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you may ensure, cheerfulness for the rest of your life; but by delivering yourselves up at present to giddiness and levity, you lay the foundation of lasting heaviness of heart.
THE HAPPINESS OF LIFE DEPENDS ON OUR CON
DUCT IN THE EARLY STAGES OF IT. LEt not the season of youth be barren of improvements, so essential to your felicity and honour. Your character is now of your own forming: your fate is in some measure put into your own hands. Your nature is as yet pliant and soft. Habits have not established their dominion. Prejudices have not preoccupied your understanding. The world has not had time to contract and debase your affections. All your powers are more vigorous, disembarrassed, and free, than they will be at any future period. Whatever impulse you now.give to your desires and passions, the direction is likely to continue. It will form the chan. nel in which your life is to run; nay, it may determine an everlasting issue. Consider then the employment of this important period as the highest trust which shall ever be committed to you; as, in a great measure, decisive of your happiness, in time and in eternity. As in the succession of the seasons, each, by the invariable laws of nature, affects the production of what is next in course; so, in human life, every period of our age, 'according as it is well or ill spent, influences the happiness of that which is to follow. Virtuous youth gradually brings forward accomplished and
flourishing mahood; and such manhood passes of itself, without uneasiness, into respectable and tranquil old age. But when nature is turned out of its regular course, disorder takes place in the moral, jnst as in the vegetable world. If the spring put forth no blossoms, in summer there will be no beauty, and in autumn no fruit: so, if youth be trifled away without improvement, manhood will be contemptible, and old age miserable.
QUALITIES MOST BECOMING IN YOUTH. What I shall first recommend is piety to God. With this I begin, both as the foundation of good morals, and as a disposition particularly graceful and becoming in youth. To be void of it, argues a cold heart, destitute of some of the best affections which belong to that age. Youth is the season of warm and generous emotions. The heart should then spontaneously rise into the admiration of what is great; glow with the love of what is fair and excellent; and melt at the discovery of tenderness and goodness. Where can any object be found, so proper to kindle those affections, as the Father of the universe, and the Author of all felicity! Unmoved by veneration, can you contemplate that grandeur and majesty which his works every where display? Untouched by gratitude, can you view that profusion of good, which, in this pleasing season of life, his beneficent hand pours around you? Happy in the love and affection of those with whom you are connected, look up to the Supreme Being, as the inspirer of all the friendship which has ever been shown you by others: himself your best and your first friend; formerly, the supporter of your infancy, and the guide of your childhood; now the guardian of your youth, and the hope of your coming years. View religious homage as a natural expression of gratitude to him for all his goodness. Consider it as the service of the God of your fathers; of bim to whom your parents devoted yon; of him whom in former ages your ancestors honoured; and by whom they are now rewarded and blessed in Heaven. Connected with so many tender sensibilities of soul, let religion be with you, not the cold and barren offspring of speculation, but the warm and vigorous dictate of the heart.
To piety join modesty and docility, reverence of your parents, and submission to those who are your superiors in knowledge, in station, and in years. Dependence and obedience belong to youth. Modesty is one of its chief ornaments; and has ever been esteemed a presage of rising merit. When entering on the career of life, it is your part, not to assume the reins as yet in your hands; but to commit yourselves to the guidance of the more experienced, and to become wise by the wisdom of those who have gone before you. Of all the follies incident to youth, there are none which either deform its present appearance, or blast the prospects of its future prosperity, more than self-conceit, presumption, and obstinacy. By checking its natural progress in improvement, they fix it in long immaturity; and frequently produce mischiefs which can never be repaired. Yet
these are vices too commonly found among the young. Big with enterprise, and elated by hope, they resolve to trust for success to none but themselves. Full of their own abilities, they deride the admonitions which are given them by their friends, as the timorous suggestions of age. Too wise to learn, too impatient to deliberate, too forward to be restrained, they plunge, with precipitant indiscretion, into the midst of all the dangers with which life abounds.
Youth is the proper season of cultivating the benevolent and bumane affections. As a great part of your happiness is to depend on the connections which you form with others, it is of high importance that you acquire betimes the temper and the manners which will render such connections comfortable. Let a sense of justice be the foundation of all your social qualities. In your most early intercourse with the world, and even in your youthful amusements, let no unfairness be found. Engrave on your mind that sacred rule of
doing in all things to others, according as you wish that they should do unto you.' For this end, impress yourselves with a deep sense of the ori. ginal and natural equality of men. Whatever.advantages of birth or fortune you possess, never display them with an ostentatious superiority. Leave the subordinations of rank to regulate the intercourse of more advanced years. At present it becomes you to act among your companions, as man with man. Remember how unknown to you are the vicissitudes of the world; and how often they, on whom ignorant and contemptuous young meu once looked down with scorn, have risen to be their superiors in future years. Compassion is an emotion of which you never ought to be ashamed. Graceful in youth is the tear of sym-" pathy, and the heart that melts at the tale of woe. Let not ease and indulgence contract your affections, and wrap you up in selfish enjoyment. Accustom yourselves to think of the distresses of human life; of the solitary cottage, the dying parent, and the weeping orphan. Never sport with pain and distress, in any of your amusements; nor treat even the meanest insect with wanton cruelty.
NECESSITY IN YOUTH OF VIRTUOUS DISPOSITIONS
AND HABITS. When you look forward to those plans of life, which either your circumstances have suggested, or your friends have proposed, you will not hesitate to acknowledge, that in order to pursue them with advantage, some previous discipline is re-. quisite. Be assured, that whatever is to be your profession, no education is more necessary to: your success, than the acquirement of virtuous dispositions and habits. This is the universal preparation for every character, and every station in life. Bad as the world is, respect is always paidto virtue. In the usual course of human affairs it will be found, that a plain understanding, joined.. with acknowledged worth, contributes more to. prosperity, than the brightest parts without probity or honour. Whether science, or business, or pablic life, be your aim, virtue still enters, for a