Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ten defined with mathematical exactness, almost always clearly known, and rarely capable of being mistaken. Yet in how many ways, forms, and varieties, is this duty violated By how many individuals . Of how many classes Who, however wise, honourable, or excellent, however reverenced, or beloved, is not, at times, the victim of fraud, and the dupe of cunning ! The known instances are innumerable. What endless multitudes are probably unknown, except by the Omniscient Eye! How great a part of human time and talents has been employed only in Fraud! One hundred and twenty thousand persons, in the City of London alone, are declared by the judicious Calhoun to derive the whole, or the chief part, of their subsistence from fraudulent practices. Here, villainy of this nature has become a science; and is pursued, not merely without remorse, but with system; with a coolness, which laughs at morality; an ingenuity, which baffles detection; an industry, which would do honour to virtue; and a success, which overwhelms the mind with amazement. All these things exist in the Capital of that country, which has been more distinguished, than any other, for knowledge, morality, and Religion. But London is not alone concerned in this iniquity. It prevails wherever rights are claimed, or property exists. In our own country, so young, and distinguished beyond most others for the moral character of its inhabitants, it prevails in a manner, which ought to cover us with shame and sorrow. Frauds, of all the kinds which have been mentioned, are not only prattised, but avowed. Nay, many of them have ceased to wear the name of frauds. Oppressive bargains are customarily styled by those, who make them, good bargains ; and boasted of as specimens of ingenuity, skill, and success. Debts, in multiplied instances, are contracted without honesty; and withholden by mere fraud. Even the settlement of estates furnishes, often, gross exhibitions of oppression and cheating; and the widow and the fatherless are made a prey. Why is this done 2 Because the deceased is gone, and cannot detect the iniquity; because those, whom he has left behind, are without defence, and without remedy. A great part of the business of Legislators is the prevention

of fraud. To detect and punish it, is the chief employment of Judicial tribunals. How immense have been the labours of both ; and to how vast an extent have they laboured in vain! How frequently do we ourselves see character, safety, and the soul, all hazarded for a pittance of gain, contemptible in itself; and of no consequence to him who cheats his neighbour, and sells himself, to acquire it! With what unceasing toil, and under what hard bondage, does the miser wear and waste his life, to filch from those around him little gleanings of property, merely to bury it in his chest, and without daring to use it for himself or his family How frequently do swindlers, and gamblers, like the troubled ghosts of antiquity, haunt places of public resort; and stare in open day, and in circles of decent men, until the hour of darkness arrives ; when they may again, like their kindred vampyres, satiate themselves upon rottenness and corruption How often is war made ; how often are oceans of blood spilt; lives destroyed in millions; and immense portions of human happiness extinguished; merely to plunder others of their property' To all these evils, instruction, example, laws, punishments, conscience, the Word of God, and the prospect of damnation, oppose their force and terror in vain. Prudence and policy contend against it with as little success. All nations have pronounced honesty to be more profitable than any other conduct. Poverty on the one hand, and infamy on the other, have ever threatened the intentional knave with a whip of scorpions. Still, he walks onward coolly, and steadily, unmoved either by the remonstrances of earth and Heaven, or the dangers of Hell. 2. These observations show the vast importance of fixing in our own minds, and in the minds of our children, the strongest sense, and the most vigorous habits, of exact, Evangelical Integrity. He, who wishes to live well here, and to be happy hereafter, must in all his intentional dealings ask, as an all-controlling question, What is right? and make all things bend to the answer. “Fiat justitia; rual calum,” ought to be the governing maxim of private as well as public life. Of all virtues, Justice and Truth are the first in order, the first in importance. To them every thing ought to give way. If they are permitted to rule, man cannot fail to be virtuous, amiable, and happy. But every moral truth, and every moral precept, is of more consequence to children, and may be made of more use to them, than it can be to others. Good seed, sown in the spring-time of life, cannot ordinarily fail to produce a harvest; which will be vainly expected, if it be sown in the autumn. The parent, who values the comfort, character, or salvation, of his child, will impress on his young and tender mind, in the most affecting manner possible, the incalculable excellence and importance of integrity, and the inestimable worth of an unblemished character, and an unsullied life. At this hopeful period, the parent should inweave into the mind of the child, as a part of his constitutional thinking, a strong conviction, that property itself, according to the usual dispensations of God, is to be acquired only by uprightness of conduct; and that fraud is the highway to beggary, as well as to shame. Peace of conscience, he should be taught from the first, can never dwell in the same soul with injustice: and without peace of conscience, he should know, the soul will be poor and miserable. Habitually should he remember, that the Eye of God looks alway upon the heart; and that every dishonest design, word, and act, is recorded in that book, out of which he will be judged at the great day. Finally, he should learn the unvarying fact; that one fraud generates another of course; and that thus the dishonest man corrupts, unceasingly, his heart and his life, and is seen by all around him to be a vessel of wrath, daily fitting for destruction. All these instructions, example should enforce, and sanction: and on them all prayer should invoke its efficacious blessings. 3. These observations teach us how greatly such, as are customarily styled Moral men, deceive themselves. Multitudes of men, who sustain this character, censure Preachers for dwelling so frequently on the Doctrines of the Gospel, and for not introducing, oftener, its moral precepts into their Sermons. These persons regard themselves as being moral in the proper sense; and wish preachers to inculcate just such morality, as they themselves practise. They pay their debts, and

wish other men to pay theirs; keep true accounts; sell at the market prices; make as good bargains, as they can ; and get as much money, as they can, in this manner. These are the things, which they wish preachers to inculcate. Such persons are yet to learn, that the Morality of the Gospel is wonderfully different from all this. It includes whatever I have said, in this and the preceding discourses, concerning the Law of God; whatever I shall say in the succeeding ones; and more than I have said, or can say, in both. The Morality of the Gospel begins in an honest and good heart, disposed to render alway, and exactly, to our neighbour the things that are our neighbour's, and to God the things that are God's. It knows not, it disdains, it abominates, the tricks, the fetches, the disguises, the concealments, the enhancements, the delays of payment, the depreciated payments, the base gains, and the double-minded character, always found in the coarse-spun morality of this world. Worldly Morality aims supremely, and only, at being rich; Evangelical Morality at doing that, which is right. Every person satisfied with worldly morality, who hears this sermon, will probably go away from it, displeased with what he will call its rigidness; and discontented to find, that what he has been accustomed to think his own strong-hold furnishes him with so little either of safety, or comfort. But let him remember, that, whether he is pleased or displeased, no Morality, short of this will answer the demands of the Law of God.

SERMON CXXIV.

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT.

GAMING.

Exodus xx. 15.
Thou shalt not steal.

THE Frauds, practised by men upon themselves, and their families; and a variety of Frauds, perpetrated by mankind upon each ather, have occupied the two preceding discourses. I shall now proceed to the consideration of another Fraud of this latter class ; viz. Gaming. Multitudes of persons professedly believe Gaming to be innocent; and accordingly labour not a little to justify it to others. As they aim to clear it from all imputations of criminality; it will be both proper, and necessary, to consider the subject generally; that its advocates may perceive, that it is not only fraudulent, but sinful in many other respects. The Observations, which I shall make on this subject, will be arranged under the following Heads. I. The Evils of Gaming, which immediately respect Others : and, II. Those, which immediately respect Ourselves. .4mong the evils, which respect others, I observe,

« AnteriorContinuar »