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many and precious thoughts of God, so that when you awake, you might be still with him.*
(10.) Art thou active, vigorous, and always occupied? so was Jeroboam, whom Solomon saw to be industrious, (of an operative head and hand,) and he found him both honour and labour, lest he should plot and do mischief. Let it be so with you, young men, since you will be busy, set yourselves in proper employments, lest (as we say of some children) you do what you should not do. Here is work enough for you in general or particular circumstances towards God, yourselves, your relations, societies, the church and nation; you never need to want employment, while you have a God, and a soul and body to be employed about. O set yourselves to work, and be daily engaged; up and be doing, be not slothful but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.+ I shall conclude, with the apostle's practical application of the doctrine of the resurrection, 1 Cor. xv. 58,"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as ye know that your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord." How happy a sight would it be, to see gracious young men in our congregations, plants of renown, a hopeful nursery of young trees in God's orchard, to bring forth fruit in due season! what encouragement would it give us, that God would still continue among us! If God plant trees, surely he doth not intend to pluck us up, root us out, or lay us waste for the wild boar. A young nursery may furnish many plantations, and grow up to be strong trees in due time.
Thirdly, The doctrine which has been stated, supplies encouragement to such as do or desire to remember their Creator in the days of their youth. Go forward, my young friends, as you have begun; be not appalled or amazed with the roarings of the lion of hell, or barkings of the dogs on earth, nor with the dauntings of your own spirits; fear not them that can only kill the body, but fear him that can cast soul and body into hell. Consider,
1. Your Creator is able to bear you out in that to which he calls you. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are his everlasting arms. Of pious young Joseph, it is said, "Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall: the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." || Fear not falling out of the arms of omnipotence; be
Psalm cxxxix. 17, 18. + Matt. x. 28.
+1 Kings xi. 28.
| Deut. xxxiii. 27.
Rom. xii. 11.
not afraid of being conquered, when the infinite God is your Captain lean upon your beloved, and fear not; out of weakness you shall be made strong; your little one shall become a thousand; you that are feeble, shall become as David, yea, as the angel of the Lord.* Be sincere, and you shall persevere; thou shalt be holden up, for God is able to make thee stand. "Though the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; yet they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”†
2. There have gone before you a brave army of valiant young saints that have won the prize, and wear the crown, with palms in their hands: it is an encouraging thing to follow heroic examples. Behold the cloud of witnesses; you may say, "who are these that fly as a cloud, and as doves to their windows?" How many young warriors under Christ's banner, yea, martyrs in flames of their own love and their enemy's rage, have left us blessed instances of youthful piety! these have demonstrated, that this duty is practicable; their wisdom hath outstripped their years; their experience has exceeded many old men's, for grace doth not always crown the hoary head; great men are not always wise, neither do the aged always understand judgment; but the Spirit of God can give subtilty to the simple, to the young man, knowledge and discretion. How many have you seen that, in the bud of nature, are ripe in grace! The living fish hath grown too much for the dead shell; lively grace in their souls hath outgrown their mortal bodies, and they have left glorious monuments behind them, to perpetuate a never-dying reputation.
3. God has more regard for the youngest saint than for the most glorious, yet graceless prince. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour; a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit, whatever be his age, God stands not upon that; better is a poor and wise child, than an old and foolish king; none so high in God's books as the gracious soul, though simple in natural things, and destitute of worldly grandeur, and contemptible in the esteem of men. "Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee,” saith God. O what esteem hath the glorious God for the poorest, rawest, youngest child in his family! The great Shepherd gathers the lambs in his arms, carries them in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young: bless God that thou
Zech. xii. 8.
+Rom. xiv. 4. Isa. xl. 30, 31.
Job xxxii. 9.
Isa. xliii. 4.
art an attendant on the king of heaven, admitted into his presence-chamber, this honour have all his saints, old and young, rich and poor; these are they that find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man; these young people have a guard of holy angels to attend them, for they are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them that shall be heirs of salvation; they rejoice at their conversion and guard them into heaven.* O the honour and happiness of a young convert! he is the flower of his age, the comfort of his relations, the crown of pious ministers, and an ornament of the church of God.
4. God will give the young believer, either a long, useful life; or a safe, speedy, and desirable death. If God have work for his young children to do, they shall live long to be instruments of much good. I knew an eminent minister, who was converted at six years of age, and lived usefully and died honourably at eighty-four; "for length of days is in wisdom's right hand, and in her left hand, riches and honour;" a long life is promised as a mercy and entailed upon piety; "Come, ye children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil; depart from evil and do good."+ O how eminent have they been who have set out early in the ways of God! they have come late to heaven, and carried many along with them thither. But if it be the will of God, and you desire to be dissolved and be with Christ which is best of all, you shall be speedily wafted over the Jordan of death into Canaan. Enoch had a double advantage; first, he was translated, that he should not see death, this you cannot expect; and secondly, he lived but three hundred and sixty-five years, which was then only a third part of the time most of them lived in those days; whence was this? Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him; [ he set out early, and he was quickly at the end of his walk; God had so much of his company, and was so well pleased with it, that he would have him in his immediate presence, and therefore made him bound over the gulf of death, and lifted him up, soul and body into heaven; a peculiar privilege. But however, if your souls be seasoned with grace in your younger days, the hoary head will be found in the way of righteousness, the sting of death will be extracted, and conscience will speak peace in a dying hour; you may say as good Hezekiah did, "Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how
Isa. xl. 11. + Prov. iii. 16.
Prov. iii. 4. Heb. i. 14.
Luke xv. 7.
Gen. v. 24.
I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight."
On the whole, remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth: Why so? While the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. As if he had said, it becomes thee, young man, now to commence a war against thy spiritual enemies; for as it is now most needful, so thou art most capable of conflicting with, and conquering thy impetuous appetites and passions, which drown thousands of the young in perdition: but old age is a weak, infirm thing, burdensome in itself, and still more burdensome, when loaded with the self-tormenting remembrance of youthful follies, with the formidable prospect of approaching death, and with an apprehension of a strict account at the bar of God. Thus the deluded old man now sees he cannot live, and dares not die; and, alas, his heart is hardened with the deceitfulness of sin, the consequence of which is, that the wretched veteran in a course of iniquity, expires in vain presumption, or awful despair. O young man, bethink thyself now of what must be done at some period, or thou be undone for ever. Do the work now, which would greatly increase thy trouble afterwards, when thou wilt have more to do, and be less prepared to do it. Pray while thou canst; pray, repent, believe, turn to God and mourn over sin, while thy heart is tender, and while it may do thee good, and be accepted of God; for the years hasten on, in which thou wilt say, thou hast no pleasure.