Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

either unable, or uninclined, to make any serious distinction between these kinds of conduct. All these will directly plead the example as a justification of themselves, or at least as a palliation of their own guilt. This will peculiarly be the fact, where the persons concerned are persons of reputation: and, unfortunately, a considerable number of those, who employ themselves in Gaming for amusement, are of this character. The example of one such person will be pleaded by all who know it. Under the wing of one such man, a multitude of Gamblers, almost all of whom are without reputation, and great numbers, low, contemptible beings, will gather; and feel themselves brooded in safety, and secured from the dreaded intrusions of public censure. Were Gambling unfurnished with reputable and fashionable examples, it would, I think, be easily exterminated from the world. Every person, possessed of a generally fair character, may therefore feel assured, that, if he games for amusement, he is one of the means, and not a small one, of keeping Gambling alive among mankind; and that he contributes, efficaciously, to the existence of all the sin, and all the misery, which it will produce at future periods. To these observations it will probably be replied, “...Must I deny myself an innocent pleasure, because my neighbour is pleased to make a bad use of my example St. Paul has long since answered this j." For meat, destroy not the work of God. All things ineed are pure ; but it is evil for that man, who eateth with offence. It is goi. to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Rom. xiv. 20, 21. And again, 1 Cor. viii. 13, Wherefore, if meat make my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth ; les: I make my brother to offend. However innocent Gaming for amusement may be, it cannot be more innocent than eating flesh, than doing that, which the Apostle has pronounced pure. Yet the Apostle, and God who inspired him, have declared, that whatever occasions our brother to stumble, or fall into sin, it is good not to do, however innocent it may be otherwise: and the Apostle has declared, that he would not i. this, even though eating flesh, so innocent, so directly allowed by God, and so important as food for man, were the thing in question; no, not while the world standeth. Nay, he has further declared in the verse preceding that, last quoted, that, when in such cases we wound the weak conscience of our brother, we sin against Christ. All this he declares concerning eating flesh, and concerning every other innocent thing. If then our Gaming for amusement be what it cannot fail to be, a cause of inducing others to Game for money, to become Gamesters, and to fall into any or all of these sins; then in Gaming for amusement we sin against Christ by wounding the conscience of our weaker brethren, and becoming the direct means of tempting them to sin. The supposition here made is, however, false. Gaming for amusement, in such as are either partially, or wholly, Games of chance, particularly with cards and dice, is not, and cannot be innocent. It is, almost of course, a sinful waste of time. As an amusement it is unnecessary and useless. It refreshes neither the mind, nor the body; and fails, therefore, essentially of being a lawful amusement. Better amusements can always be substituted for it; particularly exercise, reading; and conversation; and among amusements, as well as among employments, we are bound to se. lect the best in our power. The controversy, the hope of victory, the reluctance to be vanquished; and, universally, that continual state of suspense and anxiety, always experienced in Gaming; have, although in a less degree, substantially the same influence on the mind, and are furnished with the same temptations, which are found in Gaming for money. In addition to these things, Gaming for money is almost always the consequence of an addiction to Gaming for amusement. The expectation, that we shall be able to withstand the allurements, '. which others have fallen, is a mere and ruinous presumption; the presumption of a man, wise in his own conceit; of whom there is less hope than of a fool. The probabilities, that we shall fall where so o have fallen, are millions to one; and the contrary opinion is only a dream of luna. . At the same time, no man can stand up in his closet, before his Maker, and thank him for the privilege of Gaming to-day, or ask his blessing, to enable him to game to-morrow. But the influence of example is abundantly, sufficient to prove the sinfulness of Gaming for amusement. Call to mind the extent, to which this evil has spread. . Think what amazing multitudes have been corrupted, distressed, and ruined, by it for this world, and that which is to come. Think how many families have been lunged by it in o and overwhelmed by it in vice. Think i. many persons have become liars, at the Gaming-table; how many perjured; how many drunkards; how many blasphemers; how many suicides. { Europe,” said Montesquieu, “is to be ruined; it will be ruined by Gaming.” Remember, that, unless persons of reputation gamed for amusement, persons without reputation would soon cease to game for money. Then call to mind, that your example is one of the means, which produce all these evils, and continue the practice, together with its miserable conseuences, in the world. Remember, that you set the snare, spread i. corruption, and effectuate the ruin; that you help to fill the world with wretchedness and sin, and both allure, and lead, your fellow-men to final perdition. With these plain and solemn truths in full view, look up to God; and, if you can, declare that there is no sin in Gaming for Amusement.

Vol. III., 60

SERMON CXXV.

NINTH COMMANDMENT.—THE NATURE AND IMPORTANCE OF TRUTH And Vera City.

[ocr errors]

Exodus xx. 16.-Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

THE preceding Command was intended to secure Justice to mankind : this was intended to establish Truth.

The word Truth denotes, among other things,

I. Such Declarations, as are accordant with the real state of things :

; That division of Truth, which is called Moral, or Evangelical : 3. Veracity; or a disposition to speak Truth :

4. Faithfulness; or a disposition to fulfil, exactly, Promises, Trusts, and Covenants.

Under this Command are properly ranged the following Sub

jects.

I. Truth;

II. Lying ;

III. Perjury; and

IV. Slander.

These I propose to consider in the order specified.

The first of them, viz. Truth, shall occupy the present discourse. In examining it, it is my design to consider the Nature and Importance of Truth, and the Importance of Veracity.

Concerning the former of these Subjects I observe,

1. That Truth is an account of the real state of things.

JMathematical Truth is an account of the real state of Number, and Quantity, together with their various relations; Philosophical Truth, understood in the natural sense, of Material bodies, and their operations; and Moral Truth, of Intelligent beings, their relations, their duties, and their actions.

The real state of things is that, with which only we have any concern: and with this our concern is infinite. In the present world, so far as the present world is concerned, our whole interest is involved in the real state of ourselves, our business, and the subjects of it; our families, our country, and mankind. The collection of truths, which we receive concerning these and other subjects, is what is called knowledge: our guide to all that conduct, which may be useful to us, and our security against that, which may be noxious. The truth, that bread is wholesome food, enables us to eat it with safety. A falsehood, in this case, might lead us to swallow poison. A knowledge of the true state of our

farms, and of agriculture, enables us to cultivate our farms with profit. A knowledge of the real state of the markets, enables us to trade with safety and success. A knowledge of the real characters of men, enables us to choose those, who will be our real friends; and secures us from inviting to our friendship base and treacherous men. Misapprehension in these respects, would ruin both our business and ourselves. In the Moral World, the truth concerning God, his pleasure, ourselves, the relations which we sustain to him and to each other, and the duties springing from these relations, enables us to obey him; to become blessings to each other; and to obtain the blessings of immortality. Éli. in these respects, would lead us infinitely astray. False apprehensions of God have led a great part of mankind to worship devils, men, beasts, trees, stocks, and stones; to mistake sin for virtue, and ruin for safety. No man ever dreamed, that his interests lay in the regions of fiction, or that his sober correspondence should be carried on with fairies and genii. But the man, who embraces falsehood, and is gov.# by it, places his interests, so far, in a world equally visionary; and corresponds not with real beings, but with creatures of fancy. As happiness can never come to us from the regions of fiction, or their imaginary inhabitants; so happiness never sprang, and never will spring, from false views of the real world, and its real inhabitants. Our only connexion with these objects is through the medium of truth, or the knowledge of their real state. 2. Truth is, in itself, a rich source of Enjoyment. By this I intend, that it is an object immediately enjoyed; and that, when presented to the o it communicates pleasure of course. Fiction may be, in this sense, and, I acknowledge, often is, a source of o to the mind. God, to raise our views to a better world than that which has been ruined by our apostacy, and to awaken in us desires for a nobler |. than any which this world supplies, has made us capable of forming many delightful objects in our imagination; many, which are ...}. many, which are sublime; and many, which are wonderful. On these the mind rests with pleasure, during short periods; especially in youth; and, so long as they are ". as objects of imagination merely, they are sources of pleasure, which may be really enjoyed, and to a considerable extent. But when any fiction is changed into a falsehood; when it ceases to be an object of the imagination, and becomes an object of belief; it is always, sooner or later, a source of suffering, and not of enjoyment. Even in the character of fiction, it gradually loses its power to please. As we advance in years, š. love of Truth, considered as a source of pleasure merely, takes its place; and the mind seeks

for enjoyment in knowledge, and not in the exercises of imagination. But Truth is always capable of yielding more delight to the mind, than fiction: or, in other words, intellectual enjoyment is always capable of being superior to that, which flows in by the fancy. he actual state of o: which God has made, is, in every respect, more beautiful, glorious, and desirable, than any which the mind can imagine. Every person, who understands the modes, in which the mind is actively employed in forming complex ideas, whether of the Intellect, or the Imagination, knows, that all such ideas are made out of those, which it receives from objects really existing. These it can compound, and compare ; but can add to them nothing, but what it has already perceived. New beauty, new sublimity, new loveliness, it can form only by bringing together, in new unions, the perception of beauty, sublimity, and loveliness, which it has derived either from the actual state of things, or from Revelation. In the objects formed by the fancy, therefore, there can be nothing, in degree, more sublime, beautiful, or lovely, than that, which it has already received. In eonformity with these observations, no object was ever described by the pen of man, so as to make the impression of sublimity equally with the object itself. No images in human writings were ever so sublime, as those of Inspiration. No character, formed by the imagination, was ever to be compared with that of Christ. When I speak of the actual state of things, which God has made, as in every respect more beautiful, glorious, and desirable, than any, which the mind can imagine, I mean the whole state of things. The Universe is a single system. Every thing, belonging to it, is a necessary, and proper, part of the system : such a part, as Infinite Wisdom thought it best to make; and, therefore such, as was more desirable, than any thing else, in its place. The whole, taken together, is a perfect system: the result of the perfect views of the All-Perfect Mind. In such a sense is it perfect, that it is truly said, Jehovah shall rejoice in his Works: that is, because all, united, are such, as to accomplish, to the utmost, the good pleasure of his boundless Wisdom. The Truth concerning this system, or the knowledge of its real state, will for ever delight, as well as enlarge, the minds of virtuous and immortal beings. In the present world, imperfect, prejudiced, and narrow, as our minds are, the exhibitions of Truth concerning this subject in the Scriptures, are not only superior to every thing, conceived by the human imagination, but more delightful to every virtuous being; more delightful beyond comparison, as well as superior beyond degree. he Character of God; the Mediation of the Redeemer; the Agency of the Divine Spirit; the dispensations of infinite mercy the restoration of sinners to virtue and happiness; the con

« AnteriorContinuar »