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ECCLESIASTES xii, 1.
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.
THIS advice of the preacher supposes the importance of the rising generation. He consider ed them as worthy of his particular attention; and surely they are worthy of their own. They should not view themselves as insignificant beings, placed in the world only for amusement, pleasure and trifling, but remember, that their own happiness, and the happiness of multitudes around them, and of thousands who are coming after them, much depends on the part which they shall act in life. They can in no way answer the vast design of their intel lectual existence, nor sustain the dignity of their rank in the rational creation, without religion. The preacher, therefore, in our text, earnestly admonishes them to remember now their Creator in the days of their youth.
We may observe,
I. God is here exhibited to them in the charac ter of their Creator.
As creation is the first and most obvious evidence, which they can have of the existence of the Deity, so their first apprehensions of him, and regards to him, are in this character. In calling them therefore to early religion, Solomon, with great propriety, exhorts them to remember their Creator.
When they begin to reflect, they find that they can look back but a few months or years; that the other day they had not even an existence; that very lately they rose from nothing, and became such beings as they are. Hence they know, that there must be some invisible power, which made them.
They find themselves placed in a spacious world, and surrounded with a thousand wonders; they behold the heavenly curtains stretched over their heads, and beautified with innumerable lights; they see the earth peopled with various kinds of creatures, and spread with various bounties, for their supply; they observe the rolling seasons, and the daily changes of light and darkness. From hence they have sensible evidence, that there is a superior Being, who made and upholds them, and all things around them. If they naturally conclude, that every house is builded by some man; the conclu sion is as natural, that he who built all things, is God.
From the inward powers of perception, thought and reason, they know that the Creator must be perfectly wise. For he who formed the eye, Shall not he see ?-He who planted the ear, Shall not he hear?-He who teacheth man knowledge, Shall not he know?
When they consider the grandeur of the world, the mighty effects produced before their eyes, and the bountiful supplies afforded to all living crea tures, they are at once convinced, that their Creator is infinite in power, rich in goodness, and pres ent in every place. VOL. I.
These sentiments of the Deity easily arise in the mind of every serious and contemplative youth. In the first openings of reason, the young are more given to inquisitive speculation than perhaps some are apt to imagine. The new objects which continually meet their eyes, awaken thought and contemplation in their minds; and if, in this early stage, proper assistance and encouragement were afforded them, they would make easy progress in the knowledge of moral and divine things, and deeply imbibe those sentiments of virtue and religion, which might abide with them through life, and preserve them from the fatal influence of temptation and vice.
We may observe,
II. Solomon here expresses the piety of the young by their remembering their Creator.
It is usual in scripture to express the whole of religion by some leading temper or principle; as the knowledge of God, faith in him, love to him, and the fear of him. When a particular virtue or duty is enjoined, as a condition of the divine favour, we must always understand it, as including all those tempers and actions, which are naturally connected with it, or flow from it. To know God, is to serve him with an upright heart. To fear God, is to depart froin evil. The love of God, is to keep his commandments. They who have believed in him, will be careful to maintain good works.
In the same latitude we must understand the remembrance of God. This is not a transient thought, or occasional recollection, that there is a God; but an habitual, influential apprehension of him, and regard to him. It is such a firm belief of his existence, such a just knowledge of his character, such a lively and steady sense of his presence, as shall awaken and preserve suitable affections to him,
and produce a correspondent life of humble obedi
Remembrance is not the learning of something new, but the recollection and retention of something already known. The young are here supposed to have a knowledge of their Creator; to have attended to the evidences of his existence; and to have gained a general acquaintance with his character and will; and they are directed immediately to apply their knowledge to the purpose of real, practical piety.
This is, then, the spirit and meaning of Solomon's address.
"O youth, thou knowest, that there is a God, who made thee, and who created the world, in which thou art placed. And, Wilt thou live unmindful of him? Often consider, what a being he is. Remember that he is a being of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; that he is always present with thee, observing all thy thoughts, words, and actions, and that he will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing. Set him always before thine eyes, act under a sense of his presence, call upon him for all that thou needest, give him thanks for all that thou enjoy est, acknowledge him in all thy ways, approve thyself to him in all that thou dost, and seek his favour with thy whole heart."
We may observe,
III. Solomon recommends to the young a direct and immediate application to religion." Remember now thy creator."
There are few, perhaps, but who intend to devote themselves to God. The young intend to serve him in their youth. Though they procrastinate religion today, and think they may safely do the same tomorrow, yet they mean not to neglect it through all the period of their youth. They have often been
told, and they partly believe, that youth is the most favourable season to begin so great a work. They know, that they are commanded to engage in it; and they would not wholly disobey. But consider, my friends, the same command, which enjoins you to remember God in your youth, enjoins you to remember him now. What part of youth you will take for remembering God, is no more at your op tion, than what part of life you will take. You are as expressly required to serve God in youth, as to serve him at all; and to serve him now, as to serve him in youth. You have no more liberty to postpone religion to the last stage of youth, than to the last hour of life.
Allow me then to inculcate upon you the necessi ty of early religion, and your obligation to apply yourselves to it immediately, and without delay.
1. Let us resume the thought just now suggested, that this is the express command of your Crea
That religion is a matter of indispensable necessity, you will not deny; for you believe, that there is an infinite, allperfect God-that you are moral and accountable creatures-that your happiness depends on his favour-and that you can secure his favour only by devoting yourselves to his service.
Now, while you acknowledge that religion is important to mankind in general, you must acknowledge it to be equally important to yourselves in particular. For all the reasons in which it is founded, take place with respect to you; and the divine command, which enjoins it in general, enjoins it also on you. If God had only required his rational creatures to remember him, you must have considered yourselves as coming within the intention of the command. But the matter is not left at large. You are expressly and particularly pointed out as the subjects of the command-Remember your Creator