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But after the season of youth is past, if its intemperate spirit remain ; if, instead of listening to the calls of honour, and bending attention to the cares and the business of men, the same course of idleness and sensuality continue to be pursued, the case becomes more desperate. A sad presumption arises, that long immaturity is to prevail ; and that the pleasures and passions of the youth are to sink and overwhelm the

Difficult, I confess, it may prove to overcome the attachments which youthful habits had for a long while been forming. Hard, at the beginning is the task, to impose on our conduct restraints which are altogether unaccustomed and new. But this is a trial which every one must undergo, in entering on new scenes of action, and new periods of life. Let those who are in this situation bethink themselves that all is now at stake. Their character and honour, their future fortune and success in the world, depend, in a great measure, on the steps they take, when first they appear on the stage of active life. The world then looks to them with an observing eye. It studies their behaviour; and interprets all their motions, as presages of the line of future conduct which they mean to hold. Now, therefore, put away childish things ; dismiss your former trifling amusements, and youthful pleasures ; blast not the hopes which your friends are willing to conceive of you. Higher occupations, more serious cares, await you. Turn your mind to the steady and vigorous discharge of the part you are called to act. This leads me,

II. To point out the particular duties which open to those who are in the middle period of life. They are now come forward to that field of action where

they are to mix in all the stir and bustle of the world ;' where all the human powers are brought forth into full exercise ; where all that is conceived to be important in human affairs is incessantly going on around them. The time of youth was the preparation for future action. In old age our active part is supposed to be finished, and rest is permitted. Middle age is the season when we are expected to display the fruits which education had prepared and ripened. In this world, all of us were formed to be assistants to one another. The wants of society call for every man's labour, and require various depart' ments to be filled up. They require that some be appointed to rule, and others to obey; some to defend the society from danger, others to maintain its internal order and peace; some to provide the conveniences of life, others to promote the improvement of the mind; many to work; others to contrive and direct. In short, within the sphere of society there is employment for every one; and in the course of these employments, many a moral duty is to be performed; many a religious grace to be exercised. No one is permitted to be a mere blank in the world. No rank, nor station, no dignity of birth, nor extent of possessions, exempt any man from contributing his share to public utility and good. This is the precept of God. This is the voice of nature. This is thë just demand of the human race upon one another.

One of the first questions, therefore, which every man who is in the vigour of his age should put to himself is, “What am I doing in this world ?:What “ have I yet done, whereby I may glorify God, and “ be useful to my fellows ? Do I properly fill up

the

“ place which belongs to my rank and station ? Will

any memorial remain of my having existed on the “ earth? or are my days passing fruitless away, now “ when I might be of some importance in the system “ of human affairs ?" --Let not any man imagine that he is of no importance, and has, upon that account, a privilege to trifle with his days at pleasure. Talents have been given to all; to some ten ; to others five; to others two. Occupy with these * till I come, is the command of the great Master to all. Where superiour abilities are possessed, or distinguished advantages of fortune are enjoyed, a wider range is afforded for useful exertion, and the world is entitled to expect it. But among those who fill up the inferiour departments of society, though the sphere of usefulness be more contracted, no one is left entirely insignificant. Let us remember, that in all stations and conditions, the important relations take place, of masters and servants, husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and friends, citizens and subjects. The discharge of the duties arising from those various relations, forms a great portion of the work assigned to the middle age

of man. Though the part we have to act may be con. fined within a humble line, yet if it be honourably acted, it will be always found to carry its own reward.

In fine, industry, in all its virtuous forms, ought to inspirit and invigorate manhood. This will add to it both satisfaction and dignity ; will make the current of our years, as they roll, flow along in a clear and equable stream, without the putrid stagnation of sloth and idleness. Idleness is the great cor

Luke, xix. 13.

dle age.

rupter of youth; and the bane and dishonour of mid:

He who, in the prime of life, finds time to hang heavy on his hands, may with much reason suspect, that he has not consulted the duties which the consideration of his age imposed upon him; assuredly he has not consulted his own happiness. But, amidst all the bustle of the world, let us not forget,

III. To guard with vigilance against the peculiar dangers which attend the period of middle life. It is much to be regretted, that in the present state of things there is no period of man's age in which his virtue is not exposed to perils. Pleasure lays its snares for youth; and after the season of youthful follies is past, other temptations, no less formidable to virtue, presently arise. The love of pleasure is succeeded by the passion for interest: In this passion the whole mind is too often absorbed ; and the change thereby induced on the character is of no amiable kind. Amidst the excesses of youth virtuous affections often remain. The attachments of friend: ship, the love of honour, and the warmth of sensibility, give a degree of lustre to the character, and cover many a failing. But interest, when it is become the ruling principle, both debases the mind and hardens the heart. It deadens the feeling of every thing that is sublime or refined. It contracts the affections within a narrow circle ; and extinguishes all those sparks of generosity and tenderness which once glowed in the breast.

In proportion as worldly pursuits multiply and competitions rise, ambition, jealousy, and envy, combine with interest to excite bad passions, and to

increase the corruption of the heart. At first, perhap, it was a man's intention to advance himself in the world by none but fair and laudable methods. He retained for some time an aversion to whatever appeared dishonourable. But here, he is encountered by the violence of an enemy. There, he is supplanted by the address of a rival. The pride of a superiour insults him. The ingratitude of a friend provokes him. Animosities ruffle his temper. Suspicions poison his mind.

He finds, or imagines that he finds, the artful and designing surrounding him on every hand. He views corruption and iniquity prevailing; the modest neglected; the forward and the crafty rising to distinction. - Too easily, from the example of others, he learns that mystery of vice, called the way of the world. What he has learned he fancies necessary to practise for his own defence; and of course assumes that supple and versatile character, which he observes to be frequent, and which often has appeared to him successful.

To these, and many more dangers of the same kind, is the man exposed who is deeply engaged in active life. No small degree of firmness in religious principle, and of constancy in virtue, is requisite, in order to prevent his being assimilated to the spirit of the world, and carried away by the multitude of evil doers. Let him therefore call to mind those principles which ought to fortify him against such temptations to vice. Let him often recollect that, whatever his station in life may be, he is a man; he is a Christian. These are the chief characters which he has to support; characters superiour far, if they be supported with dignity, to any of the titles with which courts can decorate him ; superiour to all that

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