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out receiving a bias: it is impossible. New temptations assail you, which, if not at once and successfully resisted, will acquire a permanent ascendency.
Your parents, who have gone before you in the path of life, know the fact and tremble. It makes their hearts ache to think of sending you away from home. You know not, you cannot know, what was the deep and silent trouble of your father's heart, the painful solicitude of your mother's gentle spirit, in the prospect of your leaving them. They sat hour after hour by the fireside, or lay awake at night talking on the subject, and mingled their tears as they thought of the youths of their acquaintance, whose ruin was dated from the hour of their departure from home: "Oh!" they exclaimed in anguish, "if this our son should be like them, and become a prodigal too, and thus bring down our gray hairs in sorrow to the grave! Would that we could keep him at home under our own care, but we cannot." They then fell upon their knees, and by united prayer, gained relief and comfort to their aching hearts, while commending you to Him, who has in ten thousand instances been the guide and protector of youth. While your mother, good woman! as she packed your trunk, dropped her fast flowing tears upon your clothes, placed the Bible among them, and sighed out the petition, "Oh my son, my son! Great God, preserve him from all evil."
Ministers have seen the danger of youths leaving
home, most painfully exemplified in young men who have come from a distant town, recommended perhaps by parents to their care, and who for a while attended their ministry. At first their places in the sanctuary were regularly filled twice a day, and while the novelty lasted, they appeared to hear with attention and interest: this soon diminished, and they became listless and neglectful; then their seat was occasionally empty on a sabbath evening; then habitually so; till at length giving up the morning, or only strolling in occasionally with some gay companion, they proclaimed the dreadful fact, that they had fallen into the dangers incident to young men upon leaving home: and the next intelligence concerning them, perhaps was a letter from a heart-broken parent, confirming the worst fears of the minister, by asking him to make an effort to snatch their son from his evil companions and profligate courses.
Instances innumerable have occurred, in which youths, who, while dwelling under their father's roof, have been the joy and the hope of their parents, have, on leaving home and entering into the world, exhibited a melancholy and awful transformation of character. Some by slow degrees have passed from virtue to vice, while others have made the transition so suddenly, as if by one mighty bound they had resolved to reach the way of the ungodly; in either case, the bitterest disappointment has been experienced by those who have had
to contrast the prodigal abroad with the sober youth at home.
Youthful reader, I assure you that this is no uncommon case, but, on the contrary, so frequent, as to make every considerate parent tremble at sending away his son, especially to the large provincial towns, and most of all to that mighty sink of iniquity, the metropolis.
What, then, should be the state of your mind, and your reflections upon reading such an account as this. "Is it so, that on leaving their father's house, so many young men who were once virtuous and promising, have become vicious and profligate, how much does it become me to pause and reflect, lest I add another to the number! What was there in their circumstances and situation so dangerous to virtue, that I may not expect to find in mine? or what is there in my habits and resolutions, which was not, in their better days, in them? Did they fall, and shall I be so confident of steadfastness as to dismiss fear and despise caution? Do I recoil from vice? so did they, when, like me, they were at home. Do I shudder at grieving my parents by misconduct? so did they, when, like me, they had their parents continually before them. Am I going forth high in the confidence of my parents, and the esteem of my friends? so did they. Yet how cruelly have they disappointed every hope that was formed concerning them! and what is there in my habits and purposes that shall prevent
me from imitating their example? Oh if this should be the case! If I should add another to the victims of leaving home! If my reputation, now happily so fair, should be tarnished, faded, lost! If I, of whom hopes are entertained that I am becoming a Christian, should turn out a prodigal, a profligate! Dreadful apostacy. Great God, prevent it!"
Could I induce you thus to reflect, I should have hope of you; while a contrary spirit of self-dependance and confidence, would lead me to expect in you another proof that the time of a youth's leaying home is most critical.
THE SOURCES OF DANGER TO YOUNG MEN AWAY FROM HOME.
Ir is well to know what these are, and where they lie, that you may know how to avoid them. Ignorance on such a subject, would be itself one of the chief dangers. In many cases, to know our perils is itself one way of avoiding them. Steadily, then, contemplate the following:
1. You are in danger of falling into evil, from the removal of parental inspection, admonition, and restraint.
It must be admitted, that home itself is sometimes a scene of peril to morals and religion. In some homes, young people see and hear very little but what is calculated to do them harm. Parental example is on the side of sin, and almost every thing that is said or done is of a nature likely to produce impressions unfavourable to piety, and perhaps even to morality. Where this is the state of things, removal is a benefit, and not a few have reason to be thankful for having been transplanted from such irreligious houses, into families where God is feared and religion is exemplified. If this be your case, rejoice in the dispensation of Providence, which has rescued you from such imminent danger, and planted you in a soil more congenial for the cultivation of true