5 good reasons to urge young Christians (J. C. Ryle)
1. There are few young people who walk with God.
I speak without regard to individuals, I say that of all: big or small, rich or poor, educated or ignorant, city dwellers or country folk, it is the same everywhere. I shudder to see how few young men are led by the Spirit; how few walk the narrow path that leads to life; how few place their affections on things above; how few take the cross of Jesus and follow him. It’s painful to say, but I believe in the sight of God it’s the truth. Young men, in what condition are your immortal souls? Alas, whichever way I turn, the answer I get is always the same! […] Is it not a horrible thought that the one which often shows us the young people we meet as enemies of God who advance on the wide road which leads to perdition, and which is unfit for heaven? . Oh ! in the presence of such facts, who will dare deny the need to make them the objects of the most pressing exhortations?
2. Death and judgment await the young men too, but they seem to have forgotten it.
Young people! a day has been arrested, at which you must die; However strong and healthy you are today, the day of your death may be very near! […] You may tell yourself that you will think about these things when the time is right. So thought Felix and the Athenians, to whom Paul was addressing; but that other time never came. Hell is paved with such intentions. Take care, while you can, of this work, which is the most important of all. Do not let any uncertainty hang over what is eternal.
When the salvation of your soul is at stake, it is no small thing. Young and old, all need salvation; all need to be born again, to be washed in the blood of Christ, to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Happy is he who never rests until he has the testimony of the Holy Spirit within him, telling him that he is a child of God!
3. What young people will someday become, in all likelihood, depends on who they are now.
Youth is the time of sowing for middle age. By the bud we judge the tree; by the flowers we judge of the fruit; by the morning we judge the day; and, by the character of a young person, we can, in general, judge what to do next.
Young people, do not think that it will be easy for you to be able at will to serve the lusts and pleasure in the youth, and God in your last days. Do not think that you can live like Esau and die like Jacob. It is a mockery to do this with God and with your souls. It is a bitter irony to suppose that you can give the flower of your strength to the world and the demon, then offer the King of Kings the discolored remnants of your existence and the debris of your hearts and faculties. […] Each year spent in impenitance makes the wall which separates you from God higher and thicker, and the gulf which you must cross deeper and wider. Dread the hardening effect of any delay in getting rid of sin. Now is the favorable time. Pray that your escape will not take place in the winter of your days. If you do not seek the Lord in youth, it is likely that you will never seek Him; and that is why I urge you.
4. The devil is especially busy ruining the souls of the young men, and they apparently are unaware of it.
Satan knows full well that the future of the new generation is yours; that's why he uses all his tricks to get hold of you; I wouldn't want to let you ignore his tricks
You are the ones for whom he reserves his most refined temptations, whose hearts he embraces with the most active solicitude. It is for you that he garnishes his hatches with the sweetest baits, that he displays his wares with the most art, so that you buy his honeyed poisons, and that you bite at his treacherous treats. You are the main object of his attacks: may the Lord deliver you!
Young people, be careful not to fall into his traps: he will throw powder in your eyes, and prevent you from seeing objects in their true colors. He will try to make you find the bad good and the good bad. It will paint, paint, and dress sin, so that you cannot help but love it. He will represent religion to you in a false light, in an off-putting form, like a caricature, to make you loathe it. He will exalt the pleasures of sin, but he will carefully hide his sting from you. He will lift up the cross and its mortifications before your eyes; but he will hide from you the sight of the everlasting cross of Christ and its blessings. He will promise to give you everything, as he did with Jesus: as long as you worship him. It will even help you to take a form religion, provided you neglect its strength. He will tell you over and over again, at the beginning of your life, that it is too early to serve God, and when you come to the end, he will say to you, “It is too late. " Oh ! beware of his tricks!
5. Young men need exhortation, because of the calamity from which they will be preserved, if they begin to serve God now.
If you asked true believers, you would find many who would speak this language to you: “Oh! if I could start over the days of my youth! Oh ! if I had used the beginning of my life more appropriately; if I hadn't let these bad habits germinate in the spring of my days! "
Young people, I want to spare you these regrets, save you from this calamity, if I can. We always learn too late that there is hell. What youth sows, old age will reap. Do not devote the first and most precious period of your life to what will be of no consolation to you in the last.
The sin committed today with lightness seems to you forgotten; but he does not forget you, he will know how to meet you somewhere and remember you. Old wounds often cause suffering long after they heal, when only scars remain. So will your sins.
"Experience," says a proverb, "runs an expensive school; but fools do not want to study in any other. "I would like to spare you the heartache of being taught at this school, and this is the last reason I am making this exhortation to you.
- J. C. Ryle
Extract from the book Exhortations to young Christians by John Charles Ryle.