Mr. Callender's SERMON To a SOCIETY of YOUNG MEN.


THE Advantages of early Religion.

A SERMON Preached at Newport on Rhode-Island. To a Society of young Men on the LORD's DAY Evening, Jan. 3d. 1741, 2


Titus 2.6.

Young Men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

NEWPORT: Printed by the Widow Franklin under the Town School-House




It is good for a Man to bear the Yoke in his Youth.

THE Prophet in this Book pathetically la­ [...]ents the miserable State of the Jews. And in this Chapter, after bewailing their Cala­mities He suggests to them several power­ful Arguments to perswade them, to humble themselves under the mighty Hand of God, to com­fort and encourage themselves in his Goodness, Mer­cy and Faithfulness, and quietly to Hope and Wait for his Salvation. So that there can be no Doubt but that by the Yoke in the Text, He means the Yoke of Afflictions, which God had laid on them for their Iniquities, and which in the first Chapter He calls the binding on them the Yoke of their Transgressions.

That their Young Men particularly, should not too eagerly fret against God, nor abandon themselves to Dispair, He suggests to them, that there are peculiar Advantages in bearing Afflictions in Youth, which might silence their Complaints against the Conduct of Divine Providence, and teach them Patience and Submission to [Page 2]the Will of God. For as Afflictions are often neces­sary, and very useful to awaken careless Sinners out of their Security, and to shew them their Misery and Danger, and even to quicken humble and instruct the Children of God; so they are often peculiarly Advan­tageous in Youth, to teach us effectually true Wisdom and Obedience to God betimes, and so to prevent ou [...] going astray from God, and all the miserable Effects of a sinful Life: And particularly to prevent severer Chastisements, which might otherwise be necessary af­towards, to wean us from sinful Courses and reduce us to the right Ways of the Lord.

But as Religion in general is called in the Scripture, a Yoke, and as Afflictions are good only to prevent or take away Sin, and make us partakers of true Holiness, and to p [...]oduce the peacable Fruits of Righteousness. — as they serve to open the Ear to Discipline, and dispose us to bear the Yoke of Instruction, I propose to consider the Words only in this Light, as asserting there are peculiar Advantages of early Religion — A Subject which has been so often handled, that no­thing new can be said upon it; and which ought ne­verthelss to be frequently inculcated on Youth. And that both, because it is in it self, of such vast Importance to their temporal and eternal Welfare; and because they have in general such a native Aversion and Re­luctance; because they are surrounded with so many and so dangerous Temptations; and are so eager­ly inclin'd to walk in the Sight of their own Eyes, and in the Ways of their own Hearts; not suffici­ently observing, and regarding the natural Consequen­ces of gratifying the corrupt Desires of the Flesh and of the Mind, nor remembring, that for all th [...]se Things GOD will bring them into Judgment.

In speaking to this Subject on this Occasion, I shall observe the following Method. Viz.

  • 1. I shall premise briefly, that Religion is and may be compared to a Yoke And
  • 2. That It is good for us to bear this Yoke
  • 3. I shall endeavour to represent more at large, the peculiar Advantages of taking this Yoke upon us in Youth.
  • 4. and lastly, I shall make some Application of what shall be said, to this Society.

[Page 3] I. In the first Place, I am to shew that Religion in general may be compared to a Yoke.

And 'tis so called, Partly, as 'tis the Law, and Rule which God has given to guide and govern us; and as 'tis a Restraint on the Passions and Appetites and a Burden on corrupt Nature. Accordingly, both the Apostles St. Paul and St. Peter call the Law of Moses, a Yoke. It was, it seems, a customary Jewish Phrase. And hence our blessed Saviour uses that Ex­prestion, Take my Yoke upon you; by which he plain­ly means his Religion, The Submission to his Authori­ty, the Belief of his Doctrine, the Imitation of his Example, and the Obedience to his Commandments. And,

This shews us, what it is to take on us or bear the Yoke of Christ; It is to become his Disciples, to learn of him and to conform our selves to the Rules of his Religion —

These are admirably summed up by St. Paul Tit. 2.11, 12. The Grace of God that bringeth Salvation. hath appeared unto all Men, teaching us, that deny­ing Ungodliness, and worldly Lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present World.

To take Christ's Yoke on us, don't intend, a bare putting on a Form of Godliness, that we yield some external Homage and Reverence to Jesus Christ, and submit to his Institutions, and call him Master and Lord; but that we obey from the Heart the Form of Doctrine we have received from him; that we deny our selves, take up the Cross, and follow Christ in the Regeneration, and sincerely practice his pure and undefiled Religion. That we truly copy after his most perfect Example, and heartily obey his most holy wise and just Commands of Piety, and Purity, of Hu­milty, of Integrity and Charity; and that we endea­vour to cleanse our selves from all filthiness of the Flesh and Spirit, and to perfect Holiness in the Fear of God. In fine it implies, that our Hearts being purified by Faith in Christ, and being made free from the Law of Sin and Death, we become the Servants of God, and have our Fruit to Holiness, that the End may be Life everlasting.

[Page 4] So that tho' real Christianity, or true Religion is, and is called a Yoke, yet there is nothing in the Term when rightly understood, any more than in the Thing it self that may justly prejudice us against it. It is a Yoke indeed, but such an one as is necessary and useful in all Respects. For,

II It is good for a Man to bear the Yoke of Religion. Jesus Christ himself has told us, His Yoke is easie, and his Burden is light. And that it is the Way to find Rest to our Souls It is evidently reasonable and pro­per that we should submit to the Laws of God, and how our W [...]lls to the Obedience of Christ. It is plainly necessary that we do sooner or later, renounce and forsake the Service of diverse Lusts and Pleasures, and that we believe and obey the Gospel, if we would obtain the Forgiveness of our Sins, and an Inheritance among them who are sanctified through Faith that is in Christ Jesus.

The Obligations of Religion, arise out of the absolute Right and Authority of God in and over us, the Per­fection of his Nature, the Excellency Justice and Goodness of his Laws, and the glorious Reward he has promised to them that obey him. We are indis­pensibly obliged to yield a sincere, and universal Obe­dience to the righteous and holy Will of God, our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, our sovereign Law­giver, and Judge. We are his, for he made us, and therefore we ought to serve him; we are bought with a Price, even the precious Blood of Christ, and therefore we ought to glorify God in our Body, and in our Spirit, which are his.

The Advantages of true Religion are Infinite and Eternal. For the Lord will give Grace and Glory, and no good Thing will he withold from them that walk uprightly. His Favour is Life, and his Loving-Kind­ness is better than Life. Jesus Christ is the Author of eternal Salvation, to all them that obey him. Godliness is profitable to all Things, having the Pro­mise of the Life that now is, and of that which is to come. So that it is good to bear this Yoke. The Statutes of the Lord are right, and in the Keeping of them there is a great Reward.

[Page 5] The real Advantage of Religion, appears from the Constitution of Nature, and the Course of Things which God has established in this present World. For 'tis evident, that Righteousness really and naturally tend­eth to Life, and that he that pursueth Evil, pursueth it to his own Hurt. So has the Lord ordained, that the moral or Christian Vertues, have a necessary and strong Tendency to the Peace and Chearfulness of the Mind, to the Health and Vigour of the Body, to the Good-Will and Esteem of others, and the Comfort and Tranquility of our whole Lives. While on the other Hand, there is a natural Tendency in the Ways of Sin, to all manner of Evil. So that it is evident­ly the Will of God, that we should live soberly, right­eously and godly in this present World, from the very Constitution and Course of Nature; for the Laws of Nature are manifestly sanctioned by the God of Na­ture. And besides we may reasonably believe the Lord will bless the Righteous, and encompass them with Favour as with a Shield. The Righteous Lord loveth the Righteous, his Eyes are upon them, and his Ears are open to their Cry [...]; But the Face of the Lord, is set against them that do Evil; besides the many Evils which naturally follow the Violation of his most wise and holy Laws. So that if there was no future Life, but Death concluded our Existence, it would be good for us to bear the Yoke of Religion (i. e.) to deny our selves the unreasonable Gratifica­tion of our Passions and Appetites, and to live accord­ing to the strict Rules of Purity Truth and Righteous­ness. It must certainly be best in all Respects for us to live agreeably to the Nature God has given us and the Relations we bear to him and to our Fellow-Creatures. For of Necessity, this must be the Way to the Favour of God and the greatest Degrees of Happiness we are capable of. Hence the Wise-Man says, Happy is the Man that findeth Wisdom, and the Man that getteth Understanding — All the Things thou canst desire are not to be compared with 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. But Thorns and Snares are in the Way of the Froward.—

[Page 6] But if we consider our selves as made to be im­mortal, and an Image of the divine Eternity. That our everlasting Welfare and Happiness depends on the Con­duct of our present Lives, because God has appointed a Day in which he will judge the World in Righteous­ness, and render to every Man according to his Deeds done in the Body, even Indignation and Wrath, Tribu­lation and Anguish on every Soul of Man that doeth Evil; and G [...]ry Honour and Immortality to them that continue in Welldoing —

This Renders it of infini [...]ely greater Consequence and Necessity to submit [...] [...]he Yoke of God's Laws, and that it will be of eternal Advantage to fear God and work Righteousness or keep his Commandments.

And if we consider the [...] Systeme of the World the real Condition of Mankind, and the Method God has taken in his infinite Wisdom and Goodness to redeem and save Sinners; the Necess [...]y and Efficacy of true Religion, and so its unspeakable Advantages will ap­pear in a vastly stronger Light. For it is plain we are fallen and Degenerate Creatures, in a State of Ruin, have lost the original Rectitude and Integrity of our Souls, alienated from God and at Enmity with his Laws, and at the same Time are under their condemn­ing Power; Children of Wrath, Servants of Sin, and Heirs of everlasting Misery and Vengeance — And that God so loved the World, as to send his only begotten and dearly beloved Son to expiate our Oflences, and reconcile us to God, to renew us in the Spirit of our Minds, and create us anew to good Works, to make an End of Sin and bring in an everlasting Righteousness, that whoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting Life. This shews us it is of the last Necessity and Importance to receive Christ Jesus the Lord, and heartily submit to his Authority; for how can we escape if we neglect so great Salvation? It is necessary we renounce and forsake the Service of diverse Lusts and Pleasures, those Lords that have had Dominion over us, and take on us Christ's Yoke, and Parn of him; that we not only call him Lord, but that we do the Things which he saith, that we may be made Partakers of the Redemption purchased by him. And if we through the Spirit mortine the Deeds [Page 7]of the Body we shall escape the strange Punishment prepared for the Wicked, and shall stand before the Son of Man in his Kingdom for ever. For there is no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the Flesh but after the Spirit.

In fine as we are the Creatures and Subjects of God, it must be good for us to love and fear him, and keep all his Commandments always, and that in Regard both to our temporal and eternal Wellare. And as we are fallen Creatures and enjoy the Priviledges of the Gospel Dispensation it must be good for us in the highest Degree to take on us the Yoke or Religion of Jesus Christ; because there is no other Name given under Heaven whereby we can be saved.

Thus it is good (i. e.) just, necessary, and of infi­ [...]ite Advantage to us to bear the Yoke of Religion. And surely if it be so in reality to such a Degree, it must be always good, and there can be no Season of Life, in which it is improper or disadvantageous. If it be necessary, there can be no just Reason or excuse to neglect or delay it all, but the sooner, the better we begin to [...]eturn to God from whom we have revolted and to shun the Paths of the Destroyer and to work out our own Salvation. It must therefore be good to b [...]ar this Yoke in Youth, notwithstanding the strong Reluctance and Aversion we naturally have to the Re­straints of Religion, and the violent Inclinations to put it off to a surposed more convenient Season. And this brings me to s;hew in the Third Place.

III. That there are peculiar Advantages in bearing the Yoke of Religion in Youth. And indeed they are very many and of the greatest Evidence and Import­ance; and such as ought effectually to p [...]rswade all that are young to remember their Creator, and early devote and surrender themselves to his Service. I shall endeavour to reduce them to these. Three general Heads, Viz.

  • 1. the peculiar Advantages there are in Youth towards taking this Yoke on us.
  • 2. The pe­culiar Benefits flowing from early Religion.
  • And 3. that thereby we prevent or avoid the many great Dangers and real Disadvantages which necessarily at­tend the Neglect of Religion in Youth.

[Page 8] 1. First I am to shew you there are peculiar Advan­tages in Youth towards taking this Yoke of Religion upon us. As it is of the last Necessity and Importance for us to apply our Hearts in good earnest to Wisdom or true Religion, so it is acknowledged to be a very difficult Undertaking; for it is nothing less than to mortisy our Members, to crucify the Flesh, and the World, to deny our selves, to set our Affections on Things above, and to walk by Faith and not by Sight. Tho' Christ's Yoke is truly light and easie, in it self, to right Reason, or to a renewed Nature; and tho' in Keeping God's Commandments there is a great present and future Recompence of Reward; yet there is a Re­luctance in our corrupt Nature, the Carnal Mind is not subject to God's Laws, but is Enmity against them and would not have Christ to reign over us. It is there­fore one [...]rand Reason and Obligation on Youth, to take this Yoke on them betimes before all the Diffi­culties in the Way are unhappily encreased and Multi­plied. Before their own evil Propensities are strength­ened and their Abilities to controul and resist them are weakened; and above all, while God is working in them to Will and to Do of his good Pleasure.

Notwithstanding the Ignorance and Vanity, the Im­patience and Paesumption of Youth, and the Strength and Impetusity of Youthful Lusts which often preci­tate them into sudden Ruin and remediless Destruction, yet we don't find the Matter is mended by Age, or that Men are of their own Accord more inclined to Religion in any af [...]er Period of Life; Or that by gratifying their corrupt Affections they gain any Skill Power or In­clination to conquer them, and submit to the Yoke of Religion, but the Contrary. So that Youth has the vast Advantage to take up Christ's Yoke before corrupt Nature is strengthened by Indulgence, before we have had Time to contract strong Habits of Negligence and Disobedience, before the Cares of the World perplex us, and the Pleasures of Life have enslaved us, before we have provoked God to take from us his holy Spirit, and while we have for our Encouragement in the arduous Conflict the express Assurance of Divine Assistance, and that the first Fruits of our Lives will be a Sacrifice pleasing and acceptable in the Sight of God our Saviour.

[Page 9] 1. Let us then observe that it is usually allowed, to be easier in it self to take on us the Yoke of Religion in Youth than afterwards.

For tho' we cannot convert and regenerate our selves, tho' we can do nothing without the Grace of God and Help of Christ, and are not as of our selves sufficient for a good Thought, yet since the holy Scriptures, as well as Reason represent the Condition of inveterate and hardened Sinners, as daily growing more and more difficult and dangerous, we must needs conclude the Case of such as are yet in their Youth is more hopeful [...] easie. It is easier to prevent than to cure Disear­ [...]s that have already taken a deep Root in us, at least it must be best to begin with them betimes. The more [...]e gratifie our corrupt Natures, and the longer we adict our selves to do Evil, the more do we strengthen the corrupt Principle within, and enlarge the sinful Biass. It indeed the Impe [...]uo [...]ity of Youth abates with Age, & Experince convinces Men of Necessity of some Kind [...] Self-Government, yet the Evil Heart of Unbelief is farther estranged from God, and Guilt and Shame and Fear drive Men farther away from his Pre­sence, they seek out many Inventions to amuse and pacify Conscience, and to encourage themselves in their Evil Ways. The Evil Fountain don't purge it self by Time or by Running in new or different Channels. No, the native Ave [...]sion to the Yoke of Religion, the origin­al Corruption and Depravity of our Nature, like a spreading Infection grows upon us continually, so that the Prophet says, when the Blackamore can change his Skin or the Leopard his Spots, then may they who are accustomed to do Evil learn to do well.

Besides Youth is more vat ant and at leisure to at­tend to the Care of our [...]uls, than we can b [...], when the Cares and Basiness of Life engage our Time and Thoughts. The love of this present evil World to a great Degree excludes and prevents the Love & Service of God. The anxious Desire and eager Pursuit of earthly Things, The Hurry and Multiplicity of Affairs, so engross the Man as to leave little Room and less Inclination for our Spiritual and eternal Concerns, if Religion has been unhappily neglected and postponed in Youth. Prosperity takes away the Hearts of many [Page 10]from God and Religion; and the Difficulties and Distresses of humane life frequently confound and dis­pirit many others, and entangle them in fatal Temp­tations.

Moreover the Mind in Youth is more susceptible of good Instruction, and more apt to fear the Wrath of God and the Dangers of eternal Misery, which is the most powerful, and usually the most effectual Motive to Repentance and amendment of Life, than when we are habituated to the Danger, and grown obstinate and hardned to the Terrors of the Lord. For tho' nothing is more plain than that Sinners go continually in Jeopardy of their Lives; and in the dreadful Danger of falling into the Hands of the living God; and that every Moment brings them nearer to the eternal Judg­ment, and their Preservation out of eternal Burnings grows more precarious; yet their Fears decrease. And having escaped long, they presume on the Mercy and Patience of God. And being familiarised to Danger, the Impressions wear off, and grow fainter by Degrees, At least till the evil Days draw near and they find them­selves on the very Borders of the Grave, just ready to sink into Death with all their Guilt about them.

Conscience likewise is more tender and more faithful to reprove and warn Sinners in the begining of life, than when by a long Custom of resisting neglecting and opposing its Dictates, it becomes hardned, and as it were seared with an hot Iron. Moreover in Youth we experience the Strivings of Gods Spirit with us; and have more Reason to expect and depend upon his gra­cious and powerful Assistance, than after we have long quenched his Operations and grieved [...]im, and provok­ed him to depart from us and leave us to our selves, and the Power of our Spiritual Enemies. But this brings me to mention,

2. The peculiar Encouragement and Assistance which God has given and offers to Youth.

It is be reasonable to hope our compassionate Redeem­er, will never cast out any that come to him tho' at the eleventh Hour, yet we must needs think it more pleas­ing to God, for us to devote our selves early to his [Page 11]Service, and to go on to live all the rest of our Time in the Flesh to the Will and Praise of God, than to offer our first Fruits to the God of this World, and consume the best of our Time in the Service of Sir, and offer God only the Dregs of Life; & in the last Agony call upon him for that Mercy, and Grace, which we have slighted and abused all our Days.

Accordingly God has expresly promised, that they who seek him early shall find him, and has given the plainest Assurance of their Success and Acceptance. Now this naturally tends to animate and invigorate. the Mind, and raise it above Fear and Despondency. There is not such Room for a melancholy Discourage­ment, nor such Danger of sinful Dispair as if we had long refused the Offers of Mercy.

But the Divine Assistance which is promised to such as seek God early is the most solid and effectual Ad­vantage towards the taking Christ's Yoke upon us, his Grace is sufficient for us, and with his Help we may easily overcome the greatest Difficulties. The Weapons of our Warfare will be mighty through God to the pulling down of strong Holds, casting down Imagina­tions, and every Thing that exalteth it self against the Knowledge of God, and bringing into Captivity every Thought to the Obedience of Christ.

In fine Youth is the important Season in which we generally Form our Character both for Time and Eternity; It is a State of Discipline for mature Age, and eter­nal Ages, and if unhappily we let slip this first, this best, this the proper Oportunity of aplying our Hearts to Wisdom, we do unavoidably render the Work in it self more difficult, and weaken, disincline and incapa­citate our selves, and drive away the Influences of the Divine Grace that are necessary to the Renova­tion of our Nature, and the Salvation of our Souls. And we can never again expect such another conveni­ent Season, but have Reason to fear, God will cast us off for ever, and at last laugh at our Calamity, and mock when our Fear comes, when Fear cometh as Desolation and Destruction as a Whirlwind, because we would none of his Councels and despised all his Reproof.

[Page 12] At least we shall run our selves into unavoidable Dan­gers, and Dissiculties, and miss of those Benesits which in the Course of Things, and by the Will of God, are the blessed Effects of early Religion. These we are to con­sider under the next Head. Which is,

2. That there are peculiar Advantages that follow on the bearing the Yoke of Religion in Youth.

The Profit and Benefit of Religion in general I have already shewn, is much every Way, infinitly great and endless. And the happy Influence early Religion will have on our future Existence in this World and that which is to come, Is so great as to comprehend all the Things we can desire; the good Effects are so many I know not how to range them in their proper Order: However we may form some Idea of them in this Manner.

1. By hearing the Yoke in our Youth, we prevent a great deal of Sin and Sorrow: For Lust when it has conceived, bringeth forth Sin, and Sin when it is finished bringeth forth Death. If we conld be sure to secure the Salvation of our Souls by a late Repentence, yet both Prudence and Ingenuity would encline and determine us to bear the Yoke in Youth, to prevent those innumerable Transgressions wherewith God must b [...]d shonoured and of­fended, Mankind injured perhapsin their eternal Interest, & our own Souls wronged and pollured, in a long Series of Rebellion and Disobedience. Besides we shall thereby prevent all the Woldly Sorrow which may be the natural or judicial Effect of making Provision to gratify corrupt Nature, and wilfully flinging off the Restraints of Religion; And that Godly Sorrow we must necessarily feel for our Folly, and Wickedness, if ever God give us Repentance unto Life.

We can never cast off the Fear of God and sin against him, without wounding our own Sould; so that Reli­gion preserves us from those Evils that would be the Consequences of our Sins; and what an Advantage there is in early Religion on this Account appears from considering the Violence of Youthful Passions, the dangerous Temptations we are then exposed to, the Nature and necessary Consequences of those Sins to [Page 13]which we are tempted; and that Errors and false Conduct in Youth, necessarily reach to, and greatly affect the Comfort and Happiness of our whole Lives. The Consequences of unbridled Passions and Appetites in Youth are fatal. We cannot afterwards avoid, or remedy the ill Effects of indulging corrupt Nature, in many Instances. Even tho' we should come to sincere Repentance, and find Forgiveness with God, and obtain everlasting Life; yet we must in this World groan un­der some of the miserable Effects of our Folly. So that there is a great Benefit in bearing the Yoke of Religion in Youth, in that it happily prevents those many Evils, that would naturally follow, from spending our Youth in Sin, and Wickedness.

2. To bear the Yoke of Religion in Youth, is the Way to arrive at the greatest Degrees of Holiness, and to excel in the Knowledge, and Practice of true Religion.

It is the Way to become more perfect in Holiness, to become more like God, to become more expert in the Practice of all the Duti [...]s of Religion, and to practice them with more Pleasure and Delight. Tho' it be the Grace of God alone that can renew and sanctify a Sinner, and tho' God is able to do abundant­ly above what we are able to think; yet we find by Experience, that Sanctification is usually a Work of Time and Labour. The sooner therefore we begin, and the longer Time we have to exercise our selves to Godliness, the greater Progress may we expect to make, with the divine Blessing. [...] may expect [...] grow in Grace, to be continually p [...]ng forwards to ward the Perfection of the Christian Life; and the [...] we shall be more perfectly transformed into the di [...]in [...] Image, by the Renewing of the Holy Ghost. The wise-Man tells us, The Path of the Just, is as the shining Light, which shineth more and more, to the perfect Day

It is certain, Use makes perfect, and Custom renders Things delightful; and what we are accustomed to, in Youth, we grow most of all expert in. And on the other Hand, it requires Time and Labour, to conquer our unnatural Propensities to Evil, and to acquire settled Habits of Vertue and Goodness. So that it is [Page 14]an Advantage to begin betimes, not only as it is then easier to overcome corrupt Nature, before it is strength­ened by Custom and Habit, but because an Habit of true Religion formed and setled in Youth, promises a gradual Approach to the highest Degrees of Perfection we are capable of in this World. — And this is no mean Encouragement to such as perceive and own the Excellency of true Religion, and the real Happiness of recovering the Image of God; which is our Glory and Safety.

3. Again, It is the Way to inward Peace, Comfort, and Tranquility of Mind all our Days.

When the Guilt of Sin is removed, by the pardoning Mercy of God, through the Blood of Christ. And the Power of it, broken by the sanctifying Influences of the Holy Sphit; then the Work of Righteousness, is Peace, and the Effect of Righteousness, is Quietness, and Assurance for ever. The Ways of Wisdom are Pleasantness and all her Paths are Peace. While on the other Hand, there is no Peace to the Wicked. He is like the troubled Sea when is cannot rest, whose Waters caft up Mire and Dirt. Or if Conscience should be in a dead Calm, and he should flatter himself in his own Eyes that all is well and safe, or if he should amuse himself with the vain Hopes of a timely Re­pentance, and so encourage himself in an Evil Way; yet the Tyrany of unruly Lusts and Passions is pain­ful and uneasie. Whence come Warrs and Confusions in our Breasts, but from the Rage and Tumult of un­hallewed Passions. No Man can be happy while these are unsubdued, and riot in his Bosom.

We must mortify our Members, deny our selves, and take up the Cross, the Yoke of Christ, if we would find Rest and Ease to our Souls. There is no other way to obtain it. And the due Subordination and Government of our Affections, the Right Exercise of our Faculties, the Testimony of a good Conscience, a Sense of the divine Favour and the joyful Hope of Eter­nal Glory, will afford a continual Feast of fat Things, full of Marrow, of Wines on the Lees, well refined. So that there is this farther Benefit of bearing the Yoke of Religion in Youth, that it lays a good Foun­dation [Page 15]for, and has a happy Tendency to the con­stant Peace and Serenity of our Mind, which is so essen­tially necessary, that all the World without it, cannot make us happy; and no outward Circumstances, can sender us miserable, while we have Peace within, and Confidence toward God; of so great Advantage is it to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and renewed in the Spirit of our Mind. And this brings me to observe in the next Place.

4. That it is worthy to be considered, what Comfort and Consolation we must needs find under all the Trials and Distresses of humane Life, from having born the Yoke in our Youth.

However fair and promising the Morning of Life may be, and however apt we are to promise our selves continual Ease and Prosperity; yet Man is born to Trouble as the Sparks fly upwards. Of Necessity we must pass through many Sorrows, before we come to the House appointed for all Living; and under all the Miseries the Fresh is Heir to, we need such Comfort and Consolation as this vain World cannot give us. There is none, at least none comparable to Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

How miserable is their Condition, who when oppress­ed with outward Troubles, have at best, only uncasie Fears with; and perhaps the Reproaches of a guilty Conscience. Apprehensions of the Wrath God, and the Ferrors of the World to come must sink the Spirit, already depressed with the Weight of its Ca [...]a­mities. Or it Afflictions are sanctified and produce the peaceable Fruits of Righteousness in the End; yet there can be no solid Comfort, 'till they experience the Love of God shed abroad in their Hearts. But they who have born the Yoke from their Youth, can much bo [...]ter bear the Troubles of Life, than if the Pride of their Hearts, and Impatience of their Spirits had never been subdued and mortified. They can [...]e [...]rfully submit to the Co [...]e [...]tions of their Heavenly Father; knowing that He afflicts them in very Faithfulness and Kindness, and that his infinite Wisdom, Power, and Goodness are employed to conduct all Things for their best, their eternal Interest. They know these l [...]ght Af­flictions [Page 16]will work out for them a far more exceeding, and an eternal Weight of Glory; and therefore they can endure as seing him that is invisible. They count it all Joy when they fall into divers Temptations, know­ing that the T [...]ial of their Faith worketh Pa [...]ience, and and when Patience hath her p [...]fect Work, they shall be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Thus, by Early Religion we make Pro [...]ision to possess our Souls in Patience and Resignation to the Will of God, amidst all the Calamities of Life, and under all the Chastisements he may fee fit to exercise us with, for our Profit, and in order to make us Partakers of his [...]ioliness. But to waste our Youth in sinful Pleasures, Negligence and Disobedience to God, is the Way to imbitter all, the Sorrows of this World; to draw down upon us the Anger and Judgments of a righte us and holy God; to enfeeble & dispirit our selves; and provoke God to leave us without any Support. The Spirit of a Man may sustain his Infirmity, but a wounded Spirit who can bear. Gnilt and Fear increase and aggravate every Pressure of Life, or rather, they are themselves the heaviest and most insupportable Burdens. So that since we must needs be in Heaviness through manifold Temptations, it is a great Benefit of Early Religion, that it enables us to pass through all the Trials and Afflictions of this Life, with more Comfort and Satisfaction.

5. Early Religion is the Way to lay up in store, a good Foundation against the Time of Old Age. God only knows whether we shall [...]each Old Age; by far [...] the greatest Part of Mankind are cut off in the Morning or the midst of their Days. But as we na­turally desire long Life land h [...]pe to be old, it is evidently our Wisdom, and of great Importance, to make a timely, and suitable Provision, for our Com­fort and Happiness, under the Decays of Nature, and the Infirmities of Age. We all are Witnesses to the Complaints of those, whose Strength is Labour and Sorrow. We see they want some Cordial, to support them in their declining Days, and under the continual Expectations of aproaching Death, and Judgment. How deplorable is their Condition, who are then [Page 17]ashamed to look back, on a long Life of Folly, Vice, and Wickedness; and afraid to look forward, on the just Judgments of a righteous God, and his fiery Indig­nation prepared to devour them.

But if we have early made our Peace with God, and have passed a Life of Obedience, and Communion wi [...]h him, as the outward Man decays, the inward Man will be [...]e [...]ewed; the last Days may prove the best. They will be passed in the divine Favour; in a com­fortable Reflection on the Goodness, and Faith­fulness of God to us all our Life long; and in the pleasing Hope of a speedy Deliverance from all Sin and Sorrow; and that we shall soon receive the End of all our Faith and Patience, in the Salvation of our Souls; and that we shall have an abundant Entrance, administred to us into everlasting Glory.

They, who have by God's Grace early forsaken the Paths of Sin, and have patiently continued in Well-doing, and have held the Begining of their Confidence stedfast to the End, mu [...]t needs find unspeakable Satisfaction herein, at the Conclusion of Life. They have by the Blessing of God, escaped the Pollutions of the World, they have served their Generation according to the Will of God, and tho' they are conscious of many Infirmi­ties, and look on themselves at the best, but as un­profitable Servants, yet having the Testimony of a good Conscience and, God's Spirit witnessing together with their Spirits, they can say with St. Paul, I have fought a good Fight, I have finished my Course, I have kept the Faith, and therefore they can triumph also with him, henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness.

How happy is it for old Age, to be found in the Way of Righteousness, to be able to look back on a Life spent in the Service, and to the Praise of God. Such Persons are not made to posses the Iniquities of their Youth. But they derive a florid old Age from their Piety, Purity, and Temperance; at least that flourishing Health and Vigour of Soul, which enables them to bring forth much of the Fruits of Righteousness, to the Praise and Glory of God. They enjoy that Spi­ritual Knowledge, and Experience, that quiet Hope, and humble Assurance of the divine Favour, that is [Page 18]worth the Labour of our whole Lives to attain. God is faithful, to stablish them, and keep them from Evil, and to direct their Hearts into the Love of God, and the patient Waiting for Christ. But by neglecting Religi­on, and refusing the Yoke of Christ in Youth, we provoke God to our us off by Premature Death, and not suffer us to live out half our Days; or if he should spare us in the World, yet we do what in us lies to make Old Age miserable in every Respect; and if we continue to neglect the great Salvation, we treasure up to our selves Wrath, against the Day of Wrath, and the Revelation of the righteous Judg­ments of God.

6. To bear the Yoke in Youth is the Way to make a seasonable and effectual Provision for an happy Death.

Death unavoidably will overtake us sooner or later. And whenever it comes, it is of infinit Importance to us to be ready. And as we know not the Day of of our Death, nor how suddenly it may come upon us, it is our highest Duty and Interest [...] in the first Place, and above all Things to prepare to die. Lest Death seize us at unawares and we are snared sudden­ly in an evil Time, for as Death leaves us, Judgment will find us, there being no Work Knowledge on Device in the Grave. Besides the Wisdom and Necessity of being prepared for the Judgment of the great Day, every Man would have Peace in his later End, and Desires to die with Composure and Satisfaction of Mind; but this can hardly be expected, if we have deser [...]ed. Religion, till our Feet stumble on the dark Mountains.

If we would die the Death of the Righteous, we must live their Life. Mark the perfect Man, and behold the Upright, for the End of that Man is Peace. But there can be no real Ground of true Peace, and Com­fort at Death, but the Evidences that we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and are Heirs with him, to the Inheritance of eternal Life. An Interest in the Redemption purchased by Christ, affords infinite Com­fort at the Approach of Death; it disarms the King of Terrors, and enables us on the Borders of the Grave, to look into Eternity, with Joy unspeakable and full [Page 19]of Glory. And in the mean Time, it delivers us, from being all our Life-Time, subject to Bondage through the Fear of Death.

They who are early prepared for Death, have this great Advantage, to wait all the Days of their ap­pointed Time, in Patience and Security. And at last to quit the World in Faith, and Hope, knowing him in whom they have believed, and to whom they have committed the Keeping of their Souls in Well-doing. If their Days are lengthned out on the Earth, they are looking for the blessed Hope, and the glorious appear­ance of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Or if God is pleased, early to take them away from the Evil to come, the Day of their Death is better than the Day of their Birth.

In fine, by Early Religion we are made soon ready for the awful and important Hour of Dying. And this Readiness, makes a dying Bed easy, which no­thing else can do. Yea an early Preparation, gives a better Hope and more Comfort, than if we had neglect­ed Religion i [...] our Youth, and had only begun to fear God in the Evil Days, or had turned to him only on our Death-Bed. Who would not be willing to prevent, that dreadful Anguish and Distress of Soul, which we see Persons under, who have lived as without God in the World, 'till Death stars them in the Face, and their Feet take bold on Hell? How do they then for ever b [...]wail their Folly and Madness, their Misery and their Danger? And how do they warn, and beseech all around them, to mind Religion in Season, and not to depend on Sickness, and Age to prepare for the eternal Judgment?

Let this then be considered as a great Recommenda­tion of Early Religion, that it reconciles us to the Thoughts of Death, by preparing us for it; and makes our Departure out of the World, when ever it comes, safe and joyful. The Sting of Death is Sin, and the Strength of Sin is the Law, but Thanks be to God, who giveth us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

7. Again, The Benefit of Early Religion, may be con­sidered, in Respect to the happy Influence it will have [Page 20]on the Success of our Temporal Affairs.

And here we shall find that Religion is on all ac­counts the best Way of setting out in the World. And the most na [...]ural and effectual Method of securing to our selves, all the solid Advantages of Life As we are by the Will of God, to act a Part on the Stage of Life, it is of very great Advantage to begin right, that we may act well. Now our own Reason, the Experience of all Ages, and the Wisdom of God, teach us, to seek first the Kingdom of God, and his Righteousness. As we are Members of Society, as well as we are accountable Creatures, the Principles of true Religion, are the best and only right Principles of humane Conduct. We cannot indeed certainly pro­mise our selves, Prosperity in this World, but we can promise our selves, what is a great deal better; even that all Things shall work together for our gre [...]est Good, our spiritual and eternal Welfare; for so they use to do, to them that love God, who are the Call­ed according to his Purpose. We ought not desire any other Circumstances in Life, than what God sees, on the Whole of Things to be Best for us: And by take­ing on us his Yoke in Youth, we effectually secure the Care and Blessing of his Providence.

Tho', the Reward of the Righteous, is not Riches, or Honour, or any earthly Good; yet Godliness is pro­fitable unto all Things, and has the Promise of all Things pertaining to Life, as well as to Godliness, that, our heavenly Father sees we have Need of; and can use and employ for his Glory, and our own eter­nal Happiness. God's Providence governs the World, and both Riches and Honour, come of him, in his Hand is Power and Might, and in his Hand it is to make great; and to give Strength to all. It is therefore evi­dently our Wisdom, and Prudence to acknowledge God in all our Ways, that so he may direct and succede our Affairs. And there is also a real and natural Con­nection between Obedience to the Laws of God, and humane Happiness; for as Sin originally brought in Death and Sorrow, so great Part of our Miseries on Earth, are the proper Effects of our own Folly and Wickedness. By Diligence and Industry, Frugality and Temperance, Fidelity, Truth and Charity, by Humility [Page 21]and the Fear of the Lord, are Riches and Honour & Life. And hence the Holy Spirit has repeated it: What Man is He that desireth Life and loveth Days, that he may see Good, let him refrain his Tongue from Evil, his Lips from speaking Guile, let him depart from Evil, and do good, let him seek Peace and pursue it. For the Eyes of the Lord are over the Righteous, his Ears are open to their Prayers, but the Face of the Lord is set against them that do Evil.

8. Early Religion naturally tends to gladden the Hearts of our Friends and Relatives.

It is the Duty and usually the Ambition of Youth to gain the Esteem of their Parents and Benefactors, and recommend themselves to the Good-Will of all Men. Now this is done in the best Manner, and most effectually, by a sincere Obedience to the Gospel of Christ. For Religion really approves it self to every Man's Conscience, to be true Wisdom and Excellence. And genuine Religion in Youth, is so beautiful and amiable a Character, that all Men admire it. The greatest natural Abilities and the most promising Genius, cannot give so much Pleasure and Satisfaction to our Friends, as a true Sence of Religion. Appli­cation to, and Success in Business, tho' highly pleas­ing to our Friends, can by no Means give them so great Joy, as to see our Souls in Health, and Prosper­ing in the Grace of God. And why should it, since Religion is really the One Thing needful? What shall it profit a Man to gain the whole World, and lose his own Soul? There is no Proportion between Time and Eternity. Industry and Diligence about Temporal Concerns, makes Spiritual Slothfulness, and Negligence about our eternal Interest, to appear the more dangerous and inexcusable. The greatest Talents, misaply'd, only enable us to dishonour God the more; and expose the Sinner, to an heavier Con­demnation. For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom Men have com­mitted much, of him they will ask the more. To Man he saith, The Fear of the Lord, that is Wisdom, and to depart from Evil, is Understanding.

[Page 22] If Parents are themselves irreligious, yet they can scarce help being pleased to see their Children walk­ing in the Paths of Truth, and Life. Such Children are a Credit to them, and more useful than other­wise. But if Parents are themselves the Children of God, then it is a double Joy, to see Christ formed in their Ofspring. This is what they have above all Things desired for them, and even travailed again for them, that they might be born from above, and of the Spirit of God. It is an unspeakable Anguish to a religious Parent, to see one of his Children become a Child of the Devil, and an Enemy to God, and go­ing down to the Chambers of Death. And it is equal Pleasure to see their Children adopted into the the Number of God's Children, regenerated and creat­ed anew in Christ Jesus, and become Heirs of eter­nal Glory.

And as this is the most moving Argument, to per­swade Parents, to bring up their Children, in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord, that they may at last be able to say, Here are we and the Children whom thou haft given us. So it is no small Motive to Children that have any Gratitude, and Ingenuity in them, to remember their Creator in their Youth, that they may please, and gladden the Hearts of their Parents, to whom they are so much indebted, and on whom they have such a Dependance. Hear then ye Children, the Instruction of your Father, and forsake not the Law of your Mother. For the Law is Light, and the Reproofs of Instruction are the Way of Life. A wise Son maketh a glad Father, but a foolish Son is the Heaviness of his Mother.

9. It is the Way to glorify God, and to serve our Genera­tion, to the greatest Advantage.

By a religious Life we do good and render our selves useful to Mankind in the highest Degree. A good Example of every Thing that is vertuous and praise­worthy, is of great Influence, to oppose the Evil-Doers, and to perswade Men to glorify God by a professed Subjection to the Gospel of Christ. The fervent Prayers of the Righteous avail much to turn away Wrath, and suspend the Judgments of God and draw down [Page 23]his Blessing on all around us. So that by working out our own Salvation, we make our selves Publick Blessings.

And hereby we glorify God, as we answer the End of our Creation, and the Designs of Providence and Grace, and give Occasion of many Thanksgivings to God.

But few comparatively are called to publick Offices, but all Men may be truly Benefactors to Society, in a private Station. By leading quiet and peaceable Lives in all Godliness and Honesty, we may effectually serve our Generation, according to the Will of God. And particularly by Early Religion, we are likely to awaken, instruct and encourage the Rising Generation, to know and to serve the God of their Fathers, with a perfect Heart and a willing Mind. And if we are instrumental to prevent the Corruption of Youth, and promote a Reformation of Manners, we do in the best Manner contribute to the Prosperity of the People among whom we live; for Righteousness exalteth a Nation, but Sin is the Reproach and Ruin of every People. And besides this, we shall prevent a Multi­tude of Sins, and save many Souls from Death eter­nal, and they who turn many to Righteousness, shall shine as the Brightness of the Firmament, and as the Stars for ever and ever. Which brings me to add,

10. In the last Place, That bearing the Yoke in Youth is the Way to arrive at greater Degrees of Glory in the World to come.

For tho' there be no Deficience of Happiness among the Spirits of just Men made perfect, nor any Envy in the Presence of God, yet one Star differeth from another Star in Glory. We may justly expect that such as have been here distinguished with the Graces of the Divine Spirit, and have excell'd in the Vertues of the Christian Life, in Usefulness to Mankind, and in their Serviceableness to the Church of God, will here­after shine with a distinguished Splendour in the King­dom of their Father. So that from an early devoting our selves to the Service of God and a patient Con­tinuance in Well-doing, we may reasonably expect from the good Pleasure of God to be more highly exealted [Page 24]in the Day of Christ's Appearing, and when God shall be All in all.

Thus there are the greatest Benefits relating both to Time and to Eternity, following on an early Sub­mission to the Yoke of Christ. It has a happy Influence on us during the whole Extent of our Duration: He that sows to the Spirit in his Youth, shall of the Spirit reap Life everlasting.

3. I proceed to shew, That all these Advantages of bearing the Yoke in Youth, will be very greatly heightned, from the Consideration of the Dangers and the Disadvantages of wilfully or carelesly neglecting Religion in Youth.


1. If we refuse, or neglect Religion in our Youth, we run such dreadful and amazing Dangers, and Haz­ards, as shew the Benefit of Early Religion, in a most affecting Light.

Let us but only observe what Infinite Hazard there is, that if we don't bear the Yoke in Youth, we never shall at all. But either we shall die in Youth and perish in our Sins; or if our Days are lengthened out, yet his own Iniquities shall take the Wicked, and he shall be holden in the Cords of his Sins, in the Greatness of his Folly he shall go astray, and die without Instruction, and have this of God's Hand at last, to lie down in everlasting Sorrow.

1. In the first Place, There is nothing so uncertain as Humane Life.

We know not what a Day will bring forth; much less can we promise our selves many Years, and safely depend on long Life. It is the Portion but of a very few of Mankind. And very many are taken away without any particular Warning, at every Age. It is therefore extravagant Folly to neglect Religion on the vain Presumption of a long Life, which we can have no good Reasons to expect and depend upon: But a great many Reasons to think we shall never attain. For what is our Life? It is even as a Vapour that appeareth for a little Time, and then vanisheth away. If it be then absolutely necessary for us to [Page 25]bear the Yoke of Religion, before we go hence, and are here no more for ever, it is evidently our highest Pru­dence, to improve with the utmost Care, the first Oportunity we have, lest Death prevent us of any Oportunity hereafter.

But if we consider that we are by Nature Children of Wrath, that they who believe not are condemned already. That until we are justified by Faith, and have Peace with God, we are in a State of Enmity and Rebellion, and under a Sentence of Condemna­tion— What Folly, and Madness must it appear, to continue willingly in such a Condition one Moment? To delay in a Matter of such Necessity and Import­ance? To run such a dreadful Hazard, as to venture Eternity, on the slender Thread of [...]umane Life? And continually expose our selves to the amazing Danger of the eternal Judgment, and of eternal Vengeance? But to do all this purposely and on Design, and all for the Sake of Things that profit not, but perish in the Using, which we shall scon be ashamed of, and whose End is Death; is Folly beyond Expression. And yet this Folly is aggravated by its very Excuse. For, to run such Hazards, on the vain Dependance on long Life, and a future convenient Season for Religion, not only without any Assurance of our Life; but against so many Probabilities from the constant Course of the World, and the Danger that God will judicially out short our Time; this is altogether beneath that Prudence and Understanding with which God has en­dowed rational Creatu [...]s.

So that the Uncertainty of Life, puts our eternal Sal­vation to infinite Hazard; and it must be egregious Folly to depend on many Years in the World, when we know not, but that God may this Night, require our Souls of us; and then what will our Condition be, if we have refused to bear the Yoke, but remedi­less Destruction.

2. But there is another dreadful Hazard, that, if Life be indeed prolonged, yet, the Sinner will never come to Repentance; but be hardened through the Deceitfulness of Sin, and given up of God, to Hard­ness of Heart, and a Reprobate Mind.

[Page 26] If Youth wilfully defer Religion, in order to grati­fy their Passions, and Appetites, there is a great deal of Danger, that God will withdraw his holy Spirit, and lea [...] them to themselves, to commit all Iniquity with Greediness. That he will suffer them to walk in the Sight of their own Eyes, and the Ways of their own corrupt and foolish Hearts, 'till they run riot to all Excess of abominable Iniqui [...]ly, so as to bring on themselves, a quick Destruction of Body, and Soul for ever. How many by the Impetuosity of their own [...]u [...], the Councels and Examples of their evil Companions, and the subtle Devices of Satan, are [...]cried out to such criminal Courses, as bring them early to Shame, and Diseases, to Poverty and Ruin? Some suffo; under the Penalties of humane Laws; and others under the natural Sanction of the divine Laws, of Purity, and Sobriety, Truth and Justice, or the im­medlate Providence of God. Madness is in'their Hearts while they live, and after that they go to the Dead.

One Sin makes way for another, and they who wilfully refuse the Yoke of Religion, and cast God's Law behind them, are in great Danger to be holden in the Cords of their Sins, and to be insensibly lead on to other Sins, that they may at first think of with Horror and Aversion. There is a Way that seem­eth right to a Man, in his own Eyes, but the End thereof are the Ways of Death.

If Youth set out on the Principles of Good Husbandry, and Worldly Prudence, without Regard to the Fear of God and the Salvation of their Souls, there is great Danger, they will perish by some of their Spiritual Enemies. If out of Regard to their Interest and Credit among Men, they refrain from some Sins, yet there is Danger of their growing meet Worldlings, that Covetuousness will prove the Root of all Evil. We can­not serve God and Mammon. His Servants we are to whom we obey. And if any Man love the World, the Love of the Father is not in him. It will seduce him from the Truth, and pierce him thro' with many Sorrows.

If Persons put off Religion in Youth (whatever are their Motives) there is the greatest Danger. They will grow secure and presumptuous. And so [...]e hardened [Page 27]in an habitual Negligence of their Souls, and an ha­bitual Dependance on a future and more convenient Opportunity. That they will go on deferring and de­laying 'till the Summer is ended and the Harvest is over, and they are not saved. For such is the very Nature of Sin, such are the Designs and Stratagems of the Devil, such is the Weakness and Corruption of our own Hearts, that we can't reasonably expect, but that they who willfully choose the Paths of Sin for the present, will continue to choose them. Their evil in­clinations will continually gain fresh Strength; and they gradually put themselves in the Condition of those whose Heart is wa [...]ed gross, and their Ears dull of Hearing, who have closed their Eyes, lest at any Time they should see with their Eyes, and hear with their Ears, and should understand with their Hearts, and should be converted and Christ should heal them.

In fine there is great Danger that if they ever seri­ously reflect on their Conduct and Circumstances, they will be discouraged from any Endeavours to break off from their Sins, and turn unto the Lord; and sink into a Dispair of Mercy, and pine away in their Sins.

Upon the Whole. The Danger, they are in of being hard­ened through the Deceitfulness of Sin & their own Hearts; and being left of God to fill up the Measure of their Sins, and ripen for Destruction, even everlasting De­struction from the Presence of the Lord and from the Glory of his Power, should make Youth afraid to in­dulge themselves in any evil & false Way. And excite them to Work out their own Salvation with Fear and Trem­bling, while God is working in them to will and to do of his good Pleasure.

2. But if all these Hazards should through the in­finite and unmerited Mercy of God, be escaped, and they should be effectually brought home to God in their Evil Days, yet, we must consider, there will be very many and great Disadvantages, necessarily attend­ing a late o [...] a Death-Bed Repentance. So many and so great are they as to render it good for a Man to bear the Yoke in his Youth, if it was only to avoid them

[Page 28] Tho' the most early Convert will find enough in the Sinfulness of corrunt Nature, and the Errors of a short Life, to be deeply humbled for before God, and to be filled with unutterable Anguish of Mind, in a Sense of his Misery and Danger without an Interest in the Redemption purchased by Christ; yet there must needs be a deeper Humiliation and more Heart-akeing Dis­tress, when the Sinner has gone on adding Iniquity to Transgression, and has filled up a long Life with a constant Series of Rebellion against God. He has turn­ed a deaf Ear to innumerable Calls, and Warnings, has obstinately abused the Goodness, Mercy, and Pati­ence of God, his Sins are enereased over his Head, and grown up to the very Heavens, and attended with innumerable aggravating Circumstances. Now surely a just Sense hereof, must [...]ll the Soul of the Penitent, with such Anguish and L [...]tress, with such Self-Abhor­rence and Abasement, such Grief, and Sname, and Fear, as it would be exceeding happy to prevent by an early Conversion to God.

Beside, if it be so difficult, to crucify the World and the Flesh in the Morning of Life, before we have been accustomed to do Evil, How much more difficult must it be, when we have been confirmed in Ha [...]its of Sin, and the Practice of Iniquity is by Custom become na­tural and delightful, and even necessary to us. It is true, all Things are possible with God; but yet as it must always cost the Sinner, most Self-Denial to cut off his Right-Hand Sins, and renounce and conquer his own Iniquities, so it mu [...]t b [...] still more difficult to do so, after the natural Inelination has been strengthned by a long Indulgence. How hard is it for Persons to wean and break themselves off from old Customs, even in indifferent. Things, and such as are contrary to their Judgment, and Interest? But how much harder must it needs b [...], to s [...]d [...]: a corrupt Inclination grown into a confirmed and settled Habit.

So that tho' the Grace of God is able to cure, and conquer the most inv [...]terate Habits, and without it we cannot escape any of the Pollutions that are in the World, yet it is evident, they who neglect their Salvation in Youth, not only runs many dreadful Hazards, but ran themselves on certain and unvoid­able [Page 29]Disadvantages. They make Work for Re­pentance; and render Repentance it self more bitter, and more difficult.

To all which we may add, the Hopes and Evidences of Salvation can hardly be so satisfactory, and comfort­able to a late Penitent, as if he had been converted in Youth, and was able to appeal to God, That he had walked before him in truth, and with a perfect Heart. At least it must be owned, that a Death Bed Repentance can never be so comfortable, or we so sure of its Sincerity, if it were only for this Reason, That such Appearances have so often proved vain and delu­sive. And this is undeni [...]ble, that tho' a late Con­vert will for ever adore the distinguishing Goodness of God, the Patience which bore with him so long, and the Mercy that call'd, and received him at the eleventh Hour, and snatcht him as a Brand our of the Burning; yet, it will be a perpetual Grief and Humiliation to him, that he was so evil, and unthankful, and to every good Work reprobate. And that he so long abused the Patience and Mercy of God. And was guilty of so great Wickedness, Folly and Ingratitude. The Sins of his Youth, and the Transgressions of his riper Age necessarily fill him with Grief, and Shame. And tho' God has sealed his Pardon, yet he can't help lament­ing the Dishonour he has done to God, and the Injury to Men, and to himself, by his Sins. He is now con­vinced of the Folly, and Danger of an Irreligious Youth, he is ashamed of his Past Life, wishes he could recall Time, and earnestly advises, warns, and beseeches all that are in Youth, to take the Yoke on them immedi­ately without any Delay.

Should not then, such as are young, beleive and hearken to the Advice which old Age continually gives. Should they not begin, to lead their Lives, as all that have gone before them, direct and exhort them. All Men that arrive at old Age, either wish they had ser­ved God in Youth, lament their Folly, and bewail the sad Effects of it; or else rejoice in the divine Goodness, that disposed and enabled them to bear the Yoke in their early Days. Who would purposely lay up in store, a Foundation for Sorrow, Shame, and M [...]sery in old Age? And not rather endeavour to [Page 30]conduct himself in such a Manner, as will render his Life more happy to himself, and more useful to the World, and will secure a peaceful Death and a glorious Immortality? And yet by refusing or delaying to bear the Yoke in Youth, we render it unlikely ever to bear it at all; we certainly prevent our s [...]l [...]ves all the hap­py Consequences of Early Religion, and expose our selves to the most deadly Hazards, and real disadvantages.

Thus I have endeavoured, as briefly as I could, to lay before you, a Summary of the principal Reasons, why it is good for a Man to bear the Yoke in his Youth. And now this brings me to the

IV. Improvement.

1. And the first Use I would make of these Things, is to awaken, convince and perswade such (if any such there be here) who carelessly. or wilfully neglect to take Christ's Yoke on them in their Youth.

Alass! Why can you think it too soon to be recon­ciled to God, and submit your selves to the Rules of Religion? How can you think it soon enough to fly from the Wrath to come, and escape the Danger you are in of eternal Vengeance? What Comfort or Ad­vantage is there in remaining under the condemning Sentence of the law of GOD? Why will you not fly for Refuge, and lay hold on the Hope set before you in the Gospel?

Are you sure of a long Life on Earth? Or rather, Are you not convinced of the utter uncertainty of your Lives? And do you not know that if Death seizes you, while in the Bonds of Iniquity, you are undone for ever? Are you sure God will continue to afford you his Grace, or rather, Have you not the highest Reason to expect, that if you continue to abuse his Goodness, He will utterly reject you, and cast you off for ever?

Consider the Iniquity, and the Ingratitude of Rebelli­on against the God of your Lives, and the Danger of provoking him, in whom you live, and move, and have your Being. Can you conceal your Sins from him? Can you impose upon, and deceive an allseeing and a jealous God? Can you escape from his Presence Can you resist his Power? Are you stronger than he? [Page 31]Will you contend with the Almighty, and rush on the thick Bosses of his Buckler? On be afraid of his righteous Judgments, and let the Fear of God be in you, the begining of true Wisdom.

You already experience the Necessity of bridling your Passions, and curbing your Appetites, in order to your present Comfort, and all your Hopes of future Success in the World. You feel the Necessity of Discipline, and Restraint, Why then will you nor lay on your Corruptions, that Yoke which God has provided, and obey those Laws and Rules which He has given you? You are on Probation for temporal Happiness, as well as eternal Glory; and generally speaking, your Comfort in this World, depends upon, at least is most ef­fectually secured by the same Method, that is necessary to obtain eternal Life. Why then will you gratify your corrupt Inclinations, at the Hazard both of your temporal and eternal Welfare? Or, if you deny your sel [...]es in any Respect for temporal Good, Why will you not deny all Ungodliness and every Worldly Lust, in order to work out and secure the Salvation of your precious and immortal Souls?

How can you think it is not good for a Man to bear the Yoke in his Youth? What 10th the Lord our God require of us, but to do justly, to love Mercy, and walk humbly with him? To be holy in all manner of Conversation, as he that has called us is holy. And what can you lose, or hazard by Obedience to the Will of God, that is worthy to be compared with the Benefits of a religious Life, and the Glory that shall be revealed?

In fine, Do you satisfy and encourage your selves in Wickedness, with the Design to repent hereafter? And is there not the greatest Absurdity and Folly in such a Design? Do you indeed Sin with a Resolution to re­pent hereafter? Do you know or think what Repent­ance in Truth is? And, Can you possibly Transgress, with a Design to be really sorry for it? Such Conduct discovers gross Ignorance of the Nature of Repentance, or is a plain Self-Contradiction. It is only a miser­able Delusion of the Devil A foolish Expedient to quiet the Clamours of your Consciences, to enjoy the Pleasures of Sin, without Disturbance from the the Upbraidings, [Page 32]and Threatnings of Conscience. If you are in any Measure convinced of the Evil and Danger of Sin, be perswaded to mind the Things of your Peace, now in the Day of them, before they are hidden from your Eyes. If you have any Design to take Christ's Yoke on you at all, be perswaded to do it now, for behold, Now is an accepted Time, and Now is the Day of Salvation; and you know not how soon, or how suddenly it will come to an End.

2. In the next Place, these Things serve to confirm and encourage, you that have chosen to bear the Yoke of Religion in Youth

I presume, & I hope 'tis no vain Presumption, that you of this Society are sincere, and in earnest; and really aim at the Glory of God, and the Salvation of your Souls. And that you mean not to make a fair Shew in the Flesh, but to become the Disciples of Christ in Deed, and in Truth. I have endeavoured to shew you, the Propriety, the Obligations, and the Advant­ages of remembering your Creator in the Days of your Youth. And I have done it, with a View to confirm, and establish you in your happy Begining. If God in Mercy has awaken'd you to see the Wisdom, and Necessity of Religion, do not suffer the good Impressions to wear oft, but cultivate and improve them, 'till you are renewed in the Spirit of your Mind. Let not your Goodness be as the Morning Cloud, and as the early Dew, which suddenly pass away. Be not like him in the Par­able that said, I go Sir, and went not. Be not laugh't out of the necessary Care of your Souls. Be nor asham­ed of your Religion. Rather be ashamed of the Folly, of li [...]ing as without God in the World. Let no Temptation divert you from a steddy Pursuit of Righteousness, and Life. Set your Affection on Things which are above, where Christ is at God's right Hand in Glory. As you have begun well, let nothing hinder you. Be not weary of Well-doing, hold out to the End, and in due Season you shall reap, if you faint not.

It is good for you to bear the Yoke in your Youth, it is good in all Respects, and in the highest Degree. It is the best Thing you can do, both in regard to the Life that now is, and that which is to come. Yea it [Page 33]is the One Thing above all, and absolutely necessary. Religion is your Duty, your Wisdom, and your Happy­ness, your Ornament and Glory.

3. What has been said, authorises, & directs me to give you some Councels, and Warnings, that may be necessary. You see it is evidently, an Affair of great Difficulty and Importance, and in which Mistakes may be of the most pernicious, and fatal Consequence. You are trans­acting for Time and Eternity, you have need therefore to work out your Salvation with Fear and Trembling.

  • 1. In the first Place, do not mistake your own Aims, and Veiws in this Matter. But see that your Hearts be right with God; that you are sincere and upright before him—Remember God looketh at the Heart, That he searches the Hearts, and the Reins of the Children of Men. That he is a Spirit, and seeketh such to wor­ship him as worship him in Spirit and in Truth. Be sure then that you truly desire and mean to serve God, and save your Souls.
  • 2. Do not mistake the true Nature of Religion. Do not mistake the Means, for the End, and so rest in what will finally deceive you. The End, of all the Means of Religion, is to make you partakers of a divine Nature or Temper, That after you have done the Will of God, you may inherit the Promises. Be therefore as much concerned to be delivered from the Power and Domi­nion of Sin, as from the Guilt and Punishment.
  • 3. Be not contented with good Desires and Resolutions; nor mistake them, for Regeneration. Who is there that has not some good Desires in Youth? Who is there that is not so far enlightened, and convinced, as to be almost perswaded to be a Christian, and wish to die the Death of the Righteous? But an almost Christian, will entirely come short of eternal Life. Be not contented with a few lazy Wishes, or delusive Promises; but di­rectly carry your Purposes and Desires into Practice; and be, and do, now, what you wish, and design to be, and do hereafter. Strive to enter in at the strait Gate, for many, our Saviour, tells us will seek and shall be able.
  • [Page 34] 4. Do not settle in the Preparatives to Conversion. Do not imagine, you are passed from Death to Life, 'till you feel your selves renewed in the Spirit of your Mind, after the Image of him that createth you anew in Christ Jesus unto good Works; And until you can prove the Truth of your Faith, by its genuine Fruits; until you are redeemed from a vain Conversation, 'till old Things are passed away, and all Things become new; for if any Man be in Christ, he is a new Creature. And therefore you should give diligence to make your Call­ing and Election sure; and with all Importunity, be­seech him that has begun a good Work in you, to per­form it to the Day of Christ.
  • 5. Be deeply sensible, of your absolute Need of the Grace and Spirit of God, to renew and sanctify you. And there­fore above all Things ask of God, his holy Spirit, to work in you, the whole good Pleasure of his Will, and the Work of Faith with Power. As you depend on the Mercy of God, and the M [...]rits of Jesus C [...]rist for Par­don and Justification of Life, so depend on the gracious Influences of the holy Spirit, to transform you into the divine Likeness, & re-impress the divine Image upon your Souls. He that trusteth in himself is a Fool, but bless­ed are all they that trust in the Lord.
  • 6. Conscientiously attend all the Duties and Exercises of Religion. You must not expect Grace but in the Way of Duty; and if you truly desire Grace, you will choose to be found in the Way of Duty; and will not easily dispence with the Neglect or Omission of any Thing which Christ has appointed as a Means of Grace. Be sure therefore to maintain a constant Intercourse with God, in the Exercises of Piety, and Devotion; in stated, and faithful Self-Examination, in pious Medi­tation, and in the most humble, and earnest Prayer, and Supplication to the Throne of Grace.
  • 7. Watch, as well as pray always, that you enter not into Temptation. Keep your Hearts with all Diligence, for out of them are the Issues of Life. And g [...]d all the Avennues to your Souls, your S [...]nses and Faculties, with the utmost Caution. Watch the first Spring of [Page 35]Thought, and the whole Current and Train of Thinking, see that it be innocent at least, and such as tends to the Use of Edifying. It is impossible to cleanse the Life from Sin, unless the Fountain of all our Actions be kept pure. The Government of the Thoughts, is a difficult and important Part of the Christians Duty and Exercise. If your Hearts be purged from an evil Con­science, the sweet Fountain will cast forth pure Streams.
  • 8. Take heed and beware of the begining to grow slack and negligent. Lose not your first Love; but gird up the Loins of your Mind be sober, and hope to the End. Suffer no Iniquicy to have Dominion over you; and abstain from every Occasion, and the very Appearance of Evil. Be afraid of turning back to Folly, and of losing the Things which you have wrought, of dishon­ouring God, and weakening your selves by your Falls and Errors; and of the bitter Anguish it must cost you to be renewed again by Repentance, and restored to Tranquility of Mind. And remember if any Man draws back, God's Soul will have no Pleasure in him.
  • 9. Keep your Consciences tender, be afraid of contract­ing any Guilt; and fear all Sin as Sin, however pleasing, or profitable, however secret it may be, or compara­tively little; and for ever aim at Purity of Heart, and Conscience, that Integrity and Uprightness of Heart may preserve you. Studiously endeavour to keep always, a Conscience void of Offence, both towards God, and towards Man.
  • 10. Take heed of settling on your Lees. Do not think you have already attained, or are already perfect, and so grow remiss and secure; but forgetting the Things that are behind, press toward those that are before, en­deavouring to grow in Grace and Holiness, in the Love and Likeness of God. It must be observed to you, for your Warning and Admonition, that some young People have made specious Pretensions to Religion for a While, and then have shamefully fallen away, and returned with the washed Swine to their wallowing in the Mire. Do you therefore be wise by their Folly; and carefully avoid the Rocks, on which they have [Page 36]made Shipwreck of their Faith and a good Conscience.
  • 11. Take heed of Pharisaism; of spiritual Pride, and Affectation, and Oftentation. Be uniformly good, but be not vain Boasters, nor act to be seen of Men. And take heed, no Man have Reason to reproach you, with neglecting Judgment, Mercy and Fidelity. Be just, and sober, as well as devout. Put to Silence the Ignorance of froward Men; and adorn the Doctrine of God our Saviour, by an unaffected B [...]haviour, in all holy Con­versation, and Godliness.

I shall finish with just mentioning a few necessary Rules. particularly,

Plan out the Method of your Lives, so as that the Worship of God, and the Care of your Souls may be steadily attended in a constant regular Manner, with our Interruption, or Distraction.

Avoid bad Company; bid the Evil-doers depart from you, and shun them, as you would Persons infected with the most odious, and dangerous Diseases. For evil Communication, corrupts good Manners, and a Com­panion of Fouls shall be destroyed.

Flee all youthful [...]usts, which war against the Soul. Keep your [...]elves from your own Iniquities, and the Sins which mose [...]ality beset you.

Ever maintain on your Mind, a s [...]ous and awful Sense of the divine Presence. Always remember that God s [...]s you, That all Things are naked, and open to the E [...]es of him with whom you have to do. Set the Lord always before you. And behave as in the P [...]sence, and under the Inspection of your Master, Sa­viour, and Judge.

Always bear in Mind, the supreme Excellency, and Necessity of Religion. And that it is the great Bu [...]in [...]s of year whole Lives, to cleanse your selves from al [...] the Filthiness of Flesh, and Spirit, and perfect Holy­ness in the Fear of God. And that your Happiness throughout eternal Ages, is at Stake, and depends on your present Conduct.

Finally, be always thankful to God for Jesus Christ, and the Priviledges of the Gospel. Shew your Grati­tude, [Page 37]Gratitude, by a constant Endeavour, to walk worthy of him who has called you our of Darkness, into marvelous Light. Walk as Children of the Light, and of the Day, and as becomes the Candidates of Glory Honour and Immortallty.—

I heartily pray God, to bless you with all spiritual Blessings, in heavenly Things in Christ Jesus; that he will preserve you by his mighty Power, through Faith unto eternal Life; and that he will make you Instru­ments of his Glory, and the Reformation of this Place; and particularly that many of the rising Ge­neration, may by your good Example, be excited to know, and serve the God of their Fathers, with a per­fect Heart and a willing Mind. AMEN.


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