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(2.) Words of knowledge usually denote affection and practice in scripture;*"This is life eternal to know God," John xvii. 3; so this word signifies, acknowledge, fear, love, serve God. 3. Why doth he say thy Creator? why not Jehovah, God, the Almighty?
(1.) The word Crestor is very emphatical, and shows God's right and man's duty; his relation to, and dependance on God, and his great ingratitude if he disregard his Creator.†
(2.) It is yet more significant if we consider that it is in the plural number, 7', creatorum tuorum. First, To shew the plurality of persons in the divine unity, which is frequent in the scripture, Gen. i. 26. Secondly, Because preservation is a sort of continued creation, and lays multiplied obligations on the creature: and it is thy Creator.
4. What is the import of this word-now? The word is copulative, n, and remember; the Hebrew word 1, signifies a hook, or crooked nail to join things together: so it is used Exod. xxvi. 37, "Their hooks shall be of gold:"|| so the meaning is, either, (1.) that it is a conjunction copulative, joining this to the former two verses, which in the Hebrew bible are part of this chapter, (for division of chapters is a modern thing and human.) Or, (2.) an additional clause and signifies-moreover; as if he had said, I do not only give the young man negative rules, but positive commands; thou must not only remove anger, or grounds of sorrow from thy heart, but be sincerely and seriously religious. A negative holiness must not serve thy turn, but be truly as well as timely pious. Or, (3.) if it be translated-now, it adds further emphasis to the exhortation; as if it were said, childhood and youth are vanity, therefore now while thy years are green, and thy bones moistened with marrow, even now, in this dark age, get thine eye enlightened with the knowledge of God; and in this slippery age, get thy soul duly stayed and settled with the remembrance of God thy Creator, and the ends of thy creation: pass not this flowery season of thy age in vanity, but get thy thoughts fixed upon God.
DOCTRINE, It well becomes young persons to remember their Creator.
The days of youth are a proper time for souls to be mindful of their Creator; it is never unseasonable, but it is then most suitable. Youthful piety is lovely and commendable, pleasant and advantageous, excellent and honourable; it is a jewel in a gold ring, a pearl or precious stone curiously enchased, that doth make the possessor appear rich and highly respected.
• Verba notitiæ affectum et praxin connotant.
Psalm cxlix. 2. Isa. liv. 5.
+ Deut. xxxii. 6.
Exod. xxvii. 10.
1. This is typified in the first-fruits to be dedicated to God. Exod. xxiii. 19," The first of the first-fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God." Mr. Ainsworth observes out of Maimonides upon Exod. xxii. 29, that the Hebrews were to bring the first-fruits of seven things, namely, of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. And if one bring other besides these seven kinds, they are not sanctified; only observe, the passage saith, “ thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits." Again, "The firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me." This is of importance to us, and the paschal lamb must be a lamb " of the first year," Exod. xii. 5, which also hath its significancy, for the Jews thus expound it: that a lamb after it was eight days old and forward, was allowable to be offered in sacrifice for the passover, and if it was but an hour older than the year, it was unlawful. This typifies not only the perfection of Christ, but that youth must be devoted to God.
2. It is commanded, Matt. vi. 33, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." First, in order of time; the first thing in the day, begin every morning with God; the first in the day of natural life, begin your lives with godliness. Some think this precept refers to the account of Solomon's asking wisdom, 1 Kings iii. 6-11. True grace or wisdom, is the first link in the golden chain that draws all things necessary and desirable after it. God commands, that all ages should praise him; "young men and maidens; old men and children," Psal. cxlviii. 12. Aged David leaves this legacy with his son Solomon, 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, " And thou Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind," &c. Paul the aged thus charges his son Timothy, I Tim. iv. 12—16, "Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity," &c. So Titus, ii. 6, "Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded," or discreet; that is, seriously religious.
3. It is commended and rewarded: Josiah is praised, because in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David, his father; and in the twelfth year, he began to clear Judah and Jerusalem from the high places. What a fine character is left upon record of young Abijah, the son of Jeroboam, 1 Kings xiv. 13, “The child shall die, and all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him; for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam." Something grateful or acceptable was found in him; God takes well a small good in
hopeful youth. Jesus, beholding the towardly young man, loved him, Mark x. 21, though it was not sincere or saving good that was in him. God reckons it both as a great ornament to young men, and an inestimable privilege to his people. Amos ii. 11, "And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men, for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord?". As if he should say, you may well think I had a great respect for you, when I not only received you into covenant, but your children; yea, into the covenant of Levi; and not only when they were grown up, but even while children, as Samuel and Jeremiah. Strange and rare it is, that young men, who are most addicted to pleasures and wine, become so abstemious, grave, and seriously religious; this reflects honour on the persons and people, where such singular devotedness to God is found.
For more profitably discussing this important subject, I shall propose these inquiries:
I. What is implied and intended in this word, remember? II. How young persons may use their memories, so as to promote religion?
III. Wherein their remembering their Creator may have an influence on practical godliness?
IV. Why it becomes young persons to remember their Creator, or be seriously religious?
And so to apply the whole.
I. What is the meaning and import of this word, remember, which may discover the reason why the Holy Ghost lays so much stress upon it?
I answer, the word, remember, is very extensive and comprehensive in its import, for it intends four things:
1. To call to mind things past. This is the proper import of the word remember. Psal. lxxvii. 10, "I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord, thy wonders of old." Even so young men must remember,
(1.) What they are made of: Gen. ii. 7, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground." So the wise man informs us in this chapter, ver. 7, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was." O young man, forget not thy origin, thou art nothing but a little mean clay clotted together with blood, as mortar tempered with water, and animated with subtile breath, whereby thou art wrought up to a walking statue. consideration of this would pluck down thy peacock's plumes, and lay thy honour in the dust, when thou beginnest to advance thyself as if thou wert not a mortal creature; it is a wonder to
think how men's spirits are elevated with riches and honours, as if they were not mortals.
Men's great sin and misery proceed from their forgetfulness of themselves, whence they are, and whither they are going. Hence Philip king of Macedon, employed a page every morning to call to him, "Remember, sir, you are a mortal." Would to God, young persons would consider, "that they dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust; which are crushed before the moth."* You are brittle glasses, soon broken; crazy tabernacles, at best, quickly dissolved.
(2.) Reflect on your sinful state and acts. You were altogether born in sin; estranged from God even from the womb, going astray as soon as you were born, speaking lies.+ You come into the world with a sad stock of sin, and set up that wretched trade as soon as you exercise reason; while you were children, you soon learned to lie, swear, mock at godliness, be disobedient to parents. Augustine, observing two children sucking at a mother's breast, the one cast a peevish, morose look at the other, envying that it should suck at the other breast, cried out, O Lord, when was the time, where was the place, that I was free from the buddings forth of this accursed root? Young persons should be often saying, "I remember my faults this day;" this is the true nature of genuine repentance, for men to bethink themselves, or bring back to their heart. Sin came from the heart in commission, and must be brought back upon the heart as a burden, if ever there be repentance. O remember the sins of childhood and youth, that God may not remember them. | Alas! when I was a child, I thought, spake, and acted as a child; I was childish in my conceits, senseless in my imaginations, wild in my notions, and brutish in my affections and actions: poor vain man, I would needs be wise, though I was born like a wild ass's colt. § I was empty of good, and soon filled with trash and pollution, and was still generating more, till at last my soul was loaded with guilt and impurities. O that they were a pressing load upon me!
(3.) Remember the rebukes of Providence under which you have lain; these are worth recollecting, not only correction by parents, but chastisements of God's hand. If you reverenced fathers of your flesh, will you not subject yourselves to the Father of spirits, that you may live? Have not some of you borne the yoke in your youth, sicknesses, small pox, fevers, agues, and other weaknesses? Yea, have you not been scourged with your own rod? Just as fond children eat fruit till they Gen. xli. 9. 1 Kings viii. 47. Job xi. 12.
*Job iv. 19. + Psalm lviii. 3. || Psalm xxv. 7.
become disordered, even so men's own wickedness doth oft correct them, and their backslidings do reprove them: * so that they may thank themselves for what they suffer. Oh that you could say as the church, Lam. iii. 19-21, "Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall, my soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to mind, therefore have I hope." You may learn so much good from reflecting on what you met with in your younger days, as may prove beneficial all the days of your life; both to keep you low in humility, and raise up your hearts in hopeful encouragement.
(4.) You must remember the many obligations laid upon you in your younger days to be the Lord's; how early you were dedicated to God in baptism; you were given up to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and his name put upon you; you were washed in the laver of baptism, and are engaged to put on Christ, to furnish the answer of a good conscience to God. You must remember your parents' examples and instructions; their counsels, admonitions, and prayers: for the vows of God are upon you. The kindness of God should lead you to repentance, and it becomes you to be often saying as David, Psalm cxvi. 16, "O Lord, truly I am thy servant, I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds." O young persons, think and think again upon the various and gracious acts of Providence, these will engage you to gratitude and obedience. Psalm cv. 5, 6, "Remember his marvellous works that he hath done.-O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen." O be ashamed to be unfruitful under all these genial showers from God and man. Tremble to break through all these bonds. How dreadful will your case be, if all these be lost upon you, if sin supplant these methods of grace.
2. The word signifies, a representing of things absent, as if they were present before our eyes; or things distant, just at hand. God was much withdrawn from David's soul, but yet he could think of an absent God. Psalm lxxvii. 3, "I remembered God and was troubled." This remembering is believing meditation and heavenly contemplation upon unseen objects, which is a heavenly life. The natural eye only beholds things present as objects of sense; but faith beholds things not seen. + This is called by Augustine, "a kind of mathematical memory containing dimensions, which the sense of the body does
Jer. ii. 19.
+ Heb. xi. 1.
Mathematicorum memoria, quæ dimensionum rationes continet, quarum nullam corporis sensus impressit.