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These sentiments of the Deity easily arise in the mind of every serious and contemplative youth. In the first openings of reason, the young are more given to inquisitive speculation than perhaps some are apt to imagine. The new objects which continually meet their eyes, awaken thought and contemplation in their minds; and if, in this early stage, proper assistance and encouragement were afforded them, they would make easy progress in the knowledge of moral and divine things, and deeply imbibe those sentiments of virtue and religion, which might abide with them through life, and preserve them from the fatal influence of tempt. ation and vice.
We may observe, II. Solomon here expresses the piety of the young by their remembering their Creator.
It is usual in scripture to express the whole of religion by some leading temper or principle ; as the knowledge of God, faith in him, love to him, and the fear of him. When a particular virtue ur duty is enjoined, as a condition of the divine favour, we must always understand it, as including all those tempers and actions, which are naturally connected with it, or flow from it. To know Goch is to serve him with an upright heart. To fear God, is to depart froin evil. The love of God, is to keep his commandments. They who have believed in him, will be careful to maintain good works.
In the same latitude we must understand the remembrance of God. This is not a transient thought, or occasional recollection, that there is a God; but an habitual, influential apprehension of him, and regard to him. It is such a firm belief of his existence, such a just knowledge of his character, such a lively and steady sense of his presence, as shall awaken and preserve suitable affections to him,
and produce a correspondent life of humble obedience.
Remembrance is not the learning of something new, but the recollection and retention of some. thing already known. The young are here supposed to have a knowledge of their Creator ; to have attended to the evidences of his existence ; and to have gained a general acquaintance with his character and will ; and they are directed immedi. ately to apply their knowledge to the purpose of real, practical piety.
This is, then, the spirit and meaning of Solo. mon's address.
“ O youth, thou knowest, that there is a God, who made thee, and who created the world, in which thou art placed. And, Wilt thou live unmindful of him? Often consider, what a being he is. Remember that he is a being of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness ; that he is always present with thee, observing all thy thoughts, words, and actions, and that he will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing. 'Set him ał. ways before thine eyes, act under a sense of his presence, call upon him for all that thou needest, give him thanks for all that thou enjoyest, acknowl. edge him in all thy ways, approve thyself to him in all that thou dost, and seek his favour with thy whole heart."
We may observe, III. Solomon recommends to the young a di. rect and immediate application to religion. “Remember now thy creator.”
There are few, perhaps, but who intend to de. vote themselves to God. The young intend to serve him in their youth. Though they procrastinate religion today, and think they may safely do the same tomorrow, yet they mean not to neglect it through all the period of their youth. They have often been told, and they partly believe, that youth is the most favourable season to begin so great a work. They know, that they are commanded to engage in it; and they would not wholly disobey. But consider, my friends, the same command, which enjoins yoy to remember God in your youth, enjoins you to re, member him now. What part of youth you will take for remembering God, is no more at your op. tion, than what part of life you will take. You are as expressly required to serve God in youth, as to serve him at all; and to serve him now, as to serve him in youth. You have no more liberty to postpone religion to the last stage of youth, than to the last hour of life.
Allow me then to inculcate upon you the necessity of early religion, and your obligation to apply yourselves to it immediately, and without delay.
1. Let us resume the thought just now suggested, that this is the express command of your Creator.
That religion is a matter of indispensable necessity, you will not deny ; for you believe, that there is an infinite, allperfect God—that you are moral and accountable creatures that your happiness depends on his favour—and that you can secure his favour only by devoting yourselves to his service, ,
Now, while you acknowledge that religion is important to mankind in general, you must acknowl. edge it to be equally important to yourselves in par, ticular. For all the reasons in which it is founded, take place with respect to you ; and the divine command, which enjoins it in general, enjoins it also on you. If God had only required his rational crea. tures to remember him, you must have considered yourselves as coming within the intention of the command. But the matter is not left at large. You are expressly and particularly pointed out as the subjects of the command-Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth. Begin a religious life with the first opening of your reason. Devote to God your best days, the flower of your strength, Is there any room for evasion ?-Is there any subterfuge by which you can withdraw yourselves from the authority of so express a command ? So long as you neglect religion, you live in plain disobedience, not only to the command, which enjoins religion on all men, bụt to that also which enjoins it distinctly and explicitly on you. And if repent, ance must respect all known sin, it must whenev. er it takes place, particularly respect this youthful delay of repentance. Paul laments, that he was born out of due time. He honours those who were in Christ before him.
2. To convince you farther of the necessity of youthful religion, I would remind you of the means which God has required others to use with you for this purpose.
Your Creator has brought you into existence in manner favourable to your early nurture and educa. tion. He has placed you under the care of those who naturally feel for your welfare. He has, in most express terms, enjoined on them an attention to your moral conduct and religious improvement. As you advance from childhood to youth, you become entitled to more publick instructions. The ministers of religion are to consider you as a part of their charge. While they intreat the aged to be grave, temperate, sober, and sound in faith, they are to exhort the young to be soberminded.
If youthful religion were of little importance, such orders would never have been given. If you had a right to live in the neglect of religion, there could be no reason, why they who go before you, should teach you knowledge, make you to understand doctrine, and give you line upon line, and precept upon precept. The success of their la. bours depends on your concurrence. Obstinacy and perverseness in you, will defeat their wisest and best endeavours. If they must instruct, warn and reprove, you must hear, learn and obey. If they are to watch over you, you are to watch over your. selves. If they are to commend you to the grace of God, you are to seek unto God betimes. Every precept which you find in the Bible, requiring others to consult your spiritual interest, is an admoni. tion to you of the necessity of early religion, and a call to remember your Creator in the days of your youth.
3. The importance of youthful religion farther appears in the particular promises of grace, which God has made to the young.
The gospel, which teaches us our native deprav. ity, and the necessity of a moral change in our tempers, teaches us also, that to effect this change a divine influence is necessary. Sinners are indeed required to make them a new heart. But whatev. er means they use for this purpose, it is the grace of God, which gives them success.
And not only so, but the first convictions and awakenings, by which sinners are excited to the use of the appointed means of religion, are the effects of God's preventing grace. Behold, says the Saviour, I stand at the door and knock ; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him. It is not the sinner's towardly disposition, which first invites the Saviour to knock; but his knocking which first awakens in the sinner a disposition to open. The first motion is from the Savi. our ; not from the sinner.
Now it is to be remembered, that God has given particular encouragement of success to them who seek him early. To them he will pour out his spirit, and make known his words. To them he is
pecue liarly near, and of them he will be found. Where.