Proverbs 12:26
The true translation seems to be, "The righteous directs his friend aright: but the way of the wicked leads them astray."

I. WE ARE ALL SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE INFLUENCES OF THOSE ABOUT US. This is true even of the strongest minds; how much more of the feebler!

II. WE ARE ALWAYS SAFE IN THE COMPANY OF MEN OF RECTITUDE. The character of the man, not his mere opinions, is the force that goes forth from him to enlighten and guide.

III. WE ARE NEVER SAFE IN THE COMPANY OF UNPRINCIPLED PERSONS; no matter how correct their conversation or unexceptionable their expressed opinions. - J.







The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.
The sentiments of men concerning virtue, and their own particular practice, form a very strange and striking contrast. Philosophers have differed about the origin of moral distinctions, and delivered various theories concerning virtue; but the people who judge from their feelings have no system but one. Religion gives its powerful sanction to the maxims of morality. The objections against a holy life have proceeded on maxims directly contrary to the text. The inducements to vice, which have been powerful in all ages, are the same that were presented by the tempter to our first parents — the attractions of ambition and the allurements of pleasure. The righteous man is wiser than his neighbour. There is no part of his nature in which man is so earnest to excel, and so jealous of a defect, as his understanding. And no wonder, for it is his prerogative and his glory. This enters into the foundation of character; for without intellectual abilities moral qualities cannot subsist, and a good heart will go wrong without the guidance of a good understanding. Where, then, is wisdom to be found? If you will trust the dictates of religion and reason, to be virtuous is to be wise. The testimony of all who have gone before you confirms the decision. In opposition, however, to the voice of religion, of reason, and of man-kind, there are multitudes in every age who reckon themselves more excellent than their neighbours, by trespassing against the laws which all ages have counted sacred, the younger by the pursuit of criminal gratification, the old by habits of deceit and fraud. The early period of life is frequently a season of delusion. There is no moderation nor government in vice. Guilty pleasures become the masters and tyrants of the mind; when these lords acquire dominion, they bring all the thoughts into captivity, and rule with unlimited and despotic sway. When it is seen that the righteous man is wiser and greater and happier than his neighbour, the objections against religion are removed, the ways of Providence are vindicated, and virtue is established upon an everlasting foundation.

(John Logan.)

The word rendered "excellent" is on the margin translated "abundant." Although it is a truth that in regard to "character," in all its principles and their practical results, "the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour," yet such statement is almost a truism. Taking the word as referring to possessions and prospects, as meaning that the righteous excels his neighbour, or men in general around him, in his lot as to happiness and hope — blessings in enjoyment and blessings in anticipation — it then becomes a statement of great importance. It presents an inducement to the godly to "hold fast their profession," and an inducement to others to join their society. Even the poorest of the people of God has a lot that may well be envied by the wealthiest and the noblest of the sons of earth.

(R. Wardlaw.)

By the "righteous" is intended the religious man, one who fears God and eschews evil. By his "neighbour" is meant a man of contrary character, one who careth not for God, but pursues the interests or pleasures of the world, without any regard to His authority. The "excellency" ascribed may refer either to the personal happiness attending it, or its beneficial influence on society. A man of religion and virtue is a more useful, and consequently a more valuable member of a community than his wicked neighbour.

I. THE NECESSITY OF VIRTUE AND RELIGION TO THE ENDS OF CIVIL SOCIETY. In contradiction it has been urged that vice is a thing highly beneficial to society, confers on it so many advantages, that public happiness would be imperfect without it. We may admit, in support of this paradox, that if there were no vicious men in the world, we should not want to be protected by civil government from them. We may also admit, that some advantages arise to society from the vices of men, either as they occasion good laws or awaken a due execution of them, or as the example or nature of his punishment may render a criminal of some service to the public. But these are the purely accidental consequences from vice. Its natural and proper effects are all evil, the very evils which government was designed to redress. The advantages that arise from it are owing wholly to the wisdom and virtue of those in authority. The experience of all history affirms to us that the peace, strength, and happiness of a society depend on the justice and fidelity, the temperance and charity of its members; that these virtues always render a people flourishing and secure, and the contrary vices are as constantly productive of misery and ruin. If these virtues are acknowledged necessary to social felicity, religion must be so too, because no other principle can offer an equal inducement to the practice of them, or equally restrain men from the opposite vices. Fear cannot effectually govern the actions of men, nor the fantastic principle called honour. If by honour is meant anything distinct from conscience, it is no more than a regard to the censure and esteem of the world.

II. HOW VIRTUE AND RELIGION FIT AND DISPOSE MEN FOR THE MOST USEFUL DISCHARGE OF THE SEVERAL OFFICES AND RELATIONS OF SOCIAL LIFE. Power, without goodness, is the most terrible idea our imagination can form; and the more the authority of any station in society is extended, the more it concerns public happiness that it be committed to men fearing God. Parts, knowledge, and experience, are indeed excellent ingredients in a public character, of equal use and ornament to the seat of judgment and council, but without religion and virtue, these are only abilities to do mischief. All that skill which deserves the name of wisdom, religion approves, recommends, and teaches. More true political wisdom can be learned from the Holy Scriptures, and even from this single book of Proverbs, than from a thousand such writers as Machiavel. Religion and virtue are proportionally conducive to happiness in every inferior relation of life. They equally dispose men to be good rulers and good subjects, good parents and good children, good masters and good servants, good neighbours and good friends. Wherever a religion is true and sincere, justice, meekness, and fidelity, all the virtues that can render a government secure, and a people happy, will be the fruits of it.

III. A RELIGIOUS MOTIVE TO VALUE AND ESTEEM PERSONS OF THIS EXCELLENT CHARACTER, BECAUSE BY THEIR PIETY AND PRAYERS THE BLESSING OF GOD IS DERIVED ON THE COMMUNITY. Righteous men ought to be esteemed a strength and defence to their country, and wicked men a reproach and weakness. The declarations of God and the histories of His providence, show that the piety of good men more effectually prevails for His blessing upon a nation than the sins of wicked men provoke His resentment. Since we all pretend a concern for the prosperity of our country, let our zeal for it appear in our endeavours to promote virtue and religion. Let us constantly distinguish the righteous by that honour and respect which is due to so excellent a character. Above all, let our care begin at home; let us each in our stations govern our lives by the rules of our holy religion, and practise those virtues ourselves whose excellence we acknowledge in others.

(J. Rogers, D. D.)

Virtue and religion are excellent things in themselves, and they improve and adorn and exalt our natures. The last sentence of the text suggests this — that though righteousness and piety and religion are excellent things, so that men can hardly avoid seeing the beauty and loveliness of them, yet the deceitfulness of sin will be apt to deliver them, and find out some pretence or excuse to carry men against their best reason, and what they know is fittest to be done. The excellency of a religious life above a life of sin and wickedness, may be made out from the following considerations:

I. THAT GOD HIMSELF HAS PUT A GREAT MANY MARKS OF HONOUR UPON RIGHTEOUSNESS AND GOODNESS. That person or that thing must be honourable which God is pleased to honour, and that must be despicable which He despises. He who fears God, and does his duty, is the servant of God and the friend of God. Good men are in an especial manner partakers of the Divine nature; their souls are honoured and blessed with the communion of God, and their bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost.

II. WE HAVE ALSO THE JUDGMENT OF ALL MANKIND, NOT ONLY OF THE GOOD AND VIRTUOUS, BUT OF THE GREATEST PART EVEN OF WICKED MEN.

1. Almost all nations, in all ages of the world, however they may have differed as to the measures of some virtues and vices, yet have agreed as to the main and great points of duty; which I can impute to nothing else but the natural beauty and excellence of virtue, and the deformity of vice.

2. When men will to serve any interest or appetite, they generally endeavour to conceal it, are unwilling to have it known, and think it for their honour to disguise the matter as much as they can. "Hypocrisy is a homage that vice pays to virtue." And vice, though disguised and concealed from the world, is so ugly a thing, that few people can bear the sense of it themselves, so they find out some colour or excuse with which to deceive themselves.

3. When bad men cannot cover their shame either from the world or themselves, they set about endeavouring to blacken the rest of the world; which is another sort of homage men pay to virtue.

4. Though men will indulge their own appetites, they desire their children and relations, and those whom they love, to be virtuous and good.

III. RELIGION TENDS TO MAKE OUR MINDS FREE AND EASY, TO GIVE US CONFIDENCE TOWARDS GOD, AND PEACE IN OUR OWN BREASTS. It sets our souls at liberty from the tyranny of hurtful lusts and passions, and it fills us with joy and good hope in every condition of life. Religion, thoroughly imbibed, has a direct natural tendency to procure all these blessings for us; whereas vice and wickedness both corrupt and enslave our minds. When a man ventures to break the commands of God, he is generally plunged by it into abundance of troubles and perplexities.

IV. PIETY AND VIRTUE MAKE EVERYTHING ELSE GOOD, AND OF GOOD USE, WHICH A MAN HAS, OR THAT HAPPENS TO HIM, WHEREAS SIN AND WICKEDNESS TEND TO CORRUPT AND SPOIL EVERYTHING. There is no condition but what to a good man may serve to very good ends and purposes, whether a man be high or low in the world. If he be in affliction, then patience, humility, and resignation to the will of God will make him a great man in that. If God be pleased to put him in a high station, integrity, sobriety, and a public spirit will add to the greatness of his condition, and make him a public blessing.

V. ALL SIN IS INJUSTICE, WHICH IS BY EVERYBODY LOOKED UPON TO BE A MEAN, BASE THING. It is a common excuse for other defects, that they do nobody any harm, that they are just and honest in their dealings, and therefore they hope that God will overlook other things. Tully says, "Piety is justice toward God," and therefore impiety and dis- obedience must be injustice. It is the basest and worst sort Of injustice, ingratitude.

VI. THE HIGHEST END THAT CAN BE PRETENDED TO BY ANY VICE IS ONLY THE PROCURING SOME PLEASURE OR CONVENIENCE FOR OURSELVES, IN OUR PASSAGE THROUGH THIS WORLD. This is but a poor thing if compared with eternity. It is a great advantage of the good man, that he has hope in his death. This may well support him, and make him live cheerfully in any condition in the meantime. Inferences:

1. Since religion is in itself so excellent a thing, this should encourage good men to persist in doing their duty, and not be ashamed either of the profession or the practise of religion.

2. From these considerations of the excellency of religion, all may be urged to the love and practice of it.

(Richard Willis, D.D.)

Every righteous man has a neighbour whom he excels. The righteous man and his neighbour are here placed side by side. The righteous is more excellent —

I. IN HIS BIRTH AND PARENTAGE.

1. Now "sons of God" — by adoption, by birth, by privilege.

2. "Of your father the devil." Satan nursed into strength the principles of evil, and then planted them in human nature (Genesis 3.).

II. IN THE VISIBLE CHARACTER THAT HE BEARS.

1. The name "righteous" is sufficiently indicative.

2. "The lusts of your father ye will do."

III. IN THE PRINCIPLE ON WHICH HE ACTS, i.e., LOVE. Two opposite principles — love, hatred. The principles of the righteous are better than their outward character. The pinciples of the ungodly are worse.

IV. IN THE ENDS WHICH HE PURSUES.

1. The glory of God — lasting, noble.

2. The interests of self — transient, base (2 Timothy 3:2).

V. IN THE INFLUENCE WHICH HE EXERTS. The world is a field.

1. The righteous sow in it — to the spirit.

2. The ungodly sow in it — to the flesh.

VI. IN THE PLEASURES WHICH HE ENJOYS.

1. Divine, holy, satisfying.

2. Earthly, polluting, unsatisfying (Luke 15:16).

VII. IN THE DESTINY WHICH AWAITS HIM.

1. The maturity of holiness — like Christ.

2. The maturity of ungodliness — like Satan.

(1)The deserts of Christ's obedience and atonement — the enjoyment of God for ever.

(2)The deserts of sin — "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish."

(Jas. Stewart.)

The term "righteous," as used in Scripture, is not to be limited to the discharge of those duties which man owes to man. It is employed to denote a just and devout and godly person, in distinction from the unrighteous and the wicked. It embraces all we mean by being pious, religious, and good. By the term "neighbour," is not to be understood the vicious and the vile who may live close to the dwelling of the righteous. Compared with the ordinarily praiseworthy neighbour, the devout, God-fearing, decided Christian is at advantage.

1. He is more excellent in the principles by which his conduct is governed, a man may be moral, because he values his reputation, or because it suits his taste, or his health, or advances his worldly interest, and not because God has commanded him to do justly and love mercy. The unrenewed man pursues his own private interests — the righteous will sacrifice it for a greater public good. The man of sterling piety is more worthy of our confidence than the individual who is governed by other motives than those of the fear of God and love to his brethren.

2. More excellent in his example and influence. Every man's life will correspond to the temper of his heart, and the maxims and motives that govern him. When the whole conduct is minutely examined, every man is found what he appears to be. The grace of God improves all the principles of man's moral nature. To the full extent of his circle, his conduct has a salutary effect on all around him. The righteous may be of retired habits, but a pattern will be taken of his life, and it will, like the leaven in the meal, be diffused wherever he is known with more or less of usefulness. His ungodly neighbour can boast of nothing more than a scanty morality, whose highest motive is self-love and self-interest.

3. More excellent in his alliances. There is a close and endearing relationship between all the subjects of the kingdom of grace. Each is united to God, and to all holy beings, by the tenderest ties of kindred affection. The righteous is entitled to whatever honour and dignity may accrue to him from his union to the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier, and to every member of the holy household.

4. More excellent inasmuch as he is the heir of a better destiny. Externally, in many points, they may resemble each other now. This may deceive for a while. When the Christian receives his crown of glory, the difference will be seen to be infinite. On the righteous the Redeemer will smile for ever; on the other He will eternally frown. This subject teaches a lesson of humility and gratitude. If we have any excellence of character, it is the gift of God. The superior excellence of the righteous over the wicked shows us the obligations they are under to make their high distinction obvious to the eye of the world.

(D. A. Clark.)

Never were the qualities of a parent more really derived unto their children than the image and similitude of the Divine excellences are stamped upon heaven-born souls: some beams of that eternal light are darted in upon them, and make them shine with an eminent splendour; and they are always aspiring to a nearer conformity with Him, still breathing after a further communication of His Holy Spirit, and daily finding the power thereof correcting the ruder deformities of their natures, and superinducing the beautiful delineations of God's image upon them, that any one who observes them may perceive their relation to God, by the excellency of their deportment in the world.

I. Having regarded the righteous man's excellency, in regard of his birth and extraction, we proceed to CONSIDER HIS QUALITIES AND ENDOWMENTS, and shall begin with those of his understanding, his knowledge, and wisdom.

1. His knowledge is conversant about the noblest objects; he contemplates that infinite Being whose perfections can never enough be admired, but still afford new matter to delight him, to ravish his affections, to raise his wonder. And, if we have a mind to the studies of nature and human science, he is best disposed for it, having his faculties cleared, and his understanding heightened by Divine contemplations. But his knowledge doth not rest in speculations, but directeth his practice, and determineth his choice. And he is the most prudent as well as the most knowing person. He knows how to secure his greatest interest, to provide for the longest life, to prefer solid treasures to gilded trifles, the soul to the body, eternity to a moment.

2. We proceed to another of his endowments, the greatness of his mind and his contempt of the world. To be taken up with trifles, and concerned in little things, is an evidence of a weak and naughty mind. And so are all wicked and irreligious persons. But the pious person hath his thoughts far above these painted vanities; his felicity is not patched up of so mean shreds; it is simple, and comprised in one chief good: his soul advanceth itself by rational passions towards the Author of its being, the fountain of goodness and pleasure: he hath none in heaven but Him; and there is none upon earth whom he desires besides Him. The knowledge of nature hath been reputed means to enlarge the soul and breed in it a contempt of earthly enjoyments. He that hath accustomed himself to consider the vastness of the universe, and the final proportion which the point we live in bears to the rest of the world, may perhaps come to think less of the possessions of some acres, or of that fame which can at most spread itself through a small corner of this earth. Whatever be in this, sure I am that the knowledge of God, and the frequent thoughts of heaven, must needs prove far more effectual to elevate and aggrandise the mind.

3. And this, by the affinity, will lead us to another endowment, wherein the excellency of the righteous man doth appear; and that is, that heroic magnanimity and courage wherewith he is inspired, and which makes him confidently achieve the most difficult actions, and resolutely undergo the hardest sufferings that he is called to. Let heathen Rome boast of a Regulus, a Decius, or some two or three more, stimulated by a desire of glory, and perhaps animated by some secret hopes of future reward, who have devoted their life to the service of their country. But alas! what is this to an infinite number, not only of men, but even of women and children, who have died for the profession of their faith, neither seeking nor expecting any praise from men? And tell me who among the heathen did willingly endure the loss of reputation? Nay, that was their idol, and they could not part with it.

4. From courage and magnanimity, we pass to that which is the genuine issue and ordinary consequent of it, the liberty and freedom of the righteous person. Liberty is a privilege so highly rated by all men that many run the greatest hazards for the very name of it. but there are few that enjoy it. I shall not speak of those fetters of ceremony, and chains of state, wherewith great men are tied; which make their actions constrained, and their converse uneasy: this is more to be pitied than blamed. But wicked and irreligious persons are under a far more shameful bondage: they are slaves to their own lusts, and suffer the violence and tyranny of their irregular appetites. But the holy and religious person hath broken these fetters, cast off the yoke of sin, and become the freeman of the Lord. It is religion that restores freedom to the soul, which philosophy did pretend to; it is that which doth sway and moderate all those blind passions and impetuous affections which else would hinder a man from the possession and enjoyment of himself, and makes him master of his own thoughts, motions, and desires, that he may do with freedom what he judgeth most honest and convenient.

5. Another particular wherein the nobleness and excellency of religion doth appear is in a charitable and benign temper. The righteous is gracious, and full of compassion; he showeth favour and lendeth; and makes it his work to serve mankind as much as he is able. His charity doth not express itself in one particular instance, as that of giving alms; but is vented as many ways as the variety of occasions do call for, and his power can reach to. He assisteth the poor with his money, the ignorant with his counsel, the afflicted with his comfort, the sick with the best of his skill, all with his blessings and prayers.

6. We shall name but one instance more wherein the righteous man excelleth his neighbour; and that is, his venerable temperance and purity. He hath risen above the vaporous sphere of sensual pleasure which darkeneth and debaseth the mind, which sullies its lustre, and abates its native vigour; while profane persons, wallowing in;impure lusts, do sink themselves below the condition of men.

II. Before we proceed further, IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO TAKE OFF SOME PREJUDICES AND OBJECTIONS THAT ARISE AGAINST THE NOBLENESS AND EXCELLENCY OF RELIGION.

1. And the first is, that it enjoineth lowliness and humility; which men ordinarily look upon as an abject and base disposition. But if we ponder the matter we shall find that arrogancy and pride are the issues of base and silly minds, a giddiness incident to those who are raised suddenly to unaccustomed height: nor is there any vice doth more palpably defeat its own design, depriving a man of that honour and reputation which it makes him aim at. On the other hand, we shall find humility no silly and sneaking quality; but the greatest height and sublimity of the mind, and the only way to true honour.

2. Another objection against the excellency of a religious temper is, that the love of enemies, and pardon of injuries, which it includeth, is utterly inconsistent with the principles of honour. But if we have any value for the judgment of the wisest man and a great king, he will tell us that it is the honour of a man to cease from strife; and he that is slow to wrath is of great understanding. So that what is here brought as an objection against religion might with reason enough have been brought as an instance of its nobleness. Having thus illustrated and confirmed what is asserted in the text, that the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour, let us improve it in a check to that profane and atheistical spirit of drollery and scoffing at religion which hath got abroad in the world. Alas! do men consider what it is which they make the butt of their scoffs and reproaches? Have they nothing else to exercise their wit and vent their jests upon but that which is the most noble and excellent thing in the world? But let them do what they will; they but kick against the pricks. Religion hath so much native lustre and beauty, that, notwithstanding all the dirt they study to cast upon it, all the melancholy and deformed shapes they dress it in, it will attract the eyes and admiration of all sober and ingenuous persons; and while these men study to make it ridiculous, they shall but make themselves so. There are others who have not yet arrived to this height of profaneness, to laugh at all religion, but do vent their malice at those who are more conscientious and severe than themselves, under presumption that they are hypocrites and dissemblers. But besides that in this they may be guilty of a great deal of uncharitableness, it is to be suspected that they bear some secret dislike to piety itself, and hate hypocrisy more for its resemblance of that than for its own viciousness: otherwise whence comes it that they do not express the same animosity against other vices?

(H. Scougal, M.A.)

Christian Observer.
Men without religion will sometimes ask, "Do not all men sin — even the religious? And, if so, is not the whole difference between them and ourselves that our offences are somewhat more numerous than theirs?" Now this must unquestionably be admitted. Still, whatever may be the resemblance upon this point, it is nevertheless true that men with and without religion differ in many other most important particulars.

1. The first difference between the sins of the religious and the irreligious man is, that the one does not allow himself in his sins and the other does. The real Christian never says, "I know such an action to be wrong, but yet I will do it — I know such an action to be right, but yet I will neglect to do it." But in the other class of men we shall be often struck with the contrary line of conduct. Charge them with their neglect of God, and of their souls, and they say, perhaps, "We confess it to be wrong." Consider the case as between man and man. We may conceive the affectionate child surprised into an act of disobedience or unkindness to the parent whom it loves; but we cannot conceive that child, if truly affectionate, setting itself deliberately and knowingly to wound that parent at the tenderest point. In the one case, an act of disobedience discovers a man in whom, though the flesh is weak, the spirit may be willing — in whom a momentary temptation has prevailed over the settled purpose and desire of his heart. In the other you have a man whose settled purpose is to do wrong. The language of a true Christian must be that of his Master: "I come to do Thy will, O God."

2. A second distinction between a real Christian and one who is not a real Christian is this — the real Christian does not seek or find his happiness in sin. A man who is not really religious, if he wants amusement or indulgence, seeks for it, generally, either in the society of men without religion or in practices which the Word of God condemns. He sins, and it gives him no pain. On the contrary, the real Christian finds no happiness in sin. His pleasure is in prayer, in communion with God. He seeks his happiness in the fields of his duties. "O," says he, "how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day." The state and character of any person may to a great extent be judged by the nature of his pleasures. Does he seek them in trifles? he is a trifling man; does he seek them in worldly pursuits? he is a worldly man; does he seek them in vice? he is a vicious man; does he seek them in God and Christ? he is a Christian.

3. Thirdly, the habits of a real Christian are holy. Men are not to be judged by a few solitary actions of their lives. There is scarcely any life so dark as not to be lighted up by a few brighter actions — as a single star may glimmer through the most cloudy atmosphere; and there is no life so bright as not to be darkened by many spots — as many small clouds are apt to chequer even the clearest sky. But then we determine the real state of the heavens not by the single star, in the one case, or by the few clouds in the other. We ask what is the general aspect, the prevalent appearance: does night or day, does shade or sunshine, prevail? Thus also must we proceed in estimating the character of men. It is the habitual frame of the mind — it is what we may call the work-day character — it is the general, habitual, prevalent temper, conduct, conversation, in the family or the parish, in the shop or the farm, which are the only true tests of our condition. But let us bring the two classes to this standard, and we shall find that in the real Christian the habits are holy — in the insincere Christian they are unholy; that the one is habitually right and accidentally wrong, and the other habitually wrong and accidentally right. Such, then, is another highly important distinction between these classes.

4. Fourthly, every act of sin in real Christians is followed by sincere repentance. No feature is more essentially characteristic of a holy mind than a feeling of deep penitence for transgression. "My sin," said the "man after God's own heart," "is ever before me."

5. A fifth no less important feature by which the real Christian is distinguished is, that he anxiously seeks the pardon of his sins through Jesus Christ. Others too often seem to imagine their sins cancelled immediately upon their bare and cold acknowledgment of them. He, on the contrary, knows that the hatred of sin and indignation at the sinner must be deeply lodged in a mind of infinite purity. And his consolation is this — not that he can save himself, but that "he has an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

6. The sixth and last point of distinction which I shall have time to notice between the real Christian and every other character is, that he alone seeks diligently from God a power to abstain from sin in future. If others even desire the pardon of their past sins, they are careless about future advancement in holiness. They, perhaps, persist in a course of sinning and repeating, through the whole stage of their lives. Heaven is every day mocked by the language of an unmeaning sorrow. No real hatred for the sin is felt. In the Christian a different feeling prevails. A deep abhorrence of sin mingles with his regret for it. His are tears of hatred as well as grief. There is a substantial distinction between a real Christian and every other character: something more than a mere line or shadowy difference here. If we carefully observe the several points of distinction which I have noticed, we shall find that they imply in the two classes of characters, in each particular instance, a different state of heart or mind. Let us seek a new and more sanctified nature: more and more of the influences of the sacred Spirit. In the fable of old, when the artist had made the figure of a man, he could not animate it without stealing fire from heaven. That heavenly fire is offered to us. Many has it already quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.

(Christian Observer.)

The way of the wicked seduceth them
The seduction of the lower class of females is due to the profligacy of men in a superior station in life. It is the custom to confine ourselves to generalities in the pulpit. But the reasoning which applies to all crimes acts languidly against each individual crime — it does not paint the appropriate baseness, or echo the reproaches of the heart.

1. The character of a seducer is base and dishonourable: if deceit is banished among equals; if the conduct of every man, to those of his own station in life, should be marked by veracity and good faith; why are fallacy and falsehood justified, because they are exercised by talents against ignorance, cunning against simplicity, power against weakness, opulence against poverty? No one ever lured a wretched creature to her ruin without such a complication of infamous falsehoods as would have condemned him to everlasting infamy, had they been exercised to the prejudice of any one in a higher scene of life: and what must be the depravity of that man who has no other criterion of what he shall do, Or from what he shall abstain, than impunity?

2. To the cruelty of seduction is generally added the baseness of abandoning its object, of leaving to perish in rags and hunger a miserable being bribed by promises and oaths of eternal protection and regard.

3. This crime cannot be defended under any of the ingenious systems by which men are perpetually vitiating their understandings.

(Sidney Smith, M. A.)

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