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as the means of our advancement in knowledge and religion. The instructions we The instructions we receive from them are unquestionably subject to our own judgment in future life; for by his own judgment every man must stand or fall. But, during our youth, it is highly proper for us to pay a dutiful submission to their instructions, as we cannot yet be supposed to have formed any judgment of our own. At that early age it should be our endeavour to acquire knowledge; and afterwards unprejudiced to form our opinion.

The duty which young people owe to their instructors, cannot be shewn better, than in the effect which the instructions they receive have upon them. They would do well, therefore, to consider the advantages of an early attention to these two things, both of great importance, knowledge and religion.

'The great use of knowledge in all its various branches (to which the learned languages are generally considered as an introduction) is to free the mind from the prejudices of ignorance; and to give it juster, and more enlarged conceptions, than are the mere growth of rude nature. By reading, you add the experience of others to your own. It is the improvement of the mind chiefly, that makes the difference between man and man; and gives one man a real superiority over another.

Besides, the mind must be employed. The lower orders of men have their attention much engrossed by those employments in which the necessities of life engage them: and it is happy that they have. Labour stands in the room of education; and fills up those vacancies of mind, which, in a state of idleness, would be engrossed by vice. And if they, who have more leisure, do not substitute something in the room of this, their minds also will become the prey of vice; and the more so, as they have the means to indulge it more in their power. A vacant mind is exactly that house mentioned in the gospel, which the devil found empty. In he entered; and taking with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, they took possession. It is an undoubted truth, that one vice indulged, introduces others; and that each succeeding vice becomes more depraved If then the mind must be employed, what can fill up its vacuities more rationally than the acquisition of knowledge? Let us therefore thank God for the opportunities he hath afforded us; and not turn into a

curse those means of leisure, which might become so great a blessing.

But however necessary to us knowledge may be, religion, we know, is infinitely more so. The one adorns a man, and gives him, it is true, superiority and rank in life: but the other is absolutely essential to his happiness.

In the midst of youth, health, and abundance, the world is apt to appear a very gay and pleasing scene; it engages our desires; and in a degree satisfies them also. But it is wisdom to consider that a time will come, when youth, health, and fortune, will all fail us; and if disappointment and vexation do not sour our taste for pleasure, at least sickness and infirmities will destroy it. In these gloomy seasons, and above all, at the approach of death, what will become of us without religion? When this world fails, where shall we fly, if we expect no refuge in another? Without holy hope in God, and resignation to his will, and trust in him for deliverance, what is there that can secure us against the evils of life?

The great utility therefore of knowledge and religion being thus apparent, it is highly incumbent upon us to pay a studious attention to them in our youth. If we do not, it is more than probable that we shall never do it: that we shall grow old in ignorance, by neglecting the one; and old in vice by neglecting the other.

For improvement in knowledge, youth is certainly the fittest season. The mind is then ready to receive any impression. It is free from all that care and attention, which, in riper age, the affairs of life bring with them. The memory too is then stronger, and better able to acquire the rudiments of knowledge; and as the mind is then void of ideas, it is more suited to those parts of learning which are conversant in words. Besides, there is sometimes in youth a modesty and ductility, which in advanced years, if those years especially have been left a prey to ignorance, become self-sufficiency and prejudice; and these effectually bar up all the inlets to knowledge.--But,above all, unless habits of attention and application are early gained, we shall scarcely acquire them afterwards.--The inconsiderate youth seldom reflects upon this; nor knows his loss, till he knows also that it cannot be retrieved.

Nor is youth more the season to acquire knowledge, than to form religious habits.

It is a great point to get habit on the side of virtue. It will make every thing smooth and easy. The earliest principles are generally the most lasting; and those of a religious cast are seldom wholly lost. Though the temptations of the world may, now and then, draw the well-principled youth aside; yet his principles being continually at war with his practice, there is hope, that in the end the better part may overcome the worse, and bring on a refor. mation. Whereas, he, who has suffered habits of vice to get possession of his youth, has little chance of being brought back to a sense of religion. In a common course of things it can rarely happen. Some calamity must rouse him. He must be awakened by a storm, or sleep for ever.— How much better is it then to make that easy to us, which we know is best! And to form those habits now, which hereafter we shall wish we had formed!

There are, who would restrain youth from imbibing any religious principles, till they can judge for themselves; lest they should imbibe prejudice for truth. But why should not the same caution be used in science also; and the minds of youth left void of all impressions? The experiment, I fear, in both cases would be dangerous. If the mind were left uncultivated during so long a period, though nothing else would find entrance, vice certainly would: and it would make the larger shoots, as the soil would be vacant. A boy had better receive knowledge and religion mixed with error, than none at all. For when the mind is set a thinking, it may deposit its prejudices by degrees, and get right at last: but in a state of stagnation it will infallibly become foul.

To conclude, our youth bears the same proportion to our more advanced life, as this world does to the next. In this life we must form and cultivate those habits of virtue, which must qualify us for a better state. If we neglect them here, and contract habits of an opposite kind, instead of gaining that exalted state, which is promised to our improvement, we shall of course sink into that state, which is adapted to the habits we have formed.

Exactly thus is youth introductory to manhood: to which it is, properly speaking, a state of preparation. During this season we must qualify ourselves for the parts we are to act hereafter. In manhood we bear the fruit, which has in youth been planted. If we have sauntered away our

youth, we must expect to be ignorant men. If indolence and inattention have taken an early possession of us, they will probably increase as we advance in life; and make us a burden to ourselves, and useless to society. If, again, we suffer ourselves to be misled by vicious inclinations, they may daily get new strength, and end in dissolute lives. But if we cultivate our minds in our youth, attain habits of attention and industry, of virtue and sobriety, we shall find ourselves well prepared to act our future parts in life; and, what above all things ought to be our care, by gaining this command over ourselves, we shall be more able, as we get forward in the world, to resist every new temptation, as it arises. Gilpin.

§ 111. Behaviour to Superiors. We are next enjoined "to order ourselves lowly and reverently to all our betters."

By our betters are meant, they who are in a superior station of life to our own; and by "ordering ourselves lowly and reverently towards them," is meant paying them that respect which is due to their station.

The word "betters" indeed includes two kinds of persons, to whom our respect is due-those who have a natural claim to it; and those who have an acquired one; that is, a claim arising from some particular situation in life.

Among the first, are all our superior relations; not only parents, but all other relations, who are in a line above us. All these have a natural claim to our respect.

-There is a respect also due from youth to age; which is always becoming, and tends to keep youth within the bounds of modesty.

To others, respect is due from those particular stations which arise from society and government. Fear God, says the text; and it adds, “honour the king."

It is due also from many other situations in life. Employments, honours, and even wealth, will exact it; and all may justly exact it, in a proper degree.

But it may here perhaps be inquired, why God should permit this latter distinction among men? That some should have more authority than others, we can easily see, is absolutely necessary in government; but among men, who are all born equal, why should the goods of life be distributed in so unequal a proportion?

To this inquiry, it may be answered, that, in the first place, we see nothing in this, but what is common in all the works of God. A gradation is every where observable. Beauty, strength, swiftness, and other qualities, are varied through the creation in numberless degrees. In the same manner likewise are varied the gifts of fortune, as they are called. Why there fore should one man's being richer than another, surprise us more than his being stronger than another, or prudent?


Though we can but very inadequately trace the wisdom of God in his works, yet very wise reasons appear for this variety in the gifts of fortune. It seems necessary both in a civil, and in a moral light.

In a civil light, it is the necessary accompaniment of various employments; on which depend all the advantages of society. Like the stones of a regular building, some must range higher, and some lower; some must support, and others be supported; some will form the strength of the building, and others its ornament; but all unite in producing one regular and proportioned whole. If then different employments are necessary, of course different degrees of wealth, honour, and consequence, must follow; a variety of distinctions and obligations; in short, different ranks, and a subordination, must take place.

Again, in a moral light, the disproportion of wealth, and other worldly adjuncts, gives a range to the more extensive exercise of virtue. Some virtues could but faintly exist upon the plan of an equality. If some did not abound, there were little room for temperance: if some did not suffer need, there were as little for patience. Other virtues again could hardly exist at all. Who could practise generosity, where there was no object of it? Who humility, where all ambitious desires were excluded?

Since then Providence, in scattering these various gifts, proposes ultimately the good of man, it is our duty to acquiesce in this order, and "to behave ourselves lowly and reverently" (not with servility, but with a decent respect) "to all our superiors."

Before I conclude this subject, it may be proper to observe, in vindication of the ways of Providence, that we are not to suppose happiness and misery necessa

rily connected with riches and poverty. Each condition hath its particular sources both of pleasure and pain, unknown to the other. Those in elevated stations have a thousand latent pangs, of which their inferiors have no idea; while their inferiors again have as many pleasures, which the others cannot taste. I speak only of such modes of happiness or misery which arise immediately from different stations. Of misery, indeed, from a variety of other causes, all men of every station are equal heirs either when God lays his hand upon us in sickness or misfortune; or when, by our own follies and vices, we become the ministers of our own distress.

Who then would build his happiness upon an elevated station? Or who would envy the possession of such happiness in another? We know not with what various distresses that station, which is the object of that envy, may be attended. - Besides, as we are accountable for all we possess, it may be happy for us that we possess so little. The means of happiness, as far as station can procure them, are commonly in our own power, if we are not wanting to ourselves.

Let each of us then do his duty in that station which Providence has assigned him; ever remembering, that the next world will soon destroy all earthly distinctions.One distinction only will remain among the sons of men at that time-the distinction between good and bad; and this distinction it is worth all our pains and all our ambition to acquire. Gilpin.

§ 112. Against wronging our Neighbours by injurious Words.

We are next instructed "to hurt nobody by word or deed-to be true and just in all our dealings-to bear no malice nor hatred in our hearts to keep our hands from picking and stealing-our tongues from evil speaking, lying, and slandering."

The duties comprehended in these words are a little transposed. What should class under one head is brought under another. "To hurt nobody by word or deed," is the general proposition. The under parts should follow: First, "to keep the tongue from evil speaking, lying, and slandering;" which is "to hurt nobody by word." Secondly, "to be true and just in all our dealings;" and "to keep our hands from picking and stealing;" which is, "to hurt nobody by deed." As to

the injunction, "to bear no malice nor hatred in our hearts," it belongs properly to neither of these heads; but it is a distinct one by itself. The duties being thus separated, I shall proceed to explain them.

And, first, of injuring our neighbour by our "words." This may be done, we find, in three ways; by "evil-speaking, by lying, and by slandering."

By "evil-speaking," is meant speaking ill of our neighbours; but upon a supposition, that this ill is the truth. In some circumstances it is certainly right to speak ill of our neighbour; as when we are called upon in a court of justice to give our evidence; or, when we can set any one right in his opinion of a person, in whom he is about to put an improper confidence. Nor can there be any harm in speaking of a bad action, which has been determined in a court of justice, or is otherwise become notorious.

But on the other hand, it is highly disallowable to speak wantonly of the characters of others from common fame: because, in a thousand instances, we find that stories, which have no better foundation, are misrepresented. They are perhaps only half told-they have been heard through the medium of malice and envy some favourable circumstance hath been omitted-some foreign circumstance hath been added-some trifling circumstance hath been exaggerated-the motive, the provocation, or perhaps the reparation, hath been concealed-in short, the representation of the fact is, some way or other, totally different from the fact itself.

But even, when we have the best evidence of a bad action, with all its circumstances before us, we surely indulge a very ill-natured pleasure in spreading the shame of an offending brother. We can do no good; and we may do harm: we may weaken his good resolutions by exposing him: we may harden him against the world. Perhaps it may be his first bad action. Perhaps nobody is privy to it but ourselves. Let us give him at least one trial. Let us not cast the first stone. Which of our lives could stand so strict a scrutiny? He only who is without sin himself, can have any excuse for treating bis brother with severity.

Let us next consider "lying;" which is an intention to deceive by falsehood in our words-To warn us against lying, we

should do well to consider the folly, the meanness, and the wickedness of it.

The folly of lying consists in its defeating its own purpose. A habit of lying is generally in the end detected; and after detection, the liar, instead of deceiving, will not even be believed when he happens to speak the truth. Nay, every single lie is attended with such a variety of circumstances, which lead to a detection, that it is often discovered. The use generally made of a lie, is to cover a fault; but as the end is seldom answered, we only aggravate what we wish to conceal. In point even of prudence, an honest confession would serve us better.

The meanness of lying arises from the cowardice which it implies. We dare not boldly and nobly speak the truth; but have recourse to low subterfuges, which always argue a sordid and disingenuous mind. Hence it is, that in the fashionable world, the word liar is always considered as a term of peculiar reproach.

The wickedness of lying consists in its perverting one of the greatest blessings of God, the use of speech, in making that a mischief to mankind, which was intended for a benefit. Truth is the great bond of society. Falsehood, of course, tends to its dissolution. If one may lie, why not another? And if there is no mutual trust among men, there is an end of all intercourse and dealing.

An equivocation is nearly related to a lie. It is an intention to deceive under words of a double meaning, or words which, literally speaking, are true; and is equally criminal with the most downright breach of truth. When St. Peter asked Sapphira (in the fifth chapter of the Acts) "whether her husband had sold the land for so much?" She answered he had: and literally she spoke the truth; for he had sold it for that sum included in a larger. But having an intention to deceive, we find the apostle considered the equivocation as a lie."

In short, it is the intention to deceive, which is criminal: the mode of deception, like the vehicle in which poison is conveyed, is of no consequence. A nod, sign, may convey a lie as effectually as the most deceitful language.


Under the head of lying may be mentioned a breach of promise. While a resolution remains in our own breasts, it is subject to our own review; but when we make

another person a party with us, an engagement is made; and every engagement, though only of the lightest kind, should be punctually observed. If we have added to this engagement a solemn promise, the obligation is so much the stronger; and he who does not think himself bound by such an obligation, has no pretensions to the character of an honest man. A breach of promise is still worse than a lie. A lie is simply a breach of truth: but a breach of promise is a breach both of truth and trust. Forgetfulness is a weak excuse: it only shews how little we are affected by so solemn an engagement. Should we forget to call for a sum of money, of which we were in want, at an appointed time? Or do we think a solemn promise of less value than a sum of money?

Having considered evil speaking and lying, let us next consider slandering. By slandering, we mean injuring our neighbour's character by falsehood. Here we still rise higher in the scale of injurious words. Slandering our neighbour is the greatest injury which words can do him; and is, therefore, worse than either evil speaking or lying. The mischief of this sin depends on the value of our characters. All men, unless they be past feeling, desire naturally to be thought well of by their fellow-creatures: a good character is one of the principal means of being serviceable either to ourselves or others; and among numbers, the very bread they eat depends upon it. What aggravated inWhat aggravated injury, therefore, do we bring upon every man whose name we slander? And what is still worse, the injury is irreparable. If you defraud a man; restore what you took, and the injury is repaired. But, if you slander him, it is not in your power to shut up all the ears, and all the mouths, to which your tale may have access. The evil spreads like the winged seeds of some noxious plants, which scatter mischief on a breath of air, and disperse it on every side, and beyond prevention.

Before we conclude this subject, it may just be mentioned, that a slander may be spread, as a lie may be told, in various ways. We may do it by an insinuation, as well as in a direct manner: we may spread it in a secret; or propagate it under the colour of friendship.

I may add also, that it is a species of slander, and often a very malignant one, to lessen the merits or exaggerate the

failings of others; as it is likewise to omit defending a misrepresented character, or to let others bear the blame of our offences. Gilpin.

§ 113. Against wronging our Neighbour by injurious Actions.

Having thus considered injurious words, let us next consider injurious actions. On this head we are enjoined "to keep our hands from picking and stealing, and to be true and just in all our dealings."

As to theft, it is a crime of so odious and vile a nature, that one would imagine no person, who hath had the least tincture of a virtuous education, even though driven to necessity, could be led into it.— I shall not, therefore, enter into a dissuasive from this crime; but go on with the explanation of the other part of the injunction, and see what it is to be true and just in all our dealings.

Justice is even still more, if possible, the support of society than truth: inasmuch as a man may be more injurious by his actions, than by his words. It is for this reason, that the whole force of human law is bent to restrain injustice ; and the happiness of every society will increase in proportion to this restraint.


We very much err, however, if we sup pose, that every thing within the bounds of law is justice. The law was intended only for bad men ; and it is impossible to make the meshes of it so straight, but that many very great enormities will escape. well meaning man, therefore, knowing that the law was not made for him, consults a better guide-his own conscience, informed by religion. And, indeed, the great difference between the good and the bad man consists in this: the good man will do nothing, but what his conscience will allow; the bad man will do any thing which the law cannot reach.

It would, indeed, be endless to describe the various ways, in which a man may be dishonest within the limits of the law.

They are as various as our intercourse with mankind. Some of the most obvious of them I shall cursorily mention.

In matters of commerce the knave has many opportunities. The different qualities of the same commodity-the different modes of adulteration-the specious arts of vending-the frequent ignorance in purchasing; and a variety of other circumstances, open an endless field to the inge

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