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SYMPATHY AND SELFISHNESS.

How natural it is to be selfish; to study continually one's own comfort, and to make the happiness of others a secondary consideration—if, indeed, we make it a consideration at all! How Christ-like it is to love our neighbour as ourselves; to bear one another's burdens; to be full of sympathy with all around us!

Which is the lovelier character? Which is your character? Is “self” the centre of your wishes and your aims; the idol that is set up in your heart? or have you learned from the example of our Saviour, to rejoice with them that rejoice, and to weep with them that weep? have you put on that charity which is the bond of perfectness ?

Each season of life has its own peculiar tendencies and temptations. But selfishness is at all times, and under all circumstances, the common sin which doth so easily beset us. In early youth we are prone to imagine that everybody and everything about us ought in some way to minister to our gratification, and we therefore strive to employ them in the furtherance of the plans which we have arranged for our own happiness. In old age, when the infirmities of life compel us to withdraw from its activities and its pleasures, we are in danger of supposing that since we can derive but little enjoyment now from those sources which once yielded to us a rich supply, it is a matter of little importance to us whether others find any satisfaction in them or not. It often happens

. that old age narrows the channel of our benevolence and our sympathy; we have less to receive, and we think we cannot have so much to give. Our thoughts, allowed to take their natural course, become concentrated on

self;" all that personally concerns us is so magnified as very much to hide from our view the interests of our neighbours; we look so steadily and so exclusively on our own good, that we almost lose sight of the good of others.

Now, will you guard against the influence of these selfish feelings? Will you bear in mind how opposed, how thoroughly opposed, are selfishness and Christianity ? Will reflect upon the injury which you may do to religion, by allowing an undue regard for self to be manifested in the little occurrences of your every-day life? A young man, who was urged by a pious friend to devote himself to the service of God, made this reply: “It is of

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no use to talk to me in this way; I have seen too much of religious people to desire to be like them. They pretend to be a great deal better than everybody else, but they are just the same underneath. Why, there's my uncle. S an old man with one foot already in the grave; he calls himself a Christian, and yet he is as covetous, and as selfish as possible. See him at home; his comfort, his ease, his wishes, must be first consulted; everybody must give way to him; and he is constantly taking offence because he thinks he has not sufficient attention and respect paid to him. What's the use of religion ? it is all show-mere show.”

It was not difficult to answer such an objection as this, but it was difficult to remove the prejudice and the misconception which had gathered around that young man's mind. The selfish behaviour of his aged relative, in conjunction with that of others, had so set him against religion, that he would not listen to its claims; and, although moral and amiable in his conduct, he still remains estranged from God and from his people. It is true, that the faults and inconsistencies of professed Christians will furnish no valid excuse for his refusal to love and serve his God and Saviour; but ought they not to excite the deepest grief and shame in those who have thus thrown additional stumbling-blocks in the way of a sinner's

return? Ought we not earnestly to watch and pray that we do not bring reproach upon that holy name by which we are called, through our self-love and self-indulgence? It is not so much by flagrant departures from the ways of godliness that we exert a baneful influence over the undecided, and the unconverted, as by our apparently careless disregard of whatsoever things are lovely and of good report. The warm and generous-hearted spirit of youth will shrink with distaste, if not with disgust, from a religion which our actions have led him to ally with meanness and selfishness. Our prayers, our zeal, our alms-giving, our profession, will have but little weight with him, if they are associated day after day with the unhallowed and unamiable endeavour to secure our personal ease, in preference to the comfort of others;he will regard them but as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And will he not rightly regard them? “Though I have all faith and knowledge; though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor; and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love—that love which seeketh not her own; which vaunteth not itself, but which suffereth long and is kind -it profiteth me nothing."*

Let not, then, the infirmities of age be a plea for your lessened sympathy with others. Should

* 1 Cor. xiii.

the graces of the Christian decline with his fading strength ? should the shadow of the tomb dim the light of his heaven-born love ? Surely the nearer that he approaches to the pure and peaceful fellowship of the saints above, the more should his spirit be conformed to theirs. And is theirs a spirit of selfishness ? Are they absorbed in their own interests, their own occupations, their own joys ? are they indifferent to the feelings and the pleasures of their bright companions ? No; they joyfully and fully sympathize with each other; self is forgotten there; and if we hope, through a Saviour's merits, to reach the home where they dwell, let us endeavour to cherish correspondent emotions to theirs. Let us strive to follow them as they, when on earth, followed Christ. Ah, let us rather look at once at Jesus, our perfect model, our brightest example; let us ask to have the mind that was in him, and to be imbued with his spirit. For then we cannot live day after day as some who profess and call themselves Christians do live; cold and careless about the welfare of others, and at the same time intensely solicitous to promote our own. “ Ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.” His doctrine which we have received into our hearts, and his example which we * Eph. iv. 20, 21,

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