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helpless years : what can I do to requite their kindness, and promote their comforts ?” It may be that their circumstances are such, that comforts procured by the talent, industry, and selfdenial of their children, would by no means be superfluous : the well-principled young person would need no further stimulus. But supposing the family to be in circumstances of competence and comfort, benevolence will stimulate the young female to acquaint herself with, and employ herself in whatever may do good to her fellow creatures in a wider circle; and really this should be understood as the design of Providence, in conferring on any individuals a sufficiency of the good things of this life without their personal exertions : they are not set at liberty to waste their time in yawning indolence, or to consume their property in pride, extravagance and self-indulgence; but they are set at liberty to enable them to do good, and this should be the object of their lives.
Prudence, too, concurs in enforcing this improvement of time and abilities; for she suggests, “ This is a changing world: in the course of its vicissitudes, those who now enjoy an ample competence, may be cast into circumstances of destitution. How desirable would it then be to have acquired such habits of intelligence, industry, and perseverance, as would render it no hardship to turn to some useful employment for their own support!” Then, again, " the liberal soul deviseth liberal things ;" and in order to carry out her various plans of benevolence, and to extend her means of doing good, the young person will be
led to practise economy in her personal expenses. Integrity will impress on her the indispensable duty of keeping her expenditure within the limits of her resources ; prudence will enforce the necessity of acting on a plan, keeping a regular account of income and expenditure, and so moderating expenses as to have always a reserve in store ; and benevolence will suggest the best appropriation of such a surplus, even that of doing good to the bodies and souls of our fellow-creatures, to the very widest extent of our capabilities. The young female who has early acquired the habits of obtaining useful knowledge, of diligently improving time, of exercising a wise economy and judicious and benevolent application of property, although these habits may have been exercised on a very small scale, possesses within herself the principles of extensive usefulness, which will be limited only by the circle wisely assigned her by Providence.
In going through this chapter, and indeed throughout the book, it has continually suggested itself to the mind of the writer, “But is the young reader supposed to be pious ? Is she a follower of Christ? If not, what avails it to present to her instructions and appeals founded upon the principles of religion ?” The reply has constantly been, “I know of no other principles on which successfully to inculcate what is moral, and amiable, and useful. Should I attempt it, it would be like planting a tree without a root, or building a house without a foundation. There would be no spring of vitality; no source of real fruitfulness; nothing that could ever maintain its standing
I must go
against the blasts and storms of life. to the Bible for my instructions, for elsewhere I can find nothing so good; and I must take those instructions, and give them, too, upon their own principles and sanctions; and they uniformly proceed upon the principle, that every person ought to be religious. In all the Bible, I cannot find a single direction how to be happy and useful without God in the world."
No, my dear young friend, the person who desires this, desires what can never, never, be attained, and what it is a sin even to wish to attain. If we form a picture of happiness from which God is excluded, it is an awful proof that we are “enemies to God by wicked works,” and those evil propensities and passions which have their origin in enmity against God, will, sooner or later, work the destruction of our own happiness, and that of all over whom our influence extends. And then, even if it were possible, why should we wish to leave out religion as the basis of character and happiness? Why should we be content with any thing short of the best, when the best is offered to us? Religion is not only the one thing needful, which we cannot do without; it is the one thing invaluable, which will enhance and sweeten whatever else we possess, and which could even make us happy in utter destitution of all besides. O, then, my dear young reader, may you be earnestly desirous of seeking that “fear of God” which“ is the beginning of wisdom;" for “ when wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.” Happy is the
man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies : and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared to her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her." “ Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” for life is uncertain, and youth may be the only time allotted you. Remember him now, for if you
many years and see much good, the knowledge and favour of your Creator are essential to the real enjoyment and improvement of life. Remember Him now, for the days of evil will come, and then you will assuredly want support and consolation, which none but God can give you.
Remember your Creator now, and then you will be ready for whatever future services and sufferings await you; and death, whenever it comes, will be only the messenger to introduce you to the immediate presence of Him, whom, having not seen, you loved. There are many peculiar distinctions and advantages connected with early piety, which, if duly considered, should lead young persons, instead of wishing to use delay, to be anxious for the possession of true religion at the very earliest period at which it might possibly be obtained. Early piety has been peculiarly honoured with the Divine acceptance. “I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me."
Then, the earlier religion is implanted in the heart, the less it will have to contend with. The human heart at best is a bad soil, and apt to send forth noxious weeds; but it is an unspeakable privilege to have it early brought under culture, and to have good principles instilled, and by the power of Divine grace taking firm hold; there is not so much of evil to unlearn and root up. Piety will save from many snares in early life, by influencing all the connexions and intimacies of life, and preserving from such as would be ensnaring, corrupting, and dangerous. It was said by one who knew from experience, “ If once these connexions are formed, you can hardly conceive the difficulty there is in breaking through them when convinced of their dangerous tendency. Nor is it a small trial to be spared (and it is generally experienced by those who become religious after they have been connected with gay and worldly persons) the ridicule and opposition which these connexions will occasion. Besides this, the conversation, the books, the amusements to which such society introduces, have, in recollection, been a dangerous snare, or a painful disturbance, even long after they have been forsaken.” Then again, early piety is generally eminent piety. Obadiah feared the Lord from his youth; and it is said, “ he feared the Lord greatly." The most useful and eminent Christians, the most stable and ornamental in their profession, and the richest in experience and enjoyment, have generally been those whose youth was consecrated to God : “ They that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall