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the minister, the talent, the externals, seem to be the subject matter, more than the real thing. Some have a natural volubility, and talking is more easy to them than any thing beside; and these are more likely to do harm (though perhaps without any intention) than those who are reserved. Such should endeavour to restrain the tongue, knowing that in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin. Whenever we do speak, our conversation should be serious and improving. “Let your speech,” says the apostle, “ be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.* Ask yourself after you have left company, What have I said? What has been the conversation ? Has any thing been talked of worth remembrance? Have I said any thing for the improvement of others, or heard any thing for my own good ? As to matter for conversation, you will always be well furnished if you are enabled to maintain a spiri.. tuality of mind, and this you should endeavour to do under all the varying situations and circum. stances of life.
Again, beware of an appearance of forwardness and self-sufficiency. This is too frequently found among young professors, and arises from their ignorance and zeal. We see Peter himself was of this disposition, notwithstanding he was one of the intimate disciples of our Lord. A readiness to do good, an aptitude for engaging in religious exercises, may be commendable; but that disposition which prompts you to en
* Col. iv. 6.
quire into every one's business, to push by the experienced and the wise, and to intrude into the concerns of every friend or brother, is highly reprehensible. There is another thing, too, which is not uncommon. When persons are first brought to see their lost state, and the love of God in delivering them from such great misery, they are so filled with affection and zeal, that they wish they could make the whole world know the value and excellency of religion; hence, they want to commence preachers before they themselves are furnished with sufficient knowledge and ability. Now, while I would not entirely discourage such,* (for many illustrious preachers have dated their first impressions as to the work of the ministry from those seasons) yet I would say, Wait, be patient, consult your minister or friends, see whether the idea remains : ask yourself solemnly what are your motives, and whether you are as ready to bear all the difficulties as to share all the honours of so great a work.
Farther, be cautious as to the company you keep, and the connexions you form. It may be, your situation is such, that you are surrounded with those who are enemies to God and religion. This no doubt will be a source of grief ; yet this is dif
* It is said of Mr. Matthew Henry, that when very young he would meet frequently with some good people that used to pray together, and confer about spiritual concerns; and that he would not only pray with them, and repeat sermons, but would sometimes explain the chapters read, and enlarge upon them, very much to the benefit and comfort, and even to the wonder of those that were present; and when one of them expressed some fear to his father, lest his son should be two forward, and fall into the snare of spiritual pride, his father replied, “ Come, let him go on : he fears God, and designs well ; and I hope God will keep him and bless him."
ferent from making them the people of our choice. It will be necessary that you act with all prudence and circumspection before them ; for what will only be looked upon as a mistake in others, will be considered as a crime in you. But you will probably be now looking round for new companions suitable to your own principles and views. Here, be not in haste. Do not imagine that every one that can talk about religion is a fit person for an associate, or that every one that makes a profession is a real christian. Enquire of your more experienced christian friends for those who are solid, judicious, lively, spiritual, and much devoted to God. Such may be a blessing to you, to reprove you when you wander, advise you when in difficulties, succour you in temptation, explain those things which appear mysterious, and pray for and animate you by their example. If you obtain such acquaintance as these, prize them, love them and walk with them in the good way ; so shall you find the truth of the wise man's observation, that two are better than one, and that christian friendship is a blessing indeed.
But I must now proceed to a subject of great importance, in which if ever caution is necessary, it is here; and that is, as to the choice of connexions for life. I know not of any thing that deserves more consideration, and yet, alas ! it is as little attended to as any thing. From the various instances I have witnessed, I am led to pity from my heart the state of some young professors in this respect. They are introduced into company among females, they attend with such in religious societies, or they assemble with them in the house of God. An object is selected that seems to strike, either from personal beauty, some loquacious powers, genteel appearance, or some kind of external accomplishment. The mind is captivated : the young convert thinks this will complete his happiness. The bu. siness perhaps is shortly settled, and the conju. gal union formed. But, alas ! in the blindness of attachment, he has forgotten to ask the opinion of his minister or friends. He has never enquired what this person is at home; whether there is any reason to believe that she is truly serious; what she really could do for him as a wife; and whether she will be a blessing or a curse to his soul. He has heard her talk and sing, and give her opinion upon preachers, and he has taken it for granted that these qualifications included every other. Miserable man! he has soon found, as cares, and wants, and a family came on, even the appearance of religion has declined ; and, instead of having a help meet, perhaps days, and months, and years, pass without one word about religion, or the good of the soul.
Now, my dear reader, let this relation be a warning to you. In forming this connexion, be deliberate ; make it a matter of prayer. Enquire in every direction, before your mind is made known to the object. Be sure to get the most unequivocal evidence as to piety in the first place. Never rest satisfied with any appearances in public, for there is much deception in this. Consider what an important and permanent union this is : it is a kind of decisive period, in which the lot is cast for happiness or misery all our days. Think if you should marry an ungodly person, what must be the consequence. How will you pray, read the scriptures, converse, catechise
he lips sealed. th Have we seen thies their
your children, meditate, sing the praises of God, or perform with comfort any act of devotion in your family, when there is such hatred and oppo.
sition to it. Besides, such are often great snares. . The wicked are seldom quiet, inactive, and care
less. They love to gratify their evil propensities, · and whatever stands in the way to this excites their hatred. Alas ! how often have we seen the hands tied up, the lips sealed, through an ungodly partner. They can more easily make us lukewarm, than we can make them serious. Many indeed have entered into the connexion with their eyes open ; but it has been under the idea, that the object was well inclined, and that no doubt they should be able to bring them over. Now we will not say but what God has sometimes blessed the means; but it is a dangerous experiment, and multitudes have found themselves awfully disappointed! My dear reader, whatever others say, whatever carnal prudence dictates, whatever natural inclination may suggest ; take the Bible, and pray that you may be decided by its authority alone; for there it is that you will find this solemn interdiction, “ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness ?» &c. " Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord ; and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you : and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."* On
* 21 Cor. vi. 17, 18.