18. Cherish and diligently cultivate genuine piety. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10; Prov 9:10)
Early piety is the most beautiful spectacle in the world. Without piety, all your morality, however useful to men—is worthless to God. It is a branch without a root. True piety, above every other acquisition, enriches and adorns the mind of man; and it is especially congenial with the natural susceptibilities of the youthful mind. The vivacity and versatility of youth, the tenderness and ardor of the affections in this age, exhibit piety to the best advantage. How delightful is it, to see the bosoms of the young swelling with the lively emotions of pure devotion! How beautiful is the tear of penitence or of holy joy, which glistens in the eye of tender youth!
Think not, dear young people, that true piety will detract from your happiness. It is a reproach cast upon your Maker, to indulge such a thought. It cannot be. A God of goodness never required anything of his creatures which did not tend to their true felicity. Piety may indeed lead you to exchange the pleasures of the theater and ballroom—for the purer joys of the church and prayer-meeting. It may turn your attention from books of mere idle fancy and fiction—to the Word of God—which to a regenerated soul is found to be sweeter than honey, and more excellent than the choicest gold; but this will add to your happiness rather than diminish it.
We would then affectionately and earnestly exhort and entreat you to “remember now your Creator in the days of your youth”. (Eccles 12:1) This will be your best security against all the dangers and temptations to which you are exposed; this will secure to you “the favor of God which is life, and His loving-kindness which is better than life”. (Psalm 30:5; Psalm 63:3) Delay not your conversion. Every day is lost time, which is not spent in the service of God. Besides, procrastination has proved ruinous to many. Eternity is at hand; the judgment day must be met, and how can we appear there, without true piety? This is our only preparation and passport for heaven.
Dear youth, be wise—and secure “an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading—reserved in heaven for you.” Christ extends His arms of mercy to secure you. Angels are waiting to rejoice at your conversion and to become your daily and nightly guardians. The doors of the church will be opened to receive you. The ministers of the Gospel, and all the company of believers, will hail your entrance and will welcome you to the precious ordinances of God’s house. And finally, remember that “now is the accepted time and the day of salvation”. (2 Cor 6:2)
– Archibald Alexander; Counsels of the Aged to the Young (See here for more info)