Eccles. 12. 1.
HAving spoken of the former point, I pro∣ceed unto the Second.
Observ. That young men ought especially, to Remember their Creatour in the daies of their youth. What it is to remember, (in the language of the holy Ghost) you may gather by that which I spake of the contrary, in opening the former point; where I shewed you, That this remembrance is not only of the brain, but of the heart, together with the head, implying affections as well as memory, and such as are powerful, Manifesting them∣selves in answerable Practices. So that, as to forget God, is a with-drawing, declining, and turning the heart aside from God; so to remember God, is a cleaving of the heart to him in love, whereby all the Powers of the Soul are given up to him, waiting upon his Will in an holy attendance upon the di∣rections of his Word, readily practising what∣soever he commandeth, and carefully shun∣ing whatsoever he forbideth. We read Page 26Num. 15. 38, 39, 40. That the Lord would have the people of Israel to have fringes on their Garments, that they might remember his Commandments: but not barely to keep them in their memories, but (saith he). That ye may remember, and do all my Commande∣ments, and be holy unto your God. An effectu∣al remembrance that should work upon the affections, and make them holy, that should shape them out an holy course of Life, and make them do all that the Lord had Com∣manded. This doth the Scripture in speci∣al manner require of young men. Psal. 119. 9. Where-withal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto, according to thy Word.
THis Point may be made more plain by Reasons.
Reason 1. The former Point shall be a Reason of this: Young Men are especially apt to forget their Maker; and therefore, young Men ought to be especially careful to remember him. The greater defect there is in any, the greater care is required in supply∣ing that defect. The stronger inclination there is to any sin, the greater watchfulness there ought to be in resisting and subduing that sin. The more unapt and sluggish we Page 27 are towards any duty, the more careful should we be to quicken and encourage our selves to that duty. The weakest parts of a City have special need of guarding. Men that have but weak memories, and have much dealings in the World, are so much the more careful to use their Pens, and commit such things to books and memorials; with which, if they should trust their memories, they would de∣ceive them. So especially in heavenly things; the more apt young Men are to forget their Creatour, the more careful should they be to remember their Maker, because their affecti∣ons are violent; because they are apt to be blinded with a fleshly confidence in youth and strength of body: because they are apt to doate with a carnal complacency upon the natural vigour of their youthful temper; be∣cause they are more capable of carnal plea∣sures, than the elder sort: because there are so many snares laid for them, above others; by all which means, they are apt to lose the best and happiest use of their memories, and to live in a sensual forgetfulness of, and neg∣lect of their God, and Creatour: therefore, should they with a double care and watchful∣ness, endeavour to stirr up their hearts to a conscionable, and affectionate remembrance of their Maker.
Page 28 2. We may also gather a reason from the second word in my Text.
[Now] Remember now &c. which noreth a special excellency of this time above others. As if he had said; Now is the chief time wherein thou mayst do God best Service, So then young men ought especially, to re∣member their Creatour, because, Now in their young daies, is the chiefest and choyce∣est time, wherein they may glorifie their God, and do him acceptable Service. Remem∣ber now, while sin is but budding, whiles cor∣ruptions are but twiggs, while lust is but con∣ceiving; while passion and anger is but a green wound, not festered and turned into a setled and cankered malice, and revengeful disposition. Now, whiles thy senses are quick, thy spirits lively, thy temper healthy, thy bo∣dy strong; while thy blood is warm, and eve∣ry part is fit for that imployment, for which it was ordained. Now, shew they self mind∣ful of thy Creatour, careful of his service, respectful of his Glory. Now, thou canst do something for him, Now, is the time wherein thou art able, and therefore Now especially thou must remember him.
3. This word [Now] may seem to imply somewhat more, viz. That this which is here required must be done, now or never. True Page 29 it is, some few may be converted in their elder years, who in their youth, were forget∣ful of their Maker; but ye must observe, that here the Lord requireth of every one, that he should give up the strength, the morning, the freshest and principal part of his life un∣to him, and his service. Now, this can ne∣ver be done but in youth; and he that spend∣eth his youth in sin and impenitency, can ne∣ver perform this work; he can never give up his strength, and the best of his time to God. The Lord saith, Remember ye keep holy the Sabbath day; this should be presently done without delay; but yet, some who have been careless prophaners of the Lords day, have afterwards been conscionable observers of it. But when the Lord saith, Remember your Creatour in youth, this cannot be done but in youth. He that spendeth his youth in impe∣nitency and ungodliness, can never afterwards give up his youth, and the strength thereof unto God. Under the Law, the Lord re∣quired the best of the Flock for Sacrifice; Now, he that should sell or kill all the best, and leave none but the old, the starveling, the blind, the lame, &c. That man could ne∣ver obey the Commandment; so when the Lord biddeth us to remember to give up our youth to him; if we spend this and our Page 30 strength in sin, we can never obey this Com∣mandment, for that time and strength is gone, and our importent time, crazy, drowsy old age is left.
4. From this Word [Creatour] God made all things for his glory, and the more excel∣lent any Creature is, either in regard of its specifical nature or kind, or in regard of its particular qualities and excellencies, the more is it tyed to glorify God that made it such. So among all earthly Creatures, Man being made of the most excellent nature, is most straitly tyed to glorify God the Creatour. And among Men, such as are in their youth and strength, being endowed with the most excel∣lent abilities, ought more especially to re∣member him.
5. Consider these Words, [Thy Creatour] God is the Creatour of young Men, as young Men. He did nor only give thee the being of a Man, but the years, the life, the health, the strength, the vigour of a young Man. He is the Author of thy youth, the Creatour of thy strength, he is thy Creatour in special; he hath now Created that strength, and ability in thee, which he hath not yet Created in Chil∣dren, that which he hath taken from old Men. Thou hast that work of his now wrought up∣on, and she•ing it self in thee, which is not Page 31 in others; and therefore, Remember thy Cre∣atour, that hath Created that hot Blood, that warmeth thy heart, that quickness of appre∣hension, and those lively Spirits that are with∣in thee.
6. Consider these Words [In the dayes of thy youth,] daies and not years, daies and not nights. Thy youth is but a few May-daies, it will presently be gone; and therefore in those few daies, that short time, thou should∣est give up thy self to thy Creatour. Could not ye Watch with me one hour? a just reproof of our Saviour to his sleepy Disciples. Could ye not afford me a few daies? a just reproof of all silly souls, who are not wise unto Salvation, and think their youth too good, too much to be given up to God. It is not three hundred years that the Lord asketh at thy hands, as at Henoch's; nor Nine hundred and upwards, as he required of other Patriaches, but a few daies of youth. Dai•s, and not Nights.] The times of youth, consist of Daies; then is the Sun-shine, the Night follow, dark times of old age; aches, weakness, sickness, sleepi∣ness. Now because these are Daies, they must be given up to God, who is Light; and not to the Devil, who is the Prince of Dark∣ness: not to sins, which are works of Darkness. This is gross folly to give the Page 32 Days of youth to Satan, and to leave the dimme evening of our old declining age to God; to give the good, the best daies to Satan, and the evil daies (as they are called after¦wards) yea the worst to God.
Vse. 1. THis sheweth the great folly of young Men, who think (of all others in a Congregation) that they have least reason to give any special heed, and yield obedience unto the Word Preached. Old Men (they think) had need to look about them, they smell of the Winding-sheet, the Grave groaneth for them, an earthy cold be∣numeth their Limbs, the beginnings of death are already upon them, and have taken deep possession of them: but as for themselves, they are full of Life, and feel no messengers of Death: Life aboundeth in their Blood, in their Spirits, it is strongly seated in their Bones, it beateth in their pulses, it looketh out at their eyes, and shineth in their faces: there is no sign, no shew of Death. Alass, poor souls! Death doth not alwayes give any long time of warning, it maketh many sudden surprizals, as well as tedious and lin∣gring seiges. It hangeth up young Absalom invironed with his Warlike troops; it shed∣deth Page 33 young Amnon's blood in the midst of his Cups; while Jobs Sons and his Daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest Brothers house, there came a great wind from the Wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and f•ll upon the young Men, and they dyed, Job 1. 18, 19. In one night Death sl•yeth the Sons and Heirs of Pha∣raoh, and of all the Egyptians; so that there was scarce one house, where there was not one young Man dead.
How often hath the supream Lord of Life and Death taught us by evident examples, that no age is priv•ledged, no years are ex∣empted; that the youngest cannot promise himself another year, another day, or hour? ye that sit here old and young, who knoweth when, or where the next blow will light? Sin hath perverted the order of Nature, and put it out of course; and therefore ye must not look, that the same order should be kept in passing out, which was in coming into the World; and that those who came first, should alwaies leave those behind them, which were born after them. The Son dyeth before the Father, the Nephew before the Grand-father, the Young before the Old, the Heir before him that is in possession. Sin hath let in Death into the World, and that cometh in as an Page 34 Enemy, not upon parly and conditions, b•• as a Conqueror by a forcible entry, and 〈◊〉 sacketh this City of the World, and maketh no difference of Sex or Age, but kille• and striketh on the right han•, and on th• left, It hearkneth to no such plea: The•• is an elder man, There is a Woman that 〈◊〉 old when I was a Child; let me alone, I am content to yield when mine Auntients a•• gone before me: No, if I will that he 〈◊〉 what is that to thee? follow thou m• Some daies in the year, are not near so lo•• as some others. Some mens lives will b• reach the middle of some others, their 〈◊〉 setteth at noon, and the night is come upo• them before they have begun their da••• work. Therefore let young men learn wi•∣dom from the wise man; yea, from the Sp•∣rit speaking in this Text, Remembering the Creatour, in the daies of their Youth. And 〈◊〉 thou, O young Man! whatsoever thou hea••∣est, concerning the wayes of God; thin• that whatsoever remembrances, are delive•∣ed from the Word, to put thee in mind of 〈◊〉Creatour, that they concern thee in especial. 〈◊〉 there were none but young Men in a Parist that place should have special need of th• Word of God. If there were no gray-he•• in a Congregation, yet there is need of sp•∣cial Page 35 Exhortations from the Word, to mind such of their Creatour. If thou hearest of present Repentance, conceive that it is spo∣ken to thee. If the danger of continuing in sin, and delaying conversion be set for•h in the Ministry of the Word, know that this belongeth to thee in special manner, who art in the daies of thy youth. If thou hearest the charge of our Saviour, Watch therefore, left at any time your hearts be overcome with Surfeiting and Drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you una∣wares, Luk. 21. 34. Know, that this is spo∣ken unto thee, and that thou in thy youth, must not at any time give way to these things; no, not when friends meet, nor when thou art urged, and haled to it. When Solo∣mon saith, My Son, when sinners entice thee, consent thou not Prov. 1. 10. Think that he speaketh to thee. Whom doth the Com∣pellation [My Son] better befit than the young Man? when St. Paul saith, God hath not called us unto uncle anness, but unto holiness; that every one of us should possess his vessel in sanctification and in honour, not in the lust of Concupisence, &c. 1. These 4. 4, 5. Believe 〈◊〉, that he speaketh unto thee, who art in thy youth; wherein he speaketh most plainly. 2 Tim. 2. 22. Fly also youthful Lusts.
Use 2. THis also sheweth another not able Errour of young Men, who think they may freely take that liberty which other• may not, and walk more at large, than thos• of elder years. Ye see the holy Ghost crosse this conceit, and calleth upon young Me• more especially, to Remember their Creatou• Know therefore, That when our Saviour saith Enter in at the strait Gate, He speake• unto you that are young, and requireth th• of you in your youth as well as any othe• He directeth both old and young to com• this way to Heaven; for broad is the way, an• wide is the Gate that leadeth to Destruction and many there be which go in thereat: becau•• strait is the Gate, and narrow is the wa• which leadeth unto Life, and few there be th• find it, Mat. 7. 13, Our Saviour charge• all to leave the broad way, that will not 〈◊〉 into Destruction; and therefore for youn• Men to think, that they may walk at large, an• follow their Lusts, is to imagine, that the• have liberty, to run into Damnation. Ther• is but one way, (and that is a narrow one but one Gate, (and that is a strait one) tha• leadeth unto Life; and they that would liv• for ever, must enter into Life by this strai•Page 37 Gate, and narrow way, whether young or old. If ye would know what allowance ye have in this kind, it is no more than that which Solomon giveth in Eccles. 11. 9. Rejoyce O young man in thy youth, and let thy heart chear thee in the daies of thy youth. Take thy plea∣sure; but so, that thou make sure account for all these vanities and sicentiousness of youth, to give a most strict account at the day of Judgment. If thou wi•t tipple, if thou wilt swear, if thou w•lt ••le away thy time, &c. know for a certain, that God will bring thee to Judgment for all these things.
Was it not to a young M•n that our Sa∣viour spake, when he said, Go and sell all that thou hast, give to the poor, and follow me? Mar. 19. 21, 22. Here was a narrow way, and yet this was required of a young Man, if he would be saved. And though h• were young, yet could he get no release of our Sa∣viour, but he goeth away with a sad and sor∣rowful heart. The like in effect, saith our Saviour to every young Man; sell all that thou hast: do away thy Lusts, put away thy Drunkenness, cast off Lying, Swearing, Idle∣ness, Pride, Vanities, and follow me. The way of Christ is the strictest 〈◊〉, the nar∣rowest path that ever Man went. Now Christ will have young Men follow him, and keep Page 38 their feet in the narrow way which he hath gone before, and tread in his steps. I hope none will be so Blasphemous, as to say, that Christ did take this licentious course, which young Men think they may take. Well then if thou wilt enter into life, thou must follow him, and go in that narrow path wherein he walked. It is to be observed, that Christ was young, and dyed young; therefore if ye that are young, look for Salvation by him, ye must follow him, in those waies of his youth. All those good works, all that ho∣l•ness, whereby he fulfilled all righteousness, these were the practises of his youth; if then ye will have him for your Saviour, who walk∣ed thus in his youth, ye must follow him in your youth. Christ went about doing good, and thinkest thou, that thou maist go about doing evil, that thou maist run about hunting after idle meetings, and ill company because thou art young, and in the flower of thy youth? No, Christ was young, when he went about doing good, Act. 10. 38. And therefore if thou takest liberty to go about doing evil, because thou art young, thou art no Disciple of Christ.
Use 3. LEt me exhort you that are young, That ye would effectually lay to heart these words of the holy-Ghost. Re∣member now thy Creatour in the daies of thy youth.] Oh that you would now enter into a Covenant with the Lord, and bind your selves resolvedly to seek your Creatour! To you that are young the Spirit of God here speaketh: Oh take heed of despising him that speaketh from heaven, because of your youth; but hear him so much the rather, be∣cause he speaks to young Men, and for this end let me urge you with some Motives.
1. Consider, what wrong it is to God, to give Satan the best of thy time? Under the Law, the first-Fruits were to be given to God. Levit. 23. 10.—14. And they might eat no bread until the Lord had the First-Fruits offered unto him. So that he who should presume to eat any of his Corn, before the Lord had his portion, even a sheaf of the first-fruits, he was no better than a Sacrilegious intruder upon the Lord's Possession. So the Lord requireth of thee, O young Man! the first-Fruits of thy Life, even thy youth and strength; and if thou dost not offer and consecrate thy young years to Page 40 the Lord, thou dealest Sacrilegiously, thou dost •lienate the Lord's Portion; thou de∣liverest Possessi•n unto Satan, of that which God hath committed to thy trust, to reserve wholly for him; sike some unfaithful Ten∣nant, yielding up the possession to him that hath but ap••tended Tirle, to the prejudi•• of the right owner. Oh do not give th• first-Fruits unto the Dev•l! and think that God will be pleased with the Gleanings, the refuse, and scattered ears, the dreggs of old age, Offer it now to thy Prince, see if he will accep• thee, Malac. 1. 8. As if he had said; Serve thy Princes Enemy in thy youth and strength, and then come to the Court• in thine old age, limping with thy stilts, a•• crutches, and say, Mine old Master hath cast me off, and now I will serve thee; see then if he will entertain thee. So it is in this case.
2. Consider that God loveth cheerfulness in his services; so many places of Scripture shew. Rejoyce in the Lord, &c. I will run the wayes of thy Commandments; saith David, Quicken me O Lord, &c. Now youth is the most cheerful part of a mans Life, then the heart is in the liveliest temper, then the spirits are freshest, and quickest; and natural cheerfulness being Sanctified, is a furtherance Page 41 of spiritual joy. The quickness of the natu∣ral temper (which is in youth most vigorous,) is a good servant to quickning grace. Think not, that God is best pleased with the lumpish old age, which many times is little more than a dead piece of Earth, with a little portion, a small remainder of life abiding in it. God is the living God, and he requireth living Sa∣crifices Rom. 12. 1. Now thy youth hath more life in it than thine old age: There is (as it were) a close union between the Soul and Body in youth. The Soul imparteth a more plentiful •nfluence of Life unto the Body in you•h, than •n old age, by the quick∣ness and plenty of the Spirits, which in youth are more abundent than in age. Give up therefore this most living part of thy life, thy young daies unto God; and not only that part of life which partaketh more of Death than of life; th•ne old decrepit and disabled age. The hoary head is a Crown of Glory, if it be found in a way of Righteousness, Prov. 16. 31. [Found,] He doth not say, if it enter into the way of Righteousness, but if it be Found there. If a Man hath turned to God in his youth, and persevered in upright walking before him, until gray haires come upon him; that Man needeth no Crown of Gold to adorn his head, his hoary head is a 〈1 page duplicate〉Page 40〈1 page duplicate〉Page 41Page 42 Crown of Glory to him. If under the Law a Man did burn the prime of his Beast in Sa∣crifice, it was accepted: yea, when it was al∣most consumed, even the remainders that were half burnt, did yield a sweet savour to the Lord: because the best was burnt also upon the Altar of the Lord. So let a Man consecrate the prime of his daies, his youth to the Lord; offer up this as a living Sacri∣fice, and then, even his worn old age, which is like a Sacrifice half burnt and spent, shall be exceeding sweet and pleasing to the Lord, because the best was given up unto him: whereas on the other side, should any of the Priests have burned a Sacrifice upon the Al∣tar of Baal, and then when it was half burnt should have brought the gleanings and laid them upon the Altar of the Lord, this would have been a grievous abomination in the sight of the Lord. So in this case, &c. Oh then, Remember thy Creatour in thy youth, lest he forget or despise thee in thine age. Remem∣ber him in thy youth, that thy hoar head may be found in the way of Righteousness, and so may be a Crown of Glory, and not a Specta∣cle of Reproach and Contempt unto thee.
3. Consider especially, the unspeakable danger of Sin, confirmed and rooted with time; wrought and wreathed into the heart, Page 43 and clasped in the affections, by long custom in sin. Oh when sin hath been thirty or forty years in growing, and taking root, it cleaveth like the skin to the bones; like the Leprosy that was rooted in a wall, which could not be taken away, untill the wall were pulled down. That sin which is in growing the whole time of a Mans youth, during the best of his strength, it is even a Wonder, if it doth not accompany that Man to his Death∣bed; yea, to the Judgment-seat of God. I know, the mercy of God is infinite, and he calleth at the Eleventh hour: but I am per∣swaded, those are very few which are so cal∣led: and especially very few, (if any) of those who have had the means of Grace in their youth, and regarded them not. Oh this willful hardning of the heart is dreadful. This continuing in sin against knowledge; this with-holding the truth in unrighteous∣ness, moveth the Lord to give men over to a Reprobate sence; Rom. 1. 21, 24, 25, 28. Into such a state, that he becometh uncapa∣ble, unteachable; that neither blessings, nor crosses; neither the Rod, nor the Word; neither sickness, nor health; neither gray haris, nor the approach of Death, can work him to to sound Conversion. Ah poor for∣saken Soul! such a one may come to say Page 44 with Saul, God hath forsaken me! A speech, that might rend a render heart to hear it. I speak not this to bring you to despair, but to stirr you up to speedy Repentance, that ye may prevent this desperate and woful con∣dition.
IN the last place, let me speak a few words to Parents, and old People.
1. To Parents: Ye that are Parents, la∣bour ye to season the very Child-hood of your Sons and Daughters with the true knowledg and fear of God; pray over them daily, in∣struct, exhort, rebuke, and use all good means, that the prime of their daies may be given up to God: Teach them to Remember their Creatour in their Childhood, that they may neither forget him in their youth, nor forsake him in their old age. I fear that most Pa∣rents among us, by neglecting their Duty herein; are guilty of their Childrens De∣struction.
2. To the Aged: Ye that are grown old, and have not remembred your Creatour in your younger daies, whose bones are full of the sins of your youth; Oh know that your case is exceeding dangerous! therefore be∣waile your lives, whereby ye have so much Page 45 dishonoured your Maker: humble and judge your selves in the bitterness of your Souls; cry continually, and importunately in the ears of the Lord, that (if it be possible) the sins of your youth, and the long continued wickedness of your Lives, may be forgiven you, that the often resistance which ye have made against the spirit of God may be pardo∣ned, if it be possible, that the frequent casting of the Word of God behind thy back may be forgiven. Oh how odious and contemp∣tible is the hoary head, found in the way of wickedness, in a state of impenitency? What is an old Drunkard, or Adulterer, a gray-headed Swearer, an old Covetous World∣ling, an hoary headed impenitent person, but even a monster among Men? What dost thou not yet remember thy Creatour? not in old age, not at fifty, at sixty, or seventy years? Oh wreched security! Awake! awake unto Righteousness, unto Repentance, ye old ones that sleep in sin, lest ye sleep the sleep of ever∣lasting Death, and never behold the face of God in Righteousness!