by Archibald Alexander

Beloved youth, when I, who am old, look upon your condition, I cannot but pity you. I do not envy your gaiety and pleasure. The cup which you hold in your hand is inebriating, it is poisoned! The pleasures which you are seeking are "the pleasures of sin," which are short-lived, unsatisfactory, and leave a sting behind. Many are cut down like the flower of the field in the midst of their earthly career. Oh how many are hurried away in an unprepared state. Many others, when the season of youthful gaiety and thoughtlessness is past, are visited with sore afflictions, in the suffering of which all their former pleasures are forgotten, and often embittered by the reflection that they were sinful pleasures, or were mixed with sin. Remorse for the sins of youth is an unwelcome visitant, but one which cannot easily be shaken off.

When afflictions are sanctified they become real blessings. But many suffer who, instead of being made better, are made worse by all their sufferings. They become impatient, and murmur at the dispensations of God towards them, as though they were punished more than their sins deserved.

Oh, young man, permit me to call your attention to your soul's salvation. This you cannot but know is your great, your highest interest. And why do you neglect it? Why do you put far off the evil day? Your continuance on earth is altogether uncertain. Prepare, I beseech you, to meet your God! "Behold, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." You will lose nothing, but be great gainers, by giving your hearts to God in the days of your youth. "Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."

A good conscience, and a lively hope of everlasting life, are the purest sources of joy upon earth. When affliction falls on the pious—and they are not exempt—there is a gracious promise that it will be for their good; yes, that it will work out for them an "exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Let the summons of death come when it will, they are ready. The day of death to such is far better than the day of their birth.

Young man, as you have but one short life to live upon earth, have you no desire that it should be occupied in doing good? Are you willing, at the last account, which all must give, to be in the class of those who have lived to no good purpose, who have done nothing for the benefit of their race? You say that you intend to be pious hereafter. What a delusion! Evil habits will grow with your age, sinful desires will not be lessened but increased by indulgence. Old age, if you are permitted to reach it, will find you a hardened sinner; your conscience seared, and all your habits of iniquity confirmed. Oh, could you hear the wailings of a multitude of souls now in hell, methinks their lamentation would be that they procrastinated attention to the salvation of their souls. Why will you run the dangerous risk? Consider that eternal life and eternal death are now set before you; and God calls on you to choose which you will have.