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your obedience : thus will you shew your faith by your works.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
YOUNG PEOPLE CALLED UPON TO CONSIDER, THAT
FOR THEIR CONDUCT HERE THEY MUST BE AC-
ECCLESIASTES, xi. 9. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in
the days of thy youth; and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes : but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
THE youth make a great part of our stated worshipping assemblies, are the flower of a community, and on them we naturally place our expectations of future supplies in the Church and in the State. If they shew an early regard to religion, and behave with duty and affection to their parents, they become the support and comfort of their age ; and they think themselves amply compensated for all that care and cost with which they have conducted them through their state of infancy and childhood to youth. But when they despise reproof, and betake themselves to vicious courses, the parents sink under discouragement, and fear their ruin both of soul and body. The joy of the parents on the one hand, and their grief on the other, can only be fully known to
* Delivered at an Evening Lecture, May 8, 1791, at the desire of a number of young men, and published by request.
them, who sustain the affectionate relation. Pao rental affection is of a most delicate nature; much of which appears in the conduct of Ja. cob, when he received the pleasing but unexpected tidings, that Joseph was yet alive. Though enervated with age and infirmity, he said, “ It is enough : I will go and see him before I die.” And when Joseph presented himself to him, he cried, “Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.”
The same affection influenced David, when the troops marched in pursuit of Absalom, and those who had joined him in the conspiracy. A fear that they would not treat his son with that tenderness he desired, made him anxious to head the army. And when through much persuasion he was prevailed on to abide at home, “he stood by the gate side, and commanded Joab, and Abishai, and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom.” After they had marched, the king remained in painful solicitude about the event. At length Ahimaaz came in haste from the camp, and as he approached the king, he cried, “ All is well." His majesty immediately asked, “ Is the young man Absalom safe ?" Scarcé had Ahimaaz delivered his message, before Cushi appeared also with news from the army, who addressed David with, “ Tidings, my lord the king.” The king, supremely anxious for the safety of his son, asked as before, “ Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is," i. e. dead. Struck with the sorrowful news, he went up into his chamber, and wept :
* and, as he wept, thus he said, O my son Absa. lom! my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son !" Here we have a striking instance of paternal love ; the warm affection of a fond father. Absalom's rebellion did not make David forget that he was yet his son. He could not but be sorely afflicted by his death ; hoping that had his life been spared, he would have seen his error, and returned.
Here, ye thoughtless youths, you have a specimen of your parents' warm affection to you. They are interested in all your conduct; rejoice when you rejoice; and mourn when you mourn. More especially are they solicitous for your eternal salvation ; yea, they travail in birth again till Christ be formed in you, provided they themselves have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Many times have they admonished you, wept over you, and prayed for you, and even now are sending up their silent ejaculations to the throne of grace, that God would speak to your consciences in the following awful address of the wise man: “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes : but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.”
It is thought by some, that Solomon designs, in the former part of the text, to teach young men, that there is a degree of cheerfulness which is lawful : but knowing how apt they are to run into extremes, he subjoins this solemn sentence “know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.”
But I rather think, as is commonly observed on the passage, that the wise man speaks ironically, and means the reverse of what he says. “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth,” &c. That is, do as thine evil heart will dictate ; indulge thy lusts and inclinations, if thou darest, in the prospect of a judgment to come.
This figure is not unfrequent in the holy scriptures. The Lord says to rebellious Israel, (Judges X. 14.) “Go and cry unto the gods ye have chosen, let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation;" when it is certain he designed to reprove them for their idolatry, and to show them the absolute impossibility of obtaining help from any but himself. Elijah uses the same mode of expression to the false prophets, (1 Kings, xviii. 27.) “Cry aloud; for he is a god : either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” The words, taken in this sense, lead us to reflect,
1. On the vices young people too commonly fall into ; and
II. That awful account they are to give hereafter to God the judge of all.
I. The foibles and sins of youth come first un. der consideration.
1. Young people are too apt to give the pref. erence to their own understanding ; or to im. agine that they are better acquainted with men and things than they really are. Hence they are led to treat with indifference, if not with con. tempt, the advice of their parents, and others who have lived longer in the world than they have. It is an old proverb, that 'young folks