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it, and that the representation which I have made is exactly true, as well as infinitely important.

Shun, therefore, every one of you this course of danger and mischief. Especially shun, because you are in peculiar danger from them, and because resistance here will usually prove a final victory, the first approaches of temptation, the first appearances of sin, the first obtrusions of evil companions, the first sacrifice of your own time, the first neglect of your daily studies, the first solicitations to any improper conduct, and the civilities, flatteries, and persuasions with which they will be attended. Keep your hours of study sacred to yourselves, and with invincible firmness preclude every stranger from intruding upon you in those hours which God has made sacred.

Should you be solicited to visit the haunts of sinful pleasure, of gaming, profaneness, drinking, and obscenity; consider the solicitor as the enemy of your peace, who, if not decisively resisted, will rob you of your reputation, blast your hopes of improvement, wound your conscience, pollute your souls, and shut you out of heaven. With persons of this character keep no terms. Their company is baleful. Their solicitations are the poison of asps, and every accommodation with them is only a compromise for your destruction.

IV. How anxiously ought parents to prevent their children from frequenting evil company!

Parents are guardians of their children, appointed by God himself. The trust is supremely solemn and important, and the thing intrusted of pre-eminent value. What earthly object is more precious than children? How willingly, how patiently, how perseveringly, with what unbroken, unwearied affection, care, and anxiety, do parents labour to promote the safety and prosperity of their beloved offspring? How cheerfully do they give up their own gratifications, and sacrifice their ease, convenience, and comfort ? What does all this prove? Their intense love to this favourite object. For what is all this done and suffered ? That the well-being of their children may be secured.

But if this be the great end aimed at in all these exertions, they ought certainly to be directed to their true well-being, their everlasting good. To provide for them the pleasures of this world, to gratify their pride, avarice, and sensuality, to heap up for them enjoyments which at the end of an idle, empty, momentary life will vanish for ever, and to make no efforts for their endless happiness in the future world, to take such vast pains to pamper their bodies, and to neglect their souls as aliens and outcasts, is folly supreme and immeasureable.

But this endless happiness evil companions will prevent. The very hope of immortal life they will destroy for ever. From this incomprehensible danger, then, this final ruin, let these affectionate, these divinely appointed guardians secure their beloved offspring, whatever efforts or anxiety it may cost. Let no parent say, that he cannot prevent his children from consorting with such companions. Unquestionably they may be powerfully allured by them, nay, they have already become strongly attached to them. They may be deaf to parental remonstrance. They may artfully elude inspection. They may obstinately resist authority. But would any, would all these difficulties, persuade a parent to yield them up to temporal destruction ? Were it in his power, would he not preserve them from suicide, whatever exertions, whatever sacrifices, it might cost? How much more willingly, and perseveringly ought he to undergo any labour, and make any sacrifice, to save a child from perdition ?

Ordinarily, however, the case is far from being attended with the difficulties here supposed. Let the parents begin their active government of their children with an universal determination to know, at all times, where, and with whom, their children are, and suffer them to frequent no places, and consort with no company, which they themselves do not approve, nor without their permission. Let them warn their children affectionately, and from the beginning, of the immense danger always found, and the fatal evils regularly suffered, by those who are companions of the wicked. Let them allure to their own houses such companions for their children as will be at once agreeable and safe. Let them make their own company and conversation easy and inviting; and their fire-side cheerful and pleasant; and let them daily ask God to preserve their children, and crown their own labours, in educating them for his service, with success. If they faithfully perform these duties, they will ordinarily find their task easy, their children safe, their consciences satisfied, and their hopes continually brighter and brighter, of seeing their family united for ever in the enjoyment of immortal life.






« Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth ; while

the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, 'I have no pleasure in them.""

The writer of this book was, as you know, distinguished above all men for his wisdom, and peculiarly for his knowledge of the character and business of men. At the time when it was written he was advanced in years, and from his youth had with a keen and scrutinizing eye watched the character of mankind, and marked carefully the advantages which accompany a virtuous life, and the evils which attend a sinful one, and had derived from this course of observation a collection of the best maxims for the regulation of human conduct of which mankind have ever heard. The attention of this great man was especially directed to youth, probably because he knew the importance of that period. He had seen in innumerable instances that the future character chiefly depended on the instructions given, and the habits established, in the morning of life. His views of this subject he has completely expressed in a single sentence,-“ Train up a child in the way he should go, and

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“ when he is old he will not depart from it." Hence he directed his efforts peculiarly to the reformation of youth, and, as he informs us, wrote the book of Proverbs, or important and pithy moral precepts, to give the young man knowledge and discretion. The wisdom and benevolence of such a design need no illustration; and the book in which it is here executed is without a rival.

To the instructions of such a man thus employed, every youth is bound, by every obligation, to listen with gratitude, veneration, and faithful obedience. To these high and solemn sanctions furnished by the character of the writer, and to the inestimable value of the instructions themselves, is added the seal of inspiration, the decision of God, the only wise and the only good.

In the book of Ecclesiastes this great man forgot not his favourite object; but while investigating subjects, mysterious in their nature, incomprehensible in their extent, and immeasurable in their importance, he turned aside, not unfrequently, to resume the direct instruction of youth, and to promote in the most efficacious manner their wisdom and piety. In this chapter particularly he shows us that the book of Ecclesiastes, as well as that of Proverbs, was written, primarily, for the young. This chapter is what, in the language of writers of sermons, * would be called the practical application, or improvement, of the whole discourse. It commences with the text, and in this manner shows that the writer had all along aimed at the benefit of this class of mankind, as a primary object in this book, as well as that of Proverbs. While he has here left a noble example to other moral instructors, and taught them to direct their own labours extensively towards the same object, he has also laid the foundation of the strongest claims upon the affection and respect of those whom he has thus made his pupils. There is something peculiarly edifying as well as delightful in seeing a man so pre-eminent in wisdom, power, splendour, and fame as Solomon, and so occupied by the complicated business of a great empire, making the instruction, virtue, and happiness of the young a primary object of his thoughts, and the primary purpose of his writings. It is still a much more inte

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