The Young Man's Friend and Guide
Through Life to Immortality

John Angell James (1785—1859)

"You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward
You will take me into glory!" Psalm 73:24


Mark 10:17-22.
As he was starting out on a trip, a man came running up to Jesus, knelt down, and asked, "Good Teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked. "Only God is truly good. But as for your question, you know the commandments: Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely. Do not cheat. Honor your father and mother." "Teacher," the man replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments since I was a child." Jesus looked at him and loved him. "You lack only one thing," he told him. "Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this, the man's face fell, and he went sadly away because he had many possessions.

The character of Christ, as delineated by the pen of the evangelists, is one of the brightest glories of revelation, and one of the many internal evidences of its divine origin. What a union of the human and the divine; what an exhibition of the awesome and the amiable, of the stern and the tender; at one time denouncing with terrific vengeance the crimes of the Jews; at another, weeping over the approaching fulfillment of his own predictions; now casting out demons from the possessed, then taking little children in his arms; and just after, looking with deep and tender interest on a youth, amiable, but not decided to follow him. All this, and infinitely more than this, is exhibited in the character of our Lord. Young men, study this sublime, beautiful, and superhuman character, and say, if both this, and the book which contains it, must not be of God. Could such a pattern of matchless truth, purity, and benevolence—be the offspring of delusion, falsehood, and depravity—which it must have been, if it be the production of imposture? To what page of uninspired history can infidelity direct you for anything which even remotely resembles it in greatness, goodness, and unearthliness?

We now advert to a single incident in the life of Christ, one of great instructiveness and interest to you. By consulting the chapter from which the fact is taken, you will find that a youth of rank, fortune, and office, came to Jesus with deep solicitude to know what he must do to obtain eternal life. The whole narrative shows that he was a moral and amiable young man, and also concerned about religion—but was depending upon the merits of his own good doings for acceptance with God; and at the same time loving his wealth far more than was consistent with his high pretensions of love to his neighbor, and concern about eternity. Believing that Christ was a teacher sent from God, he wished to know from him whether there was anything more which he could do to strengthen the basis of his hopes, and to confirm his assurance of salvation.

It is important to remark, and recollect, that in replying to him our Lord deals with him on his own grounds. Christ, in what he said, neither disclaimed his own divinity, nor preached to him the doctrine of justification by works; but merely asked him how, with his views of the person he then spoke to, he could address him, and flatter him with a title which he knew in its absolute meaning belonged only to God. So also in telling him that if he kept the commandments with unsinning perfection from the beginning to the end of life, he would on the ground of his own obedience be justified, his divine Teacher did not mean to say that such a thing as unsinning obedience would be found in him or any one else; but that if it really could be found, it would justify the man who had it. Our Lord soon showed to him, by the test he applied to his judgment and conscience, that he was not so holy as he thought he was; for upon being commanded to go and sell his possessions and give to his neighbors, which, as he regarded Christ as a divine teacher sent from God, he ought to have done—he "went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." Thus proving that with all his professions of having kept the law—he loved his money more than he loved God, or his neighbor—and that the world was even then his idol. We are not to suppose from this injunction of our Lord, that no one can be a Christian who does not dispose of the whole of his property in charity to the poor. Christ laid down a general principle, that supreme love of the world and earnestness after salvation are incompatible with each other—and gave it such a special application and extent in this case, as it peculiarity required.

Still, we are told that, "when Jesus looked upon him, he loved him." Love is a word of wide and comprehensive meaning; in some places signifying approval of, and complacency in, character; in others, meaning nothing more than a general interest and good will. There are sometimes appearances in the character and conduct of those with whom we have to do, that deeply interest us; yet all the while, there is much in them that we condemn. This was the case before us. The humanity of Christ partook of the sinless instincts and properties of our own. His bosom was susceptible of the emotions of friendship, and of all that is honorable and graceful in our nature. On this occasion there was something in the circumstances, character, and manners of this young man, which attracted the heart of Jesus to him; his youthful appearance was admirable; his manners pleasing; his address courteous; his language respectful; his disposition so deferential and docile, that Jesus beholding him, loved him. He noticed, recognized, and approved all the good qualities he possessed, he was interested in his youthful age, combined as it was with some concern for religion; he cherished benevolent wishes for his welfare, and a friendly willingness to do him good. This was all; his regard for what was holy and just and good, prevented him from going farther. His inward emotions all the while amounted to lamentation, that so much seeming excellence should be tainted with that which rendered it of no worth in the sight of God, and of no avail to the young man's salvation.

You see what was the defect in this man—he possessed not the faith which overcomes the world. He wished to unite two things utterly irreconcilable—the love of God and the love of the world. He wanted to serve two masters, God and Mammon. It was not vice and profligacy that kept him from true religion here, and from heaven hereafter; it was the more decent and reputable sin of supreme attachment to things seen and temporal. He could give up many sins, but he could not give up his besetting sin—supreme regard to wealth. He could do many things, but he could not give up all to follow Christ. He could give up vice, but he could not deny himself and take up his cross. He had many good qualities, but he lacked that one thing which alone could give holiness to them all. If open vice has slain its thousands, worldliness has slain its tens of thousands! Of all the false gods mentioned in the last chapter, the shrine of Mammon is most resorted to—it is from that temple the broadest and most beaten path to perdition will be found. In the crowd which press along that path, are included, not only the knaves, the cheats, and men of dishonorable character of every kind, but men who follow things which are just, and honest, and true, and even lovely, and reputable; who yet withal rise to no higher grade of moral excellence, and no more exalted character, than to be just and honorable worshipers of this sordid deity. Yes, even Mammon can boast of devotees who, though they do not act from a principle of true religion, yet scorn all that is base, dishonorable and unjust. Consider the words of an inspired apostle, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him;" and begin life remembering that in the broad road which leads to destruction there is a path for the lovers of the world, as well as for the lovers of vice.

Before I go on to take up and consider the subject of this chapter, there are a few remarks which may with propriety be made upon the case of this young man viewed in connection with our Lord's feelings towards him. How much concern may in some cases be felt about religion—without the subject of that solicitude being truly religious! Here was some concern, earnestness, and inquiry—yet not true, intelligent, and scriptural religion—a character which is by no means uncommon. We sometimes see a tree in spring one mass of blossom, beautiful to the eye, and full of promise to its owner; and yet we afterwards see all that blossom drop without setting, and the tree stand in autumn a collection of branches and leaves without a single fruit. Alas! alas! how many young people resemble such trees, and excite the hopes of parents, ministers, and others, by incipient appearances of religion—only to disappoint them! Do not add to the number of these promising but deceptive appearances, and the bitter disappointments which they inflict.

How much good and evil may be mixed up in the same character—requiring the most careful discrimination and the most impartial exercise of judgment! Here were lovely traits—corrupted and spoiled by others of an opposite quality. In heaven and hell there are no 'mixed characters'. Heaven will be inhabited by the purely good—and hell will be inhabited by the entirely bad. No speck is on the bright and burnished surface of heaven—not a spot of brightness relieves the background of hell. On earth, however, we frequently meet with a blending of apparently good and really bad qualities. The fall of Adam, though it struck out from the heart all that is holy towards God, did not extinguish all that is amiable towards man. Lapsed humanity is not, indeed, as angelical as its ignorant or false flatterers would represent; but neither is it always as unlovely, diabolical, or brutal, as its injudicious detractors assert. If no plant of paradise grows in man's heart until planted there by grace, there are wild flowers of some beauty and pleasant scent which relieve the dreariness of the wilderness "and waste their fragrance on the desert air." Where this mixture exists, let us recognize it, and neither allow the good to reconcile us to the evil—nor the evil to prejudice us against the good. It is false to talk in superlatives—as though every man was a total villain.

The possession of some good qualities is no compensation for the lack of others; nor any excuse whatever for the possession of bad ones. Nothing is more common than for men to try to set up a sort of compromise between true religion and morality. Some imagine that attention to the duties of morality will release them from obligations to true religion—and the performance of their duty to man, serve as an alternative of what they owe to God. While others seem to think the performance of religious duties will exonerate them from their obligations to truth, justice, and purity. So also in these separate departments, attention to one branch of duty, especially if rather strict and rigid, is thought to be a compensation and payment for the omission or violation of others. It will not do. It is a deceptive and destructive attempt.

The word of God forbids this wicked compromise, and requires absolute perfection, in the highest degree in every particular, both in reference to true religion and morality. It is one of the chief glories of the Bible, that it prescribes, requires, and aids the acquisition of a complete character; a character in which piety towards God and morality towards man—the elements of heavenly and earthly excellence—all that is true, and beautiful, and good—harmoniously combine. Our Lord would not accept this young man's morality—in excuse for his lack of true piety; nor his concern about the future world—as an apology for his love to the present one.

We should not fail to own and even love general excellence wherever we find it, though it may not be in association with sanctifying grace. It is good in itself and useful to others, though it will not lead on its possessor to heaven. An amiable youth, who is his parents' comfort so far as general excellence is concerned, even though he may not be a partaker of true conversion to God—is not to be placed upon a level with a profligate prodigal. We must not say of any man—I abhor him in all respects, because he has not true holiness. Christ did not act thus, toward this young ruler. He knew he was not holy, yet, behold how he loved him.

Whatever general excellence we may see in those with whom we have to do, and however we may admire and commend it, we should still point out their defects, and endeavor to lead them on to seek the supply of them. This especially applies to a lack of true religion associated with the possession of many excellences. We are all too apt to be thrown off our guard here, and to allow ourselves to think there must be piety, because there is so much that is lovely—or if not, that piety could add but little to such excellence. It is to be recollected, however, that as long as these general good qualities are associated with an unrenewed and unsanctified nature, they are utterly destitute of that principle which only can make them truly virtuous, which alone can render them lovely in the sight of God, and which alone can connect them with salvation.

No false tenderness to the feelings of such people, no disposition to flatter them, no regard to the opinions of others—should lead us to conceal from them, that we know they are destitute of what is necessary that they should possess, in order to be saved. How faithfully did our Lord say "One thing you lack!" Our judgments in matters of morality and true religion should be formed by, and follow, that of God. The Bible is the standard, and God the judge, of true excellence. The conventional opinions of men on these subjects are often very different from those of God. He looks at the heart, while man oftentimes looks no further than the outward bearing. God looks at the state of the heart towards himself—man too generally looks no further than the conduct towards society. In reference to many a lovely specimen of general excellence, man would ask the question, "What can be lacking here?" God replies, "True religion." Man asks further, "What could true religion add to this?" God answers, "The first of all duties and excellences—love to Me." Man still questions, "Would any one consign this amiable person to endless perdition?" God replies, "Is mere external morality what I demand for salvation; or is it that which constitutes fitness for heaven?"

It is important to remark the interest our divine Lord takes in the welfare of the young, and especially of young men. Nothing like what is said of Christ's disposition towards this young man is said of any other unconverted person in all the Word of God. No other individual seems in the same way to have called forth the sensibilities of our Lord. That it was an exercise of his regard towards a particular individual is admitted; but it may well be imagined it was intended to be a type of his interest in a class, and that class is yours. Jesus looks from his throne of glory upon you, addresses himself to you, is waiting for you, will receive you, and that with special satisfaction. Go to the book of Proverbs, and see how conspicuous a place young men sustain in the attention of the writer.

But I go on now to discuss more particularly the subject of the defects of an amiable person, who is destitute of genuine godliness. By amiability we mean what in common discourse we call good nature, a kindliness of disposition, a willingness to oblige, sometimes united with a gentleness of manner, and a lovely frankness of conduct—that, in fact, which constitutes general loveliness of character. Now this, so beautiful in itself, may be, and often is, found in a character which is very defective in reference to other important and necessary things.

I. There are several general views that may be taken of this defectiveness of mere amiability and morality, which I will lay before you, before I come to that special case which is brought under review in the case of the young man in the gospel.

Many people confound 'amiability' with an 'easy-going nature'. The two are very different—the former, as distinguished from the latter, means a kindliness of nature, and a disposition to accommodate and oblige—but under the regulation of a sound judgment. Real amiability is always watchful against the improper influence of others, and can resolutely refuse to comply with a request for anything improper in itself, however importunately solicited. It may, and often does, most firmly and even sternly say, "No!" But an easy-going nature rarely can, or does. It has not the power to resist entreaty, but allows itself to be persuaded by almost everybody, and to almost every thing. Such a disposition resembles a pliable willow branch, which any one who pleases, can bend in any direction, and which in fact bends of itself before the gentlest breeze. True amiability has eyes to see and examine, as well as ears to hear; an easy-going nature is quick of hearing, but stone-blind. Amiability is self-moved and self-governed; an easy-going nature is a mere automaton, which others move and guide without any resistance of its own. Amiability is a kind heart in association with a clear head; an easy-going nature is all heart, but no head.

Such an easy-going disposition is a very dangerous one—and has led multitudes to their ruin. Never surrender yourselves thus, even to your friends; for if you do, you may soon find yourselves in the hands of your enemies. He is not your friend who desires to be your master. Be a slave to no man. Never give away your judgment—and instantly dismiss from your society the individual whom you suspect of imposing on your amiability, and who takes you for a poor dupe that has neither opinion nor will of his own—but can be led to do anything by entreaty and coaxing. Acquire strength as well as beauty of character. Learn to say, "No!" as well as "Yes." And abide by your settled principles.

Sometimes we see much amiability associated with much ignorance. There is much that is really very kind and accommodating; much to conciliate affection—but very little to command respect. Hence the excellence that is in the character does not do the good it might, for lack of knowledge to give it weight. It is of such a person said with a sneer, "Very good—but, very weak." I say, therefore, do not be an amiable fool—an accommodating ignoramus—a mere kind simpleton; but cultivate your intellect, and let knowledge recommend virtue. In this respect, as well as in others, do not let "your good be evil spoken of."

It has sometimes occurred that amiability has unhappily been associated with infidelity and immorality. Perhaps more frequently with the latter than with the former. Speculative infidelity has a tendency to make men cold, hard, gloomy—it freezes the congenial current of the soul, withers and starves benevolence, and petrifies the heart into selfishness. But immorality and vice are often frank and vivacious—full of mirth and merriment. Modern refinement in demoralization has selected a term of some attraction to describe a profligate, and he is said to be "gay." Colonel Gardiner, before his conversion, was called "the happy profligate." Of all the characters on earth that are dangerous to you, and should be shunned by you, the amiable profligate is the one most to be dreaded. The man of kind disposition, insinuating address, polished manners, sparkling wit, and keen humour—but of bad principles or bad conduct—is the most seductive agent of the Wicked One for the ruin of youth. He has the fascination of the eye of the basilisk ( a legendary reptile with fatal breath and glance); he has the glossy and beautifully variegated skin of the serpent, concealing the fang and the venom; he is the golden chalice that contains the poisonous draught; or, to reach the climax, he is Satan transformed, if not into an angel of light, into a personification of polished and attractive vice. Of such men beware!

II. I now more particularly refer to amiability without true religion. I remark, that young men may, and often do, possess many qualities which are lovely and interesting—while at the same time they are destitute of true piety. There may be a delicate sensibility, the heart may be susceptible, the imagination glowing, and the feelings alive to whatever is tender, touching, or heroic—and yet all the while there may be no sense of sin, no gratitude to Christ, no love of God, no delight in holiness, no aspirations after heaven. There may be natural genius; acquired extensive knowledge; their possessor may be able to argue logically, to discourse with ready conversational power, to the delight of friends and the admiration of strangers—and yet one thing may be lacking, for there may be no saving knowledge of God or of eternal life; and over that mind which is so bright and so brilliant as regards the present world, may brood the darkness which involves it in eternal death.

You will sometimes see a young man so eager in the pursuit of knowledge as to trim his lamp at midnight, and rise before dawn for his studies—until his eye waxes dim, his cheek grows pale, and the seeds of disease begin to spring up in his constitution enfeebled by mental application. And yet he cares nothing for the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven—there is one book he studies not, and that the best of books—and one science he cares not to know, and that the science of salvation. To such it was well said—By what dexterity of irreligious caution did you precisely avoid every track where the idea of God would meet you—or elude that idea when it came? What must sound reason think of that mind which amid millions of thoughts has wandered to all things under the sun, to all the permanent or vanishing appearances of creation—but never fixed its thoughts on the supreme reality—and never approached, like Moses, to see that great sight."

There may be kindness and mildness, gentleness of disposition, and the utmost general loveliness of character—and yet none of the humility of genuine religion, none of the true poverty of spirit, none of the meekness and gentleness of Christ, none of the mind that was in Jesus. There may be great sobriety of mind; all the passions may be under the restraints of reason; all the propensities may be ruled by the most entire self-government—yet there may not be that holy sober-mindedness, which is the subject of the apostle's exhortation, and which consists in keeping the great end of life in view, and adopting such principles as are connected with it.

There may be in young people, the diligence of an active benevolence to the poor, a willing cooperation in schemes of usefulness for the benefit of the nation or the world, or of some particular class of objects of human compassion; much labor may be bestowed, much self-denial practiced—and yet all this while there may be no working out their own salvation with fear and trembling. There may be honesty and trustworthiness as a servant, exemplary diligence and perseverance—and yet there may be no giving diligence to the great work of pleasing God, and no concern to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, as in the case of the young man mentioned in the text, there may be some concern about 'religious duties'—a regular attendance on the ordinances of the sanctuary; some occasional impressions and convictions; some transient concern about eternity—and yet there may be no entire giving up sin and the world; no complete surrender of the soul to Christ; no regeneration of heart; no faith in Christ; no true holiness. The youth may know the truth—and not love it. He may hear the gospel—and not believe it. He may contemplate the scheme of redemption—and not avail himself of it. He may know something of the doctrine of the cross—and yet not appropriate it for the salvation of his soul. He may speculate about the glory of the Savior, and the suitableness of his character and work—and yet not embrace the Savior and his righteousness as the ground of his everlasting hope.

It is most impressive and affecting to consider to what a list of general excellences, to what an assemblage of virtues, in the same character, the sad declaration must be sometimes added, "Yet there is one thing lacking!" O! to look successively upon the varied forms of unsanctified moral beauty, as they pass before the searching eye of Christian scrutiny, and to have to say to each as it goes by, "Yet lack you the one thing needful!"

Any character, however otherwise excellent, if deficient of true religion, viewing its possessor as an immortal creature—is essentially and ruinously defective. And in what other light than an immortal creature can he be viewed, if we really include his whole being and his highest interests? I will suppose, then, the possession of many things, yes, I will carry the idea as far as it can be carried, and will suppose the possession of everything, except this one thing, true religion, and in the lack of that—there is a chasm which all the rest cannot fill up, a deficiency they cannot supply.

To say of a human being, a rational, sinful, and immortal creature, he has everything but true religion, is as if we should say of a citizen, he has everything but patriotism; of a child, he has everything but filial piety; of a husband, he has everything but marital affection. It is just that lack, for which no assemblage of acquirements and other excellences can be the smallest substitute or compensation. Collect a garland of beautiful flowers, and wreathe them round the brow of a corpse, lovely even in death, and ask, "What is lacking here?" And the very silence answers—Life. This is a just representation of the unsanctified excellences of a young person without true religion. Look at this defect in various relations.

In relation to GOD. Other qualities may have no direct reference to God, but this has. It is what he demands. Some of the other things he leaves to your taste; but this he imposes upon your conscience. He demands your faith; your love; your submission; your devotedness—and yet you are content with excellences that have no reference whatever to your Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor! You can be content to smile upon your fellow-creatures, and be smiled upon by them, without ever asking, "Where is God, my Maker, that I may enjoy the light of his countenance, and reflect it back in gratitude and love?" Is God, then, just that one Being whom you may leave out of all consideration and regard, and treat as least worthy of being acknowledged and thought of? Is God the only one, whom it is appropriate to banish from the mind, and who is to be no more regarded than if he were some idol in a temple in India? Is love to God the only state of heart which can be best spared from the affections? Shall you by civility and courtesy, seek to please and gratify everyone besides God?

Did it ever occur to you to ask, "How must I appear in the sight of God himself, with this one defect—a lack of true religion?" How hateful, and desperately wicked, in his sight, must that one defect make you appear. What must be his displeasure, that while you are the delight of your friends, giving and receiving pleasure, you neither maintain nor seek communion with him; and that he sees in you no sincere pouring out your soul in the way of fervent desires for his illumination, his compassion, his forgiveness, his transforming operations—no earnest penitential pleading in the name of Christ for his favor—no solemn, affectionate dedication of your whole being to his service—but instead of all this, mere general excellence, giving you a good standing among your fellow-creatures—but having no more reference to him than if he did not exist. Ah! what a defect that one lack must be in the sight of God!

View it now in reference to the BIBLE, the book of God, and all the great subjects which it contains. It was to implant in your heart that the Son of God became incarnate, and died upon the cross for sinners. This is why the Holy Spirit was poured out. This is why the Scriptures were written. This is why the law was given. This is why the Psalmist was inspired to record his sorrows, confessions, aspirations, and devotions. This is why prophets uttered their predictions. This is why apostles penned their gospels and epistles.

Heaven has opened and poured forth its splendors and its revelations; not to make you simply amiable—which you might have been without this series of communications from the invisible world—not merely to bestow a few general ornaments upon your character, leaving its substance unchanged, defective and corrupt as it is—not merely to fit you to give pleasure in the circle of your earthly friends, while still alienated from God and holiness. Oh, no! The Bible, that wondrous book—that silent testimony for God and from him—was penned to bring you under the influence of vital, experimental religion. And yet you are content with mere amiabilities, of which you might have been possessed, if that volume had never been written! The Bible, God's Book, written by the inspiration of God's Spirit, containing God's thoughts, expressed in God's words, calls you then, not to mere general excellences—but to this one thing which you lack. Patriarchs, priests, prophets, apostles, martyrs, all say to you, "You lack one thing!" Every writer, every page of the holy book, repeats the admonition.

View this defect in reference to YOURSELVES. All other things fall short of your faculties, your capacity, your needs, your desires. Amiability, intelligence, sprightliness, do not meet your case, you need something higher and better. You need true religion, whether you desire it or not. You may, to a considerable extent, be ignorant of your necessity in this respect, but it exists. True religion is the one thing which you not only lack, but need. It is not to be viewed as a thing which your Creator imposes upon you by a mere arbitrary appointment, as if he would exact, simply in assertion of his supremacy, and in requirement of homage from his creature, something which in itself is foreign to the necessities of your nature. It is not a kind of tree of knowledge of good and evil, a simple test of obedience. No. By its intrinsic quality it so corresponds to your nature, that the possession of it is vital, and its rejection mortal, to your happiness.

From the spiritual principle of your soul, there is an absolute necessity that it should be raised into intimate communication with its Divine Original. It is as much constituted to need this communication now and forever, as the child is to receive the nourishment which Providence has provided in the bosom of its mother; and it seems as rational to suppose the infant could be satisfied and fed, and made to grow, by the ornaments that might be lavished upon its robes, while its mother's milk is denied—as that a soul formed to enjoy God can be satisfied with any general excellences of character, while true religion, which leads it to the fountain of true happiness, is neglected.

If the soul be not so exalted as to be placed in communion with God, it is degraded and prostrated to objects which cannot, by their nature, adequately meet, and fill, and bless its faculties. No matter what you are, or what you have, if you have not true religion; for if you have not true religion, you have not God you are without God. And what can make up for that privation? Consider only one single view of your situation, that of the loneliness of a human soul without God. "All other things," says Foster, "are necessarily extraneous to the soul—they may communicate with it, but they are still separate and outside it; an intermediate vacancy keeps them forever asunder; so that, until God, whose essence pervades all things, comes in and is apprehended and felt to be absolutely in the soul, the soul must be, in a sense, in an insuperable and eternal solitude." But when true religion comes into the soul, then God comes to dwell in it, and thus "the interior, central loneliness, the solitude of the soul, is banished by a most perfectly intimate presence, which imparts the most affecting sense of friendship—which imparts life and joy, and may continue in perpetuity."

Happy is the man whose soul has this one thing which meets all its faculties, wants, and woes. What can other and lesser things do in time of sickness, of misfortunes, of bereavement, and of death? Will a sprightly disposition, a merry disposition, a humorous imagination, or even a well-stored intellect, be of any service then? What will these things do in such circumstances? They may grow as flowers in the path of life, but will they bloom in the valley of the shadow of death? Infidelity, indeed, gives us one instance, and it has vaunted it as a proof that an unbeliever can die happy. I mean Hume, who, in prospect of eternity, (which, with his views, presented nothing but the shadows of eternal night,) could find no higher or better employment than playing at cards, reading novels, or cracking jokes. Such levity ill comported with such anticipations; and was perhaps nothing better than the act of a timid boy going through a church-yard at night 'Whistling to keep his spirits up.'

But view these endowments in reference to THE DAY OF JUDGMENT and the scenes that follow. There is a day ordained, in which God will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ. "Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Imagine that day were come—that you heard the trumpet sound; that you saw the dead rising from their graves; the world in flames; the Judge descending; the great white throne in the air; the nations gathered around the dread tribunal waiting their doom. What a dreadful, ineffable, inconceivable scene will the last day present, the judgment of the world, the close of time, the commencement of eternity, the opening of heaven and hell to receive their ever-abiding inhabitants! Conceive, if it be possible to grasp, to hold, to endure the conception—of your going up to the tribunal, to have your character scrutinized, and your doom pronounced, and when listening for the result, to hear only that dreadful sentence, "You are weighed in the balances and found lacking. Your amiabilities are of no avail here. Your good nature, your sprightly disposition, your varied intelligence, your attractive personality—have not the weight of a feather, are not the small dust of the balance in which your character is determined. You have lacked one thing, that one thing is everything here. You are weighed in the balances and found lacking."

How, how will you endure that decision? It has been very strikingly observed, that "At the day of judgment, the attention excited by the surrounding scene, the strange aspect of nature, the dissolution of the elements, and the last trumpet, will have no other effect than to cause the reflections of the sinner to return with a more overwhelming tide upon his own character, his sentence, his unchanging destiny; and amid the innumerable millions who surround him, he will mourn alone."

View this unsanctified amiability in relation to HEAVEN. The loveliest of all dispositions, and the possession of the richest excellences, apart from faith in Christ, and the love of God, have no reference to that state, and constitute no fitness for it. Heaven is a holy place and state for a holy people, and "without holiness no man shall see the Lord"—whatever other amiable qualities he may have. Will good disposition, amenity of disposition, vivacity, wit, or humour—alone prepare the soul for communion with God? Are these the things that fit for the communion of holy angels and holy men in the presence of a holy God? At best such attainments are the flowers of an earthly soil, and not plants of Paradise. How completely would the possessors of such qualities, without a holy heavenly taste and bias, find themselves out of their element in that region of which holiness is the pervading character, and which, while it attracts to itself all that is holy, rejects everything else!

I now address myself to three classes of young people. (Some of the sentiments and expressions in this conclusion, are borrowed from Dr. Watts's Sermon on the same text, entitled "A hopeful Youth falling short of Heaven.")

I. To those who have some things generally lovely and excellent in their character—but are destitute of true religion; to you that have sweet dispositions, or good talents, or acquired knowledge, or attractive wit and humour, or vivacious disposition, or all these together—but have them unsanctified by piety, unconsecrated to God, unemployed for Christ. Alas, alas, what a wilderness of blooming weeds of various forms and colors is here—but weeds still, only weeds—and as to any good influence upon your destiny in eternity, useless and vain! They would be no crown of amaranth for the glorified spirit in heaven and eternity. They form only a garland for the immortal soul on her way to perdition; they will not afford any, not even the smallest relief, under her miseries in that world of hopeless despair to which her lack of true religion must inevitably consign her.

With a fidelity which my regard to truth, to God, and yourselves, alike require, I assure you that no combination of amiable and attractive qualities, can, in the absence of true religion, by any possibility save you from the perdition that awaits ungodly men. There is an infinite diversity both of kind and degree, in the sins to be found in the character and conduct of unrenewed and unsanctified men, from those that resemble the amiable youth in the text, to the blaspheming infidel and the vicious profligate; and all will be dealt with by a rule of proportion, but all must be swept away together, the most beautiful weeds and the most poisonous ones—with the broom of destruction! And however dissimilar and discordant while living and growing upon earth, they will be blended in one common mass of irrecoverable corruption!

In merely human excellence, not springing from love to God, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, there is no imperishable principle; no germ of divine, heavenly, and immortal life. It is, the very best of it, but of the earth, earthy, must die in the soil from which it rises, and can never be transplanted to the paradise of God. I pity the noble or amiable natures, which neglecting to seek after divine grace, are ruined forever by the lack of true religion. I pity the man of sweet disposition, without sanctifying grace; of solid judgment, without sound piety; of lively imagination, without living faith; of attractive manners, but not himself attracted to the cross of Christ; of courtesy towards man, but yet enmity towards God—a polished gentleman, yet still an unconverted sinner; the admiration of his companions, and yet an object of displeasure to his Creator. So much general excellence infected by a deadly taint that corrupts it all!

How at the last day will such people be mortified, enraged, and tormented to see men favored above themselves, whom when on earth they despised as undeserving of their notice, men of ignorant minds, clownish manners and rugged exterior! Yes, but under all that outward repulsiveness were concealed the principles of true religion, repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and a holy life. Much that was amiable was lacking in them, but they had a true religious principle. To see them owned by the Judge, exalted to his throne, and crowned with his glory; while 'unsanctified genius' and 'irreligious amiability' are rejected as base metal—how profoundly humiliating, how terribly exasperating to those who then will be thrown aside by God as rubbish and refuse!

And following these rejected youths of unsanctified amiability onward to their eternal state, what miserable spectacles do they present! You who were the 'life of every company' into which you came, and whose absence was mourned as that of the charmer of the circle—will your mirthful imagination brighten the gloom of those regions of sorrow, or give an air of gladness to those doleful shadows to which you and they will then be banished? Will you, by any of your present acquirements be able to relieve yourselves, or your companions, from the torture produced by the recollection that it was these very arts of wit and humour, sometimes turned against true religion, that helped you on to that place of punishment? Will sallies of wit, sportive jests, bursts of merriment, playful humour—beguile the dreadful round of the miseries of the lost soul, and make the wheels of eternity move faster and lighter, as they did those of time?

How will you, of soft and gentle nature, of amiable disposition—bear the banishment from the regions of peace and concord, the paradise of love, the habitation of all holy friendship—and the imprisonment with demons and demon-like men to which you will be condemned? "How will your souls endure the madness and contention, the envy and spite, of wicked angels; you who delighted on earth in works of peace, what will you do when your tender dispositions shall be hourly ruffled by the uproar and confusion of those dark regions; and instead of the society of God and blessed spirits, you shall be eternally vexed with the perverse dispositions of your fellow-sinners, the sons of darkness? O that I could speak in melting language, or in the language of effectual terror, that I might by any means awaken your souls to jealousy and timely fear! That so many natural excellences, as God has distributed among you, might not be wasted in sin, abased to dishonor, and aggravate your everlasting misery."

I most earnestly exhort you to supply the defect to which this chapter has directed your attention, and admonish you to add to all that is amiable—that which is holy; to all that is lovely in the sight of man—that which is well-pleasing in the sight of God; to all that is earthly in the way of excellence—that which is heavenly, divine, and eternal. Bear in vivid recollection what it is you need; you have, or are supposed to have, attractive endowments of mind, heart, character; but no real, decided, spiritual religion. And will that true religion, if you have it, interfere with any of your other excellences? Will it displace them to make room for itself? Will it pull up all those flowers and throw them away as inimical to its own nature and prejudicial to its growth? Nothing of the sort. Amiability is of like nature with true religion—the former is loveliness in the sight of man, and the latter loveliness in the sight of God. When the grace of God enters the soul of man, what it finds beautiful, it makes more beautiful. It comes not like the cold chills and dark shadows of evening or of winter to shut up the flowers, and hide their beauties, and nip their strength; but like the rising sun, to open their petals, to reveal their beauties, to brighten their colors, to exhale their fragrance, and to invigorate their strength. True religion is itself the chief amiability—and the cherisher of all other kinds. Hence it is that holiness is spoken of as beauty.

II. There is another class I would briefly address. I mean those who are as defective in amiability, as they are in true religion. Alas! how many are there of this character, who have neither gentleness nor graciousness; who are possessed neither of the beauties of holiness, nor the attractions of kindness, godliness, or courtesy; but who are as unlovely as they are ungodly; and have scarcely any to take delight in them either in heaven or upon earth. Morose, ungentle, unaccommodating in their disposition, they are incapable of enjoying happiness, and unwilling to impart it. They have not even external and tinsel ornaments to compensate for the lack of internal and substantial excellences. They are like weeds which have no beauty of color to divert attention from their offensive odor; like fruits which are as bitter to the taste as they are unsightly to the eye. Unhappy young men! See them at home; they are tyrannical, morose, selfish, domineering, the troublers of domestic peace, the constant cause of agitation and disturbance. Even to their parents they are ungrateful, disrespectful, and wayward—unmelted by a mother's gentle influence, unsubdued by a father's mild authority, and unsoftened by the gentle fascination of a sister's love.

And how often do they go still further in this lack of amiability, and by adding immorality and profligacy to unloveliness, do much to break a mother's heart and bring down a father's grey hairs in sorrow to the grave! Ah! how many parricides and matricides walk our earth, whom no law but that of God can arrest, and no justice but that of heaven can punish! How many carry the heart of a savage under the name of a son, and the poison of asps under their tongues and in their dispositions; and towards even their parents transvenom all emotions of filial piety into the wormwood and gall of intense hatred of those to whom they owe their existence!

What an object of abhorrence must such a youth be to that divine Savior who evinced towards the individual alluded to in this chapter his sensibility not only to the beauties of holiness, but to the loveliness of general excellence. Is there such a youth reading these pages? Go, young man, from this volume to your closet, your Bible, your knees, and your God, and implore that grace which has said, "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree."

III. I address those who are in earnest after true religion, and who really possess its essential principles—but are somewhat deficient in the more lovely and ornamental beauties of the Christian character. This is not defective amiability merely—but defective religion. Observation convinces me that this is not a spurious character. It ought not to exist—but it does. Saving religion, in itself the very type of all that is true, and good, and beautiful—should draw after it everything else that is beautiful. The supreme loveliness should command the subordinate loveliness—but it does not always. It must be sorrowfully admitted that a mind enlightened by the Spirit of God, a heart renewed by divine grace, a life regulated by Christian principle—are not always associated, in a proportionate degree, with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, an amiable disposition, and a courteous demeanor. We have sometimes seen a distinguished personal beauty disfigured by a lack of cleanliness and by a slovenly attire. The exquisite symmetry could not be altogether concealed; but how much more attractive would it have appeared with other and more suitable accompaniments! So it is with character; there may be real beauty of holiness, but in sad and slovenly attire of disposition. Changing the illustration, I may observe, the brilliancy of the most valuable diamond may be hidden by earthly incrustations; the luster of gold may be dimmed for lack of polish; and the most majestic portrait be half covered with dust or mildew.

So true religion, which is more precious than rubies, more valuable than gold, and the very image of God in the soul of man, may have its worth and its excellence depreciated by infirmities of disposition and of an amiable deportment. Christian young men, be amiable as well as pious—not only your happiness, but your usefulness requires it. You know that often vice has its attractions, in the amiability with which it is associated, and that some are reconciled to it on that ground. It is equally true that religion may be associated with repulsive qualities, and that some may be driven from it by these partial deformities. Be it then your desire, your endeavor, your prayer, to unite the holy and the amiable; let the diamond, with its flashing hues, be thus seen in the most tasteful setting, and the gold in its brightest polish. Win your companions to piety, by the attractive qualities with which it is combined in you! Make them feel that true religion is not the frowning and spectral form they have been accustomed to consider it; a gloomy spirit that cannot smile; a vampire that sucks the life's blood of joy from the soul of youth.

On the contrary, let them see that it is angelical and not demoniacal in its nature; that with a seraph's sacred fervor, it combines his sweetness, gentleness, and ineffable loveliness. It is this which while it will prepare you to pass through life, blessing and being blessed, happy in yourself and diffusing happiness around you, will also prepare you for the immortal felicities of the celestial world. It is this which, transferred to heaven, will kindle with new and immortal luster, and will be set in that constellated skies of living and eternal splendors. Of that brilliant world, that region where all things live, and shine, and flourish, and triumph forever and ever—the glory, the excellence, is eminently the union of all that is holy, and all that is lovely. There, all are brethren, and all love, and are loved, as brethren. All are divinely amiable, and excellent friends. Everyone possesses in absolute perfection the moral beauty that is loved, and the virtue which loves it. Everyone, conscious of unmingled purity within, approves and loves himself for that divine image, which in complete perfection, and with untainted resemblance, is enstamped upon his own character. Each in every view which he casts around him, beholds the same glory shining and brightening in the endless train of his companions; one in nature, but diversified without end in those forms and varieties of excellence by which the original and eternal Beauty delights to present itself to the virtuous universe. There, everyone conscious of being entirely lovely and entirely loved, reciprocates the same love to that great multitude which no man can number, of all nations, kindreds, and tongues, which fills the immeasurable regions of heaven. Out of this character grows a series, ever varying, ever improving, of all the possible communications of beneficence, fitted in every instance only to interchange and increase the happiness of all. In the sunshine of infinite delight—the original source of all their own beauty, life, and joy, all these happy nations walk forever, and transported with the life-giving influence—unite in one harmonious and eternal hymn to the great Author of all their excellences and all their enjoyments, "Blessing and honor, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving be unto Him who sits on the throne, forever and ever! Amen!"