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kingdom of light. Through the perverseness. of the heart there may be knowledge without piety, yet there cannot be piety without some knowedge; and, other things equal, the more there is of knowledge, the more expanded and elevated will be the piety of the soul.
Hence religious knowledge is the most important, and lays an indispensable demand upon a portion of your time and attention. No young man of fair mind and sober judgment will deny this. To obtain a correct knowledge of the being and perfections of God, of his government, and of our moral_relations and duties, is the noblest and richest achievement of the human intellect. Nothing else so lifts up the spirit from the dust; nothing else so amplifies the mind; nothing else is so vitally concerned with our temporal and everlasting well-being.
Nearly all the infidelity in our land is promoted and sustained by ignorance. With few exceptions, those who turn away from the religion of the Bible and pronounce it priestcraft and superstition, are those who never examined it at all; and without any exception, they are those who never examined it faithfully. The whole army of infidels of every grade, from the grossest atheist to the most self-wise deist, who are coming up upon our land, like the frogs and the locusts and the lice of Egypt, are such because they wish to be such, and have never taken the trouble to look into religion.
IGNORANCE OF INFIDELITY.
In the pride and sensuality of their hearts they are quite willing to think the religion of the Bible a feeble and childish affair, got up by priests, and adapted to the weak and credulous, but quite beneath them! Poor, silly things !
“ Like brutes they live, like brutes they die."
While the Bacons, and Newtons, and Locks, and Edwardses and Davises of every enlightened age and nation, whose transcendent intellects have explored the physical and the moral universe, from slumbering atoms beneath our feet up to worlds and suns rolling on high; and from the first movements of the human mind, to its loftiest efforts of raciocination and demonstrations of moral truth have received the Bible as the undoubted word of God, and have found its revealed truths to be worthy of their profoundest reverence and their most exalted praise, it is enough for these wise ones to turn the lip of scorn, and resign themselves up unmolested to the vile pleasures and the miserable fruits of sin.
And now, my young friend, I leave the subject with you. The Being who made you, has singled you out from millions of our race; he has placed you in a spot brilliantly illuminated with the lights of science, and highly charged with incentives to
knowledge. With his own finger he is pointing you upward to his fair temple in the skies, and indicating that he has some great design and some superior destination for you. He is calling upon you by motives which make angels flaming spirits in his service, to lift up your voice for understanding, and to seek after knowledge as for hid treasures. Truly a price is put into your hands to get wisdom. Shall it be written on your grave, that you had no heart to improve it? Count the loss and the gain on both sides, as you look down the long ages before you, and then tell us what you will do. If you will steadfastly address yourself to the pursuit of knowledge, and acquaint yourself with God and be at peace with him, on the authority of everlasting truth and experience, be assured that the pleasures of indolence and sensuality, which you relinquish, will be a thousand times repaid by the noble and abundant pleasures of the mind which you will soon begin to realize; pleasures which will steadily increase as you proceed, will survive the grave, and grow into immortal and full fruition in Heaven. Your rising sun will go forth in its strength, waxing brighter and brighter unto the perfect day; till it will finally stand at high noon, full-orbed and cloudless, and pour its everlasting splendor upon your head in the paradise of God.
“That we henceforth be no more chiljren, tossed to and fro."
The word principles has a meaning that varies according to the subject to which it is applied. In chemistry, it means the elements of things. In mathematics and metayhysics, it means the self-evident truths. In the philosophy of cause and effect, it designates the generic sources whence species and individuals proceed. And in moral science, it indicates the leading doctrines of belief, and the adopted rules of action which they sanction.
I. I would first solicit your attention to the importance of being early established in right moral principles.
1. They are your only protection against the exposures incident to the passions and temptations of youth. To be without them, in a world like this, is like being out at sea without either compass, or rudder, or anchor. You have no sure knowledge of the right way; or if you had, you have noth
ing to guide you in it; — and if, in your doubts and perils, you would at any time find a haven, you have nothing to serve you as an anchor, sure and steadfast. You are thus continually exposed to be " tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind." How many millions of youth, from not being early established in right principles, have been overcome by temptations and drawn into the vortex of dissipation and ruin !
2. They are your only sure protection against the insinuations of error. Ever since the father of lies insinuated himself into the bosom of our mon mother and imposed falsehood upon our race, the world has been filled with lies; and men have never been wanting to believe and to teach them. Unless therefore your minds are early preoccupied with truth and with sound principles, they will be eminently and perhaps fatally exposed to error. Unless the mental soil is implanted with good seed, thorns and thistles and weeds will shoot up. You will always be very liable to imposition. Everything that looks plausible and that gratifies your feelings, you will be likely to embrace for truth, and to stake your eternal interests upon it; so exposed will you be to the “ sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."
3. They will secure to you the confidence of good men. This is of very great moment to you. To have the confidence and esteem of good men, is