« EdellinenJatka »
And is not the fact, that our Saviour did not do this, but rather directed all his preaching to the inculcation of virtues the most opposed to the prevailing prejudices and wishes of his hearers, a solid proof that he courted not the applause of men; that he felt he was the messenger of the most High; and that he relied for the success of his ministry on more than human aid ? If it be allowed that the virtue of humility really possesses the dignity and importance which our Saviour gives to it; and if it be remembered how slightly and imperfectly it was taught by the philosophers of an cient days, we shall scarcely be able to avoid the inference, that he who first gave to this virtue its proper rank, must have had wisdom that was from above, and authority that was divine.
My friends, I must leave it to yourselves to make the proper improvement of this interesting subject. It is the tendency and design of this view of the dignity and importance of humility, to persuade you to cultivate and practise it. It is not an easy duty. It is not only opposed to many of the favorite maxims of the world, but to many of the most powerful propensities of our own hearts. Let us remember that it is the virtue which was ever heard from the lips, and seen in the life, of our blessed Master. Meditate then often on the perfection of his character. Cease to make vain-glorious comparisons between yourselves and others. Think more of your faults, and less of your virtues,
sins be ever before you. Approach often the throne of divine mercy.
Remember there your unworthiness in the sight of God. Implore him to extinguish every emotion of pride within your breasts. He has promised by his Son, that if you ask, you shall receive; if
you seek, you shall find; if you knock at the knock at the gate of mercy,
it shall be opened unto you.
JOB, XXVII. 5.
Till I die, I will not remove mine integrity from me,
The word integrity seems to be used by this patient and magnanimous sufferer in a somewhat wider sense than that in which it is commonly received at the present day. With us it is usually taken to mean the same thing with honesty or uprightness; and seems to imply merely the perfect discharge of the social duties. But as it is used in different passages of the book of Job, it seems to regard the whole circle of the virtues, personal, social, and devotional. When the infatuated wife of this pious man exhorts him to resort to suicide as the only relief from the accumulated evils which oppressed him, she impatiently asks, “ Dost thou still retain thine integrity ? The word must here mean his fear of offending God in any particular; his respect for all his commandments. A man of integrity, in this sense, means a man of uni
versal goodness, of ripened virtue. It does not indeed imply that he never yields to any temptation, for of what mortal can this be said! but it supposes that he respects the authority on which all the laws of God are founded, and does not therefore habitually tolerate in himself any one vice; does not deliberately permit himself to offend in any single point. There are no breaks in the links of that golden chain by which all his virtues are bound together. There is no secret and unseen disease preying on the soundness and healthiness of his moral constitution. In the goodly superstructure of his character, there can be found no unnoticed seam, through which even the penetrating light of conscience can enter, betraying that its foundation is unsolid and insecure.
In this sense of the word, we shall all agree, that to pronounce any one to be a man of integrity, is to give him most exalted praise. But when it is used in the more restricted sense in which it is received among us, it is supposed to imply the possession of a very necessary and very valuable, certainly, but not a very high and dignified virtue. I however think otherwise. I believe that what is sometimes called “common honesty,” when it is taken to imply all that it fairly and properly means, is a very exalted quality, and is, I am afraid, not so common as is sometimes believed.
I propose in this discourse to consider some of the modes in which the laws of honesty are most usually violat
ed in our dealings with one another, and examine some of those elements, or features of moral character, which mark, and are necessary to constitute, a man of integrity-a truly honest man.
I. There are certain violations of honesty, which the laws define and punish as open frauds, of the nature of which no one can be ignorant, the turpitude of which no one denies, and which therefore do not require even to be named to those who habitually meet in our religious assemblies.
There are other departures from the strict rule of right, from their nature not cognizable by the laws, which really amount to the same thing as dishonesty, though they sometimes receive gentler
Of this nature is every species of deceit, dissimulation, or evasion, in our dealings with one another. For not only is it dishonest, expressly or by implication, to ascribe to our goods any quality which we know they have not; but also designedly to conceal any fault which we know they have, and with which the buyer cannot in fairness be supposed to be acquainted. It is dishonesty to represent our wares to be, in any respect, what they are not, or not to be what they are. It is dishonesty also, of a very aggravated kind, to take advantage of another's confidence in our integrity ;to borrow, for example, on false securities or false representations of our circumstances, without
any intention or reasonable expectation of repaying ; and it is dishonesty to raise by design any expectations which we do not intend or desire to fulfil.