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From early childhood, Charles had been tauglit a strict regard for truth, and a just abhorrence of every species of falsehood ; whether that of exaggerating real facts, the common arts of dissimulation, improbable or impossible stories, or downright lying. These instructions were deeply rooted, at the age of which I am now speaking; which inspired him with a kind of horror, when he heard things related, which had not the semblance of truth. He lieard, with astonishment, some persons, who pretended to be serious in relating, what themselves and all who heard them, knew to be false; and yet told with an air of confidence, as if they believed it, and expected others would believe also. Several of this description, resided in Economy Grove.
One of them came to his father's house when he was not at home. He was in company with a neighbor, who delighted in strange and uncommon stories, though 'he was not so addicted to lying as his companion. Being in the kitchen, out of the hearing of his mother, they entered on a course of conversation, which readily led to the marvellous, and impossible. They were wrought up to a kind of enthusiastic delight, as if it were the chiefest satisfaction that life afforded. Several hours were spent, not in making slanderous reports, to retail to the envious and the false, for the base purpose of eclipsing real merit, and of raising themselves on the ruin of others; but in telling stories, which would have been ranked with foolish impossibilities, by the most extravagant fabulists of antiquity. The crime of slander, they left to the more wretched and depraved ; who, having no merit of their own, wish to lighten their own dark character, by giving a deep blackness to the characters of those whose brightness they hate, more than an owl does sun-light.
Though it would be insulting the reader to relate all the stories told by this famous, or rather infamous story teller; yet a few of them may not be offensive ; but afford an opportunity to see what kind of taste and invention some men possess; and by contrasting this kind of pleasure with real intellectual enjoyments, it may serve to exalt the one, and sink the other.
“ I went out (said he) with nay fowling piece, but had not gone far, before I saw a large flock of pigeons sitting on the
long limb of a tree. I made ready to fire, and on discharging my piece, I did not kill one pigeon; but split the limb on which they sat, and caught them all by the legs. I climbed up, and killing, threw them to the ground. The number was so great, I had the curiosity to measure the legs which I cut off, and found them to fill a two bushel basket.”
“ When I was a young man, there came a very warm spell of weather in February ; and the frogs supposing it to be spring, came out of their muddy retreats, and began to peep ; but the weather changing suddenly, the poor creatures had no time to retreat, but were all frozen up with their heads through the ice. I went round on that little frogpond, by my father's, next morning, and with the toe of my shoe, kicked off a two bushel basket full.”
“ One year my wife was out of candles, and having heard that a great many deer had been drowned in that deep
spring, by uncle Jonathan’s, it came into my head that the flesh and bones of the deer would consume, and leave the tallow, and that I could rake some out of that spring.
I went, and raked out a two bushel basket full of clear tallow."
His neighbor could contain no longer, but burst into a loud laugh. Recovering himself a little, be said, 66 Well done, old Giffin, you measure all your lies in a two bushel basket. I thought Tim Greatspeak the greatest liar in town, but you are a match for him. He told me the other day, he split two hundred rails before breakfast, out of timber so winding, that the grain went round the stick sixteen times in a foot. He said, also, that some years ago, he had a pretty little bitch, and he set every thing by her. He was hewing timber, and she came running, and his broad axe took her, and split her right in two. He was dreadful sorry; but thought, mebby she will grow together again. He catched her up, and being careless, he put two legs up, and two down, which made her better than ever ; for now she would run always, for when she was tired running on one side, she would whip over, as quick, and run on the other."
A little vulgar joking on both sides, and a dispute which were the largest stories, ended the conversation. Charles was divided between mirth and astonishment. His youthful vivacity was a little moved, but all this was checked, and at last subdued by the principles of his education. And what at first appeared laughable, was, on considering it, changed iato a subject horrible in its appearance and tendency.
It was not long before all this came to the ears of Mr. Barton, their minister. His pious feelings were shocked. He prayed with tears for the unhappy offenders. " It is too much to be passed over (said he) without ministerial reproof. God has placed me here as the watchman of these souls, and how shall I answer it to my Lord and Master, if I pass this by in silence. Timely and well directed reproof, may reclaim these miserable offenders, against the law of truth; and the eternal salvation of their souls may follow. It seems to me, that this is a call to take up and expose every species of lying, and try to persuade the delinquents to better habits of life. I am sensible that though Paul may plant, and Apollos water, the increase, or blessing, is of God. I can hope to do nothing of myself ; but God, in whose name I speak, and who, by his providence and grace, has put me into the ministry, has promised to be with me, and apply his word. I will, therefore, go, and first deal with them iaithfully in pri
and prepare myself, against next Lord's day, to admin. ister that reproof, which such flagrant ofences demand.”
WITHOUT knowing the subject of discourse intended for the next Sabbath, Charles attended public worship ; for he was seldom absent from the house of God. His father was not only a constant attendant there, but required the same of his children. And what was at first little more than obedience to his authority, soon became a serious habit with those who were approacbing manhood. And it afforded no small pleasure to the parents, to find their children willing to attend Christian worship ; and to observe the attention paid by them, to the serious and weighty discourses, with which Mr. Barton usually entertained his hearers. Charles, in particular, had for some years, been called on every Sabbath evening, to give some account of the sermons of the preceding day. Strict attention, a retentive memory, and a
igious turn of mind, enabled him to repeat the substance of what had been delivered. With a mind thus fitted to treasure up what had been prepared as a cure and preventative of
falsehood; he took his seat as usual, and with his habitual seriousness. Mr. Barton soon appeared in the pulpit, and after the customary praying and singing, he took his text from,
Col. iii. 9. Lie not one to another. He made a short and appropriate introduction, and prom ceeded to the following points of discussion :
First, Describe the different species of lying, of wbich different classes of men are guilty.
Secondly, Shew the evil consequences, which flow from the evil forbidden in the text, as a preventative of that vice.
Thirdly. Shew by what means it is to be radically cured. First. The different species of lying.
1. Some men have the faculty of leaving false impressions on the minds of such as hear them, though they do not utter the words commonly used to make those impressions.They do it chiefly by tones and gestures. The impressions made, are, however, exactly such as they desired. But if charged with falsehood, they plead not guilty. Yet be it known, if the ideas were such as were intended, they are virtually guilty of lying, whatever words they used for that purpose. And perhaps no kind of lying is more practised, and does more mischief. And though they contrive a retreat, to secure themselves from the lash of tongues and the cognizance of human laws, yet they are noted as liars in the book of God.
2. Others violate the truth by speaking disrespectfully of absent persons, and conclude by hinting, that something very disgraceful remains untold; which they choose to conceal out of regard for their reputation and happiness. This method raises a thousand conjectures, which often injure the slandered persons as much, as if the conjectures were true. And yet these miserable wretches can hardly imagine themselves guilty of falsehood.
3. Many lie foolishly, when the truth would be better, even if lying were not a crime. They have no inducement to it, nor any determinate end in view. They lie, because they willlie-because they love falsehood better than truth. The things invented and told, would be a disgrace to them if true ; and much more so, as they are false. Other kinds of lying may do more mischief to Society ; but none can have stronger marks of folly. It is a certain evidence of a weak and depraved mind. And it is a pity that such will
bitter cup. If he persists in the evil, his case must be ex. tremely dreadful.
When death stares thee in the face, thy jesting, dissimulation, or malicious lying, will no longer appear the sport of thy depraved mind; but shall pierce thee with unutterable anguish. The nature and magnitude of the crime shall then appear in their true light, and make the path to thy grave rough and painful. The hours spent in falsehood, could they be recalled for repentance and prayer, would be esteemed of more worth than the lodies, east and west. Alas! they are denied thee! Repentance is denied-thou art turned off in a moment into the gulf of eternity.
Sad state! Thine eyes are listed up in the torments of hell ! Now thou shalt feel thy loss, and the penalty incurred. Having een obedient to the father of lies, he shall be thy companion forever !
At the day of juilgment, thou shalt stand with the assembled universe, and receive the just sentence of thy deeds. O the terrors of that dreadful hour ! All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone !
But I hope, this alarming view of the subject, will suficiently expose the enormity and consequences of the evil; and deter all, who have hitherto loved falsehood, from a repetition of the criine; and lead them earnestly and sincerely to inquire for the remedy. To answer this inquiry, I shall pass to the consideration of the third thing proposed.
Thirdly. The cure for the evil of lying.
1. Set yourselves deeply to consider the consequences as above stated. View them as they relate to yourselves and others, as they relate to this world and that which is to come. When thus viewed, will the subject admit of a moment's hesitation ? Can you think of hugging to your bosom, as a fond delight, what m'ist eventually procure you eternal misery?
2. Deeply and sincerely repent of all the time misspent; of all the evil done by your base and unjustifiable falsehonds. Let your heart be broken with sorrow; at the feet of your slighted Savior, mourn with unseigned contrition. Resolve by grace to break off from every sin, and heartily close in with the offers of salvation.
3. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with hearts unto righteousness.' Accept of him by faith as an only and allsufficient Saviour_as your prophet to teach, priest to atone, king to rule in and reign over you.
4. Pray mightily to God for pardon and the renewal of