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In the preceding Discourse I considered, at some length, the nature and importance of truth, and veracity. These are the basis of the precept in the text. I shall now go on to examine the immediate subject of the text, viz. falsehood, under the two following heads :

I. Lying.
II. Slander.

Under the former of these heads I shall include promisebreaking and perjury.

Iu discoursing on this subject, I propose to consider,
The nature,
The causes,
The mischiefs, and
The preventives of lying.

Concerning the first of these subjects, viz. the nature of lying, I observe generally, that a lie is a false declaration of

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facts, wilfully made, or made, as is sometimes the case, from indifference to truth.

A false promise is a crime substantially of the same nature with a lie in the proper sense.

A lie is a false declaration of existing facts: a false promise is a false declaration of future facts.

Perjury is a false declaration either of present or future facts, wilfully made, accompanied by an oath. Perjury in evidence, is a false declaration, under oath, of existing facts. Perjury under an oath of office or trust, is a false declaration of future facts. The future facts here referred to are aniversally such as are supposed to be under our own control, and are chiefly such as are involved in our own conduct. Such at least is the case, when the oath or promise is lawfully made.

Mankind are guilty of lying, that is, substantially guilty, in the following ways =

1. In voluntary declarations of facts which are known to be false.

For example: every narration known to be false is a lie. Equally such is every description of a similar nature.

2. In declaring that to be true, which we believe to be otherwise ; although, in the end, it should be found that the truth was really declared.

To our minds that is true, or false, which after careful examination we believe to be so. Before we make our declarations, we are bound to examine as impartially and as thoroughly

After such an examination, if we declare agreeably to the best knowledge which we are able thus to obtain, and with no more confidence than such an examination warrants, our veracity is, I apprehend, unimpeachable. We may indeed mistake; but are in no sense guilty of lying. But if we declare that which is contrary to our belief, although the declaration should be exactly true, we are still intentionally, and therefore in the criminal serise, liars.

3. In rashly asserting what is not true, when the assertion springs from a sinful neglect of examining.

Inconsiderate and rash men assert roundly, although they do not know that which they assert to be true, and have no sufficient reasons for believing it to be true. This conduct is derived only from the want of a just sense of the importance of truth, and the value of veracity. Such a sense will prompt

as we can.

every man who possesses it to examine before he asserts; to assert with watchfulness and caution; and, where he does not feel himself warranted to make unqualified declarations, to express his belief, his opinion, or his apprehension.

No excuse can be given for this indifference to truth. To mankind its importance is infinite. The sacrifice of it is, in all instances, an injury which can neither be repaired, nor recalled. Every man is bound to regard it in this manner, to enable himself to speak truth only, whenever he speaks at all. He therefore who by a voluntary negligence is led rashly to make false assertions, is without excuse.

4. In professing to declare the whole truth, and yet cor.cealing a part of it, with an intention to deceive.

A wilful description is here intended, and accomplished; the very thing, which constitutes the essence of lying. The means, indeed, differ ; but the spirit, the guilt, and the purpose are the same.

There is, I acknowledge, a prudent and justifiable concealment, as well as a guilty one. What others have not a right to know, we are not bound to declare. Nor are we, of course, bound to disclose the whole of a subject, in many cases, where we may be willing to communicate a part. But in every case our disclosures and our concealments must be exactly accordant with our professions. The writer who professes to record the whole of a story, is inexcusable if he narrate only a part; although every thing which he actually declares may be true. The witness who, under the oath of evidence, withholds any thing which he knows pertaining to the subject in debate, is perjured.

5. In colouring the subject of our declarations so as to give it a different aspect from the true one.

This is an extensive field of falsehood; too extensive, indeed, to be thoroughly explored at the present time.

A common mode of transgressing in the way here generally described, is to represent the conduct of others truly, perhaps, as to the principal facts, and to surround it with such circumstances, annex to it such appendages, and attribute it to such motives, as, taken together, will give it an appearance either partially or wholly false ; and, as is common in instances of this nature, very injurious to them.

Another mode of transgressing in this way is to exhibit the opinions or doctrines of others, not in language which they would acknowledge, but in language of our own choice; se- . lected for the purpose of rendering such opinions or doctrines absurd and deformed, and of rendering those who hold them odious to others. This is, almost of course, accompanied with, what is exactly of the same nature, charging upon them consequences which we make, and they disclaim.

The doctrines of the Reformation bave, in a very remarkable manner, been followed and persecuted with this species of falsehood. It is at least extraordinary, if not singular, that these doctrines are never, or very rarely, if ever, represented by those who

oppose them in such terms as are used by those who profess them ; but in terms which materially vary the nature of the doctrines. In this manner it is plainly intended to make them objects of alarm and abhorrence to others; and to engage by this obliquity of representation the passions of mankind in a course of hostility against their defenders. Every class of men have undoubtedly a right to express their own opinions in their own terms; and to admit or reject such consequences of their opinions as they think proper. The doctrines may indeed be fairly impeached, and by argument shown to be absurd, if it can be done; and any consequences may, so far as it can be shown by reason, be proved to follow from them. But to vary the terms in which the doctrine is exhibited from those in which it is declared by its defenders, and to charge them with holding it in such a manner as we are pleased to express it; to draw consequences from it at our own pleasure, and exhibit them as the opinions of those with whom we contend, although disclaimed by them ; is plainly disingenuous, false, and criminal.

Another example of the same nature is presented to us by constructive narration.

By this I intend that narration, in which the writer or speaker construes events, together with the actions, motives, and characters of those concerned in them, in such a manner as he pleases; that is, in a manner accordant with his own views, interests, passions, and prejudices ; and interweaves his constructions in the recital, without giving any notice of this fact, so as to make them an inseparable part of the narrative. The reader here is unable to tell what is fact, and what is construction; and of course, unless preserved

from it by superior discernment, is betrayed into a belief of all the errors created by the prejudices of the writer. A great part of modern history is, if I mistake not, written in this unfortunate manner; and in this respect differs essentially and unhappily from the ancient manner of narration. Falsehood is here taught in a mode which seems often to defy detection, and which, at least in my view, is inexcusable.

The ridicule of what is true, just, good, honourable, or sacred, is an evil of the same nature. The things represented by him who uses the ridicule, are commonly real; and, were they represented in their own native and true colours, would not be, and could not be, made ridiculous. But they are falsely coloured ; are violently connected with appendages, with which they have naturally no connection ; are distorted, maimed, and forced into every unnatural and monstrous attitude. The ridiculousness and absurdity which cannot be found in the things themselves, are fastened upon them. When presented to the eye once in this association, created by the hand of ill-natured ingenuity, it will be difficult for the mind to disjoin them afterwards. In this manner, things of the most important, solemn, and venerable nature, having been once seen in the light of absurdity through an artificial association, are often regarded as absurd and contemptible through lifc. No excuse can be pleaded for this unworthy and disingenuous conduct.

Of the same nature are also what are called marvellous stories. Persons of a lively imagination are prone greatly to admire almost every thing which they see or hear, and to find an excessive pleasure in whatever is really wonderful. With this disposition they are led to represent almost all things which they relate as extraordinary and surprising. Were we to give full credit to what they say, we should be ready to believe that their lives had passed only through scenes of a marvellous kind, and that they had hardly ever met with ordinary beings, or ordinary events. The language of these persons is, to a great extent, made up of superlatives only; and their images are drawn only in the strongest and most glowing colours.

Such persons have, I acknowledge, as little intention to deceive in many, perhaps in most, instances as other men. Still, through an eagerness to enhance every thing which they re

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