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in which they eagerly run the race of honour and superiority in mathematical or classical learning. At the same time, in these eager competitions for academical distinctions, it will be hard indeed to avoid rejoicing, in the falls and hindrances of rivals and, as far as I have heard, observed, or experienced, the praises bestowed on competitors, in such circumstances, are very painful to the mind, and often considered as reflections on the person himself; exciting distaste, and tempting to detraction, discontent, and repinings.
3. He who seeks real excellence will, of course, employ no unfair means of attaining it, because that would defeat his end; but he who seeks to surpass others has not the same reason for scrupulousness, and must be in constant temptation to deviate from the rule of "doing to others as " he would they should do unto him."
4. He who seeks real excellence will press forward, with his object full in view; and will not employ himself in looking back upon any, whom he may have outstripped in his course: but this must form a considerable part of the care and employment of him who only seeks to surpass others; and this will greatly abate and interrupt his progress, and divide and weaken his earnestness as to the main object. The apostle has admirably stated this peculiarity of desiring real, and not comparative, excellence, in his account of his own experience: "Brethren, I count not "myself to have apprehended: but this one
thing I do; forgetting those things which are "behind, and reaching forth unto those things "which are before, I press toward the mark, for
"the prize of the high calling of God in Christ "Jesus."! Had he only aimed at surpassing others, he might, probably, have sat down quietly, as the acknowledged victor in the Christian
5. He who seeks real excellence, in those things which are immediately connected with true religion, will almost exclusively imitate and emulate models which he never can expect to surpass.The all-perfect God, the divine Saviour, the holy prophets and apostles, the primitive Christians, when "great grace was on them all;" and the most eminent saints, whose characters stand highest in scripture, and in their most eminent graces; will be proposed to him as models for his imitation. And, however he might conclude, could he bring himself to make such comparisons fairly (which genuine humility will not allow a man to do in any ordinary case,) that he had surpassed his fellow Christians, his neighbours, or his contemporaries; yet, perceiving how far he came short of these models-how far short of Paul; how unlike the Saviour; how far from that perfection of love, and zeal, and holiness, prescribed by the commandment, nay, attainable by sinners, through the grace of Christ, and actually attained by many-he would still say plus ultra" press "forward!" But the desire of surpassing others will lead a man to be satisfied with measuring himself by lower standards of Christianity-such as may be found in a lukewarm age: and, if he imagine that he excels these, he will congratulate
himself, and be tempted to glory over others. But, when we consider how decidedly and repeatedly all such glorying is discountenanced in scripture, we shall be much afraid of a principle, which can hardly, in idea, be separated from it. They, measuring themselves by themselves, and "comparing themselves among themselves, are "not wise."
In respect of living writers, some of whom have been mentioned in this argument, I shall leave them to defend, if they see good, (which probably they will think needless,) their own views and statements; but, as a writer in theology, I must say a few words, ere I conclude, in respect of the Baxters and others, who can say nothing for themselves.—I most humbly, and with shame, acknowledge, that I have never written a book, or done any thing else in the cause of God, without feeling this desire of excelling others rising in my heart; (for it will work in men of slender genius, as well as in those of the brightest endowments:) but from my inmost soul I disavow it, I abhor it; I deem my desire, in this respect, abominable in the sight of God. As to posthumous fame, it is so very a vanity, that I can hardly conceive of a true Christian deliberately allowing it. For, whether at death we go to heaven, or to hell, or sink into nonentity, what can it avail us, whether men on earth admire or execrate us? But, if we can do any thing while we live, from which others may derive profit after our decease, love to God and man should prompt us to do it; as the salvation of a soul a thousand miles off, or a hundred years hence, is, in itself, of equal importance with the
salvation of a contemporary and a neighbour. I can conceive that any good man, however eminent, may feel the desire of honour from man, and the reputation of excelling others; but I cannot believe that he can allow himself to be influenced by it. And, should I be forced by conscience to admit, that what I have written, or preached, was attempted from a prevailing and allowed principle of emulation; the emulation of surpassing others; I should conclude that, whatever benefit men may derive from my labours, I should, after "having preached to others, be my"self a cast-away." Simplicity of intention, in aiming singly at glorifying God by doing good to man, and at his approbation alone; and at that of others, even the wisest and best of men, no further than it may be one way of the Lord's expressing his approbation; seems to me essential to the Christian's character, and to the labours of the approved minister and writer in theology: and, though I have always found, and still do find, that "I have not attained," yet this simplicity of intention ought to be sought by daily prayer, and by every possible means of attaining it. In respect of the labours of ministers, and of writers on theological subjects, the desire of that approbation which arises from genuine good derived by others from their labours, is the desire of the acceptance and approbation of God himself in one of the most evident ways in which we can in this life obtain it, and is merely a modification of the general holy emulation of that glory which cometh from God only: but the praise of surpassing other authors or preachers, even in accession to this,
and much more when separate from it, is an unholy emulation, which I should think few approved characters ever allowed or acted on. "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory; but " he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, "the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in "him." In respect of the sacred writers, can any man suppose that Peter wrote his epistles with à desire of excelling his beloved brother Paul; or that Paul preached and wrote from the emulation of surpassing Peter, James, and John; and that the Holy Spirit of God inspired them, while influenced by this unholy emulation? St. Paul might surely remind the Corinthians, that he was their spiritual father, to whom they ought to attend, in preference to their plausible but false teachers, without the grovelling emulation of surpassing these false teachers, or the emulation of excelling any other persons.
But I did not purpose to notice the particular arguments of your correspondent: and, having stated the outline of my views on this most important subject, I conclude my perhaps too copious a letter.