« AnteriorContinuar »
conduct has been strictly conformed to the rigid dictates of truth. At the same time, oblige them to fulfil all their own promises; however self-denying the fulfilment may be to them, and however expensive, or troublesome, to you. This discipline will, ere long, teach them not to promise rashly, and to regard every promise, which they make, as sacred and unalterable. Universally, make the establishment of an unwarping veracity in their minds a prime, and ever-present, object of your parental labours; and, until this object is accomplished, devote to it the energy of your minds, and the efforts of your lives. 2. Prevent them from keeping Company with deceitful persons. Forbid them absolutely to consort with those, who are known to be of this character. Restrain them from every place, frequented by such persons; from taverns; from public corners; from horse-races; and, universally, from every lounging, idle resort. The plague is usually taken by infection. He, therefore, who is on healthy ground, will be safe. Suffer your children, then, on no occasion to become the companions of loose, immoral persons. Of them your children will learn to lie, of course ; and that, however faithful may be your instructions, and however unspotted your example. Remember, yourselves, and teach them, that the companion of fools shall be destroyed. 3. If your children are, at any time, guilty of deceit; endeavour by the best means in your power to prevent every future transgression, of the same nature. Rehearse to them, solemnly and kindly, all the interesting considerations, which I have mentioned, and every other useful thought, which your own minds may suggest. Present to them, particularly, clear, affecting views of their guilt, and their danger; and forcibly exhibit to them the ruinous efficacy of falsehood on every interest of time, and eternity. If the transgression demands a punishment; never administer it in a passion. Delay the administration, not only until you are free from every resentful emotion, but until you are secure of preserving your equanimity in spite of any incidental provocation, and are absolutely collected, and self-controlled. In this state of mind, accompany the discipline with solemn instructions, calm reproofs, and affectionate testimonies of the mingled pain and pity, with which you regard the guilty transaction. If one punishment, if, for example, correction, fails of producing a reformation; vary your inflictions, successively, through the several modes of discipline, until you have gained the object. Shame, or confinement, will often accomplish what correction cannot. If these prove ineffectual; the denial of favourite indulgences, and the deprivation of customary privileges, will often produce reformation. A string may almost always be struck, which will accord with the state of the heart; an effort made, which will ensure a victory. In the mean time, if your child is charged with some other fault, and frankly tells the truth concerning it; remit either the whole, or a part, of the punishment, due to his crime, discretionarily; as a proof of the high value, which you place upon his veracity. 4. Commend them to the constant care and blessing of God. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain. As God alone can preserve them; so, if you ask Him in earnest, you have every reason to hope that He will. I shall now address the subject to all such persons, as have arrived at that period of life, in which they are capable of taking some useful care of themselves. To such persons the following directions may be means of guarding against this fatal evil. 1. Watch faithfully over your speech. Consider, before you speak, whether what you are about to say is true, right, kind, and useful; or false, unkind, and mischievous; and determine to utter nothing, until you are satisfied. Steadily resist a propensity to talk much; remembering, that in a multitude of words there wanteth not sin ; and never speak at all, unless some good purpose be answered; unless some useful information be given; some innocent pleasure communicated; or some other lawful end accomplished. Resist a disposition to give characters; to recite family-news; to expose private failings; and to ridicule personal imperfections. Ask yourselves whether you would be willing, that your own sailings should be published, repeated, and ridiculed. Remem
ber, that others, thus attacked, will feel as you would feel; and that, as you would resent such a base intrusion upon your peace, so they, when in the same manner wounded by you, will become your enemies; and will sooner or later find an opportunity of making you feel their resentment. Remember further, that even those, who hear, and applaud, what you say, may yet, and often do, despise you for saying it; that they will ever afterwards regard you with suspicion, shun you as dangerous to their safety, and characterize you as nuisances to society. In this manner, before you are aware, your characters will become odious, and your reputation be lost. When you repeat any thing, strive to repeat it exactly. Neither enhance, nor lessen. Colour nothing beyond the strict truth. Recite that, and that only, which you believe ; and express no more confidence in what you recite, than you really feel. Recite, also, so much of the circumstances, drift, and tendency, of the transaction, which is your subject, as fairly to explain its true nature, and the real character, and conduct, of those who were concerned. Refrain from speaking, when you are in a passion. All passionate words are dangerous and sinful. The wisest, and most guarded, persons, when provoked, utter, at times, things which they regret ever afterwards. Moses, the meekest of all men, when provoked at Meribah, spoke unadvisedly with his lips; and was forbidden to enter the Land of promise. Guard, especially, against making promises in a passion. Such promises will often involve you in serious difficulties; and prove snares, and traps, to your feet. You will feel a strong reluctance to fulfil, and powerful temptations to break, them : temptations, which frequently overcome vigorous resolutions, subvert established reputation, and lead their miserable victims fatally astray. Many persons, and youths more than almost any others, are prone to make rash and inconsiderate promises. Few propensities are more unhappy than this ; or conduct men to more bitter consequences. Universally resolve to make no promise, when it can fairly be avoided. When it cannot, guard it with such conditions, as shall render it certainly safe. Consider, particularly, whether you possess the means of a faithful performance: if not, make no promises. In this manner you will escape the most dangerous temptations to falsehood, and the most alarming exposures to shame and ruin. 2. Fir in your minds the most solemn resolutions to speak Truth only. Call to mind, daily, the immense advantages of Truth, and the immense evils of Falsehood. These advantages resolve to acquire: these evils determine not to suffer. Both, to a considerable extent, have been set before you. Ponder them deeply, and daily, as their importance deserves. Determine, that no person shall ever have it in his power to charge you with falsehood. Determine never to say any thing, which shall enable your enemies to triumph, or force your friends to blush; to say nothing, which you would be ashamed to have recorded of you; nothing, which shall forbid you to look an honest man in the face; nothing, which in the presence of such a man shall force your eyes, when they meet his, to labour, linger, and fall. Resolve firmly never to flatter any man. Speak that, which is good, of others, when you can ; and, when you cannot, speak, at least in ordinary cases, nothing. Remember, that a flattering mouth worketh ruin for him who flatters, as well as for him who is flattered. Be able therefore with Elihu nobly to say, Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person; neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles: in so doing my Maker would soon take me away. To strengthen your resolutions, remember alway, that, when you are once embarked in deceit, you are wholly afloat; will be driven you know not whither without either compass or pilot; and will be cnvironed by rocks and shoals, threatening you unceasingly with irremediable destruction. 3. Frequent the Company of Wise and Good men only. In this society you will find temptations, not spread before you, but taken away; examples, which will not corrupt, but strengthen you in virtue. Here you will always find honour, peace, and profit, instead of shame, anxiety, and ruin. If you will seek this society, and this only; you will be welcomed to their esteem, and good offices; and will gain from their precepts and example, wisdom, truth, noble sentiments, and the most excellent conduct. These they will enforce by ten thousand motives, unthought of by licentious men, instinctively rising up to view, presented in strong lights, and exhibited with powerful persuasion. The excellency, usefulness, and glory, of virtue they will unfold to you in many ways, of which loose men never entertain a thought, and of which you yourselves have probably not formed a conception. This divine object, also, they will commend to your adoption by the charms of an amiable, honourable, and delightful Example. Their sentiments you will imbibe, even before you are aware. Their exalted spirit you will catch. Their dignified life you will make your own. Here, you will soon learn to wonder, to be astonished, that yourselves, that any being who possesses a rational mind, could ever frequent, or ever think for a moment of frequenting, the haunts of licentious men; the scenes of profaneness, gaming, fraud, and falsehood; where darkness spreads her funeral pall; where oaths and obscenity, lies and blasphemies, furnish a dreadful prelude to a more enormous perpetration of the same foul sins in the world of perdition. To exchange the society which I have recommended for these haunts, would, in your own view, be to quit the splendours of a palace for the loathsome horrors of a jail; to wander from the sweets of Eden into the gloom, the chains, and the madness, of a dungeon. 4. To strengthen yourselves in all the conduct, which I have recommended, labour to fir in your minds a strong, solemn, and ha. bitual, sense of the amazing importance of speaking truth alway. Truth is the foundation of all virtue, and of all permanent happiness. Establish this great doctrine in your minds so, that it shall never be forgotten; so, that it shall be a part of your whole train of thinking, and inwoven, as an habitual, commanding principle, in all your conduct. Bring it home to your hearts; and spurn at the thought of regarding it even with a momentary indifference. Remember, that Confidence is the foundation of all good ; that, unless you can confide in others, you cannot live a single day with comfort, or even with safety; that you can confide no far. *r than others speak truth, andfulfil promises; and that univer.