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which is really dangerous, grows stronger in the prospect of peril, and yields to no influence but that of intellectual conviction alone, to which conviction, however, it is seldom open. It is this species of self-will that wears the aspect of magnanimity, and claims as its accompanying characteristics a superiority to all meaner considerations, to all contemptible weaknesses. The self-will that is commonly found in union with moral energy and intellectual superiority is, however, only the more dangerous in its temptations, because its likeness and its neighbourhood to good make these temptations more insidious. They disguise themselves in the aspect of firmness, independence, consistency, and under this too common delusion the daily discipline of life only brings out into more striking relief the fault of character which is so fatally supposed to be a virtue. "Only prove that such a claim is reasonable," the self
willed with truth assert, "it will then be instantly conceded." But the claim being proved perfectly reasonable, there is, in fact, no longer any sacrifice of selfwill.
Those whom I address I suppose to be rational and intelligent persons, well qualified by education and enlightenment to form a fair and correct estimate of the subjects proposed for their consent or obedience; when, therefore, they are made to perceive that these subjects are entirely reasonable and expedient, their will conforms at once. But this is not submission to the will of another; it is an alteration in their own. There is in such cases no exercise of the principle of obedience, no discipline of the will, no submission to the powers that be, because they are "ordained of God." Their conduct would be exactly the same whether it were recommended to their judgment by those placed in authority
*Romans, xiii. 1.
over them, or by those who had no such authority.
Much of the unhappiness of daily life arises from the defective or mistaken or uninfluential opinions usually held of the nature and the duty of obedience. Even Christ "learned obedience by the things which He suffered," but those who profess to follow in His footsteps scarcely deem that they need to learn the same lesson His sinless humanity required, or that it must be learned through the same severe probation. Some vague, unacknowledged ideas of this nature may well be supposed to constitute the ground of the conduct and feelings of too many professing Christians; though they naturally shrink from defining them even to their own consciousness. It is surely because there is no perception of the necessity of having the will thoroughly subdued as a means of bringing it into conformity
Hebrews, v. 8.
with the will of God, that we see so many surprised, almost indignant, "as if some strange thing happened unto them,"* when their innocent wishes are crossed, their reasonable hopes disappointed, their sounder judgment and more enlightened views forced to yield to the incapacity and caprices of those who are placed in authority over them.
When, indeed, the crossing of the will comes directly from God, there is often profession of submission; in calmer and happier moments that submission may be thoroughly felt. Where there is an habitual recognition of the sovereignty of God, an habitual exercise of faith in His promises, though both these principles may be weak and still in the early dawn of their being, intervals at least of thorough peaceful resignation must be their result.
When we know that "It is the Lord," it is comparatively easy to add, "let Him
* 1 Peter, iv. 12.
do as it seemeth Him good."* But the case is different when it is the will of man and not of God that claims obedience, though it can be only through the will of God that the power to claim obedience is given. The will of man indeed may be a selfish will, it may be a capricious will, it may be an unjust will. It may be injurious to the true interests of those who command as well as those who are called on to obey. It may be opposed not only to the tastes and inclination of the subordinate individuals, but it may be altogether opposed to their judgment and seriously prejudicial to their welfare. In such a case is obedience still requisite ?
Is the difficult lesson to be learned through suffering from the hand of man as well as from the hand of God?- It must be so, or it never will be learned at all.
This assertion is quite distinct from a
* 1 Samuel, iii. 18.
† John, xix. 11.