Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

which is an unspeakable advantage in the business and affairs of life.

Truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out; it is always near at hand, and sits upon our lips, and is ready to drop out before we are aware ; whereas a lie is troublesome, and sets a man's invention upon the rack, and one trick needs a great many more to make it good. It is like building upon a false foundation, which continually stands in need of props to shore it up, and proves at last more chargeable than to have raised a substantial building at first upon a true and solid foundation; for sincerity is firm and substantial, and there is nothing hollow or unsound in it, and because it is plain and open, fears no discovery; of which the crafty man is always in danger, and when he thinks he walks in the dark, all his pretences are so transparent, that he that runs may read them; he is the last man that finds himself to be found out, and whilst he takes it for granted that he makes fools of others, hre renders himself ridiculons. • Add to all this, that sincerity is the most compendious wisdom, and an excellent instrument for the speedy dispatch of business; it creates confidence in thoge we have to deal with, saves the labour of many inquiries, and brings things to an issie in few words; it is like travelling in a plain beaten road, which commonly brings a man sooner to his journey's end than by ways, in which men often loose themselves. In a word, whatsoever convenience may be thought to be in falsehood and dissimulation, it is soon over; but the inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a man under an everlasting jealousy and suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks truth, nor trusted perhaps when he means honestly.' When a man has once forfeited the reputation of his integrity, he is set fast, and nothing will then serve lis turn, neither truth nor falsehood.

And I have often thought that God hath, in his great wisdom, hid from men of false and dishonest minds the wonderful advantages of truth and integrity to the prosperity even of our worldly affairs; these men are so blinded by their covetousness and ambition, that they cannot look beyond a present advantage, nor forbear to seize upon it, though by ways never so indirect; they cannot see so far as to the remote consequences of a steady integrity, and the vast benefit and advantages which it will bring a man at last. Were but this sort of men wise and clear-sighted enough to discern this, they would be honest out of very knavery, not out of any love to honesty and virtue, but with a crafty design' to promote and advauce more effectnally their own interests; and therefore the justice of the divine providence bath hid this truest point of wisdom from their eyes, that bad men inight not be upon equal terms with the just and upright, and serve their own wicked de. signs by honest and lawful means.

Indeed, if a man were only to deal in the world for a day, and should never have occasion to con. verse more with mankind, never more need their good opinion or good word, it were then no great matter (speaking as to the concernments of this world) if a man spend his reputation all at once, and ventured it at one throw : but if he bę to con,

tinue in the world, and would have the advantage of conversation whilst he is in it, let him make use of truth and sincerity in all his words and actions; for nothing but this will last and hold out to the end: all other arts will fail, but truth and integrity will carry a man through, and bear him out to the last.

Tillotson.

ON LYING. I REALLY know nothing more criminal, more mean, and more ridiculous, than lying. It is the production either of malice, cowardice, or vanity, and generally misses of its aim in every one of these views; for lies are always detected sooner or later. If I tell a malicions lie, in order to affect any man's fortune or character, I may indeed injure him for some time; but I shall be sure to be the greatest sufferer at last; for as soon as I am detected, (and detected I most certainly sball be) I am blasted for the infamous attempt; and whatever is said afterwards to the disadvantage of that person, however true, passes for calumny. If I lie, or equivocate, for it is the same thing, in order to excuse myself for something that I have said or done, and to avoid the danger or the shame that I apprehend from it, I discover, at once, my fear, as well as my falsehood; and only increase, instead of avoiding, the danger and the shame; I show myself to be the lowest and the meanest of mankind, and ani sure to be always treated as such. Fear, instead of avoiding, invites danger; for concealed cowards will insult

known ones. If one has had the misfortune to be in the wrong, there is something noble in frankly owning it; it is the only way of atoning for it, and the only way of being forgiven. Equivocating, evading, shuffling, in order to remove a present danger or inconveniency, is something so mean, and betrays so much fear, that whoever practises them," always deserves to be, and often will be, kicked. There is another sort of lies, inoffensive enough in themselves, but wonderfully ridiculous; I mean those lies which a mistaken vanity suggests, that defeat the very end for which they are calculated, and terminate in the humiliation and confusion of their author, who is sure to be detected. These are chiefly narrative and historical lies, all intended to do infinite honour to their author. He is always the hero of his own romances; he has been in dangers from which nobody but him-self ever escaped; he has seen with his own eyes whatever other people have heard or read of; and has ridden more miles post in one day, than ever courier went in two. He is soon discovered, and as soon becomes the object of universal contempt and ridicule. Remember then as long as you live, that nothing but strict truth can carry you through the world, with either your conscience or your honour unwounded. [t is not only your duty, but your interest: as a proof of which, you may always observe, that the greatest fools are the greatest liars. For my own part, I judge by every mau's trath of his degree of understanding.

Chesterfield.

VOL. II.

tro. WHAT CONSTITUTES A LIE. ini: A LLÉ is a breach of promise ; for whoever se riously addresses his discourse to another, tacitly promises to speak the truth, because he knows the truth, is expected. . Or the obligation of veracity may be made out from the directill consequences of lying to social happiness. Which consequences consist either in some specific injury to particular individuals, or in the destruction of that confi dence, which is essential to the intercourse.of human life; for, which latter reason a lie may be pernicious in its general tendency, and therefore criminal, though it produce no particular or visible mischief to any one. . There are falsehoods which are not lies; that is,

which are not criminal, as 1. Where no one is desceived; which is the case in parables, fables, na vels, jests, tales to create mirth, ludicrous embellishments of a story, where the declared design of the speaker is not to inform but to divert; compliments in the subscription of a letter; a servant's denying his master; a prisoner's pleading not guilty; an advocate asserting. the justice, or his belief of the justice of his client's cause. In such instances, no confidence is destroyed, because none was reposcd; no promise to speak the truth is violated, because none was given or understood to be given. 2. When the per son to whom you speak, has no rigbt to know the truth, or, more, properly, where, little or no inconveniency results from the want of conti, dence in such cases; as where you tell a falsehood to a madman for his own advantage ; to.a robber, to conceal your property; to an assassin, to defeat

« ZurückWeiter »