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ADMONITIONS TO THE YOUNG.
BY JOSEPH FLETCHER, A, M.
2 Tim. ii. 22.–Flee also youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure
heart. Tus exhortation was addressed by the apostle Paul to Timothy, who sustained, under his direction, the office of an Evangelist. It appears from various incidental allusions to his character, in the sacred writings, that he was a youth of eminent piety and high attainments. At an early period of life, he "knew the holy Scriptures," and from his childhood possessed “unfeigned faith,” the remembrance of which gladdened the heart of the apostle, and excited in his mind all the tender anxieties of christian friendship.* So intimate and endearing was that friendship, that he often calls him “his son,” and his “dearly beloved son ;” terms illustrating not only a spiritual relation to him, as a father, but the peculiar ardour and strength of his attachment. This high estimation of his character is happily exemplified in the Epistle to the Philippians ; in which, after intimating his purpose of "sending Timotheus shortly unto them,” he says, “For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally (or, with all the sincerity of natural affection) care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.”+
The affection of the apostle displayed itself in the constancy and fervour of his prayers; and in the admonitions which his
# 2 Tim. i. 3-6. iii. 14, 15.
+ Philip. ii. 19-22.
authority and experience qualified him to impart. For the direction of his personal and official conduct, he addressed to him, at different periods of time, two epistles, containing an invaluable treasury of wise counsels and holy maxims; and particularly adapted to teach him the arduous duties of his responsible station in the christian church. It is pleasing to observe, the amiable blending of fatherly love with apostolic authority, in every part of this inspired correspondence.
In the first epistle, among many other instructions, he is exhorted to “entreat the younger men as brethren, and the younger women as sisters, with all purity." Directed and encouraged by this advice, I would, my young friends, address myself to you. Aware from experience and observation of the dangers to which you are exposed, and of the fascinations that allure to the devious paths of sin, I would lift up the voice of friendly warning. Consider me not as a dictator but as an adviser: and remember that, though I claim no dominion over you, the high authority of an inspired apostle, an aged servant of Jesus Christ, a veteran warrior in the fight of faith, and whose course was almost finished when his trembling hand recorded the sentence-enforces the solemn admonition before us ! “ Flee youthful lusts, but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
The text naturally arranges itself into three inquiries, respecting WHAT YOU OUGHT TO AVOID, WHAT YOU SHOULD FOLLOW, AND WITH WHOM YOU SHOULD ASSOCIATE. May the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, direct and sanctify our reflections!
Before I enter on the immediate subject of inquiry, I would remark, that the exhortation in the text is addressed to a young ChrisTIAN, and implies the operation of Christian principles in order to secure conformity to its demands. The gospel of Christ includes and confirms all the obligations of the moral law. Its discoveries are perfectly accordant with the dictates of natural conscience, when un biassed in its decisions concerning right and wrong. Many heathen philosophers have discoursed on the beauty of virtue and the deformity of vice; and have enforced their reasonings by arguments which Christianity itself disdains not to employ. But what effect had their most rational appeals on the turbulence of sinful passions, or the strength of vicious habits ? None. Did they yield to the voice of these “charmers, charming ever so wisely ?" The history of human depravity answers the question ; and directs us to the unblushing vices of men, whose perceptions and practices were in perpetual contradiction to each other. It was reserved for the gospel alone, to enable