Satan is a persevering workman, an artful, deadly foe. Whenever an incautious word is spoken, whether in flattery or to cause the youth to look upon some sin with less abhorrence, he takes advantage of it, and nourishes the evil seed, that it may take root and yield a bountiful harvest. He is in every sense of the word a deceiver, a skilful charmer. He has many finely woven nets, which appear innocent, but which are skilfully prepared to entangle the young and unwary. The natural mind leans toward pleasure and self-gratification. It is Satan's policy to manufacture an abundance of this. He seeks to fill the mind with a desire for worldly amusement, that they may be no time for the question, How is it with my soul?
An Unfortunate Age
We are living in an unfortunate age for the young. The prevailing influence in society is in favour of allowing the youth to follow the natural turn of their own minds. If their children are very wild, parents flatter themselves that when they are older and reason for
themselves, they will leave off their wrong habits, and become useful men and women. What a mistake! For years they permit an enemy to sow the garden of the heart, and suffer wrong principles to grow and strengthen, seeming not to discern the hidden dangers and the fearful ending of the path that seems to them the way of happiness. In many cases all the labour afterward bestowed upon these youth will avail nothing.
The standard of piety is low among professed Christians generally, and it is hard for the young to resist the worldly influences that are encouraged by many church-members. The majority of nominal Christians, while they profess to be living for Christ, are really living for the world. They do not discern the excellence of heavenly things, and therefore cannot truly love them. Many profess to be Christians because Christianity is considered honourable. They do not discern that genuine Christianity means cross-bearing, and their religion has little influence to restrain them from taking part in worldly pleasures.
Some can enter the ballroom, and unite in all the amusements which it affords. Others cannot go to such lengths as this, yet they can attend parties of pleasure, picnics, shows, and other places of worldly amusement; and the most discerning eye would fail to detect any difference between their appearance and that of unbelievers.
The Training of Children
In the present state of society it is no easy task for parents to restrain their children, and instruct them according to the Bible rule of right. Children often become impatient under restraint, and wish to have their own way and to go and come as they please. Especially from the age of ten to eighteen they are inclined to feel that there can be no harm in going to worldly gatherings of young associates. But the
experienced Christian parent can see danger. They are acquainted with the peculiar temperaments of their children, and know the influence of these things upon their minds; and from a desire for their salvation, they should keep them back from these exciting amusements.
When the children decide for themselves to leave the pleasures of the world and to become Christ's disciples, what a burden is lifted from the hearts of careful, faithful parents. Yet even then the labours of the parents must not cease. These youth have just commenced in earnest the warfare against sin, and against the evils of the natural heart, and they need in a special sense the counsel and watch care of their parents.
A Time of Trial Before the Young
Young Sabbath-keepers who have yielded to the influence of the world, will have to be tested and proved. The perils of the last days are upon us, and a trial is before the young which many have not anticipated. They will be brought into distressing perplexity, and the genuineness of their faith will be proved. They profess to be looking for the Son of man; yet some of them have been a miserable example to unbelievers. They have not been willing to give up the world, but have united with the world in attending picnics and other gatherings for pleasure, flattering themselves that they were engaging in innocent amusement. Yet it is just such indulgences that separate them from God, and make them children of the world.
Some are constantly leaning to the world. Their views and feelings harmonise much better with the spirit of the world than with that of Christ's self-denying followers. It is perfectly natural that they should prefer the company of those whose spirit will best agree with their own. And such have quite too much influence among God's people. They take part with them, and have a name among them; and they are a
text for unbelievers, and for the weak and unconsecrated ones in the church. In this refining time these professors will either be wholly converted, and sanctified by obedience to the truth, or they will be left with the world, to receive their reward with the worldlings.
God does not own the pleasure-seeker as His follower. Those only who are self-denying, and who live lives of sobriety, humility, and holiness, are true followers of Jesus. And such cannot enjoy the frivolous, empty conversation of the lover of the world.
Separation from the World
The true followers of Christ will have sacrifices to make. They will shun places of worldly amusement because they find no Jesus there,--no influence which will make them heavenly minded, and increase their growth in grace. Obedience to the word of God will lead them to come out from all these things, and be separate.
"By their fruits ye shall know them," The Saviour declared. All the true followers of Christ bear fruit to His glory. Their lives testify that a good work has been wrought in them by the Spirit of God, and their fruit is unto holiness. Their lives are elevated and pure. Right actions are the unmistakable fruit of true godliness, and those who bear no fruit of this kind reveal that they have no experience in the things of God. They are not in the Vine. Said Jesus, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing."
Those who would be worshippers of the true God must sacrifice every idol. Jesus said to the lawyer, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This
is the first and great commandment." The first four precepts of the decalogue allow no separation of the affections from God. Nor must anything share our supreme delight in Him. We cannot advance in Christian experience until we put away everything that separates us from God.
The great Head of the church, who has chosen His people out of the world, requires them to be separate from the world. He designs that the spirit of His commandments, by drawing His followers to Himself, shall separate them from worldly elements. To love God and keep His commandments is far away from loving the world's pleasures and its friendship. There is no concord between Christ and Belial.
Promises to the Young
The youth who follow Christ have a warfare before them; they have a daily cross to bear in coming out of the world and imitating the life of Christ. But there are many precious promises on record for those who seek the Saviour early. Wisdom calls to the sons of men, "I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me." They will find that "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us
from all iniquity, and purity unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."