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antly upon them. The rich man in the gospel dropped into hell amidst the temporal blessings of God. It is the manner of God to bestow favours on sinners in mercy to his people. These favours are distributed among mankind generally, that his own people, who live among them, may be comfortable. Were they all removed, as they were from Sodom, you who disregard God, and your duty, might expect to receive very different treatment. This consideration should teach you, not to judge of your state by the common mercies of divine Providence; for in these, God lets the wicked share with the righteous, and indeed for the sake of the righteous.
4. This subject shows us that the wicked, in op posing and persecuting, in all ages, the people of God, have acted directly contrary to their own interest. “ He that is upright in his way is an abomination to the wicked.” The wicked are unfriendly to the peo, ple of God. See this exemplified in Sodom. How did the vile inhabitants of this wicked city treat Lot ? They reviled him, they assaulted his house ; and would have committed the vilest abuse, had he not been defended by his heavenly guests. How directly against their interest did they conduct ! Lot was their only defence; yet how did they abuse him This spirit of opposition, had it an unrestrained influence, would extirpate the people of God from the earth. This spirit has risen to great heights at particular periods, of the world. Rivers of blood have been shed to destroy the church of God, while the persecutors little thought, that for the sake of the
Regard to the Righteous. righteous, they were suffered to live, and enjoy the comforts of life; and that had they obtained their wish, it would have been their own destruction.
God's love and care for the righteous may well make them thankful, watchful, and humble. Thank, ful, because, it is by grace they are, what they are watchful, that they do nothing to offend so kind and gracious a preserver. Humble, that they serve him with so much inconstancy, and with no more ardency of affection. Think on this and be humble.
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.
The hopes of a nation, with respect to their future prosperity, depend much upon the rising generation. . And parents themselves may calculate upon much satisfaction or sorrow, according as their children grow up in habits of virtue or vice. A virtuous youth will be a dutiful and affectionate child, when his parents become old. He will be an useful citizen, and a promoter of the good of church and state, when he comes to be a man; and his usefulness will probably increase with his years and influence. But the child, who grows up in habits of vice, and in the indulgence of youthful vanities, gives reason to fear, that he will prove undutiful, and unkind to his aged parents; and, instead of a blessing, he will prove a curse to the age in which he lives, and to that society of which he is a
member.. The human mind in its present fallen state is prone to vice. Of this truth we have the plain and repeated testimony of Scripture and observation. The mind of youth, however, is as capable of virtue, as of vice ; and much care is necessary in forming the young, impressible heart, to a sense of duty; and in directing it to an habitual course of virtuous action. Upon the principle, that the minds of children may be formed to a virtuous course of conduct, that divine injunction to parents is founded; “ Train up a child in the way he should go.”
David and Solomon have in nothing discovered more knowledge of mankind, than in addressing such a large portion of their instructions to youth. By the wise and observing, this has always been considered the most important period in the life of man, for forming the manners, cultivating the mind, and regulating the heart. These inspired teachers, above their predecessors, seem deeply sensible of the importance of early instruction; and that the young should remember their Creator in the days of their youth. They say much to warn parents of the evil consequences, to themselves, to their children, and to the world, of neglecting to give them a pious education. They say inuch to encourage parents to expect, that pious, persevering, parental instruction and discipline, shall be attended with the divine blessing, and prove the means of making them truly good and happy. They say much to young people, to dissuade them from youthful vanities, and sinful practices. They set before them the evil effects of a vicious life, the
probable, fatal consequences of a youth, devoted to sinful courses. They say much to urge them to de vote their youth to the practice of piety, because it is the best time; and because they knew, that vicious habits contracted in youth are seldom broken, and, like almost every thing else, gather strength by time and indulgence. Hence we find them exhorting the young to give God their hearts ; to put away sorrow, that is sin, from their heart, and evil from their flesh.
The text contains an inquiry how this can be done, and a sure direction how this may be effected. shall a young man cleanse his way?” A man's way doubtless means the habitual temper of his heart, and the general tenor of his conduct flowing from it. The question then is this ; How shall a young man regulate his temper and govern his conduct, so as to please his Maker? The answer to this inquiry we have in the text ; " By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” The word of God is here proposed as the only sure guide to truth and happiness. It is the rule the standard, by which the temper of all hearts, and all actions will be tried at the day of Judgment; “ For God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness according to my gospel.” The word of God points out what temper, and what conduct are agreeable to the will of God; and what temper, and what conduct are contrary to it. It points out to us, what is right and acceptable to God in thought, word, and deed. And at the day of Judgment, the whole character of every man will be