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afraid, or plodding, or as wishing to court favour. He has not age or sense, or firmness enough to know and to answer, that the only fear of which he need be ashamed is the fear of his equals, the fear of those who are in no respect better than himself, and have therefore no sort of right to direct him. To be afraid then of other boys is, in a poy, the same sort of weakness as it is in a man to be afraid of other men: and as a man ought to be equally ashamed of fearing men and of not fearing God; so a boy ought to be ashamed of fearing boys, and also to be ashamed of not fearing his parents and instructors. And as, in after life, the fear of God makes no man do any thing mean or dishonourable, but the fear of men does lead to all sorts of weakness and baseness ; so amongst boys the fear of their parents and teachers will only make them manly, and noble, and high spirited; but the fear of their companions leads them to every thing low, and childish, and contemptible. Those boys, then, who try to make others idle, and laugh at them for trying to please their masters, are exactly like the men who laugh at their neighbours for being religious, and for living in the fear of God; and both are like the more hardened ruffians in a gang of thieves or other criminals, whose amusement it is to laugh at the fear of justice, which beginners in crime have not yet quite got over. In all these instances there is not only the guilt of our own sin, but the far worse guilt of encouraging sin in others; and, as I showed you last Sunday how your
, school faults, although very trifling in their worldly consequences, were yet as serious in the sight of God as the faults of grown men, because they showed that you were not serving or loving him, but serving and loving evil; so it may be said, without the least going beyond the truth, that a boy who, being idle himself, tries to make others idle also, is exactly “offending one of those little ones who believe in Christ,” and is in the daily habit of that sin which Christ says it were better for him to die directly than to be guilty of.
Again, with regard to extravagance, and the breach of school regulations. There are some boys who, remembering the wishes of their parents, are extremely unwilling to incur debts, and to spend a great deal of money upon their own eating, and drinking, and amusements.
some too, who,
knowing that the use of wine or any liquor of that sort is forbidden, because the use of it among boys is sure to be the abuse of it, would not wish to indulge in any thing of the kind themselves. But they are assailed by the example, and the reproaches, and the laughter of others.
It is mean, and poor spirited, and ungenerous, not to contribute to the pleasures and social enjoyments of their companions; in short, not to do as others do. The charge of stinginess, of not spending his money liberally, is one which a boy is particularly sore at hearing. He forgets that in his case such a charge is the greatest possible folly. Where is the generosity of spending money which is not your own, and which, as soon as it is spent, is to be supplied again with no sacrifice on your part ? Where is the stinginess of not choosing to beg money of your dearest friends, in order to employ it in a manner which those friends would disapprove of ?-for, after all, the money must come from them, as you have it not, nor can you earn it for yourselves. But there is another laugh behind: a boy is laughed at for being kept so strictly at home that he cannot get money as he likes; and he is taught to feel ashamed and angry at the hard
restraint which is laid upon him. Truly that boy has gone a good way in the devil's service, who will dare to set another against his father and his mother, who will teach him that their care and authority are things which he should be ashamed of. Of those who can do this, well may Christ say, that “it were better for them that a millstone were tied about their neck, and that they were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Yet these things are done; and the consciences of
who now hear me will say to the eye of Him who can look into the inmost heart, that they are the doers of them.
For you who are assailed by these and other such temptations,--for you, whom Christ calls his children, and whom the devil and his servants would fain make ashamed of your Father and your Lord,—for you, who are laughed at because you will not be idle, or drunken, or extravagant, or undutiful, or in some way or other base and low principled, beware lest you suffer yourselves to be “ offended,” that is, lest you are laughed and frightened out of your eternal salvation. After all, they that are with you are more and greater than they who are against you,-all the wise and good and noble among your
selves; all good and wise and honourable men; all blessed spirits that love the service of God, and delight to aid those who are fighting in his cause; and, above all, that Holy and Eternal Spirit himself, your Comforter and mighty Deliverer, whose aid and perpetual presence with you was purchased by your Redeemer's blood. Trust in these, and be not afraid of all that hell and its servants can do to you:
« Fear not them who can kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."