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I LOVE them that love me, and they that seek me early
How encouraging the declaration, and how unambiguous the promise! God loves the offering of the youthful heart, and the steps which are early directed in the way to Zion he will surely guide. Happy youth! whose first affections are given to God; whose worldly aspirations are repressed and supplanted by aspirations after heaven; who dost resolve to turn back from the way of sin, before thou hast had a long and painful experience of its ruggedness.
It is a very peculiar encouragement to early effort in religion that it shall be successful. It is possible that God may be propitious to the sinner who comes to him at the eleventh hour, but the application may, when long delayed, utterly fail. The foolish virgins who were aroused out of their slumber by the midnight cry, were shut out, and could hear no favourable response to their importunate entreaties for admission. Where God's invitations have long been despised, his grace may be finally withheld, and the hope of the sinner be cut off. Not so with those who seek God in their youth-they "shall find" him. It is his own gracious promise.
To none does the world present such fascinations as to the young. Taking advantage of their inexperience, the great adversary pictures to their imagination a thousand unreal and unsubstantial scenes which
have all the semblance of truth; a captivating view spreads out before them, and flowery paths invite their feet, and the numberless evils which have unexpectedly sprung up in the way to disappoint their predecessors, are artfully hidden from their view. Thus are multitudes deceived to their ruin; they dream not of disappointment and sorrow, and disregard all warnings; and although they soon find that their hopes are not realized, they press on, still relying on the deceitful promises of sin.
Some, however, are from their childhood inspired with the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom. They search the Scriptures, bend the youthful knee in prayer, give their affections to their heavenly Father, and ask him to be the guide of their youth. Their prayer is heard and answered, and they are redeemed from the pollutions of the world.
The advantages of a piety thus early commenced are manifold. How many painful reflections and remorseful self-accusations are thus escaped! Although they will have much to deplore as the inheritors of a corrupt nature, yet they will not, like the aged penitent, be compelled to travel back through long years of rebellion, to be pained at every step, by the apparition of murdered time, the ghosts of abused and lost opportunities, and the recollection of innumerable and flagrant sins. How extensive too will be their religious attainments! Those who soonest enter the school of Christ, and are most diligent in study, will learn most of God's will, his government, his providence, his love and faithfulness, and will be most likely to obtain that full assurance of faith and hope, which is an infinitely richer inheritance than the world has in its offer.
What increased pleasures in religion will they also enjoy! This will be a result of their attainments, for the more that is known of the divine excellency, the more exquisite will be the joy of the soul. The perfection of blessedness in heaven consists in the perfection of the knowledge which the soul there has of God; hence the more of that knowledge we acquire here, the greater will be our happiness. Many Christians walk in doubt and apprehension, and through fear of death are subject to bondage; but he that has run in the Christian course from his youth, is most likely to be skilled in the Christian warfare, most likely to bring his heart under the influence of the graces of the Spirit, and to have such discoveries of the divine love, and such familiarity at the throne of grace, as to be assured that he is a son of God and an heir of glory. And O, what sweet experience may he have of God's love, and of his interest in Christ; what foretastes of heavenly happiness, what confidence that neither life nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate him from his holy and happy connection with his divine Redeemer!
Many, when advanced in years, have bitterly lamented that their hearts were not given to God in youth; but none, that they have devoted the prime of their days to this most excellent service. The young, therefore, should remember their Creator in the days of their youth, and those who would increase the amount of human happiness here, and multiply joy in heaven, will use their best efforts to instruct, to guide and persuade the young to escape from the pollutions of the world, and to set out early in their heavenly journey.
My soul, hast thou been early called to remember thy Creator and to keep his law? How many Satanic snares hast thou thus escaped, and how much bitter repentance hast thou thus avoided! Never canst thou be sufficiently grateful for an early acquaintance with God with his love and faithfulness. But if unhappily thy childhood and youth were vanity, and a Saviour's love was long resisted; for this let thy repentance be sincere, and let present opportunities be more diligently improved. Thus redeem squandered time; make thy calling and election sure, and run with alacrity the remainder of thy race. At least, in the fervour of thy love, and in the devotion of thy life, compete with those who have earlier entered the course.
THE parental relation! How full of sweet associations and tender reminiscences! Hast thou a father -a mother? They are thy natural guardians, thy dearest earthly friends. They joyfully smiled at thy introduction into the world. Towards thee their affections gushed forth as from a fountain newly opened. Through prattling childhood and thoughtless boyhood, they tenderly watched over thee. Their anxieties were awakened, and their sedulous care was