Without urging further upon you this hackneyed, though still awful warning, let me return once more to the peculiar point of view in which I have, all along, considered the subject; namely, that each present act and feeling, however momentary may be its indulgence, is an inevitable preparation for eternity, by becoming a part of our never-dying moral nature. You must deeply feel how much this consideration adds to the improbability of your having any desires whatever to become the servant of God some years hence, and how much it must increase in future every difficulty and every unwillingness which you at present experience.
Let us, however, suppose that God will still be merciful to you at the last; that, after having devoted to the world during the years of your youth that love, those energies, and those powers of mind which had been previously vowed to his holier and happier service, he will still in future years send you the grace of repentance; that he will effect such a change in your heart and mind, that the world does not only become unsatisfactory to you,—which is a very small way towards real religion,—but that to love and serve God becomes to you the one thing desirable above all others. Alas! it is even then, in the very hour of redeeming mercy, of renewing grace, that your severest trials will begin. Then first will you thoroughly experience how truly it is “an evil thing and bitter, to forsake the Lord your God." Then you will find that every late effort at self-denial, simplicity of mind and purpose, abstinence from worldly excitements, &c., is met, not only by the evil instincts which belong to our nature, but by the superinduced difficulty of opposing confirmed habits.
Smoothly and tranquilly flows on the stream of habit, and we are unaware of its growing strength until we try to erect an obstacle in its course, and see this obstacle swept away by the long-accumulating power of the current.
In truth, all those who have wilfully added the power of evil habits to the evil tendencies of their fallen nature must expect “to go mourning all the days of their life.” It is only to those who have served the Lord from their youth that “wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace.” To others, though by the grace of God they may be finally saved, there is but a dreary prospect until the end come. They must ever henceforth consult their safety by denying themselves many pleasant things which the well-regulated mind of the habitually pious may find not only safe but profitable. At the same time they sorrowfully discover that they have lost all taste for those entirely simple pleasures with which the path of God’s obedient children is abundantly strewn. Their path, on the contrary, is rugged, and their flowers are few: their sun seldom shines; for they themselves have formed clouds out of the vapours of earth, to intercept its warming and invigorating radiance: what wonder, then, if some among them should turn it back into the bright and sunny land of self-indulgence, now looking brighter and more alluring than ever from its contrast with the surrounding gloom?