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age, are not considered by God as trifling, but are punished by him after the same measure as the sins of men.
And it is very easy to explain why men should often speak of them as trifling, and look back upon their own conduct at school with little or no con
The reason is, because they measure the guilt of faults by the harm which they do in this world, and not by the harm which they do in unfitting us for the kingdom of God, by making us unlike God and Christ. Now it is very certain that the faults of boys do not do any very great harm in the world : when boys ill treat one another, it is very seldom that the injury is so serious as to be felt in after life; when they lie, the consequence of their lie is, perhaps, no more than to save themselves from punishment; when they are extravagant and run in debt, it is very often only to the amount of a few shillings, which it does not seriously inconvenience their friends to pay. Nay, when they are idle, it very often happens that their worldly interest in after life does not seriously suffer from it. Men then, feeling that their own faults in manhood produce so much more serious consequences,—that extravagance and idleness are then absolute ruin to many others besides themselves,—that the indulgence of violent
, and cruel passions then may absolutely lead to murder, - and that falsehood, or theft, would at once cause them to be driven out of society,-comparing, I say, these serious worldly consequences of the faults of manhood, with the very light worldly consequences of the faults of boyhood, and not considering, in either case, that the real evil of every fault is its offence in the sight of God, its making us more unlike his image, and more like the image of the devil, and, therefore, more unfit for the company of God, and more fit for the company of devils,—they are apt to laugh at what they call the mere tricks and idlenesses of their youth, and thus to encourage those young persons who hear them, to go on without scruple in the very same track of carelessness.
But what is it, then, that Jesus Christ means, when he tells us, that “ he who is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much,” and “ that if we have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to our trust the true riches ?” He means, that when we talk of the consequences of our actions, we forget, that as in one point of view the consequences of the greatest crimes that the
most powerful tyrant ever committed, are as the least thing in the sight of God, so, in another, the consequences of the common school faults of the youngest boy are infinitely great. The desolation of mighty kingdoms, the ruin of thousands of families, blood, and fire, and murder, and famine, and pestilence, which follow so often in the train of war,these are evils which seem to us so monstrous, that the man, who, for his own selfish pride and ambition, brings them upon mankind, appears, indeed, deserving of God's heaviest judgments :—for we make God to see with our eyes, and to view that as important in itself which is important to us. But what, if we merely look up to the sky on any starlight night, and fix our eyes upon some one of the smallest stars that are there shining in their brightness ? That little star, that little bright point in infinite space, is, probably, a sun as large and as powerful as ours, and gives light and heat, not to one, but to several worlds like this in which we live, each of them filled, it may be, with reasonable beings, with hopes and fears, and pains and pleasures, as important to them as ours to us. Now, if this star, this little star in our eyes, but, in truth, this sun of more than one world like ours,—if this star, with all its worlds, were to perish in an instant, how infinitely small should we regard the loss of it! What a less than an atom, in our estimate, would be the happiness or the misery of all the beings who would thus be destroyed in an instant! So, too, to all the beings of other worlds, may the happiness and misery of mankind, and all the evils which the worst tyranny ever inflicted, seem as infinitely trifling; far, far more so, than we can regard the slightest fault, or the lightest suffering of the youngest boy. But God judges differently: that is to him important, and that he wills his creatures to regard as important, which is an offence against his laws, a departure from his likeness. And of this, even of sin, he has willed the consequences to be infinite; not confined to the happiness or misery of a few years, but of all eternity. So then, if you displease God, which
do by every fault, the evil of your conduct is infinite, and its consequences are infinite; not doing injury here, but doing injury far greaterinjury to your immortal souls, ruin to your immortal happiness. “ He that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much.” Here is the reason given why the faults of your boyhood
are so serious, because they show a temper that does not love God, and a heart unrenewed by his Holy Spirit ;-a temper and a heart, which, as they follow in boyhood and youth the faults of youth, so in manhood will they follow the faults of manhood, not, perhaps, those which men regard as infamous, but the faults which God no less abhors; and having thus, in their state of trial, fitted themselves, not for more perfect good, but for greater ripeness in evil, their portion will be evil throughout eternity.