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they are employed as means to erect a building, and then are taken down and destroyed.
We must make great allowance for constitution. I could name a man, who, though a good man, is more unguarded in his tongue than many immoral persons: shall I condemn him? he breaks down here, and almost here only. On the other hand, many are so mild and gentle, as to make one wonder how such a character could be formed without true grace entering into its composition.
God has given to every man a peculiar constitution. No man is to say “I am such or such a man, and I can be no other such or such is my way, and I am what God made me.” This is true, in a sound sense; but, in an unsound sense, it has led men foolishly and wickedly to charge their eccentricities, and even their crimes, on God. It is every man's duty to understand his own constitution ; and to apply to it the rein or the spur, as it may need. All men cannot do, nor ought they to do, all things in the same way, nor even the same things. But there are common points of duty, on which all men of all habits are to meet. The free horse is to be checked, perhaps, up-bill
, and the sluggish one to be urged: but the same spirit, which would have exhausted itself before,
shews itself probably in resistance down-hill, when he feels the breeching press upon him behind—but he must be whipped out of his resistance.
There is a large class of Christians, who want discrimination in religion. They are sound and excellent men, but they are not men of deep experience. They are not men of Owen's, Gilpin’s, Rutherford's, Adam's, or Brainerd's school. They have a general, but not a minute acquaintance, with the combat between Sin and Grace in the heart. I have learnt not to bring deeply experimental subjects before such persons. They cannot understand them, but are likely to be distressed by them. This difference between persons of genuine piety arises from constitution-or from the manner in which the grace of God first met them-or from the nature and degree of temptation through which God has led them. A mind finely constituted, or of strong passions -a mind roused in its sins, rather than one drawn insensibly--a mind trained in a severe school for high services—is generally the subject of this deeply interior acquaintance with religion.
There is a great diversity of character among real Christians. Education, Constitution, and Circumstances will fully explain this diversity,
He has seen but little of life, who does not discern every where the effects of EDUCATION on men's opinions and habits of thinking. Two children bring out of the nursery that, which displays itself throughout their lives. And who is the man, that can rise above his dispensation, and can say
You have been teaching me nonsense?” As to CONSTITUTION --look at Martin Luther : we may see the man every day: his eyes, and nose, and mouth attest his character. Look at Melanchton: he is like a snail with his couple of horns: he puts out his horns and feels--and feels --and feels. No education could have rendered these two men alike. Their difference began in the womb. Luther dashes in saying his things: Melanchton must go round about-he must consider what the Greek says, and what the Syriac says. Some men are born minute men- lexicographers -of a German character; they will hunt through libraries to rectify a syllable. Other men are born keen as a razor: they have a sharp, severe, strong acumen: they cut every thing to pieces: their minds are like a case of instruments; touch which you will, it wounds; they crucify a modest man. Such men should aim at a right knowledge of character. If they attained this, they would find out the sin that easily besets them. The greater the capacity of such men, the greater their cruelty. They ought to blunt their instruments. They ought to keep them in a case. Other men are ambitious—fond of power; pride and power give a velocity to their motions. Others are born with a quiet, retiring mind. Some are naturally fierce, and others naturally mild and placable. Men often take to themselves great credit for what they owe entirely to nature. If we would judge rightly, we should see that narrowness or expansion of mind, niggardliness or generosity, delicacy or boldness, have less of merit or demerit than we commonly assign to them.
CIRCUMSTANCES, also, are not sufficiently taken into the account, when we estimate character. For example--we generally censure the Reformers and Puritans as dogmatical, morose, systeinatic men. But, it is easier to walk on a road, than to form that road. Other men laboured, and we have entered into their labours. In a fine day, I can walk abroad; but, in a rough and stormy day, I should find it another thing to turn Coachman and dare all weathers. These men had to bear the burden and heat of the day: they had to fight against hard times: they had to stand up against learning and power. Their times were not like ours : a man may now think what he will, and nobody cares what he thinks. A man of that school was, of course, stiff, rigid, unyielding. Tuckney was such a man: Whichcot was for smoothing things, and walking abroad. We see circumstances operating in many other ways. A Minister unmarried, and the same man married, are very different men. A Minister in a small parish, and the same man in a large sphere where his sides are spurred and goaded, are very different men. A Minister on tenter-hooks-harassed-schooled, and the same man nursedcherished--put into a 'hot-house, are very different men. Some of us are hot-house plants. We grow tall: not better--not stronger.
Talents are among the circumstances which form the diversity of character. A man of talents feels his own powers, and throws himself into that line which he can pursue with most success. Saurin felt that he could flourish-lighten-thunder--enchant like a magician. Every one should seriously consider, how far his talents and turn of mind and circumstances drive him out of the right road. It is an easy thing for a man of vigour to bring a quiet one before his bar: and it is as easy for this quiet man to condemn the other: yet both may be really pious men-serving God with their best powers. Every man has his peculiar gift of God; one after this manner, and the other after that.