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make him weak as a child; proud of his genius ? a drop of water occurring in the wrong place reduces him to idiotey ; proud of his riches ? they put forth wings and leave him, and if they are not taken from him, he is taken from them ; proud of his ancestry? their remotest link connects him with Adam. Man ought not to be proud of his virtues, for they are not his own, nor of his vices, for they are his own.
This passion is a reigning atmosphere in speeches, articles, essays, scientific treatises, reviews; often glorifying itself in the contrast presented by blackening others, and displaying its own apparent elevation by sinking all it despises, and Lucifer-like it prefers to reign in hell rather than to serve in heaven.
The victories of science have not humbled our age. The known leading to and opening up the unknown has served to inflame our pride. We think money the solvent of difficulties ; genius the open sesame of all secrets; and matter with its forms and forces to be moulded by us into whatever forms and uses we please. Philosophies, civilization, science, cannot take the place of religion, and they do, not of necessity, but in fact lead away from God.
This character indicates itself by disrespectful, irreverent, and impious speaking of divine things, by turning into ridicule the personal tastes and habits of Christians; by profane witticisms and contemptible puns on sacred writ; by wilfully misinterpreting and censuring religion as fanaticism, piety as hypocrisy,
and the fear of God as pusillanimous weakness. No brilliancy of wit justifies the desecration of what is holy. No personal dislike should be allowed to vent itself in abusing the good and devout. We may be faithful as critics, severe as censors, and yet not profane. We may be uncompromising, yet not uncharitable, zealous for the interests of literature, yet tender in the treatment of holy things, and respectful even when severe in our criticisms of earnest Christian writers. If we cannot be brilliant without being blasphemous, let us feel content to be common-place. Let us not betray reverence by rhetoric, or speak evil and impiously of the things of God in order to gain credit from the ungodly for saying smart things. Let not our wine turn into vinegar, nor our pens be dipped in nitric acid. The age needs such instruction. Some portions of the press will find in these remarks hints for improvement, which in all likelihood they will profess to despise. The press is a mighty power, as a whole an honour to our country. May it be delivered from every trace of the awful position of being in any degree a proof to mankind, that this brand is one of the leading proofs that we are arrived at the last times when men shall be “blasphemers.” Rather let it be a solemn and dignified protest against the prevalence of so impious a character.
“Disobedient to parents."
This is disobedience to the first commandment with promise. It is a too common sin of the young and rising generation. The parent is regarded as
governor,” and parental relation is felt as restraint. Parents are first dishonoured and next disobeyed. The impetuous passions of youth madly refuse to be guided by the wise counsels and wary experience of age. Home is deserted for the music hall, and sisters for such society as is found in these and similar resorts, and parents come to learn the progress made by their sons by reading the bills they have incurred by extravagance, folly, and waste.
Grace is not inherited, and therefore good parents too often have bad children. But it is the general law sustained by the words of Scripture, that if we train up children in the way they should go, they will not when old forsake it. Unquestionably, as all history teaches, the first step in the road to ruin is disobedience to parents. The sin has existed from the beginning, but it has been reserved for these last days to develop it with its greatest intensity and over the largest area of social life.
It is hard to see a parent slaving in order to sustain the extravagance, or to pay the reckless debts, of his children. It is harder still to see those on whom we have lavished kindness, and labours, and love, and means, growing up a reproach to their home, and calamities to themselves — learning only the misery of their career, when it is too late to repair the mischief they have wrought. What a treasure they have wasted, what sorrows they have inflicted, and what evils they have accuinulated, they will learn soon enough. Yet such a feature we may
expect to find amply developed, and so far identifying the advent of the last days and "perilous times.”
This is a base feature in any man; the roots of unthankfulness strike deepest in the soil of pride. A proud man is never thankful.
“How base a pool God's mercies fall into when they plash down into such a heart as that.” We receive daily mercies, and we construe them as tributes to our merits. We meet with disappointments and troubles, and we regard them as contemptuous treatment of our deserts. We feel we brought nothing into the world, but we believe we have a claim on everything in it. We can carry nothing out of the world save our fretful and unthankful hearts. But the truth is we have forfeited all we possessed in Eden. Our just heritage is misery and death. But blessings still descend on us—morning dawns and glorifies us with its deepening splendours, and evening falls and envelopes us in its soft embrace; the stars look down on us like the eyes of omniscience, as if interested in our lot, and watching over our goings; the flowers come up unasked to beautify the opening year, and seed-time and harvest come and go with unfailing succession. Our bread and water are guaranteed by immutable pledges. A Saviour died for us-a Bible was written for us-Sundays with innumerable chimes invite us to the house of God. Mercies descend full and constant as the rains and dews, and all in spite of our sins, not in consequence of our worthiness;
and yet we feel no warmth of gratitude and offer no song of praise.
Is this fact ? Is it a prevailing feature of these days ? Do not our own hearts condemn us? Is not insolent pride more common than holy and fervent praise ? Are not the best of men too unthankful ? Are not masses of mankind thankful to themselves, if thankful at all, but utterly unthankful to God? He will not be a long possessor or a happy possessor of blessings for which he is not thankful. God gives us blessings. Let us give Him thanks.
Unholy." This describes a class which is an entire stranger to the transforming power of true religion. The distinctive character of Christians is that of saints (àylou), or holy ones. It is the character that fits for heaven—the real and unequivocal impress of the people of God.
The unholy are they who do not believe or do not feel the truth ; who have been baptized but not born again, for whom the world has greater attractions than heaven, and greater power than grace. They may have occasional impulses of good ; incidental misgivings of heart, and accusations of conscience ; presentiments of judgment and eternity ; but the congenial breath of the world sweeps over all and extinguishes all better influences for a season. They are swayed by mundane forces, by riches, by fame, by rank, by custom, by the pomps and vanities of the world. They exclude as thoroughly as possible