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let them beware how they suffer them to be lost. They are numerous enough not to be swallowed up at once, as it were, in the society which they have joined; there is some influence which they ought to communicate as well as one which they must receive. The evil which they find may be the most noisy and forward part of our society; let them be satisfied that it does not represent us wholly. Let them be sure that there is much good also amongst us, which would gladly league itself to theirs. Let them not lightly surrender their consciences to a few of the vilest amongst us, as if these few spoke the sentiments and acted the practice of us all.
I must pause—but how much remains to be said, if we would follow up on the one hand the process of profanation by which God's temple is made a den of thieves,—or its worthy use, when Christ teaches daily in it, and His teaching is loved and followed. Surely the contrast between such a depth and such a height would not be uninstructive,—to see what we may be for good or for evil, and then to see what we are, and this may perhaps form a subject to which I may call your attention again.
Aug. 23, 1840.
St. Luke, xix. 45, 46, 47.
And He went into the Temple, and began to cast out them that
sold therein, and them that bought ; saying unto them, My house is the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves. And He taught daily in the Temple.
THE subject which I began last Sunday, appeared to me to be far from exhausted by what I then said. I spoke then of the influence which might be exercised by those of almost every age amongst
I said how much that influence might do one way or the other towards making this our temple truly a house of prayer, or towards profaning it into a den of thieves. But it seemed that we might well go farther than this, and endeavour to represent to ourselves rather more distinctly what this profanation would be on the one hand, and what would be our fit sanctification on the other land; that every one who is at all in earnest may know what he should wish to discourage and what to encourage; where his influence should be most carefully withheld, and where it should be most vigorously exerted.
“ Ye have made this house,” says Christ, “a den of thieves." Let us see what would be the complete profanation of our temple, answering to this strong expression of our Lord. God forbid that I should be representing what is our actual state; it is quite enough to excite our shame and to enkindle our exertions, if in any one point the picture to be drawn is a likeness of ourselves ;if in any number of points we feel that our temple is not actually profaned; but its due honour neglected, and thus the work of profanation in some sort begun.
Now when I speak of the complete profanation of our temple, or in other words of the complete perversion and corruption of a Christian school, it will be fit only to consider such a corruption as is clearly within the limits of possibility. There is a a degree of badness which it is useless to notice, because no school could ever arrive at it; before it became so utterly evil, it would be broken up altogether and cease to be a school.
What we are concerned with is such a state of things as might possibly exist in a school for a considerable time, so that the school might go on receiving boys and doing them great harm, which in the
very worst conceivable state it would not do. Thus, for instance, there are degrees of profligacy which if they ever existed at all, yet could not continue long, because they would so shock public opinion, that no boys would long be sent to a place so infamous. For practical purposes, a school is then most thoroughly corrupted, when with a great deal of vice of all sorts existing in it, there is nothing of a decided spirit of good ;-50 that those who are not led away into vice, have yet no example or influence before them to lead them to good or to uphold them in it, and become if not vicious in the common sense of the term, yet altogether unprincipled and unchristian.
The actual evil which may exist in a school consists, I suppose, first of all in direct sensual wickedness, such as drunkenness and other things forbidden together with drunkenness in the scriptures. It would consist, secondly, in the systematic practice of falsehood,—when lies were told constantly by the great majority, and tolerated by all. Thirdly, it would consist in systematic cruelty, or if cruelty be too strong a word, in the systematic annoyance of the weak and simple, so that a boy's life would be miserable unless he learnt some portion of the coarseness and spirit of persecution which he saw all around him. Fourthly, it would consist in a spirit of active disobedience, when all authority was hiated, and there was a general pleasure in breaking rules simply because they were rules. Fifthly, it would include a general idleness, when every one did as little as he possibly could, and the whole tone of the school went to cry down any attempt on the part of any one boy or more, to shew any thing like diligence or a wish to improve himself. Sixthly, there would be a prevailing spirit of combination in evil and of companionship; by which a boy would regard himself as more bound to his companions in ties of wickedness, than to God or his neighbour in any ties of good;
so that he would labour to conceal from his parents and from all who might check it, the evil state of things around him ; considering
; it far better that evil should exist, than that his companions doing evil should be punished. And this accomplice spirit, this brotherhood of wickedness, is just the opposite of Christian love or
, charity; for as St. Paul calls charity the bond of perfectness, so this clinging of the evil to one another is the bond of wickedness; it is that without which wickedness would presently fall to pieces and perish, and which preserves it in existence and in vigour.
Let these six things exist together, and the profanation of the temple is complete, -it is become a den of thieves. Then whoever passes through such a school may undoubtedly, by God's grace, be afterwards a good man, but so far as