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Another source of foolishness closely akin to the last is Excitement. That is a spiritual enemy against which we have constantly to guard. We get carried away from our proper moorings by tides of ill-grounded enthusiasm. The pulses beat quicker, thoughts come more readily, the magnetic presence of other persons in an excitable humour inflames us, imaginations appear in more brilliant colours, we lose our habit of weighing one thing with another ; we race headlong into convictions, and we commit what we afterwards discover to be an absurd and disgraceful folly. The elevation of mind which comes from some form of indulgence is a great help to this form of temptation. The man is thrown off his balance. We all of us have a lower nature as well as a higher, the one as St. Paul says always struggling against the other. The unnatural enlivenment is the very opportunity for which the lower nature was waiting. It seizes the occasion, throws away all the restraints of discretion, and causes the unhappy victim to make a fool of himself.

Another frequent cause of folly is Wilfulness. We are determined to have our own way, no matter what it costs. We rush on headstrong, and will not listen to advice and remonstrance. We are determined that our view must be the best, and we do not even allow that there can be any other. This disposition will often land us in situations where we are taught very sharp lessons. “ Self-confidence is the badge of ignorance, and the curse of fools ; it is the humble privilege of the wise alone to doubt; and they who know the most are always the most sensible how little the most enlightened know.”

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but none the less harmful is his folly. Eccentricity in common life is simply ridiculous; the character which indulges it, satirized in every phase of age and life by our good-humoured caricaturist Charles Dickens, proportionally loses, and justly loses the exercise of that influence for good, which has been bestowed on all alike by the Almighty. How much more serious and inexcusable is this temper, on any side of the Church, in spiritual things !

And we must not of course omit Ignorance as a cause of foolish conduct. A man who aspires to act on his own impulse and through his own choice, is bound to inquire into all the circumstances of the case, to find out what motives: actuate others, to do his best to understand them, and to see how far his views are practicable and possible. “ There never was any party, sect, or cabal whatsoever, in which the most ignorant. were not the most violent ; for a bee is not a. busier animal than a blockhead." “Ignorance does not simply deprive us of advantages; it leads us to work our own misery; it is not merely a vacuum void of knowledge, but a plenum of positive errors, continually productive of unhappiness. And alas ! it is next to impossible to make people understand their ignorance, for it requires knowledge to perceive it ; and therefore he that can perceive it hath it not.”

Yet another cause of stupid behaviour; it is · Narroione88. It is difficult for some people to imagine that anybody can be right except themselves, or that there can be more than one side to any question. “ The doctrine which, from the very first origin of religious discussion, has been held by bigots of all sects, when condensed intoa very few words and stripped of rhetorical disguise, is simply this : I am in the right and you are in the wrong. When you are the stronger you ought to tolerate ; for it is your duty to tolerate truth. But when I am the stronger I shall persecute you, for it is my duty to persecute error. “A bigot is a man of respectable opinions, but of very ordinary talents ; defending what is right without judgment, and believing' what is holy without charity. Generally obstinate in proportion as he is wrong, he thinks he best shows his love of God by hatred of his fellow-creatures, and his humility by lauding himself and his sect.” This is a kind of folly which is followed by disastrous consequences, and against which we all have to be specially watchful. “Intemperate zeal, bigotry, and persecution for any party or opinion, however praiseworthy they may appear to weak men of our own principles, produce infinite calamities among mankind, and are highly criminal in their own nature. And yet how many persons, eminent for piety, suffer such monstrous and absurd principles of action to take root in their minds under the colour of virtues ?

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Closely allied to this is the malady of Obetinacy. You stick to your own opinions because they are your own. You pride yourself on what you call your consistency, on never changing your opinions and plans, never confessing failures,

never learning new lessons, always in the same old groove. Yet as long as man is fallible, and circumstances change, such an attitude is merely that of one who is too dull to detect his mistakes, or too obstinate to own them.

Another poisonous source of folly is Eccentricity. Many men are born with such an overmastering and incurable yearning for distinction, that they insist on being remarkable even if it must be by oddness and singularity. This is frequently the source of ecclesiastical follies, on which I cannot touch as the ground is too full of explosives. You know the self-conscious look, proud with the aping of humility, of the man who knows that he is doing something strange and remarkable, and who delights in his eccentricity. The would be

Athanasius of small things may be conscientious,

My brothers, what is wisdom? It is something better than knowledge and skill. A person who cannot read may yet have discretion. It is very much as the keen old Greek philosopher described it: the practical faculty or ability, under the guidance of sound reason, which enables us in thought, word, and deed, to choose that which is good and

avoid that which is evil for our souls and bodies. The noblest and purest form of it is when we think of those things alone that are highest, best, and truest. Prudence belongs to it, for prudence finds out the right means to attain the good end. Understanding belongs to it, for understanding passes correct judgments on all the manifold matters with which wisdom as the supreme faculty is concerned. And moral strength or self-control belongs to it; for what would be the use of the mind seeing what is right, if the will were unable to obey the direction?

" True wisdom is to know what is best worth knowing, and to do what is best worth doing.” “Wisdom is that which makes men judge what are the best ends, and what the best means to attain them, and gives a man advantage of counsel and direction.” “ The only medicine for suffering, crime, and all other woes of mankind, is wisdom. Teach a man to read and write, and you have put into his hands the great keys of the wisdom-box; but it is quite another matter whether he opens the box or not.” “Wisdom penetrates the length, the breadth, the height, and depth, more than knowledge. Knowledge, is so to speak, sight; wisdom is sight coupled with taste; knowledge relates to things that are to be done; wisdom to things eternal.”

And just as the acute Greek philosopher taught that the faculty which takes in first principles must be intuition, and that intuition comes from God, so we Christians, in the midst of all our errors, follies, mistakes, and stupidities, rejoice to believe that God, who is the giver of all good gifts alike, can communicate even to us this priceless gift of wisdom. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” “Wisdom is not an art which can be learned ; wisdom comes from above." The Divine Being is all around us, and in us, and through us; His attributes of wisdom can be shared in a small, humble, far-off, proportional degree by us poor stumbling mortals, who are created after His own image. The condition is that it is in proportion to our faith. There is a Divine Spirit of wisdom as well as a spirit of purity and of love. If we believe in any degree in God's grace replenishing, and strengthening, and transforming us, this great gift we can also obtain from Him. When we are in communication with Him, there is no limit to what He can do for us ; it is above all that we dare ask or think. We must not say that these various forms of folly are part of our disposition, and that we cannot get rid of them. Only let us have a desire to empty ourselves of all our own conceit, prejudice, and immovable clinging to our

own petty groove.

" Whoever is wise is apt to suspect and be diffident of himself, and upon that account is willing to hearken unto counsel ; whereas, the foolish man, being in proportion to his folly full of himself, and swallowed up in conceit, will seldom take any counsel but his own, and for that very reason because it is his own.” “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart ; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes ; fear the Lord.” We must put aside hastiness, excitement, eagerness in talk, wilfulness, obstinacy, ignorance, narrowness, prejudice, obsequiousness to fashion, disproportionate love of trifles, unreasoning deference to human authority ; we must empty ourselves of all this, and come before God to ask for His crowning gift, wisdom. In humility we inust come, without pride of intellect, or reliance on self; and the Divine Spirit in whom every moment of our lives we live, and move, and have our being, will fill us with the riches of His grace. We shall learn to be silent, and meditative, and deliberative ; large-hearted, great-minded, gracious; distrustful of our own judgment, willing to learn, anxious to make the best of everything.

And we have not only an imagined ideal of divine goodness in which to trust; in our firm and unalterable experience Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. In Him the Father has abounded to us in all wisdom and prudence. In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He it was who spake as never man spake. He it was out of whose mouth all men wondered at the gracious words that proceeded. He it is who speaks day by day to our own consciences. He is our pattern and example in all His patience, meekness, forbearance, and dignity. He is to each of us the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is with Him, and with the Father whose nature He expressed, that our fellowship has the privilege of being united. He Himself said, “ If any man love Me, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” In proportion as we are conscious of His divine indwelling Spirit, we shall not lack for wisdom.

So we pray with St. Paul that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; the eyes of our understanding being enlightened ; that we may know (by such experiences as these) what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe !



But no

OR the modest sum of threepence I picked up the best of the world, for such is the good nature

at a second-hand bookstall a volume of some of English men towards their wives, such is the

900 pages entitled “ Magnæ Britanniæ No- tenderness and respect, giving them the uppermost titia ; or, The Present State of Great Britain ; with place at table and elsewhere, the right hand everydiverse remarks upon the ancient state thereof. where, and putting them upon no drudgery and By John Chamberlayne, Esq. London, 1735.” It hardship, that they are, generally speaking, the is the 35th edition of the Southern part called most happy women in the world.” Many husbands England, and the tenth of the North part called who read this will at this point look up

and ponder, Scotland. It gives a description of these two and could you see their faces I dare say you would countries, and an account of the government and detect a smile. of the manners, customs and laws of the same. It The character of these happy women he thus also gives a list of peers, members of Parliament, describes :and public officers throughout the country. In fact it is a kind of “ Whitaker's Almanack" for “The Women are not without Vanity, Pretentions to the year mentioned, and contains, as may well be

Satire, Railery and the like, which Vices they have supposed, information valuable and interesting, borrowed from their neighbours the French. for it gives us a detailed and graphic picture of

Women out-do them in Modesty, Patience, Charity, English life one hundred and sixty years ago.

providential Care, Temperance, Wit, good Humour, The subject of “how men live” is ever one of Cleanliness, and that which crowns all the rest, is the absorbing interest, and how men lived a century sincerity and zeal of religious Devotion.” and a half ago may well repay a short perusal. “Good nature is a Qualification peculiar to the English,

The author of the work calculates that the so peculiar that, as a noble writer observes, there is no inhabitants of England numbered 7,055,706, with word for it in any other language.” 1,500,000 in Scotland, making 8,555,706 in all" and amongst them 1,000,000 of fighting men.”

Such was the position of woman generally ; but

the condition of the servant class, male and The population of England now is 29,000,000, and Scotland 4,000,000, making 33,000,000 in all.

female, was in those days very different from what it is now.

It is said that all servants were The character of the inhabitants of this “ tight little, right little island” is depicted in a manner

subject to be corrected by their masters and that creates a wonder whether the present genera

mistresses, and if a servant resisted, he was tion has maintained the good qualities or done

punished with a severe penalty. If he should

chance to take the life of his master or mistress, much to eradicate the bad. Let us hear how Mr. Chamberlayne speaks of our forefathers :--

he was considered guilty of a crime next in gravity

to high treason-viz., petit treason—which was “The natives of England are generally of a middle

punished by burning alive. Times have indeed stature; they are fair, especially the women.

The men

changed. The nearest police-court would probably are strong, courageous, warlike, resolute, enterprising,

be the reward of any one attempting to chastise liberal to Prodigality, open-hearted, easy to be provoked,

a servant, and happily the terrible death of burning

alive has been altogether expunged from the yet when exasperated, stomachful till Satisfaction be

category of England's modes of punishment. given, and then easy to be reconciled. Sumptuous and

The condition of the part of society we call, for splendid, great Lovers of Hospitality, magnanimous,

want of a better term, the “ working classes,” beneficent and learned. They are thought to be indus

differed also considerably from their present state. trious (the Mechanics being of all Nations the greatest

It is evident that there was no Eight Hours Improver) but want Caution, Suspicion, Craft, Obsequious

Bill in 1735, for the writer proceeds :ness and which is most of all to be deplored, Content. Yet these wants are supplied by many eminent Qualifica- “The Common People will endure long and hard Labour, tions, as Dexterity, Sagacity, Eloquence, Fidelity, insomuch that, after twelve hours' hard work, they will go Friendship, Public-spiritedness. The Daringness of the in the eveing to Football, Cricket, Prison-base, Wrestling, Soldier, the Profoundness of the Scholar, the Magnifi- Cudgel-playing, or some such like vehement exercise for cence of the Gentry and the Robustness of the Labourer their Recreation.” are not surpassed, if equalled, by any People in the World."

A paragraph lauding the longevity of the Eng

lish people winds up with an expression which Our author looks at the condition of women shows clearly that in one respect at least time has through spectacles of somewhat too rosy a hue. made but scant change. By reason of IntemIt must be remembered that a man is writing ; perance, there is no part of the World wherein were we reading what dropped from the pen of a People are more subject to die suddenly.” And woman, we should probably hear another tale. little wonder, for it is stated in the chapter which He says that, notwithstanding certain disadvan- discourses of Diet that England abounds in variety tages which he describes, "their

condition is de facto of drinks above any other nation in Europe ; besides

all sorts of the best wines from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Greece, there were sold in London more than twenty sorts of other drinks, as

“Brandy, Rattifia, Coffee, Chocolate, Tea, Rum, Punch, Usquebaugh, Mum, Sider, Perry, Mead, Metheglin, Sherbet, Beer, Ale, many sorts of ales very different, as Cock, Steponey, Stitchback, Hull, Derby, Northdown, Nottingham, Sandbach, Betony, Scurvy-Grass, Sage Ale, College Ale, China Ale, Butler's Ale, etc.”

ten pounds value, could be conveyed to and from all parts within the Bills of Mortality to most towns within seven miles round London. If this be correctly stated, it would appear that 160 years ago Londoners were better off than they are to day, for they cannot now send parcels at so low a rate as that which was then charged.

The postal arrangements generally, however, were by no means up to the present day standard. The post went on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, to all parts of England and Scotland, but on Wednesday and Friday it ventured no farther than Kent and the Downs.

Letters were received in London from all parts of England and Scotland, except Wales, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Wales was not favoured with Wednesday's opportunity of posting letters. The number of letters conveyed was appallingly great in the eyes of John Chamberlayne, Esq. He says that “ though the number of letter writers in England was not at all considerable in our ancestors' days, yet is now so prodigiously great (since the meanest people have generally learnt to write), that the amounts to about 110,0001 a year.” It may be remarked in passing that the revenue from the Post Office is now (1893–94 (exclusive of receipts for telegrams)) 11,855,3241.

Another topic, showing how different is the spirit of the end of the nineteenth century from that of the earlier part of the eighteenth, may be seen from the account of the Public Penance which was apparently then imposed. Any one who had notoriously offended was compelled to confess his fault in public, and to bewail it before the whole congregation in the church in the following


manner :


In the train of all these different intoxicating drinks, followed a whole troop of ghastly crimes.

Our chronicler connects the character of the people with the climate of our country.

“ The English,” he says, “ according to their climate, are of a middle temper, graceful and yet easy; cheerful, yet well composed.”

We find that even a century and a half ago bookmaking (not in the gambling sense) was carried on very largely, for it is stated that the English were since the Reformation so given to literature “that all sorts are generally the most knowing people in the world.” It is further declared that men and women, children and servants, can not only read, but write letters, to the great Encrease of Commerce, and the prodigious Advantage and Augmentation of the Post-Office."

The conditions of the peasant class must have been better in 1735 than in 1895, for it is said that “the meanest mechanic and husbandman want not silver spoons and some silver cups in their houses.”'

In other ways it must be acknowledged, however, that things have improved. We wio are accustomed to the postman's knock every few hours smile with disdain as we read the following announcement: a letter, it is stated, is veyed in so short a time by night as well as by day that every twenty-four hours the post goes 120 miles, and in five or six days an answer of a letter may be had from a place 300 miles distant from the writer ! And we who can breakfast in London, sup in Belgium, and take the next morning's meal in Switzerland, wonder whether it is possible that such a state of things as the following ever really did exist in our land. We are told, with much complacency toc, that by means of stage coaches people could be transported to any place, sheltered from foul weather and foul ways, and this not only at a low price, as about a shilling for every five miles, but with such speed as that the posts in some foreign countries make not inore miles in a day; for the stage-coaches called Flying Coaches made fifty or sixty miles a day, as from London to Oxford, or Cambridge ; sometimes seventy, eighty and one hundred, as to Southampton, Bury, Cirencester, Norwich, etc. But such a state of things existed at no distant date, for the writer of this article picked up for a few pence a guide to London, dated 1836, and in the map no railways appear.

Another interesting item of postal arrangement is the following. It is stated that there was established at the period we are thinking of the

Penny Post,” whereby for one penny, any letter or parcel not exceeding sixteen ounces weight, or

“The delinquent is to stand in the church porch upon some Sunday, bare-head and bare-foot, in a white sheet, and a white rod in his hand, there bewailing himself and begging any one that passes by to pray for hiin; then to enter the church, falling down and kissing the ground; then in the middle of the church is he, or she, eminently placed in the sight of the people, and over against the minister, who declares the foulness of the crime, odious to God, and scandalous to the congregation."

But even then we see the beginning of a disposition to bring such a penalty to an end, for it is stated that in case the crime be not notorious and public the penalty. may, at the request of the offender be commuted by a money payment to go to the poor or for some other pious use, and, the writer adds, “ this is usually done."

How severe were the penalties for certain crimes may be gathered from the statement that though high treason was of different degrees of heinousness, yet the punishment was the same in each case, with the exception of clipping and coining money, and the terrible penalty was that “the traitor, laid upon a hurdle or sledge, be drawn to the gallows, there hanged by the neck, presently cut down alive, his entrails suddenly pulled out of his belly and burnt before his face, then his head was cut off, his body cut into four parts, and, lastly, that the head and body were hung up or

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impaled.” For other crimes the punishment inflicted was cutting the ears, burning the tongue with a hot iron. But matters were evidently improving, for the writer remarks,“ of late we have left off the cruelty of cutting off ears, severe whipping, branding on the forehead, burning the tongue, and the like.”

The following item of information is interesting from several points of view :

" Drunkards, vagabonds, profane swearers, loose, idle, disorderly person, night walkers, and the like, are punished by setting their legs in the stocks for certain hours, and by certain pecuniary mulets. The execution of these wholesome laws against profaneness and immorality has been promoted with great zeal and no less discretion by the societies for the reformation of manners.”

What does the New Woman say to the following ?

“Scolding women are to be set in a trebucket, commonly called a cucking-stool, probably from the French coquine, and the German stull, the quean's chair, placed over some deep water into which they are let down and plunged under water thrice to cool their choler and heat.”

Reference is made also to the societies for the reformation of manners. The account of the beginning of these societies affords an interesting picture of the religious condition of the period we are considering. It is stated that about the year 1678:

“A few serious young men of the Communion of the Church of England agreed to meet together frequently for religious conference, and by prayer and psalmody to edify one another. The experience they hereby gained of the blessedness of religion and value of souls, soon animated their endeavours to gain others to join with them, whereby they grew and increased, and new societies were formed by the pattern of the old ; so that there are now above forty distinct bodies of them within a compass of the Bills of Mortality besides divers others in distant parts of the nation.”

In addition to their own edification they undertook various duties of a missionary character.

“They relieved poor families and orphans, they set at liberty prisoners, solicited charities for the pious education of poor children, they tended and comforted those who were sick and in prison, reclaimed the vicious and dissolute. They also promoted Christian conference, decency in God's worship, family religion, and the catechizing of young and ignorant people."

Many who live in this active age when these very objects are pursued with so muc'ı vigour will be a little surprised to learn that in London alone ---containing then only about one-fifth in population of the London of to-day-there were forty separate bodies of such workers.

Those also, to whom “ Vigilance Committees somewhat of a novelty, will hear with wonder that there existed a large society composed of “ Persons of Eminency in the Law, Members of Parliament, Justices of the Peace, and considerable Citizens of London who undertook to bring to punishment swearers, drunkards, and profaners of the Sabbath.” Another society, consisting of forty tradesmen and others, applied themselves to put

down immorality. It is stated that they had succeeded in suppressing no less than 500 disorderly houses. Besides these there were other societies established in different parts of the country, as well as in London with the same objects.

In examining the list of various societies set on foot in the land we look in vain for the mention of any foreign missionary societies. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was founded, it is true, but its operation was to spread the gospel in the Plantations, Colonies and Factories beyond

Of work in heathen lands, as such, no mention is made. The only ray of foreign missionary light appears under the heading of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, where we have this remark : “In 1710 this Society engaged themselves to assist the Protestant missionaries at Tranquebar, on the cost of Coromandel, in the East Indies, and to promote Charity Schools at the English settlements in those parts.”

In his description of London, the author waxes quite eloquent when depicting the importance of the river Thames. He speaks of its gentle even course, its extraordinarily wholesome water, “and above all its incomparable salmon."

At the time our book was written, the walls of London had largely decayed, and the foundations had been built upon; but the gates still stood, and we are told that Ludgate, Newgate, Aldersgate, Cripplegate, Moorgate, and Aldgate were shut every night with great diligence, and that a watch was placed at them at 10 o'clock, and that no persons were permitted to leave or enter the city without examination.

A feature of London that time and usage have completely removed is revealed to us when the private buildings in the city are described. It is said that “the spacious houses of noblemen and merchants and many of the sumptuous taverns are hidden to strangers, by reason they are generally built backwards, that so the whole room towards the street might be reserved for tradesmen's shops. If they had been built towards the street as in other countries, no foreign city would, even in this particular, surpass London. Yet if a stranger should view the several magnificent Piazzas or open places, which we call squares (for which the cities in Italy are so highly esteemed), the several straight and spacious streets, the many curious and uniform Piles of new Buildings and Streets, and the many Palaces of Noblemen, they will find it equal to, if not surpass, most of what they have seen abroad.” Many people are prone unduly to laud the days

But very few of them would really care to have the clock put back to the time we have been describing, and to be in the London of the watchm in and torch-bearer and the sedan chair ; or to visit the country when its roads were infested with footpads and highwaymen. Without their daily paper, their telegrams and telephone, their seven or eight posts a day, their railways, trairs, and their steamboats, they would be wretched indeed. A review such as

we have taken should rather cause us to thank God for the happy days on which we have fallen.


of yore.


are even now

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