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recovered, now, at least, it is possible that they may. If I see a boy at the communion, it is an earnest that he has had some serious thoughts, that he has made some good resolutions, and has put up, or will do so before he leaves the chapel, some sincere and earnest prayers. The effect of all this may, it is true, be very shortlived; it may never bring forth any fruit that man may notice; I may never have reason to think that the boy is really the better for having attended the communion: still I am glad to see him there, because I feel that, at that time at least, he is resolving and praying to be better. And this I believe, and will believe, of vidual whom I see there; and you yourselves,
I I think, would agree with me, and would not suspect any one of your number of going to that holy table from any other reason, , than because he was, at that time at least, wishing to become better, and desirous of taking the means that Christ has recommended to make him better.
But, after all, I will go further; for it is a thing which it concerns you to hear, and I will not shrink from speaking it. At your age, the good opinion and approbation of your masters is a thing which you ought not
to be ashamed to desire. As a lower motive, and as one that may help you gradually to ascend to a higher one, I say you ought not to be ashamed of it; but rather to be ashamed of not feeling it. What folly is it to tax such a motive as this with meanness! It might, possibly, be meanness, if you could gain any actual profit by it; if, because we thought well of a boy, he had more holidays, or less work, or more indulgences of some kind or another than his companions; or if he would not be punished, if, relying on our good opinion, he were to be guilty of any offence. Our good opinion of a boy, in point of moral character, would do him no other good, than the mere pleasure of feeling that he possessed it; and certainly there are few pleasures purer in their nature than this. Or, if we expressed our good opinion of him to his parents, it would, no doubt, give them great pleasure, and he would have the greater delight of knowing that they approved and respected him; but, beyond this, I doubt whether it would procure him the same actual rewards, or additional indulgences, as if he had carried home with him a prize for successful diligence and ability in school busi
I say, then, that there is nothing to be got from our good opinion, in that gross sense
in which low minds, who can understand nothing generous or noble, are accustomed to think of getting. But there is to be got from it a pure and truly desirable pleasure—the good opinion and respect of those, who, from age and situation, are capable of forming an opinion, and whom it is your duty to try to satisfy, as they are, by God's appointment, under your parents, your teachers and judges, and those who have to watch for your souls as men who shall give account to Him who is at once their Master and yours.
I now proceed to the remaining part of my subject, and am to give instances, in matters not commonly called religious, of that shame so often felt by young persons at following the Gospel of Christ, and feeling as Christ would have them feel. And it happens that here we have the example of our Lord himself recorded for our benefit. Very little has, as we know, been mentioned of our Lord's early life, and nothing at all is told merely to satisfy our curiosity. Yet in the short story from which the words of the text are taken, we find a lesson given as to the very main points of our duty when young; as, in the fuller record of his older life, we find our guide and example for those points on which we most
need instruction in manhood. And it is worth while to notice what those points are: they are, first, an earnest desire to improve himself, that so he might be fit for his Father's service, when he should be arrived at riper years; and, secondly, a dutiful obedience to his parents, while he was as yet under age. Further, to show that this is an example exactly suited to your case who now hear me, I may just remind you that our Lord was at this time twelve years old, a period neither too late nor too early to fit it exactly for your
imitation. I have already spoken of the false shame which often hinders you from performing what are peculiarly called your religious duties. But, strange to say, you sometimes learn to feel ashamed of indulging your natural affections, and particularly of being attached to your mothers and sisters, and fond of their society. You fancy it is unmanly to be thought to be influenced by them, and you are afraid of being supposed to long too much for their tenderness and indulgent kindness towards you. Thus you affect a bluntness and hardness which, at first, you cannot put on without an effort; but the effort is made, and that from a false shame of being laughed at for seeming too fond of home. The effort is
made, and it is continued,—till, sometimes I fear, it ceases to be an effort, and the coldness, which was at first merely put on, becomes at last a natural temper. I am afraid it cannot be doubted that it is peculiarly the effect of the public schools of England to lower and weaken the connexion between parent and child, to lessen mutual confidence, and to make a son regard his father with more of respect than of love. Certainly, at least, the relation in other countries of Europe is on a different footing: there is more of cordial intimacy, more of real familiar friendship between parents and children, than generally exists among us.
And the cause of this difference belongs greatly, I think, to the feelings and habits acquired at school. In the first place, you are absent from home so large a portion of the year, that other persons and other objects engross, of necessity, a large share of your thoughts and feelings. The absence, certainly, you cannot help; but you may help increasing its natural effect by your own conduct. You become ashamed of speaking of your homes and relations in the natural language of a good heart; you talk of them to one another as affording you such and such enjoyments; and you