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deration : God and nature equally allow it. But remember, that the only true enjoyment of them depends upon the right and innocent use of them : for, the moment you crop the rose-buds of guilty pleasure, its thorns will lacerate your consciences, and pierce you through with many sorrows: the moment you give way to the temptations of the world, you will begin to feel the cares and stings of the world; whenever you bid adieu to innocence, you must bid adieu, at the same time, to that ease of heart and peace of mind, which you now feel within you.
This is the unalterable appointment of the God who made you. He has ordained, that virtue should make you happy, and vice miserable: He has made the one productive of life, the other of death: the one of blessings, the other of curses.
Be assured, therefore, from the bitter experience of others, that this is the appointment of divine Providence, and do not risque your happiness by making the dangerous experiment yourselves. But, should your young and unsuspecting hearts, entertain any doubt in this. matter, enquire of the teachers of old time, and they will tell you, that “if any man lusteth to " live, and would fain see good days, he must
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“ keep his tongue from evil, and his lips that " they speak no guile; he must eschew evil, " and do good; he must seek peace, and en" sue it.”
Enquire, again, of the mother that bare thee, and the father that begat thee; and they will take up the advice of a wise parent of old, and say, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent “ thou not; for their way inclineth unto death, " and their paths unto the dead.”
• Enquire, again, of Him who came down from heaven to save thee; and he will tell thee, that when thou hast the understanding of a man, thou must have the innocence of a child, if thou desirest to enter into his kingdom; for of such is the kingdom of God :-“Except ye receive “ the kingdom of God as a little child,” with the same innocence of heart and goodness of disposition, “ye shall in no wise enter therein."
Believe therefore a truth which comes attested by such a cloud of witnesses, and do not add one more to the number of those unhappy wretches, who will listen to no teacher but their own sad experience; and cannot be persuaded how much virtue is preferable to vice, till they feel it, by a broken constitution and ruined för
tune, a body full of infirmities, and a mind loaded with guilt.-And how dreadful, how dangerous, must such a conviction be! It often comes too late for repentance; or, if it does not, it lays up matter of sorrowful reflection for every succeeding inoment of our lives.
Consider farther these things seriously with yourselves. Would you have the pleasures of sin for a season, or the pleasures of virtue for life? Whether is it better, in your early youth, to lay up happiness, or repentance, for days, and months, and years to come? Do you wish for blessings or cursings, for life or death, for life or death eternal ? Behold! both are set before you, life and death, blessing and cursing: chuse ye, therefore, this day, which ye will. But, do not think of fluctuating between both : there is no middle state between life and death, between happiness and misery. Fix, therefore, and determine on that, which seems most conducive to your happiness. And may the God of all mercy guide and direct your choice! that ye may be followers of God, as dear children, and inherit the promises of eternal life.
There are many of us, –alas ! too many, I fear,-far advanced in manhood, without having fixed or chosen any certain, regular plan for
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the conduct of life: such as, from their youth up until now, have either had no principles at all, or are perpetually wavering in their principles : sometimes lovers of pleasure, and sometimes lovers of God; sometimes admirers of virtue, and sometimes the slaves of vice : such, in short, as having no settled course to pursue, and no settled method to direct that course, are always like a wave of the sea, that is carried by the wind and tossed : they float at random on: the wide ocean of life, the sport of every gale that blows, and not even knowing the haven where they would be..
Now the most likely way to fix such an unsteady wanderer, is to shew him the object he ought to have in view. That object is happiness. By happiness I mean not the pleasure of a day, I mean not the joy of an hour; but a happiness which will last as long as the man himself will last; that is, for ever and ever. This is the chief and only good of man. And this being fixed and ascertained, every prudent man will consider the means of attaining it. And for these means, a man, who is at all advanced in life, may safely be referred back to his own experience.
Look back then, my friends, upon the time past of your life, and say, whether, upon the commission of any action contrary to your duty, your heart has not always upbraided you bitterly for your folly ? Did it not almost immediately bleed within you, through a sense of guilt ? Nay, does it not, even to this hour, bleed afresh, as often as you recollect your first loss of innocence by a breach of your duty? Is there not a soreness still remaining, which no time can heal, but which will continue to give you pain to the last and expiring moment of your lives?
And, on the other hand, after any good and virtuous action, have you not felt immediate pleasure and delight? Had you, whilst you were doing it, any boding, misgiving thoughts, any forbidding whispers, any secret shame and reluctancy ? No: comfort, complacency of mind, and the congratulations of conscience, you all well know, have always accompanied your good and virtuous actions.
Let then the time past of our lives suffice to have wrought folly. If God hath in mercy winked at the times of our past ignorance, the follies and offences of our youth, let us not abuse the mercy of heaven still lunger, not knowing that the goodness of God ought to