« AnteriorContinuar »
what implies every thing else. It may be useful however, to go on to remark, fourthly, that a man of integrity will be a man of frankness and of truth. As he intends always to walk forward in the path of rectitude, he of course has nothing to conceal. He who in all his actions remembers that he is under the eye of Omniscience, cannot fear the keenest inquisition of his fellow men. He has therefore no artifices, no subterfuges, no double dealing in any
of its forms. He knows but one avenue to the objects of his desire and pursuit; and that lies straight before him. His soul shrinks from every thing like deception. He never “ palters to you in a double sense.”
yea means yea. His nay means nay. His oath would add nothing to the sacredness of his word; for he remembers that God hears him always, and that his word, not less than his oath, is registered in heaven.
Lastly, a man of integrity is a man of courage and fortitude. By courage I do not mean that mere steadiness of nerves, which is often wholly mechanical ; but a far less vulgar quality, the courage
of sentiment. A man of integrity must pos
principle of moral action, strong enough to carry him through all the difficulties and obstacles, which sometimes lie in the path of rectitude, and of influence enough to authorize him in saying * Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.” The course which honesty marks out is usually, if we merely consider this world, the
may be called
course of security and interest. But there are cases, though they may not occur in every one's life, in which it will cost a man dear to maintain his integrity. He may be called to encounter the opposition of his friends, and perhaps the opinion of the greater part of the society in which he lives. His singularity in virtue may sometimes expose him to derision, calumny, and scorn. He
may even be threatened by evils of a darker aspect than disapprobation and contempt. He to serious sufferings. To dare all that conscience and a good cause require, must sometimes be to dare even to die. At such a conjuncture a man must not only have very high principles on which he can fall back for support, but he must have some strength of character, some fortitude of
purpose, to keep him true to those principles. Nothing short of that solemn and supreme energy, which an habitual confidence in the approbation and aid of the Almighty can inspire, will be sufficient to sustain him. And this, my friends, is sufficient. It has been found sufficient to sustain a man “faithful among the faithless, unshaken, unseduced, unterrified.” The fight of faith is indeed sometimes a hard one. Pleasure may seduce us with a Syren's voice; honour may
up to our view its glittering crown; wealth may pour at our feet its golden tides; and the world may arm all these allurements with the terror of its frown and its laugh, if we resist them. But amid these trials,
the man of integrity will still sustain himself by thinking of God, and of his duty; by remembering that when his warfare is accomplished, he will hear from his conscience the sweet whisper of peace.
Servant of God, well done! well hast thou fought
--for this was all thy care, To stand approved in sight of God, though worlds Judged thee perverse. What shall we compare to the value of such a testimony as this! Who would not rather have such praise as this from the voice of God within him, than possess all the power which fires the dreams of ambition; all the pleasure in which the imagination of sensuality revels; all the wealth which swells the hopes of avarice. Let us remember, too, that the joy of an approving conscience is but a foretaste of that recompense which awaits the man of integrity hereafter. Let us then, my brethren, go forward in the path which it points out to us, be it ever so thorny. Let us never tolerate ourselves in the slightest deviation from it. And in all the temptations which may
us, let us never forget this promise of a faithful God;
Say unto the righteous, it shall be well with them, they shall eat of the fruit of their doings. But woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with them, and the reward of their hands shall be given unto them."
PHILIPPIANS iv. 11.
For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, there
with to be content.
The life of the Apostle Paul, from the period of his conversion up to the moment when he made this declaration, had been one continued series of sufferings and toil. It had been passed in travelling from country to country in the service of the gospel, enduring every species of hardship, and encountering every extremity of danger and disgrace. He was assaulted by the populace, punished by the magistrates, scourged, beaten, left for dead. He expected, wherever he came, to meet with the same dangers and the same treatment ; 'to be called on to make the same sacrifices of ease and pleasure to the cause which he had espoused. At the very moment when he wrote this epistle to the Philippians, he was held in prison at Rome ; yet, unwearied by his long confinement, unsubdued
by anxiety, want, labour, persecution; unaffected by frequent experience of perverseness, prejudice, ingratitude, desertion ; undismayed by the prospect of death itself, we hear the suffering Apostle calmly declare, “ I have learned in whatsoever state I am, there with to be content."
This state of tranquil acquiescence in such evils is beyond measure enviable; and we must feel interested in ascertaining by what process of mind he had attained to it. We cannot indeed expect to enjoy all the sources of consolation, which the Apostle possessed; but, on the other hand, we are to remember, that we are not called on to endure the same trials. Many of the grounds of contentment, which we may suppose to have been present to him, are common to every thoughtful and believing mind; and it will be my object at this time to recal some of them to your remembrance. It may
to observe in the first place that we have no reason to think that the contentment of the Apostle arose from any peculiar felicity of natural temper. There is found in some men a constant disposition to look on the bright side of things; a certain spring and elasticity of temper which calamity cannot long press down ; a buoyancy of spirit which rises above the waves of misfortune; an ever active fancy, which invests every object with gay and cheerful colours, and is never weary of creating visionary pictures of approaching felicity. But beside that this peculiar