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SERMON XXII. 2

a dangerous world, or how shall he so direct his conduct, as to keep himself undefiled and innocent from the great offence? And to this enquiry he returns an answer of the greatest importance; an answer, which ought to be engraven upon the breast of every young man, who wishes to be happy : “By taking heed thereto,

according to thy word.'

Here then are the two great rules, which ought to be the invariable guides of every young man's conduct; Ist, That he ought to take heed to his way: and, 2dly, That the measure of this caution ought to be the word of God.

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And ist, He must take heed. This is a lesson which cannot too often, or too strongly, be inculcated upon the mind of every young Christian. Innocent and undesigning himself, he sets forward in the career of life, joyous and unsuspecting. Having felt no danger, he thinks there is none. Unfurnished too with knowledge, unfixed by principles of wisdom, unconfirmed by experience, the thoughtless wanderer is left to the guidance of wayward fancy or youthful passion, he therefore carelessly strays through the fields of pleasure, he gathers the rose buds of the spring, he twines the festive garland of joy and youth, and thinks himself at liberty to follow their delusive call, so long as they do not seem directly to lead him to injure himself or others; not knowing that the serpent of temptation is to be found even in the enchanting walks of paradise itself.

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Here then is the time for wisdom to interpose her friendly aid : to tell him, that these are dangerous and deceitful guides : to tell him, that the world is full of snares and dangers, which he sees not: to tell him, that he is in an enemy's country, where every unguarded step may prove fatal, and that every thing from within and without, if not timely prevented, will conspire together to draw him on to ruin and misery,

Let then some friendly monitor, let the voice of parental wisdom remind him, that he carries a secret enemy within him, ever ready to take advantage of his weakness and inexperience : that however wise and sagacious he may fancy himself, his own heart is deceitful above all things, and will, without great care and circum, spection, lead him on, by imperceptible grada, tions, to the brink of infamy and wretchedness : and that it will, therefore, behove him to watch and examine every secret propensity and dawn, ing resolution of the soul; knowing that, how, cyer inconsiderable they may at first sight seem, B 2

they they are, in reality, no less than the issucs of life and death.

Nor will it, secondly, be of less importance to the young Christian to know, that he carries with him a dangerous enemy from without: that the temptations of the flesh are strong by nature, that they are still stronger by indulgence: that it will, therefore, be indispensably necessary for him to cleanse his way by early habit, from all sin and filthiness of the flesh; lest brutal lust and confirmed appetite drown him in perdition both of body and soul.

Let him remember, thirdly, that there is a dangerous and deceitful world to encounter, which will endeavour to seduce his innocence, under a thousand disguises. Is he disposed to mirth and gaiety? It will rush upon his soul with all the charms of novelty and pleasure: it has the power of beauty to invite, and the force of example to allure: it has the bowl of intoxieation to stupify his reason, and it has the emissaries of hell to awaken his passions, by instilling the inflammatory poison of wanton description or obscene representation, in those scandalous books and prints, which, to the eternal disgrace of our civil policy, are publicly exposed to

sale,

sale, and are the bane and ruin of thousands in these kingdoms.

Is he inclined to business and the active pur. suits of life? It has the kingdoms of the world and all the glory of them to set before him: it will accost him in the specious language of the tempter, “ All these will I give" thee, if thou

“ wilt fall down and worship me:" an offer how often fatal to the conscience, and, like its diabolic author, the father of rapine, fraud, lies, and injustice!

There is a smiling world too, which he has to encounter, no less dangerous to the youthful mind.

The proffers of friendship, the entanglements of ambition, the glitter of titles, honours and distinctions, will all display their tinșel finery, to catch his unsuspecting eye, and mislead him from the road of virtue. And, what is worse, should he once yield to their allurement, they will act like a powerful opiate upon his soul, they will benumb the feelings of nature, and render him insensible of danger, till death or disappointment awake him to the stings of conscience and the horrors of eternal vengeance.

Let him expect too, to find a frowning world, to act upon his fears, and drive him from the steady fortress of integrity. He must be prepared to encounter the black train of misfortune, ślander, treachery, ingratitude, pain, exile, and dereliction: a task how difficult to the man of the most spotless virtue and collected resolution; and yet how necessary to every one, who travels the rough and dangerous road of human life!

Let him know too, that he has a spiritual adversary ever near him, to take every advantage, to strengthen every temptation, and “ as a

roaring lion walking about, seeking'whom he

may devour:” that it will therefore behove the young Christian not to be ignorant of his devices, not to throw himself off his guard, but father, as the Apostle advises, to “be sober, to “ be vigilant."

Need I add, will not every young person too soon experimentally find, that he has a weak and corrupt nature, ever ready to receive the impressions of evil, and add strength to outward temptation, to second the assaults of corruption, and yield by treachery the fortress of virtue, where open force has failed ? Even the strongest will always find it a task of sufficient labour to counteract the prevailing bias of a frail and cor

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