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greedily will swallow any, so will they admit good instruction. If we do then imbibe false conceptions, or have bad impressions made on our minds, it will be hard afterwards to expel or to correct them. Passion is then very fluid and moveable, but, not being impetuously determined any way, may easily be derived into the right channel. Then the quickness of our wit, the briskness of our fancy, the freshness of our memory, the vigor of our affections, the lusty and active mettle of our spirits, being applied to virtuous studies and endeavors, will produce most noble fruits; the beauty of which will adorn us, the sweetness will please us, so as to leave on our minds a perpetual relish and satisfaction in goodness. Then, being less encumbered with the cares, less entangled in the perplexities, less exposed to the temptations of the world and secular affairs, we can more easily set forth, we may proceed more expeditely in good courses. Then, being void of that stinging remorse, which doth adhere to reflexions on past follies and mis-spent time, with more courage and alacrity we may prosecute good undertakings; then, beginning so soon to embrace virtue, we shall have advantage with more leisure and more ease to polish and perfect it through our ensuing course of life; setting out so early, in the very morning of our age, without much straining, marching on softly and fairly, we may go through our journey to happiness
Our actions then are the first fruits of our life, which therefore are fit and due sacrifices to our Maker; which if we do withdraw, we shall have nothing left so worthy or acceptable to present unto him. Will it be seemly to offer him the dregs and refuse of our age? Shall we not be ashamed to bring a crazy temper of body and soul, dry bones, and decayed senses, a dull fancy, a treacherous memory, a sluggish spirit before him ? Shall we then, when we are fit for little, begin to undertake his service? With our decrepit limbs and wasted strength shall we set ourselves to “run the ways of his commandments ?'
As it is uncomfortable to think of being parsimonious, when our stock is almost gone; so it is to become thrifty of our life, when it comes near the bottom. Δεινή ενί πυθμενί φειδώ.
If we keep innocency, spend our youth well, it will yield unexpressible comfort to us; it will save us much sorrow, it
will prevent many inconveniences to us : if we have spent it ill, it will yield us great displeasure, it will cost us much pains; we shall be forced sadly to bewail our folly and vanity therein ; it will be bitter to see that we must unlive our former life, and undo all we have done; that we must renounce the principles we have avowed, we must root out the habits we have planted, we must forsake the paths which we have beaten and so long trod in, if ever we will be happy; it will be grievous to us, when we come with penitential regret to deprecate, • Lord, remember not the sins of my youth ;' we shall feel sore pain, when our bones are full of the sins of our youth,' and we come to possess the iniquities thereof.' It is therefore good, as the prophet saith, that a man
« bear the yoke in his youth,' when his neck is tender; it is excellent advice which the preacher giveth, · Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, and the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.'
Aristotle saith that young men are not · fit hearers of moral doctrine,' because, saith he, they are unexperienced in affairs of life;' and because they are apt to follow their passions, which indispose to hear with fruit or profit.' But his conclusion is false, and his reasons may be well turned against him; for because young men want experience, therefore is there no bad prejudice, no contrary habit to obstruct their embracing sound doctrine ; because their passions are vehement and strong, therefore being rightly ordered, and set on good objects, they with great force will carry them to virtuous practice : that indeed is the best time to regulate and tame passions; as horses must be broken when they are colts, dogs must be made when they are whelps, else they will never be brought to any thing. The poet therefore advised better than the philosopher ;
nunc adbibe puro Pectore verba puer, nunc te melioribus offer: and St. Paul plainly doth confute him, when he biddeth parents to • educate their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ;' when he chargeth Titus that he 'exhort young men to be sober-minded;' when he commendeth Timothy, for
that he had ánò Bpépovs, ‘from his infancy known the holy Scriptures ;' so doth the psalmist, when he saith, · Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed according to thy word.' And Solomon, when he declareth that his moral precepts did serve' to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowlege and discretion ;' when he biddeth us to train up a child in the way he should go.' St. Peter doth intimate the same, when he biddeth us as new-born babes to desire the sincere milk of the word;' and our Saviour, when he said, • Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of God ;' that is, the more simplicity and innocence a man is endued with, the more apt he is to embrace and comply with the evangelical doctrine. Aristotle therefore was out when he would exclude young men from the schools of virtue. It is observable that he contradicteth himself; for Oi pekpov drapépet το ούτως ή ούτως, ευθύς εκ νέων εθίζεσθαι, αλλά πάμπολν, μάλλον δε το παν. • It is,' saith he, of no small concernment to be from youth accustomed thus or thus; yea, it is very much, or rather all.' And how shall a young man be accustomed to do well, if he be not allowed to learn what is to be done ?
Again ; are we old ? it is then high time to begin ; we have then less time to spare from our most important business; we stand then in most imminent danger, on the edge of perdition, and should therefore be nimble to skip out thence ; our forces being diminished, our quickness and industry should be increased; the later we set out, the more speed it behoveth us to make. If we stay, we shall grow continually more indisposed and unfit to amend ; it will be too late when utter decrepitness and dotage have seized on us, and our body doth survive our soul. When so much of our time, of our parts, of our strength, are fled, we should husband the rest to best advantage, and make the best satisfaction we can unto God and unto our souls, with the remainder,
This age hath some peculiar advantages, which we should embrace : the froth of humors is then boiled out, the fervors of lust are slaked, passions are allayed, appetites are flatted ; 50 that then inclinations to sin are not so violent, nor doth the enjoyment thereof so much gratify.
Long experience then hath discovered the vanity of all worldly Age
things, and the mischief of ill courses; so that we can then hardly admire any thing, or be fond of enjoying what we have found unprofitable or hurtful.
is excused from compliance with the fashions, and thence much exempted from temptations of the world ; so that it may be good without obstacle or opposition.
It is proper thereto to be grave and serious, and consequently to be virtuous ; for gravity without virtue, and seriousness about vain things, are ridiculous.
Nothing doth so adorn this age as goodness, nothing doth so disgrace it as wickedness ; The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness ;' but it is a mark of infamy, if it be observed proceeding in a course of iniquity; it signifieth that experience hath not improved it ; it argueth incorrigible folly, or rather incurable madness therein.
There is indeed no care, no employment proper for old men, but to prepare for their dissolution ; to be bidding adieu to the world, with its vain pomps and mischievous pleasures; to be packing up their goods, to be casting their accounts, to be fitting themselves to abide in that state into which they are tumbling; to appear at that bar before which suddenly nature will set them. As a ship, which hath long been tossed and weatherbeaten, which is shattered in its timber, and hath lost much of its rigging, should do nothing in that case but work toward the port, there to find its safety and ease; so should a man, who, having passed many storms and agitations of the world, is grievously battered and torn with age, strive only to die well, to get safe into the harbor of eternal rest.
In fine, Epicurus himself said well, that ‘no man is either immature or over-ripe in regard to his soul's health;' we can never set on it too soon, we should never think it too late to begin : to live well is always the best thing we can do, and therefore we should at any time endeavor it; there are common reasons for all ages, there are special reasons for each age, which most strongly and most clearly do urge it; it is most seasonable for young men, it is most necessary for old men, it is most advisable for all men. Again ; be our condition what it will, this advice is reasonBAR. VOL. III.
able: Are we in health ? we owe God thanks for that excellent gift; and the best gratitude we can express is the improving it for his service and our own good : we should not lose the advantage of a season so fit for our obedience and repentance; while the forces of our body and mind are intire, while we are not discomposed by pain or faintness, we should strive to dispatch this needful work, for which infirmity may disable us.
Are we sick ? it is then time to consider our frailty, and the best we can to obviate the worst consequences thereof : it is then very fit, when we do feel the sad effects of sin, to endeavor the prevention of worse mischiefs that may follow; it is seasonable, when we lie under God's correcting hand, to submit unto him, to deprecate bis wrath, to seek reconciliation with him by all kinds of obedience suitable to that state ; with serious resolutions to amend hereafter, if it shall please God to restore us; it is most advisable, when we are in the borders of death, to provide for that state which lieth just beyond it.
Are we rich and prosperous ? it is expedient then presently to amend, lest our wealth do soon corrupt us with pride, with luxury, with sloth, with stupidity ; lest our prosperity become an inevitable snare, an irrecoverable bane unto
Are we poor or afflicted ? it is then also needful to repent quickly, that we may have a comfortable support for our soul, and a certain succor in our distress; that we may get a treasure to supply our want, a joy to drown our sorrow, a buoy to keep our hearts from sinking into desperation and disconsolateness. This condition is a medicine, which God administereth for our soul's health; if it do not work presently, so as to do us good, it will prove both grievous and hurtful to us.
13. Lastly, we may consider, that, abating all the rueful consequences of abiding in sin, abstracting from the desperate hazards it exposeth us to in regard to the future life, it is most reasonable to abandon it, betaking ourselves to a virtuous course of practice. For virtue in itself is far more eligible than vice ; to keep God's commandments hath much greater convenience