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Let not, then, the man of limited endowments deem his Maker unjust, or unkind. He has dealt bountifully with thee, my friend, in that he hath made thee a partaker of reason and speech. The faculties which he hath bestowed are adapted to the station which he intended thee to fulfil. Happiness is far superior to knowledge, and is not always found in alliance with it: for
“they, who know the most, Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth, The tree of knowledge is not that of life.”
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Think not meanly of thyself, for thou art the workmanship of the Most High: and he despises not the minutest of the works of his hands. Let not thy talent, though single, be buried in the ground. By use it will increase, both in number and value. Envy not thy more intelligent neighbour. There are beings far more exalted above him, than he is above thee. If his talents are multiplied, his responsibility is proportionably increased. And “ the truth as it is in Jesus” (a truth, to which the most unlettered may attain) will make thee wiser than Solomon in all his glory.
Nor let the possessor of ten talents “ think of himself more highly, than he ought to think.” They were given-given not absolutely, but in trust. They will be redemanded, together with the interest, which they have produced. They are liable to loss
—they will be impaired by time—and the ruin, not the palace, will at length meet the eye.
III. As star differeth from star in glory, so one human being differeth from another in intellectual improvement.
This is the glory of man. A degree of creative power is conferred upon him. He has no power over his own formation, nor over the measure of his original faculties; but their application and improvement are confided to himself, and for these he is accountable to the Great Author of his being. Of all those glorious orbs of light, which “swing so thickly in the upper air," not one is endowed with the faculty of self-direction—not one of them can add a single atom to its magnitude—nor deviate a single hair's breadth from its prescribed orbit. They all continue what they were from the beginning, and in their great courses must be guided. But what a spectacle of delight to superior beings—to the God, who made him- is a Human being, who knows, and prizes, and improves the gifts of his Creator, and who is daily adding to his intellectual stature, daily enlarging his sphere, daily increasing his store. But alas ! man likewise possesses the unhappy, the fatal ability of cramping his powers, of narrowing his course, and of neglecting or wasting his treasure. Like the lofty mountain, he is insensible of his own elevationlike the cloud-cleaving eagle, he knows not his happy flight-like the fathomless mine, he prizes not the precious gem, which God
over the prement are create Authors thickly in ancountable to thothat, which “ swing of self-directionor
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has planted in his bosom. With a careless profusion he permits the copious springs of nature to spend themselves on the barren waste, or with suicidal hand tears down the true image of God from his own temple, and makes it the temple of a false god, dedicate to the most abominable idols. Thus, in too many of us, the stately ruins are alone visible, bearing in their front (yet extant) the doleful inscription
“ HERE GOD ONCE DWELT.” Hence a new order of things arises, and differences between man and man of infinitely greater importance appear. In the hands of this man one pound-one talent, through industrythrough frugal management, and wise application and use, is multiplied tenfold: in those of his neighbour, through indolencethrough extravagance and misapplication, ten melt away into less than nothing.
That man's native inheritance was ample, the climate excellent, and soil productive: it might have produced thirty, sixty, an hundred fold. But he bestowed no culture upon it-he trusted all to the benignity of nature—“ he slumbered and slept: and lo, it is all grown over with thorns; and nettles have covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof is broken down." But what a contrast his neighbour's field presents. Of much smaller extent, much less favoured as to soil and climate, it has actually increased in size, and is laden with productions before unknown to the soil: because the proprietor“ fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine."
Such is the human mind : such are talents cultivated or neglected: such is man going on from strength to strength, and mounting from pinnacle to pinnacle: or man waxing feebler and feebler, and sinking deeper and deeper from one abyss to another
-till the angel is merged in the brute, or transformed into the demon.
IV. As one star exceedeth another star in glory, so man transcendeth man in moral excellence.
Would to God it were uncharitable to suspect, or impossible to believe, that intellectual improvement and moral excellence could be separated. But that unerring teacher, experience, too often exhibits, in the haunts of vice, a cultivated mind associated with a degenerate heart, and mental powers, bordering on the angelic, employed only in devising evil. On the other hand, goodness is frequently contented to take up her abode with the simple-to feed upon the crumbs which fall from the wise man's table and to pass for a fool with the prudent of the world. It is Moral worth, however, which constitutes the true glory of man. He who has discovered one defect in his own character, and supplied it—one fault, and has rectified it, has warred to better purpose than the conqueror of a new hemisphere. And he, who has invented, disclosed, and is practising the method of increasing the sum of human happiness, and of diminishing the ills of life, is by far a more excellent genius than he who has made subject to himself
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And in asserting this, think not that I would decry science, nor in any wise undervalue the patient, laborious, and useful researches of ingenious men. God forbid! Much less would I be supposed to insinuate, that goodness is to be sought for only in the mansions of ignorance, or in the paradise of fools; or that genius is always, or even generally, misled by passion, or degraded by vice. But what I would unequivocally insist, and anxiously teach, is this--that the choicest gifts of nature, even those of the understanding, are much inferior in point of certainty, of solidity, of duration, and of the power of communicating happiness, to the calm, unostentatious, unpretending graces of a Christian spirit, which are the gift of God to every one, who in prayer and supplication endeavoureth to attain them.
Learn then, O man, wherein thy dignity consists. Strive to be useful, rather than to shine; and approve thyself to God, whatever may be thy estimation among men. Angels excel demons, not because they are wiser, but because they are better : and science, like the meteor, alarms, perplexes, confounds; indicates a perturbed state of the elements, which threatens desolation and death : whereas goodness, like the steady, fixed luminary, occupies a higher and purer regionshines without glare—is best contemplated in silence and solitude—and sends its “ still small voice” home to the heart. Once more,
V. As one star differeth from another star in glory, so also is one man more excellent than another man, in respect of devotional elevation.
What man is to himself, and what he is to his brother, are considerations of no slight importance; but what is he to God, and to what interest has he attained in Christ Jesus? It is this which ascertains his highest tone of character, and eventually determines his state. The preceding gradations of human excellence, if taken unconnected with religion, refer merely to our present existence. They constitute the respectability and felicity of three-score years and ten—they embellish life and are the cement and the glory of society. But when Religion takes them into her bosom, and spreads her heavenly mantle around them, they take together an angel's flight to heaven, their native home-they return to God, who gave them—they become immortal, and reach forth into eternity.
It was thus, that converse with God on the mount communicated lustre to the face of Moses, preserved the eye from dimness, and sustained the natural force to the age of a hundred and twenty years. Nature had bestowed on that prophet uncommon beauty of person, with extraordinary mental powers. Those powers had been carried to the highest human perfection by diligent culture ; for he “ was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.” And in moral conduct, through all the stations and relations of life, who so amiable, so respectable, so dignified as he; from the period of his keeping a flock in the wilderness of Horeb, as a servant to Jethro, to his swaying the sceptre as a king in Jeshurun. But it was Piety, which lent grace to beauty, and gave energy to powers of thought. It was Religion, which embellished and directed learning-Religion, which bestowed a charm upon eloquence-Religion, which prompted the ardent spirit to undertake, and to achieve deeds of high renown. It was the penetrating eye of Faith, fixed upon the “ Star of Jacob,” which looked down with holy contempt on the honour of being “ called the son of Pharaoh's daughter-on the transient pleasures of sin-and on the treasures of Egypt;" and which determined him, bearing the “ reproach of Christ, to prefer to all this world could offer a participation in “affliction with the people of God.” It was a sublime sentiment of God, and of a future and eternal “recompense of reward,” which surmounted every difficulty-offered up every sacrifice-fulfilled every duty—and ennobled every situation. Estimable as a son, a husband, a brother, a father, a master, a prince; as a lawgiver, a moralist, a philosopher, a poet, an historian; he becomes inexpressibly more estimable, as an intercessor with heaven in behalf of his guilty brethren—as the devout harbinger of “ Messiah the Prince”—and as the welcome herald of immortality.
“Go," then, “ and do likewise : for, whatever may be thy external form-whatever thy original mental powers—whatever thy intellectual improvement—and whatever thy moral excellence, WITHOUT HOLINESS, thou shalt be found wanting in the balance, when the progressive glory of regenerated humanity shall issue in a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, reserved until the “ times of the restitution of all things”_until
Having thus attempted a general illustration of this interesting subject, I now feel myself called upon to point it to a particular object,—to pay a tribute of gratitude and respect to the memory of our much lamented and much beloved Benefactor and Neighbour.
« There is no sorrow," (the words are Hall's, in his inimitable sermon on the death of the Princess Charlotte] “ there is no sorrow, which imagination can · picture—no sign of anguish, which nature agonized and oppressed can exhibit-no accent of grief, but what is already familiar to the ear of fallen, afflicted humanity: and the roll, which Ezekiel beheld flying through the heavens, inscribed within and without“ with sorrow, lamentation and woe," enters, sooner or later, into every house, and discharges its contents into every bosom. But in the private departments of life, the distressing incidents, which occur, are confined to a narrow circle. The hope of an individual is crushed, the happiness of a family is destroyed; but the social system is unimpaired, and its movements experience no impediment, and sustain no visible injury. The arrow passes through the air, which soon closes upon it, and all is tranquil. But when the great lights and ornaments of the world, placed aloft to conduct its inferior movements, are extinguished, such an event resembles the apocalyptic vial poured into that element, which changes its whole temperament, and is the presage of fearful commotions, of thunders, lightnings, and tempests.”
And he [who has been taken from us, and whose loss has created a void in our little community, which we never can hope to have supplied] was not one of those ordinary men, who may disappear from the stage of life, without being regretted beyond the circle of their own acquaintance, and whose places may be easily filled up among the many equals, whom they leave behind them. It is not even enough to say, that he belonged to that more limited class, whose abilities and assiduity have raised them above their brethren, and given them a superiority, which few can expect to attain. He towered above all, aud fulfilled his important station with an ability, to which the least diffident, and the most accomplished, felt themselves constrained to look up with respect. He stood forth from among his cotemporaries, confessedly preeminent in strength of personal and social character. He occupied a place in the confidence and esteem of all, who knew him, from the monarch, who sitteth upon the throne, to the humblest menial, who ministered to his commands, which nothing, but singular and paramount worth could have enabled him to either have acquired, or maintained. And we may safely affirm, that among those, who are capable of appreciating what is great and good—who can distinguish between the superficial, and the solid in human attainment—who understand the real value of intellectual vigour, combined in its operations with principle, virtuous sentiment, uncorrupt manners, and practical usefulness,—there never was a man more sincerely honoured, while he lived, or more deservedly lamented, when he died. · I cannot speak of him as his peculiar merits demand—I cannot speak of him, as I know you would wish–I cannot speak of him, as my own heart would fondly desire. To give, therefore, any suitable delineation of him is a task, to which I must confess my total inadequacy: but a task, from which I dare not shrink, lest my silence should be construed into a base forgetfulness of past kindness, or an unmanly fear of publicly declaring what I think