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THE SALE OF TRUTH.
Prov. xxiii. 23.
Sell not the Truth.
F Balak would give me his house full of silver
and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more, Numb. xxii. 18. This was the language of a man, whose memory the church holds in execration : but who, when he pronounced these words, was a model worthy of the imitation of the whole world. A king sent for him inade him, in some sort, the arbiter of the success of his arms; considered him as one, who could command victory as he pleased : put a commission to him into the hands of the most illustrious persons of his court; and accompanied it with presents, the magnificence of which was suitable to the favor he solicited, Balaam was very much struck with so many honors, and charmed with such extraordinary presents. He felt all, that a man of mean rank owed to a king, who sought, and solicited his help: but he felt still more the majesty of his own character. He professed himself a minister of that God, before whom all nations are as a drop of a bucket, Isa. xl. 15. and, considering Balak, and his courtiers, in this point of view, he sacrificed empty honor to
solid glory, and exclained in this heroical style, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more. Moreover, before Balak, in the presence of all his courtiers, and, so to speak, in sight of heaps of silver and gold sparkling to seduce him, he gave himself up to the emotions of the prophetic spirit, that animated him, and, burning with that divine fire, which this spirit kindled in his soul, he uttered these sublime words; Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel. How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed? Or how shall I defy whom the Lord hath not defied ? Behold, I have received commandment to bless ; and he hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it. Surely there is no inchantment against Jacob, neither is their any divination against Israel, Num. xxii. 7, 8. 20. 23. How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel, chap. xxiv. 5.
I would excite your zeal to-day, my brethren, by an example so worthy of your emulation. A few days ago, you remember, we endeavored to shew you the importance of this precept of Solomon, Buy the truth. We pointed out to you then the means of making the valuable acquisition of truth. We told
you, God had put it up at a price, and that he required, in order to your possession of it, the sacrifice of dissipation, the sacrifice of indolence, the sacrifice of precipitancy of judgment, the sacrifice of prejudice, the sacrifice of obstinacy, the sacrifice of curiosity, and the sacrifice of the passions. In order to inspire you with the noble design of making all these sacrifices, we expatiated on the worth of truth, and endeavored to convince
you of its value in regard to that natural desire of man, the increase and perfection of his intelligence, which it fully satisfies; in regard to the ability, which it affords a man to fill those posts in society, to which Providence calls him : in regard to those scruples, which disturb a man's peace, concerning the choice of a religion, scruples which truth perfectly calms; and, finally, in regard to the banishment of those doubts, which distress people in a dying hour, doubts, which are always intolerable, and which become most exquisitely so, when they relate to questions so interesting as those, that revolve in the mind of a dying man.
Having thus endeavored to engage you to buy the truth, when it is proposed to you, we are going to exhort you to day to preserve it earefully after you have acquired it. We are going to inforce this salutary advice, that, were ten thousand envoys from Moab, and from Midian, to endeavor to ensnare you, you ought to sacrifice all things rather than betray it, and to attend to the same Solomon, who last Lord's-day said, Buy the truth, saying to you to-day, and sell it not.
If what we shall propose to you now require less exercise of your minds than what we said to you in our former discourse, it will excite a greater exercise of your hearts. When
When you hear us examine the several cases, in which the truth is sold, you may perhaps have occasion for all your respect for us to hear with patience what we shall say on these subjects.
But, if a preacher always enervate the force of his preaching, when he violates the precepts himself, the necessity of which he urgeth to others, doth he not enervate them in a far more odious manner still, when he violates them while he is recommending them ; preaching humility with pride and arrogance ; enforcing restitution on others,
while he himself is clothed with the spoils of the fatherless and the widow ; pressing the importance of fraternal love with hands reeking, as it were, with the blood of his brethren? What idea, then, would you form of us, if while we are exhorting you not to sell truth, any human motives should induce us to sell it, by avoiding to present portraits too striking, lest any of you should know yourselves again. God forbid we should do so! If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to speak less or more. Allow us, then, that noble liberty, which is not inconsistent with the profound respect, which persons of our inferior station owe to an auditory as illustrious as this, to which we have the honor to preach. Permit us to forget every interest but that of truth ; and to have no object in view but your salvation and our own.
And thou, God of truth ! fill my mind, during the whole of this sermon, with this exhortation of thine apostle ; charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom ; preach the word ; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine, 2 Tim. iv. 1. 2. Take heed unto thyself, and unto thy doctrine ; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee, 1 Tim. iv. 16. Amen.
You may comprehend what we mean by selling truth, if you remember what, we said, it is to buy it. Truth, according to our definition last Lord'sday, is put in our text for an agreement between the nature of an object and the idea we form of it. To buy Truth is to make all the sacrifices, which are necessary for the obtaining of ideas conformable to the objects, of which they ought to be the ex