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Therefore speak I to them in Parables.

It is sadly the case with respect to many serm.

SERM of the first duties of life, that though they XVII. are in themselves so obvious, as to strike the dullest mind, when duly proposed and laid open ; yet there are generally so many intervening circumstances to prevent such a manifestation of them, that it is scarcely one in a hundred who sees and judges of them aright. There is a mote in the eye which perplexes the sight, and renders the vision indistinct. We can acknowledge the duty in general, but we cannot apply it to circumstances : what would undoubtedly be wrong in one case, may, we suppose, in fifty others be right; what in its



SERM. proper point of light could assume but one

appearance, by a change of position, or some disturbance happening with respect to the medium through which we look at it, the saine thing may take various shapes and figures, and lose all traces of its real nature and properties. It is incredible how the very best of us are at times deceived in these matters, and how we suffer ourselves to be blinded in judging both of our own actions, and those of others : a thousand prejudices dazzle and bewilder us in the search after truth; and though the object might be made as clear and palpable as the daylight, yet we are content to see things

through a glass darkly," till chance or accident, and no care of our own, shall remove the impediments to our sight. For the natural or accidental imperfection of real vision, art has busied herself to provide various helps and remedies. Some of these are calculated to throw the object farther from us; some bring it nearer; some reduce it to bring it all into sight at once; some magnify it to bring forward particular parts. Those who have applied them

selves to remove the darkness of the human sERM.

. mind, and enable it to see, without preju- XVII, dice, the great line of moral duty, have dealt with it after a manner nearly analogous, and proceeded in their supply of aid and assistance, in a way very similar. Those who are not capable of forming to themselves any rule of life, by a regular deduction of consequences, have had the matter contracted for them, and brought into the compass of short, proverbial sentences, and concise maxims. Those disposed to be careless and inconsiderate, act, ing often without due discrimination and regard to consequences, judging hastily, and without stopping minutely to examine into matters, have been taught to look more narrowly to their ways, by an amplification of trivial events, and a magnifying, as it were, of familiar objects, in fables and parables. Those who have judged wrongly of their own actions, because of their too near concern in them, have, by the same contrivance, had them set before thein as the actions of others, and when thus carried further from them, they have judged




SERM. rightly and well, and seen the whole mat

ter in its proper point of view. Lastly, those whose judgment could enable them to pronounce well or ill of the actions of others, as removed from the influence of their own prejudices, but were incapable of applying the same scrutiny to their own conduct, have also by such means had the matter brought home to them, and the error of their own ways thus duly exposed. The parables of our blessed Saviour may all be considered as such moral helps to the mind of man. They are so laid before us as to touch, with no rude hand, any of our fond prejudices ; we are imperceptibly led to draw our own conclusions without

any impediment from our own concerns; and these conclusions therefore become just. In the Old Testament, we have some remarkable instances of the same mode of reproof and instruction. When we read of the righteous David wandering so far from the line of moral and religious duty, as to commit two of the foulest crimes without remorse or sorrow *, we are stag

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