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Author Topic: Advice to Youth  (Read 9659 times)
airIam2worship
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« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2006, 10:55:02 AM »

When I see a youth, no matter what his talents or fortune, impatient of the counsels of experience, and disposed to lean to his own understanding, I always fear for the result. One thing is certain; before such an one is prepared for anything great and good in the world, he has many a hard lesson to learn; and the sooner he begins to learn these lessons the better. Previous to his being fitted for any post of trust and respectability, he must have the stern teaching of bitter rebuffs and cruel disappointments.

We have the highest authority for saying, "he who trusts to his own heart is a fool." Let the young judge as they may; the sober good sense of the world at large will join its verdict in favor of allowing the experienced to speak, and multitude of years to teach wisdom. It will still be considered fit and proper to pay some deference to the opinions of hoary hairs, and not to reject the advice of old men.

Now pause for a moment, and look at the dangers to which you are exposed, arising directly from yourselves! That moral derangement which we call depravity, finds an occasion for its working and an outlet for its influence, in your lack of acquaintance with the ways of the world, in your lack of firmness to reject the approach of temptation, and your proneness to rely unduly on your own resources. But this is not all.


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PS 91:2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust
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« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2006, 11:16:41 AM »

2. You are in danger from the CIRCUMSTANCES in which you are placed.

What is defective and wrong within, is aggravated by what is bad and injurious without! It is the meeting of these two streams, the one internal and the other external, that causes the banks to overflow, and spreads devastation among the fairest fields and gardens of human life. As there must be both fire and powder to produce an explosion, so the heart must be acted upon by the world, in order that its corruptions may be manifested. Take away either, and so far as visible result is concerned, the other would be harmless; but let both come together, and an explosion must ensue! Let me name a few of the perils to which you are exposed from the circumstances which surround you.

Many young men have no kind friend at hand to take an interest in their welfare. Nobody, from one week to another, or one month to another, drops a word of either caution or encouragement in their ears. If the clerk is in his place at the appointed time, and the apprentice fulfils his allotted task, and the student masters his assigned lesson, nothing further is inquired. From the very necessity of the case, they are separated from the refining, soothing, and elevating influence of the domestic circle. It is their hard lot to be separated from home, at the very time when they most need its scenes and associations. Who is to look after them, all buoyant and full of life as they are; to watch where they spend their evenings, and what resources for amusement or pleasure are within their reach?

It is enough to make one's heart bleed to see multitudes of ardent, aspiring youth cast upon the world, with its ten thousand allurements and snares, in a state, so far as any real affection or friendship is concerned, of complete orphanage. Ah! what is to hold them back from evil! How are they to be kept from the paths of the destroyer? If God does not interpose, it would seem as if they must inevitably perish.

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« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2006, 11:17:33 AM »

No one can think of the circumstances in which young men are generally placed, without concern. During much of that pregnant interval, which lies between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one, most of them are so situated that they can seldom hear a father's prayer, or listen to a mother's counsels, or witness a sister's smiles. Oh! is it any marvel under such circumstances, if they should now and then find the way to the theater, the saloon, or the dwelling of infamy? One faithful friend at this juncture might save them from ruin. Were I to offer a prayer for you, beloved youth, as you pack your trunk, and leave for the city of business or the seat of learning, to spend five or seven years there in almost entire separation from the joys of home, it would be to ask that, next to the guardianship of the Watchman of Israel, you might never lack at least one wise, kind, faithful friend, to whisper to you words of reproof or consolation, as the case should be. This would relieve my anxieties, as nothing else would, short of real, living, Christian principle, ruling the heart and controlling the conduct.

But the evil is more than negative—it is positive and obtrusive!

Ten thousands of young men are surrounded by vicious and unprincipled associates. Besides having no one to take a real, outgoing interest in their welfare, they are thrown of necessity into a species of direct companionship, during the hours of toil and study—in the dining-room and dormitory, with those who have no fear of God before their eyes. This is a danger which they have to encounter at every onward step. Fear as they may, contact with evil is impossible to avoid. If they walk the streets of the city, or tread the floors of the dormitory, it is to see sights, and hear sounds, and be subjected to influences, all of which, gradually and imperceptibly, but surely and permanently, are drawing the 'lines of deformity' on their hearts. This is the grand peril which alarms the pious parent, and wakes him up to pray in the silence of the night, when he thinks of placing a son in school, sending him to college, or locating him in one of our towns for purposes of trade. No wonder that the father cries out, "God bless and keep our dear son!" No wonder that the mother betakes herself to her closet, and begs God to take care of her darling boy!

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« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2006, 11:18:17 AM »

In multitudes of cases, it seems really almost a miracle if they do escape. The heart, by itself, is inclined to evil—irrespective of any external drawing; and if this native sinful tendency be aided, as it is too often, by the well-planned arts of the seducer, no wonder if ruin ensues! An unprincipled companion is often an unmitigated curse. If the fruit do not appear very fully, at once, the seed is sown, and sooner or later we may expect a foul harvest.

Alas! how often have I known youth, who, only a short time before, left the paternal roof amiable in their dispositions and pure in their morals, soon turn into ringleaders of vice, and from being tempted—become tempters themselves! We look around with astonishment at such downfalls, and inquire what enemy has done this! But should we search out the matter, it would generally be found, that the dreadful evil could be traced to the skepticism, the poisonous habits, or the licentiousness of some pleasant, jovial companion.

Then, to add to the danger, books of a certain kind are a fruitful source of injury to the young. Ours, we love to say, is a reading age; and few are the parents who do not feel gratified to have their children imbibe a fondness for this employment. But we would make a great blunder, if we conclude that all must be well because they subscribe for a magazine, and are often seen with a book in their hands. What tales of crime in its worst possible form have been told, the last few years, in some of the high places of our own land, as the known and recognized result of pernicious reading! Again and again have both adultery and blood been traced to this single source! As it regards the books with which the country is fairly inundated, it may well be said, "all is not gold that glitters." If one contains the bread of life—another is filled with deadly poison. To say the least, there is a kind of sickly sentimentalism pervading many of the fashionable volumes of the day, which scarcely less really unfits the reader for the duties of earth, than for communion with heaven.

"Such reading," as Hannah More well remarks, "relaxes the mind which needs hardening, dissolves the heart which needs fortifying, stirs the imagination which needs quieting, irritates the passions which need calming, and, above all, disinclines and disqualifies for active virtues and spiritual exercises." Young men must take heed what they read, as well as how they hear. The eye is as fruitful an inlet of evil as the ear!

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« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2006, 11:18:56 AM »

It is my deliberate opinion, that thoughtful, studious youth are exposed to few greater perils than are to be found in books. So fully am I convinced of this, that I would like to see a large majority of all the publications which come in such crowds from the press, consigned to one enormous conflagration! The ability to read and the love of reading, like a thousand other things good in themselves, have their attendant evils. A bad book must exert a bad influence, and the more touching it is in incident, and the more captivating in style—the worse of necessity this influence will be!

The heaviest censures upon such works have fallen sometimes from the authors themselves. Goldsmith, though a very popular novelist and writer of plays, gave this advice in respect to the education of a nephew—"Above all things, never let him touch a novel or romance." He had good sense and right feeling enough to keep his voluptuous lines from his own daughters, though not enough to prevent his sending them abroad into the world. It is affirmed too of a celebrated stage-actor, that he never allowed his children to see the inside of a theater. There is meaning in such opinions, coming from such men.

Such are the circumstances, my young friends, in which you are placed, and it is idle to complain of them. The present state would be no probation to you, if you were already so confirmed in good principles, and so free from temptations—as to have nothing to fear either from yourselves or the position you occupy. That is the highest virtue that consists in overcoming the blandishments of vice. No crown is so bright as that which the victor will wear. Instead then of unavailing regrets at trials, arise whence they will, and come as they may, be it your determination by the help of God to surmount them all.

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« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2006, 11:19:40 AM »

Deem it not unkind that I take so much pains to apprize you of your perils. If they exist, it is important that you should know them. The difference between being conscious of danger, and unconscious of it, is like that between two travelers passing over the same rough road, one of whom has his eyes open, and the other has his eyes shut. Both may stumble. Both may fall; but the advantage is immensely on the side of him who looks at the obstacles which lie in his way.

Yes, you are in danger, in danger from inward corruption and outward temptation; in danger from your own native bias to evil, and from the traps which are set for your feet; and it is proper for me to raise the voice of alarm. I believe in the doctrine of human depravity—I know what the Bible says of the difficulty of leading a godly life—I have been over the ground which you now occupy; and to me it is no marvel that ministers, teachers, friends and parents all unite in asking for you the preserving mercy and the sanctifying grace of God. There is reason for this solicitude. It is not without a cause.

I do not charge it upon you as a fault, that you are inexperienced. I do not blame you in all cases for working in the same room with the vile, the foolish and the profane. I do not mention it as a crime that bad books are sometimes put in your way. These things are a part of your allotment. They are difficulties which you cannot always avoid. But what will you do? My heart yearns over you. And I long to see you betaking yourselves to the only sure and unfailing protection. Ask God for Christ's sake to watch over and bless you. Seek for help in the might of his outstretched arm!

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« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2006, 11:20:44 AM »

        But trying as your case may be, let me beg you to guard against despondency. This will give you over at once into the power of the destroyer. I would say to the student sad and downcast over his books, to the clerk jaded and worn by his often-repeated duty, and to the apprentice exhausted by his monotonous task—Be not disheartened. Though you have no father's fireside to return to, when the long day's service is over, and no kind sister to throw her arms around you and kiss away your griefs, and no circle of sympathizing friends to whom you may tell your troubles—despair not! A brighter morning will yet arrive. "Patient continuance in well-doing" will lead to "glory, and honor, and eternal life." "Heart within and God overhead," and you have nothing to fear. You will work for yourselves a way to the esteem of the wise and good, and secure a godly name and place.

        There is in God as revealed in the Gospel, in Christ as exhibited in his own life, death and sacrifice, in the Spirit as a Comforter and a guide, in the Bible as a light to those who sit in darkness, and in the prospect of a blissful immortality, held out to such as endure to the end, all the strength which you need to resist evil. Be steadfast in the hour of trial, and you will gain at last a crown which will never fade away!


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« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2006, 02:51:29 PM »

THE POWER OF HABIT.

You all know the meaning of the word habit. When we say of a young man, that he is habitually studious, amiable, and respectful, or that he is habitually indolent, negligent and morose, everybody understands us. No language could be more explicit.

Nor need I say that you will probably be for time and eternity what your habits make you. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil." Form correct and virtuous habits, and a light sweet as the morning dawn may be expected to gild all your future pathway! But let your habits be vicious and depraved, and a cloud darker than midnight will settle on your prospects forever!

To you this is a topic of vast importance. Your principles and practices are now just beginning to take root, and should they grow into habits, you will be likely to carry them to the grave with you. A volume might be written on the power of habit, but I must content myself with suggesting a few thoughts.

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« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2006, 02:52:30 PM »

1. Let us inquire into the FORMATION of habits.

This is a gradual work, an advancing process, in which the preceding steps always influence those which follow. A habit is formed by the recurrence again and again of the same internal, or the same external acts. Such is human nature, that no one settles down suddenly into fixed opinions, or an established way of life. Men may do wrong, and they may do right; they may exhibit a holy temper or a sinful one, in a moment; but the habit is induced by repetition. It takes time for a person to become so accustomed to a given course, as to be easy and happy in such a course. Neither occasional good deeds, nor occasional bad deeds constitute character—or form what in common language we denominate habit.

You will do well to treasure these thoughts in your minds. Never forget that any one act performed, or any one feeling indulged, necessarily prepares the way for other acts and feelings of the same kind. This remark is equally true, whether applied to mental or manual pursuits; to the movements of the body, or the operations of the mind. A single glass of wine may be the beginning of a habit which shall lead to intoxication—and a single vindictive feeling may be the precursor of a train of feelings which shall lead to murder. What we do once, we more readily and naturally do a second time, and to continue in a certain path, be it reputable or disreputable, is more easy than to start.

Such is the connection of things, as constituted by God himself, and no one can disregard it with impunity. If life is to be spent in the practice of piety, special care and effort will be required at the outset; and if it is to be clouded with vice, the farther a person goes the more rapid will be his descent into evil. The hindrances in the first case, and the restraints in the second, invariably lose their power as progress is made.

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« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2006, 02:53:26 PM »

Let it be noted here, that right feelings are more to be considered, often, than correct doings. For example, humility is less an overt act of self-denial, or any number of such acts, than a habit of watching against the indulgence of pride. Of meekness also we may say it is not so much an ostensible deed standing prominently forth, as it is a state of mind contrary to anger and resentment. The same observation may be made of a habit of sobriety, a habit of self-control, a habit of industry, a habit of patience, or a habit of kindness. These virtues are all best reached, by simply keeping aloof from the opposing vices; not to do evil is often to do well.

But remember that bad habits are more easily formed than good ones, and are given up with more difficulty. The native depravity of the heart accounts for this well-known fact—a depravity which inheres in man and operates with a force which none can fully estimate. It is for this reason that far less time and pains are requisite to corrupt an unwary youth, than to engraft upon his character the enduring habits of righteousness and truth.

Men are self-indulgent and covetous, revengeful and proud—naturally and spontaneously—without example or teaching. In the present fallen state, wrong and misery are the result of giving up things to their own native tendencies. In the natural world, you have only to leave a field to itself, and you will see it covered with briers and thorns. But if you would have it filled with beautiful and waving wheat, you must apply care and toil. It is easy to float down the stream—but to resist the current and reach the fountain requires effort.

Such statements are full of instruction, and you will do well to think them over again and again. There are but few things which it more concerns you to understand than the way in which habits are formed, so as to become a part of one's abiding character. The value of sound principles—firm, unwavering, truth-evincing principles—can never be over-estimated, and no efforts to make them yours can be too great. They are as necessary to the development of a good and useful character, as the circulation of the blood in the body, or the rising of the sap in a tree.

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« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2006, 02:54:31 PM »

2. We shall do well to consider the AMAZING STRENGTH of habit.

Habit is said to be a second nature. What a man gets accustomed to, let its influence be good or bad, he finds it very difficult to abandon. We can bend or twist a 'twig' to whatever shape we please, but let that twig become a 'tree', and it requires the force of a whirlwind to uproot it. It is one thing for a child to form the habit of prayer and reading the Scriptures, and quite another thing for the man of gray hairs to do so. The son may keep from the inebriating cup; but no one can tell what dreadful struggles it will cost his father to dash it to the ground.

Few are thoroughly aware of the controlling power of habit. It is possible to train the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, in habits entirely foreign to their nature; and yet these habits when thus superinduced can scarcely be broken. The process is tedious, before a dog and a cat can be made to live together in the same cage. But it can be done, and done so completely that what was previously strange and unnatural, becomes by habit a part as it were of their very being.

The novice in the use of opium, must lay his account with nausea, headache, and languor; but let indulgence grow into a habit, and he finds it almost like parting with life itself, to break it off. As often as the hour returns, be it morning or noon, or night, the appetite is aroused and demands gratification. There is something within, which like the horseleech cries, give, give. The demand becomes imperative beyond that for daily food.

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« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2006, 02:55:56 PM »

Could you see this matter in its true light, you would tremble at the thought of being addicted to a bad habit. Why the doing of a particular act, especially when it is so unpleasant at first, should beget a disposition to repeat it and even render it agreeable, we need not inquire. It is sufficient for all practical and useful purposes, to know that such is unquestionably the fact. It is in recognition of this general and uniform law of the human constitution, that the Bible utters its most energetic warnings and gives forth its loudest notes of alarm. "Sudden destruction," "destruction without remedy" is to come upon such as have acquired the habit of hardening their necks in the midst of reproof. An old man's bones are represented as being "full of the sins of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust."

If examples of the iron force of habit are called for, we have them in abundance. All are aware what adamantine chains encircle the man, who has unhappily become accustomed to the stimulating influence of intoxicating drinks. It was not always with him, as it is now. At first he took a glass not to appear singular, or to nerve his arm for his daily task, or to help him bear some physical pain, or drive away a cloud of trouble. There was then no love of intoxicating drink for its own sake. But soon drinking became a habit; and how strong the habit, let broken-hearted parents, a weeping wife and children, and an undone eternity reveal! Resistance seems out of the question. "If," said such a one, "a glass of wine stood before me, and I knew that endless misery must be the consequence of drinking it, I could not refrain."

Equally overpowering perhaps is the habit of gambling. Tales sufficient, one would think, to melt any heart not made of rock, are told of the effects of this vice, on character, fortune and domestic peace; and yet its thraldom is unbroken! To give a single case—A man in one of our large cities had become opulent, and made his fortune by the unrighteous avails of the gaming table. For a time, all appeared well. But at length he met with a villain more adroit than himself, played deeply, and was unsuccessful. With a heavy heart he went home, and was found the next morning, hanging on one of the timbers of his own bed-chamber—a blackened and frightful corpse!

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« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2006, 02:57:38 PM »

These, beloved youth, are alarming illustrations, but they are not of unusual occurrence. Mark how the habit of falsehood grows upon a man, until from simple exaggeration in little things, he comes to be so notorious a liar that his word is not worth a straw. One may be long in reaching this sad eminence; but when it is reached, all is lost. The plainest truths passing through such a man's lips, are almost as surely falsified, as rays of light passing through water are refracted. Much the same thing may be said of theft and profaneness, Sabbath-breaking and infidelity. When the habit of these vices is formed, it is a miracle of mercy if they are ever abandoned!

Yet, blessed be God, there is a bright side to this picture. If bad habits acquire at length a giant hold upon the mind and heart, it is encouraging that there is some degree at least of the same force in good ones. Men do not easily turn aside, after walking for years in the right path. "Oh," said a profligate descendant of pious ancestors, upon retiring after an evening of jest and merriment, "I wish I could forget the prayers which my mother taught me." You may all recollect the confession of the late John Randolph of Roanoke. "I would have been a French atheist, had it not been that my mother used to call me to her, when a little boy, to repeat the Lord's prayer." This saved him from the evil vortex.

Such facts are instructive to parents, but they make a special demand upon the attention of youth. You, who are now in the bloom of life, are every day weaving for yourselves a web of habits, and when formed, it will have strength beyond all your power to break it! Could you see this subject in its true light, how carefully would you avoid the very first fatal step! Be careless, be indolent, be skeptical, be irreligious, be intemperate now—and you will find where you are, and what you are—when recovery is hopeless! Or be early thoughtful, sober-minded and pious—and you will lay up for time to come, blessings untold. "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to such as walk in them."

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« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2006, 02:58:48 PM »


3. Mark for a moment the EFFECTS which habit produces.

These are apparent every day, and not to take them into account is unwise indeed. Break up a man's habits, even by improving what you call his comforts, and you often make him miserable. It is usually no kindness to the aged, to take them from their cottage, their frugal fare and their early meals, and place them in the mansions and surround them with the ceremonies of fashionable life. Changes of this sort, make them with whatever kind intentions you please, are irksome, and seldom fail to produce discontent. Men who have become opulent by habits of strict attention to business, always perhaps run some risk when they retire from the throng and bustle of life. The quiet and the shade of the country cannot keep the thoughts away from the counting-room and the exchange.

Be careful then to start aright—and afterwards be satisfied to keep quietly on in the path of rectitude. Once learn to master the difficulties of your allotment, to resist the temptations that lie in your path, and to rise superior to the ridicule of the world, and you will, almost as a matter of course, find your bosom filled with happy emotions. The chief struggle is at the outset. The individual who rises early to his study or his trade, soon acquires a habit of looking out upon 'the beauties of the morning', which renders him cheerful and contented. Life to such a one has a brightness and buoyancy which the indolent and listless never enjoy. Even duties that are at first trying and difficult, become such sources of real pleasure, that we often hear the laborer singing merrily at his anvil and the loom.

Only be sure that the course is right and just, and as soon as it becomes habitual it will produce positive enjoyment. God thus intermingles comforts with the trials, crosses and burdens of life—and so arranges things, as one happily says, that the purest water is filtered through charcoal.

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« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2006, 03:11:55 PM »

I can scarcely be too earnest in impressing these thoughts on your attention. If considerate and observing at all, you cannot help seeing how habits of order and temperance and industry—promote health, peace of mind, and prosperity. Not only is the noonday of such a morning warm and genial, but its evening-tide is calm and serene. It is pleasant to mark the fresh countenance, the firm step, and the green old age of one, whose habits of sleep, labor, food and recreation have all been good. A bright and cheerful light is almost sure to shine upon such a path to its very close. What a contrast this to the haggard looks and trembling limbs of the man, whose bad habits have fixed a brand upon him which he must carry to the grave! Do what he may afterwards, traces of the old evil will remain and stick to him until the end.

Good habits are everything to a young man. Point me to a boy in the community, who is growing up thoughtful, industrious, and discreet, no matter how humble his circumstances—and I venture to predict that his future course in the world will be useful and honorable. Rare indeed are the instances in which such a one is beguiled in later life from the paths of uprightness. The good habits he has formed, in addition to their own intrinsic power, will be sure to draw around him a thousand kindly influences, all strengthening the bonds of virtue. But what can be anticipated for an idle, intemperate, disorderly young man? In some lucid moment of after-life, he may resolve upon reformation—but his habits, like so many strong ropes, fasten him to the ways in which he has long been walking. It seems impossible for him now to be anything different from what he has been.

The mind, also, suffers from bad habits as well as the body. Let a person once lose his delicacy of feeling, and a wound is inflicted which many a day of sorrow cannot heal. The bad book that he allows himself to read, the obscene talk in which he indulges, and the impure objects on which he fastens his thoughts, will be sure to make blots hard to be effaced. Even true repentance has no power to wash away the stain. Regret it as he may, the unhallowed imaginations once loved and cherished, will not now depart at his bidding.

cont.
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PS 91:2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust
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