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Can there any thing good come out of Nazareth?

THE hasty conclusion, implied in this question of Nathaniel, was suggested by his prejudices; and it proved to be, like most other hasty conclusions, a mistake. The belief that the Messiah would appear, surrounded by all the splendor of a victorious king, was so fixed in the mind of this Jew, that when Philip told him the long-expected one had come in the person of Jesus, the reputed son of Joseph the carpenter, of the despised village of Nazareth, the prejudices of Nathaniel were at once violently shocked. He revolted at a story so new, and, as he hastily thought, so unreasonable and derogatory. The exclamation of astonishment and contempt burst involuntarily from his lips can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?'



But it should ever be remembered, in justice to this Israelite, and as worthy of all praise and imitation, that he did not allow his prejudices to triumph over his love of truth. He had the candor to go to Nazareth, and see for himself the man, who was said to be the Christ. He saw, he conversed with Jesus. His prepòssessions

vanished, and, with the ardor of unfeigned conviction, he acknowledged him. 'Rabbi thou art the son of Godthou art the king of Israel.'

Such hasty conclusions, as Nathaniel formed at first, are formed every day; but unhappily they are not, like his, corrected. No. Men indulge their prejudicesindulge them fearlessly, suffer themselves to be influenced by them habitually, without taking any pains to ascertain whether they are reasonable or not. And such indulgence tends directly to diminish the vigor of the understanding, to impair the power of discerning truth, and to make us the easy prey of deluded or designing persons. It is true we must have prejudices, that is, sentiments in favor or disfavor of everything about which there may be two opinions, until we have had time carefully to inquire and consider. This is unavoidable, and therefore not wrong. But it is wrong, greatly wrong, to assume the entire correctness of our sentiments on any subject, before we have given to it all the consideration, and made every inquiry respecting it, which our circumstances will permit. Especially unjust and unjustifiable is it, before we have thus investigated the truth of our own opinions, to venture the condemnation of any individual, or sect, or party, that may differ from us.

It is, however, I apprehend, in respect to opposing sentiments on subjects of the greatest moment, that men are most apt to decide hastily, and to feel bitterly, without sufficient knowledge of facts or circumstances. Hence the word prejudice is generally used in a bad sense, meaning an unfavorable opinion of persons, prac tices or principles, concerning which the individual,

expressing or entertaining the opinion, has had no opportunity, or has taken no pains to be thoroughly informed. Under the influence of such prejudice, we continually hear decisions strongly expressed against the propriety of men's conduct, the correctness of their sentiments, and even against the purity of their intentions. We hear it affirmed, without the least hesitation, that in such opinions there can be nothing true, for such conduct no apology, in such characters nothing good.

Cherished prejudice is apt to become unrelenting and violent. It is frequently restrained by no consideration of the rights or feelings of others. It seems to be blind and deaf. It refuses to be convinced by any exposition of facts, or array of arguments, and often every effort to arrest it serves only to increase its fury. The history of religion and politics is, on many of its pages, but a sad detail of the cruel devastations, which prejudices have wrought upon the peace and comfort of society. It has generally been by setting these at work, that ignorant fanatics and unprincipled demagogues have overborne, or endeavored to overbear those, who have dared to oppose their measures, or dissent from their opinions. And sometimes even religionists and politicians, who have no doubt heartily intended to promote truth and the good of mankind, have ventured to attempt the correction of error, by exciting the public prejudices against those, who have been known or believed to maintain it. But this has ever proved a disastrous expedient. For prejudice can never be limited in its operation, precisely to the purpose it may have been called out to accomplish. Like a river breaking over 1*



its banks, there is danger it will overwhelm, without distinction, what is useful no less than what is noxious - lay waste rather than cleanse the tract, over which it passes-perhaps sweep away in its course all the pride of the fields, the fruits of cultivation, the scanty subsistence of the poor no less than the abundance of the rich, and leave behind it one wide waste of desolation and ruin. How obvious is it, that an agent, which does in this manner confound the distinctions of right and wrong, which cannot discriminate between the good and the bad, ought never to be employed for any purpose by the friends of truth, of order, of religion.

It behooves every one, if he would not be made the blind instrument of injustice, oppression, cruelty, to bear in mind that he is individually responsible for his conduct and his feelings, though he may act under the sanction of a powerful sect or party. He will not be justified at the tribunal of heaven, in denouncing a man or a body of men, merely because others denounce them. He must know the reason why he should join the cry of condemnation. He must be fully persuaded in his own mind, that these reasons are good and sufficient; and that the opinion or conduct in question is such, in fact or in tendency, as to render the person or persons unworthy or unsound members of the christian, or civil community. And surely he ought not to venture upon such an unfavorable conclusion respecting any one, until he has gone through a thorough, candid, charitable investigation of the matter alleged; excepting only in a case, where the charges are sustained by self-evidence. Our courts of law consider those, who are accused of the foulest crimes, as entitled to a fair hearing before

they are to be excluded from the society or confidence of their fellow men. And is not a man entitled to the same fair dealing from the community and every member of it, when his reputation and usefulness are assailed by public reports, or secret insinuations? Because my neighbor differs from me in religious opinion, or is engaged to promote any political measure, which I oppose, am I at liberty to believe whatever may be said against him, especially what others of my own sect or party may say? And although I may be really zealous in the cause of religious truth, or may ardently desire the good of my country, am I any the more to be justified in forming hasty decisions against the opinions, or motives, or actions of those, who do not think or act in concert with me. Certainly not, unless I can know myself to be infallible in judgment, unerring in temper and conduct. Though all about me denounce an individual or a sect, I may not do so too; unless I am fully persuaded, after honest examination, that the denunciation, is merited, and that the cause of truth, liberty or religion demands of me to utter the denunciation. If we forget our individual responsibleness in this matter, and suppose we may safely unite to censure or despise those, whom others censure or despise, we shall often be grossly mistaken, and, what is worse, shall often be guilty of the grossest injustice and cruelty.

In order that we may be duly on our guard against prejudice, we ought to be aware, how readily the mind conceives it, and by what it is generated. Let us turn our thoughts on this inquiry a moment.

The worst source of prejudice, but I hope not the most common, is an uncharitable temper. Resentment,

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