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256 IRRELIGION, INGRATITUDE TO GOD, heart to him you are not merely guilty of the most base ingratitude, but of the vilest injustice. You rob him of his right. You rob not man, but God; you rob God of his honour, and the divine Sac viour of what is most justly his; God said of old to Israel, “ Will a man rob God ? yet ye have robbed me.” The language of his word is, “Ye are not your own, but bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit
, which are God's.” What would you think of a man, that might rob an affectionate parent, to give what he stole from his best friend, to a most de testable and cruel enemy of that parent and of himself? Oh, folly, madness, wickedness, ingratitude! My young friend, is not this the part you act, if you deny Jesus what is his due ? and give what his love claims to his greatest enemy and yours! If you refuse him your youth and prime, to which he has an endless right, and give that youth and prime to Satan? Love so amazing, so divine as his, demands “your life, your soul, your all;" and shall it have no grateful return? When you owe God every thing, will you be so base as to give him nothing ?
§ 3. In refusing your youth to God, you are guilty of the greatest cruelty to yourself. Better far had it been for you never to have been born, than to come into the world to spend a few sin. ful years, and then to go and make your sad abode with devils and the damned; where the worm never dieth, and the fire never shall be quenched. You would think any one dreadfully cruel to himself, who might cut and mangle his own body, who might tear off his own flesh, who might thrust his own limbs into the fire, and keep them there, in misery till they were consum.
AND CRUELTY TO THE SOUL,
ed. But which is worst, to mangle a mortal body, or undo an immortal soul? to thrust a limb into the fire, or to throw the soul into hell ? If you beheld one, that, by a fall from his horse, or from a house-roof, had his limbs broken, and lay writhing in agony on the ground, would you not declare him cruel to himself, if a friend stood by ready and able to cure him, and he were to refuse the needful help? But which is worst, to linger down to death in agony, through slighting a surgeon's aid; or linger a few years, a depraved, condemned, and ruined creature, and ihen sink to endless wretchedness, through neglecting a divine Saviour's help? If your body were in such melancholy circumstances, you would welcome friendly aid, and while your soul is in a state far more melancholy, I beseech you, neglect not that of the Lord Jesus Christ. You would not be so cruel to yourself, as to thrust a foot, or a hand, or even the point of a finger into the fire; 0, be not so cruel to your own soul, as to undo it with a sure and everlasting destruction! Every moment that you delay to turn to God, is a moment of cruelty to your soul, your own, your immortal soul. What would you think of a husbandman, who, in spring, might sow his fields with poisonous weeds, and say, “I'll pluck them up in winter!” Distracted man!
Where would be his harvest ? In winter, he should be enjoying the harvest, of which the seed was sown in spring, and not then, in want and misery, be tearing up the weeds that had ruined his land. And will you, by neglecting early piety, sow the seeds of sin in youth, hoping to pluck up the poisonous weeds in age? Perhaps that age may never come. With all
MADNESS OF IRRELIGION. your soul-destroying sins in their full vigour, you may be snatched away to receive the judge ment of an insulted and injured God. But if that age should come, it may almost be a hopeless task, then to mortify those corruptions which have been gaining strength through all the years of life; and which have brought forth much fruit unto eternal death. Cruel as the distracted husbandman would be to himself, more cruel will you be, if you spend the prime of life in storing up causes for bitter repentance hereafter, and thus make what should be your best years, your guiltiest and your worst. Alas! how dreadfully baneful to your best interests, is carelessness and irreligion on the edge of an eternal world! A drowning man will catch at a reed; a poor wretch sinking into an unfathomable abyss grasp a twig; but ah, miserable madness of unhappy men! though about to plunge into vast eternity, they slight that helping hand which offers sure deliverance. Still they go on, careless whither, till death, that forceful preacher, discovers all they would not learn, but which they must by sad experience know. then for a reed of hope! then for a Saviour's helping hand! then for one day of offered mercy more! Misers would give their idolized wealth, monarchs their kingdoms, worldlings their pleasures, for such a blessing once again. Oh, miserable folly! to set no value now on those things, for which they would, ere long, think the wealth of worlds a trifling price. On this side the grave, to let eternal salvation be almost the only thing they neglect, while on the other, it will be the only thing that is worthy of their desire.
§ 4. In neglecting early piety, you are un
EXPOSTULATION WITH THE READER,
kind to all that wish you well. To that blessed Spirit, who strives with you; to those holy angels, wbo would fain rejoice over you'; to those ministers of the gospel, that labour and pray for your conversion; to those friends, if you have such, that are the friends of Christ, and that wish to see you such also. How much comfort you deny them!
What pleasure your conversion might give them! but you refuse them this pleasure. While thus basely ungrateful to your God, to the Lord Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit ; while thus cruel to yourself; while thus unkind to angels, to ministers, to Christian friends; whom, O young sinner! do you please? Only those malignant spirits, who seek your ruin; only the devil and his angels. They look on you as their own. Only hell can rejoice over you, while the church of Jesus mourns; and while if angels could weep, they would weep for you. Oh! will you please your hellish foes, sooner than your compassionate God and Saviour! Oh! will you do that at Satan's secret bidding, which you will not do at Christ's open command! Will you comply with the devil's call, and yield your youth to him, while you neglect the call of God, and return him nothing but neglect and sin ? Oh, could you see that hateful foe, would you then act this wicked part? yet, if you will not prepare to meet your God, remember you
will soon be given up by him into the hands of Satan; then you will find that you were infinitely cruel to yourself, as well as basely ungrateful to God, while pleasing hell instead of heaven.
O, my young friend, would you lead a life so basely wicked Would you have to reproach yourself hereafter with choosing destruction, in
MOTIVES FOR EARLY PIETY, spite of what God and man do to make you happy? Would you have, at last, to lament that you have rushed headlong into hell, in spite of all that was done to turn your feet into the way of heaven ? Prevent such sad reflections I beseech you. As ever you would find mercy at the bar of God, fly to the God of mercy now. Seek Jesus in these the fair days of your youth. I know with many young persons, it is now an easy thing to slight the friendly warning that bids them follow the Saviour, and to avoid, or deride the friend that gives it; but it will be dreadfully hard at last, to remember slighted warnings - abused privileges - a gracious God forsaken a kind Saviour neglected - a wasted youth - - a heaven lost-a hell incurred - and a devil pleased instead of God. One way only remains for you to escape all these evils, it is, to go to Christ for life. May God lead you to him.
THE VANITY OF YOUTH, AND THE UNCERTAINTY OF
LIFE, REASONS FOR THE IMMEDIATE CHOICE OF
§ 1. A DIVINE writer, when urging on the young attention to eternal things, employs this solemn argument: “Childhood and youth are vanity :">
Eccles. xi. 10. And is it not so? Perhaps even now, while you hesitate, you die. Perhaps the shuttle has passed the loom, that wove your winding sheet. Perhaps in yonder