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ROMANS 1. 16.
I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
I spoke last Sunday of the wickedness, the very great wickedness, of tempting others to do wrong, or laughing at them and abusing them for doing right. And I said a few words, in conclusion, to those who were suffering under this trial, encouraging them to go on without fear, knowing that He who was for them was mightier that they who were against them. But in schools, as in the world at large, the very good and the very bad are both but few; it is those who are a mixture of good and bad who make up the great majority. There are, I hope and believe, very few, if any, among you, who wilfully follow after what is evil; who, in the words of the Psalm, hate to be reformed, and who cast
God's words behind them. It is unnatural that, at your age, you should be so confirmed in evil as this. On the other hand, they, too, I fear, cannot be many, although I hope
I and believe there are some, who may fairly be said to be amongst the honest and good hearts, which, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit, “ some an hundredfold, some sixty, and some fifty.” This, also, I fear is unnatural; for ripened goodness in unripe age can be scarcely more looked for than ripened wickedness. The great majority of you will certainly be between these two points ; wishing to be good, when they think seriously about it, and honouring it when they hear of it at a distance, and being actually good in some things themselves; but very generally, not thinking seriously about it, not honouring it, but often laughing at it, when it comes before them in the conduct of their companions in common life; and, in many points, being very far from good in their own practice. It is to these, then, quite as much as to the few who are already serving God more entirely, that what I am going to say will be addressed; it is these whom I am going to urge
" not to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.” You will be, perhaps, inclined to say, that you are not ashamed of it, and should think very ill of any one who were to say that he was so.
And you may, possibly, have heard the words explained of those people in the old times, who were afraid to call themselves Christians, because they would be rejected by their families and friends, and, perhaps, be exposed to imprisonment or death, if they had confessed the name of Jesus. Certainly, such times are happily over, and no one runs any risk of being cast off by his friends, or punished by the law, for calling himself a Christian. But I am not sure that he would not run some risk, not of being punished by the law, but of being looked at very strangely, at least, by many of his friends and acquaintance, for always acting like a Christian. And this applies very much to you here. You know that what is called false shame is wonderfully strong in keeping you from acting as you ought to do in many respects; and I will give some common instances of it,-some in what are called particularly religious duties, and others in matters which are, in fact, no less matters of religion, though they are not called so.
To begin with the first sort. I am very far from saying that the practice of prayer, or of
reading the Bible, or of coming to the communion, is, in itself, generally delightful to you.
If you were really fond of these things, you would be a good deal further advanced in the love of Christ than we may dare to expect. But although not generally delightful, yet I believe that they would be practised oftener than they are, if it were not for a false shame of what may be said or thought by others. It would seem very strange to be seen reading the Bible; and it would be thought unusual, or, at least, you would be afraid lest it should be thought so, if any boy, not in the higher part of the school, were to go to the communion. The false shame, in the latter case, takes a very artful form: it is not only a fear of being thought overreligious, but a fear of being thought to receive the sacrament in order to please man rather than God: in other words, you sometimes are afraid to come to the Lord's table, lest you should be thought to be only trying to make us think well of you, not to obey the command of Christ. Now, certainly, it gives me pleasure to see a number of you attending the communion; and it does so for this reason, because I do not believe that there is one amongst you so wicked and so foolish as to think of going to that holy table only to deceive his master, and make him think him religious. Boys may, and I fear do, try to deceive us in some things. I can fancy some of you wishing to make me think you diligent, when you were really idle; to make
; me think you quiet and orderly, when you were forward in mischief : but I cannot fancy any one of you wishing to make me think you religious, when you were most grossly profane, and daring to come to the holy communion, solely for the purpose of making me believe a lie. This would be a monstrous and unnatural hypocrisy, and one which I am sure it is not in the nature of boys to be guilty of. And, therefore, I am glad when I see many of you at the sacrament, because I believe that you are come there in earnest. But my pleasure arises from this;—not that I believe those who come are actually better in their general conduct than many of those who do not come: but because it gives them a chance of becoming so. The communion is like a medicine for the soul; and if we see people willing to take their medicine, we are pleased, not because there is any merit in their taking it, but because we think, that, whereas without it they could not have