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we examine the visible structure of man ; the symmetry and beauty of the outward form--the harmonizing proportion of the several members, and the exquisite adaptation of each minute fibre to the wants and exigences of human life—we are driven to confess, not only that man is "fearfully and wonderfully made," but from the perfection of the work, we infer also the perfect wisdom and power of its Author.--Why should we not turn to somewhat similar account, the study of man's moral constitution ? When we search and try our hearts, if perchance we discover in them any kindly feeling, any generous glowany instinctive admiration of what is pure, and lovely, and of good report--any detestation of evil, if there be any sentiment or affection, which tells of better things than the selfishness and sinfulness which prevail too much over the usual tenor of our thoughts, --why should we not here also acknowledge the handy work of our Creator, and bless him that he hath still left within us such powerful witness of himself !--I cannot but think that if we gave to the study of our hearts and minds, that attention which we willingly bestow upon
less important subjects, we should perceive as many traces of the divinity in the moral, as in the physical structure of man.
To one such trace-to one such remnant of man's primal glory, I venture to refer the interest in childhood so generally experienced by all of us. I venture to suggest that this interest originates in some innate love or admiration of purity, innocence, and artlessness, that this fount of affection springs up in that “inward man,” which would fain reverence “the law of God,” though it is too frequently overpowered by the “ law of sin in the members 1.” A feeling something akin to this is excited, I imagine, by the contemplation of the beauties of nature. No man of common sense, who beholds a beautiful landscape, and meditates upon it, can fail to carry his thoughts from creation, to the Creator. But the majority of us will not be able to stop here. We shall hear a voice within, which will suggest some such moral as this. “ While the labour of man, in obedience to that sentence which condemned him to eat bread in the sweat of his brow, has so far prevailed, as to mitigate (with the permission, and by the blessing of God) that curse which clothed the earth with thorns and briars—while the valleys stand thick with corn, and the flocks find
pastures upon a thousand hills-what is the moral condition of that being to whom all creation has been made subservient ?what symptoms are there in the heart of man-in my own heart-of that improvement which the earth exhibits so plentifully? Would that these symptoms were as striking—that the improvement were as undeniable, and as extensive !" Some such reflections as these must often, doubtless, have passed through the minds of all of us;- and these also, I should refer to that spontaneous love of what is fair and pure, which has never been thoroughly eradicated from our hearts.
But I detain you too long in speculating upon the existence of this feeling. It would be better perhaps to assume that point at once, and proceed to ask, Can it, or can it not be turned to Christian account ?–Most undoubtedly it can, my brethren, as can every thing in this life, which is amiable and good.-We feel an interest in childhood, because it is pure, artless, innocent.-Is it not possible, then, that we should cultivate these qualities which we love, and so be what we admire ?-Is it absolutely necessary that the feeling with which we contemplate these virtues, should be one of unavailing regret, as if we had lost what could never be recovered, and were constrained to admire, what it is no longer possible to make our own ? Can we no longer wash our hands in innocency, and so approach God's altar? Can we never again be “ Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile 2"-or hope to inherit the rewards that are promised to the pure in heart? -If such were the case, my brethren, these words would never have been written
in the Gospel.—" And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” It would never have been written, “Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein ?.”
These passages, in fact, are very striking instances of Christ's characteristic mode of teaching-a mode which was above all things remarkable for its naturalness, its truth, its practicability. The subjects on which he had to speak were of the deepest interest and importance, the loftiest grandeur and sublimity. And how did he handle them? With splendid imagery-with glowing diction—with elaborate argument?-He tells of an universal Providence—than which no topic moreimposing can occupy the tongue or thoughts of man—and how does he illustrate it ?
Consider the lilies of the field, how
1 Luke x. 15.