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Because childhood and youth are vanity-because God will bring every work into judgment, put away evil from thy flesh-it is evil, put it away; it stands in your way, and is the only obstacle in the way of your rejoicingtherefore, put it away; for it will corrupt your heart, and blind your eyes, to that degree, that you will not be able to understand with your heart, nor perceive with your eyes, the things that belong to your peace. But the sorrow spoken of, which you are called upon to remove, is not so much sorrow, as the cause of sorrow; the evil subsequently designated. But, if sorrow, from any cause, appertaining to a state of minority exists, remove it from thy heart; for a sufficient reason for so doing is found in the fact, of the vanity of childhood and youth. It will pass away like a dream. New scenes, new cares, new views, and conceptions of men, and of things, belonging to the busy world, will attract your attention; and the things of childhood and youth, with all their ephemeral importance, will be lost and forgotten. Thus the book of human life is read. The child, in his childhood, turns over the leaf of infancy, and its events are seen no more. The youth, turns over the leaf on which the child has written the vanity of childhood; and the man turns over the leaf of youth: then death comes, and closes the book ; and seals it for ever. And within it is written "vanity, and vexation of spirit."
Moralists have written essay after essay, on the folly of unreasonable, and, by consequence, inconsistent expectations. Millions of the human race have experienced this folly in their own persons. How shall this evil be remedied? If a remedy is to be applied at all, it must be applied as a preventive, rather than a corrective. If the disease become rooted, having grown with the growth, and strengthened with the strength of the victim, the remedy will come too late, if at all. It strikes me, that this subject has not been often seen in its true light, exhibiting cause and consequence; consequently has not been well understood. What is reasonable? What is unreasonable? What is there within the compass of a rational probability? and what is there that is for ever shut out of the pale of possible events? And who shall decide, save the party whose interest prompts to an investigation into the chances for and against the happening of the event desired? And who more likely to be deceived, than the expectant? Him who colours every thing seen in the
distance, to harmonize with the livery of his wishes ; and finally believes against hope, because his mind has been fitted to believe against hope, by hoping, in the first instance, against reason.
New ideas have sprung up with the age we live in, which aim to nip the evil in the bud; and correct, by a wise education, the proneness of the youthful mind to error. It is "to learn the young idea how to shoot," so that the blossom shall prove a guaranty of good, sound fruit. To teach things, instead of words. This will answer the purpose, provided, (and this is the sine qua non,) the relations of the things are taught the young; otherwise the things will prove as barren as the words have been. Who are the teachers of the young? Who first make an impression, an almost, if not quite an indelible impression on the brain, the sensorium, the mind of the young? Here, in childhood, and in youth, is the root of the mischief to be found; and if deeply seated, is beyond the influence of the tutor's birch; and strong enough to grapple, with the strength of a Hercules, with all the persuasives of the moralist; and to resist, to the death, all the deductions of reason.
How frail a vessel has been cast on the ocean of time! And the rudder that guides, and the sail that propels this frail bark through the tempestuous voyage of life, how soon is the one unshipped by error, and the other rent by wild and ungovernable propensities! But something must be done. 'Tis better to steer wild, than to upset to ship a sea, and carry away the bulwarks, than to run upon the rocks and bilge—to lose a mast or a spar, than to founder, and sink to rise no more. And the remedy for the evil, from what immediate source can that be expected? The answer must be, from those that have buffeted successfully the storm, in the voyage of human existence.
The subject before us necessarily points to the strong feature, that characterizes the most prominent trait in man. I mean the pursuit of happiness. Man, in all the stages of his ephemeral career, with a zeal proportioned to his condition in life, fixes his eye on some imagined good, and pursues it till death closes the scene. But the peculiar feature that distinguishes this search after happiness, consists in an inherent love of pleasure. However diverse may be the medium, but one object is pursued by all. The miser in hoarding, and the spendthrift in dissipating his goods, have the same motive impelling them to
There are for rational beings,
their discordant means. rational pleasures.
Look up, behold the glory of the heavens! Consider the Great Creator, the Author of thy being, and inquire into the mysteries of His works. Look around you, behold animated nature; and consider the vast fund of information that invites you to the search. Behold the flowery landscape; the mountain scenery; rivers and oceans; an infinitude of interesting objects, that invite your mind to a rich, mental repast. Why study to repress the Divinity within you? Why labour to blot out the image that God has impressed on your mind, of noble imaginings-and resist the spirit of immortal longings, that will lead you into the fields of science-awaken in your bosoms, aspirations of future glory, when this ephemeral existence shall cease, and the glad soul, chastened of its impurities, shall rise to the brightest Heaven!
There is a fatal rock, on which the little bark is wrecked, and the ruin is hideous. The inebriating bowl-the cup that poisons the mind, and infects the body with an incurable distemper. And even childhood has been made wretched, and youth maddened to desperation, by becoming victims to the destroying vice of intemperance. Let the young man class ardent spirits, calomel, and opium, together; and only resort to them as he would resort to the knife of the surgeon; not to destroy, but to save life. Pure water is the young man's beverage.
The cause of humanity, however, is a common one; and every sex and condition in life, are parties concerned, and their weal or wo must be affected in the result; whether it be prosperous or adverse. In the strange mutations of life, how often is the delicate woman, who has been bred in the hothouse of luxury, and nursed amidst false visions of human existence, suddenly called to behold the gloomy realities of adversity; calamitous circumstances crossing the threshold of her own domicil, and dispelling the hallucination that held her, spell-bound, in the thraldom of a false education? How wretched is the condition of those persons, whose education has unfitted them for grappling with the ills of life; and only qualified them to be the blind recipients of a blind fortune! They have learned nothing that can be useful in adversity: A life of idleness, the monotony of existence only enlivened by the excitation of dissipation, in the various forms of genteel extravagance, and fashionable, because expensive, amusements.
“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies;" is the affirmation of the author of our text. And it is wisdom that narrates the characteristics of woman's excellence, saying-"Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; AND IN HER TONGUE IS THE LAW OF KINDNESS. She looketh well to the ways of her household; and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." (Prov. xxxi. 25—30.)
Hearken to the counsel of Wisdom-"Put away evil from thy flesh. My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee; bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart'; so shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." (Prov. iii.) AMEN.
THE HELL OF PAGANISM,
THE CAUSE OF THE ORTHODOX CRY,
"Father Abraham, have mercy on me."
LUKE xvi. 24.
THERE is no fact better authenticated in the Scriptures of truth, than that of the error and idolatry of the children of Israel. From the days of Jeroboam down to the end of the Mosaic dispensation, the Jews, with occasional exceptions, were given to idolatry. Even in the days of Moses and Aaron, we learn that the Jews had "offered sacrifices unto devils;" who were the gods of heathen nations, etc. (See Lev. xvii. 7.) And Moses on another occasion spoke of their idolatry, saying, "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God, to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not." (Deut. xxxii. 17.) And Jeroboam the king, "Ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made." (2 Chron. xi. 15.) Here we have evidence of the Jews in Jeroboam's day, retaining, in the traditions of their fathers, a predilection for the idolatrous worship of Egypt. The tribe of Ephraim set up a calf at their capital city of Samaria. Hosea (chap. viii. to xiii. inclusive,) gives a lamentable account of the idolatry of the Jews. They at one time set up the brazen image of Moloch, the idol of the Ammonites, in the valley of the son of Hinnom, (Gehennan) and sacrificed their children, an infernal Holocaust, to this idol. At another time, they "worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh, the god of the Moabites, and Milcom, the god of the children of Ammon." (1 Kings xi. 33.) And the Lord Jesus Christ pronounced finally on the moral character of the Jews of his day, affirming, "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your traditions. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophecy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and