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SERMON III.

ACTS V. VERSE V.

Ananias hearing these things, fell down, and

gave up the Ghost.

Of all the miracles employed for the propagation of the Gospel, this is the most terrible.-In most of the other miracles, the object is merciful, while the means are supernatural ; the laws of nature are suspended to cleanse the leper, to illumine the blind, and even to raise the dead from their graves.—The object here, is to punish, to smite with sudden death :-Ananias and Sapphira are guilty of a lie, and, in an instant, in the full tide of life, they fall down dead at the feet of the Apostle.

As the age of miracles is no more, and the necessity for their occurrence removed by the diffusion, and security, of the Gospel, we are no longer exposed to the same punishinent for the same violation of truth, but that punishment stands on the book as a tremendous record of the magnitude of the Sin :-It gives us a full view of that wrath with which it will hereafter be pursued ; and teaches us how fatally it moves the displeasure of God. I shall avail myself, then, of this awful history, to examine the nature of truth, its importance as a part of christian righteousness, and to investigate how the habit of speaking truth is impaired, perverted, destroyed, instituted, and confirmed.

Upon truth rests all human knowledge; to truth man is indebted for the hourly preservation of his life, and for a perpetual guide to his actions ; without truth the affairs of the world could no longer exist, as they now are, than they could if any of the great physical laws of the universe were suspended. As truth is of indispensable necessity in the great concerns of the world, it is also of immense importance as

it relates to the

common, and

and daily intercourse of life. Falsehood must have a direct and powerful tendency to disturb the order of human affairs, and to introduce into the bosom of so. ciety every gradation and variety of mischief.

There is a natural tendency in all men to speak the truth, because it is absolutely necessary we should inform ourselves of the truth for the common purposes of existence, and we do not say one thing while we know another, but for the intervention of causes which are comparatively infrequent and extraordinary; the first of these which I shall mention is vanity. The vanity of being interesting, of exciting curiosity, and escaping from the pain of obscurity :--Great part of the mischief done to character, and of those calumnies which ruffle the quiet of life, have their origin in this source. ---Nor is the falsehood which proceeds from it to be considered as of little importance; it is incompatible with that earnest, and

permanent regard to human happiness, which the Gospel exacts; it is inimical to that daily exercise of keeping the conscience void of offence towards God, and towards man,

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which it prescribes: A Christian should never forget that, in the progress of refinement, as much is felt for character as for the more gross, and substantive advantages of life; in the beginning, we have only property in food, and raiment; but as the world goes on, there springs up the invisible, intangible property of fame, which nourishes a man's life, though he be hungered, and cold, and without which he is dead in the midst of life: If respect to this is not foreign to human happiness, it is not foreign to the Gospel : I am sure it is as much the duty of a pious christian to abhor falsehood, injurious to the feelings of his fellow creatures, as it is to abhor falsehood which may disturb them in the just right of their possession; and at every moment, and in every relation of life, it must be his duty to respect truth as the antient, and solemnbarrier of human happiness.--Not that what is said on such occasions is mere falsehood; but the mischief is done by embellishment, by colouring, by false insinuation, by slight change, and by artful suppression: broad, shameless falsehood is seldom witnessed in the world; and the greatest violator of truth preserves enough of it for

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