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FRIENDLY HINTS, &c.
YOUNG Men likewise exhort to be soberminded. This is the direction of an apostle. The parent or instructor who discharges this duty, with wisdom and affection, may be justly deemed to act an important and friendly part. But, alas ! on whom shall we hope that such exhortations will have their proper effects ? They who have already turned aside from the paths of wisdom, will treat admonition with contempt, or at least afford it only a listless attention. Such as have already commenced the disciples of virtue, are become, what it would be the end of our address to engage
them to become: so that their amiable and respectable attainments seem to supersede advice of
this kind. There is, however, a third class of young men, from whom we indulge the prospect of some success: and whose choice and temper are not so formed and fixed, as to render such exhortations needless. They have not yet, perhaps determined for the pursuit of virtue, nor aré enslaved by vice and folly. The expectation of being indulged with their attention and regard, enlivens and animates our endeavours to enlist them votaries to righteousness and wisdom. As to the first class, let them recollect they are in danger of incurring the name of those “scorners who delight in " their scorning, and the guilt of those fools " that hate knowledge.”
This apostolic rule, Young men exhort to be soberminded, is of extensive import, and includes a great compass of duty. It signifies that they should be exhorted to act with prudence, and to behave modestly. The original word, wợpaytay, refers both to the government of the body with its appetites, and to the discipline of the mind with its affections. I apprehend therefore it will take in every thing implied in the exhortation, if we consider it, as an admonition to be grave, modest, discreet, temperate, and chaste.
Under these different heads I will freely offer such thoughts, my young friends, as appear to me just and important, and such, I am sure, as a tender concern for your present and eternal interests, and cordial affection dictate. You will indulge me with your candid attention. And, O! Father of our spirits, eternal source of light and truth, impress the hearts of thy servants with the salutary counsels of truth, and maxims of wisdom. Amen.
First, to be grave and solid in their de portment and manners, is implied in being soberminded. Gravity, indeed, it may be thought, will better become hoary age, ripened in wis. dom, than the gaiety of the spring of life. In the opening of life the ideas of the mind are naturally lively, and the prospects chearful. When vain expectations have deceived, when care hath preyed upon the heart, then let the brow contract into wrinkles, and the deportment wear a solemn sadness.
True : it is the peculiar duty of aged men to be sober and grave. But manly thoughts
and a manly conduct suit, and will adorn every period of our existence; not least of all that period, when having reached the maturity of our stature, we are supposed no longer to conceive and think like children. The concerns of human life, as soon as we become capable of forming a plan of conduct, and of being affected by our connection with a future and eternal state, must appear too serious and important to admit of all the levity and inconstancy, which our hearts in their gaiety may be disposed to indulge*.
In fact, the meaning of this exhortation, “ be soberminded," i.e. grave, is only that as soon as you begin to appear, you should begin to act, the MAN ; to exercise your understanding, and to let reason regulate your behaviour.
An admonition, by no means improper or useless: if regarded, it will happily correct the
* Neque enim ita generati a naturâ sumus, ut ad ludum et jocum facri esse videamur ; sed ad severitatem potius, et ad quædam studia graviora et majora. Ludo autem et joco uti illo quædam licet ; sed, sicut somno et quietibus cæteris, tum cum gravibus seriisque rebus satisfecerimus.
Cicero de Officiis, Ed. Glasguæ. p. 76.
giddiness of youthful years, and in some measure mingle the rich and fruitful scenes of autumn with the blossoms and gaiety of the spring. An admonition, by no means unseasonable and needless : for in the appearance and manners of many young men there are strong indications of a want of that consideration and thought, which their years and stature lead the world to expect from them.
They are fond of amusement, and estimate the happiness of life by the variety and succession of gay scenes and diversions, which they have an opportunity to pursue. They are led by the fashion ; their sentiments, their taste, and their behaviour are formed and changed with the mode, which is in general regulated by no stated and fixed principles of reason, or true taste ; but is more frequently repugnant to both, than agreeable to either. Their dress not only engrosses imuch of the attention and time, which should be devoted to the im, portant pursuits of life ;' But an affectation of finery and show, or a fondness to copy the extremes of the fashion, with little attention to the decorum, that should be observed even