« AnteriorContinuar »
cated-it shall seem to touch life-it shall indeed be extirpated as by fire. And who is to blame, that pride is allowed to grow and to gain its head of power? To come more distinctly to our subject, and to give it a more didactic form, we will suppose the ground already gone over which treats of the experience of the poor, and which illustrates our argument in the negative, by showing the disastrous results of this most common and inveterate sin of pride.
in the moral as in the physical nature, doth still consist || tured and cherished. Ah, how hardly shall it be eradiwith purity. The most indomitable of human engines, the will of man, is weakness and foolishness in the sight of God. And how nearly allied is pride to that most unamiable feature of the mind-the will; what depth of depravity is in its obstinacy-what impiety in its opposition to every behest of nature and of kindness. For God's providences are still around and about us; and but for the many affectations-and pride the chiefest-our life should flow in gentler current, and pluck on perhaps to wiselier winnings in its progress. But we afford no example-our wide world range is of too broad a ken-we narrow it then measure by measure, and at every step, alas! it finds its application of fact. Everywhere do we see pride and its punishment; from the demolition of a world, the destroying of an empire, the extirpation of a nation, a country, a faction, a tribe, and finally we narrow it to the scale of a domestic household. And this too, is our proper scale of illustration, the aptest sphere for our simple and direct commentary.
The family may be either rich or poor. It is a vulgar idea that pride is a less blamable sin with the rich than with the poor; also is it a vulgar error that much more of it obtains with the former than with the latter. By rich we mean such as are comparatively so, in place and neighborhood, having a superiority of power, derived from wealth, over those about them. And by poor, we mean those whose relative position is exactly the opposite of this-the comparatively poor-for the positively poor, the needy, are merged in a necessity that for the present nullifies all "superfluity of naughtiness," and circumscribes the outgoings of character to the narrow limits of its own immediate cravings and discontents. And the most conclusive indication of pride in such, is not of pretension, but of jealousy; and these shall be most offended at the pride of another, by reproach and envy. With "all appliances and means to boot," we doubt not they were liable to it themselves.
Perhaps there is hardly a reader who, upon reflection, can claim exemption to the personal conviction of its disadvantages and of its retributive rebukings. Let such, then, as have been not only mentally convinced, but also sensibly punished in this matter, take precise and circumspect and prayerful care, and attention and practice, for their children, that they be not trained with the high heart of sin. And it is not warning alone that shall do it. Let them watch from day to day, in all of home usages; and also guard against the routine of society, that it be not made into them a rule of life. And this we apprehend shall be no easy matter. It shall require a strength of resolution and of purpose, to be every day renewed and every day acted upon, and this in resistance to its dictates of folly in the youthful bosom. Also shall it call for a strength of mind, best tested by its opposition to a derisive and gainsaying world; even they who in all their usages and all their performances set up their idol of pride, and call upon their children to fall down and worship it. Their innocent, unconscious children are apt of folly and ready victims of the snare, and greedy of the bait which entices them. Ignorant and unsuspecting are they of the bitter day of its retribution.
Every human sin awaits its doom and final audit after death. Yet none are so unobservant as to pass without seeing and feeling and knowing, the signal mortifications and punishments which during this life are put upon the outbreaks and the aggressions of pride. Whether we look through society at large, or with more precision contemplate its details, we can see by the concatenation of events in each family, and in each of its individuals, either more or less of prosperity and success as graduated to the scale of this one vice of pride, more almost than of all other sins of character together. We would remark, that although pride is denounced of God-although a "fall" is prescribed as its issue, passing over the deadness that disregards it-we would remark, yet has man pronounced no judicial penalty on its action or its access.
The rich have a freer scope of folly allowed to them in the particular of pride, than was thought suitable in their poorer neighbors. A very questionable advantage it is; or to speak with more propriety of reprehension, an immunity it is of evil augury, of sin and of punishment. The rich might dispense with their pride-society would still respect them without it, such is their estimate of the thing. We once heard a lady declare, that "were she rich she would put away her pride." "How magnanimous you would be!" observed a satirist. Her remark proved in what estimation she held the foible the vice. We still speak of putting on and Perhaps in the rude state of the primitive ages, it lay putting off, and indeed is pride not half so often the an incipient guilt-the possible of unelicited humanity, sin of constitution as of assumption-and thousands and came in with the progress of refinement; for we from infancy have its habits and practices made into find that the greatest access of luxury still holds with them, by the usage of every day, who are not aware or pride in its ascendant. Then, also, is it nearest to its at all conscious of the fact themselves; they swim with fall. Although no formal and vindictive fiat is instituthe tide, and think all common-places innocent. And ted against it, yet is there not a single act of pride withyet is this scourge, this gangrene, eating into them, as out its punishment. If not by the instant resentment it were the flesh and the bone-growing with their of the affronted and despised individual, yet the very growth and strengthening with their strength, and nur-order of society, vague and uncalculated as it is, is
commensurate to an undeviating result of this sort. By sufficient scope of time and attention shall we ascertain the fact. Do we not see these same persons, who are regardless of others, also the victims of selfcalculation and conservative pride. Acting from this false principle, do they not often forego their proper walk of life, and miss the opportunities, which with more simplicity had guided them to comfort and to happiness? But they live in their element of pride, and that suffices them for all things. Look close enough at the subject, and is it not matter of admiration how this delusion blends itself with all the purposes-the worldly purposes of all people. Tell the exceptions-they vary only in degree of guilt. One says his neighbor is proud-truth-he is prouder than himself; but they vary only in the comparative degree, for both are positively proud. And some are more conscious and prouder of their pride than others; but none, who have not "been washed," are free of the taint.
"sweet savor of the just," that shall suffice for a patrimony to his heirs. And this they shall receive not in pride, but in the lowliness of Christian hope. There is great foolishness in the assumption of our grandsires' merits as our own-and it is as little applicable to the rule of our present state of being, as it is to that of Gospel truth. No man, we believe, will boast of the merit of his ancestor's character, who does not feel that merit sinking in his own. At best, when we tell a child how great or how good were his ancestors, it should be done with nice discretion, and as a motive to the same exertion, to the same sober industry, and the same conformity to the golden rule of right—that made the man worthy to be remembered. But any claim of lineage will be derided by the envy of all such as can sustain no similar boast, and we believe is more often a fantasie of pride, than an honest homage to worth. There is perhaps an admixture of what the world calls glory in the sentiment, and this is what will most naturally attain to the youthful apprehension in its estimate.
But let us teach substantially; let us show the youth that whatever act of life has whatever admixture of pride in it, by performance or by motive, by just so much is it weakened of its efficacy, and robbed of its merit. Above this we know that there is a much simpler teaching, and one out of all comparison more efficacious if accepted, and which at once shuts out all false views from our sight, and admits not even the name of pride-even our great exemplar, our Lord, the Christ. We grant that the parent who at this date of the world shall essay to train up his child free of pride, assumes a most onerous duty-inculcates a hard and a
Society, we have said, is the agent in this reaction of pride; yet do we in faith perceive the very hand of God in the mercy of his providence admonishing and rebuking us, and also hindering us in our course, that too great an amount of pride may not be the cause of our eternal undoing. For pride, in its course, walks not alone, but is the adjunct and the auxiliary of all worldly greatness. It is the concomitant, as the instigator of too much wealth-of soul-devouring avarice. And the politician desires, above all other promptings, to be sustained in his supremacy and his pride. And all the officials of state-are there any exceptions? desire a furtherance to the ultimate result of gratified ambition-the pride of place. Our civic rulers, too, do they not look at these others as patterns for them-long lesson-both shall it be. It has probably not only selves? Do they not say, “I prefer the place of two to teach on, but to teach off-to unwind the tangled thousand dollars over the place of one thousand dol- meshes, may be, of half a life of error. And in doing lars; though to the latter I am competent, to the former it we shall see how many of the difficulties, the vexaI am not. I know the man who is sufficient to it; he tions, and the embarrassments of our course originated is a candidate too; but if I can over-reach him through in the unregulated, the overweening, the continual acmy good friends, I will do it. Then shall I be able to tion of pride-pride in great and in small-until by overstep them, and take a higher place in society. I continual practice the habit has become so inveterate, and my children, whom I love!" Foolish man! he that no sacrifice, no power of human magnanimity would build up his children in pride-but he places shall overcome it, or serve to outroot its bitterness from their feet upon a quicksand. Had he commended them his bosom. But prayer and grace shall do it. to God, and put them in a course of industry, they should have always enough. And another with riches as much as he desires-for he abounds-shall despise the purse-proud man, for his pride is of family, of his ancestors. And yet pride, we should say, were a hollow sentiment to the memory of the good; but does more than honor them departed, he holds them up to his children in the place of personal merit in themselves. He teaches that they shall claim consideration for the deeds and the performances of one who has long slumbered in the grave—a soldier, may be, whose might is now crumbled into dust; or the statesman, whose eloquence once swayed the councils of a nation, though now 'tis mute and cold, and the "dull cold ear of death" is all about him. But the grave continually warns the quick, that life now is. 'Tis not greatness, but the
Yet all this sinning and suffering might have been prevented by the watchful, requiring guidance of a faithful parent. We do believe it possible for the parent in any grade of society to check and subdue this tendency in the child—and that not only as to overt acts, and the decencies of society alone, but also to conquer it to that rule of grace, that its possible outbreak shall be a conscious grief to its possessor; and in the conquest, a joy and a conviction that all other sin may also be essayed and buried in Christ. But how vigilant shall that parent be (we know not if we have ever seen such an one) who shall effect this conquest over nature and custom; how hardy shall he be who shall dare in the face of society as it is, to dictate to his child a course directly opposed to all its forms and fashions. With what admiration of wonder should we behold the
And though un
family so trained. In a family commencing from But suppose all these outward obstacles, these extrainfancy, so soon as childhood should discover a taste neous hindrances and awkwardnesses to be overcome and a choice of folly, that folly should be repressed, and or over-ruled, "how," say you, "shall we persuade our each one should be taught, combining the joyousness || children to adopt ways and fashions, contrary to all with of life with the soberness of wisdom, to forego its pre- which they are associated, and also adverse to their own ferences of evil, to relinquish its desires after vain, fine, feelings and inclinations? The matter, too, were so proud things; and to accept in their stead, fitness and very strange, the change so very great, that we hardly propriety and goodness, and a conformity to Christian know ourselves where to draw the line; or when we rule in all things. Think you that one sin shall be would require enough, whether we be not indeed resubdued alone? A moment's reflection affords the quiring too much; whether we shall not unfit our chilnegative. Strip character of pride, and how innocuous dren and embarrass them, and surround them with imwere many of its now offensive traits; and along with pediments to their respectability and their furtherance banished pride shall we see also the disappearance of in life? &c. And finally, whether the effort will its train of supporters. Disregard the inconsiderate not be of too costly sacrifice for its object?" To this exacting from others—the hard-heartedness, the selfish- last clause make up your mind distinctly, and to the ness, the offensive pretension, and all the attendants of whole: whether will you do it, or will you not? If this unamiable and unameliorated vice. What is so you will, then God speed, and not one of your objec exacting as pride? Does not the same bosom that har- tions shall be tenable in the case. For you do it by a bors it detract from all its better qualities? And yet principle of piety, if you do it at all. enough seems never given to the craving and its sacri- resolved and unaided you were likely to faint and fail; fice. The baby is often taught the fairy tale of horror, yet now you go forward in the strength of Christ, nothhow that the giant of iniquity, close in league with the ing doubting. Now you are sustained in the effort by devil, draws for supplies of luxury and supremacy and faith and trust and humility and prayer, and by the castdominion, up to a certain date; then, if he meet not ing behind you all other views of the case. Your simhis bond-and he never does the forfeit is claimed, plicity assures and encourages you. You require of and that is his soul. And almost such, should the babe your child to abstain from those usages which are essenbe taught in the wisdom of allegory, is the rigorous ex- tially of pride, and in all other cases to separate this acting, if assumed, of a pertinacious and life-long pride. principle as a motive from the act or the deed. Give But our story, instead of frightening the child, shall him, according to his age, to understand the rule disserve by its application to build him up in the strength tinctly-and 'tis indeed but addressing the instinct of of faith; in that assurance which shall say, "Get thou truth-and he knows at once how to judge. With as behind me, Satan;" and straight he is gone. much precision as the reformed inebriate refrains from But to our system of practice. Say we are a family alcohol, and drinks of pure water to increase his sobriety, of "condition," as it is called, or of the "better sort;" even so simple shall be this rule; and by this close lookor designate us by any of those epithets which pride ing the child shall be strengthened in the very wisdom of has claimed, and meanness has conceded, to that class philosophy. And every body, high or low, plain or prewhich holds superiority in the station of artificial life-tending, shall excuse him of his pride; so he is still doand this station shall have its advantages and its disadvantages as applied to our experiment, the suppressing or nullifying of pride in our children. The advantages are, that we have experienced, above those of lower place, the mistakes and the misadventures happening out of the indulgence of this vice. Few persons, indeed, are so dull or so inexpert as not to have perceived and detected in a chain of events, the cause which has produced them—the pride, which gave impetus to many another unrighteous agency of our being.
Another advantage which persons of condition have over their inferiors, is, that having according to their means participated more largely in folly, so have they been better enabled to test its hollowness and its unsatisfying insufficiency-its positive and its negative; therefore, both plead for its suppression.
Those in the lower grades of society have also their advantages for this effort. Their families having been prevented of large indulgence of pride, of course its habits are not so fixed or so difficult of expulsion. Also, as compared with others, shall the world look with less derision upon their attempted amendment, their innovation of reform.
cile, still retains his civility, his obligingness, his gentleness, his frankness, firmness, his courteous amenity, his goodness and truth. Not one of these could he have had still holding it—he can afford to do without pride.
But there comes a caviler. "My case," says he, "is an extraordinary one. What shall I do with the child who from the cradle has shown high and aspiring tendencies, and a spurning of common things. If we repress his ambition we have nothing left of him! he will take no other bent." Like the germ whose tendency is sunward, though you crush and crowd and place the recumbent rock upon it, yet shall it find, by sinuous course, its upward way, and reach the light. Yes, and so shall your child. What the sun is to the plant, that be you to him. The insensate vegetable but obeys its law; it is acted upon by the sun, and cannot choose but rise.
But in your child you have a larger access, a diviner approach. The attraction is the same; but unlike the plant, it has within itself a power of resistance which awaits conviction-a volition. For to man has been dispensed a portion of light in himself, which we call reason; and this, being breathed on by Deity, is a
"living soul." In your child you have a higher assu-| rance of multiform ability. Afford to him the perfect model of truth, and the inner soul shall reach both by volition as by affinity to its attraction. Also how much of the confusion, the wretchedness, the perversion of humanity is occasioned by false models; the very essence of goodness seems changed, as it were, by its perverse application. All pride is a lie upon goodness. But your child is of the best hope. The trifles about him are not sufficient to his ability. Give him enough to do; suit him in what is good, and he will find it proper. And as the finest gold is still the most ductile, so shall you find it easier, by proper methods, to manage this child, than one of duller apprehensions, resting in contented sloth. If his vocation is of talented ability, give him such. Surely there is no necessary connection between pride and intellectuality.
Let also another child be suited to his inferior capacity. Why does an American call himself a republi-" can, if he will not allow one son to follow the bent of his inclinations and his ability, and become a mechanic, lest he disgrace his brothers of the professions? The writer, too, was educated in the full impression of this narrow prejudice. But time and observation have produced a better conviction of right, and of justice How often, looking on amidst a numerous family of adults, do we see one or two waste characters, genteel idlers, who being incompetent to mental application, and having been prevented in the line of operative life, are drones in the hive. Or possessing physical energy without any methods of excitement, are sunk below themselves, into a miserable and pitiable hypochondriacism. What wickedness of pride to have thrown them away, and caused them so much suffering.
The same thing would we say of daughters, as of sons in a family. And the mixing of the higher and the lower occupations of life should not be allowed to weaken the chain of family affection: where it does, the link drops out by its own baseness of alloy, and must be repaired as best it may.
By such conduct of his children, some here, and some there, shall the wise and sedulous parent dress and trim his little household ship. Some are arrayed a-high, sail-wise for speed and progress; whilst others of just as much account, though less elevated, shall serve to steady the ship and keep it in ballast, until at last, by circumspection and humility and discretion, the good ship shall have out-sailed every adverse current, and weathered every gale of life-shall gain and gain, and finally reach the haven of its destination—where even the name of pride has never been heard, since Lucifer for its sake was hurled out of heaven.
To be satisfied with the acquittal of the world, though accompanied with the secret condemnation of conscience, this is the mark of a little mind; but it requires a soul of no common stamp to be satisfied with his own acquittal, and to despise the condemnation of the world.
HAST thou come again from the frozen north,
Ah! yes, thou art known by thy frowning brow,
O'er our emerald earth a gloom is spread,
See how the last leaf is whirled by the blast,
Ah! how reckless of all which bloom'd so fair
The streams of the north are tightly bound,
But alas! even here thy power is known,
Our orange groves shrink at its icy breath,
But ah! what a glorious sight appears,
THE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY.
Original. THE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place; until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts," 2 Peter i, 19.
We may therefore say with the apostle Peter, that "we have a more sure word of prophecy." Dr. Clarke supposes the apostle here gives an intimation that prophecy is a stronger confirmation of the truth of religion than miracles. Of this, however, we are not well assured; for when we consider the miracles of Christ, MUCH satisfaction may be realized by a careful inves- that he by the exercise of his omnipotence healed the tigation of the evidences of Christianity. "Be ready sick, cleansed the lepers, restored sight to the blind and always," says the apostle Peter, "to give an answer to hearing to the deaf-that he multiplied a few loaves every man that asketh you, a reason of the hope that into a repast for thousands-that he stilled the boisteris in you, with meekness and fear." The apostles often ous sea, cast out devils, raised the dead, &c., we canreferred to the grounds of their confidence in the Gos- not conceive that any but an exceedingly wicked genpel, and in giving "a reason of the hope" which iteration would deny the sufficiency of such evidence, afforded them, they sometimes adverted to the external and require in addition to it, "a sign from heaven." evidence of miracles and prophecy.
Mr. Watson, in examining the authenticity of Christianity, considers miracles as its leading evidence. And it is manifest, that the apostle Peter considered miracles as of the highest moment; hence he says, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount." The transfiguration of Christ here alluded to, which was the effulgence of that Divinity hitherto concealed in human nature; the appearance of Moses and Elijah; the bright cloud overshadowing them, and the voice from heaven proclaiming the Sonship of Christ, were proofs of the divine authority of his mission, than which nothing more satisfactory could have been afforded. We hardly think, then, that the apostle designed to present prophecy as a more powerful evidence of the
On the day of Pentecost Peter rebuked the mockery of those who charged the disciples with drunkenness. By referring to one of the ancient prophecies, he proved that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them from on high. This interesting prophecy, as quoted by the apostle, is as follows: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on my servants, and on my hand-maidens, I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy," &c. In his discourse, the apostle thus appeals to the Jews: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know," &c. Thus did the apostle adduce evidence in favor of Christianity, which the multitude could not gainsay. Their attention was called to a prophecy of one of the Old Testament writers, the fulfillment of which they then wit-truth of the religion than miracles, by saying, "We nessed to the "miracles, and wonders, and signs," have a more sure word of prophecy"-because the wrought by Messiah in the midst of them, which they apostle seems to set forth, not so much the comparative had also seen, and to the resurrection of Christ, a fact force and importance of miracles and prophecy, as he too notorious to be contradicted, and which conclusive- does the infallibility of the latter. This view of the ly proved the truth of the divine origin of Christianity. subject, we think, is sustained in the declaration that Hence the power of the apostle's word; for on the day" no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interof Pentecost, three thousand were converted to a belief pretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by of the Gospel.
The apostle Paul, when arraigned before Agrippa, pursued a course of argumentation similar to that of Peter. "Having obtained help of God," says he, "I continue unto this day, testifying none other things than Moses and the prophets did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light to the people and to the Gentiles." Having shown that Christ came, suffered, died, and arose from the dead according to prophecy, and that "these things were not done in a corner," the apostle appeals to the king in the following impressive manner: "King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest." It is by no means surprising that the king was almost persuaded to embrace Christianity, after having listened to such a vindication of its authenticity.
the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Here the apostle sets forth a doctrine of great importance to Christianity-the plenary inspiration and the infallibility of the inspired writings. The sacred Scriptures are of the highest authority, having been given us by an omniscient Teacher: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God."
Let us consider the Divine Word in the light of a "sure word of prophecy." Without entering into an examination of the antiquity and uncorrupted preservation of the sacred writings, we may view the fulfillment of Scripture prophecy as affording conclusive evidence, that Christianity is of divine origin. Christianity alone can adduce prophetic evidence in proof of its divinity. To the evidence of prophecy, heathenism never made any well-founded pretensions. "Moham