« PreviousContinue »
signs, and the dreadful execution of those designs, grow, successively, out of deception. Under the united dominion of these evils, the mind, in which they exist, becomes gradually a seat of wo; a haunt of dreadful passions and dreadful expectations. In the progress of intellectual nature, a world of beings thus situated, would be a collection of fiends; and convert their residence into a hell. On this globe, where much truth is spoken, and where falsehood is only mixed; where the spirit, and the art, of deceiving are imperfect; a great part of our sufferings, as well as of our sins, is formed by violations of truth.
What a mighty and glorious change would at once be accomplished in the circumstances of mankind, were truth to become their only and universal language! Were no false facts hereafter to be declared, no false arguments to be alleged, no false doctrines to be taught, no false pretentions to be made, no false friendships to be professed, and no false colourings to be employed, to discourage and deform truth ; what a host of villains would vanish! What a multitude of impositions, treacheries, and distresses, would fade out of the picture of human wo!
To realize the nature, and extent, of this mighty change, cast your eyes, for a moment, over the face of this melancholy world. Behold all the interests of Man exposed, and hazarded; his peace invaded; his purposes frustrated; his business ruined; and his hopes blasted, by the various votaries of falsehood : his private affairs molested by lying servants ; his friendship abused by treacherous friends; his good name dishonoured by slanderous neighbours; his learning and science perverted by philosophists; his rights and privileges wrested from him by fraudulent governments; and his salvation prevented by religious impostors. How immense is the abuse, which he suffers ; how comprehensive; how minute: spreading every where, and reaching to every thing, which is important, which is dear to the heart! Thieves and robbers conceal, and accomplish, their malignant invasions of property and happiness under the darkness of midnight; and fly with terror and haste the detecting eye of day. The wretches, of whom I have spoken, shroud themselves in moral darkness, and equally dread the exploring beams of truth. Were this glorious light of the universe io burst the clouds which envelope our darkened world, and exhibit in clear and distinct view all things as they are; what a host of enemies, what a crowd of spectres would fly from the dreadful detection! See the Tale-bearer, hurrying from the indignant hisses of those, whom he has pierced into the innermost parts of the soul! The Perjurer shrinks from the abhorrence of those sacred tribunals of justice, which his enormous guilt has dishonoured and defiled; and trembles at the expected infiction of that divine wrath which he has impiously invoked. The Liar sneaks from the haunts of man, while infamy pursues his flight with her hiss of contempt, and her whip of scorpions. The Sophist immures himself in his
cell, amid the foul animals who are its proper inhabitants : while justice inscribes over the entrance,“ Here is buried the betrayer of the souls of men." The Seducer, loathed, execrated, torn by a frenzied conscience, and wrung with remorse and agony, hurries out of sight, to find his last refuge among his kindred fiends. Be hind them, the whole train of deceivers, appalled, and withered, vanish from the searching beams; and sink down to the regions of darkness and despair. The earthly creation, which has groaned, and travailed in pain, together, until now, under the vast miseries, which these enemies of God and men have wrought, wherever they have roamed, is lightened of the insupportable burden. The gloom disappears; and universal nature smiles to behold its Redemption drawing nigh. Tribunals of justice are purified at once. Individuals, families, and neighbourhoods, feel their wounds close; their breaches vanish; and their peace return. Religion rides in triumph through the world; and God is pleased to dweli anew among
Think not, that I am too ardent in this representation. Falsehood is the first enemy of Intelligent beings. The world was ruined, the human race were murdered at first by a lie. .“The father of lies,” is the appropriate title of the worst of all beings; a title of supreme and eternal infamy, branded by the Almighty hand. All ihe deceivers who have followed in his train, partake of his character; are slaves, self-sold to toil in his foul and malignant drudgery, and heirs of his undying infamy and wo.
There shall in no wise enter into the city any thing that defileth, or that lodeth or maketh a lie; but on the contrary, all liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.
Truth, on the other hand, is the foundation, on which rests the Moral Universe; the stability of the divine kingdom; the light of heaven; the glory of Jehovah. The Truth, is one of the peculiar names of Him, who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person. Truth is the great bond, which unites angels to each other, and to their God; the chain, which binds together the intelligent system ; preserving all the parts in harmony and beauty, and arranging the worlds, of which it is composed, around the great Centre of light, happiness, and glory.
IV. From the same disposition would spring, universally, those Kind Offices, which are its immediate offspring, and which constitute the peculiar amiableness of Intelligent beings.
Love suffereth long and is kind.
The interchanges of conduct between such beings, are in their nature, and variety, endless. From inferiors to superiors, they as. sume the names of our veneration, homage, respect, reverence, submission, and obedience; together with many others of the same general nature. From superiors to inferiors, they are in the like manner varied through all the shades of authority, government,
precept, regard, countenance, favour, compassion, forgiveness, instruction, advice, reproof, and a great variety of similar offices. Between equals, they are performed in the more familiar, but not less necessary, acts of friendship, esteem, civility, giving, lending, aiding, and a multitude of others. These, united, constitute a vast proportion of all that excellence, of which Intelligent beings are capable ; and of all that duty, for which they are designed by their Creator. To enjoyment, kindness is no less necessary, than truth and justice. Truth begins, justice regulates, and kindness finishes, rational happiness. Truth is the basis, justice the measure, and kindness the substance. All are alike, and absolutely, indispensable; and of all, Benevolence is the soul, the essence, the amount.
A world of kindness is a copy of heaven. A world without kindness is an image of hell. Eden originally derived its beauty and glory from the kind and amiable character of its inhabitants ; and the verdure, the bloom, the splendour of all its ornaments, were merely a faint resemblance of the beauty of mind, the moral life and loveliness, which glowed in our first parents. Had they preserved this character; the world would still have continued to flourish with immortal life and beauty; and the character itself would have furnished one natural and desirable ingredient in the happiness of beings, like them, who by the nature of their dispositions, were capable of being happy.
Were the same character to revive in the present inhabitants of the world, now in ruins around us; the bloom and beauty of Paradise would spontaneously return. Three fourths of the miseries of man are made by himself; and of these a vast proportion is formed by his unkindness. Were this malignant character banished; were sweetness and tenderness of disposition to return to the human breast, and benevolence once more to regulate human conduct; a lustre and loveliness, hitherto unknown, would be spread over the inanimate creation ; and God would supply to our enjoyment all, which would then be lacking.
In the exercise of this disposition, Parents would be truly kind to their children; and would labour not to gratify their pride, avarice, and sensuality, but to do them real and universal good; to form their minds to virtue and happiness, to obedience and endless life, to excellence and loveliness in the sight of God. In the path of this true wisdom they would walk before ; and their offspring, following cheerfully after them, would find it to be only pleasantness and peace. Brothers and sisters, under this happy influence, would become brothers and sisters indeed. In their hearts, and on their tongues, would dwell the law of kindness to each other, and of piety to their parents. Every son would make a glad father; no daughter would be a heaviness to her mother. Every returning day would assume the peace and serenity of the
Sabbath ; and every house would be converted into a little heaven.
From the house, this expansive disposition would enlarge the circuit of its benefactions so, as to comprehend the neighbourhood. Happy within, every family would delight to extend its happiness to all without, who are near enough to know, and to share, its kind offices. The beams of charity would shine from one habitation to another; and every hamlet and village would be formed into a constellation of beauty and splendour. Peace, the sister of Lode, and Joy, the third in that delightful family, would be constant visitants at every fireside ; and spread their smiles, and their mfluence, over every collection of human dwellings.
To the poor, the wanderer, and the stranger, every door would be open, to javite them in; every heart would welcome their entrance; and every hand, relieve their wants and distresses. The rich would be rich, only to bless; and the poor would be poor, only to be blessed. The great would employ their ten talents in gaining more ; and the small, their one talent in the same honourable and profitable exchange. Kings and rulers would be, in-. deed, what they have been styled, but in many instances, without a claim to the character; the Fathers of their country. The iron rod of oppression would be finally broken, and cast away; and the golden sceptre of love, and peace, and charity, would be extended for the encouragement, and relief, of all who approached. Bribery, intrigue, caballing, and the whole train of public corruptors, would be hissed out of the habitations of men ; and the courts of rulers become, not the scenes of guilt and mischief, but the residence of honour, dignity, and Evangelical example.
Nor would this great bond of perfectness merely unite the members of a single community with each other ; but extending its power, like the attraction of the sun, would join all nations in one common union of peace and good-will. No more would the trumpet summon to arms; no more would the beacon kindle its fires, io spread the alarm of invasion; no more would the instruments of death be furbished against the day of battle. The sword would be literally beaten into a ploughshare, and the spear into a pruning hook; nation would no more lift up sword against nation ; nor kingdom against kingdom ; neither would they learn war any more. The human wolf, forgetting all his native ferocity, would cease to thirst for the blood of the lamb; and cruelty, slaughter, and desolation, to lay waste the miserable habitations of men. The walls,
, within and without which, violence resounded, and ravaged, would be called SALVATION; and the gates, before which destruction frowned at the head of an invading host, would be surnamed PRAISE.
V. The same disposition would manifest itself in universal und 'unceasing piety to God. Vol. III.
The Infinite Mind is the Infinite Benefactor of the Universe. As the Source and Centre of all existence; as the great Benefactor of all beings; as the Subject of divine blessedness, and excellence; God would be regarded by such a disposition with supreme benevolence and complacency. Piety is nothing but this disposition, directed to this great and glorious Being. The love, which is the fulfilling of the second command of the moral Law, is also perfect obedience to the first, which is like unto the second. Without love, fear becomes a base and pernicious passion, totally destitute of amiableness, and excellency; united with love, or in a mind where love reigns, it is changed into the sublime character of Reverence; the proper and filial regard to God from his children. Dependence without love, is nothing. Without love, Confidence cannot exist. Hope and Joy equally spring from it. Gratitude is but one manner, in which it is exercised.
He, who loves his neighbour, on any account, with the benevolence of the Gospel, will, and must, of course, love his Creator. If he exercises evangelical confidence at all; he cannot but exercise it supremely in God. If he be grateful to a human benefactor; he must be beyond measure, more grateful to the divine Benefactor. If he love moral excellence at all; he must, more than in all other excellence, delight in that, which glows with unceasing glory in the Eternal Mind.
In God, therefore, this desirable disposition would find the highest object of all its attachments, the supreme end of all its conduct. To him the devotion of such a spirit would be complete, unceasing, and endless. To please, obey, and glorify him would be the instinctive, and the commanding, aim of the man, in whom it was found; and, in the case supposed, in all men. would be changed into children of God. The earth would be- . come one universal temple, from which prayer, and praise, and faith, and love, would ascend before the throne of God and the Lamb, every morning and every evening. Time, hitherto a period of sense and sin, of impiety, and rebellion, would be converted into an universal sabbath of peace and worship. Holiness to the Lord would be written on all the pursuits and employments of mankind. Zion, the city of our God, would extend its walls from the rising to the setting sun; and comprehend all the great family of Adam within its circuit ; while on its gates would be inscribed in immortal characters, JEHOVAH IS HERE.
Let me now ask, whether the Love of the Gospel, the spirit of doing good, is not in the view of all, who hear me, a disposition more desirable, than the present disposition of Man? Think what the world now is; and what, since the apostacy, it ever has been. Call to mind the private wretchedness, guilt, and debasement, which, within and without you, deform the human character, and destroy human happiness. Call to mind the public sins, which have blackened the world from the beginning; and the public