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The Lord loves him, and keeps him as the apple of his eye; he gives his angels charge concerning him, to preserve him in all his ways, lest at any time he should dash his foot against a stone. He delights to speak his praise in the Assemblies of his saints and angels above : he writes his name in the book of his remembrance, and gives him the honorable title of the friend of God. He makes all things work together for his good in this world, and, in the dark vale of death, opens his eyes to discern the dawning of heavenly day. In fine, he holds his very alhes sacred; and, raising him up at the last day, carries him to his throne in heaven above, with the glorious company of the redeemed, to be made partaker of his own happiness.
These are thy palms, O Piety! Thine is the kingdom prepared above, thine the power with God and with man, and thine the crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.
WHEN Solomon, in early youth, had ascended the throne of Israel, the God of his fathers appeared to him in a dream. The Almighty was graciously pleased to condescend thus to visit his creature. He put in his offer all the pleafures of the world, and desired him to ask, and he should receive ; to wish, and he should enjoy. The young king possessed a wisdom beyond his years, and a greatness above his crown. He did not ask to have his palace filled with the beauties of the east, to have his treasury stored with the gold of Ophir, or to wear the laurel of victory over the nations. He asked a greater boon than all these. “ Give thy servant, O “ Lord,” replied the wise prince, “ Give thy servant " wisdom and understanding.” What he then made the object of his own choice, he recommends to you under another name, in the words of the text. “member now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.”
This is the last chapter of the works of Solomon, and these words may be regarded as his dying advice to the young. The philosophers of antiquity, who held out the lamp of wisdom to the heathen world, gave the same advice to their followers. But between them and Solomon, there is this remarkable difference. They, from the obscure retirement of
the schools, declaimed against pleasures which they had never tasted, and affected to despise honors to which they never had it in their power to ascend. But Solomon, a great and powerful prince, in the pleasurable time of life, had in his own person tried the experiment. He made the tour of the sensual world. He went in quest of happiness through all the scenes of life. He extended his search over the broad and flowery way, as well as in the narrow path, as it should seem by a particular permission of Providence, to save the pains of future inquirers. Solomon acted the libertine upon a principle of inquiry. The result of his researches was, that all unlawful pursuits began with vanity, and ended in vexation of spirit, and that the true happiness of man, consisted in that understanding which teacheth us to depart from evil, and in that wisdom which instructeth us to fear the Lord.
It is common in Scripture, to express all the acts of devotion and virtue by some part or principle of religion, sometimes by wisdom and understanding ; at other times, by faith, love, the fear of God, walking with God, and many other phrases; all of which ex. press the same meaning, and denote the whole econ. omy of a religious life. So that remembering our Creator in the days of our youth, implies an early and an entire dedication of ourselves to the servico of God.
In further discoursing upon these words, I shall enforce the exhortation in the text, and endeavour to persuade you to remember your Creator in the days of your youth, from the peculiar suitableness of re, ligion to the early period of life. And in the first
place, let me exhort you now in the days of youth, to remember your Creator, from your being as yet uncorrupted by the world.
Although both Scripture and experience testify that man is fallen, and that our nature is corrupted, yet it is equally certain that our earliest passions are on the side of virtue, and that the good seed springs before the tares. Malice and envy are yet strangers to your bosom. Covetousness, that root of evil, hath not yet sprung up in your heart; the selfish, the wrathful, and the licentious passions, have not yet obtained dominion over you. The modeity of nature, the great guardian of virtue, is not seduced from its post. You would blush even in secret, to do a deed of dishonesty and shame. High sentiments of honor and of probity expand the soul. . The col. our comes into the cheek at the smallest apprehenfion of blame; the ready lightning kindles in the eye at the least appearance of treachery and falsehood. Hence says our Lord to his followers, Unless you become as a child; unless you assume the candour, the innocence and the purity of children, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Therefore, whilst you are yet an offering fit for Heaven, present yourselves at his altar, devote yourselves to his service. How beautiful and becoming does it appear for young persons, newly arrived in this city of God, to remember the end for which they were fent into it, and to devote to their Maker's service, the first and the best of their days? When they are in the prime of youth and of health, when the mind is untainted with actual guilt, and alive to every generous impresfion, to confecrate to religion the vernal flower of
life? The virgin innocence of the mind is a sacrifice more acceptable to the Almighty, than if we should come before him with the cattle upon a thousand hills, and with ten thousand rivers of oil. If there be joy in heaven over a great and aged finner that repenteth, how pleasing a spectacle will it be to God, to angels, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, to behold a person in the critical season of life, acquit himself gloriously, and, despising the allurements, the deceitful and transitory pleasures of sin, choose for himself that better part which fhall never be taken away!
Dare then, O young man, to remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth; have the courage to be good betimes. Beware of falling into the usual snare of the inexperienced; beware of thinking that you have time enough to be religious, and for that reason may defer the work of your salvation to ma. turer age, when, as you foolishly imagine, seriousness and fanctity will come of their own accord. In answer to this, let me ask you, my friends, How often have you observed time reform any one ? Did time reform Saul ? Did time reform Ahab? Did time reform Jezebel ? On the contrary, did they not grow bolder in wickedness? You generally, indeed, observe a greater decency in maturer age. The ebullition of youth is then spent, its turbulence is over; but, too often, I am afraid, the wild passions have only given place to an external sobriety, whilst the heart is as far from God, and as carnal as ever. If you suspect this to be a hafty decision, examine what passes in the world. Do you not observe great part of men in the decline of life, as earthly-minded as bę,