Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

it is absolutely impossible; and that, if possible, what would be gained by it? What would be gained by it? Society at large would, in the end, gain a degree of safety and purity far beyond what it has hitherto known; and, in the meanwhile, the individuals who speak truth would obtain a prize worthy the highest aspirings of earthly ambition, the constant and involuntary confidence and reverence of their fellow creatures.

The consciousness of truth and ingenuousness gives a radiance to the countenance, a freedom to the play of the lips, a persuasion to the voice, and a graceful dignity to the person, which no other quality of mind can equally bestow. And who is not able to recollect the direct contrast to this picture exhibited by the conscious utterer of falsehood and disingenuousness? Who has not observed the downcast eye, the snapping restless eyelid, the changing colour, and the hoarse, impeded voice, which sometimes contradict what the hesitating lip utters, and stamp, on the positive assertion, the undoubted evidence of deceit and insincerity?

Those who make up the usual mass of society are, when tempted to its common dissimulations, like little boats on the ocean, which are continually forced to shift sail, and row away from danger; or, if obliged to await it, are necessitated, from want of power, to get on one side of the billow, instead of directly meeting it. While the firm votaries of truth, when exposed to the temptations of falsehood, proceed undaunted along the direct course, like the majestic vessel, coming boldly and directly on, breasting the waves in conscious security, and inspiring confidence in all whose well-being is intrusted to them. Is it not a

delightful sensation to feel and to inspire confidence? Is it not delightful to know, when we lie down at night, that, however darkness may envelope us, the sun will undoubtedly rise again, and chase away the gloom? True, he may rise in clouds, and his usual splendour may not shine out upon us during the whole diurnal revolution; still we know that though there be not sunshine, there will be light, and we betake ourselves to our couch, confiding in the assurances of past experience, that day will succeed to night, and light to darkness. But, is it not equally delightful to feel this cheering confidence in the moral system of the circle in which we move? And can any thing inspire it so much as the constant habit of truth in those with whom we live ? To know that we have friends on whom we can always rely for honest counsel, ingenuous reproof, and since re sympathy, to whom we can look with neverdoubting confidence in the night of our soul's despondency, knowing that they will rise on us like the cheering never-failing light of day, speaking unwelcome truths perhaps, but speaking them with tenderness and discretion,--is, surely, one of the dearest comforts which this world can give. It is the most precious of the earthly staffs, permitted to support us as we go, trembling, short-sighted, and weary, pilgrims, along the chequered path of

[ocr errors]

human existence.

And is it not an ambition worthy of thinking and responsible beings to endeavour to qualify ourselves, and those whom we love, to be such friends as these ? And if habits of unblemished truth will bestow this qualification, were it not wise to labour hard in order to attain them, undaunted by difficulty, undeterred by the sneers of worldlings, who cannot believe in the possibility of that

moral excellence which they feel themselves unable to obtain ?

To you, O ye parents and preceptors! I particularly address myself. Guard your own lips from "speaking leasing," that the quickly discerning child or servant, may not, in self-defence, set the force of your example against that of your precepts. If each individual family would seriously resolve to avoid every species of falsehood themselves, whether authorized by custom or not, and would visit every deviation from truth, in those accused, with punishment and disgrace, the example would unceasingly spread; for, even now, wherever the beauty of truth is seen, its influence is immediately felt, and its value acknowledged. Individual efforts, however humble, if firm and repeated, must be ultimately successful, as the feeble mouse in the fable was, at last, enabled, by its perseverance, to gnaw the cords asunder which held the mighty lion. Difficult, I own, would such general purification be; but what is impossible to zeal and enterprize?

Hercules, as fabulous but instructive story tells us, when he was required to perform the apparently impossible task of cleansing the Augean stables, exerted all his strength, and turned the course of a river through them to effect his purpose, proving by his success, that nothing is impossible to perseverance and exertion; and however long the duration, and wide-spreading the pollutions of falsehood and dissimulation in the world, there is a river, which, if suffered to flow over their impurities, is powerful enough to wash away every stain, since it flows from the "FOUNTAIN OF EVER-LIVING WATERS."

"

CHAPTER XVI.

RELIGION THE ONLY BASIS OF TRUTH.

ALL the moralists from whom I have quoted, and those on whom I have commented in the preceding chapters, have treated the subject of truth, as moralists only. They do not lay it down as an indisputable fact, that truth, as a principle of action, is obligatory on us all, in enjoined obedience to the clear dictates of revealed religion. Therefore, they have kept out of sight the strongest motives to abhor lying, and cleave unto truth, OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE WILL; yet, as necessary as were the shield and the buckler to the ancient warriors, is the breastplate of faith" to the cause of spontaneous truth. It has been asserted that morality might exist in all its power and purity, were there no such thing as religion, since it is conducive to the earthly interests and happiness of man. But, are moral motives sufficient to protect us in times of particular temptations? There appears to me the same difference between morality, unprotected by religious motives, and morality derived from them, as between the palace of ice, famous in Russian story, and a castle built of ever-during stone; perfect to the eye, and, as if formed to last for ever was the building of frost-work, ornamented and lighted up for the pleasure of the sovereign; but, it melted away before the power of natural and artificial warmth, and was quickly resolved to the element from which it sprung. But the castle formed of stones joined together by a strong and enduring cement, is proof against all assailment; and, even though it may be occasion

ally shattered by the enemies, it still towers in its grandeur, indestructible, though impaired. In like manner, unassailable and perfect, in appearance, may be the virtue of the mere moralist; but when assailed by the warmth of the passions on one side, and by different enemies on the other, his virtue, like the palace of ice, is likely to melt away, and be as though it had not been. But, the virtue of the truly religious man, even though it may on occasion be slightly shaken, is yet proof against any important injury; and remains, spite of temptation and danger, in its original purity and power. The moral man may, therefore utter spontaneous truth; but the religious man must: for he remembers the following precepts, which amongst others he has learned from the scriptures; and knows that to speak lies is displeasing to the GOD OF TRUTH.

In the 6th chapter of Leviticus, the Lord threatens the man" Who lies to his neighbour, and who deceives his neighbour." Again he says, "Ye shall not deal falsely, neither lie to one another." We read in the Psalms that "the Lord will destroy those who speak leasing." He is said to be angry with the wicked every day, who have conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood. "He that worketh deceit," says the Psalmist, "shall not dwell within my house-he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight." The Saviour, in the 8th chapter of John, calls the devil" a liar, and the father of lies." Paul, in the 3d chapter of Colossians, says, "Lie not one to another!" Prov. vi. 19, "The Lord hates a false witness that speaketh lies." Prov. ix. "And he that speaketh lies shall perish." Prov. xix. 22, "A poor man is better than a liar." James iii. 14,

« ÎnapoiContinuă »