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"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.""
THE writer of this book was, as you know, distinguished above all men for his wisdom, and peculiarly for his knowledge of the character and business of men. At the time when it was written he was advanced in years, and from his youth had with a keen and scrutinizing eye watched the character of mankind, and marked carefully the advantages which accompany a virtuous life, and the evils which attend a sinful one, and had derived from this course of observation a collection of the best maxims for the regulation of human conduct of which mankind have ever heard. The attention of this great man was especially directed to youth, probably because he knew the importance of that period. He had seen in innumerable instances that the future character chiefly depended on the instructions given, and the habits established, in the morning of life. His views of this subject he has completely expressed in a single sentence," Train up a child in the way he should go, and
once agreeable ap he will not depart from it." Hence he diand conversatirts peculiarly to the reformation of youth, and, as ful and ple us, wrote the book of Proverbs, or important and childremoral precepts, to give the young man knowledge and his retion. The wisdom and benevolence of such a design theed no illustration; and the book in which it is here executed is without a rival.
To the instructions of such a man thus employed, every youth is bound, by every obligation, to listen with gratitude, veneration, and faithful obedience. To these high and solemn sanctions furnished by the character of the writer, and to the inestimable value of the instructions themselves, is added the seal of inspiration, the decision of God, the only wise and the only good.
In the book of Ecclesiastes this great man forgot not his favourite object; but while investigating subjects, mysterious in their nature, incomprehensible in their extent, and immeasurable in their importance, he turned aside, not unfrequently, to resume the direct instruction of youth, and to promote in the most efficacious manner their wisdom and piety. In this chapter particularly he shows us that the book of Ecclesiastes, as well as that of Proverbs, was written, primarily, for the young. This chapter is what, in the language of writers of sermons, would be called the practical application, or improvement, of the whole discourse. It commences with the text, and in this manner shows that the writer had all along aimed at the benefit of this class of mankind, as a primary object in this book, as well as that of Proverbs. While he has here left a noble example to other moral instructors, and taught them to direct their own labours extensively towards the same object, he has also laid the foundation of the strongest claims upon the affection and respect of those whom he has thus made his pupils. There is something peculiarly edifying as well as delightful in seeing a man so pre-eminent in wisdom, power, splendour, and fame as Solomon, and so occupied by the complicated business of a great empire, making the instruction, virtue, and happiness of the young a primary object of his thoughts, and the primary purpose of his writings. It is still a much more inte
resting theme of our recollection, that the God of the spirits of all flesh has been pleased, in his own most holy word, to pursue the same purpose; to make youth a peculiar object of his gracious attention; to raise up for them in his providence so able an instructor, and agreeably to his perfect wisdom, to employ him in communicating these invaluable lessons.
In the text young persons are required to remember their Creator in the days of their youth; and before the arrival of those future periods of life, which are here justly styled evil days, both because the enjoyments of this life are greatly diminished, and because they are peculiarly unfavourable seasons for securing the enjoyments of a better life. It is my intention, in discoursing upon these words,
I. To explain the duty which is here enjoined;
II. To suggest several inducements to the performance of it; and
III. To mention several reasons which usually prevent it from being performed.
I. I shall endeavour summarily to explain this duty.
To remember our Creator is,
First, To make him frequently an object of our thoughts.
"The wicked," says David, "through the pride of his counte"nance, will not seek after God; God is not in all his thoughts." The character of the righteous is, in this respect, of a directly contrary nature, and is happily expressed by the same excellent man, when he says of himself, "I have set the Lord al"ways before me." Every day, on every important occasion, and on very many occasions which are not important, every good man will make God the object of his thoughts, and call to mind his character and his presence. He who does not this in some good degree, can hardly be said to remember God at all.
Secondly, To remember God denotes that our thoughts concerning him be true and just; or, in other words, such as are communicated by his word and works.
To attribute to God, when we think of him, qualities which are not his, and to forget his real character, is not to remember
him, but a being whom we substitute for him.. It may be an idol, Jupiter, Baal, or Moloch, or a being altogether such a one as ourselves, but certainly it is not Jehovah. To remember him is, in the sense of the text, to remember him as he is.
But it is the true character of God to be self-existent, independent, immutable, and eternal, to be present in every place, and to know every thing.
It is the true character of God to possess unlimited holiness, justice, wisdom, power, goodness, faithfulness, and truth.
It is the character of God to be the creator, preserver, proprietor, ruler, and final cause of all things.
It is the character of God to be the benefactor, rewarder, and judge of the intelligent universe.
It is the true character of God to be the father, redeemer, and sanctifier of mankind.
If, therefore, we would perform the duty enjoined in the text, we must ascribe to him in our thoughts all these great and glorious attributes, must consider him as existing alone, without a rival, without a second, and we must be able to say, "This God is our God," the object on which our thoughts dwell for ever and ever.
Thirdly, To remember God, in the sense of the text, is to remember him cordially.
It is not enough that God should be in our thoughts, and that our thoughts concerning him should be just and true. These things cannot exist alone. In order to entertain these modes of contemplation concerning God in the manner which has been already directed, it is indispensable that our affections harmonize with our thoughts, and be entertained with them, so as to form a part of their very contexture.
Nothing is more plain, than that the Being who possesses these exalted attributes ought always to be remembered by us with supreme love, complacency, and gratitude. His excellence demands this of us with an obligation which no virtuous being can resist, and no sinful being deny.
Nor are we less under obligation to remember him with reThis affection is demanded of us irresistibly by that union of majesty, purity, and kindness in which he so exten
sively manifests himself to the view of his intelligent crea
Equally are we required to remember him with admiration. This religious emotion is everywhere called for by the wonderful works of his power and wisdom, both in creation and providence, and peculiarly by the wonders of redemption. It is an emotion continually exercised by every good man, when contemplating these marvellous objects, and appears to have occupied no small part of the time as well as the thoughts of David, as is abundantly manifested in the Psalms.
Fourthly, To remember God, in the sense of the text, is also to remember him practically.
Every person, inclined, or even willing to perform this duty, will keep before his eyes the absolute sufficiency of God for every great and good purpose, and his perfect disposition to accomplish that, and that only, which is desirable. What he understands of the divine dispensations he will approve. Where he does not understand he will confide. In this manner he will cherish perpetually a spirit of acquiescence and resignation.
At the same time he will solemnly call to mind on every occasion, that to this universal Creator, Ruler, and Judge he is entirely accountable for all his moral conduct, and will keep before his eyes the authority, wisdom, and excellence of his precepts, with a sincere intention cheerfully and faithfully to obey them. This especially is what Solomon intended in the text, and is the end, for which all that is mentioned above, is to be done. God is remembered by us to no valuable purpose, unless we consecrate ourselves to his service, faithfully obey his most holy will, and thus live to the glory of his name.
To remember God is the indispensable duty of all men. Still it is here peculiarly enjoined upon those who are young. I will now, therefore,
II. Suggest to the young persons in this assembly several inducements to the performance of it.
First, All the obligations which require this duty of others, require it of you.