Imagens das páginas

back with joy. Let your voice be in unison with all those powers that God is using for his recorery. in

Parent! speak gently to your offending child. This trait of parental duty should be deeply pondered. : A tone of grave rebuke should, indeed, be sometimes used : perhaps, occasion may require that it should be often used; but the tone of peevish complaint and anger, never. There is a different language ; and how much more powerful! “Ah! my child !” might one say, in the manner, if not in language"my child! what injury is all this doing you ?-this passion, this violence, or this vice, what a bitter cup is it preparing for you!” This language, this tone from the grave wisdom of a father, or the tender anxiety of a mother, might have saved some whom peevishness and provocation have driven farther and deeper into the ways of transgression.

But let us put the strongest case. Your neighbour has done you grievous wrong; and he has the face to tell you so, and to exult in his dishonesty. What man is there whose countenance would not be flushed with momentary indignation, at being so confronted with one that had injured him, and that gloried in the injury! And let us concede thus much to the weakness of nature, or even to the first impulse of virtue. But the next feeling should be unfeigned regret and pity. Yes, the man who stands before you, triumphing in a prosperous fraud and palpable wrong, is the most pitiable of human beings. He has done himself a deeper, a far deeper injury, than he has done to you. It is the inflicter of wrong, not the sufferer, whom God beholds with mingled displeasure and compas-. sion ; and his judgment should be your law. Where

amidst the benedictions of the Holy Mount is there one for this man? But upon the merciful—the peacemakers--the persecuted—they are poured out freely; these are the sacred names upon which the spirit and blessing of Jesus descend. -- II. In the next place, it may temper the warmth of our indignation against sin, and soften it into pity; it may well bring us, indeed, to imitate the compassion of Jesus, for us to reflect that what others are; and however bad, we, in other circumstances, might have been as they are. · We are all men of like passions, propensities, exposures. There are elements in us all which might have been perverted through the successive processes of moral deterioration to the worst of crimes. The wretch whom the execration of the thronging crowd pursues to the scaffold or the gibbet, is not worse than any one of that multitude might have become in similar circumstances. He is to be condemned, indeed; but how much he is to be pitied, let his burning passions, his consuming remorse, his pallid cheek, his sinking head, the mingled apathy and agony of his apprehensionslet these tell.

I feel that I am speaking of a case that is fully practical. There is a vindictive feeling in society towards convicted and capital offenders, towards those who are doomed to abide the awful severity of the law, that does not become the frail and the sinful. I do not adopt the unqualified language that it is nothing but the grace of God that saves us from being as bad as the worst of criminals. But it is certain that we owe much to the good providence of God, ordaining for us a lot more favourable to virtue. It is certain that we all had that within us, that might have been pushed to the same excess ; and therefore, a silent pity and sorrow for the victim should mingle with our detestation of the crime,

The very pirate that dyes the ocean-wave with the blood of his fellow-beings, that meets with his defenceless victim in some lonely sea, where no cry for help can be heard, and plunges his dagger to the heart which is pleading for life, which is calling upon him by all the names of kindred, of children and home, to spare-yes, the very pirate is such a man as you or I might have been. Orphanage in childhood ; an unfriended youth; an evil companion; a resort to sinful pleasure ; familiarity with vice; a scorned and blighted name ; seared and crushed affections; desperate fortunes ;-these are steps that might have led any one among us to unfurl upon the high seas the bloody flag of universal defiance; to have waged war with our kind; to have put on the terrific attributes, to have done the dreadful deeds, and to have died the awful death of the ocean-robber. How many affecting relationships of humanity plead with us to pity him! That head that is doomed to pay the price of blood once rested upon a mother's bosom. The hand that did that accursed work, and shall soon be stretched, cold and nerveless, in the felon's grave, was once taken and cherished by a father's hand, and led in the ways of sportive childhood and innocent pleasure.

The dreaded monster of crime has once been the object of sisterly love and all domestic endearnient. Pity him, then. Pity his blighted hope and his crushed heart. It is a wholesome sensibility; it is reasonable ; it is meet for frail and sinning creatures

Like us to cherish; it foregoes no moral discrimi. .nation; it feels the crime, but feels it as a weak, tempted, and rescued creature should. It imitates the great Master, and looks with indignation upon the offender, and yet is grieved for him., .

III. In the last place, I would set forth the intrinsic worth and greatness of this disposition as a reason for cherishing it. This rank does the virtue of compassion hold in the character of our Saviour. .

How superior is the man of forbearance and gentleness to every other man in the collisions of society! He is the real conqueror; the conqueror of himself: but that is not all; he conquers others. There is no dominion in the social world like this. It is a dominion which makes not slaves, but freemen; which levies no tribute but of gratitude; whose only monuments are those of virtuous example. **. No man may claim much merit merely for being indignant at the faults and sins of those around him. It is better than indifference, better than no feeling; but it is only the beginning and youth of virtue. The youthful, untutored, unsubdued mind is only angry with sin; and thinks it does well to be angry. But when more reflection comes, and a deeper consciousness of personal deficiencies, and a more entire subjection to the meek and compassionate spirit of Jesus Christ is wrought out in the mind, a new character begins to develop itself. Harsh words, borne upon the breath of a hasty temper, do not ruffle the soul as they once did. Reproof is received with meekness and in silence. The tongue is not ever ready, as if it were an instrument made to ward off reproach. The peace of the soul does not stand in the opinion of others. Faults are estimated with forbearance. Mature and fixed virtue is too high and strong to think of building itself up, like a doubtful reputation, upon surrounding deficiencies. Sins are more immediately and habitually connected with the sufferings they must occasion ; and therefore they more surely awaken pity. The man of advancing piety and virtue is growing in the conviction, indeed, that the only real, essential, immitigable evil is sin. He mourns over it in himself; he mourns over it in others. It is the root of bitterness in the field of life. It is the foe with which he is holding the long and often disheartening conflict. It is the cloud upon the face of nature. That cloud overspreads his neighbour with himself. And he pities from his inmost soul all who walk beneath it.

Patience with the erring and offending is one of the loftiest of all the forms of character. “Compassion for souls,” though the phrase is often used in a cant and technical manner, ought to be a great and ennobling sentiment. Compassion, indeed, for souls—how should it transcend all other compassion! Look over the world and say, where are its sufferings? In the diseased body, in the broken limb, in the wounded and bruised organs of sense ? In the desolate dwelling of poverty—in hunger, and cold, and nakedness? Yes, suffering is there ; and Providence has put a tongue in every suffering member of the human frame to plead its cause. But enter into the soul-pass through these outworks, and enter the very seat of power, and what things are thereuttering no sound perhaps, breathing no complaint-but what things are there to move compassion? Wounded and bruised affections, blighted capacities, broken and defeated hopes, desolation,

« AnteriorContinuar »