« PreviousContinue »
if I may so speak, has received a criminal taint; for in common discourse, the expression, a plain
well meaning-man,' is always apprehended to imply, together with fincerity, fome degree of weakness; although, indeed, it is a character of all others the most noble. In recommendation of this character, let me observe, that in this, as in all the particulars mentioned above, the ' wicked worketh a deceitful work; but he that ' walketh uprightly walketh surely. Supposing a man to have the prudence and discretion not to speak without necessity; I affirm there is no end which a good man ought to aim at, which may not be more certainly, safely, and speedily obtained by the strictest and most inviolable fincerity, than by any acts of diffimulation whate
But after all, what fignify any ends of present conveniency, which dissimulation may pretend to answer, compared to the favour of God, which is forfeited by it? Hear what the Psalmist says : • Who shall abide in thy tabernacle, who shall
dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh up• rightly and worketh righteousness, and speak•. eth the truth in his heart.'-Let us, therefore, add this to the other views of the Prophet'scomprehensive prayer,
" Remove far from me va--' nity and lies.'
For the improvement of this part of the subject observe, 1. You may learn from it how to attain, not
only a justness and propriety, but a readinefs and fulness in the duty of prayer:
Nothing is a greater hindrance, either to the fervency of our affections, or the force of our expressions in prayer, than' when the object of our desires is confused and general. - But when we perceive clearly what it is that is needful to us, and how much we do'n
need it, this gives us, indeed, the spirit of fupplication. Perhaps it is more neceffary to attend to this circumstance, in what we ask for our souls, than for our bodies. When we want any thing that relates to present conveniency, it is clearly understood, because it is sensibly felt. There is no difficulty in crying for deliverance from poverty, fickness, reproach, or any other earthly fuffering ; nay, the difficulty here is not in exciting our desires, but in moderating them ; not in producing fervour, but in promoting fubmiffion. But in what relates to our fouls, because many or most temptations are agreeable to the flesh, we foresee danger lefs perfectly, and even feel it less fenfibly; therefore, a close and deliberate attention to our situation and trials, as opened in the preceding discourse, is of the utmost moment, 'both to carry us to the ' throne of grace, and to direct our spirit when we are there."
What hath been said will serve to excite us to habitual watchfulness, and to direct our daily conversation. The same things that are the subjects of prayer, are also the objects of dili
gence...Prayer and diligence are joined by our Saviour, and ought never to be separated by his people.---Prayer without watchfulness is not fincere, and watchfulness without prayer will not be successful. The same views of sin and duty, of the strength and frequency of temptation, and the weakness of the tempted, lead equally to both. Let me beseech you, then, to walk circumfpectly, not as fools, but as wife. Maintain an habitual diffidence of yourselves : Attend to the various dangers to which you are exposel. Watchfulness of itself will fave you from many temptations, and will give you an inward warrant, and humble confidence, to ask of God fupport under, and deliverance from, such as it is impoffible to avoid.
3. In the last place, since every thing comprehended in the petition in the text, is viewed in the light of falsehood and deceit, fuffer me, in the most earnest manner, to recommend to my hearers, and particularly to all the young perfons under my care,' an invariable adherence to truth, • and the most undisguised fimplicity and sinceri
ty in the whole of their conversation and car
riage. I do not know where to begin or end in speaking of the excellency and beauty of fincerity, or the baseness of falsehood. Sincerity is amiable, honourable and profitable. It is the most shining part of a commendable character, and the most winning apology for any miscarriage or unadvised action. There is scarcely any action
in itself so bad, as what is implied in the hardened front of him who covers the truth with lie: besides, it is always a sign of long practice in wickedness. Any man may be feduced or surprised into a fault, but none but the habitual villain can deny it it with steady calmness and obstinacy. In this respect, we unhappily find some who are young offenders, but old fin
It is not in religion only, but even among worldly men, that lying is counted the utmost pitch of baseness; and to be called a liar, the ' most unsupportable reproach.' No wonder, indeed, for it is the very essence of cowardice to dare to do a thing which you have not courage to therefore, once more recommend to every one of you, the noble character of fincerity.-Endeavour to establish your credit in this respect fo entirely, that every word you speak may be beyond the imputation of deceit ; fo that enemies may themselves be fensible, that though you should abuse them, you will never deceive them.
worst of finners are sensible of it themselves, for they deeply resent the imputation of it; and, if I do not mistake, have never yet arrived at the absurdity of defending it. There is scarcely any other crime, but some are profligate enough to boast of it; but I do not remember ever to have heard of any who made his boast, that he was a liar. To crown all, lying is the most wretched folly. Justly does Solomon say, ' A lying tongue is but for a mo'ment. It is easily discovered. Truth is a firm confiftent thing, every part of which agrees with, and strongly supports another. But lies are not only repugnant to truth, but repugnant to each other; and commonly the means, like a treacherous thief, of the detection of the whole. Let me,