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none of respect and attention to their feelings, are enough, in our judgment, for those beneath us; while for ourselves, sea and land are ransacked, the utmost ingenuity of man is exercised, to furnish us with new information, with new excitement, to carry to the utmost possible perfection the polish and refinement of our own social intercourse. And this spirit infects us all more than we are aware of; it is a habit gained in childhood, and it goes on with us in after life, in many instances without our being aware of it. I have known good and kind-hearted persons speak so coldly and behave so distantly to those of an inferior station, that a foreigner, not acquainted with our manners, nor with the character of the individuals, would have ascribed it at once to insolence and pride. But though the excuses for individuals doing this are many, from the cause that I have mentioned, namely, that they do it from habit, and without thinking of it; yet it is no less wrong in itself, and like all other wrong things tends to produce evil to society at large. This manner is practised unintentionally on one side, and received as a matter of course on the other ; but even while it breeds no ill will, it effectually checks any feelings of positive regard ; and when in process of time this cold and neutral state of feeling comes to be tampered with by those who wish to change it into active hatred, they find it but too easy a ground to work upon. Then the reserve and dis
tance which had before only prevented cordiality, comes to be looked upon as an actual insult, and as such awakens resentment; nor is the length of time which it has lasted considered in any other light than as swelling the amount of the wrong, and therefore adding to the violence of their hoped for vengeance.
True it is that manner is but an outward thing, and does not always show the state of the heart. But when our notice is called to it, it is at least a good ground for examining a little anxiously whether indeed all is right and sound within. I cannot but think, that if we really possessed a true Christian love of our brethren, if we felt towards them as brethren, not as towards what are called, and most sadly miscalled, objects of charity, that we should insensibly assume towards them a very different outward manner also. At any rate this is certain, that the national evil produced by the behaviour I have been speaking of, is most enormous. It is a folly to think that any money given away in alms can at all make up for the want of kindness. He is in fact doing a double mischief to the poor, who, while he alienates their hearts by his pride, makes himself useful to their necessities by his money; he is doing what he can to degrade them, to make them wear an outward show of respect and gratitude and dependence towards one whom in their hearts they can neither esteem nor love. But on the other hand, kindness without money may do very much indeed; and the comfort is, that there is no one amongst us who cannot be kind, however small may be his ability to give alms. There is no one among us who may not make his daily intercourse with every one in a poorer station, a means of increasing mutual charity, instead of exciting mutual aversion. You know full well the vexations which you are sometimes guilty of towards some of our neighbours ; not of any serious amount, and still less purposely inflicted; but still galling and annoying, and tending to perpetuate what is unkind between one class and another, rather than what is friendly. I am sure that you are not aware of the full extent of the mischief created by these apparent trifles; but when you think of the number of schools in England; and that in the neighbourhood of each of them something of the same thing is going on, it is easy to imagine, that the effect on the whole may be felt even nationally. But at any rate, whether the effect be more or less, the mischief to our own hearts is the same; opportunities for kindness are kept out; and a careless and insulting habit finds its way into them.
In other places there are other matters on which I might have dwelt with propriety in addition to this; but I know of none where this could have been rightly omitted. And now in conclusion, the sum and substance of this day's solemnity is to nourish in us feelings of love towards God and man. Whether we fear disease, love towards God in Christ, and an unwearied kindness towards one another, will take away its sting, and turn it into a blessing; or if we fear civil commotions and revolution, love to God and man is again the only oil that can appease the raging waters; the one love enkindling the other, till, if for no other reason yet for this alone, because of our strong sense of our common brotherhood in Christ Jesus, because God so loved us, we also should all love one another.
THE DISOBEDIENT PROPHET.
1 Kings xiii. 26.
And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard
thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord.
In considering the chapter from which these words are taken, and which was the first lesson for this morning's service, it seems best first to explain such parts of it as may need explanation, considered merely as a story; and then to show what parts of it, and in what respects, afford instruction to us; two things very different in themselves, and requiring always to be kept distinct.
Taking then the account of the disobedient prophet merely as the account of a past event, and wishing to understand it merely as such, we may wish perhaps to know why the prophet who came from Judah was commanded neither to eat nor