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passive itself, it lends a willing hand to all' pursuits. If the great concern of life camot evil, practical as well as speculative. It is be secured without habitual watchfulness, the abettor of every sin wlioever commits it, how is it to be secured by habitual carelessthe receiver of all booty, whoever is the ness? It will afford little comfort to the trithief. If it does nothing itself, it connives at fler, when at the last reckoning he gives in all the mischief that is done by others. This long negative catalogue, that the more
Vanity is exceedingly misplaced when ostensible offender was worse employed. ranked as she commonly is, in the catalogue The trifler will not be weighed in the scale of small faults. It is under her character of with the profligate, but in the balance of the harmlessness that she does all her mischief. sanctuary. She is indeed oiten found in the society of Some men make for themselves a sort of great virtues. She does not follow in the code of the lesser morals, of which they settrain, but inixes herself with the company, tle both the laws and the chronology. They and by mixing mars it. The use our spiri- fix the climacterics of the mind ;'* detertual enemy makes of her is a master stroke, mine at what period such a vice may be When he cannot prevent us from doing adopted without discredit, at what age one right actions, he can accomplish his purpose bad habit may give way to another more in almost as well · by making us vain of them.' character. Having settled it as a matter of When he cannot deprive the public of our course, that to a certain age certain faults benevolence, he can defcat the effect to our are natural, they proceed to act as if they selves by poisoning the principle. When he thought them necessary. cannot rob others of the good effect of the But let us not practice on ourselves the deed, he can gain his point by robbing the gross imposition to believe that any failing, doer of his reward..
much less any vice, is necessarily appended Peevishness is another of the minor mise-Ito any state or any age, or that it is üresistiries. Human life, though sufficiently un-bic at any. We may accustom ourselves to happy, cannot contrive to furnish misfor- talk of vanity and extravagancc as belongtunes so often as the passionate and the peeing to the young; and avarice and peevishvish can supply impatience. To commit ourness to the old, till the next step will be that reason and temper to the mercy of every wesliall think ourselves justified in adopting acquaintance, and of every servant, is not them. Whoever is eager to find excuses for making the wisest use of them. If we re- vice and folly, will feel his own backwardcollect that violence and peevishness are the ness to practise them much diminished. common resource of those whose knowledge C'est le premier pas qui coute. It is only is small, and whose arguments are weak, to make out an imaginary necessity, and our very pride might lead us to subdue our then we easily fall into the necessity we have passion, if we had not a better principle to imagined. Providence has established no resort to, Anger is the common refuge of such association. There is, it is true, more insignificance. People who feel their cha danger of certain faults under certain cirracter to be slight, hope to give it weight by cumstances; and sorne temptations are inflation : but the blown bladder at its full-stronger at some periods: but it is a proof est distention is still empty, Sluggish cha- that they are not irresistible because all do racters, above all, have no right to be pas- not fall into them. The evil is in ourselves, sionate. They should be contented with who mitigate the discredit by the supposed their own congenial faults. Dulness how- necessity. The precliction, like the dream ever has its impetuosities and its fluctuations of the astrologer, creates the event instead as well as genius. It is on the coast of heavy of foretelling it. But there is no supposition Beotia that the Euripus exhibits its unpa- can be made of a bad case which will justify ralleled restlessness and agitation,
the making it our own : Nor will general Trifling is ranked among the venial faults. I positions ever serve for individual apologies. But if tinie be one grand talent given us in-Who has not known persons who, though order to our securing eternal life ; if we tri- they retain the sound health and vigour of fle away that time so as to lose that eternal active lite, sink prematurely into sloth and life, on which by not trifling we might have inactivity, solely on the ground that these laid hold, then will it answer the end of sin. dispositions are fancied to be unavoidably in
A life devoted to trifles not only takes away cident to advancing years. They demand the inclination, but the capacity for higher the indulgence before they feel the infirmipursuits. The truths of Christianity have ty. Indolence thus forges a dismission from scarcely more influence on a frivolous than duty before the discharge is issued out by on a profligate character. If the mind be so Providence. No.-Let us endeavour to absorbed, not merely with what is vicious, meet the evils of the several conditions and but with what is useless, as to be thoroughly periods of life with subinission, but it is an disinclined to the activities of a life of picty, offence to their divine dispenser to forestall it matters little what the cause is which so them, disinclines it. If these habits cannot be ac- But we have still a saving clause for ourcused of great moral evil, yet it argues a low selves, whether the evil be of a greater or state of mind; that a being who has an eternity at stake can abandon itself to trivial
• Dr. Johnson.
lessor magnitude. If the fault be great, we virtues and small offences are only so by lament the inability to resist it; if small, comparison. Totreat a fellow-creature with we ceny the importance of so doing, we harsh language, is not indeed a crime like plead that we cannot withstand a great robbing him of his estate or destroying his temptation, and that a small one is not worth repctation. They are, however, all the offwithstanding. But if the temptation or the spring of the same family.—They are the fault be great, we should resist it on account same in quality though not in degree. All of that very magnitude ; if small, the giving How, though in streams of different magniit up can cost but little; and the conscien- tude, from the same fountain; all are inditious habit of conquering the less will confercations of a departure from that principle considerable strength towards subduing the which is included in the law of love. The greater,
consequences they involve are not less cerThere is again, a sort of splendid charac- tain ; though they are less important ter, which, winding itself up occasionally to The reason why what are called religious certain shining actions, thinks itself fully people often differ so little from others in justified in breaking loose from the shackles small trials is, that instead of bringing reliof restraint in smaller things : it makes no gion to their aid in their lesser vexations, scruple to indemnify itself for these popular they either leave the disturbance to prey deeds by indulgences which, though allower', upon their minds, or apply to false reliefs are far from innocent. It thus secures to for its removal. Those who are rendered itself praise and popularity by what is sure unhappy by frivolous troubles, seek comfort to gain it, and immunity from censure in in- in frivolous enjoyments. But we should apdulging the favourite fault, practically ex-ply the same remedy to ordinary trials, as claiming, Is it not a little one?
to great ones; for as small disquietudes Vanity is at the bottom of almost all, may spring from the same cause as great trials, we not say, of all our sins ? We think more namely, the uncertain and imperfect condiof signalizing than of saving ourselves. We tion of human life, so they require the same overlook the hourly occasions which occur remedy. Meeting common cares with a of serving, of obliging, of comforting those right spirit would impart a smoothness to around us, while we sometimes, not unwil- the temper, a spirit of cheerfulness to the lingly perform an act of notorious generosity. Leart, which would mightily break the The habit, however, in the former case, bet-force of heavier trials. ter indicates the disposition and bent of the You apply to the power of religion in great mind, than the solitary act of splendor. The evils.- Why does it not occur to you to apapostle does not say whatsoever great things ply to it in the less? Is it that you think the ye do, but whatsoever things ye do, do all instrument greater than the occasion deto the glory of God.' Actions are less weigh-mands? It is not too great if the lesser one ed by their bulk than their motive. Virtues will not produce the effect, or if it produce are less measured by their splendor than it in the wrong way; for there is such a their principle. The racer proceeds in his thing as putting an evil out of sight without course more effectually by a steady un-curing it. You would apply to religion on slackened pace, than by starts of violent but the loss of your child-apply to it on the loss unequal exertion.
of your temper. Throw in this wholesome That great abstract of morallaw, of which tree to sweeten the bitter waters, As no we have elsewhere spoken,* that rule of the calamity is too great for the power of Chris highest court of appeal, set up in his own bo- tianity to mitigate, so none is too small to exsom, to which every man can always resort, perience its beneficial results. Our beha
all things that ye would that men should do viour under the ordinary aecidents of lite unto you, do ye also unto them :'-This forms a characteristic distinction between law, if faithfully obeyed, operating as an in- different classes of Christians. The least fallible remedy for all the disorders of self- advanced, resort to religion on great occalove, would, by throwing its partiality into sions; the deeper proficient resorts to it on the right scale, establish the right exercise all. What makes it appear of so little comof all the smaller virtues. Its strict obser- parative value is, that the medicine prepared vance would not only put a stop to all injus- by the Great Physician is thrown by instead tice, but to all unkindness : not only to op- of being taken. The patient thinks not of pressive acts, but to unfeeling language. it but in extreme cases. A remedy, howEven haughty looks and supercilious ges- ever potent, not applied, can produce no eftures would be banished from the face of fect. But he who has adopted one fixed society, did we ask ourselves how we should principle for the government of his life, like to receive what we are not ashamed to will try to keep it in perpetual exercise. give.
| An acquaintance with the nature of human Till we thus morally transmute place, per- evils and of their remedy, would check bon, and circumstance with those of our that spirit of complaint which so much brother, we shall never treat him with the abcunds, and which often makes so little tenderness this gracious law enjoins, Small difference between people professing reli
gion and those who profess it not. Chapter is.
If the duties in question are not great, they become important by the constant de- little renur.ciations being grievous, and mand that is made for them. They have petty self-denials a hardship, they in reality been called “the small coin of human life,' soften grievances, diminish hardships. and on their perpetual and unobstructed They are the private drill which trains for circulation depends much of the comfort, public service. as well as convenience of its transactions. If, as we have repeatedly observed, the They make up in frequency what they want principle is the test of the action, we are in magnitude. How few of us are called to hourly furnished with occasions of showing carry the doctrines of Christianity into dis- our picty by the spirit in which the quiet untant lands! But which of us is not called observed actions of life are performed. The every day to adorn those doctrines, by gen- sacrifices may be too little to be observed, tleness in our own carriage, by kindness except by Him to whom they are offered. and forbearance to all about us?
But small solicitudes, and demonstrations of In performing the unostensible duties, attachment, scarcely perceptible to any eye there is no incentive froin vanity. No love but his for whom they were made, bear the of fame inspires that virtue, of which fame true character of love to God, as they are will never hear. There can be but one mo- the infallible marks of affection to our fellow tive, and that the purest, for the exercise of creatures. virtues, the report of which will never reach By enjoining small duties, the spirit of beyond the little circle whose happiness they which is every where implied in the gospel, promote. They do not fill the world with God, as it were, seems contriving to render our renown, but they fill our own family the great ones easy to us. He makes the with comfort, and if they have the love of light yoke of Christ still lighter, not by God for their principle, they will have his abridging duty, but by increasing its facility favour for their reward.
through its familiariiy. These little habit's In this enumeration of faults, we include at once indicate the sentiment of the soul and not sins of infirmity, inadvertency, and sur-improve it. prise, to which even the most sincere Chris- It is an awful consideration and one which tians are but too liable. What are here ad-levery Christian should bring home to his verted to are allowed, habitual, and unresis- own bosom, whether small faults wilfully ted faults : Habitual, because unresisted, persisted in, may not in time, not only dim and allowed from the notion that they are the light of conscience, but extinguish the too inconsiderable to call for resistance. Spirit of grace ; whether the power of resisFaults into which we are betrayed through tance against great sins may not be finally surprise and inadvertency, though that is no with drawn as a just punishment for having reason for committing them, may not be neglected to exert it against small ones. without their uses: they renew the salutary / Let us endeavour to maintain in our minds conviction of our sinful nature, make us lit- the awful impression that perhaps among tle in our own eyes, increase cur sense of the first objects which may meet our eyes dependence, promote watchfulness, deepen when we open them on the eternal world, huinility and quicken repentance,
may be that tremendous book, in which, We must however be careful not to entan- together with our great and actual sins, may gle the conscience or embarrass the spirit be recorded in no less prominent characters, by groundless apprehensions. We have a the ample page of omissions, of neglected merciful Father, not a hard master to deal opportunities, and even of fruitless good inwith. We must not harass our minds with tentions, of which indolence, indecision, a suspicious dread, as if by a needless rigour thoughtlessness, vanity, trifling and prothe Almighty were laying snares to entrap crastination concurred to frustrate the exeus, nor be terrified with imaginary fears, as cution. if he were on the watch to punish every casual error !--To be immutable and impeccable belongs not to humanity. He, who made us, best knows of what we are made, Our compassionate High Priest will
CHAP, XII. bear with much infirmity, will pardon much involuntary weakness,
Self-Examination But knowing, as every man must know who looks into his own heart, the difficulties In this stage of general inquiry, every he has from the intervention of his evil tem- kind of ignorance is esteemed dishonourable. pers, in serving God faithfully, and still how- In almost every sort of knowledge there is a ever earnestly desirous of serving him, is it competition for superiority. Intellectual atnot to be lamented that he is not more soli- tainments are never to be undervalued. citous to remove his hindrances by trying to Learning is the best human thing. All avoid those inferior sins, and resisting those knowledge is excellent as far as it goes, and lesser temptations, and practising those as long as it lasts. But how short is the pesmaller virtues, the neglect of which ob- riod before 'tongues shall cease, and knowstructs his way, and keeps him back in the ledge shall vanish away!' performance of higher duties. Instead of Shall we then esteem it dishonourable to be ignorant in any thing which relates to life obvious enough; it is our intentions which and literature, to taste and science, and not require the scrutiny. These we should folfeel ashamed to live in ignorance of our own low up to their remotest springs, scrutinize hearts?
to their deepest recesses, trace through To have a flourishing estate and a mind in their most perplexing windings. And lest disorder; to keep exact accounts with a we should, in our pursuit, wander in uncersteward and no reckoning with our Maker; tainty and blindness, let us make use of that to have an accurate knowledge of loss or guiding clue which the Almighty has furgain in our business, and to remain utterly nished by his word and by his Spirit, for conignorant whether our spiritual concerns are ducting us through the intricacies of this laimproving or declining; to be cautious in byrinth, "What I know not, teach thou ascertaining at the end of every year, how me,' should be our constant petition in all much we have increased or diminished our our researches fortune, and to be careless whether we have Did we turn our thoughts inward, it would incurred profit or loss in faith and holiness, abate much of the self-complacency with is a wretched miscalculation of the compa- which we swallow the flattery of others rative value of things. To bestow our atten- Flattery hurts not him wlio flatters not himtion on objects in an inverse proportion to self. If we examined our motives keenly, their importance, is surely no proof that we should frequently blush at the praises our our learning has improved our judgment actions receive. Let us then conscientiously
That deep thinker and acute reasoner, inquire not only what we do, but whence Dr. Barrow, itas remarked that it is a pe- and why we do it, from what motive and to culiar excellency of human nature, and what end. which distinguishes man from the inferior Self-inspection is the only means to precreatures more than bare reason itself, that serve us from self-conceit. We could not he can reflect upon all that is done within surely so very extravagantly value a being him, can disceru the tendencies of his soul, whom we ourselves should not only see, but and is acquainted with his own purposes,' feel to be so full of faults. Seif-acquaintance
This distinguishing faculty of self-inspec- will give us a far more deep and intimate tion would not have been conferred on man, knowledge of our own errors than we can if it had not been intended that it should be possibly have, with all the inquisitiveness of in habitual operation. It is surely, as we be- an idle curiosity, of the errors of others. fore observed, as much a common law of Weare cager enough to blame them withprudence, to look well to our spiritual as to out knowing their motives. We are no less our worldly possessions. We have appetites eager to vindicate ourselves, though we can to control, imaginations to restrain, tempers not be entirely ignorant of our own. Thus to regulate, passions to subdue ; and how two virtues will be acquired by the same act, can this internal work be effected, how can humility and candour; an impartial reriew our thoughts be kept within due bounds, of our own infirmities, being the likeliest how can a proper bias be given to the affec- way to make us tender and compassionate tions, how can the little state of man' be to those of others. preserved from continual insurrection, how Nor shall we be liable so to overrate cor can this restraining power be maintained, if own judgment when we perceive that it ofthis capacity of discerning, if this faculty of ten forms such false estimates, is so captiinspecting be not kept in regular exercise? vated with trifles, so elated with petty sucWithout constant discipline, imagination cesses, so dejected with little disappointwill become an outlaw, conscience an at- ments. When we hear others commend tainted rebel,
our charity which we know is so cold; whea This inward eye, this power of introver- others extol our piety which we feel to be sion, is given us for a continual watch upon so dead; when they applaud the energies of the soul. On an unremitted vigilance over our faith, which we must know to be so its interior motions, those fruitful seeds of faint and feeble, we cannot possibly be so action, those prolific principles of vice and intoxicated with the applauses which never virtue, will depend both the formation and would have been given, had the applauder the growth of our moral and religious cha- known us as we know, or ought to know racter. A superficial glance is not enough lourselves. If we contradict him, it may be for a thing so deep, an unsteady view will only to draw on ourselves the imputation of not suffice for a thing so wavering, nor a la fresh virtue, humility, which perhaps we casual look for a thing so deceitful as the as little deserve to have ascribed to us as human heart. A partial inspection on any that which we have been renouncing. If one side, will not be enough for an object we keep a sharp look out, we should not be which must be observed under a variety of proud of praises which cannot apply to us aspects, because it is always shifting its po- but should rather grieve at the involuntary sitions, always changing its appearances. fraud of imposing on others, by tacitly ac
We should examine not only our conduct cepting a character to which we have so litbut our opinions; not only our faults but our tle real pretension. To be delighted at findprejudices; not only our propensities but our ing that people think so much better of as judgments. Our actions themselves will be than we are conscious of deserving, is in effect to rejoice in the success of our own! There is a spurious sort of self-examinadeceit.
tion which does not serve to enlighten but to We shall also become more patient, more blind. A person who has left off some notoforbearing and forgiving, shall better en rious vice, who has softened some shades of dure the harsh judgment of others respect- a glaring sin, or substituted some outward ing us, when we perceive that their opinion torms in the place of open irreligion, looks of us nearly coincides with our own real on this change of character with pleasure.though unacknowledged sentiments. There He compares himself with what he was, and is much less injury incurred by others think- views the alteration with self-complacency. ing too ill of us, than in our thinking too well He deceives himself by taking his standard of ourselves.
from his former conduct, or from the chaIt is evident then, that to live at random, racter of still worse men, instead of taking is not the life of a rational, much less of an it from the unerring rule of Scripture. He immortal, least of all, ot an accountable be- looks rather at the discredit than the sining. To pray occasionally, without delibe- fulness of his former life, and being more rate course of prayer; to be generous with- ashamed of what is disreputable than grievout proportioning our means to our expendi- ed at what is vicious, he is, in this state of ture; to be liberal without a principle ; to shallow reformation, more in danger in prolet the mind float on the current of public portion as he is more in credit. He is not opinion; lie at the mercy of events, for the aware that it is not having a fault or two probable occurrence of which we have less that will carry him to heaven, while his made no provision; to be every hour liable heart is still glued to the world and estranto death without any habitual preparation for ged from God. it ; to carry within us a principle which we If we ever look into our hearts at all, we believe will exist through all the countless are naturally most inclined to it when we ages of eternity, and yet to make little in- think we have been acting right. Here inquiry whether that eternity is likely to be spection gratifies self-love. We have no happy or miserable--all this is an inconside- great difficulty in directing our attention to rateness which, if adopted in the ordinary an object, when that object presents us with concerns of life, would bid fair to ruin a pleasing images. But it is a painful effort to man's reputation for common sense : yet of compel the mind to turn in on itself, when this infatuation he who lives without self- the view only presents subjects for regret examination is absolutely guilty.
and remorse. This painful duty however Nothing more plainly shows us what weak must be performed, and will be more saluvacillating creatures we are, than the diffi- tary in proportion as it is less pleasant. culty we find in fixing ourselves down to the Let us establish it into a habit to ruminate very self-scrutiny we had deliberately re- on our faults. With the recollection of our solved on. Like the worthless Roman em- virtues we necd not feed our vanity. They peror we retire to our closet under the ap- will, if that vanity does not obliterate them, pearance of serious cccupation, but might be recorded elsewhere. now and then be surprised, if not in catching. We are almost disposed to look at those flies, yet in pursuits nearly as contemptible. parts of our character which will best bear Some trifle which we should be ashamed to it, and which consequently least need it: at dwell upon at any time, intrudes itself on those parts which afford most self-gratulathe moments dedicated to serious thought; tion. If a covetous man, for instance, exrecollection is interrupted ; the whole chain amines himself, instead of turning his attenof reflection broken, so that the scattered tion to the peccant part, he applies the links cannot again be united. And so incon-probe where he knows it will not go very sistent are we that we are sometimes not deep; he turns from his avarice to that sosorry to have a plausible pretence for inter- briety of which his very avarice is perhaps rupting the very employinent in which we the source. Another, who is the slave of had just before made it a duty to engage. passion, fondly rests upon some act of geneFor want of this home acquaintance, we re- rosity, which he considers as a fair commumain in utter ignorance of our inability to tation for some favourite vice, that would meet even the ordinary trials of life with cost him more to renounce than he is willing cheerfulness; indeed by this neglect we con- to part with. We are all too much disposed firm that inability. Nursed in the lap of to dwell on that smiling side of the prospect luxury, we have an indefinite notion that we which pleases and deceives us, and to shut have but a loose hold on the things of this our eyes upon that part which we do not world, and of the world itself. But let some choose to see, because we are resolved not accident take away, not the world, but to quit. Self-love always holds a screen besome trifle on which we thought we set notween the superficial self-examiner and his value while we possessed it, and we find to faults. The nominal Christian wraps himour astonishment that we hold, not the world self up in forms which he makes himself beonly, but even this trivial possession with a lieve are Religion. He exults in what he pretty tight grasp.--Such detections of our does, overlooks what he ought to do, nor self-ignorance, if they do not serve to wean, I ever suspects that what is done at all can be ought at least to humble us.
| done amiss.