Page images
PDF
EPUB

SERMON I.

ON

RELIGIOUS PREJUDICES.

Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?

JOHN i. 46.

THOSE persons can be but little acquainted with human nature, who think they shall trace its principles from the consideration of public counsels, or general events.

The real motives which influence a cabinet are seldom known, and army contending with army, is a scene too much fraught with confusion and bloodshed to develop the mind, the manners, or the morals of mankind. It is from private life, from domestic history, that we shall be able to gather those little traits which mark the principles, and discover the

B

secret springs of action. Joseph making himself known to his brethren; Nathan entering into the presence of David, and charging him with guilt; Hezekiah supplicating most earnestly for lengthened life: or, to turn to the New Testament; Peter denying his Master, after repeated and solemn protestations of attachment; Paul and Barnabas, though chosen associates and friends, having a dissension, which occasioned their separation; these, and many other similar instances, show the true workings of the human mind in a much stronger light, than any of the public transactions which the Sacred Scriptures record. Very interesting is the chapter from which I have chosen my text, as containing the account of some of the earliest followers of our Lord; of his choosing and selecting them to be his disciples: the close of it relates the conversation held by Philip with Nathaniel, that excellent man, upon whom our Lord himself pronounced an eulogium, which it should be the ambition of all his followers to obtain. "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Yet we find, that even this good man was the dupe of prejudice; "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip mildly replied, "Come and see."

I shall divide my remarks upon this subject into three general heads.

I. I shall endeavour to point out the nature of prejudices in general, and particularly religious prejudices.

II. Show the impropriety and ill effects of such a disposition; and,

III. Suggest some methods for softening or removing prejudices, previously offering two remarks for the better illustration of the subject.

Let it be remembered, that Nazareth was a low, mean, wretched city, the very worst part of the province of Galilee; and that Galilee itself was situated in the very worst part of the country of Judea; carry these ideas with you through the whole discourse, they may serve to throw light on many of its parts.

[ocr errors]

I. I shall endeavour to point out the nature of prejudices in general, and more especially, religious prejudices.

The nature of prejudice may be traced from the very derivation of the word. Prejudice is a noun, the verb is to prejudge. Prejudice may be considered as a disposition to applaud or condemn any person or thing, any character or sentiment, without inquiry, without investigation, without proof. This propensity chiefly arises from two very

opposite principles; but opposite causes, not unfrequently, produce similar effects;-these are impetuosity and indolence. Impetuosity is a prevailing cause of prejudice. Our opinions are hastily formed and as hastily given. We see a person enter a room, we instantly decide upon his character. We open a book, and read perhaps a single page; we immediately pronounce upon its merits. We read a detached speech in the public prints; we directly form our opinion of the argument. We are not called upon to decide it hastily, but we will do it. We are not solicited for our opinion, but we will give it. This is certainly prejudging. Another source of prejudice is indolence. It is easy to hazard an opinion, but it requires pains to be exerted, and judgment to be exercised, and patience to be tried, if we are determined to weigh, and to examine, ere we pronounce our senti

ments.

Various are the ways in which prejudice. discovers itself. It sometimes appears with respect to person. Even good Samuel was not exempt from this failing. When the sons of Jesse were commanded to pass in review before this holy man, in order that one from among their number might be selected as the future monarch of Israel; he was struck with the appearance of Eliab, stately and com

66

manding, while David was but a youth, and rather mean in his exterior, and he instantly exclaimed, Surely this must be the Lord's anointed!" But his judgment was premature, and gave occasion to that beautiful and instructive caution; "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart."

Again; rank in life is not unfrequently the subject of prejudice. Actions which would be highly condemned in a poor man, are but slightly noticed and passed over in one in an exalted station; while, on the other hand, those of a meritorious nature, if performed by an inferior, are often disregarded and suffered to remain in oblivion, while, if done by the rich and the powerful, they are embla-. zoned and extolled. Our Lord himself, during his residence on earth, was the subject of this kind of prejudice. How often was he reproached with the meanness of his station!" "Is not this the carpenter?" was the language in which he was insulted and despised.

Once more; particular places are the objects of prejudice. Such and such towns and cities are marked for luxury, for their licentiousness, for their depravity; and we are ready to exclaim, "Can any good thing come from thence?" Let us, when tempted to con

« PreviousContinue »