« PreviousContinue »
as to imagine that he could be deceived, who declared it impossible for us to serve God and Mammon!
If it is difficult for human nature to subdue that pride, which even amidst all the frowns of fortune induces us "to think more highly of "ourselves than we ought to think," how much must the difficulty be increased, when all we see and hear tends to favour the deception!
The preacher might speak ironically, who, in addressing a royal and noble audience, designated hell as "a place not fit to be mentioned "before such a polite assembly;" but how often may we observe, that the anxious desire of avoiding offence, gives rise to the same sort of circumspection, though not so honestly avowed. The consequence is, that there are few who have through life been exposed to this species of flatI tery, I
[ 245 Jtery, that have been able to form a just conception of their own real character. The truth never comes home to them; it never reaches their hearts. Knowledge they may indeed acquire from books: but the mind can only be strengthened by collision with mind: the prejudices that are never combated, will never be overcome, nor will strength be acquired for overcoming them. Hence it is that empirics of all sorts, enthusiasts of all denominations, have found it so easy to "lead captive "silly women," and that the patronage and favour of the great has so often been bestowed upon the worthless.
Humility and self-distrust are the result of that consciousness of imperfection which all must have, who compare their ideas of what they ought to be, with their knowledge of what they really are. The Christian, who, in making this comparison, has his eye fixed upon the character of Him in whose life there was no blemish, must of necessity be humble. Every day and every hour affords him convincing proofs of his own weakness. He feels that his strength is from above; and while he with earnestness solicits the divine aid, his breast glows with a lively sense of gratitude to Him who has given an assurance that it will be bestowed. By thus divesting himself of all ideas of his own inherent superiority, he throws down the bulwarks which pride endeavours to erect between man and man, and opens his heart to kindness and to charity.
But pride does not relinquish with* cut a struggle the strong holds that are defended by arrogance and presumption. And how can they fail to be presuming and arrogant, who are taught to think that every thing in which they have an interest, is not only of importance to themselves, but of importance to others; nay, of more importance than their own im* mediate concerns... .
This appears so absurd, that it would not be believed, did not every day's experience convince us that it is so. Take the following instance: The poor man, who expends a great proportion of his slender capital in building to himself a humble cottage, and who perhaps bounds all his prospect of worldly pleasure to the cultivation of the little garden attached to it, has, we must allow, no less interest in his object, than the great man, who rears a magnificent palace, has in his. But let them be brought together in the intercourse of society, and see which woujd expect the
other other to enter with any degree of sympathy into the object of his.interest'. The poor man may rejoice in his heart over the excellence of the straw he has procured for thatching his lowly roof, and may pique himself not a little upon the ingenuity with which he has contrived the cupboards in his parlour and the pantries in his kitchen; but would he think of expatiating on these in the great man's presence? No! He would be conscious that he would excite no interest. The great man, on the contrary, would expect to be listened to with earnestness on any theme in which his gratification was concerned: 4nd he would be listened to, however tiresome the detail, however uninteresting the circumstances!