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and with his Son Jesus Christ. So shall our days pass on sweetly, and our souls be prepared for the fellowship of the blessed saints and angels in the kingdom of glory.

ON THE

CUSTOM OF SAYING,

“ NOT AT HOM E."

CONFIDENT that I shall not, at least from you, incur the charge of expending zeal on trifles, I take the liberty of offering a few observations on a common practice,-trifling and harmless, no doubt, in the estimation of many who conform to it; but not so, I conceive, in the view of those who measure things by a juster standard. The practice to which I allude, is that of freeing ourselves from the intrusion of unwelcome visitors by informing them (contrary to truth) that we are “ not at home."

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There are, doubtless, many persons, by no means generally lax in point of principle, who defend this custom. It has,” say they,

become, by universal usage, a mode of speech, a phrase, ascertained and understood as such by both masters and servants, -by any person, in short, who knows the world. It is the same, in fact, as subscribing yourself the humble servant of the man whom you feel inclined neither to obey nor serve.' -This argument, I apprehend, will not bear examination. Let a servant, who has once given the customary denial, be asked whether his master is really gone out or no; and will he feel himself at liberty to answer in the negative? I appeal to common experience, whether such cross-examination is unfrequent; and I ask, whether servants have, in such cases, appeared to consider their prior assertion as a phrase, or as a falsehood ; a falsehood which they feel called upon to support, for their master's credit, and for their own? And I ask, whether, when some peculiar claim for admission has been urged, an embarrassment, and even a blush, have not sometimes seemed to shew that the servant had not wholly lost the better feelings of a man; and that, though bad example might have taught, or the authority of his master might have compelled him to utter a falsehood, he was not yet entirely unmindful that he had a Master also in heaven ?

Such instances, in my opinion, clearly prove, that “ Not at home" is by no means understood as a phrase, or as any peculiar mode of speech, by at least the generality of servants. Will, then, our grammatical refinements justify a custom which habituates them to falsehood?

Others have urged, in defence of this practice, that it implies no intention to deceive. I grant, that persons who abhor deception have conformed to it, and have really done so without being conscious of such intention: but whether they have themselves been deceived or not, in this particular, I will rest on one simple point :—Would such persons feel no reluctance to being seen at home, (suppose through a window or an open door,) when they were “ not at home?” Would no involuntary emotion, no rising blush, no secret shame, betray that there was something of detection in the case?-I suggest this to the conscientious only: let them, if they can, reconcile this feeling with the absence of all intention to deceive.

The generality, however, justify this custom on a broader principle : Not at home"

is, in a word, with them a white lie. If, how. ever, we admit this plea, we renounce the cause of truth altogether. A white lie is, in fact, another term for pure falsehood; it is falsehood unmixed with any other principle. But, however paradoxical it may appear to some, I will venture to assert, that it is only by strictness in this very instance; it is only by an undeviating adherence to truth in indifferent matters-and, consequently, in what are termed trifles-that the lover of truth can evince the sincerity of his attachment. I may abhor a slanderous lie, a boasting lie, a dishonest lie ; but if I practise lies which bear no other character than that of simple deception, I shew, in the above instances, only that I hate ill-nature, that I hate vanity, that I hate dishonesty, but not that I hate or disapprove of falsehood. This is surely too evi. dent to need enforcement; and, consequently, it appears, that the thorough-paced white liar is (I do not say that he will admit it-his favourite expedient may be resorted to) wholly devoid of the principle of truth.

Is there, then, an intrinsic value in truth? And is there, then, an essential criminality in falsehood, when it violates no other principle than that of simple truth? Most assuredly there is. On the grounds of expediency, in

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