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Erroneous Comparisons of the Present With the Past

Erroneous Comparisons of the Present With the Past

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Published by glennpease
NATHAN PARKER, D. D.



ECCLESIASTES VII. 10.



ASK NOT THOU, WHAT IS THE CAUSE, THAT THE FORMER DAYS WERE BETTER THAN THESE ? FOR THOU DOST NOT INQUIRE WISELY CONCERNING THIS.
NATHAN PARKER, D. D.



ECCLESIASTES VII. 10.



ASK NOT THOU, WHAT IS THE CAUSE, THAT THE FORMER DAYS WERE BETTER THAN THESE ? FOR THOU DOST NOT INQUIRE WISELY CONCERNING THIS.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 12, 2013
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ERROEOUS COMPARISOS OF THE PRESET WITH THEPAST.ATHA PARKER, D. D.ECCLESIASTES VII. 10.ASK OT THOU, WHAT IS THE CAUSE, THAT THE FORMER DAYS WERE BETTER THA THESE ? FOR THOU DOST OTIQUIRE WISELY COCERIG THIS.The features of the present age are of a striking char-acter. To some minds they are portentous of evil only ;to others of unmingled good. To some the agitationwhich is now passing rapidly through the world of intellect,questioning, modifying and overturning established habitsof thought and long venerated opinions, seems to threatenthe entire prostration of religion, and utter confusion, guiltand wretchedness. To others the process now going on isbut a spirit of improvement, the tearing up of habits whichhave dwarfed the mind, the dawn of a golden age, thepledge of the promised millennium. In both these oppo«site views there is much that is extravagant ; much that isnot warranted by the history of the past, or by a knowledgeof the present. All is not bright in human condition andprospects ; all is not dark. The same elements are now atwork that have been at work nearly six thousand years.They are in some respects differently combined and de-veloped ; but the process is essentially the same. Yet if ERROEOUS COMPARISOS. 33we were to lean toward either of these extremes, we shouldbe disposed to favor that which presents the brightest
 
picture ; for this gives the best encouragement for man toput forth his eflbrts, and to increase his power, it bringscheerfulness to the heart, and manifests a confidence in thegovernment of God ; while the other, though it may beassociated with deep religious feeling, with an acute sensi-bility to moral good and evil, still indicates a diseased stateof the mind, fills the soul with despondency, substitutessighs for vigorous efibrts, and manifests distrust of theDivine providence and of the promises of revelation*It is the disposition which leads men to aggravate theevils of their condition, to murmur and despond, which isrebuked by our text. It is with reference to this disposi-tion, that the remarks now to be made will be ofiered toyour serious consideration.The comparison of the present with former times, andthe endeavor to form a fair estimate of the peculiar relativesituation of the present age is not what the sacred writerwould censure. This every reflecting man will do, andmust do. If two periods of time are brought before hismind, he cannot but behold their distinct features, and hemust regard them as they appear to him. Indeed, this isnecessary to a wise improvement of the lessons which pastages have sent down to us. It is the result of such com-parison, exhibiting itself in complaints, ingratitude anddespondency, which is censured. Such a result is notnecessary ; it is not fairly drawn from a wide view of facts ;it exhibits a diseased and guilty state of mind ; it tends toevil, and to evil only. Therefore is it rebuked in ourtext.1 . If the habit which is reproved do not exist inits worst form in every mind, it is in some form and degreeso common, that we may well inquire in passing, how itcan be accounted for. The golden age has ever beenplaced at a period iar back on the records of time. Those5
 
34 ERROEOUS COMPARISOSof the present age look back to the past for exemplaryvirtue ; this they regard as a degenerate age. Go back tothat very past, examine the written memorials which thefriends of virtue have left, and you find on many a pagesad lamentations of degeneracy ; the period of shininggoodness is found to have passed away before their day.So it is as far back as human records can carry you. Thehistory of the golden age has never been written by menof that age. Human monuments reach not back so far.Even the volume of our faith, though it assures us that theearth was once unpolluted and happy, yet commencesits history with an account of what had been ; and theauthor, who carries back our thoughts to the origin of thehuman race, was himself raised up by God as a reformer.But has every succeeding age been more debased anddepraved than that which preceded it ? This, whatevermay be thought of the present, will not be asserted. Howthen is it that in every age we hear of accumulating guilt ;of deeper depravity than ever before existed ; of the sturdyfriends of truth having fallen ; and of none having arisen todefend the cause of piety with pristine zeal and intelli-gence ? Why is there so much complaint, and so littlegratitude and religious trust ? If we can answer the ques-tion, why each individual regards his own personal trialsas peculiarly severe, we may account for the fact which weare» now attempting to explain. Every man is feelinglyalive to his own afflictions, and is intimately acquaintedwith every cause of sorrow which draws forth a sigh fromhimself. Of those around him, he knows little of what isgoing on in the sanctuary of their own bosoms. It is onlytheir heavy, visible calamities that come to his cognizance ;and of the affliction which these bring with them he hasno adequate conception, nothing of that vivid feeling whichis called forth when the hand of God smites him personally.

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