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the face of the earth by the winds ;-many an obstinate habit, though acknowledged to be evil, is rooted by indulgence ;-some imperfections, and many eccentricities, or peculiarities of character, are mistaken for excellence ;-we catch them from those we love, and they are sanctified by their practice and opinions;-sometimes, also, the experience of our own partial evil gives a false bias to the mind; and I need scarcely add, how often passion not only produces error, but fixes it for ever in the heart.
Thus it happens, that men not inferior to their neighbours, in the general estimation of character, frequently mistake prejudices for principles; and, in the estimation of religion, may be said to cherish folly, instead of wisdom. Such considerations should lay the first foundation of improvement by lowering the pride of self-importance, and teaching us "not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but to think soberly." Could we do this, one important point would be gained ;—we should have learnt the first lesson of humility; and that would lead us, on every omission of duty, and commission of evil, to imitate the laudable example of the young man in the Parable.
The most agreeable, and perhaps the most
instructive light, in which we can view his conduct, is that of exhibiting an humble, modest, teachable, and relenting temper. There is, indeed, something peculiarly pleasing at all times, in the speedy conviction and acknowledgment of error; but it carries with it an additional grace, when we see it acting as a corrective on the precipitate folly and inexperience of the young. We cannot but love those, who are prepared to make a sacrifice of their pride, and of every gratification to a sense of duty; and it is highly gratifying to see the harvest of intellectual improvement advancing, and those from whom we expected little, doing more than they themselves promised.
Such are the benefits that frequently result from a proper estimation of ourselves; and such is the disposition, which the precepts of our blessed Lord are calculated to form. With it, indeed, are connected many of the most essential duties, and many of those mental endowments, which constitute the true dignity of our nature. It teaches us moderation in all our wishes, passions, and enjoyments. Originating from humility, and leading to the knowledge of our own imperfections, it renders us severe only to ourselves, but gentle and forbearing to one
another. It guards us on various occasions against the strong delusion of sin; and, by directing our religious meditations to proper objects, it renders the discipline, which this life affords, a wholesome exercise of our reason and our passions.
Lastly, it is by a temper thus formed, that we may become, by the gracious aids of the holy Spirit, a blessing to others, as well as ourselves. The man who is proud and dogmatical, self-willed, harsh, and obstinate, spreads terror or servility through the whole circle of his influence. He continues ignorant, because he thinks he has nothing to learn; and he remains mentally blind, because he will not see. But he, who, like the penitent son in the Parable, has sufficient humility to acknowledge his faults, and sufficient sincerity to amend them, shall daily advance in the scale of Christian perfection:
Giving all diligence, he will add to faith virtue; to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance; temperance will lead to patience, and patience to godliness; to godliness he will add brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity."
ON THE MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
JOHN I. 23.···
He said, I am the Voice of one crying in the Wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord."
IT was the practice in ancient times, not only to announce the approach of kings and em perors by messengers and heralds; but, when they made public processions from one part of their dominions to another, it was not unusual for their subjects to level mountains, or to cut passes through them ;-to fill up deep valleys, and, when practicable, to make winding and circuitous roads straight. The Advent of the Messiah being the greatest and most interesting event that could possibly happen, and he himself being the most illustrious personage that
could appear on earth, in the form of man, the
We may farther observe, that, before our blessed Lord's incarnation, that wonderful event, by which the union of the human with the