COUNSEL FOR YOUTH; Delivered in two Sermons upon Psalm 119. vers 9. Preached by H.V. Rector of Alhallows-Honie-lane.

Eccles. 12.1. Remember now thy Creator in the daies of thy Youth, while the evil daies com not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt saie, I have no pleasure in them.

LONDON, Printed by William Du-gard, in the Year MDCL.

To my loving Parishioners, and other Friends in London, or elswhere.

Dear Friends!

I Here present you with the Sum of two Sermons, not long since preached, and delivered by word of mouth to you of my own charge. If anie enquire what put mee upon this subject, the entrance of these Sermons will resolv you in that particular. If anie ask, what moved mee to put it to the Press, take my answer now: It's not anie by end, it's not anie high thought of anie thing that is my own in this discours: But I consider,

1. The Truths are Divine and Sound.

2. The handling of them is seasonable in these daies, wherein there is so much miscarriage of youth, and (I would I had not need to saie it) so much neglect in them that have the oversight of Youth. In these Sermons both are concern­ed; Youth at the first hand, and others by necessarie con­sequence.

3. I know that words have wings, and flie away, almost assoon as they are uttered; but it's true, Litera scripta ma­net. [Page] If anie forget what was spoken, by repareing to the Book their memories will bee holpen.

4. I have also manie Friends that heard not these Ser­mons preached, whose spiritual good yet I desire also to fur­ther: and to transscribe so manie copies, it would bee tedious. I thought it therfore the more compendious waie (though more costlie) to put it to the Press upon mine own charge, and so to have the whole Impression at my own dispose, by means whereof I may give copies abroad as I shall see caus.

And so yee have the clear reason of what is don: it's in­tended out of love to you, and your good my aim in it.

Concerning the Sermons themselvs I will not saie anie thing; onely,

1. If anie bee less acquainted with business of this naeture, I give them to understand, that what I saie to Young Men, I mean it also to Young Women and Maidens, following therein the custom of the Scripture, which ordinarily, (espe­cially in things which equally concern both) comprehend's both sexes under the Male, as I might shew you in manie ex­amples, if it were needful.

2. These Sermons contein matter sutable to old and young, I desire you, each of you to take your proper portions, and not (as it's too frequent in the world) everie man to get insight into other men's duties, while they neglect to know their own.

To conclude, if yee will accept, read, applie, and make use of what is here presented to you, and the God of heaven shal bee pleas'd to make it profitable by his blessing, I have my aim and end: And so (committing you, your souls and bodies, and your waies to the protection and guidance of the Almightie and onely wise God) I rest ever,

Your Servant for Jesus-sake H.V.


PSAL. 119.9.

Wherewithall shall a young man cleans his waie? by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word.

THe sad report of the miscarriage of many young men now of late, and som of my own charge, whose case I much pitie, hath taken mee off from my wonted cours, that, by making more particular address to young men, I might prevent the miscarriage of others. And if it shal pleas God to give such success to my endeavours, as that I may bee an instrument for the reclame­ing or safe-guarding of any, I shall bee so far from repenting of my attempt, that I shall readily confess my self bound to the God of Heaven, for that Hee hath made my endeavours in any degree successful in this kinde. If, on the other side, I shall have occasion to complain with the Prophet, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, Isai. 49.4. and in vain (which God forbid) yet my comfort is this, that faithful [Page 2] endeavours shall not want acceptance. I shall not doubt to saie with the same Prophet,Ibid. Yet my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God: I rest upon that encourage­ment, which the Apostle gives, whereby hee assure's us, that God will reward every man according to his own labor, 1 Cor. 3.8. de Isid. ad Eugen. l. 4. c. 2. Secundùm opus, non secundùm proventum; according to his labor, not according to the issue of his labor, as St Bernard observ's.

And, if any of you have passed this slipperie age, and atteined to riper years, let it not bee grievous to you, that I now bend my speech to young men, as if the business did not concern you: young men are also a part of my charge, and our blessed Saviour give's command to St Peter, Joh. 21.16. and in him, to us all, that are his servants in the ministerie, not one­ly to Feed his sheep, ver. 15. but, his Lambs also. Yea, they are a part of my charge not to bee sleighted: for upon the wel-doing of them, that are in the flower of their youth, depend's the hope of future ages. And, while I speak to them, yee also may hear somwhat, which may, by the blessing of God, prove to the advantage of your souls.

But, (to leav further prefaces, and to set upon the Text, which (to this purpose) I have undertaken to handle) it seem's the Prophet enter'd this meditation, while hee was yet a youth in King Saul's Court, envied of many, and ex­posed to many temptations. Beeing therefore sensible of the temptations, vanitie, incircumspection and unstaiedness of that age, and considering withal, that yet this was his prime, wherein God especially require's to bee served, hee desire's a redresser of his life and manners. And therefore finding himself to bee puzzled thereabout, hee break's out of his continued meditation into this exclameing interrogative Apostrophe, Wherewithall shall a young man cleans his waie? whereto the answer is instantly annexed, By taking heed there­to according to Thy Word.

Whether hee make's this demand to God, and receive's the answer from God; or whether hee communicate's with himself, as St Austin doth probably answer, Interrogat se, re­spondet sibi, Hee ask's himself, and answer's himself, I hold it not much material; for both the demand, and the answer was inspired into him by the Spirit of God.

The kinde of speech, yee see, is by waie of question and answer, which is Rhetorical and vehement.

The matter enquired with such earnestness, is the refor­mation of life and manners.

The Emphasis is in the word, young man.

In the demand, wee have, 1. The act, redress, or cleans. 2. The Object, waie. 3. The person concerned, young man: concerning all which the question is moved, Wherewithall shall, &c.

The answer is plain and easie, By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word.

The whole vers may bee resolved into these propositions, or points of doctrine.

1. Youth is, and young mens waies are naturally corrupt.

2. The waies of godlie young men are no better then they should bee.

3. They had need to bee reformed.

4. Godlie men endeavour the reformation of their waies.

5. It's an hard thing for young men to reform their waies.

6. Yet it's a possible thing for them to do it.

7. Man know's not of himself, how to do it, but

8. God is readie to teach us, if wee consult with him.

9. The waie to cleans or reform our waies, is by taking heed there­to, according to God's Word.

Of these I shall speak in order, beeing more brief in som of them, while I insist more largely upon others.

Propos. 1. Youth is, and young mens waies are, naturally cor­rupt. It's plain in the Text; for what need were there els for young mens waies to bee cleansed? nothing need's clean­sing, but that which is foul or corrupt; And this God him­self, who made us, and therefore know's us, doth attest, whiles hee saie's of man,Gen. 8.21. The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. Hence it was, that Solon's Laws did not admit a young man to Magistracie, though hee were otherwise of good abilities. The Romans admitted none to the Se­nate, till hee was five and twentie years old. The Canons of our Church admitted none to the order of Deacon, the first degree of Ministerie,Numb. 8.24. Act. 7.23. till hee was three and twentie years of age. The law of God, concerning the Levites, admitted none to minister, till hee was five and twentie years old. Moses was [Page 4] ful fourtie years old, when hee first visited his brethren. Christ himself was full thirtie years old,Luke 3.23. when Hee first set upon His publick Ministerie: and the like is said of John the Baptist. All these laws and examples cast a kinde of im­putation upon youth: especially if yee look into the reason,Philip. 5. which Tullie give's of the Roman law, Cùm grandiorem aetatem ad Consulatum constituebant, temeritatem adolescentiae vere­bantur: The Romans requiring more ripeness of years in them, that were to bee admitted to Magistracie, feared the rashness of youth. And wee hear,Eccles. 10.16. what the wise man saie's, Wo to thee, O land, when thy King is a childe. And it is to bee observed to this purpose,2 Chron. what danger befell Rehoboam, by following the counsel of the young men, no less then the revolt of the ten Tribes. To this purpose it is also, that Plutarch saie's, that Youth hath more need of a Governour, then childhood. And therefore, when Nero told Seneca, that such an old do­ting fellow, as hee, should bee set over children, the Philo­sopher answered wisely, Magis regenda est fervida adolescentia: Hot youth hath more need to bee governed. And therefore wis­dom in the book of the Proverbs give's her counsel stil to young men, ever saying, My son, my son: And Salomon put's young men in minde of the last judgment, in that, shewing them to bee vitious. Rejoice, O young man, saie's hee, in thy youth, Eccles. 11.9. &c. but know, that for these things God will bring thee to judgment.

And, if I should make a catalogue of the corruptions of youth, haply, I should offend the younger sort (though in what I shall saie, my aim is not to shame or dis-hearten, but by setting their danger before their eies, to warn and arm them against it) I am sure, it would take up a great deal of time, to do it largely. Take it therefore briefly.

1 Tim. 2.22.1. Hear the Apostle advising his scholar Timothie, Flie the lusts of youth: then youth hath its lusts; and, mee think's Plutarch, though a Pagan, make's a good comment upon that text, saying, Juventus variis cupiditatibus obnoxia, &c. Youth is prone to divers lusts, to anger, to desire of rule, to ambition, to intem­perance about meats, drinks, apparel, and bodilie pleasures.

2. These lusts rage and rule in youth, nor can they so ea­sily withstand or curb them: and therefore the Tragoedian [Page 5] saie's well. Juvenile vitium est, regere non posse impetum. It's a vice of young men, that they cannot curb the violence of lusts; but with an headlong proneness they run into sin, that waie, which lie's open before them, like a water-cours.

3. They are inconsult, without knowledg and counsel, they want that experience, which old age hath, and so are quickly deceived, and (which is lamentable) pejora juvenes facilè praecepta audiunt; they are more prone to follow bad counsel, then good. And this doth Solomon shew,Prov. 7.7, 13, 14, 21, 22, 23. in that young man soon carried away with the enticing speeches of the strange woman, and following her, as an Ox to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till a dart strike thorough his liver, as a bird hasteth to the snare, not know­ing that it is for his life. And this wee see too usual in wo­ful experience, that many young men stop their ears against their parents and masters, yea, and of the Ministers of God, advising and admonishing them in love for their good, but their ears are open to the evil counsels of those, who by flattering words endeavour to draw them to destructive courses.

4. When they know little or nothing, they are yet prone to bee high-conceited of themselvs, so that they think them­selvs wiser then the aged, and too good to bee taught and admonished by any.

5. Mark what Salomon saie's;Prov. 22.15. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a childe: See, here is then an whole bundle of follie.

6. Hear him again. Childhood and youth are vanitie: Eccles. 11.10. hee saie's not, Vanitie is in them, but the age it self is vanitie, as compact and made up of vanitie.

7. And, as one note's well, the word redress or cleans, here used, is a metaphor, signifying the clearing of glass, which, though it bee clean, will yet soon gather filth, even in the sun-beams, and of it self: which note's the great corruption of this age; especially, if wee have regard to our nativitie, which is corrupt and unclean, as David confesse's,Psal. 51.5. In sin I was born.

To conclude, in a word, this age (youth, I mean) may well bee compared to a gnat, that, leaving the wine, delight's in the lees; to a maid, having the green sickness, who de­lights [Page 6] in claie, and things of il juice, rather then in whol­som food; to an unbroken colt for unstaiedness; to a lion for wrath; to a shee-bear for crueltie; to an ape for imita­tion of every evil or new-fangled fashion; to a mad dog for indiscretion; for wantonness to a goat; and to a swine for filthiness.

Ʋse 1. The thought of this is profitable for young men, three waies:

1. It may bring them into a dislike of this age: It's the thought of many, that this age is the happiest, and these the best daies, that ever they shall see; but, upon all the fore­going grounds it is evident, that wee may well judg it the most miserable,Eccles. 12.1. becaus more sinful. It's true, that Solomon call's old age evil daies, but that is onely in regard of those bodilie inconveniences, which attend old age; but the danger of youth is far greater, in regard of it's proneness to sin, which is of far more dangerous consequence.

2. It should make young men the more circumspect and watchful over their waies. It's the wisdom of a citie be­sieged, to double their guards and make stronger defenses, where, on their own parts, they finde greatest weakness, and greatest opposition from the besiegers. Take knowledg of it, dear young men, and believ it, there is no age more strongly assailed by Satan and corruption, no age more weak to make resistance, then is youth. Bee persuaded therefore to look to your selvs, and to stand upon your watch-tower: See and observ by what means others have been baned, and sens your selvs against the same.

Jer. 5.23.1. Consider what the Prophet saie's, Death is com up into our windows, and hath entered into our palaces: the bodilie eies are the windows of the soul, sin enter's thereby, and take's possession of the soul: how many have been ruined by the eie?2 Sam. 11. yea, how have wee all been undon by it? David looked and lusted, and committed adulterie, which was attended with murder, and that of a faithful Ʋriah, whence followed a world of mischief.Josh. 7.21. Hear Achan's confession, When I saw, among the spoils, a goodlie Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedg of gold of fiftie shekels weight, I coveted and took them: ver. 24.25. and as hee by this had troubled Israël, [Page 7] so for it God troubled him; it was the ruine of himself and his familie. Eve saw, and liked, and persuaded her husband,Gen. 3.6. Rom. 5.12. and they did eat, and hence followed ruine to all mankinde: Oh therefore bee advised to watch over your eies, suffer them not to bee roving about undue objects, or not unduly: gaze not upon the beautie of women, if yee desire to bee fensed against uncleanness: in this case imitate holie Job, who made a Covenant with his eies, and thereupon inferred,Job 31.1. why should I look upon a maid? if yee would bee fensed against drunkenness, follow Solomon's advice: Look not upon the wine, Prov. 23.31. when it is red, when it give's his color in the cup, &c. yea, in all kindes, let it bee your care to praie with David, Psal. 119.37. Turn away my eies from beholding vanitie.

2. Many have been ruined by the ear, while they have listened to destructive counsels of wicked counsellors, to flat­tering words of lewd women:Gen. 3. so was Eve ruined by hearken­ing to the divel in the serpent.Prov. 7. So was that fore-mentioned young man undon, by giving ear to the wanton allurements of that strange woman. Bee persuaded therefore, I beseech you, to watch over your ears, to keep them shut against such wicked solicitations: It's Solomon's advice, My son, Prov. 1.10. if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. Let not the fair speeches of any seduce you, nor their pretenses of friendship: were they never so neer, or seemed they never so friendlie, reject them: rather reject their friendship, then accept of their counsel. When, our Saviour having foretold his passion, Peter said to him, Bee it far from thee, Lord, Matth. what hear's hee from his Master? Get thee behinde mee, Satan, hee own's him not now, as his disciple, but take's knowledg of Satan making use of his tongue to dishearten him from that great work, which hee was to perform, tending so much to the glorie of his Father, and the Salvation of the world: So let it bee your care: Look from evil counsellers, as bearing the semblance of friends, and consider them, as instruments employed by Satan to draw you from the waie of obedience, to the waie of sin, and hearken not to them, becaus they seem friends, but stop your ears against their wicked counsels, becaus herein Satan by them seek's the ruine of your pretious souls.

3. Many have been undon by evil companie: and how can [Page 8] it well bee otherwise? One scabbed sheep marre's an whole flock:1 Cor. 5.6. Prov. 7. A little leaven sowre's the whole lump: Who can touch pitch and not bee defiled? here yee shall hear provocations to evil, encouragements in evil, discouragements from good, reviling of goodness: and who know's not, what power such speeches have to corrupt? here yee shall see examples of evil, and yee know, how powerful examples are to draw us away: oh then bee choice of your com­panie; bee warie to what companions yee join your selvs: saie,Psal. 119.115. as David. Away from mee, yee wicked, I will keep the com­mandements of my God: It's Solomon's advice, as a fens against drunkenness and riot,Prov. 23.20. Bee not among wine-bibbers and riotous eaters of flesh: would yee not prove profane swearers? shun the companie of such; and so in all other kindes. And if yee would fear God and walk on in the waie of God's fear, imitate David, Psal. 119.63. whose profession it was, I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and keep Thy testimonies. In the compa­nie of such thou shalt hear exhortations to good, and en­couragements in good, and examples of good; and these yee shall finde singularly usefull.

3. By how much more corrupt youth is, by so much more bee incessant in prayer, and earnest with God to watch over thee,Psal. 127.1. and to fens thee against the corruptions of youth: It's true, that the Psalmist saie's, Except the Lord watch the citie, the watchman waketh but in vain: It hold's true in the business in hand: That it is your dutie, to watch over your selvs, yee have alreadie heard; but know that all your care will bee wholly frustrate, and to no purpose, except the watch­man of Israël doth watch for you and with you: Oh then ceas not to follow God with your praiers for the ob­teining of this grace: whether the Masters of the families, wherein yee live, bee careful to praie to God with you and for you, or no: do not yee forget morning and eve­ning to commend your selvs to God by praier, that by the watchful eie of his gratious providence, yee may bee pre­served from those miscarriages, to which yee are prone of your selvs, or may bee solicited by Satan, and his in­struments.

2. The consideration of this corruption of youth is sin­gularly [Page 9] profitable to them that have out-lived that age, and that also three waies:

1. To teach them to look back to their youth, and to take knowledg of the sins of it, and the vices with which their youth hath been tainted: not to bee tickled with joie at the remembrance of them: It's thus with too many, as with men, who in their younger times have delighted in hunting, whom therefore yee shall see, (beeing after­wards, through age, not able to follow the game, yet) to sit upon a style, and to look after the dogs, and crie after them. So too many (though through age they cannot fol­low the vices, to which in their youth they were addicted, yet) glorie in and boast of the mad pranks of their youth: this shew's plainly, that they have not so much left their sins, as their sins have left them: Far bee it therefore from you, that it should bee so with you; rather think of the sins of your youth, to bee filled with grief and horror for the same, and to repent of them, and to follow God with that request of David, Remember not the sins of my youth. Psal. 25.6.

2. To teach them to bee the more thankful to God, if they have been kept from those vitious courses, which they have seen in others: Others have been drunkards, riotous per­sons, neglecters of Gods Word and Ordinances, profaners of the Lord's Daie, untrustie to their Masters; hath it not been so with you? sacrifice not to your own nets and yarns, take it not to your selvs, as if yee were able of your selvs to abstein from such vices; for it's no such matter: it's God that hath kept you from them: let him therefore have the prais of it, and give thanks to his Name; for it's a great fa­vor; and the greater, by how much there are so many, with whom God hath not dealt so mercifully.

But bee thankful also for the means by which yee have been kept from such misdemeanours: thank God for the severitie of your parents, masters, teachers; for the severitie of the Laws, by which yee have been restreined from them: thank God, if hee hath kept you in order by the fear of hel­torments: but especially, if yee can finde, that God hath seasoned your younger years with his grace, and enabled you to abstein from sin out of an hatred of sin, loathing sin [Page 10] as it is sin, and a violation of God's righteous law, now give prais to God especially, as it is an incomparable favor.

3. To teach them to bee the more circumspect over those young ones committed to their charge: Parents over their children, masters over their servants, teachers over their scholars, guardians over their pupils: bee not wanting in your care for them, remember their dangers in regard of that slipperie age in which they are: and out of pitie watch over them; remember what it is, wherewith yee are put in trust, not more the bodies then the pretious souls of your children, servants, scholars, pupils, even the souls, for which Christ did shed his pretious bloud. Know yee, that are parents, that your children are God's Children, and yee are put in trust with them, as if som subject should bee put in trust with a King's children: and think how yee will bee able to answer it, if they shall miscarrie through your fault, or by your means: and this is no less true in regard of any other inferiors, servants, scholars, pupils. If it bee but that they are other mens children, that are put into your hands, think how oft the life of the parents hang's up­on the wel-doing of their children: and how can yee hold up your heads before them, if they shall miscarrie by your means? think, how il yee would take it, if yee shall commit your children to the care of other men, and by their negligence they shall miscarrie, and bee ruined; and now yee know that rule of equitie, What yee would that men should do to you, Matth. 7.12. do yee the same to them. Yea consider, that the welfare of the Common-wealth for the future depend's upon the well-ordering of these young ones for the present, what little thanks can yee exspect from your Countrie, if yee shall neglect your charge? Finally, think what a sad thing it will bee to behold the miscarriage and undoing of comlie youths, of good hopes, of good abi­lities, well bred, well educated. In all names I beseech you to look to your charge.

Bee not wanting in the use of any means for their good, and for the preventing of their miscarriage: It's a true saying, Qui non prohibet, quando potest, jubet: Hee, that forbid's not, when hee may, command's; and wee may justly bee held [Page 11] to do that mischief, which wee may hinder, and do not: hee is guiltie of the death of a childe, that may hinder him from falling into the fire, if hee doth not: It's no less true in this particular: oh therefore let not your care bee wanting in this kinde: prie into their carriage, observ their behaviour, and their companie which they haunt, bee not unnecessarily absent from them, let your eie, as much as may bee, bee continually upon them: many hopefull youths have been undon for want of this care: If yee see them given to any evil courses or evil companie, admonish them of the danger of them: If words will not prevail, adde seasonable and necessarie correction: Many are wrought upon with severitie, with whom lenitie and gentleness pre­vail's not: yet let it bee don with moderation, not as ty­rants, but as fathers: through excessive severitie come's no smal danger; alienation of hearts from their superiors, hardness of heart against means used towards them for their good, yea, oft hereupon they grow desperate.

At least take heed of poisoning them, and perverting them: an ill business this will prove; what is it other, then with your own hands to cast them into hell? This yee may bee in danger to do, either by putting them, by your commands or allurements, upon any evil projects, or by your lewd and wicked example. Take heed of both, as yee love these young ones thus committed to your charge, and as yee love your selvs. Put them not upon any evil by your com­mands, or allurements: What they do upon your command or persuasion, yee shall justly bee accounted to have done. Joab at the appointment of David place's Ʋriah in a place of danger, in the war against Rabbath,2 Sam. 11.15, 17. and cause's the rest to retire, and this occasioned the death of Ʋriah, and now not Joab so much as David is charged herewith: God saie's to David by the Prophet Nathan, Thou hast slain Ʋriah with the sword of the children of Ammon. 2 Sam. 12.9. Take heed of giving them evil example of drunkenness, swearing, profaning of the Lord's daie, contemt of God's Ministers: how forcible examples of superiors are to draw inferiors to evil, wee cannot bee ignorant: though yee give them never so good counsel to the contrarie, they are yet more readie to regard [Page 12] what yee do, then what yee saie, they believ their eies rather then their ears; they readily think, that, if you were in good earnest in your counsels, yee would not do the con­trarie: bee cautious therefore what examples yee give them: youth of it self is prone to evil, there is no need that yee should put them forward to it either by word or example.

Hitherto yee have heard of the corruption of youth, which is the first point. But it may bee said, that that which is spoken of youth's corruption, is to bee under­stood of those young persons, that have not lived under the light of the Gospel; but for us young men, wee hope, there is no such thing in us. But hear what follow's.

Propos. 2. The waies even of godlie young men are no bet­ter then they should bee.

1. See the text in hand, in which (it's past peradventure) David had an eie to himself, and spake of his own youth, as needing redress or cleansing, and then it follow's, that it was not right and streight, as it should bee.

Psal. 25.6.2. Mark that request of David, which hee made to God, Remember not the sins of my youth: then it follow's, that even in his youth hee had sins, which needed forgiveness.

3. Consider that warning which St Paul gave to his scholar Timothie, 2 Tim. 2.22. Flie the lusts of youth: but that admoni­tion had been in vain and to no purpose, if hee had been obnoxious to no such things: and yet saie's St Bernard well of this Timothie, Give mee but one Timothie in these daies, and if hee will eat gold, hee shall have it: So eminent an example hee was of mortification, that St Paul was fain to take him off from the strictness of his cours, giving him that advice,2 Tim. 5.23. Drink no longer water, but take a little wine for thy stomacks sake, and thine often infirmities. If then so holie a young man, as was Timothie, was obnoxious to lusts, what young man can bee free?

And this point is not to bee wondred at,

1. Becaus even in God's dearest children there remain's natural corruption, which in youth doth most shew it self, affection then beeing grounded and strong, and reason raw.

2. Becaus the Divel is most studious, and hath an especial affection to entrap this age, as beeing that, in which God re­quire's especially to bee served.

Ʋse. The consideration hereof serv's briefly to set a further edg upon the foregoing exhortations.

1. Let those that have young ones committed to their trust, bee thee more careful for them, and watchful over them; Let them not saie, my children, my servants are pi­ous and godlie, they trulie fear God, and therefore I may bee the more assured of them, that they will not miscarrie them­selvs. Yee may bee deceived in your judgment of them: Hy­pocrisie is spun of a fine thread,2 Cor. 11. 2 Tim. 3.5. the divel can turn himself into an Angle of light: They that have a form of godliness, may denie the power of it: Whatsoever therefore their shew's and preten­ses are, yet intermit not your care for them, and watchful­ness over them: yea, though they bee trulie pious and godlie, yet they are sanctified but in part; in the best there are re­mainders of corruption, whence miscarriages are prone to issue. And the divel is busie to assail them with his temptati­ons, and now it's no wonder, if they bee somtimes overborn by such an adversarie. Though therefore they bee never so pious and godlie, yet continue your care for them, and bee watchful over them: Though Timothie was so eminently pi­ous, yet St. Paul forbear's not to admonish him,2 Tim. 2.22. to flie the lusts of Youth.

2. Let young men, all young men, bee exhorted to bee watchful and circumspect over themselvs and their waies. Wax not secure upon this presumtion, that God hath wrought the work of grace in you in truth, as if therefore yee were safe-guarded against all misdemeanours; for

1. Yee may bee deceived in the judgment of your selvs: true grace hath its counterfeit: yee may think yee have true faith, when it's but the stinking weed of presumtion, and so for other graces: and it's a shrewd signe, that it is so, if upon this ground yee shall neglect your watch over your waies; and if it bee so, know, that yee may, and cannot but fall away totally and finally, so that town and countrie shall ring of your apostasie, and yee may becom unsavorie salt, fit for the dunghil: It was so with King Joash of Judah, who [Page 14] for all his fair shew's all the daies of Jehoiada, fell yet after­wards to idolatrie at the solicitation of his Princes,2 Chro. Act. 8 and murdered Zachariah the son of Jehoiada. It was so with Simon Magus, who beleived and was baptized, and yet afterwards, offered to buie the gifts of the Holie Ghost, and was affirmed of St. Peter to bee in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquitie.Col. 4.14. It was so with Demas, whom St. Paul reckoned among the Saints, and yet afterwards the same Apostle com­plain's,2 Tim. 4.10. that hee had forsaken them, and embraced this present world. And so wee have seen it to bee with others, whose Sun hath set at noon, and their light ended in darkness; and so it may bee with you for all your fair shew's, and therefore bee not secure, but look to your selvs.

2. If yee finde the work of grace in your selvs in truth, yet it's but in part, and there remain's corruption in you in part: in the best, there is flesh and spirit, old and new man, grace and corruption,Gen. 25.21.23 as Iacob and Esau in the womb of Rebeccah, struggling each with other; bee not therefore secure, but maintein your watch. It's here observable, that to them, in whom God hath wrought to will and to do, Phil. 2.12.13. even of his own good plea­sure, the Apostle yet give's advice, to work out their salvation with fear and trembling: Rom. 11.29. and no wonder, for (bee it granted that, the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, & consequently that the work of grace beeing begun in truth, yee are secured against total and final apostasie; yet, (if yee look not the bet­ter to your selvs) yee may fall fouly into scandalous sins, and so may lose grace in som degrees, and deprive your selvs for a time of the comforts of grace, and dishonor God, and shame your holie profession, as manie have don; which is no small inconvenience: Oh therefore for the avoiding of it, watch over your selvs, according to the foregoing directi­ons: And, finding anie miscarriage, of which yee are guil­tie, lie not in it, but by renewed repentance amend your waies. But that follow's.

Propos. 3. Young men must cleans or redress their waies. It's clear in the Text; for it's here made the subject of David's question, Wherewithal shall a young man cleans his waie? And so it is here necessarily taken for granted: And to this pur­pose is Solomon's advice;Eccles. 12.1 Remember now thy Creätor in the daies of [Page 15] thy youth: And that of our blessed Saviour,Mar. 10. Suffer little chil­dren to com unto mee: And the forementioned advice of S. Paul to his Scholar Timothie, flie the lusts of Youth. 2 Tim. 2.22.

Solomon, in that place of Ecclesiastes, useth a reason to per­suade young men to this care. God is thy Creätor, Pro. 16.4. and there­fore thou art made for his glorie: for hee made all things for himself. But in a different manner, all other things immedi­ately for man, and mediately for himself, but hee made man for himself and his service immediately: And now what thinkest thou? that thou maiest serv thy self, and thy lusts, and the divel, and the world in the flowr of thy Youth, and with thy strength, and put off the service of God till old age, when thou art weak and way-ward, and hast enough to do to struggle with the infirmities of age? Oh no! Hee will have thee to serv him all the daies of thy life, from thy cradle to thy grave; all is due to him by the right of creätion; and think how unseemlie it is (as S. Basil uses the comparison to another purpose) excipere Regem reliquijs mensae, to enter­tein a King with other men's leavings? how much more un­seemlie is it to give the divel's leavings to God? To serv the divel with the first, and best of thy strength, and to think of serving the God that made thee, when thou art fit for nothing?

Object. A young Saint, and an old Divel.

Ans. Hee was no man, but a divel incarnate, that devised that saying. It's true, som that have begun betimes, do not persist and persevere, but, begining in the Spirit, Gal. 3. are perfected in the flesh; the more is the pitie: But yet this should not disheart­en us from earlie begining, but should make us more watch­ful over our selvs, that wee may persevere and hold it out, and grace our beginings with a comfortable and pious con­clusion.

Object. Manie a ragged colt make's a good hors: And manie an unhappie youth make's a good man: How manie are there, that have spent the time of their youth prophanely, som Tumblers, som Players, som Poëts, som swaggering Souldiers, who yet have at last proved honest men, and good Preachers?

Ans. I grant that som wicked young men have proved [Page 16] good in their age: It's true, God's mercie is not tied to times;Luke. 23. hee can convert the theef at the gallowes, as hee did that theef on the cross. But shall this animate us to spend the flowr of our youth leudely in hope of God's mercie? This were too high and desperate presumtion; and the argu­ment exceeding foolish: For it is a sure rule, Aposse ad esse non valet argumentum: God can, therefore hee will, is a fond kinde of arguing. I would bee loath to hazzard my salvati­on upon so nice a point. This procrastination of repentance and amendment, when wee are stirred up thereto, is a shrewd signe, that wee are in a damnable condition, and hardly ever like to mend: Here it hold's true. Qui non est hodie, cras minùs aptus erit. Hee that is indisposed to the work of repentance to daie, will likely bee more indisposed to morrow.

And, whereas you allege som Tumblers, som Poëts, som Players, som swaggering Souldiers, have proved honest men and good Preachers; bee not too hastie, Preachers perhaps they have proved, but not manie good Preachers; and you must com back with honest men too; for a Preacher and an honest man are not all one; but grant this also, one swal­low make's not a summer; from one or two particulars to infer a general conclusion, is absur'd, since such innumera­ble companies run the contrarie waie. But, if any, that have spent their younger time wickedly and leudely, have proved true converts, and good Preachers, they wish that they had never lived so wickedly: It had been much better for them­selvs and for the Church.

1. They, for the most part, smel still of the liquor, with which they were first seasoned: Examin your converts.

2. They cannot reprove sin so strongly, and so fervently, as others, who have not been so wicked in former times: their own former wickednes, coming to their remembrance, stop's their mouths.

3. Nor can they so severely punish the sins of those youths, that are too openly seen to offend in the same kindes, as they have don, rather they are friends to them.

Ʋse. Let this exhort young men to set themselvs to the reformation of their lives in the time of their youth, and de­fer it not to another time. I saie to you, young men, in the [Page 17] words of the Psalmist, To daie if yee will hear God's voice, Psal. 95.78. harden not your hearts, I beseech you to imitate David, Psal. 119.60. who said of himself, I made haste, and delaied not, to keep thy righteous judg­ments.

1. Consider, that the service of youth is specially pleasing to God. Aaron's rod was of an Almond tree,Num. 17.8. which is the first that blossom's: God will have his to bee branches of trees of the first blossoms: God will have the first fruits, and the first­born offered unto him.

2. Consider examples, Timothie, David, Samuel, Josiah, en­tred God's service young: But it's a lamentable thing to see, that, for the most part, wee begin to blossom in Autumn, when the fruit should bee ripe; wee are fain to send for the Mini­ster, to teach us knowledg, faith, and repentance upon our death-beds, when wee are readie to go to another world. It's true, Nunquam sera est ad bonos mores via; sound repentance is ne­ver late, but it's as true, that late repentance is seldom true: bee yee therefore persuaded to repent and amend your lives betimes.

3. There is nothing more odious, then fruitless old age; and how is it likely, that the tree should bear in Autumn, that blossom's not in the Spring? That old age should bee other then fruitless, except repentance hath been wrought in youth? For youth is as the Spring; therefore bee careful to amend your lives and repent betimes.

Object. I will rejoice now, while I am young, I shall live manie years.

Ans. Amend now, while yee are young, els yee will bee in danger to offer Cain's sacrifice, a sacrifice without accepta­tion; and haply, yee shall not have time to repent after­wards; what if God shall answer thee, as hee did that rich fool in the Gospel, This night shall thy soul bee taken away? Luk. 12.20. It's a true saying, Sperant se juvenes diu victuros, sed insipienter spe­rant; Young men hope, that they shall live long, but they are fools in so hoping: Yee may live to old age, for som do so, but yee neither are, nor can bee sure of it; for they are but few, that attein to it; look in your weeklie bills, and see how few die of age: Manie are taken away by death in the flowr of youth, and thousands do not live so long.

4. Consider that when young men are dissolute in their lives, it's a fearful argument of God's wrath readie to fall up­on a Nation: so when the Lord by the Prophet would threa­ten the destruction of Jerusalem, Isa. 9.17. hee foretel's, that hee would not have joie in their young men.

Therefore let parents, on this ground, bee exhorted to nurture their children, and Masters their servants, in the fear of God. When they do amiss endeavour their reforma­tion, by grave admonition, and by timelie and seasonable correction, word of admonition beeing slighted. Hearken to the advice of Solomon, and bee led on by the argument, whereby hee enforceth it,Pro. 22 6. Teach a childe the trade of his waie, and hee shall not depart from it, when hee is old: And the verie Hea­then man could tell us as much.

Quo semel est imbuta recens, servabit odorem

Testa diu.

The vessel will keep that savor long, wherewith it is seasoned at the first.

But I return to you, young men, for whose sake especially I first undertook this task. Manie of you are passed ex ephebis, yee are not now under government in comparison; therefore take yee care of your selvs, to amend your own lives, while yee are young, (the young man (saie's the Text) must cleans his own waie) for otherwise the labor of all others is like to bee frustrate.

1. Yee will afterwards finde the benefit of it, when yee com to man's estate,Lam. 3.27. or to old age. It's true in this sens, that the Prophet saie's. It's good for a man that he bear the yoak in his youth. If yee have born the Lord's yoak in your youth, custom will make it the more easie to bee born afterwards.

2. For the present, yee shall receiv this comfortable assu­rance by it, that yee are the children of God.

For so it follow's.


PRopos. 4. The endeavour of the Reformation of waies is in all God's children, and in them onely. So it was in David here, who therefore inquire's of God,Psal. 119.5. concerning this matter for himself and you. And wee see his wish. Oh that my waies were directed to keep thy Statutes! Yea,Psal. 25.4.5. Psal. 27.11. Psal. 143.10. Act. 24.16. how fervently doth hee desire the guidance and direction of God? Shew mee thy waie, O Lord, teach mee thy paths; lead mee in thy waie and teach mee. Teach mee thy waie O Lord, and lead mee in thy paths. Teach mee to do thy will. And so in manie other places. And this was St Paul's endeavour. Herein do I exercise my self, to have alwaies a conscience void of offens toward's God and toward men. And so is it with all others; there is no childe of God, but hee desire's, and endeavour's the reformation of his waie; and it cannot otherwise bee, that hee should bee in the state of grace; for the first grace, which God work's in those that are his, is to will and desire; so that hee is not in the state of grace, that hath not this desire; this is to bee found in all the regene­rate, for it's made a mark of him, that is born again:1 Ioh. 5.18 Hee that is born of God sinneth not: Not that anie man in this life at­tein's to an estate of impeccabilitie, to bee void of sin. It's the voice of Solomon in the old Testament, Who is hee, 2 Chro. 6.36. that live's and sinneth not? And of St James in the new Testament,Iam. 3.2. In manie things wee offend all. Wee, wee all, and in manie things: and of St Iohn, If wee saie that wee have no sin, wee deceiv our selvs, 1 Ioh. 1.8. and the truth is not in us. But the meaning is, that when God's children sin, they sin of infirmitie, not wilfully, but either as they are over-born by Satan's temptations;Rom. or by the law of the members rebelling against the law of their minde, so that they do the evil, which they would not, and so they do it not, but sin that dwell's in them, for they would do well, they desire and en­deavour it.

Ʋse. See here a main difference between a wicked and a godlie man; the wicked man sin's and make's it his pastime to do wickedly, it's his exercise, his trade, hee doth [...] [Page 20] work iniquitie, hee is glad of the opportunitie, hee is discontented at anie hinderance:Isa. 5.18. 1 King. 25. Hee doth draw iniquitie, as with cards of vanitie, and sin, as with cart-ropes, hee so sin's, as if with Ahab, hee had sold himself to work wickedness: Satan is his Lord whom hee naturally serv's: Of the wicked it's true that our Saviour saie's of the Jews, Ioh. 8.44. Yee are of your father the di­vel, and his lusts yee will do. Thus is it with the wicked, but it's quite contrarie with the children of God; they sin indeed, but they are not workers of iniquitie:1 Ioh. 39. So saie's the Apostle, hee that is born of God sin's not, [...], hee work's not sin; though hee sin's, yet hee would not sin, hee delight's not in the opportunitie of sinning, hee is grieved when hee hath sin­ned, hee hate's it, and himself for it; finding that hee hath by sin offended God, hee desire's and endeavour's the reformati­on of his waie. It's true, wee are all of us sinners, but if wee would bee able truly to saie with Job, Iob. 10.7. Lord thou knowest that I am not wicked, let us bear this minde, in respect of sin, not to commit it with greediness, but rather to griev, when wee have sinned, and to desire and endeavour the reformation of our waies, let not our will and desire bee cold and idle, but earnest and industrious: As the hungrie person cast's about how hee may get bread, and use's all possible means to that end, so let us (with David in the Text) cast about how, and wherewithall wee may cleans our waie, and not fail to use all possible means to effect it.

Propos. 5. It's an hard thing, and business of great difficultie, for young men to cleans their waie, to reform their lives.

It's manifest that David, in the Text in hand, speak's of it, as such. And (if when a godlie man doth his best to reform his life, hee doth yet oft, and manie waies offend, as the A­postle saie's,Iam. 3.2. In manie things wee offend all: wee all, even the best of us, and that in manie things) it is then as cleer as the Sun, that it is a matter of great difficultie, for a young man to reform his waies. And it's further evident upon these grounds.

1. Corruption of nature is strong in young men, and evil affections settled in them, and foolishness bound up in their hearts. Pro. 22.15.

2. Manie times custom of sinning hinder's the young man [Page 21] from reforming his waies, so the Prophet saie's of it. Can the Aethiopian change his skin, and the Leopard his spots? Jer. 13.23. Then may yee do good, that are accustomed to do evil. For it is a true saying, Consuetudo est altera natura, Custom is another nature; and of na­ture it's no less true that the Poët saies.

Naturam expellas furcâ licèt, usque recurret. Drive awaie nature with a pitch-fork, yet it will return. It must then bee necessarily granted, that it's an hard thing for young men to reform their waies.

3. Remember the four provocations to sin, which St Am­brose observ's in the Prodigal, which are oft in other young men.

1. His portion, which enable's him to the committing of sin: which if hee hath in his possession, now hee is enabled to lewd living; if hee hath it but in hope, even this doth em­bolden him to wicked courses.

2. His fathers indulgence, by means whereof that is with­held from him, by which hee should bee curbed, and kept in aw, namely severitie of discipline.

3. His companie, lewd young men, like himself, from whom hee shall not hear anie thing, but evil counsel, and en­couragement to, and in evil, and disheartnings from the waie of obedience; nor see anie thing, but evil example, which hath a strong power to corrupt.

4. His youth, in which there is heedlesness, and inexperi­ence: In all which respects, it cannot but bee a difficult matter, for young men to reform their waies.

4. If wee compare child-hood and youth together, wee shall finde, that childe-hood is far more easily kept in order, and restrained from sin: for

1. The age it self is weak, and less acquainted with vice.

2. It is fearful, and stand's in aw.

3. Commonly it is spent under som Aristarchus, som se­vere and rigid School-master.

But now, when young men have the reines cast upon their own necks, wee are far more prone to grow wors, then bet­ter. And therefore David, considering the difficultie of the business, cast's about, which waie it may bee effected.

Ʋse. The thought of this is profitable, both for them, [Page 22] that have young ones committed to their care, and for young ones themselvs.

1. For them that have the care of youth committed to them, Parents, Masters, School-masters, Guardians: Let the thought of this, move them (in pitie and compassion towards the young persons, with whom they are put in trust) to bee so much the more helpful to them. Consider, I be­seech you.

1. How necessarie it is for young ones to reform their waie: Death is an impartiall officer, not sparing any for their youth: How many young men see wee daily taken out of this world? and it's woful to them, and of sad con­sequence, if death shall make a divorce between soul and bodie, before a divorce bee made between them and their sins:Rom. 6.21. Jam. 1.15. The issue of sin (repentance not coming between) is death: And sin, beeing perfected, bring's forth death, not onely the first death, the perfection of which is the separation of the soul from the bodie, but also the second death, the per­fection of which is the casting of the sinner both in soul and bodie from God the fountain of happiness, and his exclusion from everlasting happiness, then which there is no greater loss; nay, none equal to it, and the casting of him into hell and the torments of it, which are endless, eas­less, and remediless,Mar. 9. Matth. 25. where the worm never die's, and the fire never goe's out; even utter darkness, where is weeping and wailing, gnashing of teeth, and wringing of hands, and all for ever.

2. How difficult a task this Reformation of waies is for young men, how many hinderances there are in the wale of it, and how many allurements they have to go on in their sinful courses: And in both these respects bee yee readie to give them an helping hand; do, what lie's in you to reclaim them from their sins, and so to prevent their everlasting undoing: yee would readily think it your dutie, to prevent any temporarie mischief towards them in their bodies or estates: Know that the soul is far more excellent then either estate or bodie, and therefore (as yee would shew any love unto them) bee specially careful to prevent the ruine of their souls, by helping them in this great and difficult business, the cleansing of their waies.

2. For young men themselvs, let not this difficultie of cleansing your waies dis-hearten you from attempting this business, let it rather caus you more diligently to set about it. It's a true saying, [...], the things are com­monly more excellent in which there is greater difficultie: the difficultie therefore of this work, and the opposition that Satan make's against it, argue's the excellencie and useful­ness of it: I remember a passage of our learned Whitaker, that it was an evident argument of speciall worth and good­ness in Luther, that the Jesuits were such bitter enemies to him: as it's an argument of good fruit on the tree, when yee see boies throwing sticks at it; so doth it argue the Re­formation of young mens waies to bee specially excellent and useful, that Satan doth so much oppose it, and cast so many rubs in the waie: By how much therefore Satan seek's more to hinder you in the cleansing of your waies, by so much more, beeing young, applie yee your selvs to the do­ing of it. To do easie things is no great matter of prais, but to effect things in which wee finde difficultie and meet with opposition, this is prais-worthie, yea, hoc aliquid est voluisse, it's somthing, that wee would do it: Yee therefore, that are young men, bee yee persuaded, the more difficultie there is in it, so much the more sedulously to endeavour the cleansing of your waies: Labor to see what is amiss in them, and use your best endeavours for the amendment of them. And for your encouragement in this kinde, consider what follow's. Though it bee difficult, yet

Propos. 6. It's possible for young men to reform and amend their waies. It's plain in the text.

It's possible, I saie, but not by your own abilities, nor by the strength of your own free-will; for it's a business above us; it's true, that the Apostle saie's,2 Cor. 3.5. Wee have no sufficiencie as of our selvs, so much as to think a good thought, all our sufficiencie is of God. And, for this particular business in hand, wee hear what repenting Ephraim said, Turn mee, and I shall bee turned; Jer. 31. Cant. 1.4. and the Church, Draw us, and wee will run after thee. But yet it is possible by the help of God's grace, which use's not to bee [Page 24] wanting to them, that set themselvs conscionably to the bu­sinesses, which God hath enjoined unto them.

And the feasibleness of it appear's in this, that it hath been effected in others, as David, Timothie, &c. what others have don, wee may do, by the help of the same grace of God, by which they have effected it.

Ʋse 1. Let us not presume of our own strength in a business of this nature, nor set up the Reformation of our waies, as if, of our selvs, wee were able to effect it, but crave the aid of God: hear what Jehoshaphat said, when Moab, Edom, and Ammon invaded his Kingdom, and so let us saie of our sins, setting our selvs to the redress of our waies, Wee have no might against them, 2 Chro. 20.12. neither do wee know what to do, but our eies are upon thee: and as David went against Goliah, so let us set our selvs against our sins in the amendment of our waies,1 Sam. 17.45. In the Name of the Lord of Hosts. But yet

2. Let not the difficultie of this business dis-hearten you from attempting it, but let the possibilitie of effecting it, animate you to this enterprise: were it (as difficult, so) im­possible, yee might have somwhat to saie for your selvs, by which to excuse your selvs in the neglect of it: for, though som men will attempt things, in which they finde difficultie, yet no wise man will attempt impossibilities: But, since (though it bee difficult, yet) it's possible, all excuse shall bee taken away from you, if yee neglect this business, the very possibilitie of it shall ora obturare, bolt up your mouths, yee shall have nothing whereby to apologize for your selvs, your sin will bee out of measure sinful, and your follie unspeak­able. If yee, neglecting the studie of the amendment of your waies, perish, yee may thank, or rather blame your selvs,Hos. 13.9. not God: it will bee most true, Perditio tua ex te, Thy destruction is of thy self. As therefore yee love your selvs, I beseech you, young men, yea, all, to set your selvs to the cleansing of your waies. It's difficult, but it's possible. It's true,

Propos. 7. Man of himself know's not how to cleans his waie. And this made David to go to God with this enquirie, [Page 25] Wherewithall shall a young man cleans his waie? And it's mani­fest, for of our selvs wee are ignorant of God's waies: and, as the Prophet said of the Jews, Wee are wise to do evil, but, Jer. 4.22. to do good, wee have no understanding: wee know how to sin; how to repent wee know not; beeing like the sheep, that hath skill to wander, and to go astraie, but hath no skill to return to the fold.

The ground of this is our fall in Adam, whereby it's com to pass, that wee have defaced that glorious image of God, according to which wee were creäted, and have contracted to our selvs the contrarie corruption; and, amongst the rest, wee have hereby exstinguisht that light, which God had set up in our mindes, by which wee were enabled at the first, and might still have been able, (had wee not wilfully dis­abled our selvs,) to know whatsoever conduced to our good, and darkness of minde hath com in the room of it, so that that description of the Gentiles agree's to us,Eph. 4.18. 1 Cor. 2.14. having our understandings darkened, so that wee neither do, nor can per­ceiv the things of the spirit of God, and, (though wee have skill in affairs of the world, and skill to ruine our selvs by sin, yet) wee have no skill of our selvs, in the things that con­cern our everlasting Salvation.

Ʋse 1. Let us bewail our own ignorance and blinde­ness; Oh the heavie complaints that wee hear made by those, that laie under the burden of bodilie blindness! how much more caus have wee to lament the blindeness of our mindes? as it is of far more dreadful consequence: yea, let us bewail our fall in Adam, which hath occasioned it: think what goodlie gods wee are becom, such as have eies, Psal. 115.5. Gen. 3.6. and see not: where is the Divel's promiss, Yee shall bee as gods knowing good and evil? oh what fools were wee to believ that lying spirit? wee affected more then was meet for us, and wee have lost what wee had; wee would bee gods, and wee are hardly men, but beasts in the shape of men; as brute beasts, without understanding: desperate fools that wee were! oh bee wee ashamed of it: And, complaining of our natural blindness, let us repair to God, with David's enquirie in the text, Wherewithall shall a young man cleans his waie? Lord, wee have don amiss, our waies are cor­rupt, [Page 26] how shall wee redress them? And, as Saul, afterwards blessed Paul, let us saie to God, Lord, what wilt thou have thy servant to do? Act. 9 6. Psal. 143.10. and ceas not to join with David in that suit, Teach mee to do Thy will.

2. Let us bee thankful to God for the means of Instruction, that wee have, as a written word, so men, like our selvs, in any measure able and willing to shew us how to amend our waies: bless God for such parents, masters, ministers: ap­plie your selvs to them for instruction and guidance in a business of such moment, to your parents, to your masters, bee­ing in any measure able to direct you: especially let this bee your care in respect of the Ministers of God set over you. Ask the Priests concerning the law, Hag. 2.11. Mal. 2.7. saie's God. And in ano­ther place, The Priests lips should preserv knowledg, and they should seek the law at his mouth. In a dark night wee are thankful for a light, and readie to follow it: A blinde man is glad of a guide, and willing to bee guided by him: the ministers of God are lights to men, that are in the dark, and guides to the blinde: bee yee thankfull to God for them, bee yee readie to ask counsel of them, and no less readie to accept of their advice: and, as Jotham ad­vised the men of Shechem,Judg. 9.7. Hearken to them, that God may hearken to you.

3. If yee have any knowledg of, and insight into this business of the amendment of life, bee not proud of it, as if yee had this of your selvs, but acknowledg your own natural blindeness, and let God have the prais of it: it's true of this, that our Saviour saie's, Flesh and bloud hath not revealed it unto you, Matth. 16.17. but my father that is in heaven: and therefore saie in this respect with the Psalmist, Non nobis, Psal. 115.1. Domine, &c. Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy Name give Glorie.

4. Having insight into this business, let us, out of pitie, bee readie to teach others, that need our help, and impart our knowledg unto them. It's an act of charitie to shew others the waie, they beeing ignorant of it, and to guide the blinde: thus is it with men naturally, they are blinde and ignorant in this business of amendment of waies; let us therefore charitably teach and guide them in it: This espe­cially [Page 27] concern's us Ministers in regard of the people, with whose souls wee are put in trust; but it belong's also to you, that are parents and masters, in respect of your chil­dren and servants, yea, to us all mutually: Having received the talent, hide it not in a napkin, but emploie it to the ad­vantage of our Lord and Master.Matth. 25. v. 21, 23. v. 28, 30. Remember that Parable of the Talents; see what reward God promises and assigne's to the faithful dispensers, and the dreadful sentence against the unfaithful servant. Hear what the Apostle saie's, The manifestation of the spirit is given to every one to profit withall: 1 Cor. 12.7. wee shall not have the less by imparting to others; yea, wee shall have the more: It's a true saying, Docendo disces; by teaching thou shalt learn: The talent taken from the unfaithful servant is given to him that had ten talents: for, Matth. 25.28. ver. 29. to every one that hath, shall bee given. In all respects then bee persuaded to im­part to others, for their benefit, the knowledg which in this, or any kinde God hath bestowed upon you.

But, though it bee true, that of our selvs wee know not how to go about the cleansing of our waie, yet

Propos. 8. God is readie to teach us, if wee have recours to him for advice. This is also plain in the Text: Yea, see how readily hee offer's himself in this kinde by the Psal­mist, Com, my children, hearken to mee, Psal. 34.11. and I will teach you the fear of the Lord. And this wee may argue, as our Saviour ar­gue's the like, What man is there of you, Matth. 7.9. whom if his son ask's bread, will hee give him a stone? or, if hee ask's a fish, will hee give him a serpent? If then yee, beeing evil, 10.11. know how to give good things to your children, how much more shall your heavenlie Father give good things to them that ask him? So may the point in hand bee argued: what man is there, who shall give som business in Charge to bee don by his childe or servant, but hee will also bee readie to direct him how to do it, if his childe or servant shall crave his direction? If an earth­lie father will bee so readie to direct his childe or servant, how much more shall God bee readie to teach us, if wee seek to him for advice?

Ʋse 1. See and admire the goodness and infinite mer­cie of God: as if a father, having once set up his childe [Page 28] in the world, and put a stock into his hand, and the son ha­ving by il husbandrie embezled it, hee shall again set him up, and give him a new stock, with which to trade; who will not admire the love of such a father? This is the case here: God in Creätion gave us a stock, consisting in part of the knowledg of his will; but wee, by our fall in Adam, have forfeited this knowledg, and brought ignorance and blindness upon our selvs; yet hee is readie to give us di­rection, how to amend our lives, and cleans our waie, wee seeking to him for it: how great then is his mercie? Let us not fail, to give him the glorie due to his Name for such mercie.

2. Let us imitate our heavenlie Father, beeing readie to teach others, and to give them advice, especially, if they, bee­ing ignorant, shall desire our help. But of this before.

3. Let this encourage us to seek to God for advice in this business of so great importance, as is the cleansing of our waie. But of this also before.

Yea, God give's his answer and resolution in this text, and set's down the means, which if yee will conscionably use, yee shall finde this great work effected. For so it follow's.

Propos. 9. The waie whereby a young man, any young man, all young men, may cleans their waie, is to take heed thereto accord­ing to God's Word, to frame our life and conversation according to the Law of God, and just as Hee hath commanded. It's plain in the text, as the answer to the fore-going question: And it further appear's:

Psal. 119.105.1. The Word of God is a light unto our feet, and a lamp to our paths, so that it serv's, if wee take heed thereto, to shew us our waie, and to keep us from stumbling, as a Lanthorn or torch in a dark night.

2. Whereas the begining of the cleansing of our waie, the amendment of our lives, is the sight of our sins, this Word of God is a Glass, wherein wee may see what is amiss in the cours of our life, that so wee may amend it; as a Looking-glass discover's to us any spot in our faces, that wee may wash it away: So St James resemble's it, while hee saie's,Jam. 1.24. If any bee an hearer of the Word, and not a doer, hee is like [Page 29] a man looking his face in a glass, &c.Rom. 3.20. and so St Paul tell's us plainly, that by the law is the knowledg of sin.

3. The Word of God is a Rule or Square, whereby wee may level or streighten our waies.

4. And, whereas our passage in this world is over hils and dales, God's Word is like a beacon standing on an high hill, to give us direction in our journey; or (if on the sea of this world) this law is our load-star, yea, our Card or Com­pass to guide us in our Navigation.

5. Nay, if wee bee blinde, and consequently subject to go astraie, to stumble and fall, this Word of God is, not one­ly a Staff, by the help of which to feel out the waie, but also Eie-salve to cure our blindeness, and recover our sight: So saie's David, The Commandement of the Lord is pure, enlighte­ning the eies. Psal. 19.8.

6. In a word, this Word of God is a perfect word, every waie useful, as the Apostle saie's excellently, The whole Scripture is profitable, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Tim. 3.16.

1. Would'st thou know the will of God, and his truth? This Word will bee able to teach thee what thou should'st do, and believ.

2. Would'st thou redargue error? this Word of God wil perform it to thy hand. Verum est index sui & obliqui. Truth shewe's it self, and it's contrarie. That is true, which is consonant to the Word, therefore that which is dissonant, is error and falshood.

3. Is any thing amiss in thy life? God's Word will cor­rect it, by acquainting thee with the divine prohibition, by which it's forbidden, and the judgments of God threatned against, and executed upon men for doing such things.

4. Would'st thou do righteousness? God's Word in­struct's thee.

5. Yea, in this waie of reforming thy life doest thou meet with discouragements? God's Word will comfort thee: so saie's the Apostle, through the comforts of the Scripture: Rom. 15.4. Isai. 66.11. these are the brests of consolation. There is not any thing by which thou maiest bee discouraged in this business of the Refor­mation of thy waie (mocks, slanders, frowns or threatnings [Page 30] of great men, loss of goods by confiscation, imprisonment, banishment, torments or death) but from this Word yee may gather grounds of comfort against the same, as the childe by sucking draw's milk from his mothers brests; as by enquirie yee may see in all the particulars: against perse­cution and slanders hear our Saviour comforting us,Matth. 5.10. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. ver. 11. Blessed are yee, when men shall revile and persecute you, and speak all manner of evil against you falsly for my Names sake. ver. 12. Rejoice and bee exceeding glad, for great is your re­ward in heaven, for so they persecuted the Prophets, which were before you. Against the loss of all for the testimonie of a good Conscience,Matth. 19.29. hear what hee saie's by waie of comfort. Every one that shall forsake houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mo­ther, or wife, or children, or lands, for my names sake, shall receiv an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. Against impri­sonment hear that,Rev. 2.10. Fear none of the things which yee shall suffer, for the divel shall cast som of you into prison, that yee may bee tried, and yee shall have tribulation ten daies. Bee thou faithfull unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life. Against the frowns and threatnings of men hear that comfort.Matth. 10.28. Fear not them that kill the bodie, and are not able to kill the soul: are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? ver. 29. and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your father. ver. 30. But the very hairs of your head are numbered; ver. 31. fear not therefore, yee are of more value then many sparrows. Against the thanklesness of the world for the ser­vice which yee do,1 Cor. 15.58. hear the Apostle, Knowing that your labor shall not bee in vain in the Lord. In a word, against all afflicti­ons, to the suffering of which ye may bee exposed, hear that ground of comfort,2 Cor. 4.17. Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, Rom. 8.17. shall work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glorie: ver. 18. and that, If so bee that wee suffer with him, that is, with Christ, wee shall bee also glorified together: for I reckon, that all the afflictions of this present life are not worthie to bee compared with the glories that shall bee revealed in us. Thus is the Word of God able to animate us against all those things, that may dis­hearten us from the cleansing of our waie, yea, thus is it every waie usefull to help us in this business.

Ʋse 1. Let us bee thankful to God, for that hee hath given [Page 31] us his Word so singularly useful in all kinds for the dis­patch of so great a business, and so necessarie, as is the re­forming of our waies: A jewel it is of special price. David, in respect of that part of it, which was then written (which was the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses) could yet rais up himself and others to the praising of God: Hee hath, saie's hee, shewed his Word unto Jacob, Psal. 147.19.20. his statutes and his judgments unto Israel; Hee hath not dealt so with any nation, and as for his judgments, they have not known them, and thence hee in­fer's, Hallelu-jah, Praise yee the Lord: how much more have wee caus to bless the Name of our God, who hath given us the sacred Canon perfect, not onely the books of Moses, as the Text, but the writings of the Prophets, as a Comment there­on; nor onely the books of the Old Testament, which were the New Testament veiled, but also the books of the New Testament, which are the Old Testament reveiled? wee may much more saie, Non taliter fecit Deus omni populo: God hath not dealt so with other people: how many great nations are there in the world, to whom the Word of God hath not com? they for want of it sit in darkness, and in the region of the shadow of death, but the light hath shined on us: they are as Egypt under that plague of darkness,Exod. 10.22.23. that might bee felt: wee, as the Israëlites in Goshen, having light in their dwellings. St Paul moving the question,Rom. 3.1. What is the prefer­ment of the Jews? what is the benefit of circumcision? presently return's answer, Verily, great every waie: specially becaus the Oracles of God were committed unto them: v. 2. how great then is our preferment? What caus have wee then to bee thankful unto God?

2. Let us all, and do yee, young men, make use of the Word of God for this blessed purpose, for the cleansing of your waies: To this purpose (wee see) it's profitable: and for this end God hath afforded it to us: to this purpose then let us make use of it, that wee frustrate not God's exspectation: and therefore

1. That wee may see what hath been amiss in our lives, let us frequently compare our selvs with the Word of God, and look our selvs in this Glass; bring wee our words, actions and thoughts to a privie search hereby. It's the counsel of [Page 32] the Prophet,Lam. 3.40. Let us search and trie our waies, and turn again to the Lord: Repentance is necessarie, as that, without which it's impossible to bee saved:Luke 13.3. for so our Saviour saie's, Except yee repent, yee shall all likewise perish: would yee not perish? re­pent: but the searching of our waies is enjoined, as sub­servient to the turning to the Lord, implying, that (as Sal­vation is not atteinable without repentance, so) repentance is impossible without search of our waies:Psal. 119.59. and the same is implied in that speech of the Psalmist, I considered my waies and turned my feet unto thy testimonies: Oh then neglect not this business of the search of your waies. Call to minde the thoughts of your heart, the words of your mouth, the works of your hands: consider them, whether they bee good or bad: and to this end, trie them by the touch-stone of the Word, weigh them in this ballance of the Sanctuarie, if yee finde them agreeable with this Word, or not contrarie to it, yee may conclude them to bee lawful and good: but if they bee contrarie to it, they are sinful and damnable: this Word of God is a true and sure Glass, that will represent things to us, as indeed they are, and will not deceiv us: If wee stand to the verdict of our own imagination, wee may bee deceived; There is a waie (saie's Solomon) that is right in a man's eies, Prov. 14.12. but the end thereof are the waies of death. If wee stand to the verdict of men, wee may bee deceived: there are in the world flatte­ring sycophants, that for a meals meat, having mens persons in admiration, will call evil good, darkness light, bitter sweet, praising those things which will prove bitter in the end: and there are rigid censurers, who will call good evil, and light darkness, and sweet bitter: But if wee stand to the judgment of the Word of God, wee cannot bee de­ceived, by the consonancie of our words, thoughts, and actions with this Word, the goodness and rectitude of them will appear to our comfort, so that wee shall not need to re­gard the censures of men; and their dissonancie from it will shew the pravitie and crokedness of them, and so wee shall bee stirred up and excited to humble our selvs before God for them, and to depart from them. As then yee love your selvs, and would bee set right in the judgment of your waies, bee persuaded not to make your selvs, nor other men your judges; [Page 33] but bring your selvs;Rom. 3.20. and your conversation to the trial of God's Word, by which come's the knowledg of sin.

2. Do nothing rashly, speak nothing rashly, think no­thing rashly, but upon mature consideration going before. This is a branch of that watchfulness, which the Scripture every where enjoine's. The Porters at great mens gates suffer not every one to enter that would but they first examine them, What are you? Whence are you? Whether tend you? otherwise they may bee in danger to entertein theeves and robbers in stead of friends. So let us bee circumspect over our whole conversation: give not entertainment to every thought, that would enter and lodg within us; give not waie to every word, to every action: unspeakable danger may, and cannot but issue upon it: but examine them first, what are you? good? or evil? whence are you? from God? or from Satan and corruption? whether tend you? to heaven? or to hell? to God's honor and my own comfort? or to the dishonor of God, and my own horror? by this means yee shall prevent a world of mischief. Oh therefore let this bee the care of us all. And to guide us in this examination, let us not stand upon humane judgment, our own, or of others: but bring all to the triall of God's Word, weigh all in this ballance, trie all by this touch-stone: and if they agree with it, wee may bee bold and confident to speak such words, to do such actions, to entertein such thoughts: whatsoever wee may suffer for it in the world at the hands of men, they are good, they are from God, they tend to Heaven, to God's honor, and our own Salvation: but if they bee contrarie to the Word of God, they are wicked, they are from the di­vel and corruption, they tend to hell, to God's dishonor, and your own present discomfort, and your everlasting perdition: venture not upon them though yee might thereby gain ten thousand worlds. And thus taking heed to your conver­sation according to God's Word, yee shall cleans or redress your waies.

3. That wee may thus reap the benefit of God's Word for the cleansing of our waie, let us exercise our selvs constantly in it, hear it read, and preached publickly, read it privately: how els shall yee bee able to make use of it, for search of [Page 34] your by-past courses, for the trial of words, actions and thoughts for the future? Hearken wee therefore to our Sa­viour,Joh. 5.39. Col. 3 16. Search the Scriptures, and to St Paul, Let the Word of Christ dwell plentifully in you. This concern's not us onely, that are in the Ministerie, but also all ordinarie Christians: nor concern's it onely old men, that are readie to depart out of the world, but it belong's also to you, that are young men, for even to you also belong's the care to cleans your waie, to which this Word of God is subservient, Timothie from a childe knew the scriptures. 2 Tim. 3.15. Put not off this studie then either to other men, or to another time, but set your selvs to it, and even now: Consider the opportunities that yee have: the Word of God is written, yea, it's printed, so that yee may compass it at an easie rate: and it's translated into your mother-tongue, that so yee may know what yee read, nor is there danger in reading it, as somtimes it was to our Prede­cessors in this land, and is stil in those Countries that lie un­der the Romane yoke. Nor are yee told, that it's unlawfull for you to do it, nay, yee are frequently taught, that it is a necessarie dutie, and frequently excited to it: oh, if, after all this, yee shall neglect this dutie, how shall yee answer it to God? how can it bee, but that yee should finde that to bee true,Job. 3.19. which our Saviour said, This is condemnation, that light is com into the world, and men love darkness rather then light: oh therefore bee yee persuaded, both young and old, to lay hold upon the gracious opportunities, which God put's into your hands: what a sad business will it bee, if by your neglect of this grace of God, yee shal move God, in displeasure to bring such times upon you, as in which yee would bee glad to read the Scriptures and may not? do it therefore, while yee may; let no daie pass over your head without reading som part of it: this will bee a comfortable evidence to you, that yee are in the number of them that shall bee blessed: for so saie's the Psalmist,Psal. 1.1.2. Blessed is hee that delight's in the law of the Lord, and ex­erciseth himself therein daie and night; yea, thus shall yee bee en­abled to the cleansing of your waie, which yee have heard to bee a dutie, that so mainly concern's you.

Consider what hath been said, and the Lord give you un­derstanding in all things.


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