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Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for 1 say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

It is not one of the least wonderful peculiarities of the Scriptures, that although their whole subject relates to God, who is invisible, and although in the New Testament especially their whole tendency is to lift us up in heart and mind from the things which are seen to those which are unseen, yet there is in them so little of that which furnishes food to the fanciful and the superstitious. When we look around us and above us; when we consider what an almost infinite variety of beings, quite beyond the reach of our unassisted senses to discover, the powers of science have made known to us, descending to atoms so minute

as hardly to be conceived capable of life, it is most natural to imagine also that the ascending scale in creation may be no less infinite, that the beings greater and better than ourselves, whom yet we can neither see nor hear, may be no less numerous than those inferior beings whose orders appear to go on almost without end. And as science, such science as is attainable by us now, has shown us the existence of so many inferior creatures, of which otherwise we should have had no notion at all, so there may be a science, that is, a revelation of truth, not attainable by us now, which might open to us not less widely the orders of being above us, and show us those around us and among us every hour, of whom now we have no knowledge.

Reason shows that this may be; but as it is the law of our earthly being that with these higher orders of creation we shall have no practical communion, so the Scripture, whose whole tendency is practical, has made to us few direct revelations concerning them. The language in which they are spoken of is taken from the common belief of the Jews, and used for the purpose of conveying some moral lesson, whose truth is a very different thing from the actual reality of the form in which it

is contained. All, as it seems to me, that we can safely gather from the Scripture on this subject, is this: that we are not the highest beings in creation; that there are others raised above us, we know not with what differences, or in what degree; and that although we can hold no communion with them, yet they are not unconcerned in what regards us; but while serving their God and ours, minister in ways unseen and unknown to those whom their Lord and ours is not ashamed to call his brethren.

The practical use of what is told us concerning these beings may be best learnt from the words of the text,-"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven" or, as nearly the same sentiment is expressed in another place, "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."

Now what is meant to be impressed upon us by both these passages is, that in our carelessness about sin and God's service, we stand, as it were, alone in creation; that higher beings view with interest every one who is striving to do God's will; that they rejoice over every

soul gained over from the cause of evil to the cause of good. We know how worse than indifferent we often are to both of these things; that those who are called in the text "little ones," that is, persons amid great want of knowledge, and with neither outward circumstances nor force of character to commend them to general notice, but yet really desirous of doing their duty; that these "little ones" we are far from particularly respecting, and, farther still, from helping them on amidst the difficulties of their way. We care not about removing temptations from them; nay, we often carelessly throw temptation in their path. But this is because we ourselves have not learned to know the truth concerning sin and concerning righteousness. It is our blindness, inherited with our birth, so common in this only world to which our experience reaches, that it seems to us natural; and we mark the contrary as something extraordinary. But the only world to which our experience reaches is a corrupt world; and its judgments of moral good and evil are corrupt also. All God's creatures, however, are not corrupt as we are; the judgment of our little world is not the judgment of the universe. And this, if we take it rightly, is the truth revealed to us in the story of the Fall.

It is not original sin that is a doctrine of revelation, but rather original righteousness. Our natural sinfulness is not a matter of revelation, but of experience. Every one who has ever studied his own heart, every one who has watched the earliest signs of feeling and character in a child, knows sufficiently that the actual nature of mankind, that nature which they bring with them into the world, is already prone to evil. But what we could not have known without revelation is, that in the beginning it was not so; that what we see is the wreck of what was originally good, not a thing inherently and by God's design made to be what it is. What this world, and the race of mankind was at the beginning, other worlds, and other and higher beings, have continued to be, and still are. I know not of any thought at once more humbling and more comforting, than, when looking upwards into infinite space, to feel that those thousand worlds may be still good in the sight of God as when they were first created; that we alone are at variance with the perfect harmony of the universe; and yet, that instead of being despised or abhorred by those purer beings who have not sinned as we have, they are rather more joyful than ourselves when any of us are

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