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cerned in the acquisition of a religious steadiness of character. "I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you." Fathers in their youth, and sons in their age, are beholden to the grace of Christian stability for that consistency of conduct, which, as it was the glory of their prime, is the best ornament of their gray hairs. The most illustrious example of youthful piety and an ardour after early wisdom, will be found in the childhood of Christ" the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit"." Here is progressive improvement-day unto day uttereth knowledge-there is no royal road to the perfection of the understanding; the prize indeed is held forth, but it is not awarded till the race is
With these warnings, let us be sober, be vigilant; let us beware of the blandishments of Delilah and shorn locks of Samson. If we are not careful to retain our integrity, our strength will pass from us, like another man; our weak brethren will deride"Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?" What galling words, aggravated by our own reflections, that "our pomp is brought down to the grave, the worm is spread under us, and the worms cover us 3!"
1 1 John ii. 14.
2 Luke i. 80.
3 Is. xiv. 11.
Infirm of purpose! unstable in principle! and wavering in opinion!-this is as disgraceful, as it is wicked. This is not the man that stands upon the Rock of Ages; that says, "here will I rest, for I have delight therein." Nó. His footing is unsound, he stumbles as he walks: " he is even as a man that has no strength, and is counted as one of those that go down into the pit1."
V.-The religious use of memory.
MEMORY, in a young person, is more or less equivalent to contemplation in an old one. The repetition of such things as are first placed in the memory, acquires a stability which we call retention, and which, ever after, renders them ready for service. The habit of retaining one subject for some time within the mind, and turning it over, as it were, on every side, produces such a complete view of the object, and such a knowledge of every thing connected with it, as leads to the most beneficial application of it. A lively imagination, impressed upon a warm and vivid memory, has effects equally useful, but as it cannot long retain the original idea, it demands frequent visits to make it an inmate of the breast at all, much less an inmate worth retaining.
1 Ps. lxxxviii. 3.
The faculty of memory, doubtless, differs very much, according to the bodily temperature of different persons. But it does not differ so much as a faculty, as it does as a habit. The memory is capable of improvement. The mind that is called dull, is generally inattentive. The unpolished mirror is capable of a brighter surface. Disease and a malignant disposition of body, may indeed disarrange every rational faculty; but it reaches not the end of my argument. If memory be, as it has been called, "the treasury of the soul," it will enrich the understanding; and therefore, it has been also said of this, as of other treasure, that it is memory that makes the man. The effort, then, to profit by the memory, is not altogether voluntary. The treasure must be there, before it can be produced. The memory is the mean of producing it. "It is a talent," says a wise philosopher, "which may be thus turned to account; and is to be valued as we value the possession of every subject that may be subservient to any valuable purpose'."
Association of ideas, as Mr. Locke terms it, or coherence of thought, as some others, is so tenacious in the mind of man, that one leading idea is only the first link of a chain which follows in almost endless perspective and if presented to the mind, even when engaged on a subject in every respect different,
1 Ferguson's Principles of Moral and Political Science. Vol. 1. p. 100.
conducts us with a wildness of imagination that seems to have no end. I doubt not but every man has felt this, even when he least desired it. A single glimpse of thought has led him into new company, and separated him, momentarily at least, from his bosom friend, from his most urgent business, even from his God. So peculiar is this feeling, that it has been stiled a reverie; an absorption of thought, an involuntary abstraction of the faculty of memory, an alienation hardly to be described.
Here then rests the ground of my present argument. The memory, to be productive of good, must originate from a holy source; for we must not forget that the memory is as liable to retain evil as it is to retain good; and perhaps more so, from the predominant propensities of mankind. As our blessed Lord says, "out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts;" so evil thoughts, cherished in the memory, and ruling without control, act as a check to every purer principle through the whole of human life. Change the quality of the stream, and it will flow with equal rapidity, but with more salubrity. But how valuable is this association of ideas when the first impulse is holy! A simple allusion will be sufficient to prove this. The first hymn impressed upon the memory of a child, will be the chief solace of his latest age.
hymn will bring holy parents to his view; it will raise up before his eyes scenes of infancy and home, and he will dwell upon his early friends and instructors with
delight. Even when darker days have arisen around him, or seducing pleasures have led him astray in the meridian of his life, the sweet music of his youth will draw him back again; and while he regrets the interruption which has occurred, he will rejoice in the recollection and in his now happy restoration.
The combination of thought which the memory supplies, is a happy gift of providence, and an infallible proof of the religious use of this valuable faculty when directed to an holy and special end. When we are taught in our infant years the several incidents of the early life of our Saviour Christ, there is a congeniality of thought which rivets them in our memory, and connects them with every succeeding fact recorded in the Gospel of truth. These foundation-thoughts grow up with us, and strengthen with our strength. Our reason and our faith rest upon one principle, and the happy old man bears testimony to the pious child.
I have dwelt more on the necessity of obtaining holy thoughts than of avoiding evil ones; because, when the former predominate, like the serpent of Moses, they will devour and totally extirpate the delusive phantoms of Egyptian impostors.
I do not, by any means, wish to depreciate human learning, derived, as it unquestionably is, from the discreet and appropriate use of memory; as every man must acknowledge its value in sustaining and confirming every article of the Christian faith. On the contrary, I am a firm maintainer of learning in its