Графични страници
PDF файл

versation; and among amusements, as well as among employments, we are bound to select 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 by 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 many have fallen, are millions to one ; and the contrary opipion is only a dream of lunacy. At the same time, no man can stand up in his closet before bis Maker, and thank bim 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 plunged by it in beggary, and overwhelmed by it in vice. Think how many persons have become liars at the gaming table, how many perjured, how many drunkards, how many blasphemers, how many suicides.

“ If 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

Then call to mind, that ample is one of the means which produce all these evils, and continue the practice, together with its miserable consequences, in the world. Remember, that you set the snare, spread the 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.

[ocr errors]

for money.

your ex








The preceding command was intended to secure justice to mankind : this was intended to establish truth.

The word truth denotes, among other things,

1. Such declarations as are accordant with the real state of things.

2. 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 Subjects.

I. Truth.
II. Lying.
III. Perjury.
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.

Mathematical 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 only 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. Falsehood, 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 sio for virtue, and ruin for safety. No man ever dreamed that bis interests lay in the regions of fiction, or that his sober corres

pondence should be carried on with fairies and genii. But the man who embraces falsehood, and is governed 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 inhabitauts. Our only connection 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 mind it communicates pleasure of course.

Fiction may be in this sense, and I acknowledge often is, a source of real enjoyment to the mind. God, to raise our views to a better world than that which has been ruined by our apostasy, and to awaken in us desires for a nobler happiness than any which this world supplies, has made us capable of forming many delightful objects in our imagination, many which are beautiful, 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 regarded 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 au 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, the 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 mivd than fiction; or, in other words, intellectual enjoyment is always capable of being superior to that, which flows in by the fancy. The actual state of things wbich God has inade, 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 conformity 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 wbich 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. The character of God, the mediation of the Redeemer, the agency of the Divine Spirit, the dispensations of infinite mercy, the restoration of sinners to vir

« ПредишнаНапред »