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times," yet they “ have no memorial, but are perished as though they had never been.” St. Jude's Epistle, indeed, is a standing monument, yet not of his doings, but of his gifts. What he wrote leads us to conjecture indeed what he was ; but of his history, we know no more than of that of St. Simon.
And hence we draw an important lesson for ourselves, which, however obvious, is continually forgotten by us in the actual business of life ; viz. to do our duty without aiming at the world's praise. Mankind knows nothing of St. Simon and St. Jude's deeds and sufferings, though these were great; yet there is ONE who “ knows their works, and labour, and patience ... and how they bore ... and for His Name's sake laboured, and fainted nota.” Their deeds are blotted out from history, but not from the LAMB's book of life; for “ blessed are they who die in Him,
that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them 3.”
On this great practical rule, viz. to do what we do heartily, as unto the LORD, and not unto men, I shall now make some remarks; and in doing so, I shall be pointing out a mode in which we may follow these blessed saints, whose lives at first sight seem to have left no pattern behind them for our imitation.
In heathen times, when men understood that they had souls, yet did not know what was the soul's true happiness, or how it was to be gained, much was thought, and more talked, of what they called glory, fame, honour. This was natural, as a little consideration will show. For before men begin to exercise their minds, while they remain ignorant and dull, the common pleasures of sense satisfy them-eating, drinking, and making merry. They do not think of the morrow. They have no end in view, and act on no plan. But when intelligence is awakened, and they learn to feel, reflect, hope, plan, and exert themselves ; then mere animal indulgences are not enough for them, and they look about for some higher pleasures, more lasting and more refined. This is the real effect of that civilization which is so much extolled ; it gives men refined wishes, and sets them on gratifying them. An enlightened age is one which feels the wants of human nature. Knowledge and mental cultivation render men alive to the things around them, busy, and restless; but they do no more than | Ecclus. xliv. 7. 9.
Rev. ii. 2, 3.
3 Ibid. xiv, 13.
make men sensible of their wants; they find no remedy for them; they bring no appropriate food to the hunger they create : for it is religion alone can do this.
Now the ancient heathen whom I speak of were just in this state ; having minds cultivated and refined intellectually, they felt the capabilities of man for acting on a large field, and the need of some stimulus to make him act thus. They saw that human nature was capable of great things, and they perceived that some great goods must be attainable in some way or other, though they did not well know what they were. Feelings such as these, acting upon men in the tumult of life, with their passions awake, keenly set on (what are called) political objects, and averse to those self-denying habits which conscience (if listened to) would have suggested to be the way to that unknown happiness which their heart was imagining, led them to think of what they called glory and popularity as the greatest of goods, and that to which they ought especially to aspire.
Now what exactly they wished to signify by the word glory, is difficult to say, for they were apt to speak of it as if it were some real thing, and that, too, which one could possess and make one's own; yet, if we come to consider its real meaning, it plainly stands for nothing else than the praise of other men, the being admired, honoured, and feared; or, more commonly, having a celebrated name ; that is, for a something external to ourselves. But whatever precise notions they wished to attach to the word, they used to talk in glowing language of the necessity of going through dangers and sufferings for glory's sake,-labouring to benefit the world for glory,—and dying for glory.
Now when we read of poor heathens using this language, it is our duty to pity them, for it is plain enough to any sober reasoner, that nothing is so vain as to talk of this glory being a real and substantial good; for there is no better ground for my being happy because my name is celebrated, than because any thing else is celebrated which, accidentally, and for a time, is connected with myself, and called mine. My name is my own only in the case of those who use it in speaking of me; i. e. of those who happen to see and know me. But when those who never saw me talk much of my name, they do me no more good or harm than if they celebrated any thing else which I may know to be mine. They may praise a house that was once mine--that is not praising me; nor, in like manner, is it doing me any good, or honouring me, when those who never saw me use my name respectfully. It is a mere imagination, which can give no solid or lasting pleasure. There is some meaning and sense (though great wickedness) in coveting our neighbour's house or garden, horse or ass; the unjust steward, though a bad man, at least acted wisely, according i. e. to a worldly wisdom; but those who covet honour, I mean a great name, really covet no substantial thing at all, and are not only the most offending men alive, inasmuch as this passion for fame may carry them on to the most atrocious crimes, but also the most foolish of men.
Now, in the ancient heathen we may blame, but we must pity this sin, because it at least evidenced in them a knowledge of a great want of human nature, and was so far the sign of a higher state of mind than that of others who did not feel any wants at all, had no notion of any but selfish enjoyments, and were content to live and die like the brutes that perish. Their sin lay, not in being anxious for some good or other, which was not before their eyes, but in not consulting their own hearts on the subject, and going the way which their conscience told them. But, I say, they were heathens,—they had no Bible, no Church ; and therefore we pity them; and by their errors are reminded to look to ourselves, and see how far we are clean from their sin.
Now it is a most melancholy fact, that Christians are chargeable, for all their light, with the same foolish irrational sin. This was not at first sight to be expected. This is a peculiar case. Observe; I do not say it is wonderful that we should seek the praise of persons we know. This I can understand. We all naturally love to be respected and admired, and in due limits perhaps we may be allowed to do so; the love of praise is capable of receiving a religious discipline and character. But the surprising thing is, that we should leave the thought of present goods, whether sensual enjoyments, or the more refined pleasure which the praise of our friends brings us, yet without going on to seek the good of the next world ; that we should deny ourselves, yet not deny ourselves for a reality, but a shadow. It is natural, I say, to love to have deference and respect paid us by our acquaintance; but I am speaking of the desire of glory, that is, the praise of a vast multitude of persons we never saw, or shall see, or care about ; and this, I say, is a depraved appetite, the artificial produce of a falsely enlightened intellect; as unmeaning as it is sinful, or rather more sinful, because it is so very unmeaning; excusable indeed in heathen, not only because they knew no better, but because they had no better good clearly proposed to them; but in Christians, who have the favour of God and eternal life set before them, deeply criminal, turning away, as they do, from the bread of heaven, to feed upon ashes, with a deceived and corrupted imagination.
This love of indiscriminate praise, then, is an odious, superfuous, wanton sin, and we should put it away with a manly hatred, as something irrational and degrading. Shall man, born for high ends, the servant and son of God, the redeemed of Christ, the heir of immortality, go out of his way to have his mere name praised by a vast populace, or by various people, of whom he knows nothing, and most of whom (if he saw them) he would himself be the first to condemn? It is odious; yet young persons of high minds and vigorous powers, are especially liable to be led captive by this snare of the devil. If reasoning does not convince them, let facts,--the love of glory has its peculiar condemnation in its consequences. No sin has been so productive of wide-spread enduring ruin among mankind : wars and conquests are the means by which men have most reckoned on securing it. A tree is known by its fruit.
These remarks apply to the love of indiscriminate praise in all its shapes. Few persons, indeed, are in a condition to be tempted by the love of glory; but all persons may be tempted to indulge in vanity, which is nothing else but the love of general admiration. A vain person is one who likes to be praised, whoever is the praiser, whether good or bad. Now consider, how few are not in their measure vain, till they reach that period of life when by course of nature vanity disappears ? Let all Christians carefully ask themselves, whether they are not very fond, not merely of the praise of their superiors and friends--this is right,--but of that of any person, any chance-comer, about whom they know nothing? Who is not open to flattery ? and if he seems not to be exposed to it, is it not that he is too shrewd or too refined to be beguiled by any but what is delicate and unostentatious ? A
man never considers who it is who praises him. But the most dangerous, perhaps, of all kinds of vanity is to be vain of our personal appearance; most dangerous, for such persons are ever under temptation-I may say, ever sinning. Wherever they go, they carry their snare with them; and their idle love of admiration is gratified without effort by the very looks of those who gaze upon them.
Now I shall say something upon the natural and rational love of praise, and how far it may be safely indulged. As I have already said, it is natural to desire the esteem of all those with whom we have intercourse, all whom we love. Indeed, ALMIGHTY God intends us to do so. When we love a person, we cannot but wish he should love us; but he cannot love us, without also feeling respect and esteem towards us, And as to the question, from whom we should desire praise, and how far, we have this simple rule—from all who stand to us in CHRIST's place. CHRIST Himself is our great Judge; from Him we must supremely seek praise; and as far as men are in His place, so far may we seek it from men.
desire the praise of our parents and superiors, and the praise of good men-in a word, all whom we have a value for ; but the desire of indiscriminate praise, the praise of those for whom we have no respect or regard, this is the mischief. We
may desire the praise of those we have never seen, if we believe them to be good men. St. Paul not only speaks of the mutual rejoicing between himself and the Corinthians 4, who knew each other, but likewise returns thanks that the fame of the faith of the Romans was spread all over the Christian world. And in this way we may desire the praise of good persons yet unborn-I mean the Church of God, to the end of time. St. Mary, in the hymn we daily use, returns thanks that “from henceforth all generations shall call her blessed 6." But this feeling of hers is very different from the desire of what is called glory, posthumous fame, fame after death; as if, forsooth, it were a good thing to have one's name familiar in the mouths of the mixed multitude of this world, of swearers, and jesters, and liars, and railers, and blasphemers, and of all those men, who even if they do not sin grossly, yet use their tongues for evil, speak the words of
4 2 Cor. i. 4.
5 Rom. i. 8.
6 Luke i. 48.