Billeder på siden

victim to his own duplicity with those of the child who has had the courage to avow the fault which he may have committed. He, if the fault be a slight fault, may reasonably hope that it will be at once forgiven. If it be of a magnitude which requires chastisement, he will yet meet the chastisement with a stout heart and a lightened spirit; he feels that he has nothing more to dread; his character is preserved; his companions continue to value him; his friends approve of him; and his own conscience is satisfied.

In saying this, I must, however, warn you that the submitting to punishment cheerfully, and enduring it resolutely, is not to be considered as an atonement for the fault which has brought it on you, unless you also honestly resolve to avoid the like fault for the future. The fault itself is what you should fear, much more than the punishment of it.

You ought also to avoid those faults which may bring punishment on you, for your teacher's sake as well as for

your own. This is what children often do not consider. They

are often inclined to think that they are


hardly dealt with, and that they are punished less for their own faults, than because their parents or teachers are angry with them. But of this I can assure you, that to every tender parent, and the case must be the same with every affectionate teacher, the necessity to punish is painful in the extreme, is a pain from which they would often shrink more than from any other, if they did not know that when punishment is requisite, it is their absolute duty, both to God and to the children intrusted to them, that they should not shrink from it. It is their duty to leave no proper means untried to eradicate the roots of evil from the young heart, and so to train it up that it may be prepared to inherit that everlasting kingdom which is obtained for us by our Saviour Jesus Christ; but into which nothing which is deceitful or unholy can ever enter or be found.




"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." Exodus xx. 16.

FALSEHOOD is a vice which appears in so many forms, and branches out into such great varieties, that there yet remains much for me to say on this subject, in addition to what I have already endeavoured to impress on your minds concerning it in my last sermon.

Amongst these many kinds of falsehood, that which is mentioned in the verse which I have now taken for my text, and which is our ninth commandment, is one of the worst. And it is one of the worst because it is a falsehood uttered, not in the heat of passion, but in cool blood, and with the intention, often the deliberate intention, of injuring our neighbour in character, or in fortune, and of destroying his happiness.

Of this particular variety of falsehood there

are two sorts. The first sort is the false witness which is given in public, and in courts of justice; the second is the false witness which is spoken in private. The first of these two sorts of false witness is certainly the most wicked. It is not only a lie willingly and knowingly, and most deliberately uttered, but uttered also in defiance of the solemn oath to say nothing but the truth, which every one takes on such occasions. It does not often happen that children are called on to give evidence on public trials. But it does sometimes happen, and if it should ever be the case that any of you, my young friends, should be so called on, I feel assured that you will consider well the awful situation in which you are placed, and will remember that both the eyes of man and the eyes of God are upon you; and that neither fear nor partiality will tempt you in the least to swerve from the truth.

Of your being led to bear the other sort of false witness, the danger is greater, and may occur oftener, and you cannot be warned against it at too early an age. This sort of

false witness, which is commonly called slander, consists in traducing the characters of our neighbours, and of circulating reports to their disadvantage.

And of slander too there are many kinds. Deliberately to invent and spread a slanderous lie argues a heart which must be thoroughly wicked. This crime is scarcely a less crime than that of bearing false witness before the magistrate, and I trust there are but few who are ever guilty of it. But yet there are many who, though they would not actually invent a slander, yet do not hesitate to listen to, or to repeat it, without considering whether the story told be true or false. If it be false, it is clear that they commit an act of cruelty and injustice by assisting to circulate it. And even if it be true, yet still the repeating of it may often be cruel, and is usually what a person of a good heart would forbear to do. It also frequently happens that a scandalous report contains a mixture of falsehood and truth. The thing told has some foundation, but the relation of it becomes so much altered and stained, by the various channels through

« ForrigeFortsæt »