Obrazy na stronie

Having perhaps read or heard much concerning the beauty of wisdom, and the dignity of virtue, their youthful fancies yet undebauched, were so enchanted with those ideas, as to suppose nothing more could ever be requisite to defend them from vice and folly. Poffefsed by this lovely enthusiasm, they did not consider that a seducing object always hides at first the wickedness, or the meanness, which might attend their compliance with it, and that Alights of untried magnanimity would scarcely be sufficient to surmount the unceasing snares made use of to deceive and destroy them. Above all, they omitted the grand precaution we now recommend.

Say, my beloved charge, are you, in good earnest, solicitous to preserve your virtue untainted, and to enjoy its fruits unimpaired ? Then listen a few minutes longer to the words of a friend, who has your happiness deeply at heart. They may be the last he shall ever have an opportunity of addressing to You. May their efficacy be apparent to your friends and your country, when he shall see you no more !

While you study with an amiable ardour all that is generous, refined, and he. roic in sentiment, while you esteem and cultivate those whom it appears habitually to influence, beware how you permit what is commonly called by that name to be imposed on you in place of religious principle, or as superseding the necessity of Christian Faith. Be assured, that every system of philosophy which excludes the Deity, or of morals which affects to forget him, and the most important manifesta, tions of his will to mankind, is defective, erroneous, and treacherous. Be assured, that those who would throw you entirely upon the resources of Reason alone, by robbing you of the lights, the comforts, and the aids of Revelation, are at bottom your worst enemies, let them boast of what benevolence, rectitude, or reverence for

truth, they please. They would; in effect, draw you from a castle strongly fortified, and richly provided, to encounter distress and danger in an open field, under every disadvantage. Let not, my young men, oh let not the fattery of others, or your own self-love, tempt you to try needless experiments on the power of human resolution in repelling mischief, or in going just so far and no farther; a conceit, a chimera, by which multitudes have been cheated and undone. Avoid the first approaches to evil: fly its occafions: fly the instruments and votaries of Vice : nor hearken to those that urge a compromise between her and her opponent: they would deceive you, or are themselves deceived: it is a scheme fraught with inconsistency, duplicity, and wretchedness.-Conform easily to such customs as do not transgress the line of duty; and participate chearfully in such pleasures as are adapted to your age and situation, without corrupting your hearts or inflaming your passions. Observe the rules of temperance in every thing, while you affume neither airs of austerity, nor the parade of admonition. Let your carriage be at once mild and blameless. Cherish the domestic affections; and as you would not provoke the wrath of Heaven, fail not to honour your parents. Bear with the follies of mankind, but never smile upon their crimes. In feriling your religious opinions, remember that none can be right which would render you uncharitable on the one hand, or licentious on the other. Detest bigotry in whatever perfuanion : 4 let your moderation be known to all' who differ from you with decency; but turn with neglect from the reprobate and the rude; and if any one professing better manners should infinuate, that you cannot be genteel or liberal, without a degree of fcepticism and profaneness, compassionate his ignorance, and disregard his suggestion.

Nourish your minds, as often as you can, with books and conversation, of the

entertaining and of the instructive kind, with such efpecially as are both together. You will receive from them an elegant delight, which will render you superior to vulgar and frivolous gratifications. Forget not to “ search the Scriptures :” they have been studied and admired by the greatest, as well as the best men. Quote them in company but feldom, and never lightly. Shun as much as poflible disputes about religion : let your belief in it appear by your attention to its ordinances : let its truth and beauty be proved by your conduct. Frequently recollect the presence of God: frequently contemplate his works and attributes : implore daily his direction and blessing..

And now hear the sum of all: hear, and lay it to heart: Piety, I say Piety maintained with such a spirit, and on such principles, will be your firmest guard, your surest guide, and your most desirable companion. She will enlighten and invigorate your

« PoprzedniaDalej »