Page images
PDF
EPUB

Saviour's precepts,-but, however careful they may be not to let “their left hand know what their right hand doeth," they have also the respect and praise of men to excite them to persevere in their course of duty, and even here the actively benevolent have their reward. Therefore I maintain, that to “ do good and to communicate,” and give, whether it be of our time, of our savings, or our riches, to the wants of others, is by no means the most difficult of tasks. But the conquest of our bad passions, our conflicts with our envious and resentful feelings, our struggles against the utterance of a degrading suspicion and a detracting word, and our endeavour to fulfil the command,“ to think charitably of all men," all these také place in the secret of the heart, and are only known to that Being “ from whom no secrets are hidden;" therefore, we have no external aid to make us victors in the combat. resist these temptations to evil, no one will give us credit for the forbearance; and if we yield to them, we shall, probably, not be thought the worse of, since we know we shall not sin alone. No wonder, therefore, that sometimes religious professors are known to be guilty of this sin of detraction; and it is doubly painful to hear those who fulfil to the utmost the other christian duties, indulge a gossiping, uncharitable, and calumnious disposition, imputing unworthy motives to the absent and the unconscious, in seeming defiance of the precepts of the blessed Saviour, and of his inspired followers. But when serious

If we

X

christians are guilty of detraction, it can not be, I trust, without a subsequent and deep.conviction of their own sinfulness. They have the precious consciousness that they are sinners, and that they are liable to fall; they also know that they have a sure defence, in their moments of trial,“ in watchfulness unto prayer;" and if there be any of these strongly tempted, consciously erring christians, among my readers, endangered souls who know from painful experience, that “the tongue is an unruly member,” and that detraction is one of their besetting temptations; let them recollect, that alms-giving and the kindest offices of christian duty, without christian love, can “ profit them nothing," and at the close of a day of active benevolence, if they feel conscious that though their hand gave, their tongue maligned, let them not claim for their pillow, that night, the peaceful repose of the consistent christian; but, warned by the consciousness of duty imperfectly performed, humble themselves before the Being who has said, “judge not,” and let them remember and profit by the awful admonition, “Let those who think they stand take heed lest they fall.”

I would also remind them of the declaration of the apostle James: “ If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."

Let me now recapitulate by observing,

That that class of persons in society who profess to be under religious influences, would

وو

not want to be warned against the sin of detraction, and the crime of defamation, were not they, like other persons, exposed to the assaults of the soul's adversary, and that their only advantage lies in having stronger weapons with which to oppose him.

That they, like others, must watch and pray, lest they fall into temptation.

That the charity enjoined by the apostle Paul is christian love, not alms-giving.

That it is easier to perform all the other duties of christians, than to suppress* one severe remark, one backbiting, injurious word.

That the world's good report attends and repays deeds of active benevolence; but that our conflicts with our jealous feelings and defamatory propensities are hidden in the secret of our hearts, and we have not the aid of external praise to assist us to conquer them.

And lastly, that they must remember, in order to strengthen them in their struggles, the words of the apostle James, chapter 1st, verse 26th.

CHAPTER XVII.

ADDRESS TO THE YOUNGER MEMBERS OF THE

SOCIETY OF FRIENDS.

PERMIT me now, my dear brothers and sisters, members of the society to which I have the privilege of belonging, to address you on this subject, as Friends have always deeply felt, and duly considered its importance, and have also by their wise regulations endeavoured to guard against the sin of which it treats. In us, therefore, who are defended against this sin by official warnings, and reminded of its ensnaring power, by the following query read at stated times in our meetings of discipline, -“ Are friends preserved in. love towards each other; and are they careful to avoid and discourage tale-bearing and detraction?” in us I say, detraction is less excusable than in any others. But it may be right for me to add, lest this query be misunderstood by some of my readers; that it does not mean we are to cultivate a christian spirit towards the members of our society alone.

We know that the feelings of gospel love are of a more diffusive nature, that we are to desire the welfare of the whole family of mankind, and to endeavour to promote it to our best ability; and though, according to the apostle's words, we may be willing more especially to do good to those who are of the household of faith," still we are expected to perform the offices of christian duty to all who require them of us, be they Jew or Gentile, and the warning against tale-bearing and detraction is of universal not particular application.

[graphic]

Seeing then, that the wisdom of our pious ancestors has thus afforded us an earthly guard against this ensnaring sin, “What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness?”

“ Ye therefore beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.”

Buť I would more particularly call on you, my dear younger brethren and sisters, to remember the obligation of watchfulness which this query imposes upon you, as you are a party to the answergiven; and if your consciences accuse you of having acted or spoken contrary to that duty which it inculcates, you must be well aware that

you are also a party to an imposition, and a falsehood, unless the answer to the query be guarded in an almost impossible degree.

My observation tells me that the young, whatever be their belief or situation, are always more or less inclined to satire. The young feel deeply, and think superfi

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »