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The duties of men are summarily comprised in the Ten Commandments, consisting of two tables. One comprehending the duties which we owe immediately to God—the other, the duties'we owe to our fellow men. Christ himself has reduced these commandments under two general precepts, which enjoin upon us, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophetsthat is, they comprehend the substance of all the doctrines and precepts of the Bible, or the whole of religion.
The first duty of man then is, to love and reverence the Supreme Being. The fear of God is the beginning of wis. dom or religion. But the love of God implies some knowledge of his character and attributes--and these are to be Jearned partly by a view of his stupendous works in creation, but chiefly from the revelations of himself recorded in the Scriptures. The great constituent of love to the Supreme Being is however an entire complacency in his character and attributes, and unqualificd approbation of his law, as a rule of life. Such complacency and approbation can exist only in a holy heart--a heart that delights in moral excellence. But wherever they exist, they produce a correspondent purity of life. The natural effect then of a real conformity of heart to the First and Great Commandment, which enjoins su: preme love to God, is, to produce conformity of life to the injunction of the second command, to love our neighbor as ourselves.
In applying the commands of God to practice, be careful to give to them the full intended latitude of meaning. The love of God.comprehends the love of all his attributes-the love of his justice in condemning and punishing sin—as well as of his mercy in forgiving and saving penitent siuners—the love of his sovereignty as well as of his grace. The divine character is an entire thing--and there can be no genuine love to the Supreme Being which does not embrace his whole char
acter. When in obedience to the third Commandment of the Decalogue, you would avoid profane swearing, you are to remember that this alone is not a full compliance with the prohibition, which comprehends all irreverent words or actions and whatever tends to cast contempt on the Supreme Being, or on his word and ordinances.
When you abstain from secular employments, on the sabbath, and attend public worship, you must not suppose that you fully comply with the requisitions of the fourth Commandment, unless you devote the whole day to religious improvement. If you spend any part of the day in convivial entertainment, in reading novels, plays, history, geography or travels, you undoubtedly violate the letter as well as the spirit of that command.
The command to honor your father and mother comprehends not only due respect and obedience to your parents ; but all due respect to other superiors. The distinction of age, is one established by God himself, and is perhaps the only difference of rank in society, which is of divine origin. It is a distinction of the utmost importance to society, it cannot be destroyed, and it ought not to be forgotten. Hence filial respect has ever been esteemed one of the most amiable virtues. Let your respect for your parents, and others who are of like age or standing in society, be sincere, cordial and uniform ; and let the feelings of your heart be manifest in your exterior deportment. Never forget the deference due to their age, nor treat them with a familiarity that is incompatible with that deference. Even the customary forms of address should not be overlooked, or neglected ; for in doing honor to age, you honor a divine command, and secure to yourself a source of permanent consolation. It will afford you particular satisfaction, when your parents are consigned to the tomb.
In obedience to the sixth command you are not merely to avoid direct homicide, but you are to avoid every thing that may indirectly or consequentially impair your own health, or
injure that of others. Intemperance or excessive indulgence of passion and appetite which gradually weakens the constitution, falls within the prohibition of this commandment; as does every known unnecessary exposure of the body to extreme hardship
From your education and principles, it is presumed that there is little need of cautioning you against a violation of the eighth commandment, by a felonious taking of the property of another, in a manner to incur the penalties of human laws. But the prohibition covers much broader ground—it extends to every species of fraud or deception by which the property of another is taken or withheld from him. If in receiving or paying money, a mistake throws into your hands a sum of money beyond what is your right, it is a violation of the eighth command to retain that sum in you own hands, let it be never so small. You are under the same moral obligation to return the surplus money to the rightful owner, as you are not to take a like sum from him by theft.
In like manner, in trade, the man who by deception, gets a dollar more for an article, than the purchaser would have given, had he not been deceived, is in the view of God, as guilty as if he had taken that dollar from the purchaser's chest.
The man who by an artifice conceals the defects of his goods, or gives them a false appearance, and thus deceives the purchaser, is guilty of fraud ; and any money that he may get by this deception is taken as wrongfully as if taken
The farmer who brings his produce to market, and sells it in a bad state, knowing it to be defective and concealing the defect, or giving a false representation of it, is guilty of fraud and falls within the purview of the eighth command.
The man who adulterates his drugs, and sells them as genuine, certainly violates the eighth command, and may
violate the sixth.
The wine seller and the distiller who mix and adulterate their liquors, and sell them for what they are not, are guilty of fraud, and in a greater or less degree, fall within the prohibition of the eighth command ; and by using poisonous substances in such adulteration, they may incur the guilt of the sixth.
The methods by which this command is violated in the ordinary commerce of life are literally innumerable-and if judgement should be laid to the line, who could stand?
Be very careful then to resist every temptation to deception and fraud. Let every transaction with your fellow men be just and honorable. This is required no less by your own reputation, than by the law of God; for deception in every form is meanness.
Nor would I have you more careful of your neighbour's property than of his good name, which is dearer to him than his property. Say nothing of your neighbour falsely; and never publish his faults unless to circumscribe their influence, or prevent an injury to other men.
Let it then be the first study of your early years, to learn in what consists real worth or dignity of characler. To ascertain this important point, consider the character and attributes of the Supreme Being. As God is the only perfect Being in the Universe, his character, consisting of all that is good and great, must be the model of all human excellence; and his laws must of course be the only rules of conduct by which his rational creatures can reach any portion of like excellence. In the very nature of things then a man is exalted in proportion to his conformity to the divine standard of worth ; and degraded in proportion to his want of conformity to that standard. Nothing can be really honorable and dignified which is not in exact accordance with rectitude. Let this be imprinted on your mind as the first principle of moral science. A violation of human laws implies meanness as well as wickedness; it impairs the reputation and lessens the moral worth of the offender-much more does a trans
gression of the Divine Law, imply want of dignity and selfrespect as well as contempt for the Supreme Lawgiver-it sinks a man in his own estimation and debases him in the opinion of his fellow-men.
Nothing can be more false than the opinion that honor can exist without moral rectitude. Every violation of moral du. ty is meanness as well as crime-for it implies a disposition to offend or treat with contempt the greatest and best Being in the Universe, or a disposition to injure a fellow citizen, or both : and a disposition in one being to injure another, implies a want of that benevolence and love of justice which are essential to greatness of mind, which regards primarily the common welfare and happiness of moral beings.
Real honor then consists in a disposition to promote the best interests of the human family--that is, in an exact conformity of heart and life to the divine precepts. Whatever voluntary conduct in man impairs human happiness or introduces disorder into society, manifests a defect of character, a destitution of honorable principles.
One of the first efforts of an ingenuous mind, is to disabuse itself of the prejudice, that the laws of honor may require or justify what the laws of God and man forbid. Amidst the corrupt maxims of fashionable life, no young man is safe, whose mind is not elevated to that pitch of moral heroism, which enables him to combat successfully with vicious principles disguised under the garb of honor. The laws of honor, so called, are derived from pagans and barbarians: they hang on half civilized men, as the tawdry trappings of sav. age ancestors--they deform the manners and debase the character of the age. To weak minds, less under the influence of principle, than of fashion, they present fascinations not easily resisted. But let it be deeply impressed on your mind, that no person is duly fortified against their enticements, who is not convinced, and who does not habitually aćt from the conviction that moral principles and practice are essential to the character of a gentleman. Whatever may be