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Sincerity.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true-think on these things."-PHILIPPIANS, iv. 8.

DISC. IV.

TRUTH may be considered in two leading aspects, either as having reference to the correspondence of our convictions with the reality of things, which may be called speculative truth, or truth of opinion; or as having reference to the correspondence of our expressions with the reality of our convictions, which, in contradistinction from the former, may be called practical truth, or truth of life and conduct. The one protects our minds from imposition and error, the other protects our lips from treachery and falsehood. The one keeps us from being deceived, the other from deceiving. The love of truth, as a general habit, equally includes them both; it makes us cau

tious, discriminating and attentive to evidence, in the process by which our opinions are formed, and exact, prudent and scrupulous in the testimony by which we communicate our judgments to others. The love of truth, as a general habit, and as applying to our speculative inquiries, has already been sufficiently considered. It remains now to discuss the second great branch of the subject, practical truth, or truth of life and conduct.

This seems to me to include three things. First, sincerity, which obtains whenever the signs, whatever they may be, by which we intentionally communicate ideas, exactly represent the state of our own convictions. The standard of this species of truth is a man's own thoughts. As the design of speech is not directly and immediately to express the nature and properties of things, but our own conceptions in regard to them, he that utters what he thinks, is not wanting in veracity, however his thoughts may fail to correspond to the realities themselves. Distinguished

casuists have, accordingly, defined veracity to be a moral virtue, inclining men to represent phenomena according to their own apprehensions. The matter of it they make twofold, immediate and remote; the immediate consisting in the correspondence of the statement with the conviction of the speaker, the remote in the correspondence of the conviction to the thing itself. The concurrence of the * Thomas Aquinas's Summa. 2. 2. quest. 110, art. 1. Dens. Theol., Mor. and Dog., vol. iv. p. 306. De Veritate.

The distinction of Aquinas is into matter and form. The matter of a proposition being its truth or falsehood abstractly considered; the form, its truth or falsehood according to the belief of the speaker.

A proposition may, obviously, be contemplated in two lights, either abstractly as a naked affirmation or denial, and then the matter of it is the thing, whatever it may be, which is asserted or denied; or relatively, according to the purpose and intention of the speaker, and then the matter of it is the apprehension of his own mind; it affirms or denies, not what is, except per accidens, but what he believes. When the question is in reference to the truth of the thing, the matter, in the first aspect, is the point of inquiry; when the question is in reference to the sincerity of the speaker, the matter, in the second, is all that is important. This is, indeed, the sole matter of veracity, but not the sole matter of the proposition. Hence, the distinction into proximate and remote is a convenient one, if it be borne in mind that the proximate is the essence of veracity, as it respects the speaker; the remote, of the proposition abstractly considered as true or false. The most common distinction, however, is into matter and form; the matter having reference to the proposition itself, the form to the belief of the speaker,

two is a safeguard against all deception from testimony. It is then perfect and complete. With this double distinction of the matter of veracity, it is easily conceivable that a man may veraciously utter what is false, and falsely utter what is true. If he affirms that to be true which he believes to be false, or affirms that to be false which he believes to be true, though in each case his belief may be erroneous, and things be exactly as he represents them, he is guilty of deceit he has spoken against his mind-the proximate or immediate matter of veracity is wanting. This proximate matter is what modern writers have denominated physical or logical, and the remote what they have denominated, moral truth. It is evident that in the former the essence of sincerity consists, and upon the latter the value of testimony, as an independ ent source of knowledge, depends. "If there be an agreement," says South,* who, in his definition of a lie, has followed Augustine, "if there be an agreement between our words

* Sermon on Falsehood, Prov. xii. 32.

and our thoughts, we do not speak falsely, though it sometimes so falls out, that our words agree not with the things themselves; upon which account, though in so speaking, we offend indeed against truth; yet we offend not properly by falsehood, which is a speaking against our thoughts; but by rashness, which is affirming or denying, before we have sufficiently informed ourselves of the real and true estate of those things whereof we affirm or deny." It is certainly incumbent upon men to guard against imposture and error, and where their judgments have been hastily formed, without due attention to the evidence within their reach, or under the influence of prejudice and passion, their mistakes are not without guilt. They sin against the truth in the absence of that spirit of indifference, impartiality and candid inquiry in which the love of it consists, though they are not chargeable with insincerity or deceit in their communications to others. The difference betwixt a mistake and a lie is, that in the one case the speaker himself is deceived,

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