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his own mind whilst he was addressing God It showed that his reflections were employed, not upon the purity and glory of his Creator, but upon himself. Had his thoughts been at all fixed upon his God; had he considered his own infinite remoteness from him, the adorable and astonishing perfections of the being he was addressing, and his own weakness, infirmity, and vileness, he would rather have trembled under the thoughts of addressing him at all, than have come to him with a proud recital of his imaginary virtues. Nothing, if you reflect upon it, could be more out of season. The Pharisee's prayer was, in truth, no devotion at all ; for it was not God, the object of all devotion, that was in his thoughts, but his own good qualities. Though we must suppose, to give the parable its proper force, that the Pharisee was, what he pretended to be, guiltless of extortion and adultery; that he was, comparatively with this Publican, and generally speaking, virtuous; yet we must suppose also that he had his failings and his faults, of which we are to hear nothing. He seems to have no remembrance, to make no acknowledgment of his sins and frailties; these had no place in the worship of the Pharisee, if it can be called worship, and this was one reason that made it unacceptable to God.
But another part of the Pharisee's behaviour on this occasion is very strongly to be censured; that part is the uncharitableness of it. The Publican stood with him in the Temple, though afar off. This Pharisee could not pass by the opportunity of indulging his vanity, and declaring his superiority ; he could not even there refrain from that contempt and hatred with which this order of men was treated. What had this poor Publican done to him 2 What right had he to insult him : Whatever this Publican was, he was not then, nor at any time, a subject of triumph or contempt to the Pharisee. Most men would have been softened down by such an occasion, and have considered that they, as fellow creatures and brethren, were kneeling down before their common Parent, imploring the same mercy, in need of the same bounty and protection. The Pharisee, on the contrary, did not only look upon this supposed sinner to cherish his own pride and complacency, but he must even turn intercessor with God against him, and presume to carry his arrogance and invective to the footstool of divine mercy itself. No wonder that God should turn away his ears from prayers which are mingled with malice and presumpil011.
In our poor Publican we have a model, I take it, of true christian devotion. He comes with a deep and afflicting sense of his sins, and an earnest concern and contrition for them. He makes no comparisons, he draws no parallel betwixt himself and others, nor does he fly to those wild and superstitious modes of appeasing an angry God, which grief or dismay is wont to suggest; but, with that true and unaffected simplicity which comes pure from the heart, he casts himself on the compassion of his Maker; “he would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner l’ We can never sufficiently admire the meekness and humility, the simplicity and earnestness, of this prayer. I do not mean an affected humility, which is put on for the purpose, but that which is real and undesigned, flowing from a just sense of our own vileness and offences. The Publican's prayer was agreeable to God; and the more our prayers resemble it in spirit, the more unmixed they come from the heart, the more simple they are in expression, the more we have reason, from this parable, to hope that they will be accepted. ‘I tell you,” says our Saviour, “this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.” Our Saviour does not directly say that either was justified, nor was it likely that the Saviour would give countenance to such a doctrine ; but so far as depended upon the act of devotion, the Publican was more acceptable to God than the Pharisee. The application of this parable to ourselves is easy. Do we secretly allow ourselves to say or think we are not so bad as other men are, or even as this or that particular person 2 Let us remember the parable. Do we profess a strictness in our religion, with a view, not only of pleasing and obeying God, but with a notion that we are surpassing our neighbour, and with a view of triumphing over him? Let us remember the parable. Does the pleasure and satisfaction we take in performing the duties of our religion, arise merely from the thought of obtaining God’s approbation, or are we counting upon the applause of the world, feeding and flattering our own consequence 2 Does our notion of piety lead us to survey others, even bad men, with complacency and compassion, and to behave towards them accordingly Does it cool or diminish our good will and benevolence towards our neighbours? Does it make us more curious to find out their faults; more willing to stick to their failings than to seek for virtues; more liberal of our censure; less inclined to forgive; more disposed to hate; more ready to throw others at a distance, in order to indulge our own spleen, and swell out our own importance? then must we remember the parable. Do we bring this conceit of ourselves and contempt of others to church? Does it mix with and steal upon our devotions in private Whenever we find this temper growing upon us, we may be sure that our religion is taking a wrong turn; it does not proceed from a growth of Christianity within us; it is the religion of the Pharisee, and not that which will make us full of gentleness, meek, humble, affectionate, and compassionate; tending to exercise and improve the love of . neighbour, instead of inclining us towards contempt and atred.
ANALOGY BETWEEN OUR NATURAL AND RELIGIOUS PROGRESS.
1 Coninthians XII. 11, 12.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
ST PAUL in these words means to describe the imperfect state of our knowledge now, with respect to any of these mysterious parts of both natural and revealed religion, especially with respect to what shall take place after this life, compared with that clear and complete knowledge of these subjects which we shall be endowed with then ; and the similitude he makes use of, that of the thoughts and understanding of a child compared with the thoughts and understanding of the same person when become a man, always appeared to me to convey the justest conception of this matter, and the most likely to satisfy us in the darkness, and confusion, and uncertainty under which we labor, of any that could have been devised for the purpose. St Paul’s words might be briefly explained thus; Let a grown person look back upon the notions and views of things which he had when a child; let him remark how much these notions are altered, and improved, and corrected since ; how vain, and wild, and simple, and short of the truth they then were, and, how sensible soever such a person must be of the feebleness of his early understanding, of the errors and extravagance of his childish conceits, equally sensible shall we, in another life, become of the imperfection, and weakness, and fallaciousness of our present judgment and our present apprehension of many subjects. This is what St Paul says of himself; and whatever he confessed of his own understanding in these matters, surely we need not be loth to acknowledge of ours. But to do St Paul’s observation justice, it will be fitting to point out disstinctly, and more at length, every particular in which his comparison holds; for I think the more we turn it in our minds, the more truth, impressiveness, and good sense we shall discover In It. First, then, it must strike every one who will please to review the ideas and imaginations of his youth, of what was then his notion of many things which he now looks at and has long looked at as so many vain and foolish baubles, how eager he was in the pursuit of them, how impatient of being disappointed. He is at a loss now to conceive where or in what the value or pleasure of them could consist, so much to engage his affections, to agitate his passions, to give him such anxiety in the pursuit, and pain in the loss. Now something very like this will probably take place in the judgment we shall hereafter form of many of the articles which at present compose the objects of our care and solicitude. When we come, in the new state of our existence, to look back upon riches, and honors, and fortune, and preeminence, and prosperity, how like the play and pursuits of children, their little strifes, and contests, and disturbances, will these things appear? When the curtain is drawn aside, and the great scene of our future existence let in upon our view, how shall we regard the most serious of our present engagements and successes, as the toys and trifles of our childhood, the sport and pastime of this infancy of our existence 1 A second particular, in which we cannot but remark the fault of our youthful minds, and how we have been gradually amending and altering as we grow up, is the impetuosity with which we seized upon every pleasure that was at hand, whatever it cost us afterwards, and how unconcerned and unaffected we were by what lay at any distance. The amusement of the next hour, the sport of the next day, was all we thought of. What was to become of us, how we were to be provided for, or what was to be our destiny when we grew up, or even the next year, never interested our attention, or entered our thoughts. I say, we find this earnestness, as we advance in years and experience, by degrees wear off. . We have learned to a certain distance to look before us, to forego a small advantage in hand for the sake of a greater in reversion, to deny ourselves, in some cases, a present pleasure, rather than incur a future pain, or lose a more important satisfaction which we have in view; but still the infirmity is but worn away in part, much of it yet remains. We have learned to look before us, but it may be indistinctly; and the imperfection, which still cleaves to us in this respect, we shall hereafter be as sensible of, as we seem now to be of the same imperfection in the thoughts and passions of our early years. Thus we are able to part with a present supply for a treasure in prospect, in order to secure to ourselves, and for ourselves, the means of acquiring a good estate some time hence; and this is getting a great way beyond the hasty thoughts and improvidence of children, of many who continue children all their lives; but can we reconcile ourselves to the sacrifice of a substantial interest, of any part of our profit or fortune, of considerable advantage or advancement in the world, for the sake of securing, or at least making more sure of, our reward in heaven? We are not accustomed to look so far. The business of the world we manage with prudence, because we prefer the greater advantage at a distance to the less advantage near at hand ; but the world closes in our prospect, terminates our management. Again, it may be, that when we find particular indulgences hurt our health, and lay the foundation for painful distempers, and find also that we shall hereafter, though not now, suffer for our pleasures, we can be content to abstain from them; and this is more than many can do, and is certainly a great advance in the exercise of our judgment when it is so. But do we apply the same way of thinking to our immortal interests 2 When we find reason to believe that such and such indulgences or ways of living are likely to prove fatal to our happiness in the next world, do we give them up 2 Do we resign our darling habits and gratifications P Do we quit the broad and smooth road of our sins or follies, when we find whither it leads 2 Now I say, though we can blame the impatience of a child, which will not wait a few short days, a few hours; or the folly of a headstrong youth, who is so occupied with some favorite delight, that he can scarcely see beyond it, though cer