Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

great principles upon which they thought it their duty to act. “It is necessary,” say they, “in our intercourse with the Hindoos, that, as far as we are able, we abstain from those things which would increase their prejudices against the gospel. Those parts of English manners which are most offensive to them should be kept out of sight; nor is it advisable at once to attack their prejudices by exhibiting with acrimony the sins of their gods; neither should we do violence to their images, nor interrupt their worship."

Now if this forbearance from every thing provoking, whether in language or in manner, was expedient in dealing with the errors of the grossly idolatrous pagans, it is assuredly not less expedient for fellow christians, in their treatment of the real or supposed religious errors of one another. Bitter revilings and contumelious denouncements always provoke, but never convince. If they are used instead of argument, they betray a conscious weakness, for it is much easier to revile and denounce than to argue. And furthermore, we are quite as apt to be furiously in the wrong as to be furiously in the right: or if even we know ourselves to be right as to matter, we put ourselves in the wrong as to manner, if we make use of foul weapons, rather than those which the armory of reason supplies.

Manner is to be carefully studied by every one, whether in a public or a private station, who undertakes to reclaim the vicious, or convince the erring : for what would be beneficial if done in one manner, would be worse than labour lost if done in another. A haughty, supercilious manner never wins, seldom convinces, and always disgusts : whereas that which indicates meekness and unmingled benevolence and compassion, rarely fails of some salutary impression ; especially if suavity of manner be accompanied with force of reasoning

and a due regard be had to time, place, and circumstances.

No very long while ago, Mr. an American clergyman, as distinguished, for pious zeal as for eminent parts, was passing a river in a ferry boat, along with company of some distinction, among which was a military officer, who repeatedly made use of profane language. Mr. --- continued silent till they had landed, when asking him aside, he expostulated with him in such a moving manner that the officer expressed his thanks, and his deep sorrow for his offence; but added withal, “ Sir, if you had reproved me before the company, I should have drawn my sword upon you.

There are some who glory in it, that by their plaindealing they wound the pride of those they deal with. Peradventure with greater pride they do it. Often we are so little aware of the obliquities of our own hearts, that we may be feeding and nourishing pride within ourselves, whilst we are zealously aiming our blows at the pride of others. Our love of chiding, our coarse bluntness, which we fondly term an honest plainheartedness, or warmth of zeal, may possibly spring from other motives than those of pure christian benevolence.

In the governance of children, very much indeed depends on Manner. If you provoke your children to anger, little will they regard, at the time, the wholesome counsel that is mingled with the provocation you give them. Reproof is ever as a bitter pill to the receiver, and when administered even to children, it must be done with visible marks of tender affection to sweeten it; else it will be more likely to do harm than good.

NUMBER XXXVI.

Of Truth-speaking as denoting courage.

1

* Dare to be true ; nothing can need a lie ;
The fault that needs it most, grows two thereby."

It requires no inconsiderable degree of courage always to speak the truth. And hence, in the 14th and 15th centuries, commonly termed the age of chivalry, the two points of honour, in the male sex, were Valour, and Veracity ; particularly a stedfast adherence to plighted faith, or one's word and promise ; lying, or falsehood, being considered as indicative of cowardice, and abhorred rather for its meanness than for its moral turpitude. Accordingly, the chivalrous knights, whilst little regarding any part else of the second table of the holy decalogue, and least of all the sixth, seventh and tenth commandments, would, nevertheless, suffer any pains and penalties in preference to the imputation of word-breaking, lying, or prevarication. In the old Romance, Amadis de Gaul, king Lisuarte being reduced to the dire alternative of breaking his word, or deliver ing up his daughter into the hands of an utter stranger; he is represented as exclaiming, “ My daughter must fare as God hath appointed ; but my word shall never be wilfully broken."

The age of chivalry is long since past ; but some of its relics have floated down the stream of time, and are visible even at the present instant. In some of the high circles of fashion, as well among descendants of Europeans in other countries, as in Europe itself, Valour and Veracity are considered not merely as indis. pensable requisites of a gentleman, but as almost the

only points of honour that are necessary to his character. A man may be a blasphemer of God and religion, a notorious profligate, an inmate of the brothel, a seducer of female virtue ; he may be all this, and yet rank high as a gentleman ; he may be all this, and yet be received into what fashion calls good company, with as cordial welcome as if his character were white as the driven snow. But if he lie under the imputation either of direct cowardice, or of the indirect cowardice of uttering a wilful falsehood, he is despised, banished, and proscribed, as unfit for the company of ladies and gentlemen. For which reason, a man of this sort of high fashion, when charged directly or by implication, of being a coward, or a liar, finds his chivalrous spirit roused, and lifted to the highest pitch. Call him a foe to God, a debauchee, a violator of the connubial ties, and he is able to laugh it off; for it does in no wise touch his honour: but call him a coward, or a liar, and he thinks nothing but your blood can wash away the stain.

Apart, however, from the notions of chivalry, the vice of lying ranks among the meanest of vices. It is the vice of slaves. It is the vice that chiefly abounds among nations in political slavery, and with that low and wretched class of our fellow beings who are in personal bondage. Slavish fear prompts them to prevaricate and lie, as it were in self-defence. Nor is it the less mean for its becoming an attribute of freemen. Its meanness, as well as its guilt, is increased by this circumstance ; since, in the last case, there is far less urgency of temptation, and a far clearer knowledge of duty. Assuredly, with people possessing freedom and enjoying the light of christianity, a strict regard to truth should be considered as a cardinal point in charàcter, and every species of wilful falsehood should be held in utmost disgrace ; nor merely in disgrace for its meanness, but in abhorrence for its moral turpitude.

Though, as I observed before, it requires courage te speak the truth at all times, and under all circumstances, yet this sort of courage is of no difficult attainment in the school of christian morals. And, as to the rest, speaking the truth, is one of the easiest things in the world : for it is merely the expression of one's own perceptions, or of what lies clearly in his memory, The veriest child, that has attained the use of the organs of speech, is capable of this.-Whereas to speak falsehood, requires effort and art. Falsehood is fiction, and needs invention and contrivance, so to frame and fashion it as to make it bear the semblance of truth. As he that dances upon the rope is not a moment at his ease, but must constantly employ effort to keep his balance, even so it fares with a liar. His mind is ever on the alert to escape detection, And after all, the very expedients he uses for this end, often produce the consequences which he wishes to avoid. He proceeds, with cunning art, to cover one lie with another, till at last, the cover being too narrow or too thin, the whole series is clearly seen through.

I will only remark further, that lying, even in its simplest and most inoffensive forms, is by no means free of all mischief. Confidence is the cement, or rather the main pillar of society. Without it friendship is but a name, and social intercourse a sort of war in dis. guise. And as falseness of speech, in any shape or degree whatever, has a tendency to destroy or weaken social confidence, so it tends, of course, to unhinge society. From this, as well as from the more solemn and more awful view of the subject, it clearly follows that nothing scarcely is of greater necessity in the moral education of children, than to learn them betimes te pay a strict regard to truth.

« ПредишнаНапред »