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argument; for as it is true of children, that they are most prone to idle, and yet fittest to learn; so in the case before us, both are true, that youth is an age wherein we are too apt, if left to ourselves, to forget God and religion, and yet at the same time, fittest to receive the impressions of it.
Youth is the proper age of discipline; the age of suppleness, obedience, patience of labor; which should be plied by parents, before that vigor and stiffness, which grows with years, come on. It is a very different thing to make impressions upon age, and to deface the evil which hath been deeply imprinted upon young and tender minds. When good instruction has been neglected at first, a conceited ignorance commonly takes possession, and obstructs all the passages through which knowledge and wisdom should enter into us.
It is a mighty advantage to any thing to be planted in a ground newly broken up; and just the same thing is it for young persons to be entered into a religious course, and to have their minds habituated to virtue, before vicious customs have got place and strength in them; for whoever shall attempt this afterwards, will meet with infinite difficulty.
4. This is the most acceptable time, because it is the first of our age. Under the law, the first fruits and the first born were God's. In like manner we should devote the first of our time to him.
He is the first and most excellent of beings, and therefore it is fit that the prime of our age, and the excellency of our strength should be dedicated to his service.
An early piety must be very acceptable to God, because it is a sign that we have a true value for his service, when we can give him our good days, and the years which we ourselves have pleasure in; and that we have a grateful sense of his benefits, when we make the quickest and best return we can, and think nothing too good to render him, from whom we have received all. It is also an argument of great sincerity, which is the soul of all religion and virtue, because we are not drawn to God by those forcible constraints which lie upon men in time of sickness and old age.
As there is joy in heaven at the conversion of a sinner, it cannot but be there very pleasing to see a young person, besieged by powerful temptations, acquit himself gloriously, and resolutely hold out against their most violent assaults; to behold one in the prime and flower of his age, courted by pleasures and honors, and all the bewitching vanities of this world, reject them all, and cleave stedfastly to God, saying, 'Let them dote upon these things, who are ignorant of the sincere and solid pleasures of religion and virtue; let them run into the arms of temptation, who can forget God, their creator, preserver, and the guide of
their youth. As for me, I will serve the Lord, and will employ my time either innocently or usefully, in serving God and doing good to men. This work shall take up my whole life; there shall be no void or empty space in it; I will endeavour, as much as possible, that there may be no breach in it for the devil and his temptations to enter in; Lord, I will be thine, I have chosen thee for my happiness and my portion for ever. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. Lo! they that are far from thee shall perish, but it is good for me to draw near to God; to begin and end my days in his fear, and to his glory'
THE PENITENT'S OFFERING.
And behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
And stood at his feet behind him, weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and anointed them with the ointment.
And Jesus said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
THOU, that with pallid cheek,
And eyes in sadness meek,
And faded locks that humbly swept the ground,
Before the all healing Son,
Didst bow thee to the earth, oh lost and found!
When thou wouldst bathe his feet,
With odors richly sweet,
And many a shower of woman's burning tears,
Brought low, the dust to wear,
From the crowned beauty of its festal years,-
Did he reject thee then,
While the sharp scorn of men
On thy once bright and stately head was cast?
No, from the Saviour's mien
A solemn light serene
Bore to thy soul the peace of God at last!
For thee, their smiles no more
Familiar faces wore;
Voices, once kind, had learned the stranger's tone:
Who raised thee up, and bound
Thy silent spirit's wound?
He from all guilt the stainless, he alone!
But which, oh erring child,
From home so long beguiled,
Which of thine offerings won those words of heaven, That, o'er the bruised reed
Condemned of earth to bleed,
In music past, Thy sins are all forgiven?'
Was it that perfume, fraught
With balm and incense, brought
Or that fast flowing rain
Of tears, which not in vain
To him who scorned not tears, thy woes confessed?
No, not by these restored
Thy peace, that kindled joy in heaven, was made; But costlier in his eyes,
By that best sacrifice,
Thy heart, thy deep full heart, before him laid.