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experience, but from a total aversion from being absolutely in the hands of God, as the clay is in the hands of the potter. They would all fain flee out of his hand. This is not the natural disposition of one, or two, or a few of mankind, but the natural disposition of all. They are all, therefore, naturally, enemies to God. They either say, that there is no such God as the Bible represents, or if there is, they inwardly say, that he shall not reign over them. They are displeased, that he has made
them as he bas and that he has made them the offspring of Adam, and caused them to share in the natural and moral evils of the fall. They say often, that they had rather never existed than to exist the depraved offspring of Adam, who ruined them. This language & feeling demonstrate, that they have naturally a carnal mind, which is enmity against God, not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. It is the spirit of the first transgressor and the greatest enemy to God.
5. If men have no reason to complain of God, for making them what they are, then whenever they seriously contend with him, on this account, they will be constrained to justify God and condemn themselves. Whenever God thoroughly awakens sinners to attend to their absolute dependance upon him, their hearts never fail to rise, to object, to murmur and complain. But thousands have been convinced of the absurdity and criminality of their complaints. And God can always convince them, if he pleases. are rational, as well as moral agents and capable of feeling the weight and authority of divine truth. When any truth is clearly and fully set before the reason and conscience of any person, it is impossible for him to disbelieve it, whether he loves or hates it. His conviction of truth does not depend merely upon his heart. His reason and conscience may be convinced, while his heart hates the conviction. All sinners are constantly liable to be convinced, that all their complaints against God, for making and governing them as he does, are groundless and criminal. They may be convinced to day, or to-morrow; and they certainly will be sooner, or later.
6. If it be true, that men have no reason to complain of God, for making them just such as he pleases, then it is their indispensable duty to be willing to be in the forming hand of God to all eternity. And they ought never to feel, nor express a desire to get out of his band. God's absolute sovereignty calls for their immediate and unconditional submission. And let them say, or do, what they will, they will remain his enemies, until they do actually and cordially submit themselves, entirely and forever, into his holy and sovereign hands.
A WARNING TO YOUTU.
EccLESIASTES, X1. 9.–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 thine heart and in the sight of thine eyes : but know thou, that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment,
Youths have often been compared to trees in their bloom ; but like beautiful and promising blossoms, they often disappoint the hopes they inspire. It depends upon the principles they imbibe and the courses they pursue, whether they shall, or shall not, be blessings to jheir parents, to their friends and to their fellow creatures. Those, who have lived to acquire the wisdom of piety and experience, have always felt a tender solicitude for the rising generation and endeavored to guide and guard them in their young and inexperienced age. Solomon possessed all the wisdom, which piety and experience could teach.
He knew what it was to remember his Creator in the days of his youth and to pour out his heart before him in prayer and praise. And he knew, by experience, the evil and folly of walking in the ways of his heart and in the sight of his eyes.
This excited in his breast a peculiar concern for those, who were coming upon the stage of life and were about to be exposed to all the dangers of this smiling and ensnaring world. His paternal feelings for the safety and happiness of the young, he expresses in terms, the best adapted to make a strong and deep impression on their minds. “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth ; and let thine heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth and walk in the ways of thine heart and in the sight of thine eyes : but know thou, that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment.” I propose in the present discourse,
I. To give the true import of this serious address to youths ; and,
II. I shall endeavor to convince them of the propriety of it.
I. The first thing to be considered, is the true import of the address to youth in the text. It has often been understood and represented in a sense very different from the wise man's meaning. For,
1. Some suppose, that Solomon means to express his approbation of young people, in pursuing the innocent recreations and amusements of life. They consider him as representing religion, as not only free from austerity and gloominess, but as productive of the purest happiness in the present, as well as in the future state. And it must be allowed, that he often does paint virtue and piety in this amiable and beautiful form. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace. Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat and to drink and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giv. et him under the sun. Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy and drink thy wine with a merry heart : for God now accepteth thy works.” The truth of these obser. vations has been experienced by those, who have lived a boly, devout and heavenly life. They have found, that the enjoyments of religion lay the best foundation for the true enjoyment of the world. The good man is satisfied of himself and prepared to receive, to improve and to enjoy every temporal blessing in the best manner possible. But yet,
2. This does not appear to be Solomon's meaning in the text, when he says, · 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 thine heart and in the sight of thine eyes.” We can hardly suppose, that he here addresses a pious youth, whose heart is
right with God and who loves to walk in the ways of his commandments ; but the very terms he uses denote, that he is speaking to a careless, secure, unsanctified youth, who has no fear of God before his eyes. And surely he would not exhort such an one “to walk in the ways of his heart and in the sight of his eyes.” It is, therefore, beyond a doubt, that he means to speak ironically ; and to convey an idea directly contrary to what his words literally express. The inspired writers often use this mode of speaking in order to convey their real meaning in the most strong and pointed man
Thus God said of Adam, after he had been guilty of the folly as well as sin of disobedience, “behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” And Christ said to the obdurate Jews, “Fill ye up the measure of your fathers.” Instead of exhorting young people to gratify their corrupt and vain hearts, Solomon means to warn them against every evil and false way. This appears from what he immediately subjoins. " But know thou, that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart and put away evil from thy flesh; for childhood and youth are vanity. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” It is presumed, that every one will now admit, that Solomon means by his address to youth in the text, to remind them of their responsibility to God for all their conduct through life ; and to fasten on their minds a strong and constant sense of that great and decisive day, when God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. But now those, who are in the morning of life may be ready to ask, Why should the wise man give us, in particular, such a solemn warning to live & act under a realizing view of the great and last day ? Did he not know, that such a view of future and eternal realities would disturb our peace and destroy all our pleasing hopes and prospects ? Why did he not