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and yet, would to God that this were the worst that ever happens to make us unfit for it! But I must go a step farther: and when you have considered with yourselves whether you were not, in the season of youth at least, if you are not now, much fonder of this life than of the next, much more desirous to live here in pleasure than to be glorious in heaven, I must ask you if there are not some among you, who, when they call their past ways to remembrance, feel condemned by their own consciences, that they have worse, far worse things to answer for than this. Is there, indeed, no one here present, who at this moment, when he thinks of the season of his youth, feels his heart smite him with a sad recollection of the manner in which that youth was spent? Is there no one who now remembers, with repentant sorrow, I hope, how the sinful lusts of the flesh led him into wickedness and uncleanness? No one who has reason to confess that he has been the means of encouraging others in sin as well as being guilty himself? No one who calls to mind that, in
his youth, if not later in life, he has drunk till he has drowned his reason: or broken the sabbath, which he ought to have kept holy: or given way to cursing and swearing and blasphemy: or committed dishonest actions: or done any other wicked thing, which he knew that he ought not to have done? What answer, I say, can we give to such questions as those which I have now asked? Can we all, with a clear conscience, answer, I am innocent? I fear the contrary. I fear that many of us cannot help remembering that we have too often repaid the mercy and goodness of God by doing those very things which He has most positively forbidden, and which are, and ever must be, most displeasing to His holiness.
My brethren, when we look back upon the follies and wickednesses of our youth, have we not all reason to “ confess and be sorry for our sins ?” Trust me, it is for this purpose only that I have now endeavoured to call them back to your remembrance: that for whatever you have done wrong in those years which you cannot live over again, you may heartily repent, and seek the forgiveness of God, against whom you have sinned. The first step towards gaining His pardon, is, with the deepest sorrow and lowliness of mind, to open our hearts before Him, to acknowledge that we are miserable sinners, without hypocrisy and without attempting to make excuse for our sins; and then, whilst we put our whole trust in that merciful Saviour, who died on purpose to restore repentant sinners to the love of God, we must pray in the same spirit as that with which the psalmist prays in my text, “ O remember not the sins and offences of my youth, but, according to Thy mercy, think Thou upon me, O Lord, for Thy good
When we are thus humbled in repentance and in fervent prayer, let us remember, to our comfort, that the Lord Jesus Christ, who came into this world to seek and to save those who were lost, who came to call sinners to repentance—who died in agony upon the cross
•6 for us men and for our salvation"- the Lord Jesus Christ has assured us that there is joy in heaven over every sinner that repenteth.
But whilst we believe this comforting assur
ance, and receive it with lively gratitude to Him whose goodness has encouraged us by it, we must always be on the watch lest we enter into temptation, and add to the number of our sins : for if we repent at one time, and at another return to our follies and wickedness again, our past repentance will do us no good, it will be proved to have been but a mockery of God. Be stedfast, my beloved brethren, be watchful, the younger part of you especially, to keep yourselves out of sin. Your daily prayer, I hope, to God is, deliver us from evil. Your prayers will be all in vain, if your own endeavours, your own watchfulness be wanting. Neither God nor man will blame you for being happy, so as you continue innocent. Keep then your Creator's laws unbroken, and your own souls without stain of guilt. May God bestow on you His grace, that you may never repeat the sins and offences of your younger days; and may He, for His goodness, always think upon you according to His mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
PSALM xxvii. 1.
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom then shall
I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom then shall I be afraid ?
The heart from which these words pro-, ceeded must have been enjoying the best, the purest, and the greatest happiness that the heart of man can know : that happiness which they only can feel who put their whole trust and confidence in Almighty God: who when suffering the evils of this life, can believe that they do not take place without His permission: can rely upon Him as a Friend, able and ready to guide them through every danger whether of body or soul, and can look forward with humble but stedfast hope that He will be their