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them with an opinion of their own superiority. A secret malignity lies at the bottom of their enquiries. It may be concealed by an affected show of candour and impartiality. It may even be veiled with the appearance of a friendly concern for the interest of others, and with affected apologies for their failings. But the hidden rancour is easily discovered. -While, therefore, persons of this description trouble the peace of society, they at the same time poison their own minds with malignant passions. Their disposition is entirely the reverse of that amiable spirit of charity, on which our religion lays so great a stress. Charity covereth the multitude of sins; but this prying and meddling spirit seeks to discover and divulge them. Charity thinketh no evil; but this temper inclines us always to suspect the worst. Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity; this temper triumphs in the discovery of errours and failings. Charity, like the sun, brightens every object on which it shines; a censorious disposition casts every character into the darkest shade it will bear.

It is to be farther observed, that all impertinent curiosity about the affairs of others tends greatly to obstruct personal reformation ; as it draws men's thoughts aside from what ought to be the chief object of attention, the improvement of their own heart and life. They who are so officiously occupied about their neighbours, have little leisure, and less inclination, to observe their own defects, or to mind their own duty. From their inquisitive researches, they find, or imagine they find, in the behaviour of others an apology for their own failings: And the favourite results of their enquiries generally is to rest satisfied with themselves. They are at

least' as good, they think, as others around them. The condemnation which they pass on the vices of their neighbours, they interpret to be a sentiment of yirtue in themselves. They become those hypocrites described by our Lord, who see clearly the mote that is in their neighbour's eye, while they discern not the beam that is in their own.

In opposition to such a character as this, the doctrine plainly inculcated by the text is, that to every man a particular charge is given by his Lord and Master; a part is assigned him by Providence to act; that to this he ought to bend his chief attention; and, instead of scrutinising the character or state of others, ought to think of himself, and leave them to stand or fall by their own master. What shall this man do? said Peter. What, replies our Lord, is that to thee? Follow thou me.

WHERE persons possess any important station, or distinguished rank in the world, the application of this doctrine to them is manifest. If they have any candour, they cannot refuse to acknowledge that God and the world have a title to expect from them a diligent attention to their proper part in life, and that to waste their time in idle enquiries about others, with whom they have nothing to do, is reprehensible and sinful. But there are multitudes of mankind, to whom this appears in a very different light. They are humble and private men, who are willing to conceive themselves as of little importance in the world. Having no extensive influence, and no call, as they think, to distinguish themselves by active exertions in any sphere, they imagine that they may innocently lead an idle life, and indulge their curiosity, by can

vassing at pleasure the character and the behaviour of those around them. With persons of this description every society too much abounds. - - My brethren, no one ought to consider himself as insignificant in the sight of God. In our several stations we are all sent forth to be labourers in God's vineyard. Every man has his work allotted, his talent committed to him; by the due improvement of which he might, in one way or other, serve God, promote virtue, and be useful in the world. Occupy till I come, is the charge given to all Christians without exception. To be entirely unemployed and idle, is the prerogative of no one, in any rank of life.

Even that sex, whose task is not to mingle in the labours of public and active business, have their own part assigned them to act. In the quiet of domestic shade, there are a variety of virtues to be exercised, and of important duties to be discharged. Much depends on them for the maintenance of private oeconomy and order, for the education of the young, and for the relief and comfort of those whose functions engage them in the toils of the world. Even where no such female duties occur to be performed, the care of preparing for future usefulness, and of attaining such accomplishments as procure just esteem, is laudable.

In such duties and cares, how far better is time employed, than in that search into private concerns, that circulation of rumours, those discussions of the conduct, and descants on the character of others, which engross conversation so much, and which end, for the most part, in severity of censure ?

In whatever condition we are placed, to act always

in character, should be our constant rule. He who acts in character, is above contempt, though his station be low. He who acts out of character, is despicable, though his station be ever so high, What is that to thee, what this man or that man does ? Think of what thou oughtest to do thyself; of what is suitable to thy character and place; of what the world has a title to expect from thee. Every excursion of vain curiosity about others, is a subtraction from that time and thought which was due to ourselves and due to God. Having gifts, says the apostle Paul, differing according to the grace that is given us, whether ministry, let us wait on our ministring; or he that teacheth, on teaching ; or he that exhorteth, on exchortation. He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity ; he that ruleth, with diligence ; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. *

In the great circle of human affairs, there is room for every one to be busy and well employed in his own province, without encroaching upon that of others. It is the province of superiours to direct; of inferiours, to obey; of the learned, to be instructive; of the ignorant, to be docile ; of the old, to be communicative; of the young, to be advisable and diligent. Art thou poor? Show thyself active and industrious, peaceable and contented. Art thou wealthy? Show thyself beneficent and charitable, condescending and humane. If thou livest much in the world, it is thy duty to make the light of a good example shine conspicuously before others. If thou livest private and retired, it is thy business to improve thine own mind, and to add, if thou canst do no more, one faithful subject to the Messiah's king

* Rom. xii. 6 - 8.

dom. There is indeed no man so sequestered from active life, but within his own narrow sphere he may find some opportunities of doing good; of cultivating friendship, promoting peace, and discharging many of these lesser offices of humanity and kindness, which are within the reach of every one, and which we all owe to one another. In all the various relations which subsist among us in life, as husband and wife, master and servant, parents and children, relations and friends, rulers and subjects, innumerable duties stand ready to be performed ; innumerable calls to virtuous activity present themselves on every hand, sufficient to fill up with advantage and honour the whole time of man.

THERE is, in particular, one great and comprehensive object of attention, which, in the text, is placed in direct opposition to that idle curiosity reprehended by our Lord; that is, to follow Christ. Follow thou me. What this man or that man does ; how he employs his time; what use he makes of his talents ; how he succeeds in the world; are matters, concerning which the information we receive can never be of great importance to us; often, is of no importance at all. But how our Saviour behaved while he was on earth, or how, in our situation, he would have behaved, are matters of the highest moment to every Christian.

The commandment given in the text, to follow him, includes both observance of his words, and imitation of his example. The words of Christ contain, as we all know, the standing rule of our life. His example exhibits the great model on which our conduct ought to be formed; and it is to this that the pre

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