ADDRESSED TO THE YOUNG. BY THE REV. JAMES BENNETT, D.D.

' Then Jesus, beholding Jam, loved him, and said unto him. One thing thou lackest." — Mark x. 21

You know, my young- friends, that a certain proud and prosperous king, Belshazzar, when in the midst of a royal feast, and surrounded by festivity and apparent security, was suddenly disturbed by seeing a mysterious hand — the hand of God — writing upon the wall, in letters of light, these remarkable words, — " mene, MENE, TEKEL, upHARSipJ^j" and you are aware that a certain inspired prophet, an infallible interpreter, explained the mysterious words to mean — " Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting." Our Lord Jesus has come this night, presenting himself to you, weighing a young man in the balance, and pronouncing him wanting. What if the flame which issues from the lamps in this place were all to fly off, assuming upon the wall the form of letters, and, when you came to look at these letters of light, you saw the 1

word TEKEL, and you recollected the meaning : for the prophet had told you it signified — "Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting?"

If I present Christ to you to-night thus weighing a young man and pronouncing him wanting, do not think it unkind ; happy had it been for Belshazzar had he taken the warning that had been given him ; for that very night Belshazzar was slain:— and who knows but this night you may die? Well will it be for you if you take the warning, and, before you die, recover from that state in which you are wanting, and be found accepted before God.

I would, then, remind you that you 470

have a very kind and gracious judge in this person who here weighs you ; and I shall show you how kind, and consider-

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ate, and impartial he is ; for I shall endeavour to point out to you the two scales of this balance, and show you, first, what is in the scale that is favourable to you ; and, secondly, what is in the scale that is unfavourable ; for you see that my text, on the one hand, declares that — " Jesus beholding, loved the young man ;" while, on the other, he declared to him — " one thing thou lackest."

I. What is there in the scale that

IS FAVOURABLE TO YOU ?

If I had nothing else to say but that God has been very gracious to our fallen race — that he has so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth upon him might not perish, but have everlasting life — that the Son of God has assumed our nature, has trodden upon the same earth on which you tread — that he breathed this air that you breathe — that he went about continually doing good, and, at length, poured out

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his precious blood upon the cross for our salvation — that he commissioned this to be proclaimed to every creature, and invited all men to come unto him that they might be saved — and that his own Spirit accompanies this proclamation, and breathes upon the minds of men for their conversion and salvation — you would say, this is, indeed, a weight in the scale in our favour. But our text speaks of some peculiar regard that Jesus had to the young man here — for that he was young

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"another evangelist assures us. There are several peculiar things that are in your favour; they may be comprehended un-

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- der the three following : — The first is, many of the qualities of youth are favourable to religion, and as such Christ regards them ; the second is, that many of the words of the sacred Scriptures are favourable to the hope of your conversion, and as such you ought to regard them ; and the third is, that many of the dealings of God confirm all these hopes, and should inspire you with the most earnest desire to enjoy the same blessings.

1. There art many of the qiialilies of youth which are favourable to religion, and as such Christ regards them. When he saw this young man coming, it is said — " he loved him," though he pronounced him wanting, and the young man went away sorrowful. Yet Christ loves whal is good, as far as it goes, though there may not be that spiritual good which is the object of his complacency and of his moral approbation, and which will secure our everlasting salvation. When Christ looked abroad upon this world, he viewed all the works of God with complacency

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and benevolence. If he saw the lily of the field, he beheld its delicate beauty — if he saw the lark mounting upward to the sky, he saw it with pleasure. *' The Lord rejoiceth in all his works ;" — his benevolent heart delighted to see the beauty and glory which God had dilfused over the works of his hand, and he said —

"These arc ihy works, Almiglily Father, Thine thin universal rrame, thus wondrous

fair. Thyself how wondrous then!"

« Well, the Saviour who saw the lily and heard the lark with pleasure, never could look at spring in thv countenance of youth without tltat comprehensive approi)iilion whicli he fdt towards the material w(jrks. The glowing countenance of youth, the sparkling eyo, the bounding limb, the overflowing spirits, the warm afl'ections, the retentive memory, the ardent imagi-

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nation, the burning zeal, tlu! noble, generous daring of youth — all these things have their rharmH, and, as far as they go,

though they are but natural excellencies, they are objects of complacency and approbation. When our Lord sees in youth a sort of open frankness, different from the cold, cautious, cunning reserve of an old practised sinner, Christ prefers the frank, open, bland spirit of the youth to the serpentine spirit of an aged sinner; and, although it is somethir.g natural, not spiritual, yet Christ has a regard for it as a natural excellence. That tender, warm affection which children feel — that tendency to contract a friendship — to open their bosom — to give out their hearts to receive what is kind and amiable, and to give it a frank and warm reception, all this is quite congenial with the Saviour's mind, it suits his own open, kind, and aifectionate bosom. And that tendency to receive a testimony — that readiness to

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receive what is told them, and not to suspect lies upon every lip, but to be disposed, until they find things false, to believe them true, even that also, which is the natural temper of youth, is an excellence ; for if sin had never entered we should never have formed a conception of any body deceiving us. Now, it is very true that, with all this simplicity of the dove, we ought to unite the wisdom of the serpent; but if we cannot unite them — if they must be separated, as they too frequently are— give us the dove, take who will the serpent! Now, our Lord saw this spirit in the young man, and it was to his eye a pleasing sight as far as it went. The retentive memory that lays hold of the truth and kce])s it fast, that makes youth fit for the learning time, was also, in our Saviour's eye, a pleasing sight, rendering, as it does, the mind a sort of secure storehouse for truth.

Now, all these things are favourable to religion. Religion asks for your open heart — religion asks for a believing mind

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that can confide in a friend who tells thu truth, and does not wish to deceive you. Religion calls for the faithful memory that stores up divine truth, and remembtT9 Jesus Christ, who, of the seed of David, was sacrificed for us.

2. There are tfDrJ.i in the Scripture — promises in the holy book — that art peculiarity favourable to i/iju, and should inspire

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your hope. With what delight does the holy man adduce these words! He seems to pour out all the stores of sacred eloquence to trace the old age to the life — you see it wrinkled, old, decrepit, peevish,

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stooping, going down to the grave ; and for what? — hut that you may hearken to the voice which stands at the head of it — " Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." How large a part of the book of Proverbs is addressed to the young ! " Hear, O my son ! the instructions of thy father, and forget not the law of thy mother." How many have been touched to the heart with these words — and they are fit to touch the heart — " I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me !" This one assurance, that God has a peculiar regard to those that seek him early, is a most delightful encouragement to the young. When our Lord Jesus is described as a shepherd, he gathers the lambs in his bosom. What a world of affection and delight does this open to your view ! — your Redeemer seeking, and feeding, and nourishing, and delighting in the affections of the children. He carries them in his bosom,

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and warms and nourishes them in the love of his own heart. There is nothing like this said to encourage any one to put ofl' religion to old age ; but, oh, what is said to encourage the young to come to Christ ! The fact is, that there is not one word in all the Bible that is specifically intended to encourage persons to defer religion to the time when they grow old — every thing is said against this. But there is much to encourage you to embrace religion when you are young.

3. Remember that, as the word, so the works of God — his ivorlts of grace — confirm these tki )igs that are said, so earnest lij, to encourage you. A large part of those who are ignorant of religion think that it is a thing only for old age — very proper when men have grown old, but very unfit for them while they are young ; it does not sit well upon young people; and they are, therefore, for deferring it to old age. Now, you will observe that all who are

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of this opinion are utterly ignorant of religion. They know no more of what religion is than a blind man knows of light and colours. Precisely the reverse of this is the opinion of all who know religion. They say that youth is the proper time for religion. Look at the religious societies where the gospel is not preached, where salvation by works is proclaimed, and where religion is placed in external forms and ceremonies — there you will see at prayers none but the old and decrepit; but look at those congregations where the gospel is preached, and where the nature of spiritual religion is understood, and God is worshipped in spirit and in truth — there you will see at prayers the young; and a large proportion of those who join together in voluntary associations for prayer to the mercy-seat of God are young people. The fact is, where religion is truly understood, it is regarded as the ornament, the glory, the bliss of youth ; so that the earlier it is possessed the better. And*

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where religion is not understood, and a gloomy superstition is substituted for it, there it is very natural to say, the later the better. Now, let me remind you that the works of God confirm his words. Perhaps not one in forty is converted after the age of forty ; and perhaps ninetynine out of a hundred who know any thing of real religion are converted somewhere about twenty. This is a solemn consideration, let me attempt to impress you with it. Suppose you had fallen into a dream, and you thought you saw an immense plain crowded with persons of all ages, from the young and the middle-aged to the old and decrepit; and you saw the Saviour of sinners descend in all his majesty and glory, and passing through this crowd, taking more from the ranks of the young, fewer from the ranks of the middle-aged, and much fewer still from the aged, conducting them to a gate, and admitting them within, on which was written this inscription — " Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth nnto life, and few there be that go in thereat ;"

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— suppose, on waking in the morning, you were to tell this dream to an aged friend, and he was to say, last night

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dreamed exactly the same dream, and saw 1 is nothing- in nature, considered in itself, exactly the same representation — a few that is spiritual, holy, worthy to be apold people, more in the middle life, but | proved of the moral governor of the world,

the great body of those that entered in at the gate of life were young men. When I awoke, said the old man, I trembled as the aspen leaf, and the bed shook under me, and I thought I was come to that time of life when it was too late to be

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converted. And would you not say, I was glad when I awoke ; for the greater part of those that are converted are converted at the happy period of my time of life. Well, my young friends, this is not all a dream. It is the solemn, serious, fact of the case, that the greatest part of those who are converted are converted in youth. There is nothing, indeed, to cut off any from hope ; but such is the fact ; read the history of those who have become real Christians, and you will learn that the grace of God touched their hearts while they were yet young. And when you find exceptions you look upon them as a rarity, a wonder of grace, and you say, happy is it for you that you have escaped that fearful ruin that generally comes upon those who put off religion to old age.

But now, my dear young friends, I would turn to the second part of the subject. And I shall endeavour to point out —

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II. What is in the scale that is

AGAINST VOU.

" One thing thou lackest," says Christ ; and that was the one thiiiir needful; for " he went away sorrowful." There are three things in tiiis opposite scale that are against you.

1. The first is that nil thnt in merely aminhi'c and hopeful in mtlure in not grace, nor i» it at allrealli/ vahinhle in God's sight. — It is not true virtue or holiness. It is, indeed, as far as it goes, jileasant to the

or that will stand the scrutiny of the last day. " In us, that is, in our flesh, there dwelleth no good thing." Mere nature has nothing but what is sinful. Examine it into the very core, and it will all be found wanting ; for there is not in our fallen nature any real love to God, any genuine love of holiness, any true hatred

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of sin, any real reliance of soul upon Christ, or any desire for God's glory. All these things, that are the essence of what is truly lovely, spiritually amiable and good, are wanting in us. So that, whatever excellence there may be in your youth, and whatever your earthly parents may approve in you, there is nothing, where there is no holiness, that the holy law of God can approve. You sometimes may, perhaps, have seen the corpse of a departed friend, and if you have seen more than one you may have observed, in some instances, a redness on the cheek that even sickness does not remove, and that attends them even to their coffin. Now, that flush upon the check will make a corpse look pretty, and sometimes the corpse will look so pretty that the friends will hang over it with delight, and kiss tlie cold cheek that seems to rppel the token of affection ; but, after all, remember tliis is only the loveliness of a corpse; and, wiiatever excellence you may have as amiable young people, yet, unconverted, it is the cheek of the rose

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with the heart of the corpse. " Dead in trespasses and sins" is Ihe character which God pronounces yours. Now that is a weight in the scale against you.

2. There is a second consideration, and it is that all Ihouc things that may ajtpear amiable and lovely. If they are tint sanctlfitd by religion, will become hostile. To ho

eye, and better than the opposite sort of frank and generous, unsuspecting in your things. Thnt openness of mind, that i mind, exposes you to receive whatever frankness of disposition, that readiness to error may he presented to you, and makes credit a report, that retentive memory, | you in danger of becoming the prey of tho that liouniling, ardent spirit, that noble, I designing infidel.so that vou mav hearken generous 7.eal which youth feels, when to lua sperinuslies,an(l swallow the gilded undertaking any thing, to do it thoroughly bait, and be for over taken in the snare, well — all these are, indeed, lovely in ilieir j 'I'liat readiness of mind thnt you have to way — but they are not religion. There j receive a report, and to treasure up what Vol. 1 GO *J n 'J

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you hear, may make your memory the storehouse of all impurity. You may recollect what is foul and filthy, and so filling the chambers of your memory, it may render your mind all that is loathsome to the eye of him who searches the heart, and who will finally make the scrutiny.

My friends, remember besides this that you xcill not always he young. You are not so young now as when you entered this place of worship ; while you are watching my lips you are drawing breath, it is going out into the empty air, and shortly you will breathe it all away — it will be gone; well then, remember, if you grow old without religion, the peculiarities favourable to religion in youth are gone.

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Instead of the frank ingenuous openness of the unsuspecting youthful mind, there will be the close, cold, suspicious one — the heart shut up against and impervious to the truth. The warm and feeling breast, that then was so ready to receive what was amiable and kind, will now become cold and chilled as the ices of the poles. The memory, that once was so quick to receive and faithful to retain, will become treacherous and slippery, so that you will forget what you heard yesterday. All those qualities that were once so favourable to religion will be exchanged for all that is most unfavourable. And if you defer religion in the days of your youth, how soon may you become the aged sinner, who says " the days are come when I have no pleasure in them !" 3. But let me entreat you to remember, in the last place, that, if the grace of God prevent not, all the promises of youth may perish in everlasting despair. For youth is not immortal; though you are young now, you may die while you are young, and if you are still waiting, and refusing

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to embrace Christ and give up yourselves to him, while you hesitate, death may be deciding, and while you may be saying, " not to-day. Lord Jesus — to-morrow," — death may be saying, " not to-morrow, but to-day — this night thy soul shall be required of thee." And if this should be the case, and you die unregenerate, unforgiven, having come to years of accountability, having an understanding to judge

between good and evil, and a conscience to have warned you of your danger, and having had faithful counsels and every opportunity — if you die in your sins, how melancholy is the consequence! Then that glowing countenance blooming with youth, now withered and decayed, sinks down into all. the darkness and gloom of the grave, and the blackness of darkness and everlasting fire gathers around you. Then that warm imagination, that once painted to itself fairy scenes of future felicity, will be left to riot in all the dreadful

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conceptions of everlasting misery : — what it must be to spend an eternity of agony I Then the memory that might have been the treasury of divine truth, and stored up God's gracious words, will only recal all that will torment you — all your opportunities and advantages, and all your own perverse abuse, neglect, and rejection of them all. Oh, why must all the flower of youth go down to perdition? Why must the spring be blasted, and everlasting winter wither the soul 1 — Why must that which should have been consecrated to Jesus be for ever the subject of divine wrath ? — and he that might have been a rose-bud in the Saviour's crown — his diadem of salvation — be a withered weed cast out to everlasting abhorrence and rejection ? Remember, my dear young friends, how soon these sad reverses may happen. You are aware that young children frequently sicken, and sometimes die suddenly. Have you ever known one on whom consumption has seized! There may indeed have been a hectic flush upon the face, but there was the

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glassy brightness of the eye which intimated that all was not right within. They told you they were getting better; they fancied it; but you saw that the getting belter existed only in their imaginations, for every one else could perceive that they were sinking down into the grave. Remember that this deceptive disease is the disease of young persons. And let this warn you of the danger of deferring religion until sickness comes upon you. It is terrible that that very disease, the most likely to arrest you, may be the one you may die of, and you may die getting better — that is, in your

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Dwn apprehensions. Oli, then, hear the voice of the Saviour, now inviting you and saying, " Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!"

Now let me entreat you to take the following COUNSELS, —

1. Never think you are too young to be converted, and forgiven, and saved, and given up to God, while you know that you are not too young to sicken, to die, to be judged, to go to heaven or hell.

2. Never take up with any thing short of true religion — the entire change of the heart by the power of the Holy Ghost — the true and full forgiveness of all your sins by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. For only this sort of religion will do you any good.

3. Never be satisfied with having religion — seek to abound in it. Not merely to be alive, but lively ; for, if religion is

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worth any thing, the more you have of it the better ; seek to have as much of God's image as can possibly be enjoyed upon earth.

4. Let me remind you that for this purpose you should study your own easily besetting sin, especially the sins of your youth — be warned against them — watch against them — strain all your efforts to oppose and destroy them, and ask by the grace of God to keep yourselves unspotted from the world.

5. For this purpose form a rule, lay down a plan for life, laying out every day as it ought to be spent, and as you will wish you had spent it when you come to die; for this purpose read daily the Holy Scriptures — consult aged and experienced Christians, and ask them how they would advise you to conduct yourself before God.

6. Lastly, seek to live not for yourselves, but to live usefully as well as

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safely. Do as much good as you can in the world, and as you arc yoimg, and have an influence upon the young, seek to wean them to the knowledge, and love, and service of Christ. It is a sad tiling to leave the worlii before w«! liave done any good in it. Kxert yourselves, then ; and, if you have a short race to run, you will bo a ([iiick sii/,t,r of the cruwei. If

you leave your friends soon upon earth, it will be to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. This is the consummation of the felicity of true Christians, to be with him where he is that they may behold his glory. Amen.

" Lebanon is not sufllcient to burn, nor tht beasts thereof sufllcient for a burnt-oflering.'

Wherewithal shall I come before the Lord, and find acceptance with the mosf

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high God ] is a question, the solutiop of which must be of the greatest importance to a sinner. " All have sinned," say the Scriptures, and thou, my soul, among the rest. But the same Scriptures assures us, that by an irrevocable law of heaven, no sinner can draw near to God, so as to find acceptance in his sight, but on the ground of an atoning sacrifice, which, according to the law, was to be laid on wood, and burnt together with it. But where is such a sacrifice to be found ? and where the wood to burn it] The text tells me, " Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-oflTering." Lebanon, high and extensive, the range often thousand beasts ; Lebanon, celebrated for the variety, beauty, largeness, and durability of its trees; Lebanon, with all its numerous herds, and lofty cedars, could not furnish a sacrifice sufficient to atone for the sin of our souls, nor wood enough to consume such a victim. Yea, the cattle on a thousand hills would have been rejected ; nor could our first-born, the fruit

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of our body, liave atoned for our transgressions. The redemption of the soul is precious, and nothing that sees corruption could equal it in value. Where shall I look ? Whither shall I flee for help] Come, my soul, from Lebanon; look from the top of .*<lienir, Mermon, and all the celebrated mountains of Judea. Look to the place of skulls, the despised hill, with its cursed tree; »• the place of the pouring out of ashes :" the ])lace where the carcases of criminals were indignantly thrown, as the ashes, the refuse of society. Thtre you will find a full answer to your question, filling you with jieaco and Joy in believing it.

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