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In a case where you cannot have experience of your own to guide you, be willing, young men, to profit by the experience of others. Is there a subject about which the testimony of mankind is more concurrent, or on which they have delivered their testimony more spontaneously and emphatically, than the insufficiency of wealth to satisfy the soul? Has not this been proclaimed by the contentment of millions who have had little, and the restlessness and dissatisfaction of millions who have had much? Does not Solomon, as the foreman of that countless jury which has sat in judgment upon the world's claim, deliver the verdict in those impressive words, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Not that I mean to say wealth contributes nothing to our felicity, either by lessening the evils, or multiplying the comforts of life: it does contribute something, and for as much as it can yield, it may be lawfully sought after. My remarks go only to prove that it is not the chief good, and to dissuade the young from considering and treating it as such in the outset of life. It may be useful as one of the golden vessels with which to serve yourselves, your neighbours, or your Lord; but it must not become a golden idol, to be set up and worshipped instead of Jehovah. I do not wish you to become careless or inactive in business, or even indifferent to the increase of your possessions; but what I aim at is, to convince you, that it is not the supreme end of life, and that it is infinitely less desirable than the inheritance which is laid
up in heaven. If you make this the end of life, you may miss it after all, and even in reference to your own selected object live in vain ; while if you succeed, you will still miss the end for which God created you, and lavish existence upon an idol, which cannot save you when you most need its help. You may cry to it in your affliction, but it will have no ears to hear. You may call
it in your dying hour, but it will have no power to commiserate, and to turn the ebbing tide of life. You may invoke it at the day of judgment, but it shall be only to be a swift witness against you. You may think of it in eternity, but it will be only to feel it to be “the gold that shall canker,” and the "rust that shall eat
flesh.” Such, then, are some of the minor dangers, if indeed I can with propriety call them by such a designation, when they entail such consequences as those I have stared: but what I mean is, that they are not so directly and flagrantly immoral in their tendency and effects as those previously enumerated. Look at them, young men. Weigh them with deliberation. And may God grant you his grace, in answer to your earnest prayers, for your protection and preservation.
THE MEANS OF SAFETY FOR YOUNG MEN AWAY FROB
Such means there certainly are, if you will avail yourselves of them. Imminent as is the peril to which you are exposed, defence is at hand, and it will be your own fault if you are not preserved. Thousands have been kept amidst the severest temptations. In the beautiful, touching, and instructive history of Joseph, as recorded in the book of Genesis, a history which will never cease to be admired as long as taste or piety shall remain in the world, we have a striking instance of moral preservation amidst great danger, well worthy your attention. How fierce and seductive was the assault upon his morals; it came from a quarter, and in a form, the most likely to corrupt a youthful mind: yet how promptly, firmly, and successfully was it resisted. True, his virtue subjected him for a while to much suffering, for, defeated in her criminal intentions, his seductress, under the combined influence of disappointment, shame, and remorse, wickedly revenged herself upon the virtue she could not subdue; blasted his reputation by calumny and false accusation, and caused him to be cast into prison. But Providence, ever watchful over the reputation and interests of pious men,
overruled all for good, and made the prison of this illustrious Israelite the way to his elevation. But for Potiphar's wife, Joseph had never been prime minister of Egypt; her guilt and its painful effects were rendered subservient to his advancement. Sooner or later virtue will bring its own reward. But what was the means of Joseph's preservation from the snare? RELIGION. "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” was his noble reply. Here was the shield that covered his heart. True, he had a deep sense of the duty he owed to his employer, and on this ground expostulated with the tempter, “Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; there is none greater in this house than I: neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife.” This was faithful, just, generous, noble; but there needed something else, something still stronger to resist such a temptation: morality alone would not have done it, and he called in the aid of his piety. "HOW CAN I DO THIS GREAT WICKEDNESS, AND SIN AGAINST God ?:' Thus armed with religion, he fought with the tempter, and came off more than conqueror. Let every young man mark this, and see the power, the excellence, and benefit of piety, as a preservative against sin.
Amidst the snares to which you will be exposed, you will need something stronger and more trustworthy than those feeble defences on which
some rely, and which in many instances are des molished by the first assault upon mere unaided virtue. You may leave your father's house with fixed resolutions to shun what is evil, and practise what is good; you may suppose
that you taste for ihe vicious pleasures of profligate persons; you may cherish a tender regard for the feelings of your parents, sufficient, as you think, to preserve you from every thing that would grieve their hearts; you may have your eye on future respectability and wealth, and be inspired with an ambition that makes you dread whatever would interfere with these objects of desire; you may be already moral and upright, and thus be led to imagine that you are prepared to repel every attack upon your purity and integrity: but if destitute of real religion, you may soon be exposed to temptations which will either sweep away all these defences as with the violence of a flood, or insidiously . undermine them with the slow but certain process of a siege. Religion, true religion, young man, is the only defence to be relied upon : morality may protect you, but piety will. What multitudes of instances could the history of the church of God furnish of youths passing unconquered, through the most corrupting scenes, by the aid of this Divine shield, taken from the armoury of revelation; this shield of faith. I could mention names known and loved among the pious, of your own and other countries, who in youth went unbefriended and unpatronized from the country to the me.