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lie could, and with the utmost attention and delicacy interested his friends in his behalf; and thus procured him the assistance and comforts required to calm his mind a little, and put him in a capacity of reflecting. Highly disgusting as was his illness, Gellert was continually with him, ever attentive to assist him, to amuse him, to alleviate his sufferings, and, above all, to let him see that tender sympathy so consoling to the wretched, and which Gellert's eyes so well expressed.
“ By little and little the sick man's heart softened: he became less ferocious; and, from regard to so good a friend, he moderated his transports, and the violence of his impatience. This sensibility to the friendship of an amiable and benevolent man, disposed him, by degrees, to that more noble and sublime love with which Gellert sought to inspire him. The sick man began to possess himself, and soon began to reflect; from reflection he passed to repentance, and to sincere endeavours to moderate his desperation, to restrain his tongue, and to abstain from those horrible oaths which had become so habitual to him. At length he not only permitted, but requested his friend to give him notice when, from the violence of pain, he was in danger of forgetting himself. From day to day his perplexity, his anxiety concerning bis future state, and his desire of still obtaining forgiveness from God, became more lively. Till then, he had ridiculed the ministers of the gospel; now, he earnestly wished to be instructed and consoled by them. He became more and more resigned to the will of God; his patience increased with his sufferings. He lived longer than was expected; and sometimes found himself so much relieved, that it seemed as if he might still indulge a hope of recovery. Gellert in the mean time had the joy of seeing the daily progress of his conversion. He only left him when his other indispensable duties obliged him to it; and applied his utmost and unceasing care to strengthen in the sick man's mind, on one side, the sense of his unworthiness and abhorrence of his passed irregularities; and, on the other, the hope of obtaining mercy and forgiveness. This penitent sinner drew near his end. One day, when Gellert was alone with him, and they were praying together, the sick man grew suddenly faint, seized the hand of his friend, blessed and thanked him, recommended his soul to God, and expired. Gellert, surprised by a death so sudden and so calm, could hardly believe what he saw; and called for help: but seeing his presence was now become useless, he withdrew, full of emotions of joy, and of gratitude for the grace of God, which he trusted, had made him instrumental to the salvation of an immortal soul."
ON THE EVIL OF VIOLATING TRUTH.
[From the Christian Observer.) Truth and justice are duties nearly allied together, truth Being in words what justice is in deeds. And the same arguments which require justice to be practised amongst mankind, require also the practice of truth. Truth is often represented in scripture as a glorious and distinguished attribute of the blessed God: and in his sight all kinds of fraud and deceit are declared to be abominable. Truth requires that every thing should appear as it really is. And of so important and extensive a nature is this virtue, so nearly allied to every thing that is great and good, that it is, on the one hand, by the propagation of truth, that the interests of holiness, and the happiness of man are promoted; while, on the other, sin and misery are propagated by fraud and deceit. The sin which first brought death and ruin into the world, was introduced by a lie. Satan deceived our originat parents, by first exciting a doubt concerning God's veracity, and then by telling a direct untruth. And as it is the glory of God that he is the God of truth, so it is the characteristic of Satan that he is the father of lies. He supports his kingdom by deceit. His temptations consist in conveying false impressions; false impressions of God, as harsh, severe, tyrannical; false impressions of the service of God, as unreasonable, and attended with gloom and misery; false impressions of the nature of true happiness, which he represents to consist in things of a totally different nature from those in which it really consists; false impressions of this world, as good and desirable, while the scripture speaks of it as vain and unsatisfying; false impressions of sin, as the source of pleasure, though in truth it is ever followed by pain, and avenged by death; false impressions of the nature of religion, as consisting in foolish and unprofitable rites, absurd ceremonies, and superstitious practices. Thus the reign of sin is the reign of ignorance, and its whole empire is supported by lies and deceit. Truth, therefore, is justly represented as light; and to discern it, the understanding is enlightened by the holy spirit of God, who reveals things as they are, and manifests them in their true and proper colours, and not as they appeared to us in the ignorance and blindness of our minds. Hence the whole of religion has been represented by some writers as the discovery of truth; and the foundation of virtue has been laid in its being according to truth. Very justly also is the gospel stiled truth, because it truly reveals God to us, showing him to be a being as entirely different from wbat Satan and our own minds had reVOL. II.
presented him to be, as it is possible to conceive; as so full of mercy and love to have sent his only begotten Son to die for sinners. Wonderful display of goodness! This one fact affords a luminous exhibition of the true character of God, which may stand in the place of the most laboured comment. It proves to us that his goodness must be infinite; that his yoke must be casy; that his commands must be light; that his care and tenderness for his creatures must be unlimited; for " he that spared not his own son, but gave him up for us all, how shall he noi with him also freely give us all things?"
My reason for dwelling so long upon this part of my subject is to convey an adequate idea of the nature and value of truth. There is, perhaps, no sin which is regarded in so slight a point of view as that of lying. In general the evil of it is estimated entirely by its consequences. If, for instance, a person tells a lie in order to injure his neighbour, he is thought to have committed a very criminal act, because it is an act of injustice, and is attended with injurious effects. But if a person tells a lie merely to screen himself from punishment, or to advance his own interests, without any apprehension of immediate injury to others, his fault is considered as of a very venial kind. “ It does no harm," it is said, “ to any one.” Now, in opposition to this erroneous idea, I would wish to inculcate upon the minds of my readers the evil of lying in itself, as a branch of that general system by which the devil maintains his empire in the world; and to lead them to consider it as a practice entirely contrary to God, to godliness, to excellence, to knowledge, to wisdom, to every thing that is great and good and useful in the world. I wish them to be thoroughly convinced that it is absolutely impossible to be re. newed in the spirit of our minds, unless the foundation is laid in an inviolable regard to truth, and a sacred reverence for its authority: and that, therefore, to tell a lie, on whatever accounts is a heinous sin in itself: and that a liar, so far as he is justly chargeable with this sin, is necessarily under the influence of the father of lies.
But there remains another view to be taken of the intrinsic evil of lying: I mean its being most positively and directly for bidden by God. And this it is which in any case constitutes the grand malignity of sin. It is utterly unchristian therefore to reason, as many do, only upon the injurious consequences of an action, as if in these consisted its whole guilt. It ought surely to be sufficient to satisfy the mind of a christian, that a thing is sinful, to say that it has been forbidden by God. Now God has marked the practice of lying with peculiar reprobation. «Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel, for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. By swearing and lying they break out,” break out as it were in open defiance of God, “ therefore shall the land mourn." “ Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight." “ The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things, who have said, with our tongue will we prevail, our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?” “ Lie not one to another.” “ All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."
These passages will be sufficient to impress those who value the word of God with a dread of lying in general. Permit me, however, to consider more particularly some of the branches of this evil.
It is a common thing for a person, when he has done wrong, to tell lies in order to escape the blame which he justly deserves. And this is with many a very early habit, formed even in childhood, and continued throughout the whole course of life. Now, whenever such an occasion for lying occurs, let me request the person who is tempted to it to pause for one moment, while he thus reasons with himself. “ If I acknowledge my fault, I shall, it is true, be blamed; but what then? I shall have maintained my character for veracity. If I attempt to conceal my fault by telling a lie, it is probable, that I shall be suspected, and my character for truth may be lost. And what confidence can be afterwards reposed in a person who is detected in telling a lie. Besides, I shall commit probaby a much greater sin by telling a lie than I have already done. I shall also violate my conscience: and surely it is better that the whole world should know that I have done wrong, than that God and my conscience should be witnesses against me that I have told a lie.”
I cannot but here remark, how seldom it is that people pay much regard to conscience. If they can conceal their faults from others, they think it a small matter that these faults are known 10 themselves. Now, a sacred reverence for conscience is the grand characteristic of a real christian. He does not abstain from sin because his fellow-men would become acquainted with what he had done, and his character would be lost; neither does he do good in order to be seen and applauded by men: but in both cases he consults his own conscience; and it is because it is right, that he either does, or forbears to do any particular action. We should learn, therefore, to fear and reverence ourselves more than
we do any one else. How many persons do we meet with, whose consciences are perfectly at ease, although they are in the habit of lying whenever they can thereby promote their worldly interests! If an appeal were made to their consciences whether they had committed any evil action during the day, they would, perhaps, boldly answer in the negative: and if reminded that they had told a lie, they would probably reply, “Oh, that is a mere trifle, not worth mentioning.” Thus do men deceive themselves, while they adopt a standard of right and wrong, wholly opposed to that which God has established in his word.
It is here important to remark, that the true excellence of christian principles is shown by our willingness to submit to loss or blame, rather than to commit sin. We are likely to be blamed for having done wrong; and this blame we may perhaps have it in our power to escape by telling a lie, which there is no chance that any one will be able to detect. Now such cases as these, occur perpetually in common life: and it is by our conduct on such occasions, that we may ascertain whether we will preserve our integrity at the expense of suffering blame or reproach: whether, in short, we are true christians: for a true christian had rather suffer the extremity of worldly evil, than incur the displeasure of his God.
If direct lying is thus to be avoided as highly sinful, all apo proaches to it ought equally to be avoided. The christian, therefore, will take care, that he does not, for instance, hastily make fromises which he may be unable to perform. For though he may intend, at the time, to perform them; yet, if they are made rashly, and without due consideration, and especially if he is conscious that he has been in the habit of promising too readily, he exposes himself to the danger of uttering a falsehood.
The christian will also guard as sedulously against equivocation as against a direct lie. The miserable ingenuity of some persons, who think they have not been guilty of lying, because their words have been so managed, as to convey the false idea which they were intended to convey, while they admit of a construction consonant to truth; argues both a want of good sense, and a mean and disingenuous mind. Let such remember that God is not deceived by their sophistry. Liars they are, unquestionably, with cowardice and a mean and despicable subtlety added to their lie. Such conduct ought, therefore, to be abhorred by every upright and ingenuous character.
I conclude this paper with a caution to my readers against. indulging a habit of exaggeration in common discourse. The