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when pleasure and ambition were before him, and eastern servility, with its wonted adulation, told him, that all things were in his hand,-betaking himself thus humbly to his God, and imploring of Him that wisdom which might enable him to resist the temptations with which his situation surrounded him, and to fulfil the duties to which he was called. Had it been in the latter periods of his reign, when satiated with pleasure, and disappointed in ambition,-when fatigued with the cares and pageantry of a throne, he looked abroad for better comforts,-had it been at such a time that Solomon had directed his soul to Heaven, much of the merit of his piety would have been lost. It would have then appeared only as the last refuge of a discontented mind, which interest, not disposition, had led to devotion; and which sought only for repose in piety, when it had been disappointed in every thing else. But at such a season, to be guided by such sentiments,-in such an hour to betake himself to God,-bespeaks a mind so humble and yet so pure; a disposition so ardently and yet so rightly inclined; and a soul so well fitted for every kind of excellence, that no language of praise seems too great for its desert.

It is not, however, from the peculiar situation of Solomon, that the beauty of this memorable instance of devotion arises. The charm of it chiefly consists in its suitableness to the season of

youth; in its correspondence to the character and dispositions which distinguish that important age; and which no length of acquaintance with the world prevents us from wishing to find in the young. In all situations, indeed, of human life, piety is the duty and the interest of mankind : but in youth, it has something singularly graceful and becoming; something which ever disposes us to think well of the mind in which it is found ; and which, better than all the other attainments of life, appears to promise honour and happiness in future days.

It is suited, in the first place, we think, to the opening of human life,-to that interesting season, when nature in all its beauty first opens on the view, and when the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty fall on the heart, unmingled and unimpaired. It is suited, in the next place, to the nature of youthful imagination; to that love of excellence and perfection which nothing mortal ever can realize, and which can find only in the truths of religion, the objects of which it is in search. It is suited still more, perhaps, to the tenderness of young affections; to that sensibility which every instance of goodness ean move; and to that warm and generous temper which meets every where with the objects of its gratitude or love. But, most of all, it is suited, in our opinion, to the innocence of the youthful mind, to that sacred and sinless purity which can lift its unpol

luted hands to Heaven; which guilt hath not yet torn from confidence and hope in God; and which can look beyond the world to that society of kindred spirits, "of whom is the kingdom of Heaven." The progress of life, we know, may bring other acquisitions; it may strengthen religion by experience, and add knowledge to faith: But the piety which springs only from the heart,-the devotion which nature, and not reasoning inspires, -the pure homage which flows unbidden from the tongue, and which asks no other motive for its payment than the pleasures which it bestows,— these are the possessions of youth, and of youth alone.

The feelings of piety, however, are not only natural and becoming in youth; they are still more valuable, as tending to the formation of future character; as affording the best and noblest school in which the mind may be trained to whatever is great or good in human nature. I shall, at present, endeavour to illustrate some of the important consequences which, in this respect, follow from youthful piety.

That the convictions of religion form the great foundation of moral conduct,-that piety, in itself, is fitted to exalt the human mind to its greatest degree of virtuous perfection,-are truths which every one acknowledges, and which the experience of mankind sufficiently proves.-But the misfortune is, that, in general, religion is acquired too late in

life, to produce all the effects on the mind which it is fitted to have, and when, instead of forming the character, it is itself formed by it. The habits of worldly pursuit have, ere this period occurs, contracted the mind to narrow views, and sordid occupations. The ambition, which once grasped at excellence, and which thought no honours were impossible to be obtained in the conflict of human life, has, ere this, expired under the daily pressure of trivial cares, and the daily demand of unimportant exertions. The testimony of conscience has, long before now, armed the Deity with terrour, and extinguished all the fascinating views which immortality affords, in the gloom with which it now is covered. At such a period of life, religion is embraced, rather because it is necessary, than because it is pleasing. It is an occasional, rather than a permanent affection,-which comes rather to console the hours of distress, when every other comfort leaves us, than to influence the general thoughts, and animate the general conduct. To most men, accordingly, the best effects of religion are altogether unknown. It mingles not in their daily pursuits, nor softens their usual duty. It is banished from their thoughts in the days of happiness and tranquillity, and is sought after only when misfortunes press, or diseases alarm. It possesses, therefore, only a negative effect on their conduct or character. It intimidates them, perhaps, from great violations of duty,—but it

stimulates them to no positive virtue. It terrifies them by the prospect of punishments,-but it excites them to no ambition of doing well. It is a slavish and a timid service, and not "the glorious "liberty of the sons of God."

The piety which is formed in youth has a dif ferent character, and leads to very different effects. It springs in the first and purest state of the human mind, when the soul comes fresh from the hands of its Creator, and when no habits of life have contracted the reach of its powers. It comes in that happy season, when life is new, and hope unbroken; when nature seems every where to rejoice around, and when the love of God rises unbidden in the soul. It comes not, then, to terrify or to alarm, but to afford every high and pleasing prospect in which the heart can indulge,-to withdraw the veil which covers the splendours of the eternal mind, to open that futurity which awakens all their desires to behold, and, in the sublime occupations of which they feel already, as by some secret inspiration, the home and destiny of their souls. At such a period, religion is not a service of necessity, but of joy. It is not an occasional, but a permanent subject of meditation,—a subject which can fill their solitary hours with rapture; which involuntarily occurs to them in every season, when their hearts are disposed to feel; and to which they willingly return from all the disappointments or follies of life, and resume again their unblemished joys.

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