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Weakness can speak and cry when we have not a tongue. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said to thee, Live. The kirk could not speak one word to Christ then; but blood and guiltiness out of measure spake, and drew out of Christ pity, and a word of life and love.
When one is in bed and really ill, one would gladly sacrifice one's complexion or one's bright eyes to regain health and enjoy the sunshine. And besides, a small degree of piety in the heart, a little love of God, is enough to make one speedily renounce such idolatries; for a pretty woman adores herself. When I was a child, I thought nothing equal to beauty; because I said to myself it would have made mamma love me better. Thank God, this childishness has passed away, and the beauty of the soul is the only one I covet.
EugÉnie de GuÉrin, Journal.
References. XVI. 8. S. Baring-Gould, Plain Preaching to Poor People (8th Series), p. 89. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xli. No. 2438. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. ii. p. 25. XVI. 9-14. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No. 813.
Looking at the mother, you might hope that the daughter would become like her, which is a prospective advantage equal to a dowry the mother too often standing behind the daughter like a malignant prophecy 'Such as I am, she will shortly be'.
George Eliot in Middlemarch.
'Year after year,' writes Ruskin in the third volume of The Stones of Venice, 'the nation drank with deeper thirst from the fountains of forbidden pleasure, and dug for springs, hitherto unknown, in the dark places of the earth. In the ingenuity of indulgence, in the varieties of vanity, Venice surpassed the cities of Christendom, as of old she had surpassed them in fortitude and devotion; and as once the powers of Europe stood before her judgment-seat, to receive the decisions of her justice, so now the youth of Europe assembled in the halls of her luxury, to learn from her the arts of delight. It is needless as well as painful to trace the steps of her final ruin. That ancient curse was upon her, the curse of the Cities of the Plain, "pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness". By the inner burning of her own passions, as fatal as the fiery rain of Gomorrah, she was consumed from her place among the nations; and her ashes are choking the channels of the dead, salt sea.'
One monster there is in the world: the idle man. What is his 'religion '? That Nature is a Phantasm, where cunning beggary or thievery may sometimes find good victual. That God is a lie, and that Man and his life are a lie.
Carlyle, Past and Present, (part ii. chap. xii.).
Quite apart from Christianity, there exists a social virtue, πολιτικὴ ἀρετή , consisting in regard for others, their rights, their likings, their sensibilities; in love of law and order, in appreciation of articles of value, your own and other people's, as things to be preserved in the hands that have them; in being polite and well-dressed; in saying on some occasions much less than you think, on other occasions a great deal more. This virtue the comfortable classes teach to their children; it is their class interest to teach it and learn it and maintain it. Too frequently, on the other hand, the children of the very poor are not taught social virtue. From infancy they are treated roughly and behave rudely. They see no beauty in the established order of things. They would not be so very much worse off if anarchy and civil war were to ensue. The struggle for the necessities of life and for coarse enjoyments leaves no leisure nor aptitude for processes of refinement. They grow up 'a rough lot'; and where no priest instructs them, nor policeman intimidates them, they commit such crime as comes in their way. Girls, they go out upon the streets, for hunger, to begin with, then for evil passion and habit; but the well-fed sons of luxury are their pay-masters. Some sin is born of fullness of bread, other sin of emptiness of stomach. The latter sort of sin the poor commit, and of the two it is the more likely to appear in the police court and earn lodgings in jail. But of the two it is not the more likely to be the more odious in the sight of God.
Father Rickaby, Oxford and Cambridge Conferences, II. pp. 7, 8.
References. XVI. 49. H. Hensley Henson, Christ and the Nation, p. 147. XVI. 54. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v. No. 264. Elmitt Browne, Some Moral Proofs of the Resurrection, p. 130.
A man shal remembre him of his sinnes. But loke that that remembrance he be to him no delit, by no way, but grete shame and sorroe for his sinnes, and therefore saith Ezechiel; I wot remembre me all the yeres of my lif, in the bitterness of my heart. And God sayeth in the Apocalipse; remembre you fro whens that ye hev fallen, for before the time that ye sinned, ye weren the children of God; but for your sinne ye ben waxen thral and foule; membres of the fende; hate of angels; sclaunder of holy chirche, and fode of the false serpent.... Suiche manere thoughtes meke a man to have shame of his sinne, and no delit; as God saith, by the Prophet Ezechiel; ye should remembre you of your wages, and they should displese you.
Chaucer, The Persone's Tale.
'My chief burden,' wrote Erskine of Linlathen towards the close of his life, 'is the remembrance of past sins. Although I believe them forgiven, yet they often come between me and the face of my heavenly Father.' In his reminiscences of Erskine, Principal Sharp observes that 'one thing very remarkable during these last years must have struck all who conversed intimately with him his ever-deepening sense of the evil of sin, and the personal way in which he took this home to himself. Small things done or said years ago would come back upon him, and lie on his conscience, often painfully. Things which few other men would have ever thought of again, and which when told to others would seem trifling or harmless, were grievous to him in remembrance. 'I know that God has forgiven me for these things,' he would say, 'but I cannot forgive myself.'
Let a man but once come really under a sense of God's unchangeable complacency, and he will then soon mourn bitterly enough for his sins, and profitably to himself. 'Thou shalt be loathsome in thine own eyes, when I am pacified with thee for all that thou hast dona.'
F. W. Newman, The Soul, p. 78.
References. XVI. 62, 63. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No. 1289. XVII. 3, 5, 8. G. Body, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliii. 1893, p. 193. XVII. 4. W. J. Knox Little, Manchester Sermons, p. 22. XVII. 23. T. De Witt Talmage, Sermons, p. 34.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany