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an instrument. Where it has been less, the defeat of his hopes offers the best occasion, which he will not fail to use, for improving his humility. Thus he may always be assured that good has been done somewhere, so that in any case his labour will not have been vain in the Lord.
TRUE AND FALSE ZEAL.
It is one of the most important ends of cultivating that self-knowledge which we have elsewhere recommended, to discover what is the real bent of our mind, and which are the strongest tendencies of our character ; to discover where our disposition requires restraint, and where we may be safely trusted with some liberty of indulgence. If the temper be fervid, and that fervour be happily directed to reli. gion, the most consummate prudence will be requisite to restrain its excesses without freezing its energies.
If, on the contrary, timidity and diffidence be the natural propensity, we shall be in danger of falling into coldness and inactivity with regard to ourselves, and finto too unresisting a compliance with the requisitions, or too easy a conformity with the habits of others. It will therefore be an evident proof of christian selfgovernment, when the man of too ardent zeal restrains its outward expression where it would be unreasonable or unsafe ; while it will evince the same christian self-denial in the fearful and diffident character, to burst the fetters of timidity, where duty requires a holy boldness ; and when he is called upon to lose all lesser fears in the fear of God.
It will then be one of the first objects of a Christian to get his understanding and his conscience thoroughly enlightened ; to take an exact survey not only of the whole comprehen. sive scheme of christianity, but of his own character ; to discover, in order to correct, the defects in his judgment, and to ascertain the deficiencies even of his best qualities. Through ignorance in these respects, though he may really be following up some good tendency, though he is even persuaded that he is not wrong either in his motive or his object, he may yet be wrong in the measure, wrong in the mode, wrong in the application, though right in the principle. He must therefore watch with a suspicious eye over his better qualities, and guard his very virtues from deviation and excess.
His zeal, that indispensable ingredient in the composition of a great character, that quality, without which no great eminence either
secular or religious has ever been attained ; which is essential to the acquisition of excellence in arts and arms, in learning and piety; that principle without which no man will be able to reach the perfection of his nature, or to animate others to aim at that perfection, will yet hardly fail to mislead the animated christian, if his knowledge of what is right and just, if his judgment in the application of that knowledge do not keep pace with the principle itself.
Zeal, indeed, is not so much an individual virtue, as the principle which gives life and colouring, as the spirit which gives grace and benignity, as the temper which gives warmth and energy to every other. It is that feeling which exalts the relish of every duty, and sheds a lustre on the practice of every virtue ; which, embellishing every image of the mind with its glowing tints, animates every quality of the heart with its invigorating motion. It may be said of zeal among the virtues as of memory among the faculties, that though it singly nev. er made a great man, yet no man has ever made himself conspicuously great where it has been wanting
Many things however must concur before ve can be allowed to determine whether zeal be really a virtue or a vice. Those who are
contending for the one or the other, will be in the situation of the two knights, who meeting on a cross road, were on the point of fighting · about the colour of a cross which was suspended between them. One insisted it was gold ; the other maintained it was silver. The duel was prevented by the interference of a passenger, who desired them to change their positions. Both crossed over to the opposite side, found the cross was gold on one side, and silver on the other. Each acknowledged his opponent to be right.
It may be disputed whether fire be a good or an evil. The man who feels himself cheered by its kindly warmth, is assured that it is a benefit, but he whose house it has just burnt down, will give another verdict. Not only the cause, therefore, in which zeal is exerted must be good, but the principle itself must be under due regulation : or, like the rapidity of the traveller who gets into a wrong road, it will only carry him on so much the further out of his way ; or if he be in the right road, it will, through inattention, carry him involuntarily beyond his destined point. That degree of motion is equally misleading, which detains us short of our end, or which pushes us beyond it.
The Apostle suggests a useful precaution by expressly asserting that it is " in a good