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surely than the silent admonitions of a good example.
Indeed in all that has been said of the inferences you are to draw from the observation of others, I speak of such observation as is necessarily forced upon you by the intercourse of society; and I would warn you most solemnly against the dangerous employment of watching for the faults of others. We have enough to do to pry into the secrets of our own hearts, to trace out the perversity of our own imaginations; and the longest life will scarcely avail to teach to the most observant the extent of his own frailty, and the depth of his own sinfulness. But being placed in a social state of existence, you are necessarily brought into frequent contact with the effects of the sinfulness of others; and that sinfulness you are never to observe without seeking in yourself to avoid it, and in them gently to reform it according to your abilities, means, and situation in society.
Some there are who seem to think as if the sight of others' sin should remind
you of your own righteousness, and would bid you throw off the restraints of sex and youth and station, to become an open reprover of others, and an assertor of your own superiority. But may you never forget that you are to be transformed in the spirit of your mind, and that there is no part of your change more important than that you should think soberly of yourself, and be averse to censure others ! You are living in a society, of which it is impossible for you to know how far each individual, according to his light, knowledge, and temptations, is or is not making as great an effort for salvation as yourself. Beware then how you condemn any one.
Be bitter against sin; but not against the sinner.
More especially if in that closest circle of friends, if amongst them who are of the same family, there be some whose ways of thinking and acting agree not with the serious views of Christianity which now occupy your own mind, let it be your anxious care to cherish towards them the ardour of domestic affection,
and to second it with all the pure spirit of Christian love. Remember what is the first commandment with promise, remember what is the new commandment of Christ, remember that if you have every other conceivable spiritual gift and have not charity you are nothing worth.
Be not then conformed to that most dangerous and seductive wickedness of a wicked world, a pharisaical perversity, prevalent amongst a great portion of mankind, teaching them to substitute outward form for inward spirit, to offer long prayers instead of the lowly sacrifice of a contrite heart ; to make pretence of “corban,” (see Mark 7. 11,) or a dedication unto God, instead of the fulfilment of filial and social duties; and to arrogate the title of God's saints whilst they are indulging in the sins which He most detests. There is not a more grievous case of conforming to one of the most prevalent offences in the world, than the party spirit which animates all such pretenders to a superior degree of religious excellence. There is no case in which the
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individuals are further from being transformed by the renewing of their minds into the state of Christian sobriety and humility. There were no people more conformed to this world than the Pharisees of old, who yet pretended to separate themselves from its errors. care to adopt in heart the righteousness to which they made pretence, and to unite therewith the spirit of that love which is without dissimulation, which whilst it teaches us to “ abhor that which is evil,” and to “cleave to that which is good,” does at the same time exhort us to be
kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love ; in honour preferring one another.” (Rom. 12, 9, 10.)