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foolishness. But unto them which are
Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed thereto according to thy word.
writer had expressed his determined résolution of walking uprightly, and keeping the commandments of his God. But struck with the greatness of the task he had undertaken, and conscious of the manifold snares with which the path of unsuspecting youth is ever strewed, he here pauses, as it were, for a moment, to question with himself, how he should best be able to execute the noble but arduous resolution he had formed: “Wherewith shall a young man “ cleanse his way?” How shall a young man, such as I am, ignorant and unexperienced, guard his steps aright, amid the corruptions of VOL. II.
SERMON XXII. 2
a dangerous world, or how shall he so direct his conduct, as to keep himself undefiled and innocent from the great offence? And to this enquiry he returns an answer of the greatest importance; an answer, which ought to be engraven upon the breast of every young man, who wishes to be happy : “By taking heed thereto,
according to thy word.'
Here then are the two great rules, which ought to be the invariable guides of every young man's conduct; Ist, That he ought to take heed to his way: and, 2dly, That the measure of this caution ought to be the word of God.
And ist, He must take heed. This is a lesson which cannot too often, or too strongly, be inculcated upon the mind of every young Christian. Innocent and undesigning himself, he sets forward in the career of life, joyous and unsuspecting. Having felt no danger, he thinks there is none. Unfurnished too with knowledge, unfixed by principles of wisdom, unconfirmed by experience, the thoughtless wanderer is left to the guidance of wayward fancy or youthful passion, he therefore carelessly strays through the fields of pleasure, he gathers the rose buds of the spring, he twines the festive garland of joy and youth, and thinks himself at liberty to follow their delusive call, so long as they do not seem directly to lead him to injure himself or others; not knowing that the serpent of temptation is to be found even in the enchanting walks of paradise itself.
Here then is the time for wisdom to interpose her friendly aid : to tell him, that these are dangerous and deceitful guides : to tell him, that the world is full of snares and dangers, which he sees not: to tell him, that he is in an enemy's country, where every unguarded step may prove fatal, and that every thing from within and without, if not timely prevented, will conspire together to draw him on to ruin and misery,
Let then some friendly monitor, let the voice of parental wisdom remind him, that he carries a secret enemy within him, ever ready to take advantage of his weakness and inexperience : that however wise and sagacious he may fancy himself, his own heart is deceitful above all things, and will, without great care and circum, spection, lead him on, by imperceptible grada, tions, to the brink of infamy and wretchedness : and that it will, therefore, behove him to watch and examine every secret propensity and dawn, ing resolution of the soul; knowing that, how, cyer inconsiderable they may at first sight seem, B 2