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THE VANITY OF YOUTH:
ON THE DEATH OF ELIZABETH SHEPHERD,
WHO DIED AT
HADDENHAM, MAY 6, 1818, AGED 18 YEARS.
The substance of the following sermon was taken in short hand at the time it was delivered ; and Mr. Scott had thoughts of preparing it for the press. This, however, he never accomplished: but it was published after his death in the present form.-J.S.
ECCLES. XI. 10.
Childhood and Youth are Vanity.
The subject, on which I am aboạt to discourse this morning, is one on which I feel peculiar difficulty, from the circumstance of my not having been personally acquainted with the deceased. I have indeed frequently seen her at this place of worship; but I never had so much as five minutes' conversation with her in my life:1 so that all I know of her is from the report of others. It is a report indeed, in which I can place the most implicit confidence; but still I cannot speak with that vivid feeling which I should have experienced, had I been able myself to converse with the subject of my sermon, and so to form a more intimate acquaintance with her character.
Another objection, which in ordinary cases would exceedingly increase the difficulty and reluctance I feel, is, that before her last illness she had not manifested any deep signs of true repentance. In most cases, I must say, I very much
'In consequence of his infirm state of health, Mr. Scott was unable to go out of his own village for some years before bis
shrink from preaching the funeral sermon of one, who did not evidently repent until laid upon a bed of sickness and expected death, from which so many, who then seemed to give striking evidences of conversion, have returned to a life of vanity and sin: but, my brethren, before I close this discourse, I hope I shall shew sufficient reason for considering the present as an exempt and very singular case ; and indeed the interest which it has excited in the neighbourhood, and the proportionably high expectations formed of what may be said upon it, render my undertaking more arduous. Notwithstanding these obstacles, I shall, however, attempt to make the best improvement of the present opportunity, which by divine assistance, I may be enabled to do: and, having offered these remarks, I come now to the more immediate consideration of our text.
Observe, my brethren, the passage which precedes the words I have chosen : “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 thy heart, and in the sight of “thine eyes.” Young people will generally very much relish such preaching and such counsel as this : but if you choose to follow it, my young friends, and to walk in the paths of worldly vanity and pleasure, be sure you do not forget, at the same time, to take the latter part of the verse along with you—“Know thou, that for all these “ things, God will bring thee into judgment !” Remember, in the midst of your diversions, that you “ must all appear before the judgment seat of
Christ, that every one may receive the things