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THE MYSTERY OF HUMANITY.
1 CORINTHIANS, xi. 7.
“Man is the image and glory of God.”
No object in the universe presents greater diversities, nor is there any respecting which assertions more contradictory can be made, than man. His strength and weakness, his glory and vileness, his wisdom and folly, have been the familiar topics of his own observation, and have not been passed unnoticed by the Divine Word. Look at him as he came from his Maker's hand, and how wonderful was his nature. God's last and greatest work, designed to bear rule in this inferior creation, the very image and glory of God, on whom the name of the Creature is bestowed in Holy Writ as indicating His mastery over the surrounding world. But look at him as he is at present, and we see him subject to sickness, pain, and death; the sport
of those powers, over which he was intended to bear sway, and which he imagines himself able to direct. “Man is but a thing of naught, his time passeth away like a shadow.” Let us meditate somewhat on this contrast of power and weakness, and it will lead us to the further thought, wherein is man's true glory, and how his original purpose of setting forth his Maker's image, may again be exhibited in the world.
Now man's weakness may be seen if we look at him as an individual, or if we look at him as a race. His individual weakness is shown by the contrast between his doings and himself. For“ wise men also die and perish together as well as the ignorant and foolish, and leave their riches for others.” What can be a greater mockery of mortal attempts ? The Pyramids have survived from the earliest ages, but the very dust of their founders has been scattered to the winds. Or if we turn from individuals to the race at large, whatever profit man's intellect has derived from the accumulated experience of ages, not less rapid and resistless is the increase of misery and sin. Even in so favoured a country as that which we inhabit, how fearful is the swelling of that augmenting tide of life, which often threatens to carry all before it.
How wide a chasm gapes between wealth and poverty ; how deep the antipathy between necessity and abundance, which is thinly covered over by the solemn plausibilities of life. How vain the expedients by which theo