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honours are reaped. Here are formed the capital virtues of fortitude, temperance, and self denial ; moderation in profperity, patience in adverfity, fubmillion to the will of God, and charity and forgiveness to men, amidst the va. rious competitions of worldly interest.
Such is the plan of divine wisdom for man's improve. ment. But put the case, that the plan devised by human wisdom were to take place, and that the rewards of the just were to be more fully displayed to view ; the exercise of all those graces which I have mentioned would be entirely superseded. Their very names would be unknown. Every temptation being withdrawn, every worldly attachment being subdued by the overpowering discoveries of eternity, no trial of fincerity, no discrimination of characters, would remain ; no opportunity would be afforded for those active exertions, which are the means of puri. fying and perfecting the good. On the competition between time and eternity depends the chief exercise of human virtue. The obscurity which at present hangs over eternal objects preserves the competition. Remove that obfcurity, and you remove human virtue from its place. You overthrow that whole system of discipline, by which imperfect creatures are, in this life, gradually trained up for a more perfect state.
This, then, is the conclusion to which at last we arrive ; that the full display which was demanded, of the heavenly glory, would be so far from improving the human soul, that it would abolish those virtues and duties, which are the great instruments of its improvement. It would be unsuitable to the character of man in every view, either as an active being, or a moral agent. It would disqualify him from taking part in the affairs of the world ; for relishing the pleasures, or for discharging the duties of life : in a word, it would entirely defeat the purpose of his being placed on this earth. And the question, why the Almighty has been pleased to leave a spiritual world and the future existence of man, under so much obscurity, resolves in the end into this, why there should be such a creature as man in the universe of God ?-Such is the issue of the improvements proposed to be made on the plans of Providence. They add to the discoveries of the fuperior wisdom of God, and of the presumption and folly
Touth the proper season for gaining knowledge, and forming
religious habits. The duty which young people owe to their instructers cannot be better fhown, than in the effect which the instructions they receive have upon them. They would do well, therefore, to consider the advantages of an early attention to these two things, both of great importance, knowledge and religion. The great use of knowledge, in its various branches (to which the learned languages are generally considered as an introduction,) is to free the mind from the prejudices of ignorance ; and to give it just. er and more enlarged conceptions than are the mere growth of rude nature. By reading, we add the experience of others to our own. It is the improvement of the mind chiefly, that makes the difference between man and man ; and gives one man a real superiority over another.
Besides, the mind must be employed. The lower ora ders of men have their attention much engrossed by those employments, in which the necessities of life engage them ; and it is happy that they have. Labour stands in the room of education ; and fills up those vacancies of mind, which, in a state of idleness, would be engrossed by vice. And if they, who have more leisure, do not substitute fome, thing in the room of this, their minds also will become the prey of vice ; and the more fo, as they have the means to indulge it more in their power. A vacant mind is exactly that house mentioned in the gospel, which the devil found empty. In he entered; and taking with him seven other fpirits more wicked than himself, they took poffeffion. It is an undoubted truth, that one vice indulgede introduces others; and that each succeeding vice becomes more de. praved. If then the mind must be employed, what can fill up its vacuities more rationally than the acquisition of knowledge ? Let us therefore thank God for the oppor. tunities he has afforded us ; and not turn into a curse those means of leisure, which might become so great a blefling.
But however necessary to us knowledge may be, religion, we know, is infinitely more so. The one adorns a man, and gives him, it is true, superiority and rank in life ; but the other is absolutely essential to his happiness.
In the midst of youth, health, and abundance, the world is apt to appear a very gay and pleasing scene : it engages our desires ; and, in a degree, fatisfies them alfa. But it is wisdom to consider, that a time will come, when youth, health, and fortune, will all fail us : and if disappointment and vexation do not four our taste for pleasure, at least fickness and infirmities will destroy it. In these gloomy feasons, and, above all, at the approach of death, what will become of us without religion? When this world fails, where shall we fly, if we expect no refuge in another? Without holy hope in God, and resignation to his will, and trust in him for deliverance, what is there that can secure us against the evils of life?
The great utility therefore of knowledge and religion being thus apparent, it is highly incumbent upon us to pay a studious attention to them in our youth. If we do not, it is more than probable that we shall never do it : that we shall grow old in ignorance, by neglecting the one ; and old in vice, by neglecting the other.
For improvement in knowledge, youth is certainly the fittest season. The mind is then ready to receive any im. pression. It is free from all that care and attention which, in riper age, the affairs of life bring with them. The memory too is stronger and better able to acquire the rudiments of knowledge; and as the mind is then void of ideas, it is more suited to those parts of learning which are conversant in words. Besides, there are sometimes in youth a modesty and ductility, which, in advanced years, if those years especially have been left a prey to ignorance, become self-fufficiency and prejudice ; and thefe effectually bar up all the inlets to knowledge. But, above all, unless habits of attention and application are early gained, we shall scarcely ac. quire them afterwards. The inconsiderate youth feldom reflects upon this; nor knows his loss, till he knows also that it cannot be retrieved.
Nor is youth more the season to acquire knowledge, than to form religious habits. It is a great point to get habit on the side of virtue : it will make every thing smooth and easy. The earliest principles are generally the most lasting; and those of a religious cast are seldom wholly loft. Though the temptations of the world may, now and then, draw the well-principled youth aside ; yet his principles being continually at war with his practice, there is hope, that in the end the better part may overcome the worse, and bring on a reformation : whereas he, who has suffered habits of vice to get possession of his youth, has little chance of
being brought back to a sense of religion. In the common course of things it can rarely happen. Some calamity must rouse him. He must be awakened by a storm, or sleep forever.-How much better is it then to make that easy to us, which we know is best ; and to form those habits now, which hereafter we fhall wish we had formed !
There are persons, who would restrain youth from im. bibing any religious principles, till they can judge for themselves ; lelt they should imbibe prejudice for truth, Bai 'why should not the same caution be used in fcience also ; and the mind's of youth left void of all impressions ? The experiment, I fear, in both cases, would be dangerous. If the mind were left uncultivated during so long a period, though nothing else should find entrance, vice certainly would: and it would make the larger' shoots, as the foil would be vacant. It would be better that young perfons receive knowledge and religion mixed with error, than none at all. For when the mind comes to reflect, it may depofit'its prejudices by degrees, and get right at lalt : but in a late of stagnation it will' infallibly become foul.
To conclude, our youth bears the fame proportion to tøur more advanced life, as this world does to the next. * In this life we must form and cultivate those habits of virtue, which will qualify us for a better state. If Deglect them here, and contract habits of an opposite kind, instead of gaining that exalted state, which is promised to our improvement, we shall of course fink into that itate, which is adapted to the habits we have formed.
Exactly thus is youth introductory to manhood ; to which it is, properly fpeaking, a state of preparation.
During this season we must qualify ourselves for the parts we are to act hereafter. In manhood we bear the fruit, which has in youth been planted. If we have fauna tered away our youth, we must expea to be ignorant men. If indolence and inattention have taken an early pofféffion of us, they will probably increafe as we advance in life ; and make us a burden to ourselves, and uselefs to fociety. If again, we fuffer ourfelves to be misled by vicious inclinations, they will daily get new strength, and end im diffolute lives. But if we cultivate our minds in youth, attain habits of attention and industry, of virtue and sobriety, we shall find ourselves well prepared to act our future parts in life, and what above all things aught to
be our care, by gaining this command over ourselves, we shall be more able, as we get forward in the world, to refist every new temptation, as soon as it appears.
The truth of Christianity proved, from the conversion of the
Apostle Paul.* The conversion of St. Paul, with all its attendant cir. cumstances, furnishes one of the most satisfactory proofs, that have ever been given, of the divine origin of our holy religion. That this eminent person, from being a zealous persecutor of the disciples of Christ, became, all at once, a difciple himself, is a fact which cannot be controverted, without overturning the credit of all history. He mult, therefore, have been converted in the miraculous manner alleged by himself, and of course the christian religion be a divine revelation ; or he must have been an impostor, an enthusiast, or a dupe to the fraud of others. There is not another alternative possible.
If he was an impostor, who declared what he knew to be false, he must have been induced to act that part, by some motive. But the only conceivable motives, for
religious impofture, are, the hopes of advancing one's tempo. ral interelt, credit, or power ; or the prospect of gratifying fome paffion or appetite, under the authority of the new religion. That none of these could be St. Paul's motive for professing the faith of Christ crucified, is plain from the state of Judaism and Chrillianity, at the period of his for. faking the former, and embracing the latter faith. Those whom he left were the disposers of wealth, of dignity, of power, in Judea : those to whom he went were indigent men, oppressed, and kept from all means of improving their fortunes. The certain consequence, therefore, of his taking the part of christianity was the loss not only of all that he poffèffed, but of all hopes of acquiring more: where. as, by continuing to perfecute the Christians, he had hopes, riling almost to certainty, of making his fortune by the favour of those who were at the head of the Jewish state, to whom nothing could so much recommend him, as the
• This piece is extracted from the “Encyclopædia Britannica." It is an abridgment of Lord Lyttleton's celebrated “ Obseryations on the Conversion of St. Paul.".