NOTE: The following message by J. G. Pike can be heard
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SINS OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH
J. G. Pike (1784-1854)
“Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.”—Psalm 25:7
Young friend, I entreat you to follow me while I point out to you some of those sins that undo multitudes. Among these evils, a thoughtless, inconsiderate spirit is in young persons, one of the most common and one of the most fatal. While open impiety slays its thousands, this sinks its ten thousands to perdition.
A time is coming when you must consider your ways. From the bed of death or from the eternal world, you must take a review of life. But as you love your soul, defer not until that solemn period, which shall fix your eternal state, the momentous question, “How has my life been spent?” Look back on your past years. They are gone forever. But what report have they borne to heaven? What is the record made respecting them in the book of
God? Will they rise up in the judgment against you? Possibly, you may not see many instances of flagrant crime. But do you see nothing that conscience must condemn? Nothing that would fill you with alarm, if going this moment to the bar of your Maker? Perhaps you reply, “It is true, I cannot justify all the actions of my youthful years. Yet the worst that I see were but the frolics of youth.”
My friend, do they bear that name in heaven? Does your Judge view them in no worse a light? It has ever been the custom of this world to whitewash sin and hide its hideous deformity. But, know that what you pass over so lightly, your God abhors as sins—sins, the least of which, if not forgiven, would sink your soul to utter, endless woe. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18). He abhors the iniquities of youth, as well as of riper years. The sins of youth were the bitter things that holy Job lamented. “For
thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth” (Job 13:26). And for deliverance from which David devoutly prayed, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD” (Psa 25:7).
Take then another review of life. Begin with childhood. In that early period, so often falsely represented as a state of innocence, the corruptions of a fallen nature begin to appear. The early years of life are stained with falsehood, disobedience, cruelty, vanity, and pride. Can you recollect no instances in which your earlier years were thus polluted with actual sin? Can you bring to remembrance no occasion on which falsehood came from your lips? Or vanity, pride, or obstinacy was cherished in your heart? Or when cruelty to the meaner creatures was your sport? Shrink not from the review: though painful, it is useful. It is far better to see and abhor your youthful sins in this world, where mercy may be found, than to have them brought to your remembrance when mercy is no more.
But you have passed the years of childhood. You have advanced one stage [further] in your journey to an endless world. Has sin weakened as your years increased? Have not some sinful dispositions ripened into greater vigor? Have not others that you knew not in your earlier years begun to appear? And does not increasing knowledge add new guilt to all your sins?
Among the prevailing iniquities of youth may be mentioned pride. This is a sin common to all ages, but it often peculiarly infects the young. God abhors it. “But the proud he knoweth afar off” (Psa 138:6). “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (Jam 4:6). “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD” (Pro 16:5). He hateth “a proud look” (Pro 6:16-17). “An high look, and a proud heart…is sin” (Pro 21:4). The proud are “cursed” (Psa 119:21). Pride is the parent of many other vices. It puts on a thousand forms; yet unless subdued by religion, it is found in the palace and the cottage. You may see it displayed in the character of the young prodigal
Has not this sin, which God so much abhors, crept into your heart? Perhaps it has made you haughty, when you should have been humble; obstinate, when you should have been yielding; revengeful, when you should have been forgiving. You thought it showed spirit to resent an injury or insult, instead of patiently bearing it like Him you call your Lord. Perhaps it has filled you with dissatisfaction, when you should have been all submission. You have thought it hard in the day of affliction that you should be so tried; and even if you stayed the murmur against God
from passing your lips, have you not felt it in your heart?
Pride has probably led you to neglect the counsels of wisdom—to turn a deaf ear to those who wished you well forever. Vain of the ornaments of apparel—have you not bestowed more thought on the dress you should wear than on the salvation of your immortal soul? [Have you not] been more concerned about the shape of a coat or the fashion of a gown or a bonnet than about life or death eternal? Perhaps you have been one of those who spend more time in surveying their own image in a glass than in seeking the favor of their God. Ah! Did pride never lead you to this self-idolatry? Did it never, never fill you with vanity from the fancy of your possessing a pleasing face, or a lovely form, or manly vigor? Ah, foolish vanity! When you must so soon say to corruption, “Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister” (Job 17:14). Yet, foolish as it is, was it never yours? “Where is there a face so disagreeable, that never was the object of self-worship in a glass? And where a body, however deformed, that never was set up as a favorite idol by the fallen spirit that inhabits it?”
One of the most prevalent and most and most baneful kinds of pride is that which I may term the pride of self-righteousness. Our Lord, in the parable of the Pharisee and Publican, gives a most striking description of this sin. The Pharisee boasts that he was not like others; that he had not committed such flagrant crimes as they; and that he practiced duties that they omitted. On this sandy foundation, his hope for eternity appears to have rested. Nothing like humility entered his heart; but in all the pride of fancied virtue, he approached his God. This is the
exact spirit of multitudes in the present day. And where young persons have been restrained from open immoralities, how commonly does it exist among them! It is pleaded, respecting them, “They are not like many profligate youth around them! They have not given way to profaneness and lying, to drunkenness or dishonesty;
but they have been kind and dutiful, tender and obliging, have good hearts, and are good young people.” They may have lived all their lives careless of God and their souls, but this is not taken into account. Others commend them, and they are willing to believe these commendations. They please themselves with their fancied virtue [and] think themselves very good young persons. [They are] proud of this goodness [and] go forward to meet that God Who sees in them ten thousand crimes and Who abhors nothing more than the pride of self-righteousness in a creature polluted by daily iniquities.
Another common sin of the young is disobedience to parents. “Honour thy father and mother... That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Eph 6:2-3). This is the divine commandment. There is, it is true, one case in which even parents should not be obeyed: when their directions and wishes are opposed to those of God. “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Act 5:29), and to love the Redeemer more than parents themselves. Parents are commonly the tenderest of friends, and pious parents among the surest guides that the young and inexperienced can have to lead them to the footstool of God. Your interests are theirs. Your welfare their happiness. But ah! Has their kindness met with the return it demanded? Who, my young friend, so much deserve your obedience and affection as those who gave you being and who watched over your helpless infancy? The father, whose years have been spent in care for you; the mother, who tended you at her breast and led you through the days of childhood—have they received this obedience and affection from you?
Perhaps I address one whose disobedience and unkindness have wrung with grief the hearts of fond and pious parents and filled them with sorrow instead of gladness. Their desire has been to see you walking in the ways of God. For this, they have led you to His house. For this, their prayers have ascended in public and in private. This by their early instructions and later admonitions, they have warned you to regard as the chief end of life, as that only concern that beyond all others should interest your attention and engage all your hearts. And now they see
you negligent of God and religion. They mourn in secret that the child they love is still a child of Satan. Ah! Young man or young woman, if this be your case, God will bring you into judgment for all your abuse of precious privileges and all your neglect of parental instructions. The prayers, the tears, and the admonitions of your parents will awfully witness against you. Think not that if affectionate and kind to them you will much mitigate the sorrows of truly pious parents. No. They will still mourn at the thought that the affectionate child they fondly love
is not a child of God. It will grieve them to the heart to consider how near you are to endless destruction and how soon they must bid you an eternal farewell, when they go to that rest in which they have no hope of meeting you.
Ah! My young friend, if you slight religion, pious parents may leave you, mournfully saying in their dying hour, “Alas! Our beloved child, we shall see you no more. For our God you have not trusted as your God; our Savior you have not sought as your Savior. The heaven to which we go is a rest to which you have no title and which, dying as you are, you cannot enter!” Yes, bitterly will they mourn to think that with so much that is lovely in their view, there is nothing in you that is lovely in the sight of God. All that they esteem so pleasing in you must soon be buried in the deeps of hell.
Another sin, not peculiar to the young, but in, awfully prevalent among them, is the the waste of precious time. The Word of God reminds us that “time is short” (1Co 7:29) and commands us to redeem the time (Eph 5:16; Col 4:5). The value of time is beyond our comprehension or expression…Time is given us to prepare for eternity. But, alas, how are its golden hours sinned and trifled away! Many young persons act as if they thought they had so much
time before them that they may afford to squander some, when perhaps their wasted youth is their all—all in which they will ever have an opportunity of preparing for eternity, all in which they can “escape from hell, and fly
One of the most common ways in which time is worse than wasted is employing it on romances, plays, and novels. Novels are the poison of the age. The best of them tend to produce a baneful effeminacy of mind. Many of them are calculated to advance the base designs of the licentious and abandoned on the young and unsuspecting. But, were they free from every other charge of evil, it is a most heavy one that they occasion a dreadful waste of that time that must be accounted for before the God of heaven. Let their deluded admirers plead the advantages of novel reading,
if they will venture to plead the same before the worthy Judge eternal.
If you are a novel reader, think the next time you take a novel into your hands, “How shall I answer to my tremendous Judge for the time occupied by this? When He shall say to me, ‘I gave you so many years in yonder world to fit you for eternity. Did you converse with your God in devotion? Did you study His Word? Did you attend to the duties of life and strive to improve to some good end even your leisure hours?’ Then, then shall I be willing to reply, ‘Lord, my time was otherwise employed! Novels and romances occupied the leisure of my days, when—alas!—my Bible, my God, and my soul were neglected!” In this way and many others is time—that most precious blessing—squandered away. Does not conscience remind you of many leisure hours? Hours that, though thoughtlessly thrown away, would soon to you be worth more than mountains of gold or of pearl?
Willful neglect of the soul and eternity is another common sin of youth. Young persons presume on future life and grieve the Holy Spirit by delaying to regard the one thing needful (Luk 10:42). They trust in their youth. God reproves the folly and says, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Pro 27:1). Few will listen to the warning. Instead of doing so, they flatter themselves that they shall live for many years and think sickness, death, and judgment far from them. Hence, they neglect the soul and seem to imagine religion
unsuitable or at least not needful for them. The blessed God calls on them in His Word. The crucified Savior bids them come to Himself, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me” (Pro 8:17). The ministers of the Gospel urge the advice upon them. Prayers are offered, tears shed for them—yet many persist in their own ways; and whatever they do, [they] will not remember their Creator in the days of their youth (Ecc 12:1).
My young friend, has this been your sin and folly? O, if it has, remember how many ways there are out of the world! How many diseases to cut short your days! God gives you time enough to secure salvation, but think not that he gives you any time to spare.
An inordinate love of sensual pleasure and worldly gaieties is another most prevalent sin of youth. The Word of God describes those who live in pleasure as “dead while they live” (1Ti 5:6) and classes with the most abominably wicked those who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2Ti 3:4). Though such are the declarations of the Lord, yet pleasure, pleasure is the chief object of thousands of the young. Some pursue it in the gross and brutish paths of rioting and drunkenness, of chambering and wantonness;others pursue it in less profligate ways, but with hearts not less intent upon it. The card table, the dance, the horse race, the playhouse, the fair, the wake are the scenes of their highest felicity.
My young men, has not this love of worldly pleasure dwelt in your
heart? Perhaps you have not run into scandalous and disgraceful excesses; but have you not had a greater love to worldly pleasures than to God and religion? If you have, you but too surely bear that awful mark of being a child of destruction: you are a lover of pleasures more than a lover of God. Have not you been present at scenes of sinful amusement and guilty festivity? Have not you been as anxious as others have for those sensual delights that were most suited to your taste? And, while thus loving this world, have not you forgotten that which is to come? Have not you been more pleased with some shining bauble or glittering toy than with the blessings displayed in the Gospel? And been more earnest about a day of promised pleasure than about securing an eternity of pure celestial joy?
Think not that I mean to insinuate that the Christian should be the slave of melancholy. Far from it! None has so much reason to be cheerful as he who reads his title clear to heaven. But wide is the difference between the innocent cheerfulness and humble joy of the Christian and the vain pleasures of a foolish world. The truly religious have their delights, though they know that there is no room for mirthful trifling here.
Let conscience now answer, as in the sight of God: Has the love of worldly and sensual pleasure been cherished in your heart? If your situation has prevented your freely following the delights of sense, has the love of them dwelt within? If it has, though you should not have had the opportunity of indulging your worldly taste once in a month or a year, you are still in God’s sight as much a lover of pleasures as if these had occupied every moment of your time…
The Apostle Paul, when enumerating some of the sins of mankind, concludes the dreadful list with that of the dreadful list with
that of their taking pleasrue in the sins of others. (Rom 1:28). This, though one of the most awful, is one of the most common of
human iniquities and abounds among none more than among the young. Young persons are often each other’s tempters and destroyers. The lewd and profane tempt others to lewdness and profaneness. The thoughtless and those addicted to social life persuade others to imitate their levity and folly. As if it were not sufficient to have their own sins to account for, many thus make themselves partakers in the sins of others! And, as if it were not enough to ruin their own souls, many thus contract the guilt of assisting to destroy those of their companions and
Have you never thus led others into sin? Perhaps some, who are now lost forever, may be lamenting in utter darkness and despair the fatal hour when they became acquainted with you. Have any learned of you to trifle with religion? To squander away their golden day of grace? To slight their God and choose perdition? If not by words, yet perhaps by a careless and irreligious example, you have taught them these dreadful lessons.
I have now named a few youthful iniquities, but think not that these things are all. No. Every sin to which our fallen nature is prone has been found not merely in those who, by years, were ripened in guilt; but in those also who were beginning the journey of life. And not to enumerate the darker crimes of the multitude who drink in iniquity like water, where, my young friend, is the youthful heart that never felt the rising emotions of those infernal passions: pride, envy, malice, or revenge? Where is the youthful tongue that never uttered a profane,
wanton, or at least an unkind or slanderous word? Where is the youth, possessed of the forms of piety, that never mocked God, “With solemn sounds upon a thoughtless tongue”? Where is the youthful ear that was never open to drink in with pleasure the conversation of the trifling and the foolish? And where the youthful eye that never cast a haughty, an angry, a wanton, or insulting glance? Are you the person? Can you appeal to the Searcher of hearts and rest your eternal hopes on the success of the appeal of love-unmingled love to God and man-has always dwelt in your bosom? That no resentful, envious, or unkind emotion, was ever for a moment harbored there? That a law of constant kindness has ever dwelt upon your lips? That only meekness, tenderness, and goodness have glanced from your eye? That your ear was never opened to hear with pleasure of a brother’s shame? Can you make the appeal?
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching.
See his videos on http://www.youtube.com Type LAStreetPreacher in the search bar. CONTACT at Carlton2061@gmail.
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