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to church? does it mix with and steal upon our devotions in private? Whenever we find this temper growing upon us, we may be sure that our religion is taking a wrong turn; it does not proceed from a growth of Christianity within us; it is the religion of the Pharisee, and not that which will make us full of gentleness, meek, humble, affectionate, and compassionate; tending to exercise and improve the love of our neighbour, instead of inclining us towards contempt and hatred.
ANALOGY BETWEEN OUR NATURAL AND RELIGIOUS PROGRESS.
1 COR. XIII. 11, 12.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
SAINT PAUL in these words means to describe the imperfect state of our knowledge now, with respect to any of these mysterious parts of both natural and revealed religion, especially with respect to what shall take place after this life, compared with that clear and complete knowledge of these subjects which we shall be endowed with then; and the similitude he makes use of-that of the thoughts and understanding of a child, compared with the thoughts and understanding of the same person when become a man-always appeared to me to convey the justest conception of this matter, and the most likely to satisfy us in the darkness, and confusion, and un
certainty under which we labour, of any that could have been devised for the purpose. Saint Paul's words might be briefly explained thus: Let a grown person look back upon the notions and views of things which he had when a child-let him remark how much these notions are altered, and improved, and corrected since-how vain, and wild, and simple, and short of the truth they then were;-and how sensible soever such a person must be of the feebleness of his early understanding, of the errors and extravagance of his childish conceits, equally sensible shall we, in another life, become of the imperfection, and weakness, and fallaciousness of our present judgement and our present apprehension of many subjects. This is what Saint Paul says of himself; and whatever he confessed of his own understanding in these matters, surely we need not be loth to acknowledge of ours. But to do Saint Paul's observation justice, it will be fitting to point out distinctly, and more at length, every particular in which his comparison holds; for I think the more we turn it in our minds, the more truth, impressiveness, and good sense we shall discover in it.
First, then, it must strike every one who will please to review the ideas and imaginations of his youth, of what was then his notion of many things which he now looks at, and has long looked at, as so many vain and foolish baubles-how eager he was in the pursuit of them, how impatient of being disappointed. He is at a loss now to conceive where or in what
the value or pleasure of them could consist, so much to engage his affections, to agitate his passions, to give him such anxiety in the pursuit, and pain in the loss. Now something very like this will probably take place in the judgement we shall hereafter form of many of the articles which at present compose the objects of our care and solicitude. When we come, in the new state of our existence, to look back upon riches, and honours, and fortune, and pre-eminence, and prosperity-how like the play and pursuits of children, their little strifes, and contests, and disturbances, will these things appear? When the curtain is drawn aside, and the great scene of our future existence let in upon our view, how shall we regard the most serious of our present engagements and successes, as the toys and trifles of our childhood-the sport and pastime of this infancy of our existence!
A second particular, in which we cannot but remark the fault of our youthful minds, and how we have been gradually amending and altering as we grow up, is the impetuosity with which we seized upon every pleasure that was at hand, whatever it cost us afterwards, and how unconcerned and unaffected we were by what lay at any distance. The amusement of the next hour, the sport of the next day, was all we thought of. What was to become of us, how we were to be provided for, or what was to be our destiny when we grew up, or even the next year, never interested our attention, or entered
our thoughts. I say, we find this earnestness, as we advance in years and experience, by degrees wear off. We have learned to a certain distance to look before us -to forego a small advantage in hand for the sake of a greater in reversion-to deny ourselves, in some cases, a present pleasure, rather than incur a future pain, or lose a more important satisfaction which we have in view but still the infirmity is but worn away in part; much of it yet remains. We have learned to look before us, but it may be indistinctly; and the imperfection, which still cleaves to us in this respect, we shall hereafter be as sensible of, as we seem now to be of the same imperfection in the thoughts and passions of our early years. Thus we are able to part with a present supply for a treasure in prospect, in order to secure to ourselves, and for ourselves, the means of acquiring a good estate some time hence; and this is getting a great way beyond the hasty thoughts and improvidence of children— of many who continue children all their lives: but can we reconcile ourselves to the sacrifice of a substantial interest, of any part of our profit or fortune, of considerable advantage or advancement in the world, for the sake of securing, or at least making more sure of, our reward in heaven? We are not accustomed to look so far. The business of the world we manage with prudence, because we prefer the greater advantage at a distance to the less advantage near at hand; but the world closes in our prospect, terminates our management. Again, it