Imatges de pÓgina
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a want of due regard to the majesty of God; and it tends to bring his sacred name and attributes into contempt with others. Then, a contempt of God leads to a disregard of his word, and an open violation of his laws. Nothing can be more pernicious than such contempt; for “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom;" it is the spring, the source, of all religion and piety; it is this fear which operates as the most powerful restraint on all the evil propensities of mankind; it is that, without which there can be no effectual restraint of human passions, of lust, ambition, anger, and revenge. To weaken that fear in the human mind, is a great evil; to banish it, is to destroy the foundation of all religion and morals.

6. And of what use is profanity? Was any man ever wiser or happier for an irreverent use of God's name? Did any man ever gain respect, or pleasure, or property, by profane swearing ? Not at all; it is the most foolish and useless, as well

one one of the most low, vulgar vices, that a man can commit. And in females, how shocking, how detestable! In this prohibition then, God, who requires from us supreme reverence, forbids nothing that is for our interest, our honor, or our happiness; but that only which is useless, and degrading to ourselves. Here again is a perfect coincidence of God's will with our own interest and reputation.

FOURTH COMMANDMENT. 7. The sabbalh.- ._"Remember the sabbath-day and keep it holy," is the express command of God. The sabbath was instituted in commemoration of God's finishing the work of creation. It was enjoined upon men for other important purposes, particularly for giving rest and refreshment to man and beast, when weary by labor; and to give man one day in seven, to be consecrated to the immediate service of God. This service of God is the means prescribed for improvement in divine knowledge; in religious and moral instruction, which is necessary to guide us in the way of truth and duty in this life, and to prepare us for the enjoyment of heavenly bliss in a future world. In all respects, the sabbath is a most important institution; so important, that, where it is not observed, men degenerate not only in religion, but in morals and manners; and become a kind of half-savages.

8. What can be more offensive to the author of all our blessings, than a habitual neglect of this institution? How reproachful is it to men, who are every moment dependent on the sustaining power of the Almighty, to refuse à portion of their time to learn his will, to praise his goodness, and suppli. cate bis favors, and the forgiveness of their offenses? The rest of the sabbath is very useful in recruiting the strength of the

body, and necessary in the formation of the moral and religious character. In both respects, the command of God tends to the interest and happiness of men, as well as to his glory.

FIFTH COMMANDMENT.

9. Obedience to parents.—“Honor thy father and thy mother,” is another express command of God. This duty has a special reference to the good order of society. Parents are the natural guardians and governors of their children, during their infancy and childhood. It is made the duty of parents to provide for them food, clothing and instruction; and a sense of this duty is strongly fortified by the affection of parents for their children. In return, children are commanded to obey their parents. Eph.vi. 1. No duties of men in society are more important to peace and good order, than those of parents and children.

10. Families are the origin of nations; the principles instilled into youth in families, and the habits there formed, are the germs of the principles and habits of society and nations. If children are left without restraint and culture in early life, many or most of them will be rude in manners, and turbulent members of society. On the other hand, the subordination of children in families, tends to favor subordination in citizens : respect for parents generates respect for rulers and laws; at the same time, it cherishes and invigorates all the kindly affections, which are essential to domestic happiness. In this com. mand, then, we see the entire coincidence between the will of God and our own interest and happiness.

SIXTH COMMANDMENT.

11. Homicide.Homicide,

or the killing of one man by another, is expressly forbid by God's law, “ Thou shalt not kill." This prohibition extends to murder, manslaughter, and other species of intentional killing. This is one of the most aggravated crimes which can be perpetrated by men: so enormous is it, that the punishment of it, both by divine and human laws, is death, “Whoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” Gen. ix. 6. Life is the gift of God; and neither has one man a right to take another's life, without a legal judgment for that purpose; nor has a man a right to put an end to his own life. Suicide, as well as murder, is a foul crime. If one man were permitted to kill another, what a horrible world would this be! No man would be safe a single day; we should be in terror by day and terror by night.

12. But we are not only prohibited from killing others by violence; we are forbid to do any thing, knowingly which will destroy life. We are required to avoid any act which, in its eonsequences, may impair health. Thus we may not sell or give to others unwholesome food or drugs; we may not furnish food or drinks which tend to shorten life; we may not injnre our own health, by excess in eating, or drinking, or labor; nor can we innocently require such excess of labor in our servants, or demand of them such an exposure, as to put their lives in peril. In this prohibition, we see the goodness of God in guarding our safety

SEVENTH COMMANDMENT. 13. Lewdness.-- All carnal intercourse between the sexes, except in lawful marriage, is forbidden. The evils that proceed from a violation of God's law on this subject, are unspeakably great. The injuries to health, the dissipation of property, the ruin of female character, the destruction of family happiness, and the abandonment of all moral and religious principle, with the final loss of the soul, are among the woful consequences of this wickedness. The institution of marriage was in. tended to prevent a promiscuous intercourse of sexes, which sinks men to brutes; also to preserve chastity, and to foster all the kind and tender affections that contribute to bind society together, prevent broils, jealousy and hatred, and unite mankind in harmony and peace.

The man that disturbs the peace of a family, by leading astray one of its members, incurs guilt next to that of murder. The restraints laid upon mankind by the law of God, in this particular, are essential to human happiness.

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT.

14. Theft.

.-" Thou shalt not steal," is the brief command of God, which comprises the prohibition of taking property from others unjustly, in any manner whatever. In a strict legal sense, theft is only the taking of property from another privately and fraudulently, or with a felonious intent; but in a scriptural sense, it includes robbery and piracy. And why is theft immoral? Because God has forbidden it. But it is immoral, also, for reasons arising from our own rights. Our right to property proceeds from our personal labor in acquiring it, from purchase or from gift. If a man earns a hundred dollars by his labor, that labor is a personal sacrifice, of which the money is the reward. If another man steals that hundred dollars, he takes the value of his services; that is, he has the use of the other man's limbs, without a consideration. This would be unjust; hence it is the law of God and of man, that every man shall enjoy, safely and quietly, what he earns, what he buys with his earnings, and what is given or bequeathed to him, as the earn. ings of others.

NINTH COMMANDMENT.

15. Falsehood.—The command of God on this subject is, ** Thou shalt not bear false testimony against thy neighbor!" In other words, thou shalt not utter any thing false, to the prejudice of thy neighbor. This command forbids all lying, as well as false testimony in a court. Lying consists not only in affirming what one knows to be false, but in any action that is intended to deceive. This may be by a nod of the head, or a motion of the finger. But the prohibition has an especial reference to slander or defamation. This is one of ihe most common, as well as most mischievous vices. A person's reputation is his most valuable possession; indeed, without a good name, a man of sensibility cannot enjoy any possession. Slander may be by direct falsehood or lying respecting another; or by propagating evil reports from others, knowing them to be false. Whatever is said with a view to lessen the reputation of others, must proceed from a malignant heart. That which is false ought never to be reported ; and in many cases, truth, to the prejudice of another, ought not to be told.

16. Lying and perjury. Whenever a man communicates to another that which is false, making him to believe what is not true, with the intention to mislead him, he is guilty of lying. Truth is all-important in the intercourse of men. We are connected in society by a thousand relations in business, which are necessary to our welfare; and which cannot be disturbed without serious injury. Falsehood destroys confidence in neighborhoods, fills men with distrust and jealousy; interrupts the harmonious transaction of business; often occasions loss of property, quarrels, law-suits and endless broils.

Perjury, or swearing falsely in courts of law and equity, is the more criminal, as it may produce immense injustice, and even destroy life.

17. Punishment of falsehood.- What advantage is gained by defamation, lying, or perjury ? Suppose a person to gain a little property or transient gratification, by deception : what is the consequence? If he is not detected, he must be forever tortured by a guilty conscience, for guilt never leaves a man at ease: and if detected, he is universally despised and shunned; he forfeits the esteem and confidence of all others, and especially of all good men, whose esteem is most valuable; he is distrusted in all his declarations; he is degraded. Such is his punishinent in this life. But God is a God of truth: he requires truth in men; and he has declared that “all liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone." Rev. xxi. 8. In forbidding slander, falsehood and perjury, therefore, God has established a rule of action for our benefit, no less than for the glory of his character, and the consistency of his moral govern

ment.

TENTH COMMANDMENT.

17. Coveting.–The prohibitions in this command restrain us from coveting the goods of our neighbors. We are, then, not only forbid to obtain by theft or fraud what belongs to others; but we may not even desire their possessions, which Providence has withheld from us. This desire often or generally proceeds from envy, inordinate ambition, or from discontent with the allotments of Providence. This prohibition extends to render sinful all gaming, lotteries, and rash enterprises for the sake of gain. We are bound to rest contented with the portion of property which we gain by honest industry and other lawful means. What loads of guilt are incurred by men whose inordinate desire of riches leads them to the use of every species of unlawful means! What detestable and criminal schemes do men devise and practice, to gain office and superiority of station! With what envy do the poor often behold the rich; and perhaps when the rich man has gained, by laborious industry, a condition which the idle and the vicious will not labor to obtain! But all repining at the affluence of others, is forbidden by God; and this prohibition is for our good; for without contentment there can be little or no happiness in life.

CHAPTER LXVIII. EVILS OF INTEMPERANCE. BY DR. L. BEECHER. 1. The effects of intemperance, upon the health and physical energies of a nation, are not to be overlooked or lightly esteemed.

No fact is more certain than the transmission of temperament and of physical constitution, according to the predominant moral condition of society, from age to age. Luxury produces effeminacy, and transmits to other generations imbecility and disease. Bring up the generation of the Romans, who carried victory over the world, and place them beside the effeminate Italians of the present day, and the effect of crime upon constitution will be sufficiently apparent. Excesses upmake the

The stature dwindles, the joints are loosely compacted, and the muscular fiber has lost its elastic tone. No giant's bones will be found in the cemeteries of a nation, over whom, for centuries, the waves of intemperance have rolled; and no unwieldy iron armor, the annoyance and defense of other days, will be dug up as memorials of departed glory.

2. The duration of human life, and the relative amount of health or disease, will manifestly vary, according to the amount

man.

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