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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

Deference to Public Opinion

Deference to Public Opinion.

It is not by self-respect and self-reliance that men get the reputation of being wise and prudent; but by subordination, by a cringing deference to public opinion; not by giving weight to superior personal qualities of other men, but to superior wealth, station, or great renown. When some years ago a young minister said some words that rung in the churches, the criticism made on him was, that he was not thirty years old. It is common for young men to postpone becoming true to their convictions until rich and well known. That is to put it off for ever. Suppose Paul had waited until he was rich, or until he was a great and famous Rabbi, before he told men that Christianity alone was the law of the spirit of life,—how long had he waited, and what had he done? Suppose Jesus, when about thirty, had said, "It will never do for a young man like me to respect my soul now; I must wait till I am old. Did not Moses wait till he was fourscore before he said a word to his countrymen about leaving Egypt." What would have become of him? Why, the Spirit of God that irradiated his vast soul would have gone off and perched itself on the mouth of some babe or suckling, who would have welcomed the great revelation, and spread it abroad like the genial sun. Do you think that Simon Peter and John and James and Joseph would have been more likely to accept Christianity, if they had been rich and famous and old men? As well might the young camel have waited till he was old and fat and stiff, in hopes to go the easier through the needle's eye.—Theodore Parker.