UNCHRISTIANLIKE conduct to servants does not always proceed from a bad heart; many are guilty of it who have much of compassion and goodness in their nature; but it seems to proceed from a notion early imbibed, never effectually checked, and aided by our natural indolence and pride, that a sense of those injuries which are conveyed by manner and expression, is almost exclusively confined to those whose minds are refined by education, or whose condition is ennobled by birth; but in spite of all the ills which poverty can inflict, no human being is base or abject in his own eyes. Without wealth, or beauty, or learning, or fame, nay, without one soul in all the earth that harbours a thought of him, without a place where to lay his head, loathsome from disease, and shunned by men, the poorest outcast has still something for which he cherishes and fosters himself; he has still some one pride in reserve, and you may still make his tears more bitter, and his heart more heavy; do not then take away from men who give you their labour for their bread, those feelings of self-complacency which are dear to all conditions, but doubly dear to this; do not take away that from thy poor brother, which cheers him in his toil, which gives him a light heart, and wipes the sweat from his brow; and be thou good and kind to him, and speak gentle words to him, for the strength of his youth is thine, and remember there is above a God, whom thou cannot ask to pardon thy follies, and thy crimes, if thou forgivest not also the trespasses which are done against thee.

*From a Sermon on the Treatment of Servants.

The Rev. Charles Kingsley, in one of his practical religious discourses, a lecture on "The Country Parish," after describing the rough-shod benevo lence of certain tempers in intercourse with the poor, says finely, of the opposite traits in the character of Sydney Smith: "The love and admiration which that truly brave and loving man won from every one, rich or poor, with whom he came in contact, seems to me to have arisen from the one fact, that without, perhaps having any such conscious intention, he treated rich and poor, his own servants, and the noblemen, his guests, alike, and aliko courteously, considerately, cheerfully, affectionately — -so leaving a blessing, and reaping a blessing, wheresoever he went."-Lectures to Ladies on Practical Subjects.




CONSIDER the deplorable union of indigence and blindness, and what manner of life it is from which you are rescuing these unhappy people; the blind man comes out in the morning season to cry aloud for his food; when he hears no longer the feet of men he knows that it is night, and gets him back to the silence and the famine of his cell. Active poverty becomes rich; labour and prudence are rewarded with distinction: the weak of the earth have risen up to be strong; but he is ever dismal, and ever forsaken! The man who comes back to his native city after years of absence, beholds again the same extended hand into which he cast his boyish alms; the self-same spot, the old attitude of sadness, the ancient cry of sorrow, the intolerable sight of a human being that has grown old in supplicating a miserable support for a helpless, mutilated frame-such is the life these unfortunate children would lead, had they no friend to appeal to your compassion-such are the evils we will continue to remedy, if they experience from you that compassion which their magnitude so amply deserves.

The author of the book of Ecclesiastes has told us that the light is sweet, that it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun; the sense of sight is, indeed, the highest bodily privilege, the purest physical pleasure, which man has derived from his Creator: To see that wandering fire, after he has finished his journey through the nations, coming back to us in the eastern heavens; the mountains painted with light; the floating splendour of the sea; the earth waking from deep slumber; the day flowing down the sides of the hills, till it reaches the secret valleys; the little insect recalled to life; the bird trying her wings; man going forth to his labour; each created being moving, thinking, acting, contriving according to the scheme and compass of its nature; by force, by cunning, by reason, by necessity-is it possible to joy in this animated scene and feel no pity for the sons of darkness? for the eyes that will never taste the sweet light? for the poor, clouded in everlasting gloom? If you ask me why they are miserable and dejected, I turn you to the plentiful valleys; to the fields now bringing forth their increase; to the freshness and the flowers of

From a Charity Sermon for the Blind, at Edinburgh.

[blocks in formation]

the earth; to the endless variety of its colours; to the grace, the symmetry, the shape of all it cherishes, and all it bears; these you have forgotten because you have always enjoyed them; but these are the means by which God Almighty makes man what he is; cheerful, lively, erect; full of enterprise, mutable, glancing from Heaven to earth; prone to labour and to act. Why was not the earth left without form and void? Why was not darkness suffered to remain on the face of the deep? Why did God place lights in the firmament for days, for seasons, for signs, and for years? that he might make man the happiest of beings, that he might give to this his favourite creation a wider scope, a more permanent duration; a richer diversity of joy: this is the reason why the blind are miserable and dejected, because their soul is mutilated and dismembered of its best sense; because they are a laughter and a ruin, and the boys of the streets mock at their stumbling feet; therefore I implore you, by the Son of David, have mercy on the blind if there is not pity for all sorrows, turn the full and perfect man to meet the inclemency of fate: let not those who have never tasted the pleasures of existence, be assailed by any of its sorrows; the eyes which are never gladdened by light should never stream with tears.*


UPON truth rests all human knowledge: to truth man is indebted for the hourly preservation of his life, and for a perpetual guide to his actions; without truth the affairs of the world could no longer exist, as they now are, than they could if any of the great physical laws of the universe were suspended. As truth is of indispensable necessity in the great concerns of the world, it is also of immense importance as it relates to the common and daily intercourse of life. Falsehood must have a direct and powerful tendency to disturb the order of human affairs, and to introduce into the bosom of society every gradation and variety of mischief.

There is a natural tendency in all men to speak the truth, because it is absolutely necessary we should inform ourselves of the truth for the common purposes of existence, and we do not say one

"This passage," Lady Holland remarks, "was greatly admired by Dugald Stewart."

[blocks in formation]

thing while we know another, but for the intervention of causes which are comparatively infrequent and extraordinary; the first of these which I shall mention is vanity. The vanity of being interesting, of exciting curiosity, and escaping from the pain of obscurity: Great part of the mischief done to character, and of those calumnies which ruffle the quiet of life, have their origin in this source. . . . . . .

There is a liar, who is not so much a liar from vanity as from warmth of imagination, and levity of understanding; such a man has so thoroughly accustomed his mind to extraordinary combinations of circumstances, that he is disgusted with the insipidity of any probable event; the power of changing the whole course of nature is too fascinating for resistance; every moment must produce rare emotions, and stimulate high passions; life must be a series of zests, and relishes, and provocations, and languishing existence be refreshed by daily miracles: In the meantime, the dignity of man passes away, the bloom of Heaven is effaced, friends vanish from this degraded liar; he can no longer raise the look of wonder, but is heard in deep, dismal, contemptuous silence; he is shrunk from and abhorred, and lives to witness a gradual conspiracy against him of all that is good and honourable, and wise and great.

Fancy and vanity are not the only parents of falsehood—the worst, and the blackest species of it, has its origin in fraud—and, for its object, to obtain some advantage in the common intercourse of life. Though this kind of falsehood is the most pernicious, in its consequences, to the religious character of him who is infected by it; and the most detrimental to the general happiness of society, it requires (from the universal detestation in which it is held), less notice in an investigation of the nature of truth, intended for practical purposes. He whom the dread of universal infamy, the horror of being degraded from his rank in society, the thought of an hereafter will not inspire with the love of truth—who prefers any temporary convenience of a lie, to a broad, safe, and refulgent veracity that man is too far sunk in the depths of depravity for any religious instruction he can receive in this place—the canker of disease is gone down to the fountains of his blood, and the days of his life are told.

Truth is sacrificed to a greater variety of causes than the nar

[blocks in formation]

row limits of a discourse from the pulpit will allow me to stateit is sacrificed to boasting, to malice, and to all the varieties of hatred—it is sacrificed, also, to that verbal benevolence which delights in the pleasure of promising, as much as it shrinks from the pain of performing, which abounds in gratuitous sympathy, and has words, and words only, for every human misfortune.

I have hitherto considered the love of truth on the negative side only, as it indicates what we are not to do-the vices from which we are to abstain; but there is an heroic faith-a courageous love of truth, the truth of the Christian warrior-an unconquerable love of justice, that would burst the heart in twain, if it had not vent—which makes women men—and men saints—and saints angels. Often it has published its creed from amid the flamesoften it has reasoned under the axe, and gathered firmness from a mangled body-often it has rebuked the madness of the people —often it has burst into the chambers of princes, to tear down the veil of falsehood, and to speak of guilt, of sorrow, and of death. Such was the truth which went down with Shadrach to the fiery furnace, and descended with Daniel to the lion's den. Such was the truth which made the potent Felix tremble at his eloquent captive. Such was the truth which roused the timid Peter to preach Christ crucified before the Sanhedrim of the Jews—and such was the truth which enabled that Christ, whom he did preach, to die the death upon the cross....

We shall love truth better if we believe that falsehood is useless; and we shall believe falsehood to be useless if we entertain the notion that it is difficult to deceive; the fact is (and there can be no greater security for well doing than such an opinion), that it is almost impossible to deceive the great variety of talent, information, and opinion, of which the world is composed. Truth prevails, by the universal combination of all things animate, or inanimate, against falsehood; for ignorance makes a gross and clumsy fiction; carelessness omits some feature of a fiction that is ingenious; bad fellowship in fraud betrays the secret; conscience bursts it into atoms; the subtlety of angry revenge unravels it; mere brute, unconspiring matter reveals it; death lets in the light of truth; all things teach a wise man the difficulty and bad success of falsehood; and truth is inculcated by human policy, as well as by Divine command.

« ElőzőTovább »