Page images

and abhorred, and lives to witness a gradual conspiracy against him of all that is good and honourable, and wise and great.

Fancy and vanity are not the only parents of falsehood;-the worst, and the blackest species of it, has its origin in fraud;—and, for its object, to obtain some advantage in the common intercourse of life. Though this kind of falsehood is the most pernicious in its consequences, to the religious character of him who is infected by it; and the most detrimental to the general happiness of society, it requires, (from the universal detestation in which it is held,) less notice in an investigation of the nature of truth, intended for practical purposes. He whom the dread of universal infamy, the horror of being degraded from his rank in society, the thought of an hereafter will not inspire with the love of truth, who prefers any temporary convenience of a lie, to a broad, safe, and refulgent veracity, that man is too far sunk in the depths of depravity for any religious instruction he can receive in this place ;the canker of disease is gone down to the


[ocr errors]

fountains of his blood, and the days of his life are told.

Truth is sacrificed to a greater variety of causes than the narrow limits of a discourse from the pulpit will allow me to state-it is sacrificed to boasting, to malice, and to all the varieties of hatred ;-it is sacrificed, also, to that verbal benevolence which delights in the pleasure of promising, as much as it shrinks from the pain of performing, which abounds in gratuitous sympathy, and has words, and words only, for every human misfortune.

I have hitherto considered the love of truth on the negative side only, as it indicates what we are not to do;-the vices from which we are to abstain;-but there is an heroic faith, ---a courageous love of truth, the truth of the Christian warrior,—an unconquerable love of justice, that would burst the heart in twain, if it had not vent, which makes women men,—and men saints,-and saints angels.--Often it has published its creed from amid the flames ;---often it has reasoned under the axe, and gathered firmness from a mangled body;---often it has rebuked the mad


chains of sin, which, if any man prefer to the liberty of truth, and the gospel, to the sweet sleeps of virtue, to her free step, to her pleasant thoughts, to her delicious promise of immortal life, he knows not the highest joys of this world, nor mérits those of a better world than this.

We shall love truth better if we believe that falsehood is useless; and we shall believe falsehood to be useless if we entertain the notion that it is difficult to deceive;-the fact is, (and there can be no greater security for well doing than such an opinion) that it is almost impossible to deceive the great variety of talent, information,and opinion, of which the world is composed: Truth prevails, by the universal combination of all things animate, or inanimate, against falshood; for ignorance makes a gross, and clumsy fiction; carelessness omits some feature of a fiction that is ingenious; bad fellowship in fraud betrays the secret; conscience bursts it into atoms; the subtlety of angry revenge unravels it; mere brute, unconspiring matter reveals it; death lets in the light of truth; all things teach a wise man the difficulty, and bad success of falsehood;

and truth is inculcated by human policy, as well as by divine command.

The highest motive, to the cultivation of truth, is, that God requires it of us;-he requires it of us, because falsehood is contrary to his nature, because the spirit of man, before it can do homage to its Creator, must be purified in the furnace of truth. There is no more noble trial for him, who seeks the kingdom of Heaven, than to speak the truth;often the truth brings upon him much sorrow; often it threatens him with poverty, with banishment, with hatred, with loss of friends, with miserable old age; but, as one friend loveth another friend the more if they have suffered together in a long sorrow, so the soul of a just man, for all he endures, clings nearer to the truth ;-he mocks the fury of the people, and laughs at the oppressor's rod; and if needs be, he sitteth down, like Job, in the ashes, and God makes his morsel of bread sweeter than the feasts of the liar, and all the banquets of sin.

To carry ourselves humbly, and meekly, in the world, is a sure sign of a




sound understanding, and an evangelical mind; but we have duties to perform to ourselves, as well as to others; and there is no one to whom we can owe as much deferencé as we owe to inward purity, and religious feeling. The submission paid to any human being, by the sacrifice of truth, is not meekness, nor humility, but an abject, unresisting mind, thatbarters God and Hea ven, for a moment of present ease; and puts to sale man's best birthright of speaking truth; and the excellence of this virtue of truth consists in this, that it almost necessarily implies so many other virtues, or so certainly leads to them; for he who loves truth, must be firm in meeting those dangers to which truth sometimes exposes him; if he loves truth, he will love justice; he will gain the habit of appealing to the precepts of conscience, and of stating the real conceptions of his own mind, with that disregard to good and evil consequence, which those only can feel who look on sin as the highest evil, and obedience to God as the greatest good.

Lastly, remember that other sins can be measured, and the degree of evil, which ori

« PreviousContinue »