Abiel Abbot.

The duty of youth : in a sermon, occasioned by the death of Miss Sarah Ayer, daughter of Mr. Moses Ayer, who expired April 7th, 1802, in the 22d year of her age, and delivered immediately after the interment on Lord's Day online

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Online LibraryAbiel AbbotThe duty of youth : in a sermon, occasioned by the death of Miss Sarah Ayer, daughter of Mr. Moses Ayer, who expired April 7th, 1802, in the 22d year of her age, and delivered immediately after the interment on Lord's Day → online text (page 1 of 1)
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DEEPLY impressed with the solemi^
truths contained in the sermon, preached after the funeral of
Miss Ayer, and solicitous for the promotion of early piety,
theladiesofyoursociety venture to request a copy for the
press. As this sermon was occasioned by the early death of
oneofournumber, wehope. Sir, no other apology necessa-
ry for this application. While we affectionately remember
him, who, with Such fidelity and itapressiveness, has so fre-
quently enforced upon our minds the importance of religion,
the beauty of holiness, may we not be unmindful of that first;"
great duty — to remember a^iid love our Creator, '

HaverbillyJ^ril l^^l^Qi.



THE request contained in your letter
you support by reasons, which I cannot resist; I readily
comply with it. The defects of a sermon, written in ill health
and great haste, I will forget in the hope that it may be bless-
ed to render lasting those impressions, which you think were
made at the time of delivery. At the least, it may ferve as a
remembrancer of the peculiarly solemn and affecting scenes
of that day, which lent their impressive aid to the sermon.

The personal respect and affection and the general seri-
ousness, exhibited on this occasion, ate affecting circum-
stances to your Pastor; and he sincerely joins you in the
prayerful wish that you may never be unmindful of that first
great duty—/*? remember andloyeymr Creator.


JJarerbill, April 1 9, 1 8o2.

B^mg^s^m^^jMi^M^M^jmam&^mii^^iidtiM^^^^ ^







As the text, fo the follownio; di{-
courfe, is addreiTed wholly to the young in this aG*
'ifembly. May the blelled Spirit of God fet home,
upon your hearts what fball now be /aid. I con-
fefs to you that I never addrefs you in particular^
but with a confiderabje hope of efFedl. Youth iss
thefeafon of impreffions; your hearts are tender;
your affedlions are quick ; your perception i$
ftrong and lively. Affefting fubjefts, prefented
to you, are interefling ; their effedl is inftantly
xnanifeft in your countenances, which color with
\'Our feelings, and in your eyes, which are not un-
irequently filJed with tears. Thofe reafons, which


pake it particularly your duty to attend to religioi3|
while young, raake it the duty of your religious in-
Uruftor to pay particular attention to you. Of
this, I hope you wdi bear me witnefs, 1 have not
beenwhollynegligept.— If your rninds are at all
times apt to impreiiions, they muft be doubly fo
today. If you were even cold and dull on com-
mon occafiorts, you would feel on this. If death
nnd eteriiity have appeared to you reii^ote reali-
ties, they are brought near to you now ; you have
feen the power of death on one of your number and
hex fpirit has winged its flight into eternity. It
were flrange indeed, if you fliould remain untouch-
ed by thefe things. But you are not ; a combina-
tion of circumflances renders this death peculiarly
affecting to very many. Some of you were united
to her by the tender ties of family love. Many of
^rouilood ji) natural relation to her, if not very
ii^ar, yet it was dear^ ]Vj(any were pleafingly con-
nedled with her in learning the heavenly art of
linging the divine praifes ; while in health you tef-
Eified your refpeft by feleding her as one of your
leaders ; and now flie is dead, you manifcft your
alfedtion and grief by the badges of mourning for
ber as a filler. This then is an occafion too prec-
ious for me to \ci^Q\ while death, and eternity •>
?md heaven are by this event much and folemnly in
your minds, I will tell you how to prepare for
fhem.. Liflen^ confidev^ remember.



"The text prefents to you three thii'igs to be con-

I. A duty.

II. Thepeculiar feafon of It^

ill. Reafons for attending to it ;^i?«^.

i. A duty. Remember thy Creator. This is
ai great duty, and by the influence it is calculated
to have upon you, rnay be confidered the princi*
pie of all religion. No doubt Solomon intended
in that large fenfe to have it underftood in this palF-
age. To remember is to keep in' mind. To have
Cod m your thoughts habitually mud keep you
from y?/7, and move you to duty. It is a jud and
llrong defcription of the wicked — God is not in all
ilieir thoughts. This is the reafon, why they feel
no reftraint, why they dare to infult his name with:
Blafphemy, and to trample on his laws with bold

Let me entreat you todifcharge this great and
comprehenfive duty. As the firft Hep to be taken,
gain a true notion of God. Miihke not his na-
ture ; leave out of your idea of God no one of his
attributes. Confider him in a tranfcendent and in-
finite degree, greats wife, good ; juft, -holy, true.
Leave Q]xtone of thefe traits, and you have not the'



i(!eaofGod; and the influence upon your minds
of remembering him would be abated, might be
loft; might he even permcious. Confider Him
greaf and mighty^ but not good, then what horrible
terrors muft rulh upon your minds. You would
then fee his amazing power armed with vengeance^
which no fubmiiiion could foften, which no inno-
cence or goodnefs itfelf could difarm. Confider
him ^ood, but not /lo/y, jtifl, or true, which words
jare much alike in lignification, as applied to God;
Whateffedupon you would the remembrance of
him as fach a Being obtain ? You would not fear
Mm, You would prefume, let your conduel be
as it might, that you Ihould find refuge in his good-
nefs from every evil, from every punifliment of
vour ill deferr. SiO to remember God, would ren-
der you tenfold more wicked.

This is fufficient tq fuggeft to you the neceflity
of obtaining in the firll: place ?ijufl notion of God.
This do by your bibles. Search the fcrlptures;
they are they, which tejlify of Him. The more you
read, the more you will comprehend of this infinite
Being. We are told more of Him in that book,
than all the world have or could difcover by rea-
foning and confidering his works. Reafon en-
quires; but often doubts or heficates on this and
that point concerning God. Scripture fpeaks ou:
clearly ; and its decifion is certain. Read the bi-
ble therefore much and often to learn whar j^« art


t9 heUeve concerning God. Thus fixing in your
minds the corredl idea of God, revolve it continu-
ally. Have it always at hand forufe. Wherev-
er you are, be imprelTed with it according to your
circuin (lances. h will prompt you to every
duty. Is ic morning ? are you rifing out of
your beds, on which you have been protefted
and refreflied ? Remember God ; and gratefully
fail upon your knees to thank Him for your fafety
and comfort. Is it night ? and are you about to
forget yourfelves in fleep? Remember God, your
Creator, the Watchman, who never (lumbers nor
ileeps ; and fupplicate Him to remember and
guard you. Are you in fafety ? acknowledge
God'sprovidence, asthemeans ofit. Are you in
danger? immediately look to Him for deliverance.
Are you fick ? through all means look to his pow-
er alone to heal you. Are you dying ? (that time
will come) look to Him to give you eternal life. —
Through the fucceflive hours of the day, think on
God, that "whether you eat^ or drink^ or whatever
you do^you may do all to his glory. Say often
with yourfelves in the words of Hagar— Tl^oz,;, God^
feefime! This thought will aroufe you out of in-
dolence ; it will (Simulate you to duty. You will
think you have never done enough to pleafe fuch
an Infpe(5tor. You will be humbled that you do
fo little ; you will fend up a frequent petition for
His help, that you may be enabled to do more and
to do better.

B As


As it will prompt you to every duty, fo tHe re*-
membrance of God will rejirain you from every
fin; it will defeat your temptations. Whatever
be your en ricement to fin, remember your Creator,
and exclaim with youthful Jofeph—//oM^ can Ido-
this great mckednefs and fin again ji God! Is
there a temptation fo llrong, fo violent.) as not to
give back, when met by this confideration ?
Wherever you maiy be, it is of equal force. You
can retire into fecrecy from the eye of men ; and
this is commonly done by the iniquitous and the
lewd. But when you are retired, remember— G<?^
h there — your abominations, ^your pollutions are^^
naked before Him. You aEi m h\s prefejice ; if
you fin, he will be a fwift witnefs in the day of judg-
ment againfl: you. Did you always remember^
your Creator, I think you muft ceafe from fin.
There are few, who are not much reftrained by the
prefence of men. If they be men of refpeft, men'^
of piety,afinner, fomewhat hardened., blulhes ro-
offend them by words of blafphemy or deeds oF
pollution. But whatis the mofl: honorable man,-
what the holiell faint,. compared with the holy
One ? That the finner is not abafhed infinitely
more by the prefence of God is t\m.thQ^ for gets-
Him . He does not thin k Him prefent ; he has no -
realizing fenfe, no conviflion that He fees him.
In darknefs he thinks himfelf unfeen ; in privacy
he feels alone ; and this delufion is his temptation.
Could he fin ? did he remember— Z7/^r th^ dark-



mejs and the light are both alike to God— That
there is "^o place -where the workers of iniquity
may hide themfelves. — Having mentioned fome-
xhingofthe,ducy, enjoined in the text, let us now
<confider ; ,

|I. The feafoii -oHi^e peculiarly afligned to it.

The feafon is declared in thofe terms — now — /«
the days of thy youth. By this we are not to fuppofe
that it is a duty, from which others are exempted.
Far from this ; Solomon's objedt clearly is this, to
have our whole lives brought under the influence
of a continual remembrance of God. To efFed
tliis objefr, he earneftly exhorts the young to fub-
mit to it ; well knowing that if they fix the habit at
their age, there is rhp faired: probability that it will
be permanent as life. Knowing the propenfity of
the young to think there is time enough yet ; to
fay " a little more pleafure, a little longer indul-
gence in (in ; and then we will be ferious and fo-
berminded ;'* he charges them not to defer it.
Remember no^f thy Creator iff the days of thy
youth. It is not a moment too foon to begin ;
and then proceeds to give reafons — which we
will now confider.

III. JVhile the evil days come not, nor the years
draw nigh^ when thou shalt fay I have no pleafure
in them.



What is to be underftood by thefe claufes may
be feen in the context, which is a figurative de-
fcription of old age and death. Of old age— Mvhen
the fenfes fhall be impaired ; the faculties iliatter-
ed ; trifles become burthens ; ftravvs be obilacles;
and the frame knguiOi with difeafes : and of death,
which dial! come to clofe the fad train of mortal e-
vils, fke duft I'eturning to the dufi as it was, and
thefplrh returning to God, who gave it. The ar-
gument of Solomon is plainly this— "Defer not re-
ligion to old age ; it is the moft unfit feafon in the
world, fliould you attain it. Deferred till then,
you will have no heart and mind to duty. The
flightell: obflacles will then flop you ; fmall diffi-
culties will perplex you. And in the midfi: of
your feeble efforts, fliould you then put them
forth, death will furprize you." To this pifture of
old age Solomon reforts to aroufe the attention of
the young to religion. He bids them not put o-
ver their good refolutions to be executed in fo un-
hopeful a time as this. He virtually ilij^s this h
your time now, in the dap of youth, and probably
your 0NL,Y time to remember your Creator.

Having pre fen ted to you Solomon's general ar-
gument, (ct me now diicufs particular ones, impli-
ed in it.

I. Youth is the heft time to begin religion.
Religion will never be fo eafy to vou, as it now is.


It is true, you have ardent feelings at this age and
warm paffions, which you maj^ find no fmall diffi-
culty to refirain^ and which it may coft j'ou forae
mortification to den'^. But think you, if thefe
fhould pafs off with youth, that others as ftrong, as
evil, and as hard to fubdue will not fucceed to their
place? IraayafFure you they will. More; your
difficulties will thicken upon you. The indul-
gence of your youthful paffions will lend a vigor
to your manly ones. Having been the captive of
one company of enemies, you will fall the furer
prey to the next, which afFails you. Lofe the vic-
tory in youth, and you will have little flrength or
courage to attempt one in manhood. But a tri-
umph over youthful paffions and lulls, will bring
you into manhood with every advantage to purfue
the war with fuceefs againil every fpiritual adver-
fary which in fucceffion may cowe to try you.

2. Youth is the happlejl time for religion. Re-
ligion is a matter, which has much to do with the
heart and aifedlions ; and when are thefe fo apt lo
their offices, as when you are young? Never. If
you remember your Creator, never may'you ex-
pert more impreffive views of Him than now ;
views which iTiall avvaken your awe, your grati-
tude, your love, your devotion. As your affec-
tions arc quick and ftrong towards their human
objefls, lb will they be towards the divine^ if you
take the pains to fet them. In religion therefore



^<m can fiow take the mofl: comfort, if you give
your heart to it ; that is, much more comfort, thtin
you cafi expeB, if you fhould have the grace tQ
Ijegin it later in life, when your heart will have be^*
?cpme colder and your affedlions lefs fufceptibie.

3. Reh'gion in youth prepares you for a happy
fubfequent life. Religion is often in fcripture
compared to % warfare. The figure is juft and
Uriking. If then in youth you are religious ; if,
as to be religious implies, you have in a good de-
gree fubdued your paffions, and have formed holy
liabits ; if the grea^ point has been carried, yom
hz-VQpeace^ a fweet peace for the reft of your life"
of trial. Not indeed a pgrfeB peace; this is re-
ferved for heaven. To continue the figure, you
will have conflids, but in thefe you will be com-
monly vidorious ;. and if at times you fall, you will
Tife again. Your ftate will be peace compared
with that of the wicked ; they are in a continual
conflidl, confciedce ever ftruggling and ever fup-
prefled, though not without inflidting deep
wounds in the heart. But great peace have they^
•who love thy holy law, and nothing ihall offend,

4. Religion in youth is a fecurity againft the e-
vils Q^ alarmed ficknefs and of hopelefs death.
They, who vifit much among the fick and dying,
know the value, the comfort of this fecurity. I



will not defcribe to you in contrail the (aint anil"
finner, fick and dying. I will not pretend to fell
you all the peace and contentment of the former ;
it is not to be truly defcribed, but by him, wha
feels it : nor all the convid:ion, felf condemnation,
keen regret, and horrid apprehenfion of the latter ;
thefe no tongue can defcribe, but his, who has feic
them. But often have I thought, were immortali'
fyan ill ulion and there be no heaven beyond the
^ave, it 13 worth a whole life of effort and felfdeni-
d — to die as a chrifliafi. This feems to be the^
point, which Solomon urges; Remember, fays
he, remember t/iy Creator, before the evil da'js-
fTow^, in which thou fhalt have no pleafure. To^
liemember him then will be only to fill you with-
terror if you forget him no'W, If you forget God-
now, the days, which are coming will be truly e -
vil; evil by thofe troubles, which your fins will-
©ccafion to you ; and evil on account of fi^cknefs^
and death. Remembering God in youth will^r^-
i$em the former, and take away the fiiftg of the lat-
tQX, Let me add once more ;

5. Youth is the oniy time of religion, which is*
certain to ^'oz/. This is an argument I think ofir-
refiftible importance. What, is eternity certain?'
Are heaven and hell realities ? Will the judgment
fet to decide, who (hall go into each ? Are you on
the road to one or the other ? Is the journey (liort ?
ib the prefenE moment your Ofily certain time?



And can you lofe it,and coolly run the infinite risk ?
" There, may he another opportumty." Yes ;
but are thefe things to be refled on contingencies ?
Will you buiid your hope upon " there may h&
another opportunity ?" If you wafte the heft fea-
fon of religion \ if you defpife ihehappiefl feafcn,
when will you find another ? God only knows
whether there be another. Grieve the Spirit of
God and he will leave you, and your fate is then
certain. Provoke God, and he may fuddenly ftop
that life, which yo\x fpend in loving pleafure morCy,
than in loving Him.

And now tell rae, is there one in this aiTembly of
the young, who cnn hold out againll thefe confid-
erations? Ought they not to be fufficient to bring
you to a deliberate fixed refolution this day to re-
mer/iher your Creator? Or, mull I refort to the
occafion of this difcourfe ? Mull I point you to the
grave, which you have jufl: feen opened to receive
one of yom* number and to enclofe her till the
morning of the refurreftion ? This is an appeal
which ^//ofyou mull feel, and very many of you
feel perhaps too tenderly. Let this death not be
forgotten ; and the impreffions, made by it upon
your minds, never be loft. Two things I think ic
Ihould teach yon— that youth is not toofoon io feel
the power of religion—and that a moment later
may be too late ; her amiable life, and her calm, re-
ligncd, hopeful fickncfi prove the frff-^ her early


death derhonftrates the lajl. If (he had a wiili to
live it was bur for one reafon ; that f!ie might live
more to the honor of her Savior. Life had not a
charm for her huithat ; it was vanity in her eyes.
And fhall it have charms of every kind, but this^ for
you ? Take wifdom from dying lips. Live to thac
purpofe, for which alone iTie had a wilh to live.
Remember your Creator and honor your Savior^

To thofe young perfons, who were conftantJy
with her in her ilJnefs, or who were frequent in
their vifits, let me fay ; you have been affeding-
ly inftrudled. You have feen the uncertainty of
life and the worth of a hope, the foundation of
which endures examination* Would you wifli ta
contemplate death ac no great diftance, advancing
with a fteady and certain ftep, and yet not tremble ?
See that you immediately have on chriftian armor
to meet him. While in health read and love the
fcriptures, and be conftant in fecret prayer.

She was a ftfler to many in this alTembly, who
loved her, and who have exerted that talent, which
they cultivated in fchool with her, to honor and
render more impreflive her funeral. Is it not then
particularly incumbent on you of the choir of
lingers to improve this admonition of Providence?
In the autumn of the year, flie probably as little
expected to be numbered among fpirits in the
fpring, as any of you. But her voice is lilent in the
fong of praife ; flie no longer delights or is delight-

ed among you by fweet founds. Yet, hark ! dq
you not hear her in the fong above? where your
love and charity have believed her gone. At leaft
do yonwot imagine her already charmed and en-
gaged in the fongs of heaven ? We know not ho^/^r
fpirits unter their joyful praifes, nor how they lif-
ten to the anthems of glory ; yet doubtlefs the
faints are inftantly employed and wrapped into ec-
ftacy on admiffion among the fpirits of juil men
made perfedl. If you indulge the pleafing thought
that your companion has arrived to that joy, pre-
pare :o rejoin her. Cultivate your hearts with as
much care, and endeavor to impart to them as much
fweetnefs, as to your voices. Your facred arc
fliould improve you in religion. It is a mean of
grace ; ling always with devotion. Feel the praifes
you utter ; and live as devoutly as you ling.

With a few words more to all the young, apply-
ing the Tub jeft, I clofe. Let the exhortation of
Solomon and the voice of God in this funeral make
the mofl: lafting imprellions on all your minds.
Let them determine you what to do. Refolve not
faintly, but firmly^ irreverfibiy refolve, to remem-
her your Creator. Let this be a principle of uni-
verfal efficacy. Let it operate in fecret and in pub-
lic, day and night. Let it be your motive to duty,
and your check to temptation. Form now the hab-
it of remeinbering Him. You have every motive
to ir, which can affeft the heart. It is the beft time ;
ic is the happiejl feafon of life for religion ; it .will



prepare you for years of peace and contentment ;
for true and fecure comfort in all the remainder of
your lives. It will be your fecurity againft
thofe dreadful evils— an alarmed^ fearful ficknefs,
and an awful^ hopekfs death. Religion is your
guard, your only guard againfl: furprife. Lofe this
time, and all may be loft. There is no promife of
another time. Now is the accepted time^ behold-
now is the day offalvation. Watch^ for ye knov/
not what hour your Lord doth co me. Stand with
your loins girded and your lamps trimmed and
burning. Be ready ;for in fuch an hour as ye think
not the Son of man cometh. He will come, and his
reward is with him. Even fo, come, Lordjefust




' HARK! flie bids all her Friends

adieu ;
Some Angel calls her to the

Spheres ;
Our Eyes the radiant Saint pur-

Thro' liquid Telefcopes of Tears.

Fareweljbright foul, a ihort Fare-

Till we Ihall meet again above
In the fweet Groves where Pleaf-

ures dwell.
And Trees of Life bear Fruits of


Sweet Soul, we leave thee to thy

Eniov thy JESUS and thy God,
Till we, from Bands of Clay re-

Spring out and climb the Ihining


While the dear Dull flie leaves

Sleeps in thy bofom, flKred

Tomb !
Soft be her Bed, her Slumbers

And all her Dreams of Joy to


90510N. MAS5/iCHi.lStTr4 021 Of


Online LibraryAbiel AbbotThe duty of youth : in a sermon, occasioned by the death of Miss Sarah Ayer, daughter of Mr. Moses Ayer, who expired April 7th, 1802, in the 22d year of her age, and delivered immediately after the interment on Lord's Day → online text (page 1 of 1)