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They will gradually increase in knowledge; and, perhaps, some seasonable admonition may leave an abiding impression.
Consider, ye youths, that there is no small haz ard in an unnecessary absence from the place of worship, and in a careless behaviour there. You. see what certain youths obtained by an attendance at the passover, and what they would have missed, if they had refused to repair to the temple, when Jesus was there, or had been regardless of what they saw and heard. If you desire to know your Saviour, and to receive the blessings of his love, come to the place, where he has appointed to meet you! Do you think lightly of the stated worship of the Lord's day? Let me ask you, Is it not an institution of Christ; an institution, which his disciples observed, and which he himself honoured with his presence ?-Is it a light matter to despise the grace, the authority, and the example of your: Redeemer?-Do you not believe, that your salvation must come from him; that you must seek it in order to obtain it; and seek it in the way, which he has prescribed? You think, perhaps, that a more private attendance upon him, will be suffi.. cient. This indeed must be done; but leave not: the other undone. While you neglect publick means, there is little room to hope for his blessing on private means, and little reason to believe, that you will regard them. Whatever you may pretend, as long as you are indifferent to the publick institutions of Christ, you will pay no great atten tion to the more private exercises of piety..
4. We are here taught, that the young are un.. der some special obligations to acknowledge and praise the Redeemer. That which was chiefly. commended in these Jewish children, was, that they cried in the temple-Hosanna to the son of Da
vid. Their regard to the Saviour, led them openly to confess him in a publick assembly.
As Jesus is the author of salvation to sinners, the mediator through whom they must come to God, so faith in him, love and gratitude to him, and an explicit acknowledgment of him, are essen tial to real religion. These regards and honours to him, are due no less from the young, than from others.
True religion in you, my children, will operate in pious affections and exercises of heart toward your Redeemer. You are a part of the fallen race, which he came to redeem. You have sinned and come short of the glory of God; and your salvation must come through him. He has expressed a par ticular tenderness and concern for such as you. He became a child, that he might teach you how children ought to walk, and to please God. When he appeared in public life, he never overlooked those of your age and standing. He gathered the lambs with his arms, and carried them in his bosom. Many of the miracles which he wrought, to confirm the truth of his religion, were in healing the diseases, and relieving the distresses of the young. He directed that children should be brought to him; and those who came he graciously received. He owned little ones as his disciples, and denounc ed his severest wrath against those who should despise them, or lay stumbling blocks in their way. They had a particular share in his prayers on earth, nor can we think they are forgotten in his intercessions above. Many declarations and promises he has made in their favour; and has solemnly charg e, not only parents, but ministers, to feed his lambs. In them he encouraged the small beginnings of faith and piety. He was careful not to overburden the feeble, but to assist their virtuous resolutions. In his last sufferings, he remembered
children, and spake of them with tender compassion. And, What think you? Do you owe nothing to him?Is he entitled to no regards and honours from you? This Divine Benefactor had you much on his heart when he came from heaven, when he dwelt on earth, when he suffered on the cross, when he arose and ascended to heaven: He has you on his heart still: And, Will you make him no returns? Give him your hearts, and consecrate to him your lives: He has given his life for you. Renounce the vanities and vices of the world: He came to deliver you from this evil world. Confess his name before men: He has not been ashamed to own and commend the youths who believed in him. In a word-by the mercies of Christ I beseech you, that you present your selves living sacrifices holy and acceptable to him, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.
We may observe, once more,
5. That youthful piety is peculiarly pleasing to Christ.
When children sung praises in the temple, Jesus vindicated them from the obloquy of the impious scribes, and applauded their faith and devotion, as bringing glory to God. There were multitudes, who, on this occasion, sung the same anthem of praise; but the children he singled out as_objects of his special approbation and delight. Piety he loves in all; but in none more than in the young.
Fear not, ye serious youths, that he will despise the day of small things-that he will disdain the praises and prayers offered from your uninstructed tongues. He loves the undissembled language of the penitent and believing heart, however incorrect and imperfect may be the language of the lips. He observes your honest resolutions, hears your hum
prayers, and will assist your virtuous endeav ours. He will not quench, but fan the smoking flax. He will not break, but support the bruised reed. The good work which he begins, he is ready to complete.
Be encouraged, then, to commit your souls to the care, and to devote your lives to the service, of your Redeemer. When you see how pleased he is. with your obedience, Will you deny it to him?When you observe how he delights in your praise, Will you be silent? The prophet says-He shallsee of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied. Great were his sufferings for the sins of men. But when he sees the success of them in bringing sinners to repentance and salvation, then he is satisfied; and peculiarly so, when such as you are drawn to him.. He has made a general declaration, that those who come to him, he will not cast out; and a particular promise, that they who seek him early shall find: him.
Go, my children, and seek him now. But think not at the same time, to indulge the pleasures of sin, and the vanities of the world. No; if your seek him, let these go their way. He bore your sins, that you, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness.
Learn of him, and you will find that rest to your souls, which is not to be found in the ways of the world. Take his yoke, for it is easy. Submit to the burden which he lays on you, for it is light, and his grace, in the time of need, will sustain you, Trials you may meet with in his service, but he will not forsake you. He will proportion his grace to your temptations, or moderate them to your strength. He will lead you along by such gentle steps, that you will not faint, nor be weary. He will stay his rough wind in the day of his east wind. He will gradually train you up to such strength.
and fortitude, that you may cheerfully meet every trial appointed you. He considers the weakness of your age, and the feebleness of your first virtuous purposes. He knows your state, and remembers that you are babes. Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage, and he will strengthen your heart. He giveth power to the faint; and to them who have no might, he increaseth strength. When the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.