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your eye be ever towards the Lord;" thus was it with David, “ I have set the Lord always before me.”* The knowledge of a grave person's presence will charm the roister to some reverence. “ Take heed, Cato looks on thee,” was accounted a serious caution at Rome ; oh! but God looks on thee, man, dare not in his presence to commit a sin or omit a duty, his eyes are like a flame of fire, brighter than the glorious sun; he is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on iniquity; before thou say or do any thing, ask thyself this question, whether would I say or do this, if a grave person were present ? nay, if a child were but present ? Walk as in the sun, live still in Beer-lahai-roi, and say, as Hagar did, “ Thou God seest me,” and be sure you act accordingly.
15. Begin all your proceedings with God. Never attempt any thing but what you can ask God's blessing upon; be often in the duty of prayer, either in a set and solemn manner, or by frequent ejaculations. Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God; accustom yourselves to a course of religious exercises. Be daily soaring aloft towards heaven ; see your need, and go to the throne of grace
supply in the time of need ;t forsake not that trade, block not up that road by sin ; "pray without ceasing ; do all in the name of the Lord Jesus;^ prefix God's name to all your undertakings, prefer him to yourselves ; let religion be still above worldly concerns ; yea, mix religion with common affairs ; if God should bid you ask what you please, beg wisdom, as Solomon did, the holier you are, the better will things prosper ; the nearer the fountain, the sweeter the streams ; creatures are sanctified by the word of God and prayer. I. O never set about any work without the expectation of a blessing, for which you have a warrant by precept or promise.
16. Maintain peace with all. Despise not others' circumstances, nor pick quarrels with any, though much your inferiors; “ blessed are the peace-makers;" then, cursed are the peacebreakers ; God appears the former, Satan acts the latter ; if you despise, you despise not men, but God: study to be quiet, and to do your own business, so you will be at peace ; if it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men; there is not the worst or least, but you may need their favour, or be prejudiced by their displeasure ; therefore, provoke nobody. Be courteous to all, be meek and humble ; || study what
* Psalm xxv. 15. xvi. 8.
1 Thess. v. 17. Col. iji. 17. 1 Kings iii. 7–9. 1 Tim. iv. 5.
will make for peace; put not forth yourselves either without a call or without bounds ; observe both warrant and limit, lest you create disturbance by putting your sickle into another's harvest. Babes are apt to be quarrelsome ; contention shews depravity.
17. Be willing to bear the yoke in your youth. Spurn not at the cross; kick not against the pricks; welcome every rod that God sends ; it is good to be inured to affliction betimes; sin not, to create a yoke; but if God lay it on, bear it patiently, yea, cheerfully; it is dangerous to be like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. You are born to trouble, dream not of exemption all your days; some have a shower in the morning, as Joseph, David ; some at noon, as Job; some towards evening, as Asa. Now a shower is best in the morning, for by God's blessing, it may make you fruitful all day: by bearing the cross, you may learn to obey our Lord's command. Those prove most experimental Christians, that are trained up in the school of affliction. “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."* A Christian is a cross-bearer, it is the high road to heaven; but be sure you suffer as a Christian. Beware of suffering for your faults as malefactors, then you would be the devil's martyrs, not Christ's.
18. Consider that you must not always be here; you that are but lately entered upon the stage of this world, must have an exit; you are transient passengers: there is a time to be born and a time to die; you dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth. After our Genesis presently comes our Exodus; we grow up in morning, in the evening we are cut down and wither, + the sun of some sets immediately after it has risen. Orimur, morimur, we sometimes rise only to fall; think with thyself, “this may be the last day of my life,” reckon not upon years; as soon comes a lamb's skin to the market as an old sheep's. View the bills of mortality, see if young go not as soon as old, build not tabernacles below, look upwards ; mind not things temporal, but things eternal,|| make ready for flitting, time is daily rolling away, the sails are gathering in, you are approaching the shore, and may launch into the ocean of eternity ere you are aware; when you go, the world is gone with you, and you will take nothing along with you but either guilt or grace-remember every rational, deliberate thought, word, or deed, becomes seed sown for another world; such as you sow, such shall you reap.
• Lam. iii. 27. Jer. xxxi. 18. Job xiv. 1. 2 Tim. iii. 12.
|| 2 Cor. iv. 18.
O for a readiness to be gone hence ! get your hearts off this vain world, lay up your treasure in heaven; let your delight be in God; trample upon all sublunary things; let the moon be under your feet, for the best of the world is but vanity, and much of it is vexation of spirit; yea, man himself in his best estate is altogether vanity;* make the best you can of the world, it can do little for you.
19. Observe and fortify yourselves against the sins of youth, take a strict account of your constitution-sins, your relation-sins, your calling-sins, and provide fit antidotes against your respective diseases; all ages, sexes, and degrees have their peculiar sins, to which they are most inclined. Every man wanders in his own way, therefore know the plague of your own heart, and keep yourselves from your own iniquity; what sproutings of corrupt nature ! pluck them up or bend the bough the contrary way; for instance, (1.) If you find yourselves ignorant as the wild ass's colt, be ashamed of it, but not ashamed to confess it; so doth David and wise Agur. f I am like a beast, saith the one, I am more brutish than any man, saith the other; go to school and begin with your a b c. (2.) If you find your hearts addicted to pride and vain-glory, desire the Lord to humble you, humble yourselves, consider what worms of the dust you are. (3.) If you be passionate and peevish, tame your spirits with the example of Christ's patience, reflect on the unmanliness of passion, its groundlessness and unavailing tendency; and be angry and sin not. I (4.) If you find your spirits frothy and volatile, given to mirth. O direct your attention to solemn subjects, death, guilt, final accounts, and eternity, and go to the house of mourning. (5.) If you be inclined to sensuality, O flee youthful lusts, make a covenant with your eyes, watch all your senses, away with licentious gratifications and dalliances. || (6.) If you feel yourselves prone to intemperance, make no provision for the flesh, but beat down your bodies by fasting: (7.) If you feel your hearts rising against pious ministers or Christians and disposed to make them the subject of your raillery; think of the two captains and forty-two children, and learn to be sober-minded. $ (8.) If you be inclined to covetousness, think of Gehazi, Achan, Judas, and Demas. (9.) If you begin with any bad customs, which are apt to grow into habits, study Jer. xiii. 23. (10.)
# Eccles. ii. 11. Psalm xxxix. 5. + Isa. liii. 6. 1 Kings viji. 38. Ps. xviii. 23. Job xi. 12. Ps. lxxiii. 22.
Prov. XXX. 2. Job xlii. 6. James i, 20. Eph. iv. 26.
Eccl. vii. 2–4. 2 Tim. ii. 22. Job xxxi. 1. Š Rom. xiii. 14. 1 Cor. ix. 27. 2 Kings i. 12. 1 Kings ii. 24. Tit. ii. 6.
2 Kings v. 27. Josh. vii. 25.
If you bless yourselves in sin, and put off repentance, awake your spirits with the thoughts of Esau, the foolish virgins, and examine carefully Deut. xxix. 19, 20. Prov. i. 2428; thus you may and must suppress
sin in its first
* 20. Make good improvement of your innocent inclinations. The great Creator hath so differently tempered men's bodily constitutions, that whoever studies his natural temper, may find employment in turning it into a religious channel, so regulating his natural disposition as to promote God's glory and the good of his soul; for instance,
(1.) Art thou of a phlegmatic and melancholy constitution, prone to indulge grief and sorrow? () turn this stream into godly sorrow, grieve for sin, for the corruption of thy nature, for the transgressions of thy life; no sadness will do thee good any further than it bears a religious character; be not however passive but active in self-humiliating duties like Josiah. +
(2.) Art thou naturally of a fearful timorous spirit, as Jether feared because he was but a youth? | Improve this trait of thy mind to make thee afraid of sin, and stand in awe of God, fear to come near the brink of danger ; tremble to imbrue thy hands in the blood of thy soul, or thy Saviour; fear hell, and sin which is worse.
(3.) Art thou of a bold, venturesome spirit, and darest attempt to meet the greatest danger or gigantic Goliath, like the stripling David ? O get an undaunted spirit to encounter infernal potentates, and internal corruptions ; fight the good fight of faith ; let not spiritual enemies make a prey of you. O that I could say, I write unto you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one, and because you are strong, and the word of God abideth in you.
(4.) Art thou of a cheerful, joyous spirit, disposed to hilarity? Turn this cheerfulness into joy in the Lord, raise up your spirits to heavenly exultation ; yea break forth into singing; drunkards are jocund and sing ; do you also make melody in your hearts to the Lord. S
(5.) Art thou of a ductile, facile, gentle spirit ? easily drawn to any thing by the example of others, and their persuasions. O be flexible God-wards, God forbid thou shouldst be pliable with respect to other things, and only obstinate in things relative to religion ; wilt thou be so good natured as to comply with any suggestion tending to thy eternal ruin, and yet boggle at that which tends to thy own salvation ? () for a little of that wisdom
Heb. xii. 17. + Jaines iv. 9. 2 Cor. vii. 10. 2 Chron. xxxiv. 27. Judg. viji. 20. ll I Sam xvii. 42.
I John ii. 13, 14. S Phil. iv. 4. Ephes. v. 18, 19.
Matt. xxv. 12.
1 Tiin. vi. 12.
which is from above ;* which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated !
(6.) Art thou naturally witty, ingenious, and inclined to study that which may whet invention, and exercise thy faculties? behold here is work enough before thee. Study that wisdom which dwells with prudence, which finds out knowledge of witty inventions, thou mayest find enough in the scripture to puzzle the quickest genius ; t for here a lamb may wade and an elephant may swim. Read the histories of sacred writ, find out the riddles and familiarize thyself with the parables of the bible; Samson tried his companions with a riddle; God bids Ezekiel put forth a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel; there are many dark sayings in the word : read the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Revelation.
(7.) Art thou given to novelties, singularities, or antiquities? Here you may all be fitted with suitable matter ; behold, new heavens, and a new earth; (what do those mean?) wherein dwelleth righteousness, or righteous men. || If you have Athenian curiosty,
and would hear of news, see whether you be new creatures, inquire into the nature and necessity of this new creation, wherein old things are past away, and behold all things are become new. There are also ancient things, the ancient of days; 0 that you would think of him who is from the beginning, and inquire for the old and good way, the old and new commandment, which is both in different respects; it is a great rarity, to have novelty and antiquity both in one subject.
(8.) Are you succourless, yea, and destitute, so that you know not what to do for a livelihood, if left to yourselves ? Poor soul, betake thyself to the all-sufficient God, who will supply all thy wants according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. You cannot live by your own shifts, learn to live by faith ; you are not able to defend or secure yourselves from danger, fly by faith and prayer to the name of the Lord, which is a strong tower; commit yourselves and affairs to the Lord, then take no anxious thought.
(9.) Art thou of a studious, patient, or contemplative temper, loving to be alone? Well, thou hast a field sufficiently large before thee ; secret prayer, reading, contemplating the nature of God, meditating on his word and works day and night, you may read God in every thing. O that you had James iii. 17.
+ Prov. viii. 12. # Judg. xiv. 12. Ezek. xvii. 2. Psalm xlix, 4. Isa. Ixv. 17.
Acts xvii. 21. $ 2 Cor. v. 17.
1 John ii. 7, 8. Phil. iv. 19.
1 Peter iv. 19. Matt. vi. 25.
2 Pet. iii. 13.
Jer. vi. 16.