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Permit me then to expostulate with you on this subject, as the prophet did with Ifrael. How long will ye halt? How long shall it be before you consider the subject maturely, and settle your minds upon it? You will not suffer the vain imagination, that hanging in suspense is chusing. Would you then put off the matter from youth to manhood ? from health to sickness? or from prosperity to adversity? There can be no better season to choose and fix, than youth, and health, and the day when God preserves you, sets an hedge about you, and profpers your just pursuits. Religion is not to be undertaken by constraint, and only in the last extremity; but willingly-on ingenuous and rational grounds—in the view of its excellence and immutability—the fame in all stages, circumstances and situations--as what equally concerns young and old, high and low, rich and poor, fick and well
. Felix trembled, as he justly might, when Paul reasoned with him on righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come. He said, however, Go thy way for this time. The prefent is the only time which we can command. Set down and consider the terms of religion. Then refolve. For while men are busy here and there—while they are halting between different opinions, their opportunity may be gone. The voice of religion to the young is, to be about their heavenly Father's businessto do his work while it is day-to do it in imitation of the brightest pattern of early piety which was ever exhibited in human nature. Whether we look to the rising beams, the meridian splendor, or evening rays of this light of the world, what divine instruction may we receive ? Juftly might he, who hath given an example of early, stedfast and unparalleled felf-denial, require those who come to him, to deny themselves, forsake all, and take up the cross for him.
It is highly worth while, in the morning of life, to enjoy the smiles of your Creator and Redeemer—to fhun the stains which are not wiped away but by bitter repentance.
Moreover, all would die in favor with God. Where is the person that will say, I am willing to die with all my fins uncancelled ? Death is ever coming near, whether it does or does not seem near.
At this present time, when there are with us more funerals sometimes in a week than there are days, shall it be thought that death is not near? Shall this thought be indulged, when we know, that, in seasons of no other than common mortality, more than half die within the age of minority? Why waver then? why postpone preparation for an event which will determine your eternity, and may be at the door? which comes to most at an hour of which they are not aware? You can never be wise or safe, till you have gained an acquaintance with religion, have chosen it unfeignedly and decidedly
you are at peace with God-have a lot and portion among
the friends of Christ. Religion is the principal thing, the one thing needful. Can you then act a prudent part, while unresolved what religion to embrace, or whether any–while wavering and balancing between this and that profession ? No; this cannot be prudent. The sooner you determine, the better—the more comfortable for yourselves, more estimable in the eye
of man, and more acceptable in the light of God.
Religion is the true dignity of man's nature: It affimilates him to his God: It acknowledges his own unworthiness and vileness—his infinite obligation for the remiffion of a debt of ten thousand talents. It should be chosen with the earliest capacity for it. It expoftulates with you in the morning of life, How long halt ye between two opinions? It gives you no permission to be unresolved a single day. It remonstrates with you on the absurdity and danger of an unresolved, divided mind. It is not an indifferent, superficial or changeable thing: but vastly important, fubftantial, and, like its author, without variableness, or shadow of turning. There can therefore be no rea
fon or excuse for indecision on this subject at the ear, liest stage of life. “ How long, ye simple ones, will
ye love simplicity? and scorners delight in fcorning? “ and fools hate knowledge ? Forsake the foolish, and 66 live."
Religion interferes not with the business of any ufe. ful calling, or with what you owe to your natural or civil connections. It directs you to pursue your common employments, and perform your relative duties, with a view to the divine approbation. It recommends, that you reflect beforehand what sacrifices it
to make. For, in determining your choice of religion, you may not consult with flesh and blood. It may call you to prove your sincerity and affection in a manner not unlike that of the first fol. lowers of Jesus—even to relinquish objects most dear in life—to incur the displeasure of kindred and friends. In all times Christ and his cause must be dearer than houses or lands, parents or children, or bosom friends, or any separate interest. The dictates of conscience must refolutely and perseveringly be obeyed, having used the best means and endeavors for information in religion. Hold fast the well founded persuasion resulting from candid enquiry. Your private judgment, thus formed, must have greater weight than the opinions of others. Just modesty and humility may lead you to question your own opinions, when they may not coincide with those who are much older and wiser, of much longer experience and more extensive acquaintance with religion. But, with reasonable diffidence, your own judgment and conscience must govern. Indeed, in the most essential and weighty matters of religion, the difference of opinion among good men is inconfiderable. They all agree in the spirit of religion-in love to God and man.
Those who have made a deliberate choice of religion, and are fixed in it, efteem all who are like-mindedesteem them for the trutl's sake which is in them. They “ honor all who fear the Lord. Pray for the “ peace of Jerusalem. For my brethren and compan" ions fakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.“ Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will “ seek thy good.”
An emulation to acquire and support a decided character for integrity is highly important to young persons. They naturally wish to recommend themselves to mankind, as they come forward on the stage:From the manner of their entering on life, an opinion is formed of their after character and behavior. They are esteemed, confided in and improved, or treated with caution and reserve, according to the probity or duplicity and fickleness of their character. There can be no more amiable trait than the former-nor any that gives such assurance of usefulness, according to the ability and opportunity of the pofleffor. The latter may be expected to be full of all fubtilty and milchief, plotting against the peace and the rights of mankind. Such a character, fo far as known, will be abhorred by the good, and improved by the bad only to answer their own purposes. To begin life by deliberating on no other than virtuous and honorable pursuits, open to wise counsel, aware of the arts of seducers, deliberate in fixing on a proper employment, and on the ways and means of pursuing it so as to fill up a place in the world to the glory of God and benefit of mankind, resolved to hold falt integrity, this is wifdom. · On the contrary, to begin life with no deliberate plan of conduct, or no good plan-to begin it with rashness, conceit, vanity and fickleness, or with craft and impofition, this is folly. Can you not call to mind some dignisied, consistent and eminently useful character, beginning life, and pursuing the course of it, with cool and correct discernment of the great end and various duties of it, steadily keeping in view that end, and performing these duties, without intentionally or allowedly turning aside to the right hand or left-the same in all relations, situations and cir. cumstances? If
have known any such character, can you withhold your veneration ? Could mankind withhold their veneration? Do you feel no ambition, my young brethren, that such may be, according to your measure, your own character ? On the other hand, you may have known those who have appeared to have no regular plan of life, no principles, or no just and fixed principles; ever halting between variant opinions, really indifferent to any—conforming to the fashion of the times—or addressing popular prejudices and passions—without dignity, without consistencypractising upon the credulity of others, or open to their wiles. You cannot withhold a thorough contempt of such a character. Can you possibly wish to bé altogether such an one? No; you approve of him whose religious opinions are the result of reflection, are harmonious and settled; not of him who hastily forms his opinions, who is constantly at variance with himself-or who, under any studied ambiguity of language, conceals his real sentiments—and that on the most weighty matters, and where the concealment may be followed with the most mischievous consequences.
Let me then recommend, to those who are entering on life, by all means to emulate one uniform, steady character—a character
of unwavering love to religion in principle and practice. Be not as those who have no other, no more religion than may be thought to answer the ends of this world. You are haftening to another, for which, in the present life, fleeting, as it is, you are laying the foundation. Death will decide your eternal state. Hold fast the found principles of religion, faith and a good conscience. Hold them faft; for they will lead you to form the best connections and friendship : They will give you peace always. In adversity your heart will be fixed. In prosperity your moderation, gratitude and munifi