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though it is not greatly to the honour of human
nature, we daily see how much keener are the
feelings which are excited by hope than those
which are raised by grratitude.— The favour which
has been already conferred, excites a temperate,
that which we are looking for, a fervid feeling.

These relaxing^ feelings and these softened
dispositions, aided by the seducing luxury of the
table, and the bewitching splendour of the apart-
ment ; by the soft accommodations which opu-
lence exhibits ; and the desires which they are
too apt to awaken in the dependant, may, not im-
possibly, lead by degrees to a criminal timidity
in maintaining the purity of his own principles,
in supporting the strictness of his own practice.
He may gradually lose somewhat of the dignity
of his professional, and of the sobriety of the
Christian character. He may be brought to for-
feit the independence of his mind ; and in order
to magnify his fortune, may neglect to magnify
his office.

Even here, fVom an increasing remissness in
self-examination, he may deceive himself by
persisting to believe — for the films are nowgrow-
ing thick over his spiritual sight — that his mo-
tives are defensible. Were not his discernment
labouring under a temporary blindness, he would
reprobate the character which interested views
have insensibly drawn him in to act He would
be as much astonished to be told that his cha-
racter was become his own, as was the . royal
offender, when the righteous boldness of the
prophet pronounced the heart-appalling words,
•Thou art the man.'

Still he continues to flatter himself that the
reason of his diminished opposition to the faults
of his friend, is not because he has a more lu-
crative situation in view, but because he may,
by a slight temporary concession, and a short
suspension of a severity which he begins to fan-
cy he has carried too far, secure for his future
hfe a more extensive field of usefulness, in the
benefice which is hanging over his head.

In the mean time hope and expectation so fill
bis mind, that he insensibly ^ows cold in the

Erosecution of his positive duties. He begins to
iraent that in his present situation he can make
but few converts, that he sees but small efifects
of his labours, not perceiving that God may have
withdrawn his blessing fVom a ministry which
is exorcised on such questionable grouncis. With
his new expectations he continues to blend his
old ideas. He feasts his imagination with the
prospect of a more fruitful harvest on an un-

known, and perhaps an unbroken soil — as it ha
man nature were not pretty much the same
every where ; as if the labourer were accounta-
ble for the abundance of his crop, and not solely
for his own assiduity ; as if actual duty, faith-
fully performed, even in this circumscribed
sphere in which God has cast our lot, is noC
more acceptable to him, than theories of the
most extensive good, than distant speculations
and improbable projects, for the benefit even oi
a whole district; while, in the indulgence of
these airy schemes, our own specific and ap-
pointed work lies neglected, or is performed
without energy and without attention.

Self-love so naturally infatuates the judgment,
that it is no paradox to assert that we look too
far, and yet do not look far enough. We look
too far when passing over the actud duties of the
immediate scene, we form long connected trains
of future projects, and indulge our thoughts in
such as are most remote, and perhaps least pro-
bable. And we do not look far enough when
the prospective mind does not shoot beyond all
these little earthly distances, to that state, falsely
called remote, whither all our steps are not the
less tending, because our eyes are confined to
the home scenes. But while the precarioosnesi
of our duration ou^ht to set limits toour designs,
it should furnish mcitements to our application.
Distant projects are too apt to slacken present
industry ; while the magnitude of schemes, pro.
bably impracticable, may render our actual ex*
ertions cold and sluggish.

Let it be observed that we would be the last
to censure any of those fair and honourable
means of improving his condition which every
man, be he worldly or religious, owes to himself!
and to his family. Saints as well as sinners
have In common, what a great genius calls,
•certain inconvenient appetites of eating and
drinking ;* which while we are in the body must
be comj^ed with. It would be a great hardship
on good men, to be denied any innocent means
of &r gratification. It would be a peculiar in-
justice that the most diligent labourer should be
esteemed the least worthy of his hire, the least
fit to rise in his profession.

The more serious clergyman has also the s
warm affection for his children with his
scrupulous brother, and consequently the i
laudable desire for their comfortable establish-
ment ; only in his plans for their advancement
he should neither entertain ambitious views nor
prosecute any views, even the best, by methods
not consonant to the strictness of his avowed
principles. Proibssin^ to * seek first the king-
dom of God and his righteousness,' he ought to
be more exempt from an over anxious solicitude
than those who profess it less seaknisly. Avow-
ing a more determined confidence that all other
things will, as far as they are abocJutely neoes
sary, * be added unto him,' he should, as it is
obvious he commonly does, manifest practically,
a more implicit trust, confiding in the gracious
and cheering promise, that promise expressed
both negatively and positively, as if to ooro&rt
with a double confirmation, that God who is
* both his light and defence, who will give grace
and worship, will also withhold no good thing
from them that live a godly U^'

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It b one of the triala of faith appended to the
■acred ofEce, that its ministers, like the father
of the faithful, are liable to go oat, * not knowing
whither they go ;* and this not only at their
first entrance into their profession, bat through
life ; an inconvenience to which no other pro-
ff^ion, is necessarily liable ; a trial which is
not perhaps fairly estimated.

This remark will naturally raise a lau^h
among those who at once hold the function in
contempt, deride its ministers, and think their
well-earned remuneration lavishly and even nn-
necessarily bestowed. They will probably ex-
claim with as much complacency in their ridi-
cule, as if it were really the test of truth — * A
great cause ef commisseration truly, to be trans-
ferred from a starving curacy to a plentiful bene-
fic3, or from the vulgar society of a country parish
to be a stalled theologian in an opulent town !'

We are far from estimating at a low rate the
ezcuange from a state of uncertainty to a state
of Independence, from a life of penury to com-
fort, or from a barely decent to an affluent pro-
vision. — But does the ironical remarker rate the
feelings and affections of the heart at nothing 7
If he insists that money is that chief good of
which ancient philosophy says so much, we beg
leave to insist that it is not the only ^ood. We
I are above the affectation of pretendmg to con-
dole with any man on his exaltation, but there
are feelings which a man of acute sensibility,
nodered more acute by an elegant education,
values more intimately than silver or gold.

Is it absolutelv nothing to resign his local
comforts, to break up his local attachments, to
have new connexions to form, and that frequent-
ly at an advanced period of life 7 Connexions,
perhaps less induable than those he is quitting 7
Is a nothing for a faithful minister to be sepa-
rated from an affectionate people, a people not
only whose friendship, but whose process has
constituted his happiness here, as it will make
bis joy and crown of rejoicing hereafter 7

Men of delicate minds estimate things by their
affections as well as by their circumstances : to
a man of a certain cast of character, a change
however advantageous, may be rather an exue
than a promotion. While he gratefblly accepts
the good, he receives it with an edlQring ac-
knowlcd^ment of the imperfection of the best
human uiings. These considerations we con-
fess add the additional feelings of kindness to
their persons, and of sympathy with their vicis-
situdes, to our respect and veneration for their
holy office.

To themselves, however, the precarious tenor
of their situation presents an instructive emblem
of the uncertain condition of human life, of the
transitory nature of the world itself. Their
liableness to a sudden removal, ^ves them the
advantage of being more cspecialljr reminded of
the necessity and duty of keeping in a continual
posture of preparation, having * tneir loins gird-
ed, their shoes on their feet, and their staff in
their hand.* They have also the same promises
which supported the Israelites in the desert —
The same assurance which cheered Abraham,
• may still cheer the true servants of €rod under
•11 difficulties. — * Fear not — I am thy shield and
thy exceeding great reward.*

But there are perils on tiie right hand and on
the left It is not among the least, thai thouj^h
a pious clergyman may at first have tasted with
trembling caution of the deUcious cup of ap
plause, he may gradually grow, as thirst is in^
creased by indulgence, to drink too deeply of
the enchanted chalice. The dangers arising
from any thing that is^oo^are formidable, be
cause unsuspected. And such are the perils of
popularity, tnat we wHl venture to say that the
victorious general who has conquered a king
dom, or the sagacious statesman who has pre
served it, is almost in less danrer of being spoilt
by acclamation than the popmar preacher ; be-
cause their danger is likely to happen but once,
his is perpetuu. Theirs is only on a day of
triumph, his day of triumph occurs every week ;
we mean the admiration he excites. Every
fresh success ought to be a. Break motive to hu-
miliation ; he w1k> feels his danger will vigilant-
ly guard againdt swallowing too greedily the in-
discriminate, and often undistinguishing plaudits
which his doctrines or his manner, his talent or
his voice, may equally procure for him.

If he be not prudent as well as pious, he may
be brought to humour his audience, and his
audience to flatter him with a dangerous emula-
tion, till they will scarcely endure truth itself
from any other lips. Nay, be may imperceptibly
be led not to be always satisfied with the atten-
tion and improvement of his hearers, unless
the attention be sweetened by flattery, and the
improvement followed by exclusive attachment

The spirit of exclusive fondness generates a
spirit of controversy. Some of the followers
will rather improve in casuistry than in Chris*
tianity. They will be more busied in opposing
Paul to ApoUos, than looking unto * Jesus, the
author and finisher of their faith ;' than in bring,
ing forth fruits meet for repentance. Religious
rasip may assume the place of religion iiaelt.
A party spirit is thus ^nerated, and Qiristianity
may begin to be considered as a tli3:.ff to be dis-
cussed and disputed, to be heard and talked about,
rather than as the productive principle of virtu,
ous conduct*

We owe, indeed, lively gratitude and afiec
tionate attachment to the minister who has
faithfully laboured for our edification ; but the
author has sometimes noticed a manner adopted
by some injudicious adherents, especially of her
own sex, which seems rather to erect their fa-
vourite into the head of a sect, than to reverence
him as the pastor of a flock. This mode of
evincing an attachment, amiable in itself, is
doubtless as distressing to the delicacy of the
minister as it is unfavourable to religion, to which
it is apt to give an air of party.

May we be allowed to animadvert more im-
mediately on the cause of declension in piety, in
some persons who fi)rmerlj exhibited evident
marks of that seriousness in their lives which
they continue to inculcate firom the pulpit If
such has been sometimes (we hope it has been
very rarely) the case, may it not be partly
ascribed to an unhappy potion that the same ex-
actness in his private devotion, the same watch-

* This polemic tattle is of a totally diflferent cbaraeter
from that species of religious cooTersation recommendsd
u the preceding chapter.

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fbfaiess in his dailj oondoet, is oot equally ns-
cessary in the advanced propresa as in the first
stages of a religious ooarae 7 He does not de-
sist from warning his hearers of the conjUnoal
Necessity of these things, but is be not in some
danger of not applying the necessity to himself 7
May he not begin to rest satisfied with the in-
oolcation without tile practice f It is not pro-
bable indeed that he goes so fitf as to establish
himself as an emnpt case, but he slides from
indolence into the exemption, as if its sToidanoe
were not so necessary fi>r him as for othem^

Even the very sacredness of his profession is
not without a snare. He may repeat the hdy
offices so often that he may be in danger on the
one hand, of sinking into the notion th^t it is a
mere profession, or on the other, of so resting in
it as to make it supercede the necessity of Uiat
strict personal religion with which ho set out :
He may at least be satisfied with the occasional,
without the unifiurm practice* There is a dan-
ger — ^we advert only to its possibility — that his
very ezustness in the public exercise of his
function, may lead to a little justification of his
remissness in secret duties. His zeabus expo-
sition of the Scriptures to others may satisf^^
him, though it does not always lead to a practi-
cal application of them to himself.

But God, by requiring exemplary diligence
in the devotion of ms appointed servants, would
keep up in their minds a daily sense (xf their
dependence on him. If he does not continually
teach by his Spirit those who teach others, they
have little reason to expect success, and tliat
Spirit will not be given where it is not sought ;
or, which is an awful consideration, may b|B
withdrawn, where it had been given, and not
improved as it might have been.

Should this uimappUy ever be the case, it
would almost reduce Uie minister of Christ to a
mere engine, a vehicle through which know,
ledge was barely to paas, like the ancient oracles
who had nothing to do with the information but
to convey it. ftrhaps the public success of the
best men has been, under God, principally owing
to this, that their faithful ministration }a the
temple has been uniformly preceded and fiiUow-
ed by petitions in the closet; that the truths
implanted in the one, have chiefly flourished
firom having been watered by the tears, and
nourished by the prayers of the other.

We will hazard but one more observation on
this dangerous and delicate subject; in this
superficiaa treatment <if which, it is the thing in
the world the most remote from the writer*8
wish, to give the slightest offence to anv pious
member of an order which possesses her highest
veneration. If the indefatigable labourer in his
great Master's vineyard, has, as must often be
the case, the mortification of finding that his
labours have fitiled of producing their desired
effect, in some instance, where his warmest
hopes had been excited ;^f he feels that he has
not benefitted others as he had earnestly de-
sired, this is precisely the moment to benefit
himself; and is perhaps permitted for that very
end. Where his usefulness has been obviously

Seat, the true Christian will be humbled by
e recollection that he b only an instrument.
Where it has been less, the defoat of his hopes

ofiers the best occasbn, which he will not fail to
use for improving his humility. Thus he may
alwaj^ be assured that good has been done
somewhere, so that in any case his labour will
not have been vain in the Lord.

TVve and FaUe ZeaL

It is one of the most important ends of cuz^
tivating that self-knowledge which we have
elsewhere recommended, to discover what is the
real bent of our mind, and which are the strong-
est tendencies of our character; to discover
where our dispositbn requires restraint, and
where we may be safely trusted with some
liberty of indulgence. If'^the temper be forvid,
and that fervour be happily directed to religion
the most consummate prudenee will be requisne
to restrain its excesses without freezing its

I^ on the contrary, timidity and diffidence b^
the natural propensity, we shall be in danger of
falling into coldness and inactivity Vith regard
to ourselves, and into too unresisting a com.
pliance with the requisitions, or too easy a con-
formity with the habits of others. It will there-
fore be an evident proof of Christian self-govern-
ment, when the roan of too ardent zeal restrains
its outward ezpressicAi where it would be un-
seasonable, or unsafe ; while it will evince the
same Christian self-denial in the foarfbl 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 con-
science thoroughly enlightened; to take ao
exact survey not only of the whole comprehen-
sive scheme of Christianity, but of his own
character ; to discover, in order to correct the
defocts 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 hu motive or his object, he may yet
be wrong in the measure, wrong in the mode,
wron^ in the application, thougn right in the
principle. He must therefore watch with a
suspicious eye over his better qualities, and
guard hia very virtues from deviation and ex-

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 acquisitbn of excellence in arts
and arms, in learning and piety ; that principle
without which no man will be able to reach the
perfoction of his nature, or to animate others to
aim at that perfection, will yet hardly fail to
mislead the animated Christian, if his know-
ledge of what is right and just, if bis judgment
in the application of that knowledge do not
keep pace with the principle itself

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Zed, indeed, is ||K>t lo macli an indiTidnal
firtoe at the principle which gives life and
coloaring, as the spirit which fWe9 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 ever^ quality of the
Eeart with its invigorating motion. It may be
•aid of zeal among the virtoes as of memory
among the faculties, that though it singly never
made a great man, yet no man has ever made
himself conspicuously great where it has been

Many things however must concur before we
can be allowed to determine whether zeal be
really a virtue or a vice. Those who are con-
tending 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 be-
tween them. One insisted it was gold ; the other
maintained it was silver. The duel was pre-
vented by the interfbrence 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 cheerfbl
by its kindly warmth, is assured that it is a be-
nefit, 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 tho principle itself must be under due regu-
lation : or, like the rapidity of the traveller who
gets into a wrong road, it will only carry him
so much the further out of his way ; or if he
be in the right road, it will, through inattention,
earry him involuntarily beyond his destined
point — That degree of motion is equally mis-
leading which detains us short of our end, or
which pushes us beyond it

The apostle suggests a usefld precaution by
expressly asserting that it is * in a good cause,'
that WA * must be zealously afiectedr which im-
plies this further truth, that where the cause is
not good, the mischief is proportioned to the
zeaL But lest we should carry our limitations
of the quality to any restriction of the seasons
for exercising it, he takes care to animate us to
its perpetual exercise, by adding that we must
be alvoay so affected.

If the injustice, the intolerance and perseeu-
tion, with which a misguided znl has so often
afflicted the church of Uhrist, in its more early
periods, be lamented as a deplorable evil ; yet
the overrulinff wisdom of Providepce educmff
good from evO, made the very calamities which
nlse zeal occasioned, the instruments of pro-
ducing that true and lively zcaI to which we
owe the gbrious buid of martyrs and confessors,
those brightest ornaments of the best periods of
the church. This effect, Uiough a clear vindi-
cation of that divine goodness which suffers evil,
b no apology for him who perpetrates it

It is curious to observe the contrary opera-
tions of true and false zeal, which fhoozh appa-
rently only different modifications of the same

quality, are, when broi^ht into contact, repug-
nant, and even destructive to each other. There
is no attribute of the human mind where the
diffbrent effects of the same principle have such
a total opposition : fer is it not obvious that the
same prmciple under another direction, which
actuates the Arrant in dragging the martyr to
the stake, enables the martyr to embrace it 7
^ As a striking proof that Uie necessity for' cau-
tion is not imaginary, it has been observed that
the Holy Scriptures record more instances of a
bad zeal than of a good one. This furnishes the
most authoritative argument for regulating this
impetuous principle, and fer governing it by all
those restrictions which a feeling so calculated
fer good and so capable of evil demands.

It was zeal, but of a blind and furious cha-
racter, which produced the massacre on the day
of St Bartholomew ; — a day to which the mourn-
ful strains of Job have been so well applied.-—
* Let that day perish. Let it not be joined to
the days of the years. Let darkness and the
shadow of death stain it' — It was a zeal the
most bloody, combined with a perfidy the most
detestable, which inflamed the execrable Flo-
rentine,* when, having on this occasion invited
so many illustrious protestants to Paris under
the alluring mask of a public festivity, she con
trived to involve her guest, the pious aueen of
Navarre, and the venerable Coiigni in the gene-
ral mass of undistinguished destruction. The
royal and pontifical assassins not satisfied with
the sin, converted it into a triumph.-^Medals
were struck in honour of a deed which has no
parallel even in the annals of Pagan persecution.

Even glory did not content tho pernicious
plotters of tms direful tragedy. Devotion was
called in to be

The erown and eonsammatioD of tbdr crime.

The blackest hypocrisy was made use of to sano«
tify the feulest murder. The iniqui^ could not
be complete without solemnly thanking God for
its success. The pope and cardinals proceeded
to St Mark's church, where they praised the
Almighty fer so great a blessing conferred on
the see of Rome, and the Christian world. A
solemn jubilee completed the preposterous mum-
mery. — This zeal of devotion was as much worse
than even the zeal of murder, as thanking Ood
.fer enabling us to commit a sin is worse than
the commission itsel£ A wicked piety is still
more disgusting than a wicked act God is less
offended hj the sin itself than by the thank-
offbring of its perpetrators. It kx>ks like a black
attemjS to involve the Creator in the crimct

It was this exterminating zeal which made
the fourteenth Louis, bad in the profligacy of

Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 116 of 135)