reflection, you will discover existing, in your consti. tution and temperature, principles grossly opposed to the law of God. Perhaps the evil may have its principal seat in the soul, perhaps in the body. In the temperature of the soul, you will find principles of envy, principles of vanity, or principles of avarice. In the temperature of the body, you will find princi. ples of anger, principles of impurity, or principles of indolence. If you are not aware of this class of temp. tations, you will readily suffer yourselves to be carried away by your propensity, and you will obey it without remorse ; you will invest it with privilege to do with innocence, what the rest of the world cannot do without a crime. You must expect to find in your temperature, principles which will dispense with vir. tue ; and to be captivated by maxims, which too much predominate in the world ; and which you will daily hear from the mouths of your companions in dissipa, tion. These maxims are, that youth is the age of pleasure; that it is unbecoming a young man to be grave, serious, devout, and scrupulous; that now we ought to excuse not only games, pleasure, and the theatres, but even debauchery, drunkenness, luxury, and profaneness: that swearing gives a young man an air of chivalry becoming his age, and debauchery an air of gallantry, which does him credit in the
world Caution yourselves against this class of temptations ; lay aside the sin which so easily besets you, if you should relax in one single instance. Ah! think, my son, that you may never survive those years you devote to the world : think that the small. pox, a slight fever, a single quarrel, one night of de. bauchery, may snatch away your life. Think, though you should run your course, you will never have such flexible organs, so retentive a memory, so ready a conception, as you have to-day; and, consé. quently, you will never have such a facility for form. ing habits of holiness. Think how you will one day lament to have lost so precious an opportunity. Consecrate your early life to duty; dispose your heart, at this period to ensure salvation. Remember noro thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, in which thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. Eccles. xii. l.
2. After having considered the period of youth, we proceed to maturer age. A new stage, fresh snares, more temptations. What profession can you choose, which the spirit of the world has not infected with its venom ; and which has not, so to speak, its peculiar morality ?
The peculiar morality of a soldier, whose duty is to defend society, to maintain religion, to repress li. centiousness, to oppose rapine by force ; and to de. duce, from so many dangers, which open the way of death, motives to render the account which Hea. ven will require : but it is a profession in which a man thinks himself authorized to insult society, to despise religion, to foment licentiousness, to raise his arm to sacrifice his life ; to sell his person for the most ambitious designs, the most iniquitous conquests, and sanguinary enterprises of sovereigns.
The peculiar morality of the statesman and magistrate, whose profession is to preserve the oppressed, to weigh with calmness a long detail of causes
and consequences, to avail himself of the dignity to which he is elevated, to afford examples of virtue : but it is a profession in which he thinks himself entitled to become inaccessible to the injured, to weary them out with mortifying reserves, with insupportable delays, and to dispense with labour and application, abandoning himself to dissipation and vice.
The peculiar morality of the lawyer, whose duty is to restrict his ministry to truth and justice, never to plead for a cause which has not the appearance of equity, and to be the advocate of those who are inadequate to reward his services : but it is a profession in which a man thinks himself authorized to maintain both falsehood and truth, to support iniquity and falsehood, and to direct his efforts to the celebrity he may acquire, or the remuneration he may receive.
The peculiar morality of the merchant, whose du.. ty is to detest short weights and false measures, to: pay the revenue, and to be satisfied with a moderate profit: but a profession in which he thinks himself authorized to indulge those very vices, he ought in particular to avoid.
The peculiar morality of the minister. What is: the vocation of a minister? Is it not to devote him. self entirely to virtue ? Is it not to set a pattern to all the church? Is it not to visit the hospitals, and houses of affliction, and to alleviate, as far as he can, the pressure of their calamities? Is it not to direct his studies, not to subjects by which he may acquire celebrity for learning and eloquence, but to those which may render him most useful? Is it not to determine on the choice of a text, not by the caprice of the people, which on this point is often weak, and mostly partial, but by the immediate wants of the fock? Is it not to pay the same attention to a poor man's dying child, stretched on a couch of grass, and unknown to the rest of the world, as to his, who possesses a distinguished name; who abounds in
wealth, who provides the most splendid coffin and magnificent funeral ? Is it not to cry aloud, to lift up his voice like a trumpet, to show the people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins ; to know no man after the flesh ; and when he ascends this pulpit, to reprove vice with firmness, however exalted may be the situation of the offender? But what is the morality of a pastor ? Enter not into judgment with thy servants, O Lord ; for we cannot answer thee one of a thousand. Caution yourselves against this class of temptations. The world is neither your legislator, nor your judge: Jesus Christ, and not the world, is the sovereign arbitrator. It is the morality of Jesus Christ, and not the maxims of men, which you should follow.
4. Having reviewed human life in infancy, youth, and manhood, I proceed to consideritin old age; in that old age which seems so distant, but which is, in fact, within a few years ; in that old age which seems, in some sort, at the distance of eternity, but which ad. vances with astonishing rapidity. A new stage, fresh snares, more temptations, occur : infirmities, troubles, and cares, arrive with age. The less there remains on earth to defend, the more men are resolved not to let it go. The love of life having predo. minated for fifty or sixty years, sometimes unites and attaches itself, so to speak, yet more closely to the short period, which they think is still promised. It is so rooted and entrenched in the heart, as to be immoveable by all our sermons on eternity. They look on all who witness the calamities they suffer, as though they were the cause : it seems as though they were reproached for having lived so long, and they make them atone for this imaginary fault, as though they were really guilty. The thoughts of death they put away with the greater care, as it approaches nearer, it being impossible to avoid the idea, without these efforts to remove it. They call to their aid amusements, which would scarcely be excusable in
the age of infancy : thus they lose the precious remains of life....granted by the longsuffering God.... as they have lost the long course of years, of which nothing now remains but the recollection.
Be on your guard, aged men, against this class of temptations, and against this class of snares, which will easily beset you, unless the whole of your strength be collected for precaution and defence. Let prayer be joined to vigilance: let those tremb, ling hands, weakened with the weight of years, be raised to heaven: let that voice, scarcely capable of articulating accents, be addressed to God: entreat him, who succoured you in the weakness of infancy, in the vigour of youth, in the bustle of riper age, still to sustain you, when the hand of time is heavy on your head.
Hitherto, my dear brethren, I have addressed you, merely concerning the dangers peculiar to each age. What would you not say now, if we should enter into a detail of those which occur in every situation of life? We find, in every age, the temptations of adversity, the temptations of prosperity, the temptations of health, the temptations of sickness, the temptations of cornpany, and the temptations of so, litude: and who is able fully to enumerate all the sins which so easily beset us in the various ages of life? How to be rich without pride, and poor without complaint ? How to fill the middle rank of for. tune, without the disgust, naturally consequent on a station, which has nothing emulous and animating; which can be endured by those only, who discover the evils from which they are sheltered, and the dangers from which they are freed ? How to enjoy health without indulging in the dissipations of life, without immersion in its cares, or indulging in its pleasures? How to be sick, without admitting com: plaint against that gracious Providence, which distributes both good and evil? How to be in solitude, without being captivated with reveries, and corrupt