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know it, in so far as we profess, or lead him to believe, that we mean to impart to him the desired information. We are, therefore, not at liberty, consistently with justice, to use any stratagems to deceive an enemy, which are opposed to any promise of sin, cerity, either expressed or implied.
The other form in which this rule is presented is, if possible, still more objectionable : it is founded on the principle of expediency; and allows, or rather authorizes us, to utter falsehoods as often as we can induce ourselves to believe that little inconvenience will result from the want of confidence. Can we conceive any maxim more antiscriptural, or more immoral in its tendency? It is substituting as the rule of moral conduct, in room of the will of God, our own limited and partial views of the consequences of actions. Will not human beings, in applying this rule, think as much of the convenience which the falsehood will yield to themselves, as of the inconvenience which will result to others ? Will not the disadvantage to others diminish in their estimation in proportion to the magnitude of the advantage which the uttering of the falsehood will bring to themselves ?
6. But when a man has once accustomed himself," as Dr. Dwight remarks, “to utter falsehood so long as to render the practice familiar, all that apprehensiveness of guilt, that ready susceptibility of alarm at the appearance of criminality, which constitutes the chief safety of man in the moment of temptation, will be extinguished. The mind will be no longer agitated at the thought of sin, nor awake to the sense of danger. He, who lias uttered the first falsehood under the
influence of ten degrees of temptation, will as readily utter the second under the influence of eight; the third of six ; the fourth of four; the fifth of two; and the sixth without any temptation at all. The obliquity of his judgment will now prevent him from discerning, that others suffer any inconvenience from his conduct. In this manner, any man living may easily become, in a short time, a confirmed liar.”
THE EVIL OF FALSEHOOD.
Perhaps lying, when it has become a habit, may be traced, in almost every instance, to an error of education, arising from the carelessness, or the bad ex: ample, of parents and guardians. How often do they who have the charge of young children, deceive them by making promises to them which they never mean seriously to perform, and by uttering, and that daily, direct falsehoods, with the view of persuading them, to do what is disagreeable to them! Is it necessary that they should take medicine: however bitter and unpalatable, it is declared to be sweet and pleasant. Is it wished that they should conduct themselves with quietness and propriety before strangers : rewards are promised them which are never bestowed. And thus, from their infancy, are they accustomed to deceit and falsehood in those whom they love and revere. Is it to be wondered at, that, in the sequel of their lives, they
should imitate an example by which they have been taught to think lightly of the evil of falsehood ?
What they are thus taught by example, they are often tempted to do by fear of punishment. There are parents who never correct their children but in anger, whose punitive discipline is conducted in fury, and who think that they discharge their duty when they have visited every delinquency with a severe infliction. To escape this chastisement; which is so indiscreetly administered, a lie is told, another crime is committed ; and, for the same reason, the falsehood is repeated; till by the repetition of the act, the habit is fully formed; and the child, in all probability, advances into life without truth, and without principle.
The temptations to the violation of truth are numerous, -as numerous as are the temptations to dishonesty and fraud. But, perhaps, there is not a more fertile source of falsehood than party spirit and contention. How contrary this spirit is to that charity which “ rejoiceth not in iniquity, but which rejoiceth in the truth,” is shewn by the misrepresentation and calumny which are so eagerly propagated by opposing parties, in their contention for victory. How carefully, then, should we guard against that state of mind which incapacitates us for judging with fairness and candour of the conduct of others, and which might incline us to take pleasure in circulating reports to their disadvantage !
It has already been noticed, that in proportion as truth is of importance to the confidence, virtue, and happiness of mankind, is falsehood criminal and in
jurious. But in viewing it aright, we must regard it as evil in itself, as a sin against God, as opposed to the infinite purity and rectitude of his nature, as a dishonour to his perfections and character, and absolutely, and in all its forms, forbidden by Him. The Scriptures do not furnish the slightest indulgence to the practice, whatever be the plea urged in its justification. On the contrary, they declare, that whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, “shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of God;" and that "he who will save his life” by the violation of truth, “ shall lose it;" and that “ he who shall lose his life" for the sake of his adherence to truth,“ shall find it.”
The natural and necessary consequences of falsehood are, indeed, such as shew the magnitude of this crime as a source of mischief and of misery. It is the parent of numerous vices; the chief instrument by which plausible but unprincipled men subvert the liberties of nations; and the means by which oppressors and tyrants rule over an enslaved people. In reviewing the history of the world, we cannot but remark, that falsehood has been more widely ruinous to the interests of mankind than war or pestilencethat it is the principal obstacle against which the lovers of their country have had to contend, and by which they have often been deceived, and their benevolent designs frustrated ;-that by its aid, the antichristian power gradually arose, and at length established its dominion over Christendom;-and that it constitutes the greatest impediment over the world, in the various forms which it has assumed, to the
progress and universal diffusion of divine truth,
How ruinous this crime is to the temporal and spiritual interests of individuals, it is unnecessary to say. Who is there who is not very much dependent for his well-being on the information which he receives from others ;-on the veracity of his agent, in whatever way he employs him ;-on the character which is given of the servants by those on whose attestation he has received them into his family ;-on the truth of those recommendations on the weight of which he intrusts his health and life to a physician ;--the instruction of his children to a tutor ;-and the comfort and edification of himself and his family to a minister of religion? Is he deceived in these respects by a false friend or neighbour ? how great is the mischief which he experiences from falsehood !
In order fully to trace the consequences of lying, we must view them as they affect the highest interest of men, for time and eternity. It is by this means that evil spirits effect their designs, hostile to the virtue and happiness of mankind. When the mind is filled with fascinating error, truth is refused an entrance. If by truth alone the soul is sanctified and saved, how melancholy is the thought, that its exclusion is accompanied with guilt, and followed with irretrievable misery!“If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
It is unnecessary to point out, at any length, the effects of falsehood on the temporal and eternal interests of the individual who practises it. It is not