THis we might see plainly, if we did b• consider the nature and temper•• youth, and then think what corresponde•∣cy and suitableness there is between it, 〈◊〉 true grace and holiness. He that will ma•• a comely garment for another, must not on∣ly make one part of it proportionable to an•∣ther, but must take measure of him that 〈◊〉 to wear it, that it may be comely and fit i• him. A Man's garment, though never 〈◊〉 comely and proportionable in it self, will n•∣ver Page 51 be comely and fit for a Child. Here then let us take measure of youth, and see how well it will become him to put on the new Man, to put on the Lord Jesus.
1. Hath the young man a special quick∣ness of witt and apprehension? what can be∣come him better than to search into the glo∣rious Mysteries of Christ's holy Gospel, and not content himself with a few answers committed to Memory, which he is able to fit to some questions of Chatechism, but se∣riously and with most earnest endeavours to study the Doctrine of Godliness, and care∣fully to learn that wisdom which is from above. There is no knowledge can so well become the best witt and understanding, as the best and most excellent knowledge, and that is the true saving knowledge of God, of Christ Crucified, which St. Paul esteemed incomparably better than all his other learn∣ing. This will beautify the freshest, and most sparkling witt, it will make the very Spirit of a Man shine within him. This was young Timothy's ornament. 2 Tim. 3. 15. From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto Salva∣tion, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. That wisdom must needs beautify a young Mans mind, which maketh him wise unto Page 52 Salvation, wise for Heaven, which putteth such a light into him, as is suitable to Heaven and Everlasting light, which is like the wis∣dom of the Saints and Angels above; of which knowledge St. Paul. saith, 2 Cor. 4. 6. God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The Sun-beams do as it were guild things whereon it shineth, and make them look bright and pleasant, whereas they looked dull before without any such lustre or comeliness. This Heavenly Knowledge is a shining knowledge, it bright• ens and beautifies the Mind and Soul: and the more fresh and nimble the witt and un∣derstanding is, the more it is adorned by it: no skill, no knowledge; no learning is so comly for a young Man, as this true saving knowledge of God in Christ.
II. Hath the young man some strength of memory? what can become this Treasury or Store-house so well as Gold, Silver, Pre∣tious-Stones (as the Apostle calleth holy Truths:) what should hay and stubble, trash and dirt do in so pretious a Cabinet? what is more unseemly, than to have it filled with wanton idle Songs, with scurrilous jests, with airy vain conceits, foolish balla•s, legenda∣ry Page 53 tales, or the like? that which is fit for the Dung-hil is not seemly for a Cabinet.
III. Is youth full of lively and stirring affections? what is more seemly than for the quickest affections, and for the most lively motions of the Heart and Spirit to be exer∣cised about Heavenly, and Spiritual things. The World is said to be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, because of its comliness which God gave it in the Cre∣ation. Now God hath thus ordered the World in its several parts, that the quickest and nimblest, should be highest in their rank, and the slowest and dullest, should be lowest. So the Heavens which are of a most strange and wonderful swiftness, are highest; and of other things the quickest in motion are nearest Heaven; so the Air, and in the Air the Birds: whereas the Earth being slow, and without Motion, lyeth below all the rest, and is farthest from Heaven. So what is more seemly, than for those winged affecti∣ons of young Men and Women to mount up to Heaven, and the quicker and swifter they are in their Motions, the higher it be∣cometh them to fly; what should they do creeping on the Earth like Snailes, or earth∣ing themselves in the Earth like Moles, or mudding these lively affections in sinful flesh∣ly pleasures? Why rather should they not Page 54 in their daies of youth cast their Souls upon the wing, earnestly desiring God to draw them, that they may run after him. Is it a seemly thing to see a Lark or an Eagle to make her self a burrow or nest under ground, or to plunge her self in the Mud? No, it be∣cometh her to be aloft: so it becometh not the winged affections of the younger sort to bemudd themselves with sinful pleasures, but to be lifted up in the power of Gods Spi∣rit, and to converse with him who is invisible. The dullness of age hath more affinity with Earth, than the vigour of youth: which yet must not perswade old Men to follow the in∣clination of age, and because their backs are bowed with years, to think themselves war∣ranted to debase their Souls to earthly affections, but rather to conceive themselves directed to look themselves out a burying place; entring into a serious Meditation of the Grave, whiles their bodies by the de∣caies of age, are daily preparing for their last dissolution, into those first earthly Prin∣ciples of which they were compound∣ed.
IV. And as the quickness of young Mens affections should thus set them in a course of holiness; so the quickness of their Spirits (which is one cause of the quickness Page 55 of their affections) doth exceeding well suit with true grace and holiness. The Acti∣vity, and (as the Country-word is) the Met∣tle that is in the younger sort is very suita∣ble to an holy Conversation. This is one thing which maketh many men falsely to think, that Religion is not seemly for youth; but these are such as know not the power of godliness, and therefore think it to be a lum∣pish dulling thing. But what blindness is this to imagine, that the blessed Spirit of God is a duller to the Spirit of a Man, when he worketh upon it by his sanctifying power and vertue! No, it is enough indeed to put life into a dead heart, when the blessed Spi∣rit affordeth his gracious Influence unto it. If the Sun doth dull and dead the Earth, the Trees, the Herbs in the Spring-time, then may ye imagine, that the Spirit of God doth dull the Spirits of Men by Sanctifying and Quickening them. It taketh away indeed their wildness and madness, that is to say, their untowardness, unseemliness, and un∣comeliness; but it rather encreaseth and pu∣rifieth their kindly vigour, and giveth them yet a greater and an higher life, and maketh them more lively than before; but with a sweet, spiritual, and heavenly kind of Life. It is true, that in the beginnings of grace Page 56 there is some drooping and dejectedness, but that is but in the turn when they are coming out of their natural estate from under the Curse and Wrath of God. But if once they be indeed set in a course of holiness, and find the comfort of Gods love in Christ, they shall find themselves more enlivened and quickened by the Spirit of God than they can be by nature only. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, saith the Apostle. The Spirit of Christ enlargeth the heart, striketh off the fetters of Corruptions, and maketh it more free and full of Life. There∣fore David often calleth upon God to quick∣en him. He was a man naturally of a quick temper, of a fresh lively Spirit, as appear∣eth by that Description given of him. 1 Sam. 16. 12. He was ruddy, and withal of a beau∣tiful countenance, and goodly to look to. But he knew, that grace would quicken him more, and give him a heavenly activity of Spirit, and therefore desired to be more and more quickened by it. And how can the vigour and quickness of youth be better im∣ployed than in the work and service of God? Is not the Service of God a race? And who are so fit to run, as those who are young, and of nimble Spirits? Let us run with patience the race that is set before us: and else-where; Page 57so run that ye may obtain. Which as it im∣plyeth, a winged swiftness, and quickness of stirring affections in the service of God; so also a ready diligence, and active chearfull∣ness in any work of his, to which the heavi∣ness of old age is a clogging hinderance; and which doth exceeding well become the liveliness of youthful Spirits.
V. Are young Men strong, and of able Bodies? What is more comely for them, than to serve the Lord with all their Strength? The weakness of the Body, doth even make the Spirit fail and faint, and hindereth it many times in the Service of God. Strength is an help in the worship of God; and the Spirit in a strong Body, is like a work-man standing upon firm ground; which is an help and furtherance in the work.
VI. Are they full of courage, and vali∣ant as well as strong? They can never with so much honour follow any other Captain, as they may fight under the Banner of Je∣sus Christ, the Prince and Captain of their Salvation. No Victory so honourable for a young Man as to kill pride, and lust in himself, and to get the old red Dragon un∣der his feet. To shed an enemies blood, is no way so honourable, as to Triumph over Satans malice. One Mastiff can tear Page 58 out another's Throat: one Bull can goar another's side: one desperate person can shed another's Blood: but where is that glorious valour in a young Man, that (like Josuah's followers) setteth his feet on the necks of five Kings of Canaan at once, that subdu∣eth his five Senses, and overcometh all Tem∣ptations that enter in at these? He that can strongly guard these Cinque-ports, and stands out against all approaches in his youth, he is an honourable Souldier of Jesus Christ. And if he go on, and overcome, He shall sit down with him in his Throne, as he over∣came and sate down with his Father in his Throne, Rev. 3. 21. They that fight this good Fight, may assure themselves, that 〈◊〉 Crown of Glory is laid up for them, which they shall wear, when many renowned Cap∣tains of the World, who have been Tri∣umphant over their Enemies, Shall lye down in sorrow and confusion. But as the Apostle saith concerning Marriage, If any man think∣eth that he behaveth himself uncomely toward• his Virgin, if she passe the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will he sinneth not, let them Marry. 1 Cor. 7. 36. So if any man thinketh that he be∣haveth himself unseemly toward the courage, strength, and valour of his Body and Mind; Page 59 if he wear out his youth in Peace, and do not shew himself in the Field, let him know, that Religion doth not disarme him, if the Cause be good, and the Warr necessary; otherwise to fight in Publick Warrs, is no more honourable, than it is to assault men on the high-wayes side. And when a Christi∣an hath a just Call to fight the Lords Battles, Religion doth not daunt, but double his courage. True it is; Religion takes from him the Sword of Revenge, and command∣eth him to put it up into its place: it allow∣eth him not to answer every desperate Ruffians Challenge, which is as uncomely for a wise young man, as it is to fight with every Dog that barketh at him.
VII. Is youth accompanied many times with health? what is more seemly for him that is well, than to do well, and to serve him faithfully who giveth him every hour of health which he enjoyeth? The sickness and craziness of old age is many times a great distraction and discouragement to the Ser∣vice of God: therefore they are much de∣ceived, who make Repentance the work of the Sick-bed, and think that the fittest time for that work.
VIII. Is youth enclined to love? Christ commandeth nothing but love, and that which Page 60 love, supposeth and inferreth: only it requir∣eth a more noble, divine, and excellent kind of love, and turneth it upon a more ex∣cellent object, upon which it is better be∣stowed than upon the common objects of na∣tural love, Viz. upon God the chiefest good, and upon such things as are subordinate to him.
IX. Is youth disposed to Mirth? Grace is so farr from depriving it of this, that he which never felt true Grace, never came where sound joy was. The heart is filled with peace and joy in Believing; and the peace of God passeth understanding. Yea, the Word of God calleth for joy. Rejoyce in the Lord; again I say rejoyce. It bettereth and encreaseth our mirth, it doth not take it from us.
X. Consider the young man in Relation to others, and you shall find nothing so seemly for him as grace and holiness, and a conformity to the Word of God. Nothing more comely for a young man than so to car∣ry himself toward his Superiours as the word of God directeth him. What more seem∣ly for the younger sort, than to give that ho∣nour, reverence, respect to Parents, Masters, Aged People, which the word enjoyneth them? A proud, undutiful, contemptuous carriage Page 61 in the younger sort towards their betters, doth worse become them than any deformity or blemish in the body. A young man is ne∣ver more out of fashion, than when he is careless of his duty in this behalf: and again, never more comely, than when he adorneth his life with that modesty and dutiful respect to which true grace directeth younger years. It is a singular ornament to a young man to be one of those few which find out, and constant∣ly walk in the narrow way in their youthful daies.