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as the means of our advancement in know- curse those means of leisure, which might ledge and religion. The instructions we become so great a blessing. . receive from them are unquestionably sub- But however necessary to us knowledge ject to our own judgment in future life; may be, religion, we know, is infinitely for by his own judgment every man must
The one adorns a man,
and stand or fall. But, during our youth, it is gives him, it is true, superiority and rank highly proper for us to pay a dutiful sub- in life: but the other is absolutely essential mission to their instructions, as we cannot to his happiness. yet be supposed to have formed any judg- In the midst of youth, health, and abunment of our own. At that early age it dance, the world is apt to appear a very gay should be our endeavour to acquire know- and pleasing scene; engages our desires; ledge; and afterwards unprejudiced to and in a degree satisfies them also. But form our opinion.
it is wisdom to consider that a time will The duty which young people owe to come, when youth, health, and fortune, their instructors, cannot be shewn better, will all fail us; and if disappointment and than in the effect which the instructions vexation do not sour our taste for pleasure, they receive have upon them. They would at least sickness and infirmities will destroy do well, therefore, to consider the advan- it. In these gloomy seasons, and above tages of an early attention to these two all, at the approach of death, what will things, both of great importance, know- become of us without religion? When ledge and religion.
this world fails, where shall we fly, if we T'he great use of knowledge in all its va- expect no refuge in another? Without holy rious branches (to which the learned lan- hope in God, and resignation to his will, guages are generally considered as an in- and trust in him for deliverance, what is troduction) is to free the mind from the there that can secure us against the evils prejudices of ignorance; and to give it of life? juster, and more enlarged conceptions, than The great utility therefore of knoware the mere growth of rude nature. By ledge and religion being thus apparent, it reading, you add the experience of others is highly incumbent upon us to pay a stuto your own. It is the improvement of dious attention to them in our youth. If the mind chiefly, that makes the difference we do not, it is more than probable that between man and man; and gives one man we shall never do it: that we shall grow a real superiority over another.
old in ignorance, by neglecting the one; Besides, the mind must be employed. and old in vice by neglecting the other. The lower orders of men have their atter.- For improvement in knowledge, youth tion much engrossed by those employments is certainly the fittest season. 'The mind in which the necessities of life engage is then ready 10 receive any impression. them: and it is happy that they have. It is free from all that care and attention, Labour stands in the room of education; which, in riper age, the affairs of life bring and fills up those vacancies of mind, which, with thein. The memory too is then in a state of idleness, would be engrossed stronger, and better able to acquire the by vice. And if they, who have more rudiments of knowledge; and as the mind leisure, do not substitute something in the is then void of ideas, it is more suited to room of this, their minds also will become those parts of learning which are conver
prey of vice; and the more so, as they sant in words. Besides, there is somehave the means to indulge it more in their times in youth a modesty and ductility, power. A vacant mind is exactly that which in advanced years, if those years house mentioned in the gospel, which the especially have been left a prey to ignodevil found empty. In he entered ; and rance, become self-sufficiency and prejutaking with him seven other spirits more dice; and these effectually bar up all the wicked than himself, they took possession. inlets to knowledge.--But, above all, unless It is an undoubted truth, that one vice in- habits of attention and application are dulged, introduces others; and that each early gained, we shall scarcely acquire succeeding vice becomes more depraved them afterwards.-- The inconsiderate youth If then the mind must be employed, what seldom reflects upon this; nor knows his can fill upits vacuities more rationally than loss, till he knows also that it cannot be the acquisition of knowledge? Let us retrieved. therefore thank God for the opportunities Nor is youth more the season to acquire he hath afforded us; and not turn into a knowledge, than to formn religious habits.
It is a great point to get habit on the side youth, we must expect to be ignorant of virtue. It will make every thing smooth men. If indolence and inattention have and easy. The earliest principles are ge- taken an early possession of us, they will nerally the most lasting, and those of a probably increase as we advance in life; religious cast are seldom wholly lost. and make us a burden to ourselves, and Though the temptations of the world may, useless to society. If, again, we suffer now and then, draw the well-principled ourselves to be misled by vicious inclinayouth aside; yet his principles being con- tions, they may daily get new strength, tinually at war with his practice, there is and end in dissolute lives. But if we cul. hope, that in the end the better part may tivate our minds in our youth, attain haovercome the worse, and bring on a refor: bits of attention and industry, of virtue mation. Whereas, he, who has suffered and sobriety, we shall find ourselves well habits of vice to get possession of his youth, prepared to act our future parts in life; has little chance of being brought back to and, what above all things ought to be our a sense of religion. In a common course care, by gaining this command over ourof things it can rarely happen. Some ca- selves, we shall be more able, as we get lamity must rouse him. He must be forward in the world, to resist every new awakened by a storm, or sleep for ever.- temptation, as it arises.
Gilpin. How much better is it then to make that
$ 111. Behaviour to Superiors. easy to us, which we know is best! And to form those habits now, which hereafter We are next enjoined “to order ourwe shall wish we had formed !
selves lowly and reverently to all our betThere are, who would restrain youth ters.” from imbibing any religious principles, By our betters are meant, they who are till they can judge for themselves ; lest in a superior station of life to our own; they should imbibe prejudice for truth. and by “ordering ourselves lowly and But why should not the same caution be reverently towards them,” is meant payused in science also; and the minds of ing them that respect which is due to their youth left void of all impressions ? The station. experiment, I fear, in both cases would be The word “betters” indeed includes dangerous. If the mind were left unculti- two kinds of persons, to whom our revated during so long a period, though no- spect is due-- those who have a natural thing else would find entrance, vice cer- claim to it; and those who have an actainly would: and it would make the larger quired one; that is, a claim arising from shoots, as the soil would be vacant. A some particular situation in life. boy had better receive knowledge and reli- Among the first, are all our superior gion mixed with error, than none at all. relations; not only parents, but all other For when the mind is set a thinking, it relations,who are in a line above us. All may deposit its prejudices by degrees, and these have a natural claim to our respect. get right at last: but in a state of stagna- - There is a respect also due from youth tion it will infallibly become foul. to age; which is always becoming, and
To conclude, our youth bears the same tends to keep youth within the bounds of proportion to our more advanced life, as modesty. this world does to the next. In this life To others, respect is due from those we must form and cultivate those habits of particular stations which arise from society virtue, which must qualify us for a better and government. Fear God, says the state. If we neglect them here, and con- text; and it adds,“ honour the king." tract habits of an opposite kind, instead of It is due also from many other situagaining that exalted state, which is pro- tions in life. Employments, honours, and mised to our improvement, we shall of even wealth, will exact it; and all may course sink into that state, which is adapted justly exact it, in a proper degree. to the habits we have formed.
But it may bere perhaps be inquired, Exactly thus is youth introductory to why God should permit this latter distincmanhood: to which it is, properly speak- tion among men? That some should have ing, a state of preparation. During this more authority than others, we can easily season we must qualify ourselves for the see, is absolutely necessary in government; parts we are to act hereafter. In manhood but among men, who are all born equal, we bear the fruit, which has in youth been why should the goods of life be distributed planted. If we have sauntered away our in so unequal a proportion?
To this inquiry, it may be answered, rily connected with riches and poverty. that, in the first place, we see nothing in Each condition hath its particular sources this, but what is common in all the works both of pleasure and pain, unknown to the of God. A gradation is every where ob- other. Those in elevated stations have a servable. Beauty, strength, swiftness, thousand latent pangs, of which their inand other qualities, are varied through feriors have no idea; while their inferiors the creation in numberless degrees. In again have as many pleasures, which the the same manner likewise are varied the others cannot taste. I speak only of such gifts of fortune, as they are called. Why modes of happiness or misery which arise there fore should one man's being richer immediately from different stations. Of than another, surprise us more than his misery, indeed, from a variety of other being stronger than another, or more causes, all men of every station are equal prudent?
heirs: either when God lays bis hand Though we can but very inadequately upon us in sickness or misfortune; or trace the wisdom of God in his works, when, by our own follies and vices, we yet very wise reasons appear for this va- become the ministers of our own distress. riety in the gifts of fortune. It seems Who then would build his happiness necessary both in a civil, and in a moral upon an elevated station ? Or who would light.
envy the possession of such happiness in In a civil light, it is the necessary ac- another ? 'We know not with what various companiment of various employments; on distresses that station, which is the object which depend all the advantages of soci- of that envy, may be attended. --Besides, ety. Like the stones of a regular building, as we are accountable for all we possess, it some must range higher, and some lower; may be happy for us that we possess so some must support, and others be sup- little. The means of happiness, as far as ported; some will form the strength of the station can procure them, are commonly building, and others its ornament; but all in our own power, if we are not wanting unite in producing one regular and pro- to ourselves. portioned whole. If then different em- Let each of us then do his duty in that ployments are necessary, of course differ- station which Providence has assigned him; ent' degrees of wealth, honour, and con- ever remembering, that the next world sequence, must follow; a variety of dis- will soon destroy all earthly distinctions.tinctions and obligations; in short, differ- One distinction only will remain among ent ranks, and a subordination, must take the sons of men at that time—the distinc place.
tion between good and bad; and this disAgain, in a moral light, the dispropor- tinction it is worth all our pains and all tiou of wealth, and other worldly adjuncts, our ambition to acquire. Gilpin. gives a range to the more extensive exer
a cise of virtue. Some virtues could but $ 112. Against wronging our Neighbours faintly exist upon the plan of an equality.
by injurious Words. If some did not abound, there were little We are next instructed “to hurt nobody room for temperance: if some did not by word or deed - to be true and just in suffer need, there were as little for pa- all our dealings-'to bear no malice nor tience. Other virtues again could hardly hatred in our hearts to keep our hands exist at all. Who could practise genero- from picking and stealing-our tongues sity, where there was no object of it! from evil speaking, lying, and slanderWho humility, where all ambitious desires ing." were excluded ?
The duties comprehended in these words Since then Providence, in scattering are a little transposed. What should class these various gifts, proposes ultimately the under one head is brought under another. good of man, it is our duty to acquiesce “To burt nobody by word or deed,” is in this order, and “ to behave ourselves the general proposition. The under parts lowly and reverently" (not with servility, should follow : First,“ to keep the tongue but with a decent respect) “ to all our from evil speaking, lying, and slandersuperiors."
ing;” which is “to hurt nobody by Before I conclude this subject, it may word.” Secondly, “ to be true and just be proper to observe, in vindication of in all our dealings ;” and “ to keep our the ways of Providence, that we are not hands from picking and stealing ;" which to suppose happiness and misery necessa- is, “to hurt nobody by deed." As to
the injunction, “ to bear no malice nor should do well to consider the folly, the
detection, the liar, instead of deceiving, And, first, of injuring our neighbour will not even be believed when he happens by our “words.” This may be done, we to speak the truth. Nay, every single lie find, in three ways; by "evil-speaking, by is attended with such a variety of circumlying, and by slandering."
stances, which lead to a detection, that it By “evil-speaking,” is meant speaking is often discovered. The use generally ill of our neighbours; but upon a suppo- made of a lie, is to cover a fault; but as sition, that this ill is the truth. In some the end is seldom answered, we only agcircumstances it is certainly right to speak gravate what we wish to conceal. In ill of our neighbour; as when we are called point even of prudence, an honest conupon in a court of justice to give our evi- session would serve us better. dence; or, when we can set any one right The meanness of lying arises from the in his opinion of a person, in whom he is cowardice which it implies. We dare not about to put an improper confidence. Nor boldly and nobly speak the truth ; but can there be
any harm in speaking of a bad have recourse to low subterfuges, which action, which has been determined in a always argue a sordid and disingenuous court of justice, or is otherwise become mind. Hence it is, that in the fashionable notorious.
world, the word liar is always considered Bat on the other hand, it is highly dis- as a term of peculiar reproach. allowable to speak wantonly of the cha- The wickedness of lying consists in its racters of others from common fame : be- perverting one of the greatest blessings of cause, in a thousand instances, we fiod God, the use of speech, in making that a that stories, which have no better foun- mischief to mankind, which was intended dation, are misrepresented. They are per- for a benefit. Truth is the great bond of haps only half told - they have been heard society. Falsehood, of course, tends to through the medium of malice and envy~ its dissolution. If one may lie, why not some favourable circumstance hath been another? And if there is no mutual omitted-s0
-some foreign circumstance hath trust among men, there is an end of all been added some trifling circumstance intercourse and dealing. hath been exaggerated the motive, the An equivocation is nearly related to a provocation, or perhaps the reparation, lie. It is an intention to deceive under hath been concealed-in short, the repre- words of a double meaning, or words sentation of the fact is, some way or other, which, literally speaking, are true; and is totally different from the fact itself. equally criminal with the most downright
But even, when we have the best evi- breach of truth. When St. Peter asked dence of a bad action, with all its circum- Sapphira (in the fifth chapter of the Acts) stances before us, we surely indulge a 66 whether her husband had sold the land very ill-natured pleasure in spreading the for so much?” She answered he had : shame of an offending brother. We can and literally she spoke the truth; for he do no good; and we may do harm: we had sold it for that sum included in a may weaken his good resolutions by ex- larger. But having an intention to deposing him: we may harden him against ceive, we find the apostle considered the the world. Perhaps it may be his first equivocation as a lie. bad action. Perhaps nobody is privy to it In short, it is the intention to deceive, but ourselves. Let us give him at least one which is criminal: the mode of deception, trial. Let us not cast the first stone. like the vehicle in which poison is conWhich of our lives could stand so strict a veyed, is of no consequence. A nod, or scrutiny? He only who is without sin sign, may convey a lie as effectually as himself, can have any excuse for treating the most deceitful language. his brother with severity.
Under the head of lying may be menLet us next consider “ lying;" which tioned a breach of promise. While a resois an intention to deceive by falsehood in lution remains in our own breasts, it is subour words—To warn us against lying, we ject to our own review; but when we make
another person a party with us, an engage- failings of others; as it is likewise to Niet as made; and every engagement, omit defending a misrepresented characthough only of the lightest kind, should be ter, or to let others bear the blame of our punctually observed. If we have added offences.
Gilpin. to this engagement a solemn promise, the obligation is so much the stronger; and he $ 113. Against wronging our Neighbour who does not think himself bound by such
by injurious Actions. an obligation, has no pretensions to the Having thus considered injurious words, character of an honest man. A breach of let us next consider injurious actions. On promise is still worse than a lie. A lie is this head we are enjoined“ to keep our simply a breach of truth: but a breach of hands from picking and stealing, and to promise is a breach both of truth and trust be true and just in all our dealings.” Forgetfulness is a weak excuse: it only As to theft, it is a crime of so odious shews how little we are affected by so so. and vile a nature, that one would imagine lemn an engagement Should we forget no person, who hath had the least tincto call for a sum of money, of which we ture of a virtuous education, even though were in want, at an appointed time? Or driven to necessity, could be led into it. do we think a solemn promise of less va- I shall not, therefore, enter into a dissualue than a sum of money?
sive from this crime; but go on with the Having considered evil speaking and explanation of the other part of the inlying, let us next consider slandering. By junction, and see what it is to be true and slandering, we mean injuring our neigh- just in all our dealings. bour's character by falsehood. Here we
Justice is even still more, if possible, still rise higher in the scale of injurious the support of society than truth: inaswords. Slandering our neighbour is the much as a man may be more injurious greatest injury which words can do him; by his actions, than by his words. It is
l and is, therefore, worse than either evil- for this reason, that the whole force of speaking or lying. The mischief of this human law is bent to restrain injustice ; sin depends on the value of our characters. and the happiness of every society will All men, unless they be past feeling, de- increase in proportion to this restraint. sire naturally to be thought well of by We very much err, however, if we suptheir fellow-creatures : a good character is pose, that every thing within the bounds of one of the principal means of being ser- law is justice. The law was intended only viceable either to ourselves or others; and for bad men ; and it is impossible to make among numbers, the very bread they eat the meshes of it so straight, but that many depends upon it. What aggravated in- very great enormities will escape. The jury, therefore, do we bring upon every well meaning man, therefore, knowing man whose name we slander? And what that the law was not made for him, conis still worse, the injury is irreparable. If sults a better guide-his own conscience, you defraud a man; restore what you took, informed by religion. And, indeed, the and the injury is repaired. But, if you great difference between the good and the slander him, it is not in your power to bad man consists in this: the good man shut up all the ears, and all the mouths, will do nothing, but what his conto which
tale have access. The science will allow; the bad man will do evil spreads like the winged seeds of some any thing which the law cannot reach. noxious plants, which scatter mischief on It would, indeed, be endless to describe a breath of air, and disperse it on every the various ways, in which a man may side, and beyond prevention.
be dishonest within the limits of the law. Before we conclude this subject, it may They are as various as our intercourse just be mentioned, that a slander may be with mankind. Some of the most obspread, as a lie may be told, in various vious of them I shall cursorily mention. ways. We may do it by an insinuation, In matters of commerce the knave has as well as in a direct manner : we may many opportunities. The different quaspread it in a secret; or propagate it un- lities of the same commodity—the different der the colour of friendship:
modes of adulteration—the specious arts of I may add also, that it is a species of vending—the frequent ignorance in purslander, and often a very malignant one, chasing; and a variety of other circumto lessen the merits or exaggerate the stances, open an endless field to the inge