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seeks it, and rejoices when he has succeeded in shaking the resolution of the good mind, and debarred it from persevering in the course on which it had happily entered!
Those who are anxious to act their parts well, must be ever on their guard. They must turn a deaf ear to the solicitations of unlawful pleasure, however artfully and pleasingly these may be urged upon them, and despise that ridicule which is attempted to be cast upon all their best actions, and feelings, and thoughts, upon their attachment to the good, and their reverence for God, and fear of his displeasure. They must, indeed, resist every thing which threatens to impede their endeavours to pursue their own improvement, and to be useful in the world. If they wish to be regarded as the friends of goodness, and to establish and maintain a character which wise men love, and God himself regards with approbation, they must suffer no cause to lessen their attachment to a commendable object, nor to diminish the strength and ardour of their zeal in carrying it forward. The upright mind must feel that its adherence to a good cause, is essential; and that it would incur its own censure, and disgrace in the sight of others, were it to relax its efforts, waver in its resolution, and at least cease to exert itself any longer in the same direction. This falling off, is pitiable-and when it takes place in respect of moral and religious engagements, it has a most pernicious effect upon the character of the individual, and the satisfactions of his life. How much valuable time does he lose by such weakness and irresolution! Whilst others are hastening forward on their course, he is loitering on the
way, and is thus left far behind them; and when he once more applies to the business over which he has slept so long, his renewed exertions must be made with a painful consciousness of the time and opportunity he has wasted, and his whole future life, though improved with diligence, will scarcely avail to redeem the past.
This weakness of character, whether it shews itself in the want of firmness, or resolution, or zeal, or moral courage, is, as we have seen, far from being ornamental or useful. It greatly lessens the value of the good, and sometimes high qualities, which we observe in men. We have already given an instance of the former; from a later period of time we take examples of the latter. They are those of Galileo and Cranmer. The former, an Italian philosopher of eminence, having discovered that the system of his day was erroneous, and published some results of his discoveries, fell under the displeasure of that horrible court, the Inquisition, by which he was thrown into prison and kept there for a considerable period. His crime was— asserting that the earth was round, and moved round the sun; and, for this, the conservators of religion immured him in a dungeon. He subsequently obtained his liberty, but it was by an immense sacrifice-he abjured his opinions, and engaged not to propagate them. Archbishop Cranmer, too, was a victim to that persecution by which the assumed friends, but most fatal enemies of religion, have pretended to secure her. interests. He lived in times when the established religion was alternately Catholic and Protestant, and, in the reign of Mary, fell under the charge of heresy,
of which charge he was convicted. The party opposed to him succeeded in procuring his condemnation. He endeavoured to save his life, but not his honor. He recanted; and it was in vain. He soon, however, resumed his moral courage, and nobly redeemed his character, and expiated, at the stake, the weakness of the moment into which the fear of men had led him. It is painful to see these otherwise noble and excellent men bringing a shade over their life for the sake of adding to it a few years-of dishonor. And it is a melancholy reflection, that the best and most highly-gifted of God's rational family, are apt to tarnish by some unhappy weakness or other, the splendour of their attainments and the glory of their renown.
The young will make a wise provision for their security and happiness by avoiding, as much as in them lies, every weakness which would detract from the merit of their virtue and lessen the value of their character. They cannot pass through the world without difficulty, or labour, or danger. This is not the lot of human beings. Intent upon useful pursuits, attempts will be made to detach them therefrom, and, strange though it may seem, there are those who will take a pleasure in ruining the moral work with which they are occupied; or, if they fail in this attempt, in increasing the difficulty of success. Should they find themselves in these or other difficulties, however, let them persevere and place their trust in a righteous God, who always propitiates the moral labours of his children. Their course is simple and straight-to do right, come what will of it; and they may safely and conscientiously
leave the issue to Him, who ordereth all events and governeth the world with infinite wisdom. Should they unhappily betray any weakness, let them look to those, who, having also betrayed it, recovered themselves, and nobly redeemed their character. Let them look to Cranmer, and to one more illustrious still-Mark the Evangelist-who amply atoned for the fault of his youth by perseverence in the course from which he once swerved, and by affectionate attachment and service to the distinguished men whom his fault estranged from him-only for a time.
LINES ON THE BIBLE.
BY SIR WALTER SCOTT.
Within this awful Volume lies
To whom their God has given grace
The Prodigal Son.*
LUKE XV. 18, 19.—I will arise and go to my Father; and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy
The exclamation of the text is the language of unfeigned repentance; it is the dictate of a conscience sensible of past acts of disobedience; it is the sorrow of a heart penetrated with a lively sense of its alienation from God; it is the pious and prudent resolve of one oppressed with the weight of bitter recollections, yet determined to avow his unworthiness of God's parental kindness, and stand before his presence a penitent and humbled sinner. Thus interpreted, the words of the text accord well with the solemn season of self-examination upon which we have so recently entered, and may furnish us with much useful matter for serious consideration.
Though the parable of the prodigal son more immediately shadows forth the blessings which were extended to the Gentiles, who, after having been long lost in ignorance and idolatry, were at last admitted, on their faith and repentance, to the participation, with the Jews, of the great
This Sermon is from the pen of the late Rev. G. Hughes; and is, for the beauty of its language, inserted here in order to vary the style of our work. This will strike home to every parent.