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think that lying, and all those shuffling dishonest excuses, which are as bad as lying, are base, and contemptible, and wicked ?-or have you heard these things so often from others, even if you yourselves have not been guilty of them, that you think there cannot be any great harm in them? Do you still love to be kind to your companions, never teasing or ill treating them, and never being illnatured and out of temper with them ?or have you already been accustomed to the devilish pleasure of giving pain to others; and, whilst you are yourselves teased and ill used by some who are stronger than you, do you repeat the very same conduct to those who are weaker than you ? Are you still anxious to please your parents; and, in saying your lessons, do you still retain the natural thought of a well-bred and noble disposition, that you would like to say them as well as you can, and to please those who teach you?or have you already learnt the first lesson in the devil's school, to laugh at what is good, and generous, and high principled, and to be ashamed of doing your duty? Now if you have been wholly or in part corrupted in these points, within one short month, so that the good learnt in ten or twelve years has been
overthrown in less than thirty days;—and if this has happened not to one or two only, who might happen to be weak, and easily led into evil, but, more or less, to all of you, and, in a greater degree, generally speaking, to those who have been here for a longer period ;—if, in short, you all find that you would be afraid to speak and act just as you ought to do, because you would be laughed at and disliked if you did; then
you have already had some experience of the truth of what the Bible tells us, that man's nature is corrupt and bad; and you can understand somewhat of the meaning of those texts which speak of the world as being opposed to God, and that its friendship is enmity with God. It shows you plainly, how strong must be our evil dispositions, when you see them, in so short a time, getting the better of those that have had ten or twelve years to ripen; it shows you, too, how much the world is opposed to God; that is, the opinions and practices of a number of persons, living together in one society,--because you see a number of boys, who, while living at home, or by themselves, might go on very well, and think and act very rightly, yet, as soon as they mix with one another, and form one large body, the opinions and influence of that body shall be bad. Every boy brings some good with him, at least, from home, as well as some evil; and yet you see how very much more catching the evil is than the good, or else you would make one another better by mixing together: and if any single boy did any thing wrong, it would be condemned by the general opinion of all the school, just as some wrong things, such as stealing money, for example, are condemned at present. You have learnt, then, or, at least, you have had the experience, and may
have learnt, if
you chose, how easily you are tempted to do wrong, and how apt the world is to tempt you : for, as I said before, the society in which we live is the world; and, therefore, school is the world to you, just as our town and neighbourhood and acquaintance, and all those who hear or know any thing about us, are the world to each of us in after life. And if you find, and sometimes, perhaps, feel sorry within yourselves, that it is so hard to be good; that you are so easily tempted to evil, and that the world about you is so apt to tempt you ;—and yet, although you are thus sorry not to be better, you still are, in fact, no better ;-—then you are under what St. Paul calls the service and bondage of sin; that is,
your lives are sinful, whether you like it or no; and, being sinful, lead you to dislike God, and to fear him, without the fear doing you any good, and thus make you liable to his heavy judgments. And it was a man in this state whom St. Paul makes justly to cry out, from a strong feeling of his misery, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?”
JOHN III. 12.
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not,
how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things ?
In what I said to you on Wednesday from this place, I tried to bring clearly before your minds the meaning of those expressions which you will meet with in the Bible, and in other religious books,—that our nature is corrupt, and that we are all inclined to sin much more than to goodness. I tried to show you how you had already had experience of this, by finding how much easier it is to lose good habits than to gain them; to unlearn your duty than to learn it. I said, too, that you ought not at all to content yourselves with merely being sorry for not being better; but that you should recollect how St. Paul speaks of such a state as being a bondage, as being a wretched captivity, in which sin had bound